The short ferry ride from Europe to Tangier has made this port city a popular entry point to the country and a convenient base for exploring northern Morocco. During a day trip from Tangier you can drive along the Mediterranean coast or the Atlantic coast.
Located about an hour’s drive from Tangier via CTM bus or grand taxi, Tétouan is an excellent place to learn more about Morocco’s colonial history. Having served as capital of the Spanish Protectorate from 1912 to 1956, the city’s architecture features a blend of Moroccan and Andalusian influences. Its medina has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique display of craftsmanship, and it is regarded as one of the best-maintained historical sites in Morocco. After strolling around the three-mile long walls of the old city, you can head to the National Institute of Fine Arts or dine in a Spanish-era cafe.
Just north of Tétouan is Cabo Negro, a picturesque beach area on the Mediterranean coast. During the summer, it can get crowded with tourists staying at area resorts, but in the off-season it is tranquil and quiet. A good place to enjoy the view is Marina Smir, a full-service marina with room for 450 vessels. The small fishing village of M’Diq is also a short drive from Cabo Negro.
You can combine a trip to Cabo Negro with a visit to Tétouan, or you can hire a grand taxi directly from Tangier. If you hire a taxi, be sure to arrange a pick-up time and take the driver’s mobile number, as you may not be able to find return transport in the off season.
Cap Spartel and Grottes d’Hercule
Cap Spartel is a lookout point west of Tangier on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. From central Tangier, it only takes about 20 minutes by taxi, so a visit here is a suitable for a half-day outing. A 19th-century lighthouse and a cafe restaurant are located at the promontory, and there are some decent beaches to the south and great bird watching opportunities.
A three-mile walk or drive along Plage Robinson will bring you to Grottes d’Hercule, famous rock caves that have been carved out by the surf. A minimal entry fee is required, and once inside the caves you may be surprised by the presence of souvenir stalls, but the view is worth the kitsch. If you’ve ever wanted to collect photos of Morocco’s king doing various activities (waving, riding in car, driving a jet-ski, etc.), this is one place you can stock up.
Written by Heather Carreiro.
Photo by ayyur.