Gibraltar is one of the most interesting places I have been to because it is a British Overseas Territory, on Spain's southern coast. You can drive to Gibraltar from Spain. To give you an idea, it is roughly an hour drive from Marbella.
To cross the border from Spain to Gibraltar, you can drive a car or motorcycle, ride a bike, or walk. After doing research we learned that walking would be the quickest way. Driving, especially during rush hour can be backed up a few miles.
If you decide to walk in, you can find parking in La Linea, Spain; which is the town that borders Gibraltar on the Spanish side. From there, you walk across. The walk took us about 10 minutes to get to the Bay of Gibraltar. To get to the rock from La Linea, it would take a little longer.
Since it is British territory, you must bring your passport to cross over into Gibraltar. I found it really cool that on one side of the border there was a Spanish flag, and on the other is the British Flag.
I have a picture here, but since I took it from the Spanish side, the British flag is a bit harder to see.
Once you get past security, you actually walk across the Airport runway, which is pretty cool.
Of course once we entered British territory, we had to do all things British. First stop was a phone booth for an obligatory photo, then to a traditional English breakfast, and later in the day we treated ourselves to the best Fish and Chips in Gibraltar, Roy's! And as you will notice, we have plenty of pictures of the British flag.
After breakfast we went on a Dolphin sightseeing adventure. There are two big companies that do these tours. Dolphin Safari (blue boat) and Dolphin Adventures (yellow boat). Both have very positive reviews on Trip Advisor. Both leave from the same vicinity and go to the same parts of the ocean. We chose the Dolphin Safari for our tour and it was excellent. I would strongly recommend doing a Dolphin excursion and I don't think you could go wrong with either company.
When you first leave the port, it is very scenic. The Rock of Gibraltar sits behind the Bay, and the Airport is to the right. It is really cool if you are able to witness an airplane taking off or landing.
(I thought I took a picture of a plane landing but I can't find it, it was cool- trust me.)
The straight of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. Gibraltar is in the middle. The environment in these water make it the best place to see whales and dolphins in all of Europe. You generally will only see one or the other. Not both. The straight of Gibraltar has 3 species of dolphins (common; which is endangered, Striped, and Bottlenose; which is the most popular) and 4 species of whales (Long-Finned, Orca, Sperm, and Fin). When we were there we only saw dolphins, but we saw a lot. They were everywhere. We didn't see them right away, however one of the crew members had binoculars to spot movement. Once we found them, there were plenty of Dolphins, and at some points they were right beside our boat. Incredible.
In case you are wondering if this is family friendly or if it was fun, here you go...
Before you the leave the bay, walk around for a bit. There is a very cool hotel that used to be a cruise ship called the Sanborn. You can go into the hotel and go to the top floor for a view of the bay. The entrance is on the left side of the ship. There are also some restaurants and bars you can enjoy, and scenic boats. My daughter enjoyed taking pictures as well.
After the dolphin excursion it was time to go up the "Rock of Gibraltar". The rock is without doubt what you think of when Gibraltar is mentioned. There are a few ways to go up the rock. You can hike, drive, take the cable car, or take a tour. We booked a tour that included both the dolphin excursion and visiting the rock. Each can be purchased on their own as well, since they are with different companies. The reason we chose the bus tour up the rock was because we only had a day in Gibraltar, and we were with our parents, including my father in law who has mobility issues. Hiking was not an option, and he wanted to see the sights. In future, I would chose to hike up and see the rock on my own, or take the cable car, which is incredible. The tour was very rushed and I would have liked more time at each stop. However, we were able to see most of the sights and our guide was full of great information. Would I do the bus tour again? No. Was it good for what we needed while we were there? Yes.
The tour we went on included:
The monkeys on the rock are called Barbary macaques. They are the only wild monkey population in Europe and originated in North Africa. These wild monkeys are now a huge part of Gibraltars tourism. They are used to being around humans and will occasionally climb or jump on people. It is strongly discouraged to try to touch them and never feed them. In fact, try not to keep snacks in your backpack as they are skillful at opening zippers and will rummage through bags looking for food. This can also cause aggressive behavior.
Gibraltar has plenty of activities to keep you busy for a day or even over night. There is plenty of shopping and it is duty free so you can get cigarettes and alcohol a bit cheaper if that is your thing.
Also, the World War II tunnels are amazing. We did not tour them but we plan to next time we visit Gibraltar. The WWII tunnels are not the same as the Great Siege Tunnels. Entrance is by tour only. The tunnels were an underground city during the war. The entire 16,000-strong troops could be housed there, along with enough food to last them for 16 months. The tunnels also contained a telephone exchange, a power generating station, a water distillation plant, a hospital, a bakery, ammunition magazines and a vehicle maintenance workshop. The total length of the entire tunnel inside the Rock is approximately 34 miles.
If you plan to visit and explore without a scheduled tour, purchase your tickets prior to going up the rock for any attractions you might want to visit. They require tickets and you cannot get them on the rock.
Thanks for visiting and leave comments below!
Amara Lucci McShain
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