Fortress wall surrounding a city outside Tangier, Morocco

Things to Do in Tangier, the Gateway to Morocco

Mark Stewart Destinations 4 Comments

At the mouth of the Mediterranean, across the straight of Gibraltar from Spain, is Tangier. The ancient port city is the gateway to Africa for many Europeans, and has been a valued strategic location for centuries. Booming with recent business ventures and investments, Tangier is shedding its once seedy image. And while many travellers simply pass through or skip this coastal gem altogether, Tangier is entirely worth a visit. From its buzzing media and ancient Kasbah to some of Moroccos most stunning beaches, here are a few great things to do in Tangier and around!

Tour the Medina and the Old City

We highly suggest contacting Simo from Guru Tours and doing his amazing Tingis Tour. During our visit in March, we were the only two on the tour, which made for a much more personal experience. His knowledge of the city and its history was outstanding. (We have no affiliation with this tour, it was just so well-done and enjoyable we want to share it!)

Like many fantastic walking tours, there is no set price. Guides work on tips, and often go the extra mile to impress. Simply pay what you feel at the end.

Make sure you do book at least a day or two in advance, especially in peak season. Be sure to wear good walking shoes as a lot of distance is covered. Often involving uneven roads and some steep sections. Simo also offered some great suggestions on where to eat and drink during the tour so you can check out some amazing cafes and restaurants later in the day.

The tour ends on the new development near the beach. So if you feel like a dip, hop over to the beach and get swimming!

  • Website
  • Phone: 212 621 271513
  • Meeting Point: In front of Cinema Rif
An archway in a stone wall overlooking Tangier Morocco.
Viewing the Medina from the Tangier Kasbah

Swim at the Beautiful Tangier Beaches

Being on the coast of the Mediterranean Tangier and the area around it has so many prime locations for beach spots. Bouhendia Beach, aka Tangier Beach has the easiest access. Located along the main boulevard, right on the edge of the city centre, it’s easily walkable from most accommodations. If you are only in Tangier for the day, this is the beach you should visit.

However, if you have a car, or want to hop in a cab or bus, head up the Mediterranean coast a bit and plop yourself down on one of the many smaller beaches. One of the most popular beaches nearby is Playa Blanca, only a short distance from town. Here you can rent umbrellas and buy food as well. Make sure to go early to get a prime spot, because you’ll likely not want to leave!

Caves of Hercules at Cape Spartel

Located in Cape Spartel, 14km west of Tangier, the Caves of Hercules is a very popular tourist spot. The caves themselves are natural, and inhabitants date back to the neolithic era. In more recent times, the caves have been vastly expanded as the Berbers used them as a millstone quarry. The most notable sight in the caves is the window to the sea. Ancient Phoenicians are believed to have carved the Africa-shaped window, that overlooks the confluence of the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Much of the cave is free to access, with further exploration costing 5 dirhams. Though we’re told the pay-to-play access doesn’t reveal anything special, it’s a fairly insignificant price for the full experience. Guides are available for an additional 5 dirhams.

Then head down to Atlantic Beach and take in the fresh sea air. Outside of the peak summer season this spot is a perfectly relaxing spot to wind down. However, swimming is not recommended as the currents here are very turbulent. Before heading back to Tangier, be sure to snap a few photos of the iconic lighthouse of Cape Spartel.

Getting to Cape Spartel from Tangier: Taxi at the time cost 50 dirhams one way. You can pair this with a walk to Cap Spartel and see where the ocean and the sea meet, then take a taxi back.

Public bus number 2A leaves from Castilla bus stop taking 1 hour costing 3.50 dirhams per person leaving at 7:33am/8:08am/8:58am/9:53am/10:43am/11:43am/12:29pm/1:23pm/2:18pm/3:08pm/4:03pm/4:58pm

A white lighthouse surrounded by a fortified wall overlooking the Mediterranean at Cape Spartel
The Lighthouse of Cape Spartel near Tangier
Photo: Diego Delso, (CC-BY-SA)

Take a Day Trip to Asilah

Asilah is a picturesque little town, less than an hour down the coast from Tangier. Given the blinding white walls of its Medina, the blue and yellow accents explode with colour. And subtle bits of street art are a vivid treat not often found elsewhere in Morocco. The tight streets and small, artisan shops can keep you occupied for hours.

Asilah is a perfect spot to spend an afternoon away from the big city. Take the train out in the morning and wander along the seawall before stopping for lunch. There are no restaurants in the Medina itself — for preservation reasons — but many options are available right outside the gates. We stopped in Restaurant Al Kasbah for an incredible platter of fresh-caught, fried seafood. The fish platter was only 100 dirhams (a fraction of what it would cost in Tangier) and is perfect for sharing.

During our visit in March, there were only a handful of other visitors and the temperature was perfect. However, we’re told that in the summer, things can get quite busy here. If you’re visiting in high season, we recommend catching the earliest train from Tangier in order to capture the scene without the crowds.

Getting to Asilah from Tangier: Take a taxi to the ONCF Tanger train station. The train journey is only 45 minutes, and cost 17 dirhams for 2nd class one way per person and was not a full train.
Train times Tanger to Asilah

Train Times Asilah to Tanger

Colourful street art on a stone wall in Asilah Morocco
Street Art in the Coastal Town of Asilah

Get Out and Explore Tangier!

This is just a quick guide to help get you started. Most visitors to Tangier only stop in for a day or two before venturing deeper into Morocco. Long gone are the days of the poets and hash dens of the 60’s, but a new and vibrant Tangier is quickly rising. Get out there and see for yourself!

Susnet over the skyline of Tangier, Morocco
Sunset over Tangier

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