Tips for Traveling by Ferry to Tangier, Morocco
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Tips for Traveling by Ferry to Tangier, Morocco

Tangier, Morocco is a popular stop for European tourists. Its close proximity to the European mainland make it an easy daytrip for travelers to the South of the Iberian Peninsula. FerryÂ’s running from Spain act as a gateway to the African continent for Europeans with a keen sense of adventure.

The Ferry to Tangier runs every 2 hours from Tarifa, Spain to Tangier.  The trip lasts about 3.5-4 hours on the high-speed catamaran run by FRS.  This is probably the most traversed means for getting to Tangier for non-African travelers.  A daytrip to Tangier is highly recommended for anyone traveling in Southern Spain as the seemingly little distance occupied by the Strait of Gibraltar separates two different worlds. 

Upon disembarking the ferry in Tangier you are immediately made aware that you are entering a different world.  You will be bombarded with hundreds of Moroccan local guides, taxi drivers, and trinket peddlers.  This experience can be rather daunting for those who have never traveled to the more underdeveloped tourist destinations.  However, keep in mind, that the tourist trade keeps Tangier afloat, and the solicitors, while persistent, mean no harm.  A simple “shokran” and wave of the hand will usually end the prodding.  When walking, try not to make eye contact for too long on a seller or a seller’s item.  If they catch you looking, they will think you are interested and will try to sell everything they have to you. 

If you are there for a daytrip, I would advise hiring one of the local tourist guides that are present WITHIN the gates of the Port of Tangier.  Regular Moroccans are not allowed within the gates, and guides need a special government issued certification.  Remember to negotiate the price in advance, and ask to see their government certification.  Although others may advise against hiring a guide, the guide will keep you from being hassled throughout your whole tour of Tangier.  This, by itself, makes the 20 euro well spent.  However, keep in mind the guide may have deals with local shop owners to bring the tourists to their store for a short pitch about the store’s offerings.  Do not feel obligated to buy anything, and if you really feel pressured, buy something really small and cheap.  There can be some great bargains found in the markets of Tangier.

Even with a guide, you should still be on your toes.  If you find the guide is taking you down secluded pathways in the old city, ask politely to be taken to more populous areas.  There have been recorded instances of guides taking tourists to far away, deserted areas of the city, and then demanding more money in order to show the tourists back to the ferry.  Although these incidents are isolated, they do occur. 

Women may wear a cover-up on their head in order to attract less attention, but this is not required as the locals are fairly used to Westerners.  If you are a blonde female however, I would definitely advise a cover-up as this seems to really intrigue the local men. 

Another point to keep in mind while touring Tangier is that Berber women do not like to be photographed.  If with a guide, it may be best to ask him for permission to take certain photographs which you think may be objectionable. 

Finally, just enjoy your trip.  Don’t let the constant bartering and hassling dissuade you.  As I said, the people are actually very friendly to Westerners and mean no harm.  For people who have never been to the Arab world, the trip can be quite awe-inspiring and educational.  One thing is for sure though, once you get a taste, you will be coming back for more. 

All photographs appearing in this article were taken by me. 

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