Tangiers is the gateway to Morocco and also the country’s summer capital. It is where Africa meets Europe and was, until 1950, occupied by neighboring Spain, separated by a mere 20-mile stretch of the Straits of Gibraltar. Tangiers’s closeness to European, Byzantine and Arab worlds in the past had attracted invaders from these countries to plunder this ancient and affluent city for hundreds of centuries. Plundering has mercifully stopped but not the hordes of international jet set travelers who still invade Tangiers armed only with their cameras! This north Moroccan port city has now become an attractive and flourishing tourist destination.
Attractive tourist destination
It is a city that fascinates travelers, especially those from Europe. Tangiers is so close to Europe and yet so exotic and mysterious with its vibrant bazaars and souks. Spain and France, the earlier colonizers of Tangiers have left their legacies on the city, producing an interesting hybrid culture and encouraging its people to adopt a cosmopolitan, liberal and inclusive lifestyle.
Arriving by air is the easiest way. The airport is only 12 kilometers from the city center. Morocco has an elaborate and efficient railway system. If you are already in Morocco, opt for a train journey and enjoy the landscapes from the window of your compartment. But the most enjoyable way to arrive here is to take a ferry from a Spanish port.
Tangiers is a compact city. Explore it by walking through its two main thoroughfares. One is the Boulevard Mohamed V that runs from the Medina through the ville nouvelle. The other is the Boulevard Mohamed VI that starts at the port and takes you across the beachfront to Malabata. Walk as much as you can to get around the city. There are many areas with an assortment of complex alleyways that can be covered only by foot.
Boulevard Mohamed V has a wide range of shops, cafes and some good hotels like Flandria, Rembrandt and Minzah. Most other leading hotels like Sherezade, Ramada, Solazure, Tariq and Rif are located on boulevard Mohamed VI. As it runs along the beach, it is a more interesting road to cover by foot. Many bars, discos and restaurants dot this road to make your walk an enjoyable experience.
Walk along the beach and explore some of the city’s major attractions. These are –
Kasbah: Besides enjoying the panoramic view of the city from the complex of castles on top of the hill, see the museum that contains a fabulous collection of artifacts from the Phoenician times. Caves of Hercules: Hardly 14 kilometers from the city is a wonderful place with archaeological remains. Museum of Moroccan Art: Very good collection of wooden and metal antiques and Berber carpets are on display here. Archaeological Museum: Visit this museum for its wonderful collection of artifacts dating back to the Stone Age and Roman mosaics.
If you happen to be in Tangiers on a Thursday or Saturday, go to the Souk in the morning and see the local mountain women in their gorgeous clothes selling dairy products. What they sell may not attract you but the colorful ambience they create is really attractive.
Another interesting shopping area is called Casa Barata. You will get amazed at the wide range of used goods on sale. You are advised not to buy anything. Locals often go there to buy back their favorite stolen goods! Reliable shops are located in the Medina area from where you can buy quality leather goods. Clothing for men and women are available here at reasonable prices.
Food and drinks
Luxury hotels offer varieties of Continental and Moroccan cuisine with drinks. An interesting way to enjoy an evening meal is to go to the beachfront, lined with many restaurants. Have a delectable Moroccan dinner there with a glass of wine.
Come to Tangier and enjoy the warm hospitality of its bars and restaurants – the most popular being The Windmill where Tennessee Williams started writing his Pulitzer Prize winning delightful play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955, later made into a superbly enjoyable film starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor.