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Review: a British Airways day trip to Gibraltar

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This is our review of a British Airways day trip to Gibraltar.

There are very few places at the moment that have no entry restrictions on arrival (such as quarantine or a requirement to show a PCR test) or upon returning to the UK.

Gibraltar is one of them, and reader Matthias recently decided to go for a same-day break. Coupled with the unique Gibraltar airport experience we thought it would make an interesting piece.

Worlds best departure lounge Gibraltar

Over to Matthias:

“Desperate for a trip out of the UK but short on time, I’d been watching the UK ‘travel corridor’ list during lockdown, hoping for a lucky break.

None came (unfortunately my budget does not extend to private jets to Bhutan or Botswana!). The only destination left without the need for quarantine or test in either direction was the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.

I’d visited Gibraltar once, 20 years ago, and my memories weren’t the best – aggressive monkeys and run-down pubs seemingly the only thing I could remember.

Airport from Moorish Castle Gibraltar

I figured at the very minimum it would be a fun flying experience. Gibraltar Airport usually ranks high in a list of ‘exciting airports’ due to its unique characteristics:

  • The short runway has water at both ends
  • The main road into town actually crosses the runway so must be closed every time a plane lands or departs
  • You get great view of the Rock on either departure or landing, depending on prevailing wind conditions and a judicious choice of seat

Conveniently, British Airways runs double daily Heathrow – Gibraltar flights on certain days, allowing a long day trip with around 6.5 hours on the ground. I got a great deal at under £80 return booked a month out, although I did notice the prices were nearer to £500 just before departure.

(Wizz Air has also just launched flights from Luton if you want another option. They depart at 13.40 every Monday and Friday.)

Sadly the flight time is just too short for an 160 tier point Club Europe run. This meant I stayed in Euro Traveller despite BA’s best efforts to sell me an upgrade.

The morning flight is quite early at 7.10am but has the benefit of getting you to a pleasantly warm Gibraltar by 11.00.

The flight was packed but immigration was efficient as long as you showed the barcode proving your completion of the online health form.

Because Gibraltar is less than 7 square km or 3 square miles, the airport is literally next to town. You can walk to Casemates Square in around 15 minutes including, of course, the crossing of the runway!

Alternatively, there are taxis and buses, although these can be slow as traffic seemed to be generally quite terrible.

Top Of The Rock Gibraltar
The original Top of the Rock

Things to do & see in Gibraltar

Gibraltar is, of course, mainly known for the Rock. This is where all the main sights are, which I’d decided to visit first before ending back in town for a walk and pitstop.

You need to buy a Nature Reserve ticket to access the Rock, but as this included entry to all the sights it was a real bargain at £13 considering the variety and quality of the attractions. Even if you’re not interested in military history, reading about the Moors, Spaniards, Brits and others fighting for the Rock is thoroughly engrossing.

Suspension bridge with Gibraltar town in the background
The Windsor Suspension Bridge

I started off at the Moorish Castle (really only a tower, but a very old one and with a nice bonus view of the airport). I progressed to the Great Siege Tunnels (fascinating and superbly refurbished), the new Windsor Suspension Bridge (mildly scary) and the Mediterranean Steps up the steepest part of the Rock, but with great views along the way.

After my first encounter with the famous Barbary macaque monkeys – who truly have no fear and can be mildly intimidating – I made my way past O’Haras Battery to St Michael’s Cave, bigger than expected and beautifully showcased in son-et-lumiere.

After a fleeting visit to the new but unimpressive Skywalk, I finished at the top station of the rickety old Cable Car, which whisked me back into town in a couple of minutes.

Cable Car Gibraltar

Rather unhelpfully, seeing all the sights involves a fair bit of backtracking and ups and downs, so I ended up covering around 10km and 1,000m climb. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are keen on some serious exercise. I did it running, with a backpack. Everyone’s crazy in their own way.

For a more comfortable experience, you could either leave out the odd landmark, start with a taxi to the far end, rent e-bikes or hire a tour guide who will gladly ferry you around in a car or minibus.

The alternative is to split your visit over a couple of days – any more and you’ll be bored, unless you’re once again allowed to cross the nearby border into Spain without triggering quarantine.

From the bottom of the cable car station, it’s a short stroll into Gibraltar town, which after an ‘extensive beautification programme’ now boasts the wonderfully pedestrianised Main Street. You can amble this back to Casemates Square for an alfresco pint and some tapas.

Casemates Square Gibraltar

Soon enough it was time to walk back to the airport, making sure I crossed the runway before the inbound flight.

After gliding through security in the beautiful but rather over-specced airport building, I was pleased to hear that the business lounge had reopened. I was less pleased to hear that British Airways had stopped paying for access so that my Silver card was useless.

Instead of paying the (surprisingly reasonable) £13 access fee, I grabbed a beer from the main bar and sat on the balcony, watching my plane come in with the Rock as backdrop.

As night fell, there was one last highlight to come. Due to the westerly winds, the plane would take off into the Bay of Algeciras and do a full circle around the Rock before heading back home.

The view from the left-hand side really was something else and almost made up for the absence of a G&T!

I’ll be honest that the flight back dragged on a bit, but when I arrived back home roughly 16 hours after I’d left, I concluded that it had definitely been worth it.”

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How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

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Comments (109)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Josh says:

    I love Gibraltar. Was it really so bad a few years ago? I even remember it being in my brother’s ‘Britain’s crap towns’ book haha I’d love to go back but I will wait for better times.

  • Tracey says:

    Went to GIB for a few days this Summer, can recommend the Elliott hotel as an alternative to the Rock. More centrally located and also has a decent-ish roof top pool and deck area.

  • JC says:

    What a dumb thing to do during a global pandemic. Stupid waste and contribution to global warming

    • John says:

      Climate emergency please. Global warming is not expressing the seriousness of the crisis.

      • Josh says:

        I wonder if the Romans 2000 years ago had similar concerns, when the climate of Britain was warmer than today.

  • stuart says:

    Hi John, drop in on your next visit and pick up an eBike – a great way to explore the Rock! (and a way of avoiding criticism regarding the use of climate changing forms of transport…). Stuart (

  • Waribai says:

    FWIW…Since 23rd December, very few people are allowed to enter Gibraltar unless they have residency….

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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