Considered one of the greatest cultural cities in Morocco, Tangier is nevertheless little known, even ignored. Learn how to visit Tangier to discover its secrets!
Tangier is a very lively city, located at the entrance of the Strait of Gibraltar. Its geographical location has made it a major international port. It has been a strategic point between Africa and Europe since the 12th century B.C., i.e., at the time of the Phoenicians (approximately 1200 to 300 B.C.). The city currently occupies a good third of the peninsula forming the Strait of Gibraltar on the Moroccan side. Over the centuries, Tangier has expanded and grown.
Today, it is a cosmopolitan cultural center that has kept its Moroccan identity while welcoming others with open arms. Its inhabitants are as warm-hearted as their country. It is a real goldmine, in terms of discoveries, but also in terms of artistic, natural, or architectural wealth. We have selected for you the 9 must-do things to do in Tangier, for a successful and authentic stay.
1. The Grand Socco
When you visit Tangier, you must visit its center. The Grand Socco is undoubtedly one of the busiest parts of Tangier. In fact, it is the main access to the medina and the fresh fruit and vegetable market. Lined with palm trees, this large square is very popular with locals who easily come to rest near the fountain.
One can see the Rif Cinema, an emblematic building of the city. It houses the Cinémathèque de Tanger (CDT), an association promoting the democratization of cinema in Tangier.
2. Cape Spartel
It is unthinkable to go to Tangier without going to Cape Spartel, which corresponds roughly to our Finistère in Brittany. It is the western tip of the peninsula on which Tangier is located. There you will discover a lighthouse, which seems to watch over the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It is said that it is at its feet that the two meet.
This lighthouse, inaugurated in 1864, was the first in Morocco. You will find it in many representations (tourist souvenirs in particular). And for good reason, it is one of the icons of the city of Tangier. Cap Spartel is located about fifteen kilometers from the city, accessible by cab for about fifteen euros (150 dirhams).
3. The Medina of Tangier
Who has never dreamed of entering a medina and being guided through its streets until you lose your bearings? This is an extraordinary way to visit Tangier: explore and get to know it. The narrow but inhabited streets will make you see all the colors: blue, pink, yellow, green... The medina has its own architecture and style. The inhabitants love plants and it shows. Some people push their decoration to the maximum, for our greatest pleasure. But the Medina does not only house, but there are also many stores, for tourists or food.
With a little luck, you will be able to meet a person, often a man, who will offer you a guided tour of the Medina. Be careful, though, because at the end of his "visit", he will ask you for a fee. This is where you will have to apply your negotiation skills. Because even if all work deserves a salary, these "local guides" sometimes ask for a lot of money, often from the most vulnerable tourists.
4. The local gastronomy
For a gourmet and typical break, we can only recommend Moroccan pastries. With chocolate, honey, cinnamon, or orange blossom, they take different forms. As delicious as they are famous, Moroccan pastries are a real institution in Tangier, there are stores everywhere!
Change your vision of the world with zlabia, chebakia, ghribia, or gazelle horn! And to accompany this delicacy, opt for the lightness of a fresh orange juice. Everywhere in the city, especially in the center, vendors will be quick to serve you a fresh juice, prepared in a minute! It is not for nothing that the fruit, a cross between an orange and a tangerine, bears the name of the city: the tangerine. Today, Morocco participates in only 2% of the world's tangerine production, largely overtaken by China (47%).
It is an obligatory stop when visiting Morocco: taste its cuisine! Indeed, Moroccan cuisine is one of the must-do things to discover when visiting Tangier. So fragrant, comforting, and delicious, this southern gastronomy will delight the most gourmands. You can stop by one of the many restaurants in Tangier. They serve couscous, tajines, chicken pastillas, and other keftas that are to die for!
But also, you have the possibility to buy some local specialties from a street vendor. For example, the batbout, which is not Batman's bread, but a flatbread made of wheat semolina. Otherwise, discover the baghrir, also called "a thousand holes pancake", very soft and light, to be seasoned in salted or sweetened, according to your desires.
5. The Cave of Hercules
The Caves of Hercules are one of the main emblems of the city of Tangier. To get there, you will have to take the cab or stop option, because they have located about 15 km from the city center. However, the game is worth the candle.
These are natural caves with a breathtaking opening to the ocean. The water sometimes rushes in powerfully and resounds in the entire cavity. It takes its name from the hero of Greek mythology who, after a long journey, would have taken the time to rest in this place...
6. The municipal beach
How to do Tangier without going to the municipal beach, which is very busy. It is also very large. It is a very beautiful beach, with fine white sand. If you walk along with it, you will pass by the Jardins de la Corniche, a green space with games.
Also, take a moment and go soak your feet! You will be able to say that you put your feet in water half ocean, half sea! On the beach, it is not uncommon to see camels waiting to be taken care of. Don't worry, their owner is not far away, ready to offer you a walk, for a few dirhams.
7. Perdicaris Park
On the road that leads to Cape Spartel from Tangier, there is a green interlude: the Perdicaris Park. Facing the Strait, this park covers 67 hectares. Marked trails will allow you to discover this preserved area at your leisure. It is a real botanical garden, rich in varied flora and fauna. The forest of the park shelters numerous species of trees, like acacias, laurels, and local pines.
Moreover, migratory birds use this forest as a dormitory during their great expeditions. It is a place that is recommended to visit if you want to spend a moment close to nature. Like a break from a city as hectic as Tangier.
8. Tea in a large café
Obviously, there is no Morocco without emblematic mint tea! And that, the people of Tangier, know it. Tea is a real institution there, as in most Arab countries. And this, for our greatest happiness.
Indeed, enjoying a cup of hot tea on the terrace of a Tangier café is like stepping into the culture once again. Downtown Tangier has some very famous historical cafés, such as the prominent Café El-Hafa, open since 1921. Famous guests have stopped by, such as the Beatles or the Rolling Stones (no less!).
Take the time to visit Tangier through its cafés, which often offer pastries to accompany the hot drink. To top it all off, the establishment overlooks the sea... An ideal place, therefore, to relax.
How to get to Tangier?
The easiest way to get to Tangier is, of course, by plane. It's the most direct and convenient way.
To reach the city, nothing could be easier than a cab. Prices are affordable and cabs are available in front of the airport gates. Beware of the sometimes exaggerated night rates and make sure to confirm the rate with the driver before getting into the vehicle. This applies both during the day and at night.
By car and by ferry
The most courageous and patient of you can rent a car you will cross Spain.
Then, you will arrive in Gibraltar to take the ferry to the port of Tangier, Med. A real journey that involves many hours of driving, depending on your city of departure.
Staying in Tangier is actually very easy. There is a plethora of hotels, Riads, and rooms and apartments available in AirBnB. The advantage of Tangier is that it is a very human-sized city. Indeed, it is quick and easy to get around.
For an authentic experience, we recommend the Riad. More expensive than a simple downtown hotel, the Riad offers a true experience of Moroccan life. They are very well maintained, well decorated, and often offer half board. Prices range from €55 to over €110 per night.
In terms of hotels, Tangier is not left behind. You can find luxurious hotels in the center of the city, or more modest ones a little further away. Or the opposite. There's a bit of everything.
Note that if you stay there, Tangier is a city full of minarets, which the muezzins occupy at certain times of the day, and sometimes night, for the call to prayer. When you are not used to it, it is surprising, but it is incredible to experience.