Tangier is an intoxicatingly fascinating city to visit. The steamy city and iconic Moroccan destination is an effervescent mix of France, husky North Africa, Portugal and Spain. Tucked away in the northern corner of Morocco, Tangier is a truly exotic, sultry and ravishingly enchanting city, practically perched on the doorstep of Spain.
Tangier is a city made up of everything an inquisitive traveler wants to see and experience, from the opulent colonial architecture, fascinating history, breathtaking beaches and notoriously hospitable locals, Tangier is fast becoming one of the world’s premier hotspots for visitors.
But if you have just one day to spend in Tangier, here are 10 tips for a day in the steamy Moroccan city.
1.Get there early
Tours start early in the morning and depart the Spanish port of Tarifa at around 9am. If you are arriving by ferry get going on one of the early ones so that you can get the most out of your day. Carry small change with you, small amounts of coins and cash for tips, tickets, bottled water and the like and you are good to go. And don’t forget your passport – you will need to go through customs even if you are coming in on the ferry.
2.Get a Guide
If you are only spending one day in the city, you can waste a lot of precious time walking around looking for things, getting lost, drinking many, many cups of mint tea and asking for directions. Do the touristy things like hopping aboard a camel, and don’t forget to tip. A guide will be handy in helping you out with things like local customs – like what to do if you are offered mint tea – and you will be able to get by much easier with a guide if you don’t know any Arabic to help you on the way.
The locals can be a bit funny about having their photos taken without permission – which isn’t odd – there are very few people who would fancy some tourist happily snapping away at them at home without even asking first. People will quickly give you an idea about if they are happy or not, just hang ten before you hit snapparazi mode, which can happen quickly in such a beautiful place when you have such limited time.
Bargaining for goods is an accepted way of purchasing goods in Tangier. Generally if you are savvy and stay away from the high tourist areas, you can walk away with some seriously amazing bargains. The locals love to haggle and many of the goods and items don’t have price tags on so start low and work your way up to an agreed price. A local guide will go a long way in ensuring you don’t get ripped off. Keep to yourself when browsing the markets, don’t make eye contact or even refuse the vendors verbally as any eye contact or communication will be considered by the vendor that you are interested in purchasing their wares and it will be very difficult to browse stalls in peace if you are constantly in ‘’negotiation’’ with a seller.
5.A Nice Cold Beer
It’s hot, you have been running around all morning and now its lunch time and you fancy a cold beer. But alas it’s a Muslim country and you will have to stick with a bottle of overpriced water. But actually, although it’s not really advertised, tourists get different rules to locals and if you would like a glass of wine or a beer just ask – no problem. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
6.The Kasbah Museum
If you haven’t managed to organize a guide, or would like the afternoon to amble around on your own and explore, there are a few places one must visit and the Kasbah Museum is definitely one of them. The Museum was actually the palace of a former Sultan – full of mystery and romance of ol’ Tangier – and the spectacular garden and building are enough to make the trip worthwhile. There is a stunning collection of artifacts and historic items dating back to the Phoenician times. There is a small entrance fee, so your small change will come in handy here.
7.Feast on Street Food
The food here is as exotic as the surroundings and the wall to wall people around you. If you are just making your way through for the day, you must try the street food. The mouth-watering scents of slow cooking food in the street side tagines will have you trying desperately to recreate the magic at home when you get there. There are plenty of stalls selling salty chickpea cakes with pepper, eggplant, rice, avocados and almonds all washed down with fresh fruit juice – the combinations are endless.
8.Visit Casa Barata
Roughly translated, Casa Barata means cheap house – and if you are looking for a bargain, a treasure or a true slice of Tangier magic, then you have come to the right place. They sell everything and anything here, you could be forgiven in thinking there are magic carpet rides here too. Buy home grown veggies, carpets, jewelry, cell phones, perfume, spices, clothing – you name it, they have got it.
9.See the Hercules Cave (Grottes d’Hercules)
The spectacular caves of Hercules are truly a site of dazzling natural beauty. It is just a 14km trip from the centre of the city of Tangier and you won’t need a guide to see this one. You will need your small change here again, required as entrance to the caves. The cave surreally looks like the mirror image of Africa and is thought to have ties to the mythical legend of Hercules himself, who was said to have rested here.
10.Buy Colorful slippers
If there is one thing that you buy when you visit Tangier – one authentic item from Morocco to take home with you, then it has to be the iconic colorful leather slippers that are handmade here. They are really one of the most fantastic items to have; many of them also have proper soles so you could walk around outside with them on. You are in luck if you speak a little of the local Arabic – enter tour guide – otherwise you could be charged sometimes up to 6 times the actual going price.