September 8, 2019
I was meeting friends in Morocco and there were no direct flights from Canada so I got to play with some stopover options. Gibraltar came out as a winner as it was somewhere new, and I could get there using my BA Avios points.
Below are a few tips if you’re looking to do a similar stopover. These tips are appropriate if you plan to backpack Gibraltar or if you stop in Gibraltar on a cruise ship. If you have your rental car, you won’t need as many of these tips.
– Accommodations in Gibraltar are VERY expensive. A day is sufficient to see the town so consider staying in one of the cheaper towns over the border in Spain (I chose Tarifa, a one hour bus ride away for the easy transfer to Morocco)
– The Gibraltar airport is small and incredibly efficient. You literally walk off the plane, pass passport control and can walk into Gibraltar’s old town in less than 20 minutes. The short travel time from the airport makes it an ideal stopover.– If you’re just coming to Gibraltar for a stopover, leave your luggage at the airport (I paid £4 to leave my big backpack for the day) I had worried it might be out of the way for my return back to La Linea. It was less than a one minute walk from the border crossing and couldn’t have been more convenient.– The only thing that may slow you down is if a plane is taking off or landing. Because you have to walk across the airstrip, traffic, including people, is help at the edge of the airstrip during take off and landing.
– There are a million posts about how to climb the rock. Here is my two cents. If you are reasonably fit, climb the Mediterranean steps. Even in a thunderstorm with a torrential downpour, I was glad I did this hike. It was only 40 minutes at a slow pace with plenty of stops. There were a couple steep sections but really nothing too crazy. The person at the visitor centre tried to talk me out of it and into a gondola telling me it would take 2.5 hours. What a scam!– To climb the Mediterranean steps you can walk to Jews Gate from town or take a bus or taxi. The walk has poor signage so make sure you have a map or directions on your phone. The walk itself is a bit of a hike, especially if you miss the walking short cut onto Engineer rd. and end up walking the longer route around the road. If you’re low on time or energy, skip this part so you can hike the Mediterranean steps.– The cost to climb just the steps and check out a few things at the top is £5 but if you want to see St. Michael’s caves (highly recommend!!) and the tunnels, you’ll need the £13 ticket. If you aren’t sure, just pay the £5 and upgrade your ticket later for an additional £8.– My next tip on the rock: do not miss St. Michael’s caves! This was an absolute highlight. They have concerts in here and if you’re able to catch one, do it. Epic venue. Honourable mention to the suspension bridge for cool spots to see on the rock. – Leave yourself some time to check out the other spots on the rock, in particular the tunnels (which I heard were amazing but didn’t see first hand as they had lost power during the storm)– The monkeys at the top of the rock are everywhere, and not the least bit afraid of humans. I found this a little scary so kept my distance.– Vegans! This is an important tip. Skip the old town for dining. It is VERY difficult to find vegan friendly food in the old style traditional British pubs lining the old town streets. Head to Ocean Village for a bunch of vegan friendly restaurants (more than what you will find on Happy Cow) and if you aren’t vegan but simply prefer more modern dining options, this is your spot. The exception to this is Chok. If you want a vegan sweet treat, this is your spot!
– To catch a bus out, you need to go to La Linea bus station just over the border in Spain. It is about one block up and then one block to the left from the border. I had given myself an hour to find the bus station and buy my ticket. From the Gibraltsr airport, crossing the border, walking to the La Linea bus terminal and buying my ticket was under 10 minutes. I don’t think they even looked at my passport at the border it was so fast!
– Most stores and some restaurants are closed on Sundays.
– Free wifi is harder to find than in most places in the UK.
– If you stay longer, there are some beaches and casinos (Gibraltar is known for gambling) but not a whole lot else to do.
– Make sure you don’t leave with any Gibraltar £. Although you can use British pounds in Gibraltar, you cannot use Gibraltar pounds in England.
– Lastly, consider the weather. Gibraltar is known for rain. Since I am an eternal optimist, I ignored the weather report, including the clouds in the sky, leaving me soaking wet on the Mediterranean steps in a thunderstorm with no view of Africa (the whole point of the hike!) Apparently it rains a lot in Gibraltar so make sure you check the weather and dress accordingly.
These are my tips for a one day stopover in Gibraltar, including a Gibraltar cruise stop.
If you have any tips to add, feel free to send me a message and I’ll be sure to post them!