⚓️ Thinking about taking a day trip to Tangier in Morocco, from Tarifa in Spain? Well I can confirm… YES, it is possible and yes we have done it!!
If you ever find yourself in Tarifa, the south of Spain, looking for a slightly different travel experience, then a day trip to Tangier, Morocco is a definite box ticker. What’s more, it’s surprising how easy it is to do! Plan it right, with an early morning ferry crossing from Tarifa, and in an hour you’re in the African continent. Wham bam… thank you mam!
We’ve been to Tangier twice. Our first time to Tangier was on a day trip from Tarifa, while we were cruising the south of Spain. In and out, in a single day… we loaded up with carpets and headed back to Europe. The second time we visited Tangier, was at the end of our slow travel of Morocco… an epic 3 month itinerary and stay in Morocco.
As such, we now know Tangier well! This guide explains where to eat, the top things to do, the best tours, when to go, what to wear and the safety aspect. We also share a self-guided walking tour in case you want to do it alone.
Therefore, this post is here to help you consider a day trip to Tangier, from across the ditch in Tarifa, Spain. We thoroughly recommend a quick trip across the Strait of Gibraltar, to walk around an ancient Medina in North Africa. And we’re here to tell you how to do it!
How to Get to Tangier from Tarifa, Spain
Above we mentioned that taking a day trip to Tangier from Tarifa, Spain is easy. This is because it really is! If a day trip is your plan, then the best option is to take the FRS Iberia ferry from Tarifa, to the Port De Tangier Ville in Morocco.
The Tarifa Port at the southern tip of Spain, is small and easy to navigate. Also it’s a lot less stressful, which in reality, is definitely what you need for a day trip to Africa!
While on the Moroccan side, the Port De Tangier Ville is perfectly located in downtown Tangier. Conveniently, the port is walking distance to the main beach, modern shopping hubs and the old Medina. More of which we explain below.
There is also an option to take a ferry from Algeciras, Spain to Morocco. However, the ferry does not arrive into central Tangier. Instead it docks at either Tangier Med which is an hour drive north east of Tangier City, or Cueta – an exclave of Spain on the Moroccan coast. In all honesty, these options are better suited to travellers who plan to bring their own vehicles on a Morocco road trip.
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Ferry Tickets & Prices from Tarifa to Tangier
Tickets on the FRS Iberia ferry from Tarifa to Tangier are currently just over 38€ per adult one way. Children 4 – 13 years are 21€, children 1 – 3 years are 17€ and infants under 1 year old are 10€. You can book these below with Ferry Hopper.
No need to print tickets in advance or to go to the ticket office on arrival. Simply book tickets online a day or two in advance and show up to the ferry terminal with the booking code on your phone.
If you would like to take your own car, then this costs around 170€ for a medium sized car. You also have the option of booking a motorbike on Ferry Hopper.
About Tangier & Some History
Tangier is a city rich in history. Throughout time, Tangier, due to its proximity to Europe, has been a city torn between two continents. This initially started with the Romans looking to spread their empire south into Africa, then the Arabs, who used it as a port into Europe.
Between the 14th and 16th centuries, Tangier was occupied by the Portuguese, then passed onto the Spanish, before being gifted to the English as a wedding dowry. Then later taken back by Sultan Moulay Ismail.
But the story doesn’t finish there. Because in the early 20th century, Morocco was divided between the French and the Spanish, with Spain again taking control of Tangier. In 1923, Tangier became an International Zone controlled between Britain, France and Spain. Then joined by Portugal, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands at a later stage. Finally it was in 1956, that Tangier was returned to Morocco.
We share this history, as a prelude to your visit. Because after our extensive travel of Morocco, it is evident that Tangier is a little different than other cities and Medinas in Morocco. There is a certain sense that Tangier is a melting pot of culture, custom and country.
Is Tangier Safe to Visit on a Day Trip?
Yes, it is! In our opinion, it’s as safe as any other city in Europe. Of course there will always be opportunists anywhere you travel, and in this case it’s up to you to mind your belongings.
And I say this following a bad experience.
One sunny day, Mike was on the beach with the kids making sandcastles, and when he turned around his bag was gone. Was it because Tangier is an unsafe place… no it wasn’t. Instead I see it as wrong place, wrong time. Having a bag swiped off the beach happens anywhere in the world, and it reminded us to take more care with our stuff.
Fortunately, we never travel with excess cash in our bags and we never leave the house with all our bank cards. So we got off lightly.
What I did notice between the first time we visited Tangier and the second time, several years later was an increased sense of safety. The first time, we were followed by a local who was determined to show us the way… which got a little frustrating. However, eventually he gave up and moved on.
But the second time to Tangier, we noticed that we were less targeted on the streets. This meant we were free to explore freely and really enjoy Tangier. As such, I believe that Tangier has become much easier to visit, on a day trip from Tarifa.
However, do keep in mind that you may be a target for the spontaneous guides lurking on the streets. But ignore them long enough and they’ll eventually leave you alone.
When is the Best Time to Visit Tangier
Given that Tangier is on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco, it’s a city that can be visited at any time of the year. It does have four defined seasons which are;
- Spring – March to May, with average highs of 18oC and 10oC lows
- Summer – June to August, with average highs of 30oC and 18oC lows
- Autumn – September to November, with average highs of 23oC and 14oC lows
- Winter – December to February, with average highs of 18oC and 8 C lows
Also note that November and December are the wetter months, and summer tends to be dry.
If you were to plan ahead, the ideal time to take a day trip to Tangier from Tarifa, would be either side of the summer holiday season. In other words, Spring and Autumn would be perfect! This way you get to enjoy the milder weather, but without the big summer crowds.
What to Wear on a Day Trip to Tangier
When travelling Morocco as a female I always say, keep your shoulders and knees covered! Make sure your chest is covered, your clothes are not transparent or tight fitting.
In saying this, you will come across other travellers who follow the exact opposite of this.
I believe as travellers we have a responsibility to be respectful, thus adhering to local custom and culture. Given that Morocco is an Islamic country, it’s only right to respect this and to cover up. After all, we travel to experience and see the way in which other people live. As such it would seem improper to flaunt European dress ethics, which has no place in Islam.
Linen, or cotton is my favourite fabric to wear in hot climates when I need to cover up. And I always bring a scarf to put across my shoulders should I visit a church or mosque along my travels.
Don’t forget a hat and sunblock too!
Private & Group Guided Tours from Tarifa to Tangier
Many guided tours arrive everyday on a day trip to Tangier from Tarifa, Spain. We saw them both times we visited Tangier. While we chose not to take a guided tour on our day trip, I can see why individuals would prefer to.
Navigating the city isn’t completely straight forward, particularly if you aren’t travelling with data and can look up Google Maps every 5 minutes. But also because travelling with a guide means you find the local hidden gems, spending less time trying to orientate yourself.
In which case, if you prefer to have someone guide you through the Medina and around Tangier, below we’ve picked out some of the best options.
Best Tours to Tangier with Get Your Guide
The itineraries vary slightly, with some guides meeting their day trip participants at the Port in Tarifa and others in Tangier. Some also include a day trip out to Cape Spartel to see the lighthouse and beautiful beaches on the Atlantic Coast.
First on our Get Your Guide list, is a 6 hour tour that includes a Tangier port pickup and visit to several destinations including Cape Spartel. Note lunch isn’t included.
The second option is a 9 hour day trip that includes return ferry tickets Tarifa to Tangier, Cape Spartel, walking tour and lunch. Note entrance fees not included.
Thirdly, is a two day option that includes return ferry tickets from Tarifa to Tangier.
Best Tours to Tangier with Viator
Alternatively, with Viator the first private guided tour (with Ali) is very popular, and comes highly recommended across most reviews. This 6 to 7 hour tour includes pick up and drop off from the port and includes Cape Spartel as well as entrance into several destinations.
The second tour, includes return ferry tickets. The guide will meet you at the port in Tarifa. Easy peasy!
While the third is caters for a pick up from Malaga in Spain. It is a longer tour, up to 13 hours and includes Cape Spartel as well.
Things to Do on a Day Trip to Tangier
If you’ve decided to go it solo and brave a Tangier day trip on your own, then you are going to need this next section on 1 day in Tangier.
You’ll be wondering, what are the top things to do? Given that you’re coming from Spain and only have 1 day, then one must assume you are looking for the highlights.
Some of these highlights might include – the Medina and Kasbah, a couple of the best museums, and a delicious local Moroccan tagine. I’ll also take a punt and say you want to drop in some shopping time – partaking in the age old routine of haggling!
Well we wrap it all up for you below in our 1 day itinerary of Tangier. Though, if you plan to stay a night or two in Tangier, then make sure to read our full travel guide to Tangier.
1 Day in Tangier Itinerary: Self-Guided Walking Tour
Tangier has a lot to offer but as you only have one day, let’s give you an idea on what we would consider a must-see.
- The Grand Socco & Rif Cinema
- The Phoenician Tombs overlooking the Gibraltar Strait
- Cafe Hafa for mint tea
- The Upper Kasbah, streets and alleyways
- Ibn Battouta Museum
- The Kasbah Museum and the Modern Art Museum
- Shopping in the Medina & Petit Socco
We have put the highlights in order of how we recommend you see the top sights, with a little self-guided walking map above. If some of the optional suggestions on our list interest you, then read our complete Tangier Itinerary link above.
Starting from the Port de Tangier Ville
The Tangier Medina is perfectly located near the Port De Tangier Ville. The Eastern Gate Bab dar Dbagh is only a 10 minute walk from the ferry terminal.
However, the Kasbah and the Medina runs from West to East along the coast, and the western end is quite elevated.
Therefore, we would suggest starting the day in these higher points while your legs have the energy. In which case, make your way up to the Grand Socco via Rue de la Plage which runs outside the Medina.
✨ Walk time Port de Tangier Ville to Grand Socco: 18 minutes
Grand Socco, Cafe Hafa & the Phoenician Tombs
The Grand Socco is essentially a large roundabout at the top end of the Medina. But it’s a very popular local hangout. Across the road is the famous Cinema Rif. You can stop in for an orange juice or mint tea and a slice of cake. Then sit outside and people watch!
After the Grand Socco, walk north-west through Bab Al Fahs, one of the main gates in Tangier. Follow Rue d’Italie up the hill. At the top, turn left onto Rue Assad Ibn al Farrat.
Your next stop is the Phoenician Tombs. Keep a look out for the signs to the right. The tombs carved into rock, are set in an open park area. The place is an intriguing spot to say the least, and also provides a great view over the Strait of Gibraltar, towards Spain.
Moving on just 2 minutes walk from here. It’s time to take a seat and enjoy Morocco’s world famous mint tea at Tangier’s iconic Café Hafa.
👀 Optional places to visit near Grand Socco: St Andrews Church & Mercado Central
✨ Walk time Grand Socco to Cafe Hafa: 20 minutes
The Kasbah & 3 Museums of Tangier
From this point onwards, as promised it’s mostly all downhill. Make your way back down towards Rue Assad Ibn Farrat, and turn left through Bab Kasbah.
This area of the Medina is known as the Kasbah and is populated with luxury hotels, AirBnbs and boutique stores. But it’s also where you will find the Ibn Battouta Museum, the Kasbah Museum and the Modern Art Museum.
In reality you probably don’t have time to see all three, unless you’re a speed museum expert. So allow me to recommend the Ibn Battouta Museum and the Art Museum as my two favourites. I felt that I learnt a lot about Ibn Battouta and the role he played in mapping Arabia, Africa and Asia.
The Kasbah Museum and the Modern Art Museum are located side by side. This makes them easy to visit together. The only issue I had with the Kasbah Museum was the lack of information shared in English.
Once you’re finished with the museums, take 10 minutes at Bab Al Bahr, which is the gate on the northern wall. the view from the gate looks out onto the Strait, with a great view towards the Mediterranean and ferry terminal.
✨ Walk time Cafe Hafa to Ibn Battouta Museum: 12 minutes + 3 minutes to Kasbah and Art Museum
Medina, Souk & Petite Socco
Now it’s time to explore the souks of the Medina… time to get your shopping shoes on! To do this wander from the museums down towards the Petit Socco.
We recommend that you take your time and follow your nose down the hill. Turn down narrow alleyways and see what you can find. The medina is full of shops of various sizes selling antiques, carpets and leather goods. As well as boutique stores, with locally designed and hand made clothes, woodwork and art.
Don’t forget to barter and if the price isn’t right for you, you can always move on. However, I’m not convinced I can ever really move on from a Moroccan carpet or ottoman. There’s nothing quite like the boho beauty they bring into one’s home!
Once you have made it down to the Petit Socco, grab a seat at Café Tinjis for a well deserved mint tea or coffee. Order a late lunch of cous cous or a tagine for that authentic Moroccan meal you’ve been waiting for.
From here, walk down through the main Medina route of Rue de la Marine. Turn right onto Bab Dar Dbagh, this will bring you out of the Medina with Port de Tangier Ville insight.
✨ Walk time Kasbah Museum to Petit Socco: 7 minutes + 14 minutes to Port de Tangier Ville
Is Tangier Worth a Day Trip from Tarifa, Spain
We first did this day trip to Tangier with our 9 month old daughter, while staying with friends in Tarifa, and thoroughly loved it.
We then returned to Tangier as part of a larger 3 month Moroccan road trip in 2022. Now though the city has changed significantly, we still love the vibe and charm that the city has. Not to mention the carpet, ottomans and pottery that we still have from our first visit.
Coming from Spain for a day to experience Tangier, well… there aren’t too many other day trips that will bring you to another continent.
In summary, it’s safe to say Morocco and Spain are two of my favourite countries in the world. And it’s amazing to see the contrast between the two countries, considering they are just 30 km apart. Both clearly visible to one another on a clear day, across the Strait of Gibraltar. Therefore in answer to is it worth it… I do believe Tangier is worth the day trip and one you won’t regret!
Tips for a Day Trip to Tangier from Tarifa, Spain
Here’s just a couple of tips that you may find useful on your day trip to Tangier from Tarifa, Spain.
- The Medina is largely cash operated, some of the museums will accept card however for food, drink and souvenirs you will most likely need cash.
- The Medina in Tangier is relatively hassle free. The store holders and touts are friendly and not overly pushy as those in Fez and Marrakech.
- Take your time to talk to some of the store holders. Most, if not all we meet, love a good chat and have some pretty amazing stories to tell.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. It’s a big day with and a lot of walking.
- Don’t let the pushy spontaneous guides get to you… they’re just out for a buck. A firm no thanks usually does the trick.
More on Morroco & Spain
There we have it! Our guide to 1 day in Tangier. We hope this post has helped you plan your day from Tarifa in Spain, to Tangier in Morocco. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch!
If you are looking for any other guides on Spain or Morocco, then click through to some of other helpful posts.
- 10 best vacation spots in Spain
- An itinerary and guide to South Spain
- Ultimate Morocco itinerary and travel guide
- Itinerary to 12 days in North Morocco
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