Tangier is a major port city in northern Morocco. It is located on the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Africa from Europe, making it a popular stop for cruise ships and ferry traffic. With its strategic location and blend of African, European, and Middle Eastern influences, Tangier has long been an important center for trade, diplomacy, arts, and culture.
There are many exciting things to see and do in Tangier. This vibrant city offers visitors a chance to explore the winding alleys of the medina, relax on beautiful beaches, take in spectacular panoramic views, and discover Tangier’s rich history.
From world-class museums and historic landmarks to excellent shopping and dining, Tangier has something for every taste and budget. This complete Tangier travel guide will highlight the top 25 things to see and do to make the most of your visit to this fascinating Moroccan city.
Overview of Tangier
Tangier is situated on the Maghreb coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.
It is the capital of the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region in northern Morocco, located about 20 km from Europe across the strait. With its strategic location and natural harbor, Tangier has long been an important trading center and gateway between Africa and Europe.
It has been ruled by many civilizations, including the Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Portuguese, and Spaniards. It was famously an international city and tax-free zone under various foreign powers until Moroccan independence in 1956.
Tangier has attracted many famous writers, artists, and travelers over the centuries, including Ibn Battuta, Henri Matisse, William S. Burroughs, Paul Bowles, and The Beatles.
Its mix of cultures is reflected in the diversity of languages spoken here, including Moroccan Arabic, Spanish, French, and English.
The population of the Tangier metro area is over 1 million people. The city is divided into old and new sections: the medina (old city) contains markets, residences, and mosques within its medieval walls.
On the other hand, the Ville Nouvelle (new city) has broad avenues lined with French colonial buildings, hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
Explore the Medina and Kasbah Museum
The Medina of Tangier is one of the city’s top attractions. This bustling old-walled city dates back to medieval times and features a maze of narrow alleyways lined with shops, markets, mosques, and homes in various states of repair.
Wandering the medina is a feast for the senses – take in the sights, sounds, and smells as you stroll past vendors selling spices, handicrafts, clothing, and more. Don’t miss the Petit Socco, the historic main market square of the medina.
Above the medina sits the Kasbah, an ancient citadel now home to the Dar el Makhzen, or the Sultan’s palace, and the fascinating Kasbah Museum.
The museum is located within the Ottoman-era palace and showcases exhibits on Moroccan art, history, and culture. Climb up to the rooftop terrace for stunning 360-degree views over Tangier and the Strait of Gibraltar.
Marvel at the Caves of Hercules
Just 14 km outside Tangier lies one of the city’s most iconic landmarks – the Caves of Hercules. The caves open up to the Atlantic coastline near Cape Spartel, the northwestern tip of Africa.
According to legend, these caverns are where Hercules rested after his labors. Don’t miss the striking rock formation in the shape of Africa’s northern coastline.
There are guided tours that allow you to explore inside the Hercules caves and learn about their history and mythology.
Tour the American Legation Museum
History buffs will appreciate a visit to the American Legation building in the Medina. Built in 1821, it’s the first property acquired abroad by the United States government.
Today it serves as a museum with exhibits on America’s first diplomatic ties with an overseas nation. There are also rotating art exhibits and gardens surrounding the property.
Take in the Views from Cap Spartel
One of the most scenic viewpoints around Tangier is Cap Spartel, about 14 km west of the city center.
Situated at the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, this cape offers breathtaking panoramas overlooking the coastline.
There is a historic lighthouse here which is over 150 years old. Watch the sunset with views of the sea, coast, and beaches on both sides.
Relax on Achakar Beach
Tangier’s best beach is Achakar Beach, also known as Tanger Beach. This wide, clean stretch of golden sand attracts locals and visitors alike. Relax on a lounge chair, go for a swim in the Mediterranean, and take in the seaside ambiance.
There are even camels giving rides along the water’s edge for an extra Moroccan experience. Vendors are at hand selling refreshments and snacks as well.
Stroll Along the Corniche
Amble along the Corniche Tanger, a seaside promenade stretching for several miles near the medina. This palm tree-lined walkway offers lovely views over the port, the Mediterranean, and the Rif Mountains across the strait in Spain.
Watch the ships come and go in the harbor while locals play soccer and picnic in the grassy areas. The Corniche is especially lively around sunset.
Wander Parc Rmilat
This public park south of the medina provides a nice contrast from the bustling old city. Parc Rmilat, also known as Parc Perdicaris, is a peaceful green space with flower gardens, palm and eucalyptus trees, fountains, and walking paths.
There are also tennis courts, an amphitheater, and a cafe inside where you can stop for refreshments.
Soak up local life at the Grand Socco
The Grand Socco is the main square in the medina, bustling with food stalls, fruit vendors, snake charmers, and souvenir sellers. Grab a cup of mint tea, have lunch at one of the restaurants, and people watch this lively local scene unfold.
Explore the Petit Socco
The Petit Socco is a picturesque plaza lined with cafes that have long attracted artists, writers, and expats. Grab a table on one of the terraces, order a drink, and soak up the atmosphere of this historic hub for intellectual and creative life in Tangier.
The smaller Petit Socco has been an important market since medieval times. Browse the many hole-in-the-wall shops and stalls in this atmospheric public square.
Visit the Grand Mosque
Tangier’s largest and most important mosque is the Grand Mosque of Tangier. Built in the late 1930s on the site of a former Portuguese cathedral, the mosque has an imposing gateway and large minaret towering over the medina.
The lavish interior features intricate tilework, carved wood ceilings, chandeliers, and more. Non-Muslims are typically not allowed inside but can admire the architecture from the outside.
Discover Local Art at the Lorin Museum
Art lovers shouldn’t miss the Fondation Lorin in the Ville Nouvelle neighborhood. This museum is set within a historic manor home and showcases a robust collection of paintings and sculptures by Moroccan artists.
Temporary exhibits here also display modern contemporary works. Check the schedule for special concerts and cultural events held here too.
Catch a Show at the Cervantes Theater
If you’re looking for some evening entertainment, head to the Gran Teatro Cervantes. Built in 1913, this nearly 2,000-seat theater in Ville Nouvelle hosts musical performances, plays, dance shows, and more.
The impressive interior boasts grand arched entryways, detailed tilework, stained glass windows, balcony seating, and excellent acoustics. Check their event calendar to see what’s on during your visit.
Visit the Tomb of Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta was the legendary 14th-century Moroccan explorer who traveled extensively across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
The renowned adventurer was born in Tangier in 1304 and is honored here with an ornate tomb complex in the medina containing his grave and a museum dedicated to his exploits.
Even if you’re not familiar with Battuta, this site offers beautiful architecture and medalwork worth seeing.
Explore the Mendoubia Gardens
For some fresh air and serenity within the city, head to the Mendoubia Gardens just outside the medina walls. These lush public gardens date back to the 12th century and contain a large pond, sculptures, flower beds, and palm trees.
Pathways meander beneath the foliage, with plenty of benches provided for sitting and relaxing amidst nature.
Attend Services at St. Andrew’s Church
St. Andrew’s is an Anglican church established in the late 19th century with a distinct Moorish architectural style. The interior is especially striking, with a mix of Islamic patterns and designs blended with Christian features.
Visitors are welcome to attend services and admire the building. There is an onsite religious bookshop selling Bibles and literature in different languages.
Soak up the Sun at Dalia Beach
Located about 15 km south of Tangier, Dalia Beach is a popular summertime spot among locals. This long sandy Tangier beach has plenty of room to spread out and enjoy swimming, sunbathing, beach games, picnicking, and more.
There are also cafes and restaurants along the palm-lined promenade, making it easy to stay fueled up for hours of fun.
Marvel at Cap Malabata
Along Tangier’s eastern coast, you’ll find the secluded cove of Cap Malabata punctuated by an elegant arched limestone rock formation jutting into the sea. Its unique shape has earned it the nickname “the keyhole of the Mediterranean.”
Views of the striking rock formation and surrounding coastline are phenomenal, especially at sunset when the area lights up in golden hues.
Relax at Terrasse des Paresseux
As the name suggests (“Terrace of the Lazy”), Terrasse des Paresseux is a casual cafe in the medina perfect for lounging and people watching. Sip some Moroccan mint tea or coffee on the covered terrace overlooking the hustle and bustle below.
Located near the Grand Mosque, it’s a nice spot to take a break and soak up the atmosphere after exploring the medina.
Catch a Bullfight at the Plaza de Toros
Experience a traditional Moroccan bullfight at Tangier’s Plaza de Toros bullring near Cap Malabata.
Built in 1922, the arena hosts regular fights on weekends and holidays. Vendors outside sell snacks and refreshments to the crowds that gather for an afternoon of bullfighting action. While graphic for some, the cultural spectacle is worth witnessing.
Attend the Tanjazz Festival
Each summer, Tangier hosts the awesome Tanjazz Festival celebrating jazz music over the course of several days. Local and international jazz artists perform evening concerts on multiple stages set up around town.
The festive event also features jam sessions, dance lessons, art exhibits, street performances, and more.
Go Boating at Mnar Park
Mnar Park is a large green space just outside central Tangier that’s popular with families. The park contains a small lake where you can go boating on the water via pedal or row boats for rent.
Other activities include mini-golf, pony rides, and a small train that kids can ride through the park. There are also playgrounds, snack bars and picnic areas.
So there you have it – our picks for the top attractions and things to do in Tangier for an amazing visit. With its spectacular seaside setting, historic sights, and fusion of cultures, Tangier is a destination not to be missed in Morocco.
Wherever your interests lie, Tangier offers something exciting. Wander the labyrinthine old medina lanes, hunt for treasures in the markets, relax on pristine beaches, and indulge in the city’s legendary cafe culture.
By mixing must-see landmarks with off-the-beaten-path finds, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time discovering Tangier.
Tips for Visiting Tangier City – Planning Your Tangier Itinerary
- Wear modest, conservative clothing while sightseeing, especially in the old medina.
- Ask permission before photographing people, especially local women.
- Tangier’s currency is the Moroccan dirham. Euros and USD are accepted in some places.
- Hiring a local guide helps you navigate the medina and gain insights into cultural sites.
- Taxis get very crowded, so agree on a price before entering or use the petits taxis (small metered cab for max 3 people).
- Drink only bottled water and watch out for scams targeting tourists.
- During Ramadan, note that locals fast by day but restaurants are open at night.
Don’t miss these top itinerary options setting out from this northern port city:
- Embark on an epic 4 Days Morocco Tour from Tangier, hitting the highlights like Chefchaouen, Fes, and Marrakech.
- Do a 5 Days Tour from Tangier to Marrakech to experience both the north and south regions.
- Opt for a comprehensive 6 Days Tour from Tangier to Marrakech to fully immerse in Imperial Cities.
- Go big with a 9 Days Morocco Tour from Tangier hitting all the must-sees across the country.
With so many amazing options, you really can’t go wrong! Start planning an unforgettable Moroccan adventure kicking off in Tangier today.
Day Trips from Tangier, Morocco
Some excellent day trips near Tangier include:
- Chefchaouen – Explore the blue-washed streets of this mountain village.
- Asilah – A charming beach town with Portuguese-influenced architecture.
- Tetouan – An old town (“the white dove”) nestled in the Rif Mountains.
- Ceuta – A Spanish exclave on the Mediterranean coast.
How to Get to Tangier?
Getting to Tangier is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. Whether you prefer to fly or take a ferry, there are several options available.
Tangier is served by Tangier Ibn Battouta Airport, which offers international flights from major cities in Europe, including Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, and London.
Flights to Tangier are operated by various airlines, making it convenient for travelers from around the world.
For those traveling from Europe, taking a ferry to Tangier is a popular choice. Tangier is well-connected by ferries from cities such as Tarifa and Algeciras in Spain.
The Tangier ferry journey offers breathtaking views of the Strait of Gibraltar and is a convenient and scenic way to reach Tangier from different locations at Tanger Med Port and Port de Tangier Ville.
Domestic Transport Options to Tangier
If you’re already in Morocco, there are several domestic transport options to reach Tangier. Trains and buses operate daily from major cities like Casablanca, Rabat, and Fes, providing easy access to Tangier.
The journey by train or bus offers beautiful views of the Moroccan countryside and is a great way to experience the country.
Where to Stay in Tangier?
Tangier has many accommodation options from budget to luxury:
- Budget: Funky Fes, Cristal Hostel
- Mid-range: Hotel Continental, Atlas Rif & Spa, Hotel Farah
- Luxury: Hotel El Minzah, Le Mirage Hotel & Spa
The best areas to stay are the Ville Nouvelle for charm and proximity to cafes, or closer to the major beaches. For convenience, look for places walkable to the Grand Socco or Petit Socco on your first visit to Tangier.
Check this article to learn more about the best places and hotels to stay in Tangier.
Where to Eat in Tangier?
Tangier is a culinary delight, with a wide range of restaurants and eateries offering delicious Moroccan and international cuisine. Here are some of the best restaurants to try in Tangier:
Restaurant Bachir is a popular dining spot in Tangier, known for its authentic Moroccan dishes. Indulge in traditional tagines, couscous, and grilled meats while enjoying the warm hospitality and lively atmosphere.
Dar Naji is a hidden gem in Tangier, offering a blend of Moroccan and Mediterranean flavors. This cozy restaurant is located in the heart of the Medina and serves delicious seafood dishes, as well as vegetarian options.
Le Bistro du Petit Socco
Located near the Petit Socco, Le Bistro du Petit Socco is a charming restaurant known for its French-inspired cuisine. Enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner on the terrace while taking in the bustling atmosphere of the Medina.
Best Time to Visit Tangier
The best time to visit Tangier is during the spring and fall months. The weather is warm and sunny but not too hot, making it ideal for sightseeing and beachgoing.
- Spring (March to May) brings pleasant daytime temperatures around 70°F (21°C), with cooler evenings. Flowering trees and gardens bloom while the chance of rain is low. It’s before the summer crowds arrive.
- Autumn (September to November) also enjoys comfortable weather in the 60s and 70s°F (15 – 26°C), with fewer tourists. The ocean remains swimmable into October.
- Summers (June to August) can be very hot, reaching up to 100°F (38°C) and crowded. However, hotels run summer promotions.
- Winters are mild, with average temperatures of 55-65°F (13-18°C), but more frequent rainfall.
So for the best mix of pleasant weather, thin crowds, lower prices, and lively culture, aim to visit Tangier during spring or fall if possible.
Summary of Top Things to Do in Tangier, Morocco
With its remarkable history, architecture, culture, and scenery, Tangier has so much to offer visitors.
Spend time strolling the atmospheric medina and atmospheric coastal corniche, exploring historic and natural landmarks, and getting a taste of modern Moroccan life.
This Tangier travel guide covers the top attractions and activities you shouldn’t miss when visiting this fascinating gateway city between Africa and Europe.
Use the tips to better plan what to see and do during your upcoming trip to Tangier.
FAQs About Visiting The Best Places in Tangier
Is Tangier worth visiting?
Yes, Tangier is absolutely worth a visit! As a major Moroccan port city, it offers an exciting mix of African and European influences.
Wandering the medina’s winding alleys, relaxing on beautiful beaches, exploring ancient sites, and taking in panoramic views make Tangier a top destination.
Its strategic location on the Strait of Gibraltar also gives it an energy and cosmopolitan atmosphere quite distinct from other Imperial Cities.
What are 3 things Tangier is known for?
- Its strategic location linking Europe and Africa on the Strait of Gibraltar
- A long history of foreign occupation and international zone status
- Blending African, European, and Middle Eastern cultures into its architecture, food, and arts
What to do in Tangier in one day?
For a full day in Tangier, focus on the medina, the kasbah, the beach, and the cafe culture:
- Walk around the medina, visiting the Petit and Grand Soccos
- Explore the Kasbah and museums
- Relax on Achakar Beach
- Grab lunch at a local cafe
- Wander the Corniche promenade
- Watch the sunset with hilltop views
- Enjoy a delicious Moroccan dinner
Is Marrakech or Tangier better?
This depends on the type of experience you’re looking for. Marrakech is larger and more hectic, with huge markets, gardens, historic sites, and a bigger medina.
Tangier offers a more laidback vibe and stronger European influences. Marrakech works well for a longer cultural visit, while Tangier suits shorter getaways.
Is Tangier tourist-friendly?
Yes, Tangier is a very tourist-friendly destination. While independent travelers will enjoy exploring on their own, the city has a solid tourist infrastructure. Many locals speak English and French, signage caters to visitors, and guides are available.
The medina can get maze-like but locals are usually happy to point you in the right direction. As in any city, it helps to take precautions against petty crime.
What is Better Tangier or Casablanca?
Tangier and Casablanca offer very different experiences. As Morocco’s largest city and business hub, Casablanca has urban energy and more modern architecture.
Tangier provides a smaller-scale, laid-back port town atmosphere focused on history, culture, and scenery.
Tangier works well for a short visit, while Casablanca suits longer trips for diving into cuisine, nightlife, and city living. It depends on your travel style and interests.