Rendezvous Chargrill is one of several waterfront bars and eateries situated on the tranquil Queensway Quay overlooking the marina. Though this has become a popular place for locals and tourists to hang out in recent years, it never gets really busy; Rendezvous is the perfect place, then, for a cerebral early-evening cocktail or glass of wine whilst you contemplate the tall, rippling reflections of lights on the water’s surface. This is not somewhere to come if you’re in a hurry, as the service can be as relaxed as the setting – but if you’ve time on your hands it’s perfect.
Bruno’s is at the heart of local life in the trendy district of Ocean Village – a floating community that clusters around a small marina of the same name. Sleek and contemporary in style, it’s the perfect place to head for an early-evening cocktail, when the happy hour prices make it once of the cheapest places to drink in Gibraltar. You can prop up the circular bar or sit outside on the subtly lit terrace, where tables and sofas are served by charming waiting staff. The food is hearty and no-nonsense, whilst a big interior dining space can be hired for events.
One of the more surreal experiences to be enjoyed in Gibraltar is relaxing with a pint of ale in the Mediterranean sun – two things you can’t combine often, either in the UK or in nearby Spain. The best place to partake of these two aspects of Gibraltar’s defining cultures is the sunny terrace of the Lord Nelson pub, situated on Casemates Square at the southern edge of the old town. Inside it’s a traditional English pub, with a range of ales and lagers, wooden panelling and TVs showing quiz shows such as The Chase. Outside, though, you’re on a lovely Mediterranean terrace, from which you can watch the world go by on Casemates.
The enormous “yacht-hotel” that is Sunborn Gibraltar dominates the flashy neighbourhood of Ocean Village like a skyscraper. On its top floor is the super-cool Aqua Bar, from the decked terrace of which you can enjoy views over the bobbing masts of Ocean Village, the marina and the bay of Algeciras, which is home to a large population of dolphins. Drinks here are, as you’d expect, a little more pricey than elsewhere – but then again there’s nowhere else like Sunborn’s Aqua bar in Gibraltar. It’s at its best at sunset or after dark, when low lamps and candles make it one of the most romantic cocktail spots for miles around.
The Ship is another of Ocean Village’s popular hangouts and enjoys a waterfront location on the marina. It offers a good range of draught beers and is famous for its enormous Big Boy cooked breakfast, which few can finish (yes, that’s a challenge). Competitively priced meal deals run throughout the week, most major sports fixtures are shown live on a whopping screen and every Thursday is quiz night. Service is praised as friendly and many visitors to Gibraltar make repeat visits; given the amount of other bars and eateries along the waterfront, that fact speaks for itself.
You wouldn’t guess when you walk in, but the Star Bar is Gibraltar’s oldest drinking den. Indeed, it is said that Christopher Columbus stopped off here for a steak (and surely a tipple) before setting off on the voyage that would discover the Americas. Nowadays, the Star has swapped its original look for an interior of diner-style lighting, polished wooden surfaces and cool exposed brickwork. Some interesting artisanal beers are complemented by a good draught offering and tapas is served from 5pm. Recommended dishes are the Portuguese pork burger and the fish and chips.
OK so it’s not really a bar or pub , but given that you can enjoy the most stunning views in Gibraltar from the Top of the Rock cafe it has to make this list (and it does serve beer, after all). As its name suggests, this small refreshment space is situated right at the top of the 426-metre high Rock of Gibraltar, which is accessed by cable car from the base station below. Enjoy a bottle of Gibraltar beer as you goggle at the panorama that surrounds you: to your north lies Spain, whilst to the south you can clearly see the north coast of Morocco. This is presumably the local drinking spot for a certain group of Gibraltarians, as the majority of the territory’s Barbery macaques live up here.