This port city has inspired artists and musicians for decades. Once a hotspot for international spies, Tangier still charms with its close proximity to Spain, historic marketplace, and modern art galleries.
Tangier is an alluring port city with a relaxed atmosphere located on the Strait of Gibraltar. It has been referred to by many as ‘’the gateway to Africa’’ from Europe. This city radiates the culture of Morocco and straddles two massive bodies of water: the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. In under an hour, you can hop a ferry from Spain and rove Tangier’s aromatic streets, bask in its blue sea views, and delight in its simple charms. You will learn facts about Morocco culture and this unique hub that has inspired many writers, artists, poets, and musicians over the years. The city once had a dark reputation full of colorful characters; spies, smugglers, secret agents, and prostitutes were able to conduct their business freely when Tangier was an international zone from 1923-1956 separate from Morocco and essentially belonged to no one. Since then, Tangier has shed its sketchy past, but still surges with edgy and creative energy. These days, you will find Tangier included in several Morocco package tours including Casablanca and Marrakech that take you around its safe harbor with a revived old medina and plenty of places to get inspired.
High above the cityscape lies this 13th-century fort that also houses an impressive archeology museum, the former Sultan’s palace. Wander around the traditional courtyard garden and marvel at the architecture. You can also enjoy the well-presented exhibits. Note that they are presented in French or Arabic only so a guide is recommended to help fully grasp the history of Tangier.
Dar El Makhzen
The former palace of the Sultan Moulay Ismail, it was built in the 17th century and was the summer home for sultans up until the sixties. Now, it functions as two museums: the Museum of Moroccan Arts and the Museum of Antiquities. The interior is exquisite with wooden ceilings and arabesques. You can stroll around two courtyards with beautiful, marble fountains and wonder what it must have been like to live the life of luxury in Morocco surrounded by such extravagant beauty.
Cave of Hercules
This cave was discovered in 4000 B.C. and is a popular sight just outside the city. As the legend of Hercules goes, he punched a hole in the rock to pass from Africa to Europe, and ironically, the shape of the hole resembles the shape of the continent of Africa. Entrance to the cave is free and it is a worthy day trip from Tangier as you can experience both the beach and explore nearby Cape Spartel with its fantastic views of where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean. There is also a 150-year old lighthouse, the first modern-style structure of its kind built in Morocco.
Day at the Beach
Tangier Beach is the closest and easiest to reach by walking. It’s best for a stroll, not a swim, as the water doesn’t tend to be the cleanest due to the port traffic. For a full day at the beach experience, head over to Achakar Beach just 20 km from the city. Here, you can take a camel tour along the Atlantic shoreline while taking in glorious views of the ocean. It’s a clean, sandy beach great for swimming or just lounging around. Stay for the sunset as the colors are sure to impress. Curious about the Mediterranean side, but want to escape the crowds? Dalia Beach is an excellent choice with its pale, crystal blue waters and its surrounding rocky, pine forest landscape.
Marvel at the Grand Mosque
A glorious sight to behold, this mosque is the largest in all of Tangier. Over the years, it has taken on many religious identities: a Portuguese church, a Roman temple, and a mosque. Although entry for non-Muslims is prohibited, anyone can admire its decadent beauty from the outside.
Stroll the Grand Socco
This historic marketplace is located in the heart of Tangier. A popular meeting point for locals and tourists, there is plenty of action to see since it also serves as a major hub for public transportation. Here old and new Tangier converge so it’s a great place to soak up the city’s history and admire Tangier’s modern vibe. The Mendoubia Gardens, located next door, are an easy escape where you can relax, people watch and observe street activities.
Terrace Des Paresseux
High in the hills above the city, you can take in some pretty amazing sea views as you stroll the promenade watching ships coming and going from the port. On clear weather days, you can see all the way to Spain! Another highlight that the kids are sure to enjoy is climbing around on the antique cannons.
The old walled medina of Tangier lacks the chaos of other Moroccan cities but is just as colorful and lively. Pass through a grand archway to enter the winding, historic streets full of vendors selling a variety of wares, spices, fresh produce, flowers, etc. Here you can also find shops that sell authentic Moroccan carpets and pottery. This is a great place to shop for souvenirs and try out your bargaining skills.
Quad Biking Adventures
Want to explore the scenic terrain just outside the city? Quad biking adventures are the way to go. Let your adventurous spirit soar in the great outdoors. Fun for the whole family, you will experience Morocco’s stunning landscapes with breathtaking views of Tangier Bay and Asilah as you cruise around the foothills of the Rif mountains. Guided tours are the best way to go if you want to explore off the beaten paths in a safe and rewarding way.
Luxury in Tangier
Looking to experience luxury in Morocco? Book a stay at Hotel Club Le Mirage for an exotic getaway with epic, ocean views. Not far from the Cave of Hercules, Le Mirage provides a tranquil atmosphere nestled in nature. Offering exquisite accommodations with all the amenities including a swimming pool and lush gardens, you can watch the waves roll by from your window. There is also an excellent restaurant with signature dishes and a cozy piano bar. Complete your fabulous day with an evening stroll along the terrace before the ocean’s waves lull you into a deep sleep.
Tangier is an eclectic blend of relaxation and adventure. You are sure to enjoy this exciting destination with much to discover including uncovering more facts about Morocco culture.