Yes, you can hike the Mediterranean Steps--the quintessential Gibraltar nature experience for the hale and hearty—even if you’re coming from a cruise ship. As long as you have 6-8 hours in port, don't get daunted by the fact the starting point is a hard-to-find outpost some 3 miles from the Cruise Terminal.
Take the 15” walk out of the Terminal along N. Mole Rd into town to the roundabout. Across the street is the Bus Station at 1 Corral Rd. Save your strength for the hike by taking the bus that goes south on Europa Road past the cable car/botanical gardens. Tell the bus driver you’re going to the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History preserve and ask him to let you off as close to Jew’s Gate/Cemetery as he can get. This will be at or near the base of Windmill Hill Road. Walk on this winding road for 15,” bearing left at all times. (Guards will prevent you from going right into the military area.) Don’t skip the free Jew’s Cemetery at the bottom, which has been recently-reconstructed to honor the long-ago presence of Jews in Gibraltar. Then walk 50’ further up the hill to the Preserve ticket booth, paying the small fee to enter. You will be given the choice of the easy paved road in or the Mediterranean Steps with all their warnings. Do not falter! My husband and I--in our late 60s but fit—have been forever glad we took the challenge. While arduous, there were many places to rest. And a few years ago they reworked some of the steps and added rails, making them a bit less onerous. It was so high up at one point that I looked down at the ocean and asked, “Why are there toy boats down there?” only for me to suddenly and surreally realize they were full-sized vessels. Bring a written nature guide and you’ll be able to identify plants and birds indigenous only to Gibraltar. You’ll also see caves and ruins of military buildings. We wove up and down the backside of the Rock, eventually ascending the full 426m to the top where we could look across the strait and see Africa. At the top, boom, were the aggressive Barbary Apes, the only monkeys now native to Europe. Head further to see people coming up on the cable cars or in vans with the pride of knowing you did it on foot. You will remember this adventure for the rest of your life!
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