Did you know you can take a 30 – 40 minute ferry from Tarifa, Spain to Tangier, Morocco? If you’re visiting southern Spain you should definitely try to fit a day trip to Morocco into your itinerary. Morocco is so close you’ve got not excuse not to go! 😉
As mentioned, spending a day in Tangier is totally do-able (you can take the first ferry out in the morning and the last one back in the same day) but I’d recommend trying to spend a few nights to see this beautiful country if possible. I’ve traveled from Spain to Morocco three times and visited Tangier, Teuton, Chefchaouen, Asilah as well as Rabat, Meknes, and Merzouga (to go camping in the Sahara Desert).
Quick tips for visiting Morocco
- Be careful with the water! Some people get sick, some don’t. Personally I have a sensitive stomach so I avoid eating fresh vegetables or fruit that have been cleaned with tap water. I also use bottled water to brush my teeth.
- Bring tissues with you; it’s common to find squat toilets in restaurants, tea houses, etc. and toilet paper is scarce in public restrooms.
- Fall and winter are good times to plan your visit; the weather is great—not too cold and not too hot.
- Don’t be afraid to haggle in the market; merchants raise prices on items with the expectation that you’ll try to talk them down so don’t be shy! I usually start off offering half price of what they’re asking and then we meet somewhere in the middle. Also if you’re purchasing more than one item ask them what kind of deal they can give you for buying more than one item (like at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul).
- If you speak a language other than English use it at the market—foreigners (especially Americans) are assumed to be easy targets for over-charging so they’ll try to give you the highest price possible.
- In most places you can pay with Euros and other currencies and you can usually find ATMs and currency exchange centers around the markets too.
- Women should dress modestly; foreign women aren’t required or expected to wear head coverings but it would be considered inappropriate to wear revealing clothing by locals (very short shorts or skirts, low-cut tops, etc.).
How to travel from Spain to Morocco by ferry
Tarifa and Algeciras are the principal Spanish cities with frequent ferries crossing from Spain to Morocco. I’ve crossed from Tangier twice and from Algeciras once (because the water was too choppy in Tarifa). I’d recommend going from Tarifa if possible because the ferry from Algeciras takes to you Tanger-Med, which is located outside the city center. The time we were re-routed to Tanger-Med the ferry company organized a bus to bring us to the center of Tangier.
You can purchase your ferry tickets the same day at the port in Tarifa at the ticket kiosk inside. You can also reserve your tickets online ahead of time. Ticket prices are around €35 each way and ferries leave every odd hour from 9am to 9pm.
If you’re driving you should be able to park your car in the port’s parking lot. If you’re using public transport to travel around Spain you can take a bus to Tarifa—keep in mind sometimes buses are delayed so give yourself plenty of time before your ferry (or arrive the day before to be safe). Don’t forget you’re crossing country borders so you will need your passport.