Tangier, a city located in the extreme north of Morocco with a population of almost one million inhabitants, is the main gateway to the country, due in large part to its proximity to Europe; from Tangier you can see Spain on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar.
The city is defined by three areas: the medina, its coastal strip and the so-called new city, a product of recent population growth and the most modern area.
Tangier is recognized for its strong multicultural identity. The famous 19th-century artist Eugène Delacroix lived here for many years and made it popular in the salons of Paris and the rest of Europe with his paintings. In 1925 it was declared an international city, which allowed any country in the world to be part of the city’s culture. In the middle of the last century it became a great cosmopolitan city and a place of interest for numerous artists and other influential people.
The classic Hotel Continental welcomes us upon arrival by boat; international celebrities such as George Orwell or Winston Churchill stayed here. The city’s medina is unique with its intertwining narrow alleys with wide spaces, such as the Grand Socco and the Mendoubia gardens. Another classic landmark is the old Rif Cinema, a remodeled art deco treasure. Its vintage billboard often features mainstream and indie movies. It also houses cultural workshops and a library.
As we enter the new city, from the moment we step on its main street, Boulevard Pasteur, we clearly see the foreign influences. Other examples are the Spanish Theatre, the Gran Teatro Cervantes and the Hotel Minzah, built by a British aristocrat.
In the coastal area, along the Cape Spartel and the Caves of Hercules, we find a little gem called Café Hafa, with a series of staggered terraces that take in the sea where Paul Bowles, Sean Connery and Jimmy Hendrix have enjoyed a tea and a beautiful sunset.
Finally, we cannot ignore its wide range of events with an international focus, such as the TANJAzz festival and the International Flamenco Festival.
Tangier is, therefore, the perfect starting point for the country. A city with a clear universal identity. The most equidistant place between Morocco and the rest of the world.
Its climate is mild all year round. Even in summer, it enjoys a pleasant sea breeze.
So, you can travel to Tangier at any time in light clothing (only a jacket for the winter months). Around wintertime there is some chance of rain (about 30%), so it’s a good idea to carry a small umbrella.
Tangier has an airport widely used by those who travel from Spain, since it mainly offers direct flights from there. Another option is to land at an airport with more international traffic and from there head to Tangier (the following sections detail transportation between Tangier and other major cities in Morocco).
It’s located close to the city, approximately 15 kilometers (10 miles). The price range of transfers to the city from the airport is from 100 to 150 dirhams (depending on where our accommodations are located).
Taxis that offer services from the airport are all grand taxis, and the prices the same regardless of how many passengers, so you can go alone or wait for someone to share the ride with (maximum 5 people).
Thanks in part to being one of the former capitals of Morocco, getting to Tangier by train is very easy. It has regular service to many important cities, such as Casablanca, Marrakech or Tangier.
Timetables and prices according to the point of origin can be found on the website of the Moroccan train company, the OCNF (the page is in French). However, although tickets can be purchased online, it is only possible if you have a Moroccan credit card.
Tangier has very good road connections to almost anywhere. The best roads (mostly highways) connect with other major cities such as Marrakech, Rabat, Fez or Casablanca.
Ferry is usually the preferred option of those arriving from Southern Spain. In the city there are two ports: first of all there’s the Tangier Ville port, the oldest in the city and the one preferred by most, with very regular service (practically every hour).
Another advantage is its location, next to the medina, so you only need to take a taxi to get to the hotel area, or you can even walk if it’s close enough. The taxi pick-up area is located at the exit of the terminal, once you pass customs. As the journey will be short, the price will be quite low (approximately 20 or 30 dirhams).
On the other hand there’s the Tangier Med port, built on the outskirts of the city about 45 kilometers (25 miles) from the city. It’s mainly used for cargo and people traveling with their own cars (fares are usually cheaper).
Since it’s a larger port it can accommodate larger boats, being very useful when storms in the strait do not allow smaller boats to sail to Tangier Ville and an alternative option is required. However, the crossings only depart and go to Algeciras.
The taxi pick-up area is located right in front of the exit of the terminal, all of which are grand taxis and with an approximate cost per service of 150 dirhams.