"Tangier, a street corner where Europe meets Africa" Top 5 Page for this destination Tangier by dlytle

Tangier Travel Guide: 489 reviews and 1,201 photos

Tangier is not for the faint of heart

Tangier is the street corner where Europe meets Africa; where the Atlantic washes into the Mediterranean and where an intersection of Islam and Christendom comes together. Tangier, known as the gateway to the African continent, looks across at Europe from the shores of Atlantic and Mediterranean alike. At this important crossroads of civilization, Tangier has a magnificent, scenic bay that it flaunts below its lush green hills and ancient avenues. As a meeting-point of trading and commerce routes to so many different destinations, Tangier has been indelibly marked by history with its sovereignty often in dispute.

Tangier has been fought over since it was settled in by the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians. Among those who have occupied it are the Vandals (5th century), Byzantines (6th), Arabs (8th), Berbers (8th), Fatimids of Tunis (10th), Almoravides (11th), Almohades (12th), Merinids (13th), Portuguese (15-16th), Spanish (16th), British (17th) and French (19th). All of these influences have created a town with an inner-character quite unlike that of other Moroccan cities.

But regardless of all its history, and what you might have seen at the movies, Tangier is not the city of mystery and romance it used to be. Tangier was once known as the Pearl of the Mediterranean. Sadly, its reputation today is lackluster, to say the least. It is dirtier, uglier and more sullen that you can probably imagine. The Tangier of sultry desert nights and romantic piano bars simply no longer exists. Along the streets, rows of mustachioed men sit with their backs to the wall at curbside cafes; sipping mint tea and watching the world go by . . . and pass them by.

If this is your first traveling adventure then you may want to forego a Tangier visit. This is a place for a savvy traveler who can make do when English isn’t spoken very often, where poverty is the norm and aggressive begging children swarm you everywhere, where religious differences can result in street violence, where taking a picture of the wrong thing or in the wrong place or at the wrong time could mean a physical confrontation. If you are a first time traveler and still want to do Tangier then do yourself a favor and go with a tour - they’ll know how to keep you safe.

But….if you do want to visit a destination with a little edge and which is completely divorced from other Mediterranean destinations, if you have a little imagination and a 'feel' for what the past was like, if you are able to soak up the atmosphere and character of a city instead of lying on a beach all day, then you will not find a more interesting place, within easy reach of Europe, and it's certainly a place you can visit on a budget.

If you're interested in Tangiers’s vice (like you might have read about from some 20th century authors) you will either be disappointed or in danger of ending up staying in Tangier at the prison's convenience (and it's supposed to be no better than what was shown in the movie 'Midnight Express'). So be very, very careful of breaking any laws or getting into any trouble here.

So just be sure to go with a head full of common sense, with some friends so you are not a lone target for beggars and muggers, keep to the tourist areas and travel only in good sized groups at night and you probably will have a memorable visit replete with many stories with which to regale your friends.

Chances are, however, that the Morocco of your daydreams is not the Morocco that you will find in Tangier.

Tangier provides an Introduction to Morocco

If you want a interesting introduction to the culture and mystery of Morocco, the city of Tangier awaits your discovery. This large city of over half a million inhabitants is set on the slopes above the Strait of Gibraltar, terraced like an enormous amphitheater.

But falling in love with Tangier is not all that easy. While Moroccan tourist police in recent years have cracked down on some of the unpleasant guiding, nothing has changed in Tangier, and the strong ties between the police, local authorities and the local mafia makes Tangier a difficult port for travelers with no earlier Morocco experience. Fortunately, Tangier is still less dangerous than the south of Spain, which is only an hour of ferry ride away.

The anarchy of Tangier has many faces: When the sun sets the city is turned into a city that can be unsafe, which is different than the rest of Morocco. And handicrafts in Tangier are far more expensive than you will find elsewhere in Morocco, where things to a certain extent are under official control. The town beach is profoundly filthy, while other main beaches in Morocco have an administration that cleans the sand on a regular basis. Too many times kids will beg you for money, and "official" guides pester you everywhere.

But if you are the relaxed type of personality, or if you have already been around Morocco before then Tangier is definitely worth a visit. There is a lot to see around here, the city is lively, and if you jump into a taxi the clean beaches are about 10 minutes away.

And Tangier still carries the aura of being a celebrities' magnet and of once having been under international administration.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Off the beaten track, a wealth of fine crafts exist to tempt you. Leather is a good buy but beware of leather cured in goats' urine - gets a nasty smell when wet.
  • Cons:Tangier earns its bad reputation: Tourists are fair game, lots of beggars and shop hawkers, hard to get rid of your 'new friends', violence is too commonplace
  • In a nutshell:One day is probably enough for a lifetime - and that might be too long!
  • Last visit to Tangier: Jul 2003
  • Intro Updated Nov 6, 2003
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Reviews (35)

Comments (4)

  • bobsreturn2004's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2006 at 3:47 PM

    Jeez,After reading your Tangier page im glad i went to Morroco via Teoutan.It seems as bad as everyone says.

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2005 at 6:51 PM

    Tangier sounds like a place for worldly wise travelers! Thanks for the photos-they were beautiful.

  • Nov 15, 2003 at 7:17 PM

    My adult daughter and I visited Tangier in 2000. We wandered the streets alone and had no problems. Tangier is NOT representative of the true Morocco (Marrakech and Fes are much better), but it is worth a day or so.

  • Paul2001's Profile Photo
    Nov 5, 2003 at 2:08 PM

    An astonishing well written page. I don't know what to think of Tangiers myself. Fascinating but sort of decadent.

dlytle

“Life is just one great destination after another!”

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