A Guide to Tangier
Tangier is a little like your first alcoholic drink; unexpected, a bit overwhelming, and grows on you over time. When I was planning my trip to Morocco, EVERYONE told me to skip Tangier. Tangier was described as dirty, sketchy, and “not Morocco.” Despite the not so glowing reviews, I was excited to see Tangier for myself and come to my own conclusion. After all, who wouldn’t want to walk the same streets as international spies, musicians, artists, and poets?
Tangier is one of the most accessible places in Morocco. There are ferries from Gibraltar and Spain, trains from major Moroccan cities, buses, and a small international airport. It’s also an ideal place to start your Moroccan travels because of the excellent train and bus network. We arrived in Tangier via a quick direct flight from Barcelona and were welcomed by a not so quick customs line.
Despite the long customs line, our friend Casey losing her bag, and jetlag we were excited to kick off our Moroccan adventure in Tangier. Tangier was a city of lessons. We learned that most Moroccan cities don’t have crosswalks (you must make stern eye contact with drivers while dodging cars), that many people in Morocco speak French but not English, patience is key especially at restaurants, if you’re a young woman in western dress you will get catcalled A LOT, and streets in medinas make zero sense (at least to an outsider).
Where to Stay in Tangier
We opted to stay in an Airbnb in Tangier that was in a newer part of town. The Airbnb was adequate, but next time I go, I’ll choose one of the seaside resorts or charming hotels in the Medina. One benefit of staying in a hotel vs. an Airbnb especially if you’re traveling in a group of women in the added level of security.
For a luxury beach stay, look no further than the Mirage Hotel. The Mirage offers breathtaking views of the beach and is close to the Cave of Hercules and the point where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
If you are looking to be in the middle of everything Dar Shams is your place. This charming boutique hotel is located in the medina (old town) and is walking distance to just about everything.
For a budget option, look no further than Dar Jameel. This hostel in a traditional Moroccan home feels more like a boutique hotel than a hostel. It’s also centrally located.
Where to Eat & Drink in Tangier
My favorite part about Tangier - the food. Anthony Bourdain even dedicated an entire episode of ‘Parts Unknown’ to Tangier. Before you choose where to eat, do your research if you are looking to drink. There are some incredible places to eat in Tangier, but not every great restaurant sells alcohol.
After a long day of travel, nothing beats a great meal, delicious cocktails, good music, and even better company. We had our first meal in Tangier at El Morrocco Club and loved every dish we tried on the menu. EL Morrocco Club was the most expensive, but one of the best meals we had in Morocco.
Gran Café de Paris may be the most famous coffee shop in Tangier. It was recently featured in a Bourne Ultimatum movie but has been a long time hotspot for literary greats in Tangier.
We popped into Rig Kebdani after a long day of exploring and a failed attempt at getting a palatable lunch at a cafe known for its sea views. We were pleasantly surprised by the delicious food and a vibrant atmosphere at Rif Kebdani.
If you’re tired of Moroccan food pop into Anna e Paolo for a great Italian dinner with great Italian wine.
What to do in Tangier
I’ll be frank. It’s wonderful to see Tangier, but you won’t want more than a day seeing the city. There are a couple of sites outside of the city center well worth a visit, but I recommend hiring a driver or taking a bus to Chefchaouen for a day.
The Tangier Medina is full of shops, winding streets, and food vendors. Spend an afternoon exploring and shopping for souvenirs. Just a heads up - Medina’s are not always the most well light places, so I recommend keeping your exploring to the day. It’s easy to get lost in dark dead ends at night.
There are many legends about the cave. One of the most popular is that Hercules stayed in this cave before his 11th hour of labor. The caves are well worth exploring. One of the highlights of exploring them was seeing the Africa shaped opening that looks out to the sea.
Cap Spartel is the most Northwestern point in Africa and where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet. It’s a scenic spot and great for photo ops. Stop here on your way to the caves of Hercules.
One of the most recognizable places in Morocco is Chefchaouen. It’s easily accessible from Tangier and one of my favorite places I went during my time in Morocco. For tips on what to do and how to get here check out this guide.