Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

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From the shores of Tarifa the lights of Africa shine bright in the distance, growing brighter as night takes hold over the small, southern Spanish town.

If it feels as if Morocco is right at Tarifa’s doorstep that’s because it is; as the crow flies, Tangier, Morocco is less than 20 miles from the Spanish coast, separated by the narrow Strait of Gibraltar.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

With direct ferries that complete the journey in as little as 35 minutes, the strategically located port city of Tangier makes a great day trip if you are visiting Tarifa, or other nearby cities in the Andalucia region of Spain.

When my parents visited Spain in March we took a road trip through the south of Spain and included a day trip to visit on our itinerary.

Day Trip to Tangier, Morocco

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

There are two ferry companies that have daily return journeys from Tarifa to Tangier. Prices run around 60 euros roundtrip. Depending on the season, there can be several hours in between ferry crossings, so its important to check on departure times at least the day before to avoid wasting hours waiting for the ferry.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

My parents and I stood on the windy deck of the ferry during the crossing, and as we excitedly took in the sight of the fast approaching African coast, I told them stories of my time in Marrakech and how I fell in love with the people and scenery of Morocco’s red city.

As soon as we exited customs in Tangier, however, it became quickly apparent that this was not the same Morocco I fell in love with in Marrakech.

We immediately were greeted by a mob of less than legitimate looking private guides who mercilessly followed us down the street promising the best tours of Tangier. My polite parents kept responding “no thanks,” but their kindness only encouraged these men to continue to follow us at an uncomfortably close distance, shouting.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

Amid this scene emerged Mr. Abdelmoghit El Jelili, a private guide who calmly approached us and told us to follow him at least a short distance so the crowd would leave us alone.

“I do not like to see visitors treated like this,” he said in a kind voice. “Come with me. You do not have to go on a tour. I will at least escort you away so they will leave you alone.”

Whether this was genuine kindness or simply a strategy to get us to trust him, trust him we did, and after a few minutes with Abdelmoghit we felt so comfortable around him we decided to go with him on a half day walking tour around the city’s medina. Abdelmoghit turned out to be a great guide who was full of historical knowledge and no hecklers bothered us the rest of the day.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

This leads me to my number one tip for travelers doing a day trip to Tangier – hire a guide ahead of time who can meet you at the dock.

If you are headed to Tangier I highly recommend taking a tour with Abdelmoghit. You can visit his website or email him at contact@Tangier-Private-guide.com to arrange a tour.

We visited the Kasbah, a medieval fortress that overlooks the medina and entirety of Tangier.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

We paid a visit to “Dar el Makhzen,” an ancient palace that now houses the Museum of Antiquities. In addition to seeing interesting artifacts, we also learned about the architecture and traditional layouts of such palaces.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

But the real pleasure of Tangier is not any particular monument or museum, but rather just walking the winding alleys and streets of the medieval city and being immersed in a different culture.

Something In Her Ramblings travel blog takes a Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

Toward the end of our tour, we stopped at a shop that housed a large number of goods including rugs, clothing, antiques and jewelry. If you have never been to a Moroccan market before, this can be an awkward experience. You will sit on a comfortable bench while the shopkeeper brings out item after item and explains its value and meaning.

This leads me to my number two tip for travelers doing a day trip to Tangier – Don’t be afraid to be blunt.

If you don’t want to go in a shop on your tour or are over the experience of seeing ten different Moroccan rugs you have no interest in buying, don’t be afraid to say so and leave. Don’t worry about being so polite. The same can be said if you encounter hecklers. Don’t be polite by responding – just keep walking.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

The penultimate stop on our tour was a restaurant, where, disappointingly every other group doing day trips from our ferry was also eating. This definitely killed a bit of our sense of adventure in exploring Tangier, but the food was delicious nonetheless. You must try chicken tangine when in Morocco – since cooking it myself in Marrakech it has become one of my favorite dishes.

To ensure our safety, Abdelmoghit walked us back to the ferry in plenty of time before our departure. The ferries leave on Moroccan time, which means not on time and the ferry didn’t end up leaving until an hour after its scheduled departure time.

During the ride back to Tarifa there was a beautiful sunset that made the sight of the harbor even more scenic.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco

As I finish this post I will end with a third tip for travelers doing a day trip to TangierDon’t judge Morocco based solely on a visit to this port city.

 In the same way Tijuana is not representative of the beauty of Mexico, Tangier is not representative of the beauty of Morocco. For a more moving experience, head to Marrakech, Casablanca or Chefchaouen, the blue city.

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. said arabbate

    hello lauren
    i read your repport on tangier, i liked it, and you are so bueatiful, if you visited tangier again, we can meet and see each other, i leave and work in tangier as a journalist.
    bye

    1. Lauren

      Hi Said! Thanks for stopping by. I did have a very interesting visit to Tangier. I love Morocco and hope to make it back some day and we can meet!

  2. said arabbate

    hi lauren.
    thank you for your comment, and you are very wolcome again in tangier, actually i found that your trip wasn’t satisfied in tangier. i think because you didn’t spend enough time to see the beauty of tangier and mybe you don’t have a large information about the history of this city which was an international city once upon a time.
    mybe one day we can meet and leave a real advanture here.
    anyway i translated your repport to arabic you will find it in this news website of tangier (www.tanja24.com). hope you like it.

  3. Sara

    Great Post Lauren ! Glad you enjoyed your trip

  4. Raphaël

    Your post helped me a lot, thank you for sharing your tips

  5. MATHILDE

    Beautiful places and these pictures are so awesome!

  6. Moha ABIRA

    Very interesting post article that would stand as a powerful source of useful travel tips for whoever planning to make it to Tangier from Spain in one day.

    Many thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading more of your interesting posts.

    Regards,

  7. David

    Day trips from Fes provide an easy and convenient way to see the fascinating culture and landscape that awaits you in the surrounding regions. Much different from the south of Morocco, the northern region boasts rolling hills and meadows, a famous cedar forest and a city that looks and feels just like Europe. Take a day trip from Fes, or two, during your time there and be sure you don’t miss out on these magical places. Mor information contact http://www.marrakechdaytrips.about.ma

  8. Nina

    I do like your blog for a while already. I have a plan to go to Morocco some day soon… im so excited !!

  9. baha

    Marrakech Camel Trips S.A.R.L tours is a company that organizes a large variety of Desert Tours. We will work alongside you to create the perfect experience for you or your group. It is your vacation and travel,We want to hear from you and we can disscuss what you are looking for. All our guides are native customs and cultures of our and experts in the country. There are many : canned tours : with large companies, but because this is your vacation, we will design a tour to suit you and your budget. Take a look at what we offer and experience true Moroccan hospitality. We will listen to your ideas and give you the best advice we will respond as soon as possible to your enquiry and we will do everything to make your tour a success. You will experience the real Sahara Desert and meet true desert families who will look after you and treat you as thier family. This is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life

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  10. Tangier’s case is pretty fascinating. Obviously, this is a case of concentrating on the benefit of strategic location and peacefully building on such help by investing in other inexpensive advantage factors. Makes a great analysis case study.

  11. Nancy Ulicki

    My husband and myself are planning a visit from tarifa to tangier but I am very frustrated with the guides. We don’t want the tourist thing no camels or snake charmers but no one will give me an itinary of the day. How do I get in touch with abdelmoghit el Jelili

  12. Leah Mae

    Do you recommend staying overnight with an Airbnb? Would that help or hinder making sure the ferry would get us back to Spain?

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