A Day Trip to the Rock of Gibraltar
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
The Rock of Gibraltar dominates the peninsula it occupies jutting out into the Mediterranean sea at the very bottom of Spain. I was driving back from Seville Spain to Malaga, and I had always been fascinated by this tiny outpost of the UK. Technically, Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, so entering it you are required to go through immigration. Instead of driving through the border, I wanted to take advantage of a very unique opportunity in the world, one where you must walk across the country's only active airport runway to go through immigration. I even asked for and received a rare Gibraltar passport stamp. There is able parking in garages on the Spanish side in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion. It's a short walk, but you get to traverse the airport runway where large jets taxi and take off! From there, you can take a very short public bus ride into the main center of town.
The main town of Gibraltar has a very heavy British influence, and British pound sterling is used here for currency, not the euro. I found a great spot at the base of the Rock to sit outside and have a cold beer and a proper fish & chips. The town is fairly easy to walk, and there are also several buses available. I eventually made my way to the Gibraltar Cable Car for a ride to the Top of the Rock. There is a small parking lot if you did drive in, and the cable car is open seven days a week from 09:30 - 17:15 and costs £17 per person, round trip. In addition to the WW2 era tunnels and defenses that can be explored, one of the main attractions is the Gibraltar monkeys! In fact, these are actually Barbary Macaques, and many of them live in family groups near the top and along the sides of the mountain. There are several warnings, but inevitably some people just won't pay attention. I saw a young woman get her bag destroyed and a souvenir decorative pillow eviscerated. And if you bring food, be especially careful and prepared for the onslaught of macaques attempting to steal it from you. Some seemed very accustomed to people being close, and if you were brave enough, you could pose near some of them. I recommend extreme caution in doing this as these are still very wild animals and are prone to aggression.
The views from the top of the rock provide breathtaking 360 degree views from the harbor to across the Straight of Gibraltar and into Africa. The coast of Morocco is visible on most clear days, and you can see the high peaks of the Atlas mountains in the distance. There are several hiking and walking paths of various difficulties and you can visit some war time fortifications. Underneath the Rock, there is a maze of underground caves and tunnels crisscrossing below. Further down the walking path you can venture out onto the Skywalk Gibraltar, a glass bottomed look out deck with amazing views of the Mediterranean. If you're hungry or need a coffee like I did, you can get one at the Top of Rock Cafe.
After my day in this one of a kind place, a boarded the bus back to the immigration gate, walked back across the runway and across the border back into Spain. It's not everyday you can take such a unique day trip into a place like Gibraltar, and I highly recommend that you do. Say high to the monkeys, and steer clear of the ones with a penchant for stealing tourists collectables.
Where we ate: Roy's Fish and Chips (Gibraltar GX11 1AA), cold beer, outdoor seating
Top of Rock Cafe, coffee and sandwiches