Explore Tangier, Morocco
Explore Tangier an important port city in Morocco.
Tangier is a fascinating Moroccan city to visit. It has many of the things that travellers love–a sense of exotic mystery, interesting history, beautiful vistas, unspoiled beaches Tangier is an uncontrolled mix of North Africa, Spain, Portugal and France. It is located in northern Morocco, and was under joint international control until 1956. Tangier is separated from Spain by the 20 miles of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Frequent ferries make the short crossing from Europe each day, and many cruise ships sailing between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic often include Tangier as a port of call.
Tangier-Ibn Batouta Airport is located 12 km from the city.
Coming in by plane is the easiest and hassle free way of coming to Tangier: there are no touts at the airport and the prices of the taxis are fixed by the government. Beware of long queues at passport controls before flights bound for the Schengen area.
What to see. Best top attractions in Tangier, Morocco.
- Take a simple walk along the beach (Ave Mohamed VI) to enjoy what the city is famed for.
- The Tomb of Ibn Battouta, a famous 14th century traveller who was born in Tangier. Pay tribute to a fellow traveller.
- Teatro Cervantes, rue Salah Eddine et Ayoubi. Closed and falling to pieces but take a photo from outside the gates as you pass by on the way up to the Grand Socco.
- The American Legation, 8, Rue America. The Tangier American Legation Museum (TALM), a thriving cultural center, museum, conference center and library in the heart of the old medina in Tangier, is housed in the only historic landmark of the United States located abroad. The museum exhibits a large collection of art and historical items. It also has a Paul Bowles Wing dedicated to the writer and composer who lived most of his adult life in Tangier.
- Musée d’Art Contemporain de la Ville de Tanger. Closed until further notice.
- The Kasbah Museum, the former Sultan’s palace, deserves to be seen not only for its collection of artefacts from the Phoenician to modern times, but also for the building and garden. There is a small entry fee and varying opening times winter and summer.
What to do in Tangier, Morocco
- People watching on the Terrasse des Paresseux, boulevard Pasteur or on Sunday along the beachfront Avenue Mohammed VI.
- Drink a mint tea at the Café Hafa and enjoy the view of the ocean.
- Mnar Park Aquatic Park with a tremendous view of the coast. Open in 2005 it has aqua slides, karting circuits, café, romantic restaurant. (Excellent pancakes!).
- Get happily lost in the medina, which is most active in evening and night.
- Visit the American Legation Museum in the walled city. (Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States, in December 1777 with the hope of promoting commerce with the new republic. This act by the Moroccan sultan was the first public recognition of the U.S. by a head of state.)
- Go to the souk on Thursday or Sunday mornings to see the Jbala mountain women in their colorful costumes selling their produce and dairy products all along the wall of the St. Andrew’s Church (English Church).
- Visit Casa Barata. You can take a shared grand taxi from the station just next to English Church. It’s just 5 minutes. It’s a vast market which sells literally everything. You never know what you’ll discover there.
- Visit Hercules Cave (Grottes d’Hercules). The caves of Hercules, located just 14kms west of Tangiers, are a place of stunning natural beauty and great archeological significance. Apparently, this is where the mythical figure, Hercules, used to rest after finishing his 12 labors. The cave also bears a mirror image resemblance to the continent of Africa. Getting there takes about 15 minutes. The cave is within a kilometer of a beautiful sandy beach (Plage Achkar), great for sunbathing or swimming. Buy bread and fruit before you leave, pack a picnic, and make a day of it.
What to buy
Most brass work is made in other towns but is available here. Leather goods are also available. Stay away from the tourist traps and you may find the price quite agreeable. There is an infamous market in Tangier called “casa barata” (the house of cheap things) – there are bargains to be had here but be wary of forgeries and stolen goods (these are sold alongside vegetables, electronics, clothing, shoes, spices, carpets, ironmongery and everything else one can think of!). There are other markets notably the souk in the medina (mainly vegetables, clothes and tourist items) and in Ben Mekada (vegetables). The latter does not cater for tourists at all and is known as one of the “rough spots” of Tangier and back in the 1980’s there were bread riots here.
Colorful leather slippers with pointed toes are great gifts to take home. If you can bargain, especially with some Arabic, you can get the same shoes cheaper. Men and women clothing can be had for reasonable prices too, in the medina.
What to eat
There are many choices of different cuisine available. Many of the luxury hotels offer a good selection of both Moroccan and Continental Fare, though at prices much higher than what you will find elsewhere. There are also many restaurants along the Ave Mohamed VI (the beachfront) where one can enjoy a nice meal with a glass of wine on the beachfront.
In the evening, go to the plaza next to CTM bus station. There are several cafes and restaurants facing the plaza. The price and services are good because of the keen competition. Just wandering around in the medina will bring you across numerous Moroccan restaurants offering similar dishes, quality, and prices (main dish around 7 dollars), so you can basically just choose one at random and probably be satisfied.
There are also some fresh off-the-boat seafood restaurants for locals in the port. If you speak some French/Arabic and have a sense of adventure it’s highly recommended. All outdoor seating and prepared as only for a foreigner! No menus or prices but it’s amazingly cheap and authentic. Huge platter of prawns, calamari and enough fish to feed a small army.
You may quickly bore of tagines and street food is a great option for snacking throughout the day. Yogurt mixtures can be particularly creative, such as avocado and almonds, or fruit mixtures. Tiny stalls in the souk sell cooked vegetables like eggplant, with rice, and other tasty treats and a meal. In the early evening you may find squares of chickpea cakes sprinkled with salt and paprika.
In the morning a “locals” cafe will give you a cafe au lait. (Cafes where tourists congregate will charge you double). Usually there is a bread vendor at the cafe (by the port or the madina) who will serve you bread with cheese and honey. It’s perfectly okay to buy your bread/breakfast elsewhere and eat it outside at the cafe. If the bread guy is next to the cafe the waiter will often collect.
What to drink
There are many places in Tangier to drink – people have their own favorite haunts. Much depends on the current owner who tends to give the place a certain ambiance.
You could opt for a coffee instead – there is no shortage of cafes; some of which are the best in the country. Some have amazing views, some good coffee, some are popular, some with music, some have good cakes, some are places to relax after a hard day shopping, and some are just plain sleazy – the choice is yours.
Fresh fruit juices are sold by street vendors during the summer months. The cafes also serve fresh juices and often have what is called panache – a mix of fruit juices often with milk, apple and almond – try it – it’s delicious.
You can buy train, bus and ferry tickets at the stations and ports, although you may find it easier to purchase ferry tickets from travel agents rather than face the gauntlet of touts at the port. If you plan on leaving by ferry, it is important to note that the ferries to Algeciras often do not follow a set schedule, and departure times can change even within a day of having purchased tickets. One alternative is to take a fast ferry to Tarifa, because these are more likely to run on time and at least one of the companies provides a free bus to the port at Algeciras. You can also flag grand taxis at the major bus stations and ferry port.
Official tourism websites of Tangier
For more information please visit the official government website: