FEATURE – Just over an hour’s drive by car from Marbella, Gibraltar is a great place to visit for the day or to spend an overnight stay, with shops, restaurants and culture all in one place. Gibraltar is a British overseas Territory, and some argue it retains more Britishness than many parts of the UK today.
Like many British town centres you will find many well-known high street shops such as Marks & Spencer, Bhs, Next and Mothercare. The shops mainly display their prices in Pounds but you can request to pay in Euros instead if you prefer.
Gibraltar has a large Morrisons supermarket, attracting many expats living outside of the rock, eager to buy items that are unavailable in Spain. Gibraltar enjoys a duty free status meaning many items that are available in Spain work out a great deal cheaper in Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is home to three marinas; Marina Bay, Ocean Village Marina and Queensway Quay Marina. Both Marina Bay and Ocean Village Marina have been incorporated into the luxury Ocean Village Project. Along the water’s edge you will find restaurants, cafes and walkways, also a lot of the boat excursions, including the dolphin day trip, are based here.
As a place steeped in history Gibraltar has a plethora of sites you may want to visit. You can get a cable-car ride up to the upper part of the rock, known as the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, where you will find St Michael’s Cave, the Moorish castle and over 600 plant species. You will also find the most wonderful views looking out over the rock and Spain beyond to Morocco.
You cannot talk about Gibraltar without mentioning the famous inhabitants; the tailless Barbary macaques. Around 200 apes hang around the cable car station but they are also seen at the foot of the rock nowadays as the temptation of food offered by tourists is hard to resist.
Many expats living on the Costa del Sol looking to get married choose Gibraltar. The reason for this is due to the special marriage license provided for under the Gibraltar Marriage Act which makes it a cheap, fast and straightforward process (info here), especially compared to getting to grips with the procedures of getting married in Spain if you are a foreign resident unfamiliar with the paperwork.
Gibraltar is easily accessible either by foot, car or plane. The Gibraltar international airport is owned by the Ministry of Defence and is used by the Royal Air Force as well as civilian operators. In 2013 the airport handled 383,876 passengers. Monarch, Easyjet and British Airways all operate to and from the airport.
The Rock of Gibraltar dominates the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula making it a major landmark in the area. At the foot of the rock you will find a densely populated town home to around 30,000 people including Gibraltarians, Spanish and other Nationalities.
An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the war of the Spanish Succession. The territory was subsequently ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Gibraltar governs its own affairs but defence and foreign relations remain the responsibility of the UK government. Its territory covers 6.843 sq kilometres and shares a 1.2 km land border with Spain.
Today Gibraltars economy is based on tourism, shipping, online gambling and financial services. It is widely recognized as a well regulated financial centre so you will find many large gambling companies such as 888 Holdings, Bwin and Stan James located here.
The climate in Gibraltar is much like Spain but it has the added advantage of having the rock casting a shadow over parts of the town so it remains at a mild temperature in the summer months.