When you think of Morocco's hottest cities, you will probably think of Casablanca, Marrakech, and even Fez before you come up with Tangier. Although sometimes overlooked, Tangier has a lot to offer! It is one of Morocco's oldest cities, and the history reveals itself around every corner. In Tangier you are minutes away from caves, stunning beaches, busting markets, desert excursions, and delicious traditional Moroccan cuisine.
PERKS: 1. You can arrive by ferry. Only have a day, and want a taste of the Moroccan life? Hop on a ferry and cross the Gibraltar Straight. You will be in Tangier in less than two hours, and have plenty of time to explore and be back before dinner. If you're on vacation in Spain, taking a day trip to Tangier is simple. There are several ports, and regularly scheduled ferries sail throughout the day. 2. They accept many currencies. Whether you have euros, U.S. dollars, or Moroccan dirham, you can make purchases almost anywhere. 3. They speak MANY languages. Because of its location and history, most people speak two, if not three languages. If you speak Arabic, Berber, French, Spanish, Portuguese, or English, you will not have trouble communicating here.
WHAT YOU CAN'T MISS:
Cape Spartel: See the Mediterranean Meet the Atlantic
A unique aspect of Tangier is its location. It is the only country with coasts on the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the Atlantic. There is a lookout point at Cape Spartel where you can see breathtaking views of these two bodies of water meeting. Look out for locals selling jewelry, mirrors, and other goods. These are often only a few euros, but if you want a wider selection, wait to shop until you get to the Medina. There are a few restaurants, so stop for a snack and enjoy the view!
Caves of Hercules
Right below the Cape lies the Caves of Hercules (Les Grottes d’Hercule). These caves are one of the most popular attractions in Morocco. You enter the grotto, and are immediately blown away by the huge sea opening at the opposite side of the cave. This opening is often called "The Map of Africa" as it creates a shape similar to that of the continent. The caves were once used to cut stone wheels by the Berber people. According to Greek mythology, Hercules is believed to have slept in these caves before attempting the 12 labors given to him by King Eurystheus. Whether it's true or not, the crashing of the sea in the depths of the cave certainly creates a mystical setting.
The Medina (the Old City) is a sprawling area full of twisting streets and alley ways that narrow into unexpected dead ends and shopping areas. Locals bustle by with exotic fruits, live stock, and beautiful handmade goods. It's an adventure for the eyes and the nose, as you pass spice carts, restaurants, and a range of souqs. You can find rugs, silks, home goods, textiles, spices, oils, and more through street vendors, store front shops, and artist coops.
Kasbah refers to the walled fortress atop the Tangier medina. It is easy to get lost, as much of the area is unmappable with its tiny streets, and abrupt changes in direction. It might be a good idea to hire a guide to help navigate the Kasbah and Medina if it is your first time. There is a Kasbah Museum open most days for only 10 dirhams.
Tangier boasts miles of sandy coasts, both on the Mediterranean side, as well as the Atlantic side. The cliffs surrounding many of the beaches make for unbelievable views. I had heard that the beaches were unkempt and often dirty, but the ones we visited seemed to be in great shape. There is not a lot of shade, so bring an umbrella, and soak up the sun!