6 reasons why you should book a trip to Gibraltar this summer
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As the 17 May inches closer, Britons can finally get excited to travel again. Unfortunately, with popular holiday destinations like Spain, Italy, France and Greece left off the green list for the first iteration of its publication (these are currently on the amber list and require quarantine on return to the U.K.), there aren’t too many green list countries left to choose from for a European break.
If you’re looking for a warm, sunny or beachy Mediterranean holiday, your best bet is Portugal or Gibraltar, both of which are currently on the green list, and it looks that Gibraltar will stay there, given its high vaccination rate. For travellers who adore Spain, Gibraltar may be just the right pick, as it’s technically connected to the country.
Although the red, amber and green lists are set to be reviewed every three weeks (meaning there’s still hope you could holiday in Spain or Malta later on this summer), if you’re looking to escape from the U.K. immediately, we’ve pulled together a guide on all the best reasons to holiday in Gibraltar.
1. It’s part of the UK — and there’s no COVID-19 test required for entry
Whilst you definitely shouldn’t leave home without your passport, Gibraltar is indeed part of the U.K. as a British Overseas Territory, making some of the logistics a bit easier.
The country uses the pound, and you can expect to encounter British people, customs, food and more while there, all with a Spanish twist, of course.
Currently, Gibraltar is open to EU and British visitors via its land border with Spain without the requirement for a negative test result. As of 17 May, Gibraltar will not require arriving travellers by air to have a negative COVID-19 test result if they’re coming from the U.K. and have not been in any other destination in the 14 days prior to travelling.
Gibraltar won’t require U.K. nationals to show a COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination before entering. In fact, infection rates are so low and vaccination rates are so high that visitors from the U.K. won’t have to quarantine upon arrival, either.
Travellers may need to fill out Gibraltar’s passenger locator form prior to travel, though. We still advise getting travel insurance in case any rules change last minute or border openings are pushed back, which is always a possibility in the current pandemic climate.
2. But it feels like Spain
Although Gibraltar technically belongs to the U.K. and has all the comforts of home, it also possesses a distinctly Spanish vibe, perfect for any Brits who are dying to holiday in Spain this summer but aren’t interested in quarantining upon return to the U.K.
That warm Spanish sun, golden sandy beaches and views of nearby Cadiz and Malaga will give you the perfect balance of comforts and language from the U.K. wrapped in that electric Spanish buzz. And of course, let’s not forget about tapas and vino!
3. Arrival is easy
It’s true that summer airfare is rising quickly, but if you can be flexible with dates, TPG U.K. found some EasyJet flights to Gibraltar less than £130 return for travel in late May from London, and less than £100 from Bristol. Nonstop flights are available daily from various U.K. hubs and flying time is around three hours or less if you’re going from southern England.
If you’d like to fly British Airways and need to use cash, it’s best to book tickets soon to get the best rates. When it comes to using your bank of British Airways Avios, consider that most of the months of May and June are off-peak. It should cost you 7,250 Avios to fly in Euro Traveller and 13,500 to fly in Club Europe off-peak, one-way. And if you can’t manage to travel during off-peak dates, peak date pricing costs 8,250 Avios in Euro Traveller and 15,750 in Club Europe one-way, a few thousand more than off-peak.
For those residing near Southampton Airport (SOU) or Birmingham (BHX), regional airline Eastern Airways is launching flights to Gibraltar (GIB) starting in late May — perfect timing for a summer holiday.
4. You have your pick of accommodation
Gibraltar is small but has many options for lodging. We do recommend you book soon in order to have the best selection of hotels and rentals possible, as well as more affordable rates.
For the most typical Gibraltar British-inspired experience, you’ll want to stay a The Rock Hotel, a 4-star property set at the base of the territory’s famed rock, complete with a pool and beautiful afternoon tea option. Prices start at £125 per night in late May.
If it’s modern, Mediterranean vibes you seek, The Eliott Hotel is sleek, with a rooftop pool and practical amenities like a kosher kitchen and a 24-hour-fitness centre. Prices start at £160 per night in late May.
Apartment rentals can start as low as £50 per night.
5. Enjoy pleasant summer weather — and not just in summer
While much of Spain’s mainland (Benidorm, here’s looking at you) can have temperatures soaring close to 40 degrees Celsius, Gibraltar’s temps usually maintain well under 30 degrees Celsius, even in the heart of summer. Still, bring plenty of sun cream and a hat.
Just be aware that Gibraltar can get windy — especially if a levant wind rolls through.
6. Nature, city and beach all in one small territory
Although Gibraltar is just under seven square kilometers, there’s plenty to see and do, especially if you love to relax at the seaside.
Start with a visit to the top of the rock. If it’s too hot or gruelling for a hike up the Mediterranean steps, take the cable car up, and enjoy views of Gibraltar, Spain, Morocco and the sea. You’ll also spot Europe’s only population of macaques, or wild monkeys. But make sure not to touch, feed or bother them — just admire from a distance.
Check out the Windsor Suspension Bridge, which crosses a gorge, part of the renovated Thrill Seekers Trail. And, make sure to enjoy the Skywalk, a glass walk located more than 300 meters above sea level. If you’d prefer to keep the adventure level low, you can simply picnic and enjoy relaxing and strolling around the upper rock area. For those who want to beat the heat, the rock also has some underground caves and tunnels for exploring, such as St Michael’s Cave and the Great Siege Tunnels.
If you love the Kew Botanical Gardens in the U.K., you’ll enjoy the 15-acre Gibraltar Botanic Gardens. Dating back to 1816, this is an idyllic spot to get some shade and take in some greenery.
Back down at sea level, the old town area of Gibraltar is rich with history and architecture stemming from various countries and cultures. Start with a visit to the National Museum to get a feel for Gibraltar’s history. Then, wander through St Mary the Crowned Cathedral, which was built on the site of a former mosque. After a walk along Main Street and through Irish Town (shops and restaurants galore) to Casemates Square, make your way uphill to the old Moorish Castle.
If you need a beach break, there are several options to choose from — one of the most popular being the sands and pebbles of Eastern Bay. And for those wanting to get out on the water, boat trips/rentals and dolphin charters are readily available.
Once the sun sets, evenings can be spent at rooftop bars, tapas joints, British pubs and beyond. And make sure to catch the sunset over the Strait of Gibraltar at one of the most southernmost points in Gibraltar, Europa Point Lighthouse.
With limited destinations on the green list and many Brits already itching to travel, Gibraltar is one of TPG U.K.’s top picks for a green list getaway. The ease of visiting a U.K. territory sans quarantines and testing requirements combined with its Spanish, Moorish and Mediterranean influence and warm sunshine makes the destination the perfect place for a summer getaway filled with beach, culture and nature.
(Feature image by Karl Heinz Landwehr / EyeEm / Getty)
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