Gibraltar, also known as the “Gateway to the Mediterranean,” is an important British naval base and a popular tourist destination at the same time. Gibraltar, despite its small size, is home to breathtaking beauty, mysterious caves, amazing history, and some fascinating wildlife. That is why this tiny island receives over ten million visitors annually!!
However, recently, many people who are planning a vacation to Gibraltar have a doubt in their mind ‘Is Gibraltar worth visiting?‘. If you read online reviews about Gibraltar, you will find that for some, it is a dream travel destination, while for others, it is just another overhyped travel destination. People often become more puzzled as a result of such dissimilar online reviews and can’t decide whether to plan a vacation or not.
That’s why we decided to write this article to clear doubts in your mind about Gibraltar and give you a clear idea about what to expect from your Gibraltar vacation. Gibraltar, like many other popular vacation destinations, has a number of positive and negative aspects. And in this post, we’ll discuss both the positive and negative aspects of Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is an excellent vacation destination if you are a history buff seeking a two- or three-day getaway, or if you are interested in Gibraltar’s wild monkeys and want to take in beautiful views of the Gibraltar Strait. Gibraltar is not an ideal vacation destination for individuals who love to explore numerous activities, are not history buffs, or are seeking a 5- to 6-day getaway.
Is Gibraltar worth visiting? Here’s Why you should and shouldn’t?
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Why is Gibraltar not worth visiting?
If you enjoy a variety of activities, are looking for a 5- to 6-day vacation, are a beach lover, or simply want a relaxing, peaceful vacation, Gibraltar may not be the best choice for you. Now, let us dive deeper into this.
1) There is not much to do in Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a very small island. It is true that there are some unique things that you won’t see anywhere else in Europe. For instance, views of the bay of Gibraltar from the Gibraltar rock are truly breathtaking.
Additionally, the sight of Gibraltar’s freely roaming monkeys is something that you will not see anywhere else in Europe. Aside from that, there’s not much to do in Gibraltar. Therefore, if you are the type of person who loves exploring and engaging in a variety of activities, Gibraltar is not the place for you. Indeed, one or two days are enough to explore Gibraltar.
2) Gibraltar is a crowded place
If you are looking for a relaxing or peaceful vacation, Gibraltar is not a good option for you. Gibraltar is a very small island. It is only 6.8 km2 in size, but it is home to 30,000 people!!
Furthermore, Gibraltar receives millions of visitors each year by sea, road, and air. Indeed, in 2018, over 11 million people visited Gibraltar alone!! Apart from Gibraltar botanical gardens, the majority of the island is busier and more congested. As a result, you may have the impression that it is a densely populated area unsuitable for those seeking a peaceful vacation.
3) If you are not a history buff, you may get bored quickly
Gibraltar is a small island, but it has a long and illustrious history spanning thousands of years. Due to Gibraltar’s strategic importance, numerous empires over the centuries have attempted to conquer it, including the Spanish, French, Moorish, and British empires. As a result, the majority of Gibraltar’s tourist attractions are centered on its history and culture. So, if you are not a history buff or a fan of Gibraltar’s roaming monkeys, you may get bored easily.
4) It is not a good option for Beach Lovers
If you are a beach lover then Gibraltar may not be a place for you. While some beaches, such as sandy bay beach, do exist, they are small, artificially built, and lack the quality that any beach lover desires.
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Why Gibraltar is worth visiting?
Even though Gibraltar is a small island, it is a very interesting place to visit. It has an amazing history, it is home to Europe’s only wild monkeys and duty-free shopping, and it offers some of the most beautiful views of the Mediterranean ocean. Now let’s discuss the top 10 reasons why Gibraltar is worth visiting.
1) The Iconic Rock of Gibraltar
The Rock of Gibraltar is without a doubt the most popular tourist attraction in Gibraltar, and it is well worth visiting. When you reach the summit of this 426-meter-tall rock, you are greeted by breathtaking views of the bay of Gibraltar.
From the top of Gibraltar’s rock, you can see spectacular views of Africa, Spain, and the point where the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans meet. You can reach the summit via cable car or on foot. However, the quickest and most entertaining way to reach the top of the rock is via cable car.
2) Famous Wild Monkeys of Gibraltar
Barbary macaques, also known as Gibraltar monkeys, are the main attraction for many visitors in Gibraltar. And why wouldn’t you? Where else can you see monkeys roaming freely around in you in Europe?
In fact, these monkeys are one of the main reasons why Gibraltar is known as a unique tourist destination from the rest of Europe. Gibraltar’s Barbary macaques are the only population of wild monkeys anywhere else in Europe.
Apes’ Den in the Upper Rock nature reserve is the best place in Gibraltar to see or get close to them. However, you must always exercise caution when they are around. Even though they appear to be harmless, they can be quite dangerous. Often, these monkeys get attracted to plastic food bags and attempt to steal them from people’s hands; if you attempt to stop them, they may bite. Therefore, exercise caution and avoid getting too close to them.
3) Upper Rock Nature Reserve
If you look carefully at the Rock of Gibraltar, you will notice that half of it is covered in lush green vegetation. This green area is known as Gibraltar’s upper rock nature reserve. Many of Gibraltar’s top attractions, including the Ohara Battery, Apes’ Den, Moorish Castle, Skywalk, St Michael’s Cave, and Military Heritage Center, are located within this protected area.
It’s also a great place to see Gibraltar’s flora and fauna. It’s a great place to see over 300 species of birds migrating between Africa and Europe. Also, if you want to get a closer look at the Gibraltar monkeys, go to Apes’ den. Upper Rock Nature Reserve can be reached in two ways: by hiking or by cable car, which takes only six minutes.
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4) Dolphin Watching
Dolphin watching in Gibraltar is not so well known activity among visitors but it is becoming popular day by day among tourists. Dolphins can be seen almost every day in the Strait of Gibraltar. They make their way to the Gibraltar Strait in search of food and breeding grounds. You can book any of the dolphin-watching excursions to see this incredible creature swimming and hunting in groups in Gibraltar’s blue waters. It’s an excellent activity, particularly for families.
5) St Michael’s Cave
Gibraltar’s St Michaels Cave is a massive network of limestone caves. This cave is located 300 meters above sea level in Gibraltar’s upper rock nature reserve. Gibraltar has over 150 caves, but St Michael’s Cave is the largest and most mysterious. It was named after a similar-looking cave in Apulia, Italy.
There are numerous legends associated with this cave. According to legend, St. Michael’s Cave is linked to Africa by a 24 km tunnel that runs beneath the Strait of Gibraltar. And it was through this tunnel that Gibraltar’s renowned Barbary Macaques arrived from Africa.
Apart from its mysterious legends, St Michael’s Cave has a lot to offer in terms of sights and activities. In St. Michael’s Cave, there is a large auditorium that hosts dramas, light shows, ballet, and even rock bands. It’s also famous for its breathtaking natural beauty and enigmatic history. As a result, over a million tourists visit St. Michael’s Cave each year. This mysterious and beautiful cave is a must-see for visitors to Gibraltar.
6) Europa point
Europa Point is Gibraltar’s southernmost point. From here, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the point from where you can see the meeting point of the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea. Furthermore, the Europa point is home to the famous Trinity lighthouse, an amazing Christian chapel, and an incredible Harding battery, all of which contribute to the point’s status as one of the top tourist attractions in Gibraltar.
7) The Great Siege tunnels
If you are a history buff then you would definitely like this place. These tunnels were carved out of the rock by the merchant marines to defend Gibraltar during the ‘Great Siege‘. The great siege was the 14th attempt of the French and Spanish forces to recapture the rock again from the British forces which lasted from 1779-1783.
This tunnel was dug in a very short time to defend Gibraltar from approaching French and Spanish forces. This tunnel made it possible for the British forces to target their cannons at the approaching Spanish and French forces, eventually helping Britain in successfully defending Gibraltar from the great siege.
8) Gibraltar Botanic Garden
Gibraltar is a more crowded location. Therefore, if you want to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle, you should pay a visit to Gibraltar’s botanic gardens.
General George Don commissioned the Gibraltar botanic gardens as a recreation area for the off-duty soldiers. These Gibraltar botanic gardens, also known as the Alameda Gardens, cover approximately 6 hectares and feature a diverse collection of native and imported plant species. Furthermore, there is a small zoo in Alameda called Alameda wildlife conservation park, which houses many rescued animals.
9) Moorish Castle
The Moorish castle is Gibraltar’s other major historical attraction. The Moorish castle serves as a reminder of Gibraltar’s long and complex military history. Built in the eighth century, this castle was rebuilt in the fourteenth century again. This castle provides a sneak peek into Gibraltar’s strategic importance to various empires over thousands of years. The Moorish castle consists of numerous buildings, gates, and fortified walls, but the Tower of Homage is its most impressive feature.
10) Gibraltar National Museum
Gibraltar national museum is the place to go for those interested in closely studying and understanding Gibraltar’s history and culture. Gibraltar’s national museum was founded with a focus on the island’s cultural and natural history. This museum features numerous exhibits detailing the rock’s long history, 14th-century Moorish baths, and the history of the great siege.