Tarifa to Tangier: Tips & Tricks for a Day Trip to Morocco

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we earn an income.

Get your ultimate Spain to Morocco day trip guide

If you’re visiting the south of Spain there is a unique opportunity to take a day trip from Tarifa to Tangier. The city offers a tantalizing glimpse into the vibrant culture and rich history of Northern Morocco and is just a short ferry ride across the Strait of Gibraltar and on a completely different continent!

The beautiful city of Tangier welcomes visitors with its bustling medina, stunning coastline, and exotic flavors. To make the most of your Tangier day trip adventure, we’re sharing essential tips and tricks to ensure a smooth and memorable day trip experience.

Tarifa to Tangier

Quick Morocco Day Trip Checklist

  • Ferry Booking: Book your ferry tickets in advance to secure the best prices and ensure availability, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Organized Trip: Let someone else have the hassle of organizing with this guided day trip including the ferry, guided walking tour and traditional Moroccan lunch.
  • Passport & Visa: Don’t forget to take a valid passport! While most nationalities don’t need a visa for a day trip to Tangier, it’s always good to double-check.
  • Currency: The Moroccan dirhams is a closed currency not available outside Morocco. You can get dirhams at the port in Tangier or from an ATM in the city.
  • Guided Tours vs. DIY: Do want to explore Tangier on your own or join a guided tour? Guided tours can be convenient and informative, but exploring independently offers more free time and flexibility.
  • Language: English, Spanish, and French are widely spoken in Tangier, so you shouldn’t have trouble communicating.
  • Local Cuisine: Don’t miss the chance to taste authentic Moroccan cuisine. Tagines, couscous, and mint tea are must-tries!
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Respect the different culture, local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites.
  • Safety: Tangier is generally safe for tourists, but it’s always wise to take precautions. Keep your belongings secure and be aware of your surroundings.

How to Get from Tarifa to Tangier

There are a number of ferries from Southern Spain to Tangier, on the northwest point of mainland Africa. The best and quickest way to get from Tarifa to Tangier is to travel across the Strait of Gibraltar on the Tangier ferry from Tarifa port. When booking, note that Tangier’s port is sometimes referred to as Tanger Ville.

The main Tarifa to Tangier ferry companies are Inter Shipping and FRS Ferry, and both sail eight or so times per day in both directions. The fast ferry crossing takes about an hour one way although, in our experience, ferries never leave on time, so it’s a good idea to get the earliest ferry possible so you can make the most of your day.

Ticket prices vary by season and whether you book an open or dated return. On some crossings (check the ferry timetables) a premium offer is available which includes extra-large seating in a reserved and quiet area, with complimentary food and drink.

We recommend booking your ferry from Tarifa to Tangier with Direct Ferries, where you can easily compare prices and departure times displayed in one place, as well as get the latest ferry information before you book.

If you’re road tripping Spain and have a car or campervan, park in the car park next to Tarifa port. There are no height barriers but there are entry barriers and CCTV, so we think the port would be a safe place to leave a vehicle.

There is a bus service that heads along the main N-340 road from Tarifa, where many hotels and campsites are located, so you may be able to get there by bus from your accommodation, rather than leaving a vehicle in the port car park.

Once on the boat, you must get your embarkation document (which the ferry operator’s ticket office will give you) stamped, so don’t forget your passport, which you need to present with the document.

If you don’t do this you will be denied entry at the port of Tangier Ville (not to be confused with Tanger-Med [sometimes referred to as Tangier Med] which is one of the main car ferry routes from Algeciras to Tangier) and have to go back on the ferry to get your document stamped.

Woman in a blue coat in a town with an historic castle in the background
Feeling excited at the entrance gate of the port of Tarifa

Is this your first time visiting Morocco? Get all the information you need in our Morocco Travel Guide, including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Day Tours to Tangier from Tarifa

Your Spanish hotel or accommodation may also offer sightseeing tours, day trips, and excursions to Tangier, as do some companies along the road to the ferry port in Tarifa.  

You can also book a guided tour to Tangier online in advance. We recommend this best-selling Tarifa to Tangier full-day tour, which gets great reviews and includes your round trip ferry ride, a traditional Moroccan lunch with mint tea (what else!), and a walking tour of all the main sights including the Kasbah, the ancient Medina, and souk.

If you want a milder taste of Africa, try a Spain Morocco day trip to Cueta, a Spanish enclave and border town on the African continent, just a boat ride from Algeciras.

RELATED POST: Tarifa Guide: Best Things to Do + Top Visitor Tips

colourful bags of spices for sale ina. Moroccan souk
Spices for sale in the Tangier souk

What to Expect on Arrival in Tangier

Despite being a cosmopolitan city, Tangier is raw, noisy, disorganized, and in-your-face! 

Prepare to be harassed as you come through Tangier port by locals who say they are tour guides, taxi drivers, restauranteurs, hoteliers, and so on. Many will try to enter into conversation and become your ‘friend’. They will often follow you for some distance, and then demand money for guiding you.

Be firm, stop, look them in the eye, and say that you have arrangements in place and don’t need their help, or simply say no, or la in Arabic. Then move on.

If you do want a knowledgeable local Moroccan guide, it is far better to book one through a recognized organization, or your hotel if you’re staying overnight. This means your tour guide will be accredited, knowledgeable, and will speak English.

We recommend this highly rated Tangier full-day grand private tour, where you’ll explore the old and new city of Tangier with an expert local guide, and learn about the civilizations that have helped shape the port city. You’ll also get to visit the fantastic Neolithic Hercules Caves at promontory Cap Spartel and wander the maze-like streets of the old Medina.

The lighthouse at Cape Spartel

Where to Stay in Tangier

If you decide to stay in Tangier and enjoy a short break, we highly recommend Mimi Calpe, a European-style boutique hotel with a Moroccan vibe.  

The hotel is stylish but retains a Moroccan feel. There is a stunning pool on the roof terrace, with fantastic views of the city and ocean. Breakfast is a little sparse, as is the Moroccan way, but more will be provided if you ask.

The hotel is ideally situated for both the Medina, marina, and new town, and it’s about a 15 minute walk from the port.

woman on the steps of a creamy coloured building drapes with green vines and plants
The beautifully lush Mimi Calpe

Want to stay connected in Morocco? In our detailed guide to SIM cards in Morocco, we share everything you need to know about buying and using Moroccan SIM and eSim cards.

What to Do in Tangier

Tangier is a very walkable city, with most things you will want to see within a 30 minute stroll. Use a navigation app to help you find your way around or a paper map from your hotel. Be prepared to get lost, it’s all part of the fun!

If you’ve got a bit longer then you can head to the beach for an extra day, if you’ve got a week to spend in Morocco then take day trips to Chefchaouen and Casablanca. 

Traditional white Moroccan buildings with a green dome
Heading to the Medina

Wander The Medina

Head for the walled Medina where there are shops and cafés lining the twisting alleys and small squares. This is a great place to wander and observe local life. Mopeds are often driven at speed down narrow streets so be aware of your surroundings and keep to the sides where possible!

The atmosphere in the Medina is friendly but this is essentially a souk, a huge local market, and you will be asked to purchase if you show any interest – it is easier to only look at things you really want to buy!

Haggling is expected here, so if you do want to buy something enter into the spirit of it and enjoy. Don’t haggle for something you don’t really want only to walk away, this will not be appreciated.  

After a bit of shopping, head for Place Petit Socco where you can drink mint tea and listen to live music while watching locals and the odd snake charmer in the square.  

You should also visit the marvelous American Legation in the Medina, It’s the only American national historic landmark on foreign soil and has served as a symbol of American engagement with the Islamic world and North Africa since the early days of the republic.

The building is beautifully preserved and well worth a visit for around €2. There are fantastic letters from the United States Ambassador about being given lions as a gift, which really highlights the different cultures and what life might have been like in Tangier several hundred years ago.

Just outside the eastern walls of the Medina is Place April 9, 1947 (or Grand Socco to locals) where you can buy a chicken pastilla, a sort of delicious chicken pie encased in sweet and sticky pastry like a combination of puff and filo with nuts and spices.

Take your Moroccan lunch break sitting on a bench in the nearby Mendoubia Gardens and watch the colorful and noisy Tangier life go by. Two pastillas and two bottles of water will cost the equivalent of around €2.

red geraniums in pots on a wrought iron balcony
The balcony of the American Legation

Explore the Kasbah

At the other end of the Medina and the highest point of the old town is the Kasbah district, a lovely little maze of streets, small boutique-style shops, and cafés. Much of this area has been renovated and there are incredible views of the Spanish coast from the old battlements.

If you prefer a sit-down lunch, head for the terrace of El Morocco Club where you can eat in the shade of the trees planted in the small square. This area has a laid-back vibe and has been developed to appeal to tourists. 

Visit the Kasbah Museum which was previously the Dar al-Makhzen royal palace and also the residence of Portuguese governors in Tangier. It is now home to a collection of archaeological artifacts and is well worth a visit. The museum is open every day except Tuesdays.

Stone walls of a Moroccan kasbah
The Kasbah battlements and walls

Take a Bus Ride

One of the best ways to see the city is on the Tangier hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus which takes a panoramic tour of the Kasbah, the Medina, the ville nouvelle or modern part of the city, as well as the famous Caves of Hercules and Cape Espartel, where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean.

red bus in front of a stone walled city
The Tangier tour bus on Ave Mohammed VI in front of Dar Al-Baroud Tower

Hit the Beach

Located in an ideal place, the Municipal Beach of Tangier is the most lively in the city with calm waters and fine sand, perfect for making the most of the sun and the water activities on offer, as well as taking the ubiquitous camel ride.

For something a bit more secluded, you’ll find a usually deserted beach near the Caves of Hercules. This is a pebbly beach, and not so good for swimming, but it’s a good spot for sunbathing, and you can also enjoy a bite to eat in one of its beachfront restaurants.

long sandy beach backed by a city full of white low level buildings
Tangier city beach

Sip a Coffee at the Gran Café de Paris

Part of Tangier’s bohemian history, the Gran Café de Paris in Place de France is one of the oldest cafés in the city and a popular meeting point.

Opened in 1927, when the Tangier International Zone surrounded the city, the café was a place of inspiration for many known artists and writers like Jack Kerouac and Tennessee Williams. They gathered and enjoyed coffee and cigarettes while discussing literature and life.  

It is also known as a meeting place for spies, predominantly during WWII, where secrets and information would be shared.

In the post-war years, plenty of expatriates arrived in cosmopolitan Tangier looking for a new way of life, and the Gran Café de Paris found a new clientele. The story of post-war literary Tangier is captured superbly in The Dream at the End of the World by Paul Bowles.

It’s unlikely that it’s been decorated since then though and is a bit grubby and tired with odd loo arrangements. Nevertheless, you should go and people watch!

The outside of Gran Cafe de Paris in Morocco
The infamous Grand Café de Paris

Where to Eat in Tangier

Eat at Anna a Paulo a cozy Italian restaurant in the city center. The food is excellent, with many dishes having a Moroccan fusion feel and there is an extensive wine list. Expect to pay close to European prices for dinner and drinks. 

If you want to try a typical Moroccan restaurant, try Restaurant Kebdani on the edge of the Medina. We loved their chicken tajine with lemon and olive, the homely atmosphere, and the welcoming staff. When we were there they only took cash, and they don’t serve alcohol, so go prepared.

For a more budget option, eat at La Table du Marché, an upmarket café at the new marina. The food is excellent, with particularly good burgers and salads, but don’t expect alcohol to be served here. Dinner will cost around €35 for two with bottled water. 

inside of a restaurant with wood panelling and tables laid with clothes and cultery

Should You Take a Day Trip to Tangier?

Tangier is a city of many facets. To enjoy the vibrant and colorful city you have to accept the less than palatable aspects of rubbish and poor hygiene, some harassment and begging along with visible poverty.

We think it’s worth the hassle and dingy side of Tangier to experience the local culture, so different from our own, and to meet the overwhelmingly warm and friendly Moroccan people.

To take a trip from Tarifa to Tangier, you need no longer than two days and could easily see most of Tangier in a day trip. We would definitely recommend a trip if you’re staying in Tarifa, especially if you’ve never ventured to North Africa before.

camels covered in colourful rugs on a beach with the sea in the background
Camels on Tangier Beach

Morocco Travel Guides

Tangier Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a visa to visit Morocco?

Most travelers who want to visit Morocco can do so without applying for a visa, as long as your trip does not exceed 90 days. All travelers must arrive with a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time you enter Morocco and have completed the mandatory embarkation card.

You can check visa requirements with the Kingdom of Morocco Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Is it safe to travel to Tangier from Tarifa?

Although you may experience a small amount of hassle, travel in Morocco is fundamentally safe.

You’ll notice a heavier-than-Europe police presence and may see some of Morocco’s tourist police, or Brigade Touristique, who are there to help and keep you safe.

What should I wear in Tangier?

Although close to the Iberian Peninsula as the crow flies, Tangier is a typical North African port city before it is a tourist town.

Be respectful of the Islamic culture in this Muslim country and wear long pants or a longer dress, and avoid strappy tops. Hot pants and crop tops will get you unwanted attention.

What is the Tangier weather like?

Tangier’s climate is Mediterranean, characterized by mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.

Spring and fall in Tangier are mild and pleasant, with temperatures gradually warming up. Average temperatures range from 15 to 24° Celsius (59 to 75° Fahrenheit) during these shoulder seasons.

Tangier’s summers are hot and dry. Average temperatures range from 25 to 30° Celsius (77 to 86° Fahrenheit), with occasional heatwaves pushing temperatures higher. Don’t forget your sun cream and a hat!

Winter weather in Tangier is usually mild and wet. Average temperatures range from 9 to 16° Celsius (48 to 61° Fahrenheit), with occasional cooler periods.

Overall, Tangier experiences mild temperatures year-round, making it a popular destination for tourists. However, the best time to visit is during the spring or autumn when the weather conditions are the most comfortable.

Can I use Euros to pay?

Some hotels may accept euros, but it’s easy to get dirhams from an ATM or money broker on arrival. The Moroccan dirham is a closed currency, meaning you cannot buy it outside of the country.

Can I take my car?

Yes. It’s easy to temporarily import your vehicle into Morocco – make sure you take your vehicle registration documents with you, and if you’re in a hire car, check with the rental company that they’re happy for you to take their car to Morocco.

Once in Morocco, there are lots of places that you can get to within a day or so, including Chefchouen, the Blue City, Fez, and Meknes, as well as a whole load of small towns along the Atlantic coastline. Check out our Morocco road trip post for inspiration or to plan a unique experience!

Are you looking for more travel inspiration? Check out these top posts…

things to do in Spain

Fall in Love with Spain: 20 of Our Favorite Things to See & Do

Looking for the best things to do in Spain? There is so much to do and see in this amazing country beyond going to the beach and sipping cheap cocktails. With dramatic mountains, charming old towns, and an endless list of UNESCO-sites worth visiting, you could spend a lifetime exploring this intriguing country. These are our personal favorite things to do in Spain – places to see, activities to experience and a few adventures too!…
Read More Fall in Love with Spain: 20 of Our Favorite Things to See & Do
things to do in Belgium

Road Trip Belgium: Fall In Love With Europe’s Hidden Gem

Belgium is a fantastic destination for a road trip, offering plenty of historic, culinary, and cultural experiences. Whether you’re interested in exploring medieval cities, savoring delicious food, or visiting ancient castles, Belgium has something for everyone. Our Belgium road trip guide has info on top destinations and activities, plus a few hidden gems too. Plan your perfect Belgium road trip itinerary and fall in love with this small country that has so much to see and do!
Read More Road Trip Belgium: Fall In Love With Europe’s Hidden Gem
driving in Albania

Driving in Albania: Essential Tips for an Amazing Trip

Albania, with its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, is an increasingly popular destination for adventurous travelers. A road trip in Albania offers a unique way to explore the country’s breathtaking coastlines, charming villages, and rugged mountains at your own pace. However, navigating the roads here can be quite different from what you might be used to. To ensure you have a safe and enjoyable journey, our guide for driving in Albania has all the…
Read More Driving in Albania: Essential Tips for an Amazing Trip
things to do in Nafplio

One Perfect Day in Nafplio: Top Attractions & Hidden Gems

Tucked away on Greece’s mainland but close enough to Athens to be worth a road trip, beautiful Nafplio is a historic Greek city in the northeast Peloponnese. What really draws people to Nafplio is the array of interesting things to do. We’ve put together some of the best things to do in Nafplio, along with some amazing day trips. Use it as your base for exploring the Greek mainland, or pop here for a day…
Read More One Perfect Day in Nafplio: Top Attractions & Hidden Gems

Love it? Pin it!

day trip Tangier Morocco
Tangier Tariga guide
Scroll to Top