Gibraltar: all about the Rock

Having to stop at red traffic lights because the road you are walking on crosses an airport runway and pedestrians and cars must give way to a plane taking off is an unusual experience. Welcome to Gibraltar, where the airport is in the middle of the road that enters from La Linea de la Concepcion (or just La Linea)!

The oddities don’t end here. You are about to walk down Winston Churchill Avenue and will soon spot red post boxes and red telephone boxes. Your main UK high street shops are everywhere and although Euros are accepted, pounds are the primary currency here. Hold on, are we in the UK? Sort of. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory on Spanish soil and it seems to nicely mix the two cultures. And it’s sunny!

But I wasn’t here for fish&chips or a shopping spree at Marks&Spencer. I came to Gibraltar for the Rock! The Rock is a 426m-high limestone ridge that seems to emerge out of nowhere. The roads along its sides and to the top are very steep, and there are long climbs along steep steps too, ideal if you are keen on a good workout. Alternatively you can drive, catch a cab, join a tour or take the cable car.

The inside of the rock is a labyrinth with several internal roads and tunnels. Most of the Rock’s upper area is covered by a nature reserve which is home to around 230 Barbary macaques, the only wild monkeys found in Europe. The topmost part of the Rock is still a British military installation and is off-limits to the public.

The best way to visit the key attractions around the Rock is the Nature Reserve Pass. For £16 (as of November 2022) this gives you access to the Nature Reserve itself, the Macaque’s habitat, the WWII tunnels, the Grand Siege tunnels, the Mediterranean Steps, the caves, the Moorish castle, the suspension bridge, the nature trails and a number of exhibitions and military features scattered around the Rock. What are you most interested in?

I explored the majority of what included in the pass, covering just under 12Km on foot and going higher and higher on the Rock, on footpaths increasingly steeper and more narrow. The panoramic views kept getting better!

WWII Tunnels

Built during the Second World War, these amounted to an underground city, with a total of 55Km of tunnel network inside the Rock. You can walk some of them and see reconstructions of underground life as well as original photos. Helmets to be worn during the visit.

City under Siege exhibition and Grand Siege Tunnels

The labyrinth of tunnels were an impressive defence system devised during the Great Siege (1779-1783), when France and Spain made an all-out attempt to recapture the Rock from the British. The exhibitions nearby depict scenes of how the civilian population lived during those hard times. The viewpoint by the Tunnels is where I had my first encounter with the macaques that inhabit the Rock. More on the cheeky monkeys later!


Standing at 340m above sea level, the Skywalk offers breathtaking 360-degree views and on a clear sky day it is not to be missed. Even the macaques seem to like perching on the balustrade to enjoy the sights.

Mediterranean Steps

Steep and narrow set of steps (and rocks) that take you to one of the highest points and with some of the best views over the Rock itself and the sea.

Windsor Suspension Bridge

71m-long and crossing a 50m-deep gorge, it is not for the faint-hearted but it offers magnificent views across the strait, bay and city.

St.Michael’s Cave

Wow. Just wow. Amazing cave with huge stalactites and stalagmites, also used as auditorium for concerts. The natural sculptures are illuminated by colourful lights that bring the whole place to life. After I left the cave, a sneaky pair of macaques managed to snatch my ice cream (just bought!) from my hand: macaque 1 distracted me from the front and as I hid my hand with ice cream behind my back, I felt something taking the ice cream away… I turned around and saw macaque 2 holding my chocolate Magnum! I should have known better…

Apes’ Den

Well every corner of the Rock is apes’ (macaques’) den, so I don’t think there is any need to nominate a specific place along the visiting route :). So I didn’t stop here. But I took photos of the macaques all around the area.

More views

Once you leave the ticketed area, there is a whole town to explore, with more historic monuments, a main street full of shops, the Ocean Village with bars, cafes, restaurants. And casinos, if that’s your thing.

A couple more info about Gibraltar: its economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial service. You can stay overnight or you can visit from nearby Spain – which is what I did, it is a lot cheaper and there is plenty of public transport available to make it an easy day trip (45min by bus from Algeciras). And don’t forget your passport, as you will need it to cross the border!

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