We had a great road trip to Gibraltar in January 2019, its only a 5.5 hour drive from Ciudad Quesada (in fact I think we did it in 4.5 hours as sim drives like a Formula 1 driver haha). We saw the most amazing views on the journey there and it really is a beautiful sight seeing the rock come into view when you are approaching the Gibraltar border.
I must say we love road trips around Spain, they are anything but boring, so many sights to see and even the kids manage to stay entertained for long journeys. We enjoyed looking at various castles & ruins, blossom fields, and Sierra Nevada from a distance.
Arriving in Gibraltar
We arrived at the border at 3pm, we had been concerned about arrival times as we had been told there could be massive ques to go through border control especially if you arrive during “rush hour” as a lot of people who work in Gibraltar live in Spain and cross the boarder daily but we had nothing to worry about…..when we arrived there was no que, we showed the boarder officer our passports and we were ushered through within minutes.
Its quite strange when you pass through the boarder as the airport is situated just after you enter Gibraltar and the runway crosses the only road into and out of the country.
There was a plane coming into land as we arrived so we had to wait until it had landed before we could carry on our journey, it really is an unusual sight seeing a plane come down to land right in front of your car.
Checking out our accommodation
We had booked an Air B&B for our first few days in Gibraltar and it was situated right next to the airport. We found the location fairly easily and made out way to our apartment. We were not disappointed, the apartment was lovely we had an amazing view of the rock from one side of our apartment.
To the other side we had a view of the runway and the Hebrew cemetery…….I was a little unsure of this view at first but actually it was a very peaceful view.
The next morning we woke up to a real treat and a lot of noise……A Hercules Bomber was coming into land. Harvey was in absolute awe….he loves anything army/plane related and to see this massive army plane so close by made his day.
We settled into our apartment and decided to take a walk into to the town to grab some food and get our bearings.
Time for a wander
It is very busy in Gibraltar, the roads are chaotic, it felt like a mini London, I wasn’t too sure at first, it took us a while to navigate across the busy roads but it was getting close to 5pm now and the boarder rush was starting.
We headed into town and the beauty of Gibraltar became more apparent. there are so many beautiful old structures and as you enter the old town you feel taken back to days of past. Its truly beautiful.
Gibraltar really does feel like little England with the old style post boxes and phone booths, apart from the fact that nearly everywhere you look you can see the giant rock bearing down on you and the sun was shining in January, in fact it was 18 degrees.
We wandered through the shopping area, all the usual UK shops where visible and everything is cheap due to being tax free. We decided to stop for fish and chips and then headed back to our apartment after popping to the local shop to get some supplies.
On day 2 we got up early and headed into the town again, we had a few jobs we needed to do as we had a secret……a hidden agenda for coming to Gibraltar……we were getting married!
I wont bore you with wedding stuff on this blog but if you would like to read about us getting married in Gibraltar you can check out our wedding blog here.
Sight seeing in Gibraltar
later on in the afternoon we decided to go and see the sights, we knew which attractions we wanted to see whilst we were here as I had been researching for months. I was desperate to visit St Michael’s Cave, we all wanted to head to the top of the rock to see the monkeys and Harvey was desperate to see the cannons and siege tunnels.
We had been looking into the best way to see the sights and get to the top of the rock. We contemplated the cable car but Harvey doesn’t really like heights and the cable car doesn’t go all the way to the top so there would be lots of walking involved still.
We decided to book a taxi tour guide and we were not disappointed. We found the tourist booking area in the old square and booked our trip. It cost £90 for a 2 hour tour for the 4 of us in a 8 seater people carrier. Abdul was our driver and he was extremely helpful, knowledgeable & friendly. He drove us up the rock stopping at each tourist spot along the way and giving us plenty of time to look around. The price included tickets to the sights and he shared a wealth of information with us on the journey. We used inside out rock tours and you can find their website here.
The Pillars Of Hercules, was our first stop. the views from here across to Africa are outstanding.
According to Greek mythology Hercules had to take on twelve tasks. One of these tasks was to bring the cattle of Geryon from the west to Eurytheus. On his journey Hercules had to cross the Atlas Mountains. Rather than climbing over these mountains, he used his great strength to smash through them and as a result, he brought the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean together. The result being was what is now known as “The Pillars of Hercules”. The Rock of Gibraltar on the northern side and Jebel Musa in Ceuta on the southern side acting as the 2 pillars.
From here we headed further up the rock to St Michael’s Cave, we also saw our first monkeys whilst heading towards the caves. This was my favorite part of the trip – I love caves, rocks anything natural so I really was in my element and loved the energy felt in the cave.
There are many cave systems in Gibraltar but this cave is the largest and most popular. They hold music events here during the summer months and the main cave has been turned into an auditorium.
St Michael’s cave is situated over 300 meters above sea level. During the second world war the inside this cave was blasted in order to allow for better ventilation. When the cave was blasted a discovery was made of a deeper cave system which is now known as Lower St. Michael’s Cave.
Our next stop was the top of the rock to see the monkeys, the journey up here was….hmmm interesting, the roads get very tight and I didn’t want to look down. I understand why you cant drive yourself up to the top, it takes skills, there are monkeys and people everywhere!!!
The monkey’s are actually Barbary macaques, originally from the Atlas Mountains Mountains of Morocco, This population in Gibraltar is the only wild monkey population on the European continent.
Abdul, our guide had a pocket full of nuts and offered the monkey’s a treat to get them to come close to us, they would have left us alone otherwise. They are not aggressive although we did watch a man with a bag of popcorn get ransacked by a mini tribe of monkeys, this is why we didn’t take any food with us, we were warned not to.
The views from the top of the rock are amazing
After some fun time with the monkey’s we headed back down the rock to the Great Siege Tunnels.
The great siege tunnels are one of the main attractions on the Rock of Gibraltar. The tunnels were carved by hand during the Great Siege which took place between 1779-1783 to defend Gibraltar from the Spanish and French armed forces who were trying to recapture Gibraltar from the British.
Our final stop of the tour was the Moorish castle which is situated at the northern end of the rock. The Castle was built in the 8th century AD and then rebuilt in the 14th century after almost being destroyed by the Moors.
The gardens surrounding the castle are stunning and the castle has been restored well.
From the castle we decided to walk back down to the town, it was only a 20 minute walk and we spotted a few more monkeys on the way, they are known to take little trips down to the town occasionally so don’t be surprised if you spot one chilling outside a shop.
Sunday Dinner at The Rock Hotel
On our 3rd day we had booked to go for Sunday lunch at The Rock hotel. but before we headed there we decided to head to Morrison’s to get some supplies ( we were missing crumpets, sausage rolls and smokey bacon, all at UK prices) and we filled up the car with petrol, it was less than £1 per litre!!!
The Rock hotel is the most famous hotel in Gibraltar, lots of celebrities have stayed there and their pictures adorn the walls in reception. John Lennon and Yoko Ono stayed at the hotel and exchanged their wedding vows in one of its private rooms.
The views from the hotel were amazing and they have a lovely terrace off the dining room we where sat and had a drink after our meal.
The lunch was gorgeous, we had 3 courses with wine, it was a very posh lunch and the kids were not the best behaved but we still had a great time.
More Sight Seeing
We decided to go for another wander after Sunday lunch and headed to the other side of the rock, Europa Point where we had spotted a play area for the kids and there is a windmill and great views over to Africa.
We also spotted the 100 ton gun, which is one of only two left in the world today. Four of these guns were built in 1870. The guns barrel is 32 feet long and fires a 2,000 pound shell that reaches a distance of 8 miles at a speed of 1,500 feet per second.
On our final day we had to be up early, we were moving our of the Air B&B and into a hotel in the center of the old town for our last night, today was our wedding day.
We stayed at the Elliot hotel which was beautiful, we booked a family room which wasn’t too expensive, it was a large room with a super king and a double sofa bed for the kids.
After our wedding ceremony at the registry office we had lunch on the Sunborn hotel yacht. It was stunning, the setting in the harbor is out of this world and the restaurant was beautiful, amazing food and service.
We really had a great time in Gibraltar and cant wait to go again soon.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our time in Gibraltar and that you enjoy your visit if your planning a trip there soon.
Jess @ Happy New Life In The Sun xxx