Whether you’re visiting Tangier on a 3 days desert tour from Marrakech to Fes, or whether it’s part of your Morocco trip, it’s definitely worth a day or two of your time.
My expectations of Tangier were not particularly high because I had heard from friends that it was not very interesting. And also that it would be messy and potentially dangerous.
So I was very pleasantly surprised when I found that none of this was true!
The medina is really pretty and colourful, the locals just as nice as in any other Moroccan city and the nuisance from shopkeepers less than in Marrakech and Fez.
Are you wondering what to see in Tangier?
Plus, the city is a really cool mix of international influences, mostly Spanish, with interesting architecture that can be found all over the city. There are so many things to do in Tangier. If you have the time, you should plan at least a few days to experience the city and its atmosphere.
The Moroccans pronounce the name “Tanja”, and in my opinion, the city belongs on every northern Moroccan travel route. To help you plan your visit, I’ve put together this list of the best things to do in Tangier. You can see everything in one day.
So here are the top sights in Tangier, Morocco:
Get lost in the medina
As in any other Moroccan city, the medina is well worth a visit. The medina of Tangier is very colourful, you can find everything from yellow to pink to green on the lower part of the houses.
Tangier’s medina is really colourful
It’s easy to get lost, but don’t worry, the medina isn’t big enough for this to actually be a problem. Just follow your nose and explore this area. Look for a small passageway in the northeast corner of the medina that leads out onto a terrace. This is part of the old fortifications of the city and lined with old cannons.
From here you have the best view over the harbour, the new harbour mosque and the Strait of Gibraltar. If the weather cooperates, you can see all the way to Spain from here and maybe see the white villages along the coast. And if you want to book the tour to Morocco desert tours
Spain on the horizon
A very pretty street is the main street that connects the Grand Socco with the Great Mosque of Tangier, Rue Siaghine. Halfway there, you can have a coffee at the Petit Socco. Remember to look up occasionally, as most of the buildings have cute little balconies and sometimes other decorations.
Visit the kasbah
It is a little difficult to figure out where the kasbah starts and ends on the map as it is part of the medina. Go north and west uphill until you come across the strong fortification walls. That means you found her. Here the alleys seem to be even narrower, and you have the feeling of just walking in circles.
Visit the Kasbah Museum with an interesting collection of artefacts and enjoy a tea or coffee in one of the cafes around the square in front of it.
Pay your respects to the tomb of Ibn Battuta
Have you ever heard of Ibn Battuta? He was, so to speak, the Marco Polo of the Islamic world. Born in Tangier at the beginning of the 14th century, he travelled to China and back as well as parts of East and West Africa in the course of his life. His accounts were written down by a famous writer of the time, but somehow got lost for several centuries. Today he is a famous figure in the Islamic world, and his tomb is here in Tangier.
Ibn Battuta’s tomb
It is a little hidden in the western part of the medina and rather inconspicuous. But I think it’s a great place to pay your respects to one of the greatest travellers of all time. There is a mark for this in the maps.me app, which I generally recommend downloading before visiting Morocco. It is much more accurate than Google maps, especially within the medinas.
Shopping in the souk
Tangier’s souks or markets are a sight to see but could be an insult to the nose. You will find everything from fruit to fish to meat and of course every kind of souvenir. The main food market is right next to Bab al Fahs, where you enter the medina from Grand Socco, Tangier’s main square. It’s worth a look, and if you like fresh fish, I recommend visiting the fish market and buying fish for lunch.
People look at the main square of Tangier
The Grand Socco, Tangier’s main square, is a great place for to people watches. You can have a tagine for lunch in one of the restaurants that line the eastern part of the square and watch the locals go about their business.
The opposite is the Cinema Rif, and if you feel like it, catch a movie. They mostly show art house films, and if you’re lucky there might be something in English with subtitles.
Lots of locals come to sit at the Grand Socco in the late afternoons and evenings, so it can get very crowded when the weather is nice.
Visit St. Andrew’s Church
St. Andrew’s Church is just up the street from the Grand Socco. It is a rather small church in a wonderfully overgrown churchyard that houses old graves of former, mostly English residents of Tangier.
St. Andrew’s Church
Inside you can find a really interesting mix of Anglican and Moroccan architecture and design elements.
Take a trip to the Hercules Grotto
Perhaps the most famous of Tangier’s attractions, the Hercules Cave, or Hercules Grotto, is actually a few miles west of the city. It is easy to visit these days as the path down into the cave is paved so it is safe to explore in any weather.
The entrance of the grotto on the seaside looks like a mirror-inverted outline of Africa and is a very popular photo motif.
The Hercules Grotto
If you take the road that runs along the coast, be sure to turn off to visit Cap Spartel along the way. It’s where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, although when I look at the map I find that rather questionable.
How to get to Tangier
Tangier has an international airport with many connections from Europe. Just take a taxi to get into town. There are also numerous ferries, e.g. from Tarifa, Gibraltar, Genoa, Barcelona, some of which allow you to bring your car.
From Casablanca to Tangier, the best option is the express train. From Marrakech and Fes it is best to look for train connections via Casablanca or take a bus. CTM or Supratours are good options.
Hotels in Tangier
I would definitely recommend staying in the medina so that you can walk everywhere and soak up the atmosphere. Here is a selection of places to stay in Tangier to suit all budgets.