Gibraltar Travel Guide – Everything you need to know

Gibraltar Travel Guide – Everything you need to know

July 9, 2021 1 By Kerry

Gibraltar is a country at the south of Spain but that is one of the British overseas territories. Don’t let that fool you though, Gibraltar is a fantastic location that is also full of Spanish influence. Before you visit, plan your trip with this useful Gibraltar travel guide and helpful advice so that you know what to expect.

Gibraltar is a country at the south of Spain that is a British territory and therefore actually part of the UK. If you’re planning a trip, review the Gibraltar travel advice and helpful guidance so that you know what to expect.

Gibraltar Travel Guide Contents

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History of Gibraltar

Gibraltar is a small but strategically important British Overseas Territory off the coast of Spain. With its strategic location on the Mediterranean Sea, the territory has been a testing ground for many arms races and international disputes and accordingly it has a strong military history. 

Gibraltar became part of Spain in 1492 when the Spanish conquered it from Portugal. After World War One, Gibraltar became an independent country, and Gibraltarians are passionate about their independence. They are rightly offended if people suggest it is still part of Spain. In 1936, Gibraltar was annexed to England and remained a Crown dependency. While Gibraltar isn’t technically part of the UK, it is linked to specific political matters, such as the withdrawal from the EU following Brexit.

The name Gibraltar is derived from the Hispaniae language word Girmi meaning black rock or cliff. In 1492, after years of resistance by the people, Ferdinand II of Spain submitted to Spain and became its King.

In recent years, however, Gibraltar has become a major hub for cryptocurrency trading. This popularity is primarily because the territory does not require special permits to operate as a financial centre. It also doesn’t impose any taxes on cryptocurrencies, making it attractive to investors looking to avoid capital gains tax.

How to get to Gibraltar

There are three main entry points into Gibraltar.

Firstly you can enter Gibraltar through the overland border with Spain. Gibraltar is not a Schengen country; in theory, a single-entry Schengen visa is invalid to get to and from Spain. However, for practical reasons, passports are likely only to be given an obligatory check and re-entry is permitted without issue. While this may be practice, this is not the rule, so please prepare yourself adequately for overland entry in case the border controls tighten restrictions.

Gibraltar Travel Guide - view of the rock from the airport
Cross the runway and you will be at Marina Bay in 25 minutes

You will arrive at the International Airport if you’re travelling into Gibraltar by plane. This airport is unique in that you will walk across the runway to get to the central parts of the country when you leave.
Finally, as a booming Mediterranean hub, you can arrive by boat trip or cruise liner. Many cruises stop in Gibraltar throughout the year, and there are also boat trips to and from Europa Point into North Africa.

Getting Around Gibraltar

You can easily catch taxis or public buses from Gibraltar airport. However, if you’re staying in Gibraltar town centre or Marina Bay, you can just walk there in 25 minutes. If you’re staying near the Gibraltar beaches however, a taxi or a bus will be necessary. Alternatively you can hire a car. Reputable car hire companies include which will provide you many options and providers that you can collect from the airport.

You can also make it easy on yourself and book a guided tour around the island. That way you will see everything and only pay for transport once! Take a look at the details below:

Where to Stay in Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar, famous for its barbary macaques and extensive nature reserve, is located in the country’s centre. This feature creates two main areas to stay that I’ll cover in this Gibraltar Travel Guide to help you decide where to book your hotel.

Check out my handy page with easy access to a huge selection of travel resources below:

East of the rock of Gibraltar

The East of the rock is where most of the Gibraltar beaches are located. Beach lovers or sun worshippers will love this part of the country as several beaches are within walking distance, and you can also enjoy the upper rock’s backdrop.

Gibraltar Travel Guide - colourful houses within catalan bay beach
Catalan Bay Beach is a popular place to stay

West of the rock of Gibraltar

On the West of the rock is where you will find Gibraltar Marina Bay, Town Centre and Casemates Square. This area is within walking distance of the airport and is the best location for bars, restaurants and nightlife.

Whichever area you choose depends on what you want to get out of your Gibraltar holiday. It is a short taxi ride or a 30+ minute walk to the other side, so choose wisely.

Gibraltar Travel Guide - Ocean village Marina Bay
Ocean Village, Marina Bay is popular if you want to be more central

Sunborn Hotel is worth considering for your 3 days in Gibraltar

When I spent 3 days in Gibraltar, I stayed in Ocean Village at the Sunborn Gibraltar Yacht Hotel. Not only is this 5-star hotel unique in its appearance, but it is also ideally located for the Marina bay restaurants, nightlife and water-based activities nearby.

Several rooms are available at the Sunborn hotel, from basic rooms to suites. The rooftop pool bar is lively and has a great atmosphere and good views of the harbour below. The rear of the hotel is also fantastic for grabbing a deck chair and watching the sunset with a cocktail in hand.

If you stay at the Sunborn Gibraltar, be sure to book the Harbour View room, as this side is quieter, and the views are beautiful. You can also watch the planes take off and land, and it’s not as noisy as you think!

Gibraltar Travel Advice on Where to Eat and Drink

Ocean Village, Marina Bay

Ocean Village on Marina Bay is the prime location for bars and restaurants in Gibraltar. However, many restaurants here are chains such as La Iguanas, Pizza Express etc. You can choose perfect seats and a lively, fun atmosphere as you watch the sun go down.

Many people often use this Gibraltar Travel Guide to plan a 3 day vacation, often over the weekend. Marina Bay can get really busy so book ahead of time if you want a great sunset spot.

There are also several sports bars in the area slightly out of Ocean Village along Harbour Bay. Some of these bars are more catered towards nightlife and a little rowdier than elsewhere in Ocean Village.

Casemates Square

Outside of ocean Village, you also have the lively Casemates Square within less than 10 minutes walking distance, which is at the beginning of the town centre of Gibraltar. Casemates Square also has a series of shopping arcades, restaurants, and bars with indoor and outdoor seating. This area is a bit cheaper to drink and often has screens with sports on so it can be particularly popular with lads on holiday.

gibraltar travel guide - Casemates Square in the day
Casemates Square in the day

My favourite place for vegetarian food was at the Red Chilli Indian and Tapas Bar. There are so many vegetarian options, all at great prices, and on the corner of Gibraltar public market (the entrance to Casemates Square), it’s great for people watching too. The food was delicious, as were the cocktails.

Gibraltar Travel Guide, Final Recommendations

There are so many things to do in Gibraltar, making it a popular location for a weekend break, and you can see a lot at the weekend. But 3 days in Gibraltar should be longer, not if you also want to relax and see everything.

Depending on how you like to spend your holidays, four nights minimum or potentially up to a week, you enjoy relaxation. If you’re looking for a cheap weekend in Gibraltar, then check out my Gibraltar travel tips for ideas to save money.

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