Things to do in Tangier
If you’re willing to make an effort and overlook the initial annoyances, Tangier can be a fascinating and rewarding destination. Its location in the northwestern corner of the country has led to architectural and culinary influences from Spain, Portugal and France, as well as Northern Africa, creating a clash of cultures that makes Tangier unlike anywhere else in Morocco.
Here are our recommendations for things to do in Tangier:
Visit Tangier Kasbah
Tangier’s Kasbah is located high on a hilltop, offering panoramic views over the medina, the city and the bay of Tangier. Head to escape the crowd the medina – life is calmer in the Kasbah. Within the walls lies Dar el Makhzen, a former royal palace from the 17th century, which now serves as a museum. Inside, you’ll discover a selection of mosaics, Moroccan crafts, and artwork from across the country. Aim to spend at least an hour here, exploring the history, culture and art that helped form the Morocco of today.
After spending time in the Kasbah, exit through the Bab Bhar gate and gaze out over the ocean to catch a glimpse of Gibraltar – if it’s a particularly clear day you’ll be able to spot its famous Rock on the horizon. This is one of the few places in the world where you’ll be able to see two continents at once.
Go Shopping at the Souks
Thursdays and Sundays are best for shopping in Tangier’s souks, a collection of traditional markets dotted around the city. These are the most popular days for locals so look out for the Berber women in traditional dress selling homemade products. They’ve travelled long distances down from the mountain to be there and provide the perfect opportunity to pick up a holiday souvenir or two.
If you haven’t been to a souk before, or want to make sure you’re not getting charged obscene amounts of money, hire a guide before you arrive. They’ll help you navigate the stalls quickly and without hassle, show you how to negotiate and pass on information on the sellers’ wares.
The Caves of Hercules
Located just 15 kilometres west of Tangier are Cape Spartel and the Caves of Hercules, both of which are well worth adding to your Tangier itinerary. Cape Spartel marks the most North Western point of mainland Africa, has a beautiful yellow lighthouse to explore, and offers views across the Strait of Gibraltar.
The Caves of Hercules get their name from a legend that states the Greek hero once spent time in the cave. Upon arriving, descend down a set of steps — bypassing the numerous vendors that will no doubt also descend on you. Walk for just a few minutes and you’ll be greeted with a gaping hole in the cave wall, facing the ocean. The hole is particularly special as it takes the shape of the African continent.
The Grand Socco (The Large Market)
Grand Socco, which is Spanish for Large Market,is considered the dynamic heart of the city , it is connection the old and new parts of the city. Grand Socco is a busy square and good place to watch locals and enjoy local atmosphere. You can just relax and enjoy the passing parades of locals and Rif women in their colourful traditional costumes.
Also called Place 9 Avril 1947, becasuse itwitnessed the historically famous call for independence speech made by late king Mohamed V in 1947. The Grand Socco is a dynamic mixture of contrasting lifestles, colors, architechture and house styles; a bridge between the old medina and modern town.
Ride Camels on the Beach
If you don’t get a chance to ride a camel in the Sahara Desert while you’re in Morocco, Tangier offers an enjoyable alternative. Head to popular Agadir beach and you’ll find no shortage of vendors willing to offer you a bumpy ride across the sand. Camel riding can be uncomfortable at times but it’s also exciting, surprisingly peaceful and makes for a great holiday snapshot.
Visit the American Legation
The only National Monument outside of the United States is The American Legation, a museum located in the southwest corner of the medina. Morocco was the very first country to recognize America as an independent nation and the museum aims to celebrate this.
The museum is open Mondays-Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is closed Sundays and Moroccan holidays. Entrance fee 20 dirhams; guided tours 50 dirhams per person. You could easily spend at least an hour exploring all it has to offer. You’ll find artworks depicting the history of Tangier through the ages, information on Morocco-US correspondences and a fascinating account of the country relations.
Located along the cliff top overlooking the Bay of Tangier, Café Hafa is one of the oldest cafes in the heart of the town dating back to 1921. The café features a mix of ancient and modern style décor and through the years has been a significant hangout spot for locals and visitors alike include renowned writers and singers such as Paul Bowles and William Burroughs to The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
One of the reasons why Café Hafa has gained much popularity is because of its mint tea, a special brew unique to Tangier. The café is a perfect place to catch stunning views over the Bay of Tangier and to enjoy relaxing time after a stressful day. On a very good, very clear day, you can see to Spain. Your trip to Tangier will be considered incomplete without visiting Café Hafa.
That if your visit happens at the same time as the international jazz festival Tanjazz festival
Looking for a day trip from Tangier?
Asilah, can be reached by either by train or bus from Tangier. However, once you have arrived, the best way to get around is on foot to explore the city. The town is small but features a medina that is decorated with African art. If you happen to arrive in August, you can witness the art festival that ensures murals go up on the walls for the enjoyment of visitors. When you aren’t looking at art, roam around the beaches that occupy the south and north ends of the town.
All of the wandering around is bound to work up an appetite so make sure to try some of the town’s Spanish inspired restaurants. You can find Paella and tortillas but also traditional mint tea and couscous dishes. Asilah is about 30 kilometers south of Tangier -40 minutes by car-.