This is a very strange place for the curious traveller. Take time to explore the caves and tunnels especially those not meant for tourists! The inside of the rock is an absolute labyrinth with the secret internal roads and tunnels 4 times longer than those on the surface. Military presence and security in this otherwise deserted area is strong.
In Greek mythology Gibraltar was Calpe, one of the Pillars of Hercules, which marked the edge of the Mediterranean and the known world.
In 711 Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslim governor of Tangier, landed at Gibraltar to launch the Islamic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. The Rock took his name - Jabal Tariq (Mountain of Tariq) eventually became Gibraltar.
Strategically important, Gibraltar was ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht; the British garrison was formally declared a colony in 1830. The topmost part of the Rock is still a British military installation, and off-limits to the public.
In referendums held in 1967 and 2002, the 27,800 Gibraltarians (2004 figure) ignored foreign pressure and voted overwhelmingly to reject any involvment by Spain in their government. On June 10th 2004, citizens of Gibraltar voted for the first time in the UK MEP (Member of the European Parliament) elections, as part of the South West constituency.
Remember that Gibraltar is British.
People from Gibraltar refer to themselves as Gibraltarian or 'Llanito' pronounced Ya-ni-to. They are easily offended if referred to as Spanish. Remember that Gibraltar has been British longer than the USA has existed. Take an interest in why they feel British, but never point out anything that you may think link them to Spain. Some Gibraltarians also feel sensitive to the use of the term 'colony' for their territory due to its connotations of being ruled or lacking in self-government.
Although the popular view is that the Spanish Government are the cause of many problems concerning Gibraltar, there is no animosity to individuals and Spanish tourists and workers experience no problems.
Gibraltar residents speak English and Spanish (with a local dialect).
The term gibberish came from the llanito habit of randomly alternating between English and Spanish words all the way through a sentence. New words appear at random and spread quickly through the tight-knit community, then disappear just as fast. The language of choice at any fast food joint is Spanish - everyone else is bilingual.
Gibraltar airport has daily scheduled flights to and from London-Gatwick (LGW)[EasyJet] and London-Luton (LTN) [Monarch Airlines] in the UK, and to and from Madrid-Barajas (MAD) [Iberia Airlines and British Airways].
The Monarch service is a lot cheaper than the British Airways, normally half or quarter. The two services usually take off within an hour of each other.
As of Sunday 30th of March, easyJet will commence their scheduled service to The Rock with two daily flights arriving from and departing for London Gatwick since their takeover of GB Airways (the British Airways franchise). The flights arrive from London at 10:50 and 18:45 respectively and prices start from £17.99 single, including taxes and charges. From this point on, a reduced British Airways service will be available, operating just one flight a day to and from Gatwick. Flight schedules will vary depending on season / time of year.
With the introduction of easyJet's operation from Gibraltar, together with the governments planned airport expansion, it opens the door for new routes from Gibraltar to cities such as Berlin, Paris and possibly New York. Private jets are reported to have reached as far as Miami (Florida, USA) direct from Gibraltar Airport.
Queues at the border may make it less time-consuming to park cars in La Línea and walk across. The land border is open 24 hours a day, though expect delays when planes are landing - the only road into Gibraltar runs right across the airport runway!
However, once the airport expansion is complete, traffic (except buses) will be diverted around to the east side of the runway to ease overall traffic congestion.
Buses from Spain stop just short of Gibraltar in La Línea, but its bus station is only 3 minutes walk from the border.
After walking across the border, there are buses every 15 minutes to the centre of Gibraltar and Europa Point, or it's only about another 10 minutes walk (across the runway and through a tunnel under the city walls) to the main Casemates Square.
From Algeciras you can get the bus to Gibraltar. When you walk out from the harbour (with ferries), turn left, walk along the main street for about 100m and then turn right. Continue about 200m along this street to the small building with railroads. There is a small sign for the bus stop. This bus can get you to La Linea for about 1.6 euro and it goes every 30 minutes during the day. You will arrive at the bus station about 500m from the border with Gibraltar. In the summer it can take up to 2 hours to cross the border- air conditioning is recommended! But after all it is worth it! HAVE FUN. Tarifa beach is the best place to go for surfing and bodyboarding.
When the frontier was closed, there was a ferry service from Gibraltar to Morocco. Although there may be an occasional passenger service geared up to the Moroccan workers in Gibraltar, who have problems crossing the frontier, the Gibraltar ferry has ceased and the nearest service is from Algeciras in Spain. These ferries accommodate cars.
Cruise ships often include Gibraltar as part of their itinerary.
Gibraltar is less than 7 square kilometres, so most of it can be seen on foot. Bear in mind, though, that some of the roads (especially up to the Upper Rock) are very steep. Taxis will take the strain out of the climbs, and all the taxi drivers seem to know all the apes by name. There is a (number 3) bus service that runs from the frontier, through the town and on to Europa Point.
Cable cars run from 9.30am until 5.45pm to the Upper Rock. A "cable car and apes" ticket costs £8 return, while a ticket including entrance to St. Michael's Cave and the Siege Tunnels costs £16. Entrance to each sight costs £8 without this ticket. Alternatively, a 'Taxi-Tour' (typically for 8 people in an MPV) will cost £16 for a 1.5 hr tour, and this includes the fees for entry to the Cave, tunnels and upper rock.
Gibraltar uses the Gibraltar pound with coins and notes issued by the Government of Gibraltar. The currency is pegged to the UK pound sterling at a 1:1 conversion rate (one UK pound equals one Gibraltar pound). The UK pound can be used freely in Gibraltar, so there is no need to convert UK pounds to Gibraltar pounds. However, Gibraltarian notes and coins are not legal tender in the UK.
Most shops will accept Euros and US dollars. Bear in mind that shops will generally give you a worse rate of exchange than the numerous exchange offices and generally won't accept small change. Government departments and the Post Office will only take Gibraltar and UK pounds.
Irish Town, the road which runs parallel to Main Street has a number of bars, like The Clipper which has good food, friendly staff, and satellite television. They serve a hearty English breakfast for £3.50. There is also Corks which serves more substantial lunches and Sacarello's Coffee Shop which also serves food.
If you prefer to sit outside and watch the world go by, head for Casemates Square where a number of pubs & restaurants serve fairly similar meals.
Biancas or Charlie's at Marina Bay are also worth a visit, as are some of the places at Queensway Quay if you fancy dining waterside.
The Lord Nelson on Casemates Square is one of the more popular pubs in Gibraltar. If the live music gets on your nerves then take a walk down Main Street for plenty more bars. Some other good bars include The Clipper, Star Bar (the oldest pub in Gibraltar), and The Horseshoe Bar. Best night to go out is probably on a Friday evening after 11pm. There is also Summer nights from 7pm on a Tue and Thurs.
A number of options exist for heavier drinkers. The Three Owls, offers double spirits and mixer promotions on student nights. The Underground opens just as the owls kick out and is open 12 till late. The Captains Cabin is an option when underground kick out take a slow walk up and they will be open!
Gibraltar has a low crime rate and a large and efficient police force modelled on the British system to ensure it stays that way.
Gibraltar is part of the European health insurance scheme and has a health service similar to the United Kingdom, with a modern Hospital. Tourists should be aware that the apes are wild animals and can bite and scratch.