logo chic morocco


What you need to know about this Arab and cosmopolitan city

Tangier is one of the most interesting cities in the north of Morocco and in the whole country in general. It combines tradition and modernity, largely due to its privileged location: bathed by the ocean, is the southern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar. For this reason, it is also a strategic point in terms of transportation. Here is everything you need to know if you are considering integrating Tangier into your trip to Morocco.

Table of Contents

Where is Tangier?

Tangier is a city of approximately one million inhabitants located in the extreme north of Morocco, specifically on the southern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar, bathed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, of which it is the capital. It sits on the slopes of several hills and elevations, taking advantage of the natural ‘amphitheater’ provided by the terrain.

How to get to Tangier?

Here are some distances you can take into consideration if you are planning to travel to Tangier from other destinations:

  • Tetouan: 60 km
  • Chaouen: 65 km
  • Asilah: 100 km
  • Al Hoceima: 230 km
  • Fez: 250 km
  • Rabat: 280 km
  • Casablanca: 360 km
  • Marrakech: 600 km
  • Agadir: 830 km
  • Ouarzazate: 800 km

One of the great advantages of Tangier for any tourist is that it is very well connected to other destinations, both Moroccan and international, by land, sea and air. These are its main access routes, which are also major gateways to the country:

  • Tangier-Ibn Battuta Airport: located about 10 km from the city center, it handles more than 1 million travelers a year, thanks in large part to its numerous seasonal flights. International airlines also operate year-round routes from countries as diverse as France, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Kingdom, among others.
  • Port of Tangier-Med: it is located about 45 km from the city center and has a large number of passenger and freight ferries, constituting a free zone. Some routes connect it with Gibraltar, Algeciras, Genoa or Sete.
  • Port of Tangier Ville: it is located next to the historic center and the beaches of the city, and is the most convenient for tourists. The most common route is the one that connects it with Tarifa, Spain.
  • Rail: Tangier is the beginning or end of some train routes that run through other important destinations in the country, such as Marrakech and Fez, and especially Casablanca and Rabat via the high-speed train Al Boraq. The station, located near the Municipal Beach, is a modern infrastructure. The national railroad company is ONCF.
Tangier: history and context​

Tangier: history and context

To appreciate the charm of Tangier, it is necessary to know briefly its history and context, which is largely related to its unique geographical location: at the northern tip of Africa, at the gates of Europe, where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean meet.

This has always made it a place of interest for all civilizations of the past, since the Neolithic period, when Berber groups settled here. Much more mark was left by the inhabitants of classical antiquity: Phoenicians, Punics, Greeks and Romans. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the famous Caves of Hercules have been identified here. After that came the Vandals and Byzantines, who succeeded the Romans after the fall of their Empire… until the Arab conquest in 706.

Its strategic location made it the center of disputes between the main Muslim powers of medieval times: Idrisids, Spanish Umayyads, Almoravids, Almohads, Hafsids, Marinids… This did not prevent Tangier from flourishing as a very active port, trading with the most important ports of the Mediterranean, such as Venice, Genoa, Marseille or Barcelona. Since the end of the 15th century, it was the object of dispute and domination by the Spanish and Portuguese, but in 1684 it was reconquered by Sultan Moulay Ismail, the Alaouite sovereign.

A very important episode to understand today’s Tangier is its situation since the late nineteenth century, in the era of European colonialism: it was the object of desire of the major powers, but ended up remaining as Tangier International Zone, a kind of multilateral protectorate, managed by England, Germany and the two countries that divided Morocco: France and Spain.

The United States also became part of this management at the end of World War II, in 1945, but a decade later it became part of the state of Morocco, independent since 1956. However, before and after that time, Tangier has always positioned itself as a cosmopolitan city, which has attracted numerous artists and writers from different foreign countries.

O que ver em Tânger

Why travel to Tangier?

Are you hesitating to choose Tangier as one of the destinations of your trip to Morocco? Take a look at the following reasons that will help you make your decision… it will surely be in the affirmative:

  1. It has a very pleasant climate: its location in front of the sea makes its temperatures milder than in other areas of the country, and the Atlantic breeze cools the atmosphere on the hottest days.
  2. It has a rich history that can be seen in its medina and in its oldest buildings, such as the kasbah and its Bab el Bahr.
  3. Cosmopolitan and artistic spirit, especially in the ‘new’ city that emerged in the 20th century, where art galleries and museums are located. In addition, it is related to renowned novels and writers, both in the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking world:
    El tiempo entre costuras
    by María Dueñas or
    The Time of Friendship
    by Paul Bowles are examples of this
  4. It offers premium accommodations and restaurants with a bohemian touch, which have hosted the likes of Winston Churchill and are now a real tourist attraction.
  5. It is one of the best cities in northern Morocco to take a dip in its beaches, with sandy beaches and increasingly clean waters, a respectful environment and services and activities for swimmers.
  6. It has a privileged location from the point of view of transportation: there are many ways to get here, by land, sea and air, from other cities in Morocco and from other countries.

List of things not to miss in Tangier

Tangier is a city that has grown a lot and has been greatly renovated in recent years. And the most interesting thing for the tourist is that it has not lost its essence. To get to know this destination properly, we can talk about three distinct areas: the medina, the Ville Nouvelle and its coast, to which must be added the surroundings of the city.

Tangier Commercial Street

The medina

It is, as in most Moroccan cities, its historic center. That is to say, a neighborhood of narrow and lively streets, which was formerly surrounded by walls, of which important vestiges remain. This is where you will find bazaars, craft stores, charming restaurants, riads… and in short, the most popular life in Tangier. Here there are also, of course, monuments and historical buildings, which are worth seeing. This is a list of things to see in the medina of Tangier or in its immediate surroundings:

  • April 9, 1947 or Gran Zoco Square
  • Bab el Bahr (Sea Gate)
  • Continental Hotel
  • Small souk or souk Dakhil
  • Kasbah: square and museum (Dar el Majzen)
  • Aisauas Square
  • Great Mosque (not open to non-Muslims)
  • American Legation Museum
  • Lorin Foundation Museum
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception
  • St. Andrew’s Anglican Church
  • Mendoubia Park
  • Masaat Nahom Synagogue
Sea views from Cafe Hafa

The new city or Ville Nouvelle

At the beginning of the 20th century, the so-called Ville Nouvelle emerged in Tangier, a neighborhood inspired by European urban extensions, in a style that blends modernism and traditional Arab architecture, resulting in an area of wider streets and squares, where the exotic is not at odds with order. In this new city you can get to know:

  • Boulevard Pasteur
  • France Square
  • Alcazaba Square
  • Marshan Neighborhood
  • Punic Necropolis
  • Minzah Hotel

Tangier Coast

One of the great improvements that Tangier has experienced in recent times is its relationship with the sea, also from a tourist point of view. The so-called Corniche or Promenade has been remodeled, with ample space for pedestrians, including gardens. In addition, the sandy beaches are also becoming more and more welcoming. And all this with the imposing presence of the port, not only commercial but also sporting. This is a list of places to visit here or nearby:

  • Promenade
  • Corniche Gardens
  • Plage Municipale (Municipal Beach)
  • Malabata Beach
  • Merkala Beach
  • Mrisat Beach
  • Playa Blanca

Around Tangier

In addition to the beaches located on the outskirts of Tangier, there are other places of interest for tourists around the city, especially from a natural point of view. Here is a list of suggestions:

  • Cape Espartel: lighthouse and nature reserve
  • Caves of Hercules

Tangier for a premium traveler

Travelers more interested in premium tourism have in Tangier one of the most interesting destinations in Morocco, for being a host city of great personalities in the twentieth century and for the new establishments of leisure, gastronomy and accommodation that have emerged more recently. These are some tips that you can take into account for your trip:

  • Historic and first class hotels: some exploit their glorious past, linked to the time when Tangier was an International Zone, while others are modern and include first class services in state-of-the-art facilities.
    • Minzah Hotel
    • Continental Hotel
    • Fairmont Tazi Palace
    • Hilton Tanger City Center Hotel & Residences
    • Riad Dar Saba
    • Grand Hotel Villa de France
  • Premium restaurants: Tangier’s tradition and cosmopolitanism are also reflected in its cuisine, with restaurants of the highest quality and the most diverse styles. These are some of them:
    • Le Saveur du Poisson
    • Jardin L’Ocean
    • Tangerino
    • Morocco Club
    • Korsan
    • Hammadi
  • Shopping area: you will find stores all along the boulevard and in the most modern areas of Tangier, but if you are looking for high-end brands and local boutiques of real quality, you can go to these shopping malls:
    • Tanger City Center
    • Socco Alto

In any case, if you need a hand to organize your premium trip to Tangier, do not hesitate to contact Chic Morocco: our agency is specialized in exclusive experiences and we will know how to advise you on the best services in this city.

Plan your trip to Tangier

Hotel reservation
Purchase your travel insurance
Enjoy experiences
Change your currency (Spain only)
Very cheap flights
Rent your car
Sign up for Wifi or telephone
Do you want a card? We have it!

Other destinations

× Whatsapp