Gibraltar has always been on my ‘wish list’ of places to visit. As a child I wanted to see the apes. As an adult I still wanted to see the apes, but now I wanted my children to see them too.
When we sat down to plan an Easter getaway we were restricted by two things – money, and dates. If we could get the right flights, on the right days, at best we could be away for 4 nights. It had to wrap around work commitments, and it had to be affordable.
My first port of call was the Skyscanners website. This is the only site I know where I can search for flights ‘everywhere’ in the world, on the dates I want to fly, from the airports I want to fly from. It’s a great place to get inspiration, based on cost! I input the dates I wanted to fly, my chosen region for departure airport, the number of seats I needed … and I let the search engine do the rest. The results were in price order, cheapest first, and I worked my way down the list until a destination ‘jumped out’ at me. On this occasion it was Gibraltar – result! The flights were with Easyjet and were timed perfectly to make the most of our time away. So we hurriedly booked them.
Because we only had limited time in Gibraltar, I was keen to find accommodation WITHIN Gibraltar. Most of the offers put to me from hotel-search websites suggested basing ourselves over the border in Spain. Although this wouldn’t have been a huge issue, I first took a look at Airbnb. Two options were available, within Gibraltar, and we quickly booked a traditional apartment that ticked all our requirement boxes. So with flights and accommodation booked, we were ready to fly!
The flight from the UK to Gibraltar takes around 2 hours. The view out of the airplane windows on the approach into Gibraltar is amazing. My son couldn’t believe how many tankers he could see on the ocean; while I was awestruck by this ‘rock’ that seemed so out of place! Gibraltar airport is lovely – really small, so not much walking required once you’ve stepped off the plane.
We took a bus from the airport to the main bus station at Casemates Square. It cost just £1.50 per person and buses are every few minutes – definitely no need to use a taxi. The route takes you across the airport runway, which is quite strange! Oh of course, don’t forget that in Gibraltar, because they are a part of the UK, the currency is the Pound – so no need to arrange currency. From Casemates Square it was a leisurely 5-10 minute walk to our accommodation, where we then relaxed for a bit (we had been up since 2am!)
Later on we walked down into the town, mainly to find food as we were all famished. Because our accommodation was self-catering, we walked straight into the M&S Food Hall and bought the makings of a nice dinner! We had a quick explore and stop-off at the tourist centre for ‘what to do’ leaflets before heading back up the hill to chill out for the rest of the day.
I shall write separate posts on our accommodation and adventures within Gibraltar, but it’s fair to say we didn’t stop from the morning we awoke in Gibraltar until we took the bus back to the airport 3 days later. Our days were amazingly action-packed. Yes we got to spend a whole day with the apes, in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. We took a cable car to the top and spent the day walking between all the historic and natural wonders to be found there. The views were mesmerising – you felt you were on top of the world! My FitBit recorded over 20,000 steps this first day – they were hard steps too as there were a lot of hills …
Gibraltar is divided into three quite distinct zones. At the top you have the Upper Rock Nature Reserve – very hilly, unpopulated, beautiful.
Midway down you have what I called the Old Town – lot of traditional roads and buildings, cobbled single-track streets and historical monuments and buildings. And then you had the ‘reclaimed’ part of Gibraltar (the flatter area that leads to the sea). This is modern: apartment blocks, marinas, tarmacked carriageways, casinos and supermarkets. We spent our second day exploring the old town on the way to the marina. The highlight was a 2 hour dolphin boat trip.
Day three was our last day as we flew home later that evening. We decided to give our legs a rest and we took the bus to Europa Point. This is the most southerly tip of Gibraltar, with views across to North Africa. This area is very picturesque with a lovely traditional lighthouse.
I will write more on each of the above: this post is an overview of what Gibraltar has to offer as a holiday destination. The weather was typical Mediterranean – a nice warm breeze kept us cool during all the miles we walked. It gets hotter as the season progresses: I’m not sure I could have done all we managed in the full heat of summer.
We thoroughly enjoyed our short break in Gibraltar. There is so much to see/do in such a small area, making it ideal for a family holiday. I am really pleased that I finally got to visit, and we were really impressed by its beauty and the friendliness of the locals 🙂
Additional Gibraltar info from Huw
Huw wants me to add the following to this post:
“Alcohol is amazingly cheap. We saw branded rum as low as £5.80 a litre, and branded whiskey (Teachers, Bells etc) as low as £3.50 a litre.
Cigars and cigarettes are a fraction of what you’d pay in the UK too – but we don’t smoke so we didn’t take too much notice of this. There’s a small kiosk shop in the airport as you land – good prices here too, but only if you can consume it all before you fly home as you won’t be able to take it through security on the way back. (The airport Duty Free shop is good on the way home too.)
Prices are very good for most things in the town. Eating out is very reasonable. Beware the cost of taxis. We tried to order one to take us back to the airport but they were very reluctant to quote a rate. When he finally did it was a substantial rate – probably didn’t want the fare! If you use a taxi arrange in advance and get a fixed price. Remember, nowhere is very far in Gibraltar. It only takes 5 mins on the bus to get to the airport from the main square, at a cost of just £1.50 each. Had our legs ached less we could have walked to the airport in under 20 minutes!”