Morocco is a beautiful and mysterious country. It is conveniently located a short ferry ride away from Europe (8 miles across the Strait of Gibraltar) making it the perfect addition to your itinerary as you travel through southern Spain. You can definitely do a day trip to Tangier, but if you’re hoping to see more cities you’ll want to spend at least a night or two in Morocco.
The word “Morocco” in Arabac (al-Magrib al-Aqsa) means “the extreme west”—describing Morocco’s place as the westernmost country in the Arab world. Its rich history and Berber, Arabian, and European cultural influences offer an exotic (and affordable) escape for travelers looking for something different.
For most people crossing the Strait of Gilbraltar, Tangier will be the first stop or final destination of your trip. You can easily cross the strait and spend a day in the city and get back to Spain in time for dinner! If you want to spend a night or two in Tangier I would recommend Hotel Continental—located within walking distance of the port and the main attractions of the city. Visiting Tangier with a guided group is a good option, but traveling solo, with a partner, or small group is also safe. The locals are nice but quite thrifty. If you’re haggling at the market try to do it in another language (ex. I spoke Spanish with the shopkeepers)—if they know you’re American they’ll assume you’re an easy target for over-charging on items. While you’re in Tangier be sure to check out the following locations:
- Kasbah – the old fortress of the city and where the sultan used to live!
- Medina (Old City) – a labyrinth of small streets, beautiful old doors/buildings, and interesting shops
- Markets – you’ll find spice markets and curious little shops with cute trinkets in the medina (also beautiful Moroccan tea sets!)
- Drink mint tea (Moroccan Tea) at Cafe Hafa – Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Tennessee Williams, Paul Bowles and more have done the very same thing! 🙂
- There are some cool places to see just outside of Tangier—check out my recommendations on Asilah below.
You can take a taxi from Tangier to Asilah. The taxi driver charged us 40€ for the hour drive (5 people) to Asilah and back (and he waited for us in Asilah while we explored the town). We paid him 20€ on the way there and 20€ on the way back. If you want to make this trip be sure to discuss the price with the taxi driver before you leave. On the way to Asilah we stopped by the Cave of Hercules, Cap Spartel, and rode camels (typical tourists I know!).
The cave got its name, “The Cave of Hercules” because legend says Hercules slept there before his 11th labour—to collect golden apples from the Hesperides Garden. Cap Spartel is the most North Western point of mainland Africa and marks the boundary where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Chaouen (2 hour drive from Tangier) is an iconic Moroccan town known for its bright blue buildings (no one knows the real reason why they’re blue—best reason I heard was because mosquitos don’t like this color). During our visit we drank tea at a charming teahouse in the center, shopped local for gorgeous hand-woven blankets and handmade silver jewelry. Although it’s super touristy it was one of my favorite cities on this trip to Morocco. You can get to Chefchaouen from Tangier by bus or train.