Located on the southern tip of Spain where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, Gibraltar offers visitors a curious mix of natural wonders and English quaintness. While the main sights can be covered in a day, it takes at least a few to really soak up the unique charm of this military outpost.
History: known by the Greeks as one of the Pillars of Hercules, it was not until a Moorish general landed here in 711 AD that Gibraltar became inhabited, and a further 400 years before much development took place. In 1501, Gibraltar became part of the Spanish crown, making it subject to British and Dutch attacks for the next century, most notably the Battle of Gibraltar in 1607. It was not until 1704 that the small enclave surrendered and British sovereignty was recognised.
Sightseeing: scaling the Gibraltar Rock via cable car is a must, or you can take a slow walk up and see the resident Barbary apes along the way. Enjoy the views of North Africa and Europa Point, where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, from the restaurant at the top before admiring the natural wonder that is St Michaels Cave on your way back down. The historical Great Siege Tunnels defence system, which saved the Rock from re-capture by the French and Spanish, can also be explored.
Shopping: Main Street is the main shopping thoroughfare in Gibraltar, offering British high street stores and cafs for refreshments. As a duty-free haven, goods such as tobacco, alcohol and perfumes are popular buys, while sunglasses, jewellery and electronics are also widely available. For a special souvenir, consider purchasing some Gibraltar crystal.
Eating and drinking: UK style pubs are popular places to drink, and most serve hearty meals at reasonable prices. Try the bars in Irish Town, parallel to Main Street, for a good selection. Casemates square offers a similar choice for drinking and dining venues, with British favourites such as all-day breakfasts on the menus. A more upmarket dining experience can be had at Marina Bay or Queensway Quay, where seafood by the waterfront can be enjoyed.
Where to stay: there are a number of centrally located, mid-range guesthouses available near Casemates square and Irish Town, but very few budget choices. Staying in these areas allows for easy access to Gibraltars shopping and attractions, but there are self-catering lodgings available out of town for those looking for a more relaxing experience. Hotels in the luxury price bracket offer greater choice, with The Bristol, Elliot and The Rock all boasting celebrity guest lists.
Getting there: Gibraltar Airport offers daily connections with London Gatwick, London Luton and Madrid Barajas, but cheaper flights arrive from the same destinations at nearby Malaga International Airport in Spain. A more popular route into Gibraltar is to cross by road from Spain at La Linea, with buses serving all major Spanish cities.