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Tangier, Morocco - Tangier Travel Guide

What to See and Getting to Tangier

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Morocco, Tangier, view of Old City from harbour
Dede Burlanni/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Tangier has long been romanticized by artists, Beat poets, and writers who have arrived at its busy shores seeking adventure. Tangier is the gateway to Africa for many travelers. Cruise ships often dock there on their way from the Atlantic to Mediterranean, and travelers in Europe find it easy to take a quick ferry from Spain to the port of Tangier. (More about getting to Tangier below).

While most visitors to Tangier come for a day, there are some lovely boutique hotels to stay at and once you figure out how to avoid some of the hustle, you'll appreciate Tangier a lot more by spending a few days here.

What to See in Tangier

Tangier doesn't have quite the offbeat charm it did in the 1940's and 1950's when you could rub shoulders with the likes of Truman Capote, Paul Bowles and Tennessee Williams, but if you give it some time, and ignore the tourist touts, it will grow on you. Tangier is an interesting, cosmopolitan mix of African and European influences. It's a port city and port cities are always rough around the edges. Tangier is not very pleasant at night.

As with many cities in Morocco, there's an old town (Medina) and a new town (Ville Nouvelle).

The Medina -- Tangier's Medina (old-walled city) is a lively place, its alleyways are filled with shops, tea-houses, and brothels (it's a port city after all). Tourist trinkets are plentiful here, if this is your only stop in Morocco, buy away. But if you plan to continue traveling in Morocco, you'll find better deals elsewhere.

The American Legation - Morocco was the first nation to recognize American independence, and the USA established a diplomatic mission in Tangier in 1821. Now a museum, the American Legation is located in the southwest corner of the medina and worth a look. The museum houses some fascinating art including a room dedicated to Paul Bowles, and works by Eugene Delacroix, Yves Saint Laurent and James McBeay.

Place de France - is the heart of ville nouvelle and the social focal point for the middle classes in Tangier. A good place to sip some tea and enjoy the sea view is the highly recommended Terrasse des Paresseux just east of the Place.

The Kasbah - The Kasbah is located high on a hill in Tangier with some good views of the ocean. The old Sultan's palace (built in the 17th Century) lies within the Kasbah's walls, is known as Dar El Makhzen and is now a museum that houses fine examples of Moroccan art.

Grand Socco A large square at the main entrance of the medina is a busy transport hub and a good place to watch the chaos of traffic, carts and people go about their daily routines.

Beaches - the beaches closest to town are rather dirty, as is the water. Find better beaches about 10km west, out of town.

Getting to Tangier and Away

Tangier is just a short ferry ride from Spain and the gateway to the rest of Morocco whether you travel by bus or train.

Getting to Tangier from Spain (and Back)

Morocco lies just a short 9 miles from Spain. High speed ferries can take just 30 (choppy) minutes to cross.

Algeciras (Spain) to Tangier (Morocco)
Algeciras to Tangier is the most popular route to Morocco. High speed ferries travel almost every hour, year round and take around 30 minutes to cross. There are also slower ferries that are a little cheaper. A round trip ticket for a foot passenger, on a high speed ferry, costs 37 Euros.

Tarifa (Spain) to Tangier (Morocco)
High Speed ferries leave every two hours from Spain's windsurfing capital, Tarifa and take 35 minutes to get to Tangier. FRS offers good service on this route, a round trip adult ticket sets you back around 37 Euros.

Barcelona (Spain) to Tangier (Morocco)
This is not a popular route, but handy if you want to avoid traveling down to the south of Spain. Grand Navi is the company that operates these ferries. A round trip ticket for a single foot passenger in a seat (rather than a berth) costs around 180 Euros. Ferries take 24 hours to get to Morocco and 27 hours on the return trip. There's usually just one ferry scheduled per day.

Ferries from Italy and France to Tangier

You can also catch a ferry to Tangier from Italy (Genoa), Gibraltar and France (Sete) -- see more about: Getting to Morocco.

Getting to and from Tangier by Train

If you are planning to take a train to visit Fes, or Marrakech, then arriving in Tangier is your best option for rail connections to these destinations. The Tangier train station (Tanger Ville) is about 4km south east of the ferry port and bus station. Take a petit taxi, make sure the meter is on, to get to and from the train station. More about: Train travel in Morocco and the night train from Tangier to Marrakech.

Getting to and from Tangier by Bus

The main long distance bus station, CTM, is right outside the ferry port terminal. You can catch buses to all the major towns and cities in Morocco. The buses are comfortable and everyone gets a seat. More about Getting around Morocco.
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