Located on the southern tip of Spain, Gibraltar is a wholly unique and special British Overseas Territory. As a popular cruise port on Western Mediterranean itineraries, Gibraltar is a perfect stop for the day; small enough to see all the main sights but with enough to do to keep visitors engaged and busy.
Gibraltar Fun Facts
Founded by the Moors from North Africa in the 700’s, Gibraltar was ceded to Great Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrechtand. Gibraltar is now a British Overseas Territory — a tiny piece of the UK on the European mainland.
The territory consists of a peninsula jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea, dominated by the iconic Rock of Gibraltar. The weather is sunny and inviting during much of the tourist season; fish and chips are served in the pubs and a good cup of tea is easy to find.
- Currency — Gibraltar Pound (on par with the Pound Sterling)
- Government — Parliamentary Democracy with a Constitutional Monarchy
- Language — English
- Population — 34,000
- Religion — Catholicism and Anglicanism with a minority Muslim population
- Main city — Gibraltar (it is a city-state)
- Weather — Due to its location in the Mediterranean, it has mild rainy winters and sunny warm summers
Gibraltar Port Area
The cruise terminal is located at the western edge of the town, a short 20 minute walk from Casemates Square. The walk is not unpleasant, is less than a mile, and is flat with sidewalks. To walk all the way to the cable car base station, for trips up the Rock, is about a 30-minute stroll through town.
For those who would prefer to ride into town, taxis, shuttles, and rideshares are available. At the terminal itself is a café, craft shops, and a Tourist Information Office which supplies visitors with maps and guides, including a handy “Gibraltar in a Day” suggested itinerary.
READ MORE: 7 Reasons To Take A Transatlantic Cruise
Things To Do in Gibraltar
1. The Rock of Gibraltar
The iconic sight in the whole territory is, of course, the Rock of Gibraltar. To access the site, you may take a cable bar to the top, use a bus tour, or hire a taxi. Taking the cable car is the fastest way to get there, but you’ll miss some small attractions along the road up, such as St. Michael’s Cave (though it is possible to walk to the cave after arriving at the middle stop on the cable car).
However, most cruise passengers, who have limited time onshore, choose the cable car for its speed and spectacular views while ascending the mount. At the top, amazing views may be had in all directions, with even Africa visible on the horizon. The famous Apes of Gibraltar inhabit the Rock and are an attraction all to themselves with their antics. Watch your bags and keep any food hidden.
2. Siege Tunnels
Constructed around 1780 during a siege by Spain, these tunnels are dug throughout the north side of the Rock. Cannons, military installations from the past, and the galleries and tunnels themselves are a fun way to explore inside the famous Rock. Bring a sweater as it can be chilly inside the tunnels!
3. St. Michael’s Cave
Located almost 274 meters higher than the sea level, this cave’s amazing view of collections of minerals, especially stalagmites and stalactites, will leave you stunned. There are five passages which connect the largest upper hall to a smaller one, which display amazing mineral drops ranging from 12-45 meters long. For an unforgettable experience, visitors can attend a concert in the cave. There is a fabulous concert hall situated underground, with seating arrangements for 400 people; live performances of ballet, drama, and music are held there. The cave is also used for weddings.
4. Europa Point
The southernmost point of the territory, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, has magnificent viewpoints of the seas, a lighthouse, mosque, church, and a historic well. More recent additions to Europa Point include The Cricket Ground of Gibraltar — the only one on the island — and The Sikorski Memorial in memory of Poland’s Chief Generals.
5. Moorish Castle
Before the British or the Spanish, Gibraltar was a part of the Islamic world. This castle, dating from 711 and constructed by the Marinid Sultans, is accessed by a long stairway off Tarik Passage — on the east side of town, but the west side of the Rock. Beautiful views of the sea, and your ship, can be had from this location.
6. La Alameda Gardens
These beautiful botanic gardens are located in Gibraltar Island. Away from the other busy attractions at the island, these gardens are very serene and are great for enjoying a quiet afternoon. The gardens are rich in subtropical flora, and have a beautiful ambience with nicely laid, succulent plant species. Located at the Main Street end, La Alameda Gardens were originally commissioned for the locally stationed soldiers in 1816. The grounds have other attractions, too. One is the Wildlife Conservation Park, which is a small zoo set up to house wild animals that were in need of rescue. Another is the open-air theater, which hosts musical and cultural events.
7. Walking the City
A walk around the small town can be an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. The streets are pleasant and have a wide range of café, shops, and restaurants to enjoy. Main Street, the primary tourist artery, is pedestrianized for much of its length. The small Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral is notable from the outside as it is designed in a Spanish Moorish style with horseshoe arches.
8. Dolphin Spotting
Is your visit to Gibraltar even complete if you don’t watch the dolphins? Observing these amazing creatures up close is a very exciting excursion, and hence one of the most preferred activities of both couples and families alike in Gibraltar. You can head out on a dolphin watching adventure by taking a 75-minute long ride on a ship especially designed to sail alongside dolphin pods in the Mediterranean Sea. This natural sight becomes extremely breathtaking and unmatched by the backdrop of the big rock and the Spanish and Moroccan coastline views.
9. Catalan Bay Beach
If you have visited Gibraltar before and are looking for a relaxing day instead of a tour, the Catalan Bay Beach is a great choice. The water and sand are nice and it is rarely crowded, despite the incredible sight of the famous Rock looming behind the beach. Located on the east side of the Rock, there are cafés and restaurants on the beach along with several bars.
Gibraltar, isolated as it is at the end of the Iberian Peninsula, is an excellent cruise port as visiting it on a land trip is difficult and the territory’s size allows visitors that have a full day in port to see a significant portion of it.
Major cruise lines that make regular stops in Gibraltar include Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Holland America, MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara, among other smaller luxury and boutique lines.
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