Nestled on the coast of Morocco, Tangier has long served as the gateway between Europe and North Africa. It exotic side has attracted travelers for centuries. With its vibrant markets, intriguing history, and a unique blend of cultures, Tangier offers an experience like no other found in Spain.
One of the best things about Tangier is how easy it is to reach from Seville. It is just a short 60-minute boat ride from Tarifa, which makes it a convenient day trip option from the charming Andalusian city. You can go and spend a memorable day in Tangier and be back in Seville by the evening. It’s definitely a choice to consider when exploring the amazing hills of Andalusia.
In this blog post, I’ll show you how to get to Tangier from Seville, discussing the different ways you can travel there. Whether you want to take a beautiful ferry ride across the Strait of Gibraltar or explore other options, here’s everything you need to know.
Positioned strategically on the Strait of Gibraltar, Tangier offers stunning views and a sense of being at the crossroads of continents. An important trade hub between Europe and Africa throughout history, Tangier’s has many charm, one of them being its immaculate white houses.
The city’s main attractions include the lively medina with its narrow streets and busy markets, as well as the impressive kasbah situated on top of it. Additionally, you can explore natural wonders like Cape Spartel and the Cave of Hercules.
While it might be hard to see everything in just one day, visiting Tangier gives you a taste of its magic and will leave you longing for more North African adventures in the future.
Deciding How to Get from Seville to Tangier
To begin your journey to Tangier, the first step is to choose a port city. There are two ports at the very bottom of the Iberian Peninsula that you can use to get to Tangier: Tarifa and Algeciras.
Tarifa vs Algeciras
When is Tarifa the better choice:
- Tarifa is geographically closer to Morocco. The crossing time from Tarifa to Tangier is around one hour on the fast ferry, which is shorter than from Algeciras.
- If you have your own car, Tarifa is a better option. While it might take a little longer to get to Tarifa than it would to reach Algeciras, the shorter ferry time and the convenience of arriving directly in Tangier Ville make it the best choice for many travelers.
- Tarifa is more tourist-friendly than Algeciras.
When is Algeciras the better choice?
- It is closer to Gibraltar than Tarifa. Great if your itinerary already includes Gibraltar.
- If you’re relying on public transportation, it’s generally easier to reach Algeciras from Seville compared to Tarifa. This makes up for the fact that the trip from Algeciras to Tangier takes about 90 minutes.
- If you want to visit Tetouan too, you destination port of Tangier Med (which is 60 km from Tangier Ville) is the same distance from both Tangier and Tetouan.
Getting from Seville to Tarifa
It takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes to travel from Seville to Tarifa, covering a distance of 208 km. The recommended route to follow is the E-5.
Getting from Tarifa to Tangier
If you are traveling from Tarifa to Tangier Ville, FRS is the only company that operates this particular service. The crossing takes about 1 hour.
Getting from Seville to Algeciras
- To reach Algeciras from Seville, you can take either a direct bus or a combination of train and bus.
- While there are buses that go directly, the fastest option by public transport is to take a train to Jerez de la Frontera and then transfer to a bus. This can take around 2 hours and 30 minutes, whereas the direct bus journey usually takes about 4 hours.
- If you plan on using public transport, there is a bus or train departing every 30 to 45 minutes, so you can check the schedule to find the one that suits you better.
- The buses, operated by ALSA and Monbus, depart from Estación Prado de San Sebastián and Plaza Armas.
- The trains to Jerez are operated by Alvia and MD and leave from Santa Justa Train Station in Seville. From Jerez you’ll take a bus operated by Monbus.
Getting from Algeciras to Tangier
You can travel between Algeciras and Tangier Med using transportation services provided by Balearia, Trasmediterranea, and FRS. These three companies operate more than 20 ships daily on this route. The crossing takes about 90 min.
You can take a direct flight from Seville to Tangier with Ryanair, which only takes about 50 minutes. The ticket price for this flight is around 50 EUR. It seems that Ryanair is the only airline offering this direct route. If you choose other airlines, you may need to make a layover in either Barcelona (BCN) or Madrid (MAD) before reaching Tangier.
Tips on Doing a Day Trip to Tangier
- You can easily book your bus/train tickets online with the companies I mentioned earlier. (ALSA, Alvia, MD, Monbus)
- Remember to be careful about possible timezone changes between Morocco and Spain at certain times of the year.
- You have the option to buy your tickets in advance online or directly at the port. I’d usually suggest getting them at the port.
- Considering everything, the best time to take the boat is around 9 am, whether you’re departing from Tarifa or Algeciras.
- Try to catch a return ferry between 2 pm and 5 pm, as it’s more reasonable considering the journey back to Seville.
- Keep in mind that there is passport control both on the ferry (so join the line as soon as you board) and when you return at the Spanish ferry terminal. You’ll need your passport and to fill out a form.
- Don’t worry about getting Moroccan currency before your trip (Morocco has a closed currency anyways); euros will work just fine for your day in Tangier.
Upon arriving in Tangier, a great way to start your day trip is by visiting the medina (old town) and its ancient Kasbah (citadel). You’ll find the medina is just a few steps away from the port, on the other side of the roundabout.
The old district of Tangier is a delightful place that caters to tourists. Easy to navigate, it offers fantastic views of the port and the seafront below. While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to visit the Musée de la Kasbah, located inside a beautifully restored palace, where you can learn about the city’s history. Afterward, explore the street markets and fascinating shops that belongs to Tangier’s narrow alleys.
While the medina is the main attraction, it’s also worth seeing the iconic lighthouse of Cape Spartel with your own eyes.
Time zone difference between Spain and Morocco
When traveling between Spain and Morocco, it’s important to consider the possible time zone difference.
Morocco follows daylight savings time all year, except during Ramadan. This means that at certain times, Morocco can be up to 2 hours behind the time in Spain.
The dates of Ramadan change every year, so if you’re visiting Spain in the spring and planning to go to Morocco during that time, make sure to check when Ramadan is happening.
Experiencing Tangier’s Cuisine
While Tangier is just a short boat ride from Spain, the food in the two countries is quite different. Visiting Tangier on a day trip from Spain gives you the perfect chance to try some traditional Moroccan food in its original setting.
Here are 5 classic Moroccan dishes to try while in Tangier:
- Pastilla: A tasty pastry filled with spiced meat, almonds, eggs, and cinnamon.
- Tagine: Tender meat cooked with spices, vegetables, and dried fruits in a cone-shaped clay pot.
- Couscous: Small grains of semolina served with a variety of vegetables, meat, and sauces.
- Chebakia: Fried strips of dough shaped like roses, coated with sweet syrup and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
- Mint Tea: A refreshing drink made with green tea, fresh mint leaves, and sugar.
Should you do a day trip to Tangier?
If you’re still trying to decide whether to visit Tangier from Seville, it’s important to think about your options.
The simple answer is that it’s probably not the best choice, and here’s why:
- While Tangier is easy to reach, it doesn’t offer the most authentic experience of Morocco. Fez has a more genuine old-world feel, and Marrakesh is known for its stylish and lively atmosphere. Tangier, on the other hand, is often seen as overrated. You might have a better time visiting Tetouan, which is often seen as enjoyable and hassle-free.
- If your main goal is just to say you’ve been to Morocco, then a day trip to Tangier could be enough. However, if you plan on traveling to Morocco further in the future, there are better places to see in Spain, like Cordoba, Las Alpujarras, or Cadiz.
- On the flip side, if you’re already in Tarifa, the boat ride to Tangier might be worth the adventure.
In conclusion, if you’re in Tarifa or Gibraltar, a day trip to Tangier from Seville can be a fun idea.
However, if Seville is your last stop on a southward journey, it may not be worth it. The best way to get to Tangier is usually by taking the one-hour boat ride from Tarifa to Tangier Ville. This is the easiest way to travel between Spain and Morocco, giving you more time to explore the captivating city nestled between the Rif Mountains and the Mediterranean.
If you have the chance, a day trip to Tangier can add an exciting and different experience to your southern Spain itinerary.