There is no good reason to come to this dirty ditch of a port town.
There are two ways to get from Tangiers, Morocco to Spain. You can take the 35 minute Ferry to a cute sleepy seaside village, such as Tarifa, or you can take a 2.5 hour "ferry" to the dirty thieving ditch of a town, Algeciras.
Take the 35-minute ferry from Tangiers to Tarifa (NOT Algeciras). Then take a bus to your destination. If you require a rental car, rent one at your next destination, and do NOT use Europcar!!
LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES
We chose to go to Algeciras because they had car rental options. Let me tell you right now, not only is that not enough reason to do it, but it is even more reason you shouldn't do it.
After an awful, and I mean awful ferry ride (people hurling off the sides of the boat) to Algeciras, we arrived at Europcar and they were closed. I know what you're thinking... we should have planned ahead, but we did.
We booked and prepaid for 10 days of a Mercedes car. We paid extra for after hours pick-up, and yet when we arrived in the early afternoon to that unspeakable town, they were closed and they nor the 800 line were picking up their phone.
We then had two choices. Spend 400 Euro to get a driver to bring us to Sevilla, where our hotel reservation was for the night, or wait 4 hours for a 4-hour long bus. We chose the latter.
In those four hours, we got ripped off by a taxi driver, and got spit on by a drug addicted prostitute who was trying desperately to get onto a bus without buying a ticket.
We had 2 days to spend in Sevilla. One of those days was spent almost in entirety on the phone with customer service trying to work out the situation. In the end, we were told that we would be refunded. But a month later, after we returned home, we received a letter (after many inquiries) that we would not be receiving so much as a dime in refund.
Do NOT use Europcar. There is a recession, and they plan to get there money in any way possible!!
We went to Tangier and back from Algeciras by ferry. It takes 2 1/2 hours. We had breakfast before departing and had lunch after we arrived in Tangier. We fortified ourselves for the late lunch with snacks from the ferry canteen. Of course the details of the trip were handled by the tour company and the guides instructed us about efficient validation of our passports on both trips. All the connections from Torremolinos and beyond were also handled. There were few passengers and we were free to roam over most of the ferry which is quite large. There were no fumes or noise as one encounters on hydrofoils. Shortly after we departed we went past Gibraltar. The view in each direction was poor because of the weather.(our only chance to see it). The other vistas were of the African coast (coming and going) , the busy port of Algeciras (nothing to see) and the open water with a few boats. Be sure to bring a book. How much more it cost is hard to determine but tour is an easy way to go and you would have to work at it to see more in a short time. (See our Tangier, Asilah and Province de Tanger tips)
At the Spanish port of Algeciras, you can find many ferries to Tangier, Ceuta, and other Moroccan ports. If you decide to take one of these trips, please, leave about 4 hours open in your schedule. The ferries do not run on time. And no one seems to know why!
I also found that while there are different companies selling differently priced ferry tickets, all customers seemed to go on the same boat.
Also, keep in mind that Morocco is in a different time zone than Spain, it is two hours behind! So, keep that in mind when making plans, otherwise you will, like us, have to cut our Moroccan tour short.
Our ferry from Algeciras to Tangiers took almost an hour, and I paid around 27 euros. On the way back, we made it in 35 minutes, and I paid about 21 euros. Go figure!?
If you can, ride the ferry at sunset. The sun setting over the Atlantic is the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen, period.
Algeciras is a great base for exploring,we caught the Euro ferry from the port to Ceuta the spanish port before you enter Morocco and then on to Tetouan,you can also catch the ferry to Tangier,the ferrys leave at different times throughout the day. You can catch the fast ferry or the slow one.There are long queues at certain times of the year but we went in November and had no problems.Also don't forget your passports.
The new bus station in Algeciras was only opened a week before i got there by the Mayor,it looked very posh more like a stadium than a bus station.There is an information desk which was very helpful,with lots of places to visit including Gibralta,Rhonda etc.
You have different options to cross the 3rd most busiest strait in the world in order to get to Tanger, Morocco. Algeciras has a modern port terminal and provides more frequent and convenient crossings than Gibraltar, but it is not as cute as than Tarifa, the third option. However, Tarifa, where the crossing ois the fastest with 35 minutes is only for EU Nationals. This will change Sep 1, 2003, when other nationalities will be allowed to cross from Tarifa as well.