Britain’s love cruising to ‘home from home’ Mediterranean cruise port Gibraltar – and not just because it has some excellent pubs and tax free shops (good buys include glassware, china, leather goods, alcohol, perfume, silk and cashmere garments).
Gibraltar also offers wonderful views of Algeciras Bay and the Moroccan mountains from the Rock Restaurant, served by cable car from the Grand Parade.
Birdwatchers can spot more than 230 species and there are clearly marked nature trails you can follow to discover the country’s flora and fauna.
The most famous ‘fauna’ of course, are Gibraltar’s Barbary apes – get off the cable car at the halfway station to see these, then proceed to the top and hire an audio tape charting the Rock’s fascinating history.
Alternatively spend a day at the beach – Catalan Bay is the prettiest, with its colourful fishing boats and excellent seafood restaurants.
You cannot miss the Rock; you will see it towering above you from the ship.
Gibraltar always gets mixed reviews. However, it has such a lot to offer. Such a proud history, lovely friendly people. Do not just think of shops, even with a half day stop you can still see some of the history, do some shopping, have a coffee in Casemates and get back to the ship on time as the Taxi drivers are so well organised.
This is an easy DIY port.
On arriving in Gibraltar it will become clear which way is town. You have the choice; there are shuttle taxis that charge £2 each way, you can walk to Casemates square (town) is around 10-15 minutes, but it can be VERY hot as there is no shade.
En route when you walk to town you will pass a restaurant called Gatsby’s…just by there and BEFORE the chemists is a road to your left leading to Ocean Village where you will find one of the Marina’s, the Dolphin Safari, the Casino and lots of bars and restaurants. This area is usually quite quiet.
Also here is the Sunborn Yacht Hotel sit out at the Aqua bar or have a lush meal in the restaurant.
Firstly we will cover the town area.
If walking or taking the shuttle when you get to some arches, it will be by the market which only sells fruit and foodstuffs. The arches in front of you will lead you into Casemates Square where there are lots of cafes and a favourite of many the Glass Factory.
From here you can go up Main Street and see many UK shops, plus the local traders who you must barter with for good prices. There are good prices on cameras, videos, computers, jewellery etc. You will find many of the prices have been marked up. The normal serrated edge with the price on in the UK is taken off and a round sticker with the new price stuck on. Newspapers have a heavy supplement on top. e.g. TV Choice is 40p in the UK…here it is £1.50.
There is the Museum in Bomb House Lane just off Main Street down a Lane by a shop called Princess Silks.
There is a Morrison’s Supermarket about 20 mins walk from where the ship will berth. Follow the road until you come to a mini roundabout, turn right and keep going.
If you take the local shuttle into town, then where the shuttle drops you are the local buses, which for £1.50? They will take you to Europa Point where the lighthouse and Mosque are plus you can see Africa and Spain. You could also visit Catalan Bay which is quaint and has a lovely sandy beach plus restaurants. These buses do not actually go UP the Rock for that you need a taxi or tour. They will however take you to the cable car where you can go up in that.
Buses; No 1 goes to Great siege Tunnels. No 2 goes to Europa Point, No 3 goes to to Rosia Bay and No 8 to Catalan Bay. A quaint fishing village with a very picturesque beach. Also nice for a seafood lunch. Ask the driver which way he is going. All these buses are Red. The main bus stop is just before the arches leading to Casemates Square.
The leisure centre is nice on a hot day, it’s within the old city walls so it very cool. It has bowling and arcades, so would be a good family day out and pretty reasonable too as walking distance from the ship (not far from Casemates) http://www.visitgibraltar.gi/kings-bastion
Heading out of town, on the far side of Casemates square about half way up the street you will reach the RC Cathedral which used to be a mosque!
Museum: this is near the RC Cathedral in town.
A few minutes further on there is the C of E Cathedral. By the C of E Cathedral is a small park for children.
A bit further on is the Governor’s residence, called The Convent, as it used to be one.
If you walk right along and under Southport Gates you will reach the Trafalgar cemetery where some of Nelson’s crew are buried after battle of said name. It is about 10 mins walk from the town.
The Cable Car for the rock is situated a little further on past the Trafalgar Cemetery, just past the Mama Mia restaurant after crossing the road, 5 mins extra. It will take you right up to the very top of the Rock and also to the apes den.
Opposite the cable car is Alameda Botanical Gardens and this is also worth a visit, such a diverse selection of flora and forna and a nice little animal wildlife centre. Some animals have been rescued off the ships trafficking them.
If you feel like a wander up to the Old Town area up the Rock from the lower town many residences are the style that they used to be.
There are two boats Companies in Ocean Village that do the Dolphin trips. One boat is Yellow and one boat Blue, make sure you use the Yellow boat, much more safety conscious and newer boats. The Blue boat does not go out if weather is iffy.
A recommended tour guide is Douglas Pitaluga Gibraltar Official tours. Excellent guide and value for money. http://www.gibraltarofficialtours.com/Contact-Us.html
Now for the further afield
The local taxis operate people carriers with about six seats. They do tours up the rock and operate on a price per person basis, around £22pp Adult. This includes all entrance fees. There will be lots at the cruise terminal.
The Apes of course but take care and put your jewellery away as they have been known to snatch it. Also take care of bags too as they are naturally inquisitive.
St. Michael’s caves, you need a taxi really as these are half way up the Rock although you could access them from the cable car. These are beautiful where concerts are held and water drips in through the porous rock.
Great Siege Tunnels: Again, you need a taxi, but these are handmade tunnels dug by soldiers at the time of the Great Siege 1700’s. They are very interesting but a long walk for those less able to do so.
Moorish Castle: This is just the keep of the castle made by the Moors. There are fantastic views of the airport, quite funny watching has the traffic comes to a halt for a plane to land. There is also the amazing views of the city and your cruise ship.
Europa Point: You can get bus number 2 from Wall Road. This will take you to the outside of the lighthouse and also the Mosque paid for by King of Saudi Arabia.
Cruise line Excursions:
• The Secrets of the Rock: Comprised of a short minibus ride to the cable car, a trip to the top of the rock and a fascinating talk by your tour guide all about the history of Gibraltar, you are there for about 20 mins and then the guide will walk you down to St. Michaels Cave, – this cave is absolutely stunning, Next stop is the siege tunnels, where your guide will explain the how and when.
• Panoramic Gibraltar: An entertaining tour ending with tea at the Caleta hotel, where you have a delicious afternoon tea with scones that melted in your mouth.
• Wine and tapas: Very interesting, you sample 5 local wines plus tapas as they explain them to you . You are then dropped back in town with a discount voucher for the wine shop.
The one on the west side of the Rock is all pebbles and on the east side sandy. (see buses)
By Peter Dagnall
See our holiday photos click here.