Rock of Gibraltar Family Holiday Trip!

May 11, 2010

  Gibraltar day trip family holiday from Costa Del Sol,Andalusia, Spain city break, kids

Driving through southern Spain's Costa Del Sol, one can't help but be moved and mesmerized by the mysterious magical monolith known as the infamous Rock of Gibraltar., one of the pillars of Hercules.  Taking a city break - family holiday trip, like kids on a vacation from our vacation, we rented a car (42 euros for a day) to go monkey around with the unique Barbary Apes, admire the views and learn a little history. Don't skip Seville, Ronda, Cordoba, Jerez, or Granada first,  but if you have extra time while visiting Andalusia, Gibraltar is a fun, quick day trip. Just experiencing it's foreboding presence  from a distance is probably the most powerful impact because of it's size, reputation and how it separates Europe from Africa.

Gibraltar road trip from Costa del Sol, Andalusia,southern Spain, family travel holiday tips

It was a misty morning when we set out from our village in Andalusia, a two and half hour pleasant drive  via all good, non-crowded highways with beautiful Mediterranean coastal views on one side and lush greenery,  majestic mountains, overflowing wild flowers, and ancient white hillside villages on the other. Soon, the ever present Costa Del Sol sun returned as we passed the natural beauty of Marbella along with it's many McVillas , gated estates and golf courses. Like most people who winter in Andalusia, we've been to Gibraltar before and have a bank there, so it was part business, but we plucked Mozart out of school for the day to make it a fun family affair. 

Gibraltar road trip daytrip with kids in Andalusia, costa del sol, rental car


Gibraltar lighthouse africa view hercules pillar sailboat southern spain day trip tips

Look closely at my lighthouse on Gibraltar photo and you can see Africa in the distance behind the sailboat, the other Hercules pillar across the famous Strait of Gibraltar. Look on any map and one quickly understands why this jagged Jurassic limestone rock, almost 1400 feet tall, has such a tumultuous history & the strife continues today to some degree. The Brits love it because it is like having a bit of  Old Blighty with sun (plus cheap booze and cigarettes), but as a neutral observer, it does seem a little ridiculous that this tiny space ( less than five square kilometers) does not belong to Spain which is right next to it. You literally just walk across the road, but I guess strategic locations are still worth fighting about. Such is life.

Gibraltar daytrip La Linea Spain costa del sol andalusia, southern Spain

We drove across from La Linea, but many walk in. It is one of the few places where passports are checked  when crossing borders in Europe.The line was very long and slow, even though we were there on a week day mid-morning during off season, so beware if you come in high season. You actually walk across a live small airport landing strip and traffic is always super crowded in tiny Gibraltar, with more mopeds than I've ever seen zipping in and out plus virtually no parking anywhere and some pretty crazy, dangerous roads, in the upper area. This is not a good place to bring a motorhome to Europe, thus our motivation to rent a car.

Gibraltar Moorish castle with UK flag on daytrip Andalusia, Spain


Gibraltar mosque near southern Spain, Andalusia from Moorish times

Gibraltar caves used by pre-Neanderthal humans & militaries for ions.

To be honest, I would not go out of my way to enter Gibraltar if I had a limited time in Spain, as there is not much there and it pales in comparison to the key sites in southern Spain, plus it's expensive. They wanted 10 pounds each to just see the view from the top which was pretty insane and not worth it in my opinion. The best of Gibraltar you can see for free from the Spanish side. Not surprisingly, it is a popular spot for Cruise ships and there are lots of ways one can spend money if you are in the mood, but most are wasteful.


The BIGGEST tourism draw in Gibraltar are the monkeys, or rather Barbary Macaques which are the only that are native in the entire continent of Europe.You will also see tons more in the multitude of souvenir stores that cover the main street. Mozart fell in love with this pink one, but with our minimalist, travel lifestyle, we "buy" such things with a hug and photo. Get the experience, save the money.

Gibraltar mopeds as one crosses the road from Spain

Gibraltar playground in La Linea Spain Andalusia, Costa del sol


*Cable Car

Ape's Den

St. Michael's Cave

There are many day tours from Spain that you can easily find on the internet or through the local tourist boards, but I've never taken them, so can't personally recommend any. There are also some dolphin watching boat trips that some might like. All the sights can be seen in a short time.


So what was 9 year old Mozart's favorite part? After a Subway sandwich lunch out in the sun, on the way back to our car, we found a scraggly little pet shop and she got to pick up and cuddle a little puppy. She is still talking about it and was the highlight of Gibraltar for her. Kid's! Forget the wild and dangerous monkeys, she has already seen them up close in Morocco, but puppy love close up , won her over. But that will help her always remember it so perhaps puppy cuddles and history are a perfect combination!

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Jessica Skelton

Great to see a Santa Cruz, Calif., local representing my town in the travel blogosphere. Great post as well. I never heard of Gibraltar but your informative and entertaining post certainly sparked an interest in researching it some more. Thanks for the great post and photos! Cute daughter btw!


Hey Jessica! I didn't know you were from Santa Cruz! Great place!! Thanks for your kind words! The Rock of Gibraltar is a legion and the first rock star! ;)

Geoff Forster

Hi, On your point about Gibraltar being worth fighting for. It's the 30,000 people who live there who are worth fighting for. They want to be British/Gibralterian and not Spanish. The rock is real estate. People are what matters.

Geoff Forster

Geoff Forster

Hi could you correct my spelling in my previous comment before/if you publish it.

It should be



Geoff- Thanks for stopping by and adding your voice & sorry, I don't think I can change the spelling, but glad you got a chance to correct might be one of the few who know that correct spelling!;)

Valid point and one many British people hold. I know I probably shouldn't have taken a stand, but that was just our impression as neutral observers.

You must admit, GEOGRAPHICALLY Gibraltar IS part of Spain. That was my main point.

The UK is a LONG way away from southern Spain, so it seems odd that this tiny place is not part of Spain.It is not a strategic possession any more. Therefore Great Britain could very well give it back to Spain the same it has done for other possessions like Hong Kong.

Just so the other voice is heard here:

Spaniards tend to think Gibraltar is Spain. Their view being that the Treaty of Utrecht was signed by a foreign king, French Felipe V de Anjou (the first of the foreign dinasty of the Bourbons) so it does not represent the Spanish nation, According to Spaniards, they never gave up Gibraltar.

According to them when Britain occupied Gibraltar, the original population was expelled, and found the village of La Línea, where the original Gibraltar keys and flag remain. They think that since Gibraltarian's can't vote, they are like foreigners in Spain.

It is complicated. I don't know the answer or really enough about it, I was just giving our gut reaction.

There are many ways to look at it and as is true with most disputes, all points are valid. My fist impression doesn't really count for much any way. ;)

Geoff Forster

All around the world countries have states and territories not connected to their mainland.

The US has Hawaii. Lots of European countries have islands they administer.

Spain has two enclaves in Morocco - Ceuta and Melilla. The Canary Islands too are a long way from Spain.

Gibraltar has been British since 1704.

Time for Spain to drop their claims. Stop harassing the Gibraltarians and let everyone get on with their lives in a friendly manner.

The Gibraltarians do not want to be Spanish, they have a human right to self-determination.

I wish the UN would settle this once and for all but Spain keep blocking all moves as they know that in a court of law they would lose. They cling to a hope that one day in the future a UK government will sell-out the people of Gibraltar as that is the only way they'll ever get the rock back. Then they would have an angry population to deal with.

What is the point?

It really is time to draw a line.


Geoff - Yes, again, some valid points from YOUR perspective & it is clear that you feel very passionate about the topic. Tax reasons & off shore benefits for those in Gibraltar certainly do play a part in this passionate perspective.

I've heard others with the same kind of passion with an opposing point of view.

Obviously both sides have reasons for their belief system & why perhaps it has been a problem for so long with no end in sight.

Again, I'm neutral on this topic, admit that I do not have all the answers as I'm just a tourist, but do have a point of view.

Yet I could not help but see that NOT one of the examples you share are about a territory that is geographically PART of the other country.

THAT is what is so odd about Gibraltar to me.

A more accurate comparison would be more like Kansas deciding it wanted to be part of the UK or Spain, but have off-shore privileges. Strange.

Obviously there is no clear and easy answer with Gibraltar or it would have been solved long ago.

For an outsider looking in and seeing that there really is not much there in teeny Gibraltar, all I'm saying is it seems strange to see the age all conflict.

But it IS true, that there are many strange things in this world and land owning brings out passion and all sides feeling that they are right. I think it is sad that there is still so much fighting going on, but at least it is much more civil than the Middle East or else where. Could be worse.

Shannon OD

Wow, the shots from far away are the most impressive - they really demonstrate the scale of the rock! You have actually convinced me to add this to my list when I make it that way, it looks like a fun history lesson and an awesome site to boot!

Christina Pilkington

I just wanted to say I am so looking forward to your posts about your upcoming travels and read about your new home in Asia. Are you really excited, or pretty sad to not be coming back to Spain for the winter? How does Mozart feel?


Shannon- Cool! Truly, the best part is seeing it from a distance, so don't miss the top sites first that I mentioned, the white villages & countryside first!

Christina-Thanks, so glad to hear that. Funny, I was just writing about that on a new post coming. We have mixed feelings & very sad to leave Spain because we have grown to love this area & the people very much.

We are excited ( and a bit nervous) about exploring new areas too in Asia. Mozart is excited about the Chinese school, all the Chinese food, and that she might wear a uniform and take a bus to school ( because she has only read about such things & they sound cool to her).

She does not seem sad about leaving her friends here because they will stay in touch by webcams, email & we will visit every summer ( actually spring & fall as we arrive and depart...or so the plan stands now).

We are having good-bye parties for her at home and at school, so making it more complete,but she is also use to leaving here regularly & coming back, so seems kind of normal too.

It is all the unknown now,so we will just have to see how it goes.

We're looking forward to visiting with family too on the way! Should be an exciting year, but I will be posting more pics & less words & be online less, using my spare time for the books.


i have a lot friends that live in gibraltar because of the gaming industry and the tax status.None of them have many complimentary things to see and a lot have moved over to spain and just commute in to work. Many say it is quite dirty and dilapidated which seems strange considering it is so small a territory.You would think it would be easy to keep clean and appealing.

jaime callieto

Basically, The huge scale of the rock is amazing, it's history is muy interesting, the people are great, the apes are lively, beaches are nice AND the place even throws in puppies! I think that's worth driving out of spain for.... not to mention the food - mate.


First, I just want to say how much we enjoy your blog! We are currently in Gibraltar and wondered if there is a benefit to opening a bank account here? Also, for travel through the rest of Europe, we do not have a chip and pin card. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks for any advice you can give!

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