This post may contain affiliate links, from which we earn an income.
Spain to Morocco Day Trip Guide
A Tarifa to Tangier day trip is a must if you’re staying in Tarifa. Getting from Tarifa to Tangier is so simple – an hour on the boat and you’re in the vibrant Moroccan port city and on a completely different continent!
Morocco is so totally different from Spain and Europe that it can be hard to acclimatize quickly. In our Tarifa to Tangier guide, you’ll find information about the best ways to get to Tangier from Tarifa, where to stay, and what to do there. We also share tips about what to expect and how to manage the culture shock!
How to Get from Tarifa to Tangier
There are a number of ferries from Spain to Tangier, but 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 crossing takes about an hour one way.
Ticket prices vary by season and whether you book an open or dated return. On some crossings, 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 crossings displayed in one place, as well as get the latest ferry information before you book.
If you’re road tripping Spain, 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, so you may be able to get there by bus from your campsite or hotel 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 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.
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 medina, and souk.
If you want a milder taste of Africa, try a Spain Morocco day trip to Cueta, a Spanish enclave on the African continent, just a boat ride from Algeciras.
What to Expect on Arrival in Tangier
Tangier Morocco is a raw, noisy, disorganized, and in-your-face city! You will be harassed as you come through the 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, 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 day tour 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 guide, and learn about the civilizations that have helped shape the port city. You’ll also get to visit the fantastic Caves of Hercules, inhabited since Neolithic times, and wander the maze-like streets of the Medina.
Check out our Morocco travel tips for more advice on what to expect when you visit Morocco.
Where to Stay in Tangier
If you decide to stay in Tangier, 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.
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 one week to spend in Morocco then take day trips to Chefchaouen and Casablanca.
Wander The Medina
Head for the walled Medina where you will find shops and cafes 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 marketplace, 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 while away a few hours people-watching 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. Eat your Moroccan lunch sitting on a bench in the small park and watch the colorful and noisy Tangier life go by. Two pastillas and two bottles of water will cost the equivalent of around €2.
Head for the Kasbah
At the other end of the Medina and at the highest point of the old town is the Kasbah, a lovely little maze of streets, small boutique-style shops, and cafés. Much of this area has been renovated and there are some incredible sea views from the old battlements.
If you prefer a sit-down lunch, then 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 clearly been developed to appeal to tourists.
Visit the Kasbah Museum which was the residence of Portuguese governors in Tangier between 1471 and 1661. It is now home to a collection of archaeological artifacts and is well worth a visit. The museum is open every day except Tuesdays.
Take a Ride on the Bus
Try the relatively new Tangier hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus which will take you to the Kasbah, the Medina, the modern part of the city as well as the famous Caves of Hercules and Cape Espartel, where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean.
Hit the Beach
Located in an ideal place, the Municipal Beach of Tangier is the most lively beach in the city with calm waters and fine sand, perfect to make the most of the sun and the water activities on offer, as well as take a 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.
Sip a Coffee at the Gran Cafe de Paris
The Gran Cafe de Paris in Place de France is one of the oldest cafes in Tangier and is part of Tangier’s bohemian history. The cafe opened in 1927 and was a place of inspiration for many known artists and writers like Jack Kerouac and Tennessee Williams. They gathered and enjoyed coffee and smokes whilst discussing literature and life.
It is also known as a meeting place for spies, predominantly during WWII, where secrets and information would be shared. 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!
Where to Eat in Tangier
Eat at Anna a Paulo a cozy Italian restaurant in the new town. The food is excellent, with a number of dishes having a Moroccan fusion feel and the wine list extensive. Expect to pay close to European prices for dinner and drinks.
For a more budget option, eat at La Table du Marche, an upmarket cafe 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 €30 for two with bottled water.
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. It is worth it to experience a 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.
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 whether you’re from a visa-exempt country 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 Spain and Europe as the crow flies, Tangier is a typical North African port city before it is a tourist town. Be respectful of their Islamic culture and wear long pants or a longer dress, and avoid strappy tops. Hot pants and crop tops will get you unwanted attention.
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 coast. Check out our Morocco road trip post for inspiration!