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Europe’s best known UK enclave sits on the Strait of Gibraltar, washed by the Mediterranean and Atlantic, looking towards the North African coast and within walking distance (literally) of Andalusia.
From red pillar boxes to UK supermarkets, there’s no denying the nationality and ‘Gib’ is fiercely proud to be British.
But it also has sunny southern Spain’s weather, VAT free shopping and Gibraltarians can hop over to Tangiers or along to Cadiz any time they like. Works the family holiday angle best as a base with older kids and teens; younger children like the safe beaches and familiar atmosphere; and there’s no shortage of history, natural phenomena and wildlife to explore if you decide stay within the borders.
Direct flights from the UK to Gibraltar all year round take exactly three hours.
300 days of sunshine a year, a Mediterranean climate and temperatures of 25˚ and rising in July and August.
Sits on the Strait of Gibraltar at the confluence of the Mediterranean and North Atlantic: two hours by ferry from Tangiers and surrounded by Andalusia, the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz.
Gibraltar’s British overseas territory, the first language is English and both sterling and euro are accepted currencies.
An easy day-out from south west Spain: visitors can walk across the border on the runway at Gibraltar Airport – don’t forget your passport.
The Rock of Gibraltar is home to Barbary Macaques making it the only place in Europe with a free-roaming colony of wild apes.
Gibraltar is only seven kilometres long and can easily be explored on foot. There are guided tours for everything from WWII Tunnels and Neanderthal Caves to shopping on Main Street and the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
Gibraltar’s a day-out from Andalusia and most families choose to see it that way. If you’re planning to stay, there isn’t a wide choice of hotels and the same illustrious names have been about since the 1930s when the Marquis of Bute first opened The Rock Hotel minutes from the town centre. Alternatives to this icon – which still has Winston Churchill’s name in the guest book – range from the five star Luxury Yacht Hotel and Hotel Caleta on Catalan Bay to smaller independent hotels, town centre guesthouses and a growing number of self-catering apartments.
The 426m high limestone ‘rock’ is Gibraltar’s most recognisable symbol and home to the famous Barbary Macaques. A climb to the top takes about two hours on the Mediterranean Steps but most visitors prefer to ascend in the mere six minutes it takes The Cable Car. Views from the top reveal everything from the coast of North Africa to Andalusia and along both the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz.
This pretty cove on the east coast is Gibraltar’s most popular beach. Locals and visitors descend here in droves at the weekend, so go early if you want a sun lounger or a spot on the sand. Alternatively you could book rooms at four star Hotel Caleta, one of the few Gibraltarian hotels with a beachfront location.
Most of Gibraltar lives on the west side, under the shadow of The Rock and nestled round the Bay of Gibraltar. The oldest area, Upper Town, is where you’ll find historic architecture, restaurants, cafés and Main Street running right through the centre. It’s the oldest street in Gibraltar and you can buy anything here from tourist tat to designer handbags.
More of a single, pedestrianised street than a ‘town’, this historic district takes its name from Irish women deployed here in the 18th century to ‘comfort’ local garrison troops. The title stuck, but days of ill-repute are long gone, leaving an interesting area to stroll around, with well-kept stores and pretty market stalls tucked in between some of Gibraltar’s grandest buildings.
Gibraltar is only 7km long and about the same wide, so everywhere is walkable. Bottom to top, the rock is a bit of hike, but The Cable Car is a fun alternative with kids. And there’s a wide range of inexpensive taxi tours to all major sites and attractions. Daily ferry services run between Gibraltar and Tangiers. Or you could hire a car for a few days to explore Andalusia’s Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz: Estepona’s an hour’s drive east of Gibraltar and Cadiz is just over an hour west.