From the small town of Tarifa it is easy to take a daytrip to Tangier in Morocco. The trip only takes about 35-45 minutes and from the port on the African side you will only have to walk for about 5 minutes to get into the medina.
There are a large number of wessels going back and forth all day between Spain and northern Africa. From the city of Alegeciras,from Malaga and from Tarifa on the southern tip of Spain. The reason why you should choose to go from Tarifa is that its the only routes that goes directly to Tangier city. The ones from Algeciras goes either to the large harbour called Tangier Med about 45 minutes to the northeast og Tangier city or to the Spanish enclave Ceuta on the Morrocco northern coastline. The Tarifa-Tangier is also the fastest of the routes.
The boats have Taxfree shops and a cafe.
We choosed to book a ticket with a company called FRS. They had 5 large modern catamaran boats that took up to around 800 passengers (100-200cars) and where built from around 1995-2000 in Australia and Norway. We could also have chosen a company called Commarit that also seemed to have nice wessels. We also used the FRS website for booking and it worked fine for us but we could also have used a large european ferry site called Directferries. I think the price will be the same. Tickets can be booked in the terminal building in Tarifa and if you arrive by car from the Malaga area you will se the tickets advertised in at least 20 small ticket counters by the side of the road. (Remember when you book a daytrip that Morocco is one hour behind Spain)
Since you leave the EU and Schengen area you should expect some customs control. To save some time when you arrive the passport controll takes place on the boat when you head for Morocco. When you arrive in Tangier you only have to show that the passport is stamped.
When you go back to Spain the customs controll is in the terminal building.
Arriving as a westerner in Tangier you will be met by guys with a badge claiming to be official guides. They will tell you that they are there to protect you from their fellow countrymen that
will be all over you all day. If you are not in the market for a guide just look them in the eyes and tell them politely no thank you. We did and we had no problems wandering around on our own in the Medina. On the other hand these guys could maybe be a resource for you on a sightseeing and they probably know Tangier inside out.
The price for this cruise was about 65euro for a return ticket for one person without a car.
When we travel, we like to be independent to do our own thing and it usually involves getting off the beaten path. As a result, we almost always hire a car if it makes any sense at all given the circumstances of where we are visiting. In this case, because Sue's sister was joining us from England for eight days of our trip, I had to go one size larger than normal to accommodate three suitcases. It turned out to be a diesel Ford Focus station wagon with a 5-speed manual transmission. There was enough space in the rear for the suitcases plus a few other odds and ends as well as a flap that covered-up everything from prying eyes.
We hired it from Red Ribbon Car Hire Spain but picked it up from the Goldcar desk at the Alicante airport - at a daily rate of 18.26 Euros. However, when all the extras like insurance and diesel surcharge were added in, the total for 18 days came to 618 Euros (~US$850 during the financial meltdown crisis).
Everywhere we went in Spain, we found the roads to be in excellent condition - even on small secondary roads in the Sierra Nevadas or along some 'off-the-beaten path' coastal roads such as this one just northwest of Tarifa. I must be a crazy driver, because the legendary Spanish drivers did not bother me at all. The biggest problem with this Group F-size car was in towns, trying to squeeze it into one of the few small parking spots that one might chance upon. It did not give us any mechanical problems during the 3240-km (~2000 miles) we drove it.
The only way to get to Tarifa from other parts of Spain is road. No trains travel to the town, the closest station is around 25km at Algeciras taking the N340. The nearest Spanish airport is in Malaga, around 128kms away. Buses run regularly to various cities in Spain. The bus station is near the old city’s entrance.
The FRS ferries are very comfortable with two levels to wander about on. There is a bar and café for light meals and snacks as well as a small duty free shop. There are also toilets which can be free or not depending on whether a staff member is on hand.
There are three ferries to the FRS fleet – interestingly enough two of them were built in Australia and the other built in Norway. The largest vessel in the fleet can take 900 passengers and 238 cars.
Be a little careful taking photos around the port, we were told they don't like it.
If you are wanting to take the ferry over to Morocco for the day then you will need to book on FRS Fast Ferries. You can travel as a passenger or take your car. The one way trip will take around 35 mins and depart from Tarifa Port every 2 hours starting at around 9.00am through to about 11.00pm.
There is a ferry which operates from Tarifa to Morocco every two hours. For information on timetable and prices have a look at www.frs.es. The ferry they use can transport vehicles but always check if your car insurance covers Morocco. Also you must have all vehicle documents in order.
We had a hire car when we visited, but to get about the old town was fine walking. However we didnt really venture into the newer part of town but I dont think Tarifa is such a huge place.
To get to Tarifa there is a train station in Algeciras and you can get a bus from there.
The nearest airports are Gibraltar or Jerez.
You will have noticed that Tarifa is as far as you can get in Europe, and although the roads have improved in the past years, it is still a very long drive. Something to consider when your time is limited and would rather spend as much time as possible on the beach.
If you are planning to come to Tarifa I really suggest you consider flying. Malaga airport is one of the busiest in the world for tourist traffic. This has brought all cost down dramatically and increased the services available.
The first one that springs to my mind is the car rental. Prices are very affordable specially if you consider that you will need a car once in Tarifa if you want to get to the dream beaches or check out the best wind/wave conditions. Tarifa has 35km of beaches. Have a lot of windsurf gear? No problem, not only do they provide roof racks, wind and kitesurfers are even entitled to special prices.
Alternatively you may catch a bus. For this though you will have to first get to Malaga, short trip by train and then change again in Algeciras.
As there was no direct bus from Gibraltar, we had to cross the border to take the bus to Tarifa. The first stop across the border is La Linea de la Concepcion, from where there are buses every hour or so to Tarifa, passing through Algeciras along the way. The journey takes just under an hour and costs 3.50 Euro.
The bus stop in La Linea is difficult to find. Once you cross the border walk straight ahead for about 200 metres and take the street to the left before McDonalds. The bus stop is then about 100 metres on the right hand side.
In Tarifa, the bus station is about 800 metres north of Puerta de Jerez (entrance to the old town) on Calle Batalla del Salado.
I am afraid the transportation on this area is not great, bus can be the best option.
Buses from Cadiz (if you come from Sevilla or Jerez Airport) or from Malaga (if you come to malaga airport, you take the bus that goes to Cadiz that stops there, or the bsu to Algeciras and them change to one to Tarifa)
If you are not going to be driving in Tarifa I would suggest that you base yourself in town, whilst its lovely staying out of town near the deserted beaches, you will have to get a taxi in and out of town and there are not alot of them. Also it costs about 16 euros for a round trip so this can add up ! Also because there are not alot of taxis sometimes you can find your self waiting upto half an hour !! So if you are going to come to tarifa a car would be best !!
The catamaran from Tarifa to Tangiers is quick, clean and efficient.. well it is right up until you want to get off and the Moroccan passport control make you wait. The views from deck by sundown are special. Leaving for African soil was really nervy.
Tarifa is a departure point for ferries to Tangier, Morocco. The trip costs about 30 euros and takes a little under an hour.