Gibraltar: Monkeys, Beers and The Rock

In Blog, Featured, Hints and Tips, Locations by Ryan & Erin8 Comments

Words: Erin Hardie | Pics: Ryan Platten | For history loving hubby visiting Gibraltar was an absolute must when already in the south of Spain-neighbouring vicinity. It was also however, well beyond our limited means due to economic gobbledegook I can’t explain (but something, something, stronger English currency). Enter La Línea de la Concepción, a miraculous save-the-day small Spanish town bordering the famous Rock of Gibraltar. If you, like us, use La Línea de la Concepción as a base of operations, you too can conquer the rock for easily four times less cost than if you see it from the Gibraltar side alone.

Visiting Gibraltar: Monkeys, Beers and The Rock for Less! Read on Below!

4GBP per pint of Guinness
*3GBP per pint of local beer (Stella Artois)

The most exciting part of visiting Gibraltar is seeing how the Rock of Gibraltar dominates the skyline!


Visiting Gibraltar: How to Get there for Less!

Some nifty googling during the three hour bus ride from Cádiz to La Línea de la Concepción left us informed that the best way to cross the Gibraltar border is by foot. It’s also possible by vehicle, but they tend to encounter a bit of a wait as compared to a no pause walk across the border. Seriously! We didn’t stop to even show our passports! We just held them at face height as we were waved on through to “Little Britain”. If visiting Gibraltar by plane this can cost from approx $AUD740 from Jerez airport (servicing Cádiz) and stopping through Madrid and London. If just flying from Madrid this would still cost $AUD690 and you’d still be stopping through London for a nice 19 hour total flight time. It can get as low as $AUD360 from Barcelona but it’s still not a direct flight. Our bus ride from Cádiz however was direct for just 3 hours and a cost of 12 Euro each.

British styling is very evident in Gibraltar


Visiting Gibraltar: Stay for Less!

Accommodation in Gibraltar for two started at 200 Euro per night, whereas our night in La Línea de la Concepción was only 25 Euro! That’s a massive saving! What we didn’t’ realise accommodation-wise was that it was not necessarily even necessary. Depending on how much sightseeing you wish to do in Gibraltar you could just get the bus to La Línea de la Concepción in the morning, walk for ten minutes to cross the border into Gibraltar and recross back out at any time before your next bus leaves to your onward destination. One impediment to this idea though is having masses of luggage as there was no luggage storage at the very basic La Línea de la Concepción bus station.

The views from the Rock of Gibraltar are stunning!


Visiting Gibraltar: Eat and Drink for Less!

Food and drink also averaged out to be approx 75% cheaper in La Línea de la Concepción. But probably the best reason I can give for championing using La Línea de la Concepción as a base for visiting Gibraltar is the emphasis the juxtaposition of these two different cultures, when sat side by side, does for highlighting their differences. Sort of like adding salt to a sweet dish to enhance the sweetness of the dish, so too does starting and ending one’s day in Spain then enhance the very Britishness of Gibraltar and vice-versa! Having checked into our typically laid back Spanish accommodation we walked across the border to Gibraltar around midday on a fine late-May Sunday just in time for the most British of Sunday traditions: a Sunday roast dinner. Accompanied by a pint of Guinness of course! Every pub we passed seemed to have a British or Irish theme as we walked through the mall full of British staple shops such as Debenhams and Boots. When we re-entered La Línea de la Concepción that night we rounded out our day with tapas and red wine and both agreed that it was the best jamón serrano (dry-cured ham) we had yet eaten in Spain. Was it though? Or was it just the enhancing force of a day away in “Little Britain”?

You can get a traditional Sunday roast at most pubs in Gibraltar, along with the full English breakfast.


Visiting Gibraltar: Charming Cultural Contrasts!

In the Gibraltar bars we visited we overheard the local punters and staff exchanging typically British pleasantries – gentle ragging on each other. Back in La Línea locals packed themselves like sardines into al fresco terraces mostly drinking coffee and having cake at the typical British dinner hour of 6pm. We were still able to find a bar serving tapas and wine to satiate our far too early dinner desire. Perhaps the most endearing cultural difference highlighted to us though was by way of our nearly running out of cash on hand. We needed to change some before getting a 10am cash-ticket-only bus out of La Línea de la Concepción but the exchange bureaus on the Spanish side all opened at 10.30am… what to do!? Ah easy solution! Across the border in Gibraltar the “Little Britain” bureaus were of course all open from 8am each morning. Seeing these little differences side by side was by no means to show either culture at a disadvantage. Instead we were left feeling the more endeared to both for their differing advantages and eccentricities.

Expect to pay more for food and drink in Gibraltar compared to La Linea


Visiting Gibraltar: Check out our Top Picks Below!

If you’re planning on visiting Gibraltar, or have visited before we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Our recommendation is without a doubt visiting Gibraltar by way of La Línea de la Concepción to save your money for visiting even more onward destinations! Whilst the list of our top picks below skews heavily in favour of the Gibraltar side of the border I assure you that you will not feel FOMO (fear of missing out) by basing your visit on the Spanish side of the border. The border is open 24 hours a day, so whether you want to dine late in Spain or get up early for a full breakfast and tea in “Little Britain” this little Spain/England world is your oyster!

Until next time, Cheers/Salud! Erin and Ryan.

Our Top Picks

With the 1700s built Great Siege Tunnels stretching for kilometres through “The Rock”, friendly resident Barbary macaques, hikes of varying skill and challenge and a Moorish castle at the entry point, the Rock of Gibraltar is unmissable. It’s also conveniently entirely unmissable geographically speaking, dominating one’s eyeline from any side of the narrow settled areas below it, hugging the base of the edifice like a snug belt. Once you hike the approximate 1 kilometre of very steep streets up through the town to the Rock, entry costs are quite reasonable with multiple options based on which parts/attractions are on your to do list costing between 15 to 40 pounds approx. Note that the cable car does not run on Sundays and parts of the Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area are also closed such as the World War II Tunnels. More information on visiting all parts of the Rock of Gibraltar at the official site here.

History is all around you on The Rock

Although we saw no evidence of anyone but us calling this area “Little Britain”, still how can we not? The cobblestoned streets are home to shops and pubs, mostly family owned, since their 1800s inception. Around here you can also snap pictures of typically British sights such as black cab taxis and red phone booths. Towards the marina end of the main street just outside Casemates Square there is a 1920s traditional indoor market (the Gibraltar Public Market) full of seafood, fresh and local produce. You may also hear locals speaking the local dialect here: Yanito, which to our untrained ears had very arabic sounds, although officially is said to be an English dialect influenced by Spanish, Genoese and Hebrew. Speaking of the marina (Marina Bay Square), it’s worth a visit too, if only to see how the other half live and to enjoy a very pricey sunset pint on the waterfront at one of the many trendy bars to be found in this area.

The marina at Gibraltar gives you a view into how the other half live!

Although we were visiting Gibraltar with time only for sightseeing if we had another day it would have been spent at the beach, on the Spanish side of the border. In fact this preference for the Spanish side of the border beaches was recommended to us by a Gibraltar side bartender. The beaches on both sides of the border are much of a muchness but Spain won out for him due to the cost and availability of beer. That is four times cheaper, and available without having to leave the sand. The final and very deciding factor in this uneven debate being the weather: although not much more than 2 kilometres from Gibraltar beaches, the Spanish side beaches can usually expect far more sunny weather than those in Gibraltar. This is due to the Rock of Gibraltar itself. Were it approx. two metres shorter it would not have the effects it does on the weather of Gibraltar. As it stands (at 426m) it is just high enough to draw overcast clouds almost daily around its circumference as it towers over the 6.8m2 area that is Gibraltar.

Have you been to Gibraltar? What are your tips?

Ryan & Erin
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Ryan & Erin

Founders at Downbubble Travels
Erin Hardie and Ryan Platten are teachers, travel writers and photographers/web admins from Perth Western Australia. A mutual love of travel and trying new flavours brought them together (til death do they part!). They have created this blog after having each travelled to over fifteen countries individually before joining forces. They now seek to bring a little taste of the places they go to the walls of others (please pin us!) and to share information with other travel lovers!
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Want to see the Rock of Gibraltar but don't want to pay UK prices? We hear you! Use our guide to learn how to stay on the Spain side of the boarder and tick the Rock off your bucket list at Spanish prices (about 75% less!)