The Rock of Gibraltar might be formed of Jurassic period rock, but the mighty promontory and everyone’s favourite photograph-based social media application seem like a match made in heaven. Gibraltar is full of perfect Instagram opportunities from the top of the Rock to the edge of the Med. You have to walk across an airport runway to get here, so you can surely work the rest out yourself.
Much like Gibraltar, the dolphin is a curious beast. It is a delightful coincidence that the highly-intelligent (but not on land) mammals spend plenty of time in the coast around Gib, and dolphin-watching tours are available throughout the season. The common, bottlenose and striped dolphin are the most common species seen, although you’ll likely be overjoyed at whatever you get, unless you are a dolphin expert or something like that. Dolphin Adventure and Dolphin Safari are your two Dolphin-Watching tour options in Gib, and you can’t really go wrong with either.
Grand Casemates Square is the main square in Gibraltar, a large plaza ringed by bars, shops and restaurants that seems to be buzzing with conversations from early in the morning until, well, early the next morning. Named after the neighbouring casemate that defended Gibraltar from siege after siege, the square might be the first introduction to central Gibraltar for tourists heading in from the airport or Spain. The Rock rises behind the square, creating a curious juxtaposition between the natural splendour of Gibraltar and the saccharine-sweet seaside sensibility that the population has created. There is also plenty of beer.
Built in 1841, the Europa Point Lighthouse is in many way’s the very end of Europe. That all depends on your direction of view of course, but we enjoy sitting by this iconic cylindrical tower and believing that we have made it to the end of the famous continent. The lighthouse sits at the opening of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, making it a strategically vital piece of architecture, although the construction of a new football stadium nearby has put its future under threat. Visit the end of Europe while you can.
The largest of Gibraltar’s three marinas, Marina Bay is the place to go to gawp at ships, yachts and the rest, all while dreaming of a better (by which we mean wealthier) life. But for all our cynicism there is something truly calming about boats bobbing on open seas, and we’re guilty of whiling many an afternoon away here, dreaming or not. It is here that the Ocean Village Project was built, so you can now double up your listless gazing with an evening on the lash.
Taking you from the bottom to the top of the Rock in just six minutes, the Gibraltar Cable Car is tremendous. Many may now prefer to walk up and down the Rock, but the engineering genius that created this aerial tramway deserves more appreciation than it gets. It also provides an unbeatable opportunity to make one of those time-lapse videos that prove so popular on Instagram. Return tickets cost ￡16, with cars going up and down between 09:30 and 19:15.
The Lord Nelson is one of our favourite pubs in Gibraltar, without a shadow of a doubt. The place is a beer lover’s paradise, a lager and ale house on Grand Casemates Square that is a great place to watch sports, meet some interesting locals, or simply drink a load of plonk with a good book. The interior is plenty fun too, and the menu more than holds up its end of the bargain.
There are more than 150 caves found in the Rock of Gibraltar, but only one gets to take home the ‘most-visited’ prize. St. Michael’s Cave gets that honour, in no small part because of its awe-inspiring collection of stalactites and stalagmites. All of the formations are lit up in a variety of vibrant colours in order to accentuate the majesty of it all, creating magnificent photo opportunities for more than a million visitors every year. The cave was initially supposed to be an emergency hospital during World War II but never functioned as one, instead developing naturally into the wonder we see today. The splendid acoustics aren’t wasted either, with the occasional concert or gig held in this stunning spot.
The Great Siege Tunnels came first, but the World War II Tunnels are the real main event of Gibraltar’s tunnels. The introduction of machinery obviously helped, but the urgency of fascism’s onslaught added an extra layer of chaos to the construction of this network. Work took place day and night and day again, creating a quite incredible underground city that contained power stations to keep soldiers going, barracks, hospitals and all the rest. These tunnels allowed trucks and ambulances to drive straight into the Rock, which blows our mind every single time. North Africa and Rommel were invaded by here, and the tunnels went from a strategic necessity to an eventual tourist attraction, 24 miles of magic that feels like a different world to that on the other side of the Rock.