At the northern tip of Africa, stretches a city so unique that it will give you mixed signals. And will leave you with some unfinished business on your first visit. Tangier is a great introduction to Moroccan culture and way of life. Many travelers have a taste of Africa and Morocco while passing through Andalusia and take the infamous Tangier day trip.
Tangier Morocco, not to be confused with Tangier, Virginia, is a fast growing city overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Just 14 km from the Spanish southern coast and probably the biggest city in the strait of Gibraltar.
Tangier Day Trip
Although it is a popular option to step into a whole different world for one day, i’m here writing this piece to discourage you from booking a Tangier day trip from Tarifa.
Obviously one day or few hours aren’t enough to explore the city. But also most tours that operate this day trip are unreliable and instead of discovering the history and the culture. Most visitors end up in various shops in an attempt to sell them as many merchandise as possible.
Most visitors end up hating the experience and dread being treated as walking wallets filled with foreign money. Tangier is a lot more than just a mediocre guided tour with few attractions tailored to rip off tourists.
For many reasons, a large number of Foreigners chose Tangier to be their home far from home. Here is a list of reasons why Tangier is worth at least a few days to get the full hang of it.
Tangier Morocco A Historic City
Since the dawn of time, many people of the four corners of the world, either discovered or settled in this historic land. In recent years just before Morocco’s Independence, Tangier was the only city that preserved an international status.
And also wasn’t under the rule of neither the French nor the Spanish regimes. Therefore so many cultures influenced the city, and enriched its history, its architecture and its overall atmosphere.
So Many civilizations made Tangier their home over the course of History. The first traces of a formal city go back to the Roman Empire era. Tangier or Tingis was the capital of Mauretania Tingitana.
After that historians believe that the Vandals took over the city for a short period just before the Arab conquest of North Africa. Since then many Dynasties of Morocco ruled the city, with short periods of English and Portuguese control in between.
Today, Tangier is an important city both strategically and economically, due to the proximity to Europe. These historic traits are quite striking while touring the city and paying a visit to the Kasbah Museum. This one exhibits interesting artifacts describing a timeline of Tangier.
A Beautiful Melting Pot
Once outside the Tangier’s port, the liveliness of the city and the apparent contrast in its architecture strike its visitors. Buildings from different eras stand side by side.
Some from the Arab and Moorish period, marked by the fortified Fortress and high ramparts surrounding the old quarter. And just few meters away, buildings from colonial era still stand with their white washed color and many decorations and balconies.
Even the people here belong to mixed origins. Some have Arab or Amazigh traits, some have European looking faces, some have even African ancestry. And all the others are somewhere in between.
Different religions also co-existed in Tangier. Muslims, Christians and Jewish people lived side by side in perfect harmony and accepted each others differences.
Tangier stands on a land full of hills and still preserves its natural beauty. Despite the huge growth of urbanism in the area in recent years. Compared to other Big Moroccan cities, Tangier must be the greenest.
Green hills surround it from all sides and great views can be witnessed everywhere. The biggest natural asset of the city is its Natural Park. Park Rmilate, Recently named Perdicaris Park, is a natural reserve within the city.
Just few kilometers to the northwest, and a 20 minutes drive away from downtown. It is home to a large number of Trees, plants and a very diversified flora. And also has a number of animal species.
The park is a favorite among the people of Tangier. Suitable for a weekend picnic or a quick escape from the bustling city. It it here where the forest meets the seaside and it is perfect for a quick hike, a day of fishing, jogging, cycling, a quick swim. Or just a plain day of relaxation in the middle of nature.
This is a place where i hardly see any tourists or organized tours. Because of the vast park, a full day can be easily spent there. This wouldn’t be beneficial for Tangier day trip operators to waste that time in this beautiful part of the city. Instead, they take visitors to shopping stores, where they would most likely be ripped off.
Another natural asset in the outskirts of Tangier, is the notorious Hercules Cave. A work of art made both by nature and man. In a magnificent display of combined work from humans and sea current to make something one of a kind. The cave has been recently restored and equipped with restaurants and cafés with commanding view over the blue ocean.
Northern Regions of Morocco are infamous for their breathtaking beaches, clear waters and water-sports activities. All these are a major attraction and Tangier is no different. The city is a unique beach destination with two coastlines.
One on the Atlantic ocean side and the other on the Mediterranean sea side. Although the city beach is not suitable for swimming. A large choice of highly ranked beaches are just a short drive away.
As a resident of Tangier, i can tell you that Tangier has some of the most beautiful beaches in Morocco. My favorites are Achakkar Beach on the Atlantic Coast and Dalia beach on the Mediterranean side.
Numerous other beaches like Playa Blanca Beach just few kilometers East of the City, Ouad Aliane, Sidi Kankouche and Ouad El Marsa are all worth a visit if you are an adept of clear blue waters and amazing sceneries with perfect warm sunny weather. Many of these are Blue Flag beaches for many years.
The Pace of Life
Tangier is a big Moroccan city and Fourth largest in the country, with rapid development and additional infrastructures being implemented. This growth stimulated a large movement of people towards the city, seeking new opportunities.
Any new comer, visitor or resident alike, will notice that unlike other big Moroccan cities, Tangier is not as bustling and have somewhat a slow pace of life.
People here take things easy and go about their business in no rush. And just like our Spanish neighbors, Shops and businesses open almost around Noon and Siesta is a special after lunch ritual.
People of Tangier like to stay up late at night especially during Summer and Ramadan, because there is plenty to do and there is no shortage of activities, restaurants to try and shopping is flourishing with new malls opening and others on the way.
One more reason to completely drop the Tangier day trip idea is the kindness of the local people. Moroccans in general are welcoming and show great affection to foreign visitors. But Tangerians are extra nice and are very polite. There is a great chance to meet rude people in big cities. But during my 6 years here, i rarely encountered someone who wanted to take advantage of strangers. Even Other Moroccans notice this when first coming to Tangier.
The people are accustomed to visitors and have no problems helping tourists or advising them on how to enjoy their stay. And since the city was once an international hub for cultures from around the world, the language barrier is no big deal, because French, Spanish and English are widely spoken.
A Great Base To Explore Northern Morocco
During your stay in Tangier, you will have the chance to explore much of Northern Morocco. With the possibility of many day trips to close by towns and beaches, Tangier is the perfect base to explore the wonder that is Northern Morocco.
Towns like Assilah, Tetouan and Chefchaouen are absolutely worth visiting, and i highly recommend the last one. And if you have a few extra days you can go as far as Al Hoceima and Nador to enjoy great turquoise water wild beaches and tasty Moroccan cuisine.
Have you experienced Tangier Day Trip before ? Did you like the city ? Share you thoughts.
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