Top 3 things to do in Casemates Square, Gibraltar

Casemates Square, surrounded by bastion walls and once a square used for public executions it is now the entrance to Gibraltar's shopping district. Used for special events such as National Day and throughout the year for shows, festivals and nightlife, this place is definitely worth a visit if you come to Gibraltar.  

1. Enjoy Mediterranean culinary delights from a wide range of cuisines

From pizzas to pub grub to fish & chips and spanish tapas, there is always something for everyone. Try out The Square Cafe for typical spanish raciones, Cafe Solo for the most interesting salads and delicious pasta dishes and try out The Little Rock for some Sunday roast and its amazing pulled pork burger. 

2. Enjoy some duty free shopping and take a break in the square's coffee shops

Need some sort of electronic or looking for products to add to your make-up bag? Gibraltar has a history of shopkeepers and traders dating back to 1800's when new trade was brought in via the port. Its best buys includes perfume, jewellery, electronics and cosmetics.

3. Visit the Gibraltar Crystal 

Right at the entrance of Main Street, visit the Gibraltar Crystal and watch these glass blowers at work creating a range of delicate pieces you can get as souvenirs of Gibraltar. 

Casemates is also home to several special events held throughout year, such as National Day (10th Sept), May Day (1st May) and New Year's Eve celebrations (31st Dec) and becomes quite the sight when most of Gibraltar's population congregates in this square to celebrate these wonderful holidays. 

More so, throughout summer it is home to the annual Summer Nights programme, which this year is on Thursdays and Saturdays. Enjoy summer nights which hosts a mix of talents on show, from local dance groups to X-factor and BGT contestants. Always something for everyone, with bouncy castle, small market and face painting for the kids. 

In Gibraltar today? Head to Casemates square for a relaxing afternoon spent with loved ones. For more news and information on summer nights, check out their facebook page here 

Things to do in Gibraltar - For First Time Travellers

Gibraltar hosts a vast array of historical, cultural and gastronomical wealth of information. It sits at the southern part of Europe and is home to around 30,000 people. If it's your first time travelling to Gibraltar, I suggest you try and experience a bit of all of these aspects that make Gibraltar unique. 

The Rock of Gibraltar - Eastern view 
My top picks are:

1. Visit the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. 

You can spend as much or as little time as you want in the nature reserve depending on how you plan to visit this treasure on the Rock full of flora and fauna features for you to enjoy. At 426 m above sea level, you will enjoy seeing truly breathtaking views of Gibraltar, Spain and Morocco. 

Gibraltar - Europa Point and Morocco in the distance
In my opinion, I suggest you do not miss these places of interest and attractions: 
Great Siege Tunnels - A fantastic network which immerses you into a Gibraltar through the siege 
Apes Den - A tourist favourite, seeing these guys in their natural habitat
St Michael's Cave - This wondrous place will leave you mesmerized. Also used for concerts and special events 
WWII tunnels
Princess Caroline's Battery - For great views of the Rock and beyond  
Moorish Castle - To view the Moorish baths and views of the Old Town

Gibraltar Barbary apes at St Michaels' Cave
There are various routes you can take to visit the nature reserve. Some as follows: 

Walk it - if you love nature treks and have time to wander then try walking the reserve. Some parts are quite challenging  (426m ascent challenging), but it is definitely a great way to visit all the sightseeing spots mentioned above. Entrance ticket to the reserve will cost you £10.00pp and £0.50p entry for walkers. 

Take a bus tour - if you are pressed for time or don't fancy walking, try a Gibraltar Rock Tour. There are various companies in Gibraltar that organises them to include Blands Travel, MH Blands and Parodytur or flag down any standard white taxi you see as they also conduct private tours of the rock (max 8 persons). 

The standard bus rock tour takes about 1.5 hours and visits Europa point, St Michaels Cave and the Apes Den, some can extend it to include the WWII tunnels. I know I also mentioned the Great Siege tunnels and Moorish Castle on my list above, these can only be done trough a private tour of the rock which you need to clarify that that's what you want to the above mentioned companies when you contact them.  The tours are wonderful as you get a great running commentary by the driver guides on the history of Gibraltar. 

Europa Point - Sirkorski's monument 
Hop on the cable car - a 6 min cable car journey will take you to the Top of the Rock station, the highest peak in Gibraltar. At the top station, you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon tea overlooking the sea across Europe and Africa and if lucky, get to see the monkeys too, outside of the Apes Den. A great place for taking in the breathtaking views of Gibraltar and the straits. 

2. Visit Gibraltar's shopping district - Main Street 

From high fashion stores to electronics, perfume and cosmetics, Main Street is home to a series of VAT free stores which millions of tourists enjoy over the year. 

To enjoy some fine cuisine, head to Casemates square (entrance to Main Street) where you will find a range or bars and restaurants to suit your taste. Want to visit Albert Hammond's restaurant here in Gibraltar? Head over to The Little Rock

Main Street, Gibraltar

3. Go on a Dolphin trip 

Capture these awesome mammals in their natural environment, leaping out of the waters in Gibraltar's bay. There are two companies that organise these trips Dolphin Adventure (the Yellow boat) and Dolphin Safari (the Blue boat). 

Enjoy a 1hr trip across the bay to see the dolphins and also beautiful views of the rock from afar. 

Marina Bay - Dolphin Trip collection point

4. Visit the Gibraltar museum 

Located in the heart of Main Street it is home to a vast collection history and natural history artefacts from Gibraltar through the ages, going back to the origins of the Rock through the Jurassic period around 200 million years ago. 

There is the Neanderthal and Great Siege exhibits and a wonderfully put together 15 min video introduction to Gibraltar. It also houses Moorish baths (part of ongoing archeological work in the area). 

The Museum is located right next to the Bristol Hotel and you can get there by walking through Main Street or grabbing a taxi this hotel. Entry is £2 per adult and is closed on Sundays and public holidays.  

Archaeological excavation at entrance to Gibraltar Museum, with night illumination, AquilaGib

Come and visit this fantastic place, great warm weather now in summertime and always something to do! 

Ben Nevis Trek - The Five Commandments for Survival

We did it! We made it to the top of the UK's highest mountain - Ben Nevis, Scotland. We took part in a charity event held by Macmillan cancer support group this past weekend, July 11th 2015 and it was the best and worst challenge we had done to date! 

Shereen & Dylan before the Ben Nevis Trek  

#TeamMacmillan preparations at Fort William

Love adventure and want to try something new?! Get in touch with #TeamMacmillan and make it a worthy cause! They were incredibly well organised and trip included bus transfers to and from Glasgow, experienced guides from Charity Challenges, dinner before setting out and the breakfast of champions on your return after the descent! 

Here are some tips we recommend to anyone wanting to conquer this beast: 

1. Thou shalt NOT forget your waterproof jacket or trousers 

The absolute biggest mistake we made was not to take waterproof trousers. We ended up getting hypothermia stage 1, nearly 2 because of it. A good pair of waterproof jacket and trousers means the likely rain you'll get on the mountain won't seep through your warm clothes. We did three quarters of the trek soaked and it wasn't a good way to experience it. 

Never. Forget. Waterproofs. 

At the Summit of Ben Nevis - Wind, Rain & Snowy conditions

2. Thou shalt stick to the path and listen to your guide and never say you can't. 

Our guide was called Phil and he knew exactly what he was doing, which is always comforting when you don't know what to expect up there. 

Listen to your guide as he will give you great advice on how to keep warm and on how to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to the top. 

There were 10 of us in the group and our guide made sure we all made it up there as a team and got back down as a team. He literally cured our hypothermia with extra clothes and warm drinks he gave us. 

Never say you can't. Because of the really cold weather conditions up there, there was a point we decided we wanted to turn back. Then we remembered why we were doing this and really pushed through. 

3. Thou shalt make sure you have a full kit 

In our experience, these are some essential things you need for this: 
- boiling orange juice in flask 
- two pairs of gloves - one for the ascent and new warm ones for the descent

- dry clothes - for after the trek and for the mountain 
- waterproof bags - to put everything in so your electronics and extra clothes don't get wet. 

- head torch - if you are doing this at night, it's essential. At one point I thought I could hear waves crashing against the mountain, on our descend when the sun had risen, my waves crashing turned out to be a waterfall! 
We recommend one that can adjust angles, so that you don't shine your light straight into people's eyes. 

- thick socks, really thick socks 
- good walking shoes 

- first aid kit 
- food and energy supplies, mix sour and sweet nibbles 

- go pro camera / waterproof camera - you don't want to get up there and not be able to cherish the moments. We took a go pro as it's waterproof and actually survived the -2 degree weather conditions we got at the top. 

4. Thou shalt admire the beautiful views

Somewhere in between heaven and earth you have landscapes you only thought possible on lord of the rings. Take in these sights as this is what made the trek completely worth it for us.  

Sottish Highlands

Weather clearing up after sunrise on Ben Nevis - image does NOT do scenery justice

5. Thou shalt take pride in reaching the top 

Not everyone makes it to the top, at 1344 meters in difficult weather conditions, battling wind, rain and snow. So make sure you enjoy reaching the top. 

Don't be too harsh on yourself if you reach the top and not see anything. The chances of you getting a good clear sky up there is 1 in 5! On the way down, the views are amazing and these photos do not do it justice. 

At the Summit on Ben Nevis

Completing our Ben Nevis Midnight Challenge

I totally recommend this hike to anyone and everyone that loves a bit of adventure and the outdoors. It's tough and took us about 9 hours, starting at midnight. I suggest you go with a guide if you want to do the challenge at night like we did. Have a look at Hiking @ Macmillan on Facebook to make it a meaningful challenge and also to make it a team challenge as we undertook this with about 130 other people! Absolutely fantastic!! 

#TeamMacmillan organising our dinner and breakfast for the entire group for Ben Nevis Trek
Completing the Ben Nevis Midnight Challenge with Macmillan Cancer Support on July 11th 2015
Anyone still wishing to donate to our cause (Macmillan Cancer Support, UK) please do so here: