Last Updated on May 15, 2023 by Jim Ferri
By Jim Ferri
Gibraltar is one of those places many often wonder what it’s like, but relatively few ever visit. I was once one of the wonder-ers, but no more.
While in Andalusia, Spain, I gave in to my curiosity and drove to Gibraltar. It was a relatively short drive along the Costa del Sol, less than an hour by car from Marbella, Spain, and an additional half-hour from Malaga.
Although you can’t see it in this video, you actually drive right into Gibraltar since it’s not an island but an isthmus connected to the southeast corner of Spain. And although you often must sit in your car on a long serpentine line of vehicles when you approach the border, the guards usually wave you right through. You can also get there by plane from London and a few other Spanish cities, although the length of the flights from Spain’s airports is onerous since you must first fly to the UK to connect.
I, however, wanted to approach it from the ground and see the fabled “Rock” looming up before me from the Spanish plain. In addition to still being a British Overseas Territory, it’s one of the most unusual places you’ll ever visit.
What was luring me, however, was a figment of my adventurous mind, traceable back to my childhood. I just wanted to know what it was like being on and living on “The Rock.”
I’m glad I made this mini-trip and suggest you do it if you’re in the neighborhood. And by all means, try to approach it from the ground to understand why this place was so vital in so many wars.
A Few “Gibraltar Basics”
Although it’s name is the “Rock of Gibraltar,” a 1,396-foot (426-meters) high limestone ridge. Only part of it is actually the Rock. The rest of Gibraltar is the City/town of Gibraltar on the west side. You’ll find a few popular beaches, and some historical places on the east. Its population is about 34,000, not including the 250 Barbary macaques, the only wild primates in Europe. Four-fifths of the people are Gibraltarians, residents born in Gibraltar before 1925, and their descendants.
You’ll want to go up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, which you’ll see on this video. It’s incredibly interesting and you can walk up or take the funicular. The attached video will give you a sense of what to see during a two-day visit.
If you have access to a car – either a rental or the one you’ve driven down in, it’s worth a half-day’s drive about the monolith to get the full impact of the place.
A word of warning: do not attempt to drive through Gibraltar town’s warren of streets since you’ll get impossibly lost. Keep the car at your hotel until you’re ready for your island foray or your return to Spain.
Owen Kosling says
There’s an error in your article regarding Gibraltar’s air links: there are only 4 places in the world with flights to/from Gibraltar, and they are all in UK.
Jim Ferri says
Thank you for bringing that to my attention Owen, since I mis-spoke. Although ostensibly one can fly from Madrid to Gibraltar on British Airways (and BA sells the flight as Madrid-Gibraltar), you must first fly to the UK (Heathrow, for example) and connect to your Gibraltar flight.