Once upon a time my sister invited my husband and I out for a drink. This is the moment she set up to tell us that she was eloping and wanted us to come along and witness the journey. After loads of happy tears, we got to talk deets and they were deciding between Malta and Gibraltar - both are tropical, both are beautiful, and I'd never heard of either place until this moment.
The winner was Gibraltar. Situated on the south coast of Spain, it's an overseas territory of England that uses the pound currency - except they print their own notes and coins with the Gibraltar name on it. Of course we were there for an incredibly special occasion but that didn't mean we didn't have enough time to explore the entire country; it's only 6.7 km squared, about the size of a downtown area - specifically the downtown of London, ON. It would only take about 20 minutes to walk the distance from the east to the west side, however, there's a 1400 foot mountain in the middle.
We stayed in an Airbnb, which was... eventful, but def cost effective (especially because sis was footing the bill). We stayed near the harbor which meant amazing views and staying near by a bunch of great bars and restaurants - not that we could have been too far from anything.
1. The Botanical Gardens
Some of the main spots to see were the Botanical Gardens (where the happy couple got hitched) with a real life orange tree - I don't know why that was so important to me because they grow in North America, but it just seemed extra tropical to me. They had every plant I'd ever heard of, including (but not pictured) a massive 10ft high wall of every species of air plant, a cactus room, and a giant bridge to look down over the whole thing from. It was heaven.
2. The Rock of Gibraltar
Going up the Rock of Gibraltar was also a must-do, it takes up almost the entire country so you might as well. We took a cable car up, but I hear you could walk/hike it, but I would have literally died trying. Inside the rock is St. Michael's Cave, and it was cleaned out and turned into a music venue?! I'm sorry, but I don't think I'd enjoy listening to a rock concert (pun) with a ton of bass that may or may not cause a mountain to fall on me. At tge top of the rock you'll also see tons of Barberry Apes; the babies are cute as all heck but the adults were a bitttt intimidating - and you'll also want to keep your phones and keys tucked away because they can be a bit grabby.
3. europa point
The furthest point south in Gibraltar is called Europa Point. There is a good chunk of it currently under construction for new buildings, but it was still cool as heck to actually see another continent from here. The mosque, lighthouse and view of Africa were all massive highlights of this place. A few minutes drive away was this really sweet little beach complete with bright colored building dotting the horizon with the Rock in the backdrop. If you are looking for somewhere to take some sweet Instagram selfies - this is it.
I feel like I could gush about this place all day - the weather was the perfect temperature, the people were super friendly, the food and drink was all priced appropriately... and the views - no matter where you went - were incredible.