Is it actually worth going to Gibraltar? We’ve been asking ourselves this question a million times – and we asked others. Some said no, it’s not, others said you absolutely have to go. Eventually, we decided to just go and check it out ourselves and I’m glad we did because now I can share with you if it is worth going to Gibraltar or not!
Let me tell you a little bit about Gibraltar before answering the question about if it is worth going or not.
First of all, Gibraltar is British! It is an Overseas Territory, like the Falkland Islands and a few others. That means that it is no longer part of the EU, however, for now (February 2020) everything is as if they were still part of the EU. No matter what, there are border controls and our passports got controlled TWICE. As we went to Gibraltar in February, there weren’t a lot of people and we went through customs fast – but it can take up to several hours to get through the border during summer-season!
Furthermore, Gibraltar is just 6.8km2 in size and has a population of about 30,000 people plus several MILLION tourists that come every year! This being said, you can imagine that there isn’t a lot of space! The place is crowded. When you do not like crowds, when you do not like loads of cars, when you like green places and quietness; then this is NOT your place. Even in February on an avergage Tuesday morning, there are LOADS of people everywhere and soooo many cars all around.
Why are there so many cars and why so many people? It’s not only because of that rock with the monkeys … it’s because it’s cheap! There is basically no tax on goods in Gibraltar. Fuel is super cheap, drugs are cheap, things are cheap; but you will not really find any shops selling sustainable or fair trade goods, so for everyone who is into sustainability and fairness; you won’t find much to shop in Gibraltar. If you like fast fashion, alcohol, and cigarettes then go for it (I recommend NOT doing so though – fast fashion, alcohol, and cigarettes kill people and the planet).
Let me continue telling you a little more about this tiny country, before going into detail about the pros and cons. Did you know that English is the official language of Gibraltar? Many people also speak Spanish and the local language, which is called Llanito. Also, Gibraltar does actually have its own political system but issues like defence and foreign affairs are determined by the UK Government in London.
And what’s the story about these monkeys on the rock of Gibraltar? They most probably came from Africa on boats, but noone does know the exact story. During the Second World War there were just seven of them left but the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, ordered that new ones be brought across from North Africa to replenish the colony.
Today there are about 300 of them wandering around the rock. They are used to tourists and are likely to steal food when you do not take care – something that isn’t necessarily healthy for them.
And what is there to see and to do in Gibraltar?
Even though the country is small in size, there is actually quite a lot to see: the rock of Gibraltar with it’s monkeys, the shopping street, the harbor, the light tower, the botanical garden … just to name a few.
I personally loved the botanical garden as it is pretty much the only place that is not crowded with people 😀
Now is it worth going to Gibraltar or not?
My answer would be: it depends on your budget!
Do you have some money to spend? Then it is worth it! Then you can take advantage of the really nice stuff the country has to offer: take the cable car up hill (20€ for one adult if you go one way and walk down), take advantage of the amazing restaurants (I recommend the Kasbar) and the even better cafés (I recommend chok) with all their delicous sweets and cupcakes, visit the amazing caves, the tunnels, etc.
However, when you are on a budget and you do not really want to spend money then I think it’s not worth it. You cannot go up the rock without paying (you have to pay at least 5€ even when you walk up hill (which takes you an hour at least)), you can of course walk around the shopping streets and the harbor, but – to be honest – that’s not quite worth it. You will find cuter streets in the area (Tarifa!!!) and you will find prettier beaches in the area (Cadiz!!!).
In case you are really into England and British culture then it might be fun to just go for the sake of seeing a red phone booth and the fish&chips signs everywhere but if that’s not the case for you; I think you can just enjoy your stay in Spain.
So yes, I think Gibraltar is worth a visit – when you are willing to spend some money. If you prefer not to, then take advantage of all the free fun in the area: go visit beautiful Tarifa, enjoy the beaches around, hike in the mountains … you name it 🙂