A path on the Mediterranean (Med) Steps in Gibraltar

Climbing the Mediterranean Steps to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar

Climbing the Mediterranean (Med) Steps is one of the best ways to reach the top of the Rock of Gibraltar and is a literal highlight of any visit to Gibraltar. Where else will you get a spectacular view of three countries (Gibraltar itself, Spain, and Morocco) and two bodies of water (the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean)?

Morocco viewed from the Med Steps in Gibraltar
A glimpse of Morocco through the clouds

It’s not easy but it’s certainly worth the effort and is infinitely more satisfying than taking the cable car or a taxi tour.

Where are the Med Steps?

The Med Steps start at the southern end of Gibraltar at Jews’ Gate (near the Jewish Cemetery and the Pillars of Hercules monument) and end near O’Hara’s Battery at the top of the Rock.

The Pillars of Hercules at the foot of the Med Steps in Gibraltar
The Pillars of Hercules at the foot of the Med Steps in Gibraltar

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How do you get to the Med Steps?

By car

If you’re driving into Gibraltar (not something I’d generally recommend) you can park your car at the Grand Parade car park next to the Cable Car Station and the entrance to the Alameda Botanical Gardens and then go the rest of the way on foot.

By bus

There are no buses which go directly to the Med Steps, but the GI-2 bus to Europa Point has stops close to the start. The Garrison Gym stop near Windmill Hill Road is probably the best stop to choose.

On foot

If you’re walking, head up Main Street until you reach the Grand Parade car park. From there, walk along Europa Road and past the Rock Hotel (following the signs to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve). The quickest way is to then turn on to Engineer Road and keep going until you reach the Pillars of Hercules.

Upper Rock Nature Reserve Tickets

Before you can start to climb the Med Steps you’ll need to buy a ticket at the ticket office on Windmill Hill Road, in front of the Pillars of Hercules (unless you’re a Gibraltar resident in which case it’s free).

A ticket gives you access to all the attractions of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve and costs £18 for adults and £12 for children (ages 3 to 11). Children under 3 can go free, but climbing the Med Steps with a small child is probably not a great idea. Payment is by card only. Prices are correct as of January 2024.

The Upper Rock Nature Reserve attractions included in the ticket price are:
– Apes’ Den
– City Under Siege Exhibition
– Great Siege Tunnels
– Med Steps
– Military Heritage Centre
– Moorish Castle
– O’Hara’s Battery (closed for renovations as of August 2022)
– Skywalk
– St Michael’s Cave
– Windsor Suspension Bridge
– World War II Tunnels

There used to be a special walker’s ticket which was a nominal amount (I think the first time I climbed the Med Steps in 2017 it was only 50p) and meant that you could access the Med Steps but not any of the other attractions. It’s a shame that this has been discontinued as I used to climb the Med Steps frequently but, at £18 a time, isn’t something I could afford to do now particularly as I’ve visited all the attractions several times over the years.

Once you’ve purchased your ticket you’re good to go. There are some toilets next to the Ticket Office so, if you need to go, now is the time.

Climbing the Med Steps

The start of the Med Steps is clearly signposted opposite the ticket office up a flight of concrete steps next to the building which is home to the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society.

Walk past the Tree of Hope, a new addition since February 2022, and then turn right at the junction. 

The walk starts easily enough along a narrow rocky path along the side of the Rock with the Strait of Gibraltar to the right, and even has a downward section (the calm before the storm) before the first real uphill steps appear – this is where the hard work begins!!

Europa Point lighthouse viewed from the Med Steps in Gibraltar
Europa Point lighthouse as seen from the Med Steps

Some of the steps are man-made while others are hewn out of the rock. I only have short legs, so I was grateful for the rope ‘bannisters’ that have been put in place at various spots on the route as, believe me, some of the steps are quite deep! Fortunately, the whole walk is so scenic that any rest attempts can easily be passed off as needing to stop to take photos!

Climbing the Med Steps on the Rock of Gibraltar
The only way is up!

At the top of the first flight of steps and to the left of the path are the Goat’s Hair Twin Caves – the perfect spot to have a breather and admire the view of the Med, the lighthouse at Europa Point and the mountains of Morocco on the other side of the Strait.

Inside one of the Goat's Hair Twin Caves on the Rock of Gibraltar
Inside one of the Goat’s Hair Twin Caves
The view from one of the Goat's Hair Twin Caves on the Rock of Gibraltar
Looking out across the Strait of Gibraltar

From the Goat’s Hair Twin Caves the path carries on upwards, through a small tunnel, eventually reaching several World War II military buildings.

Tunnel through the Rock of Gibraltar on the Med Steps
Through the tunnel…
Tunnel through the Rock of Gibraltar on the Med Steps
…and out the other side
The interior of one of the World War II buildings on the Rock of Gibraltar
The World War II fortifications are worth a look

Although the steps continue upwards on the left near these buildings (directly opposite a small wooden viewing platform), ignore these at this stage and head straight past to a viewing spot at the end of the path. This lookout gives exceptional views of the eastern side of the rock, the beaches of Sandy Bay and Catalan Bay in Gibraltar, the Spanish town of La Linea de la Concepcion across the border, and the coastline of the Costa del Sol in the distance.

The view from the Med Steps of Gibraltar and the Costa del Sol
On a really clear day you can see right along the Costa del Sol coastline

Backtracking slightly the steps are now on the right and the path starts to get steeper!

On my most recent trip up the Med Steps I actually followed a Barbary partridge up the path here. When I’ve seen them previously they’ve scurried into the undergrowth but this one was happy to walk slowly up the path with me walking just a few feet behind.

The final set of steps zigzag their way up the side of the rock and, again, the multiple photo opportunities are the perfect excuse to stop for a breather!

Climbing the Med Steps to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar
Nearly there!
Climbing the Med Steps on the Rock of Gibraltar
Don’t forget to look back at how far you’ve come!
Climbing the Med Steps to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar
The final set of steps zigzagging their way to the top

Once you’ve tackled these limestone steps you’ve made it! You’ve officially climbed to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar. Time to catch your breath and admire the view!

Climbing the Med Steps on the Rock of Gibraltar
You did it!! You climbed those steps.
A Barbary Macaque on the Rock of Gibraltar
You’ll most likely have a welcome committee when you reach the top!

Exploring the Upper Rock Nature Reserve

As you’ve paid for all the Upper Rock Nature Reserve attractions it’s a matter of deciding which to see first as you head back down the Rock. Be warned, there’s quite a lot of walking between attractions.

There are four colour coded walking trails around the Upper Rock so there’s something for visitors of all abilities and range of interests.

Nature Lover – an easy trail to discover more of the flora and fauna of Gibraltar.

History Buff – a medium ability trail for anyone who wants to know more about Gibraltar’s military history.

Monkey Trail – a medium ability trail with guaranteed sightings of the Barbary Macaques.

Thrill Seeker – the most difficult trail, this route covers the Med Steps.

There’s also an app that can be downloaded free for iOS and Android phones.

It’s worth deciding beforehand what attractions you want to see so that you maximise your time on the Rock and don’t have to backtrack too much – after the effort of climbing the Med Steps you definitely won’t want to spend any more time on your feet than you have to. Trust me!

Douglas Path on the Rock of Gibraltar
Douglas Path on the Upper Rock Nature Reserve

From the top of the Med Steps my favourite way back down is to follow Douglas Path to the top of the Charles V Wall. While it’s unlikely you’ll see any of Gibraltar’s most famous residents, the Barbary Macaques, as you’re climbing the Med Steps chances are that, once you reach the top, you’ll be met by at least one. If not, you’ll be guaranteed to see some as you head back down the Rock.

Barbary Macaques on the Rock of Gibraltar
I know how he feels!

The Barbary Macaques that Gibraltar is famous for have a nose for food and can smell it a mile off so, if you’ve bought any snacks along with you, make sure your backpack is fully zipped up otherwise you could end up the victim of a monkey mugging, something I’ve witnessed numerous times.

Warning signs about the Barbary Macaques on the Rock of Gibraltar
Remember, the macaques are wild animals!

You can walk down the steps of the Charles V Wall to the Apes’ Den although you do need to take care as macaques frequently sit on the steps and there are warning signs about them.

Charles V Wall on the Rock of Gibraltar
Charles V Wall – an alternative way down the Rock but watch out for macaques on the steps!

If you don’t fancy taking your chances passing the macaques on the very narrow steps you can follow the signs for the Moorish Castle where you’ll eventually come out at the top of Castle Steps, an easy walk down to the city centre.

Alternatively, if you’ve had enough walking for one day after climbing the Med Steps you can take the Cable Car back down. The top station is just a short walk from the top of the Charles V Wall and will deposit you just outside the main entrance to the Alameda Gardens.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Med Steps

How long does it take to hike to the top?

Depending on your level of fitness, and the weather on the day you climb, it usually takes anything from ninety minutes to two hours to reach the top. This includes stops to take photos (or just get your breath back).

How difficult is the climb to the top?

The official sign at the base of the Rock states it is hard but, as long as you take your time, don’t overestimate your abilities, and stop if you need to, it should be manageable by most people. If you’re used to walking with poles then they might come in handy to help on some of the steeper sections but they’re not essential.

Climbing the Med Steps to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar
Take your time on the steep rocky sections

Is it suitable for people with a fear of heights?

I don’t like heights but I have no problems with the Med Steps. The Skywalk attraction at the top though is another matter entirely! This is a glass viewing platform which juts out over the Rock.

Looking down the Med Steps on the Rock of Gibraltar
If you suffer from vertigo, climbing the Med Steps might not be for you.

When is the best time to climb the Med Steps?

There’s not really a bad time to climb the Med Steps but, obviously, a clear day is preferred to make the most of the outstanding views.

Spring. This is probably the best time to visit as the days are cooler and the flowers are just coming into bloom.

Summer. Summer days in Gibraltar are hot so, if this is the only time of year that you’re able to climb the Med Steps, make sure that you go either early morning or, if you’re not a morning person, wait until late afternoon or early evening. The heat of the sun and the lack of shade makes it more difficult and much less enjoyable.

Autumn. Like Spring, this is a good time to climb as the weather is cooler but still warm.

Winter. This is probably not the best time to climb the Med Steps. The weather can be very changeable in Gibraltar and the Med Steps are often closed to walkers if the weather is particularly bad. If this is the only time you have then make sure you heed any weather warnings and wear something warm.

Spanish Festoon Butterfly on the Rock of Gibraltar
A Spanish Festoon Butterfly

What wildlife can you see on the Med Steps?

The amount of flora and fauna is spectacular. I’ve climbed the Med Steps at different times of the year and there’s always something new to see.

Native plants on the Rock of Gibraltar include the Gibraltar Candytuft, Sea Lavender, and rare Gibraltar Campion.

Gibraltar Candytuft growing on the Rock of Gibraltar
Gibraltar Candytuft
Narcissi growing on the Rock of Gibraltar

Birdlife includes the Barbary Partridge and Yellow-legged Seagulls. If you’re lucky you might also see eagles, vultures, and other birds of prey.

A Barbary Partridge on the Rock of Gibraltar
Barbary Partridge
Yellow-legged gull on the Rock of Gibraltar
Yellow-legged seagull

What should you take with you?

As well as wearing comfortable shoes, there are a few essentials you should carry with you when you climb the Med Steps.

Water. There’s no access to water on the Med Steps so make sure you take plenty with you. I have a backpack with a water bladder insert and can easily go through two litres of water on the climb on a hot day.

Sunscreen. Don’t be fooled by the levanter cloud that frequently hangs over Gibraltar. Even on a cloudy day the Mediterranean sun is strong so don’t forget sunscreen and take your sunglasses and a hat too.

Jacket. The weather in Gibraltar can be changeable so it’s also worth taking a jacket. On many occasions I’ve set off in glorious sunshine only to reach the top covered in cloud.

Phone. Don’t forget your phone. While accidents are unlikely to happen it’s better to be prepared should an emergency arise. The number for the emergency services in Gibraltar is 112.

Levanter cloud formation over the Rock of Gibraltar
Cloud can cover the Rock at any time so be prepared!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or, if you’ve climbed the Med Steps yourself, let me know how you found it.

Happy hiking!

Gibraltar Essential Information

Getting to Gibraltar

There are daily flights from several airports in the UK as well as from Morocco.

If you’re in Spain and wanting to visit it’s just a matter of crossing the border and walking over the runway. You’ll need your passport which will be stamped as you enter and leave Gibraltar if it’s not from an EU country.

Where to stay in Gibraltar

Gibraltar doesn’t have a huge selection of hotels but the ones it does have are of a high standard.

The Eliott Hotel is close to Main Street and has a rooftop pool with stunning views.

The Sunborn is situated in Ocean Village and is a converted yacht. It has a pool on the upper deck, again with great views of the Rock of Gibraltar and several bars and restaurants, as well as a casino.

The Rock Hotel is Gibraltar’s oldest hotel close to the Botanical Gardens. It’s hosted many celebrities over the years and is a great place for afternoon tea overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar.


Getting Around Gibraltar

Gibraltar is very walkable so getting around on foot isn’t a problem. The public transport network in Gibraltar is also good with frequent buses that cover the whole area.

Because of its size, it’s not worth considering hiring a car. If you’re staying in Spain you can drive in to Gibraltar but it’s easier to leave your car in La Linea and walk across the border.


Gibraltar uses sterling but most shops will take euro although you may not get the best rate.

It’s worth considering an international debit card which enables you to spend abroad without having to worry about unfavourable exchange rates. A Wise account gives you access to more than 50 currencies and also enables you to withdraw up to €200 per month free of charge at ATMs abroad.

Travel Insurance

I never travel without taking out insurance. You might think you don’t need it but you never know what can happen so it’s better to be safe than sorry. I use Globelink International who offer value for money insurance for travellers worldwide.

Get Your Guide offers a wide variety of tours and activities in and around Gibraltar.

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Everything you need to know about climbing the Mediterranean (Med) Steps to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar

16 thoughts on “Climbing the Mediterranean Steps to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar”

  1. I was thinking this looks a great dog walk for Henry until I saw the Barbary Macaques. One for me on my own methinks.

  2. Cannot believe I haven’t been to Gibraltar yet. The views (including 3 countries!) would be worth the two hour climb to the top. The Barbary Macaques look so cute, especially asleep on the steps, but they do scare me a little haha

    1. The views are definitely what make the climb worthwhile.

      The baby macaques are very cute but some of the adults are pretty big – I always give them a swerve when I have to walk past them. Just in case!!

    1. You’re younger and fitter than me so you’d probably find it a breeze!! If you like WWII history you’ll love Gibraltar – the tunnels inside the rock are fascinating.

  3. Can a 7 and 10 year old do this hike? They have hiked with us for 5 mile loops and climbs. Please advise.
    More concerned about safety than strength..

    1. Hi, yes it will be fine for them.

      It’s a very safe route with railings in place where needed (more to assist with climbing the steps) but the path never gets too close to the edge.

      Have a great trip!

        1. Hi Terje

          I’m so sorry that I didn’t see this message sooner – you’ve probably already climbed the Steps by now!

          The distance is just under a mile and it takes roughly 90 minutes to two hours to climb to the top. If you’re fitter you could do it quicker but my timing allows for photo stops too.

          Best wishes

  4. Very informative, thank you.
    2 questions: running shoes ok? Or need hiking boots?
    Are there bugs, mosquitoes, etc?

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