Day Trip to Tangier, Morocco, Worth it?

A popular excursion for many tourists in the south of Spain is to take a day trip to Tangier, Morocco. Bell and I booked our tour through a local travel agency while in Rota, Spain. The guided tour with FRS Maroc S.A.R.L included the ferry ride from Tarifa, Spain to Tangier, guided bus tour of the Tangier area, lunch in a local restaurant, and guided walking tour of the city. Here are some pros and cons if you’re considering whether a day trip to Tangier, Morocco is worth it, specifically a big guided tour.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco worth It?

 

Pro: For some, this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Africa and tick it off the bucket list. The view of Morocco’s Atlas mountains from the ferry and approach into Tangier is dramatic, and a beautiful memory you will never forget.

 

Con: Tangier is not the nicest Moroccan city and many that visit never want to set foot in Morocco again. This was the case with friends we traveled there with and also others in our tour group. If you know you’ll visit a more picturesque Moroccan town in the future, you might want to skip the day trip to Tangier. Towns like Marrakesh, Essaouira and Fes are all more worthwhile than Tangier.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco worth It?

 Pro: You get to ride a camel in Africa. Yes they are smelly and a bit erratic, but this was one of the highlights of the day. It’s your opportunity to feel like Lawrence of Arabia, even if you’re with a large tour group and are simply led around in a small circle, with lots of people taking photos amid a circus like atmosphere. Stare off in the distance, not at your husband pointing the camera at you.

 

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco worth It?
Bell riding a camel. Fun times before the day spiraled downhill…

Con: You will not have the opportunity to patronize any small business not affiliated with the tour company. During the guided walking tour of Tangier’s old quarter we were taken past several small bakeries along small alleys. The guide quickly pointed out how bread is made the old fashioned way, in stone ovens. The bread looked and smelled amazing. But when one member of our group asked if we could buy some bread he was told “chop chop, there’s no time, we must go!”

There was, however, plenty of time to patronize their friends. We had an hour a piece in the carpet and  trinket shop and an hour with the spice doctor. But no time to give a few bucks to a local small business where people actually wanted to spend money. There was never an opportunity to even have a coffee at a local cafe (you could have one at lunch which was decent, but Restaurant Hammadi is just a big tourist joint affiliated with the tour company).

Pro: It is a great opportunity to buy all kinds of Moroccan spices, one of the most typical items associated with Morocco. The spice “doctor” gave a long presentation of everything on hand. There are spices to help you sleep, diet, improve sinuses, stop snoring and even for treatment of herpes. I think he was even selling a natural cure for cancer too (yeah sure).

Some of the spices are cheap and good. We bought 3 orange blossom oils which are very relaxing before bed. And at 3 for 10 euros, that’s much cheaper than the Body Shop. The cooking spice we bought is also pretty good. We wished there were more cooking spices for sale as the choices were small.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco worth It?

Con: You will be hassled much of the day. Street vendors will follow you around after lunch (when the tour goes very downhill). They will get in your face and persistently pester you to buy their trinkets. If it’s hot and if you’re already tired and dehydrated, you’ll lose interest in negotiating with the street vendors, even if you’re interested in their items. They initially ask huge markups and it’s an unnecessary war to bring them down to a fair price.

We discovered that the guides were behind 90% of our hassling. You might even miss your scheduled ferry out of Morocco and subsequent bus connection from Tarifa to Cadiz. The guides dropped us off at the ferry port late, after senselessly leaving us in a small side street for one last bombardment of street hasslers. A group of us missed our ferry and had to wait an additional two hours for the next one. This caused some to miss their “included” bus connection and be responsible for their transport out of pocket. You can read all about the day in our article Day Trip to Tangier: The Morocco Fiasco.

Day trip to Tangier, Morocco worth It?

 

Day Trip to Tangier, Morocco, worth it?

It’s a tough call and depends what you want. If you want a relaxing day in Morocco, don’t do the day tour. You’ll probably be hassled less if you tour Tangier independently. So consider just buying the ferry ticket from Tarifa to Tangier.

Tips on Visiting Tangier, Morocco

If you do the day tour make sure you have plenty of bottled water with you. After lunch the opportunities to purchase water were senselessly obsolete. Beverages were never offered at the carpet factory (unlike in Turkey where they have the common courtesy to offer customers a drink). Prices asked by street vendors and the carpet factory are drastically inflated by at least least 400%. You can get items for 1/4 of the initial asking price, but the key is to feign interest.

Where to Stay in Tangier, Morocco?

If you visit Tangier, it might be a good idea to spend a night to get to know the city better. You’ll often find the best hotel prices on booking.com. Book something in advance with free cancellation if you’re spending the night.

You can also find awesome value on apartments through Airbnb. Make sure the property has a lot of good reviews, this is very important anywhere, but especially in places like Tangier. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up here for a $40 credit off your first Airbnb stay!

Want to travel to Morocco for Free?

Play the credit card points game and use bonus point sign ups for free plane tickets. The most popular card among travel hackers is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card also includes complimentary priority pass lounge access with free food, drinks and wifi. The annual fee seems steep at $450, but it includes $300 in travel credits. The 50,000 bonus point sign up is good for $750 in travel credit, sometimes enough for a free plane ticket to Morocco from the United States! They’ll also compensate you $100 for free Global Entry and TSA pre-check to skip airport lines.

Disclosure: This article contains some affiliate links. We receive a small commission when you book or sign up through these links and it costs you nothing extra. When it suits you, please use them, as it helps us help you! 

5 thoughts on “Day Trip to Tangier, Morocco, Worth it?

  1. Thank you for this post. I’ll be in Spain next February and would love to stop over into Morocco. My plan is to fly into Malaga for a couple of days, travel to Tangier for a day and a half, and then head to Seville. Hoping I can have a wonderful experience. Any other tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Kellee. Our apologies that your comment sat in moderation for awhile. We were traveling in Transylvania with limited internet access.

      We haven’t been to Malaga and it’s been a few years since we’ve visited Seville. In Seville you should definitely visit the old Moorish fortress of Alcazar, stroll Plaza de Espana and just explore the beautiful old town’s narrow and windy lanes. A few years ago we stayed at Hotel Simon and found it to be excellent value for money. It’s centrally located and rooms are decorated with pretty Spanish tiles.

      Seville is a wonderful city. You’ll have a fantastic time!

  2. Thank your for your post. In my opinion this trip it worth. Maybe people arrive a little tired when make this day trip from Seville, Cadiz or Malaga. I suggest spend almos one night. Hotels are not expensive and you can make your trip relaxed.

    1. Thank you for the advice. We had booked to spend a night in Tangier through a local travel agent in Rota. However, nobody else on the tour was staying the night, including our friends. And we were all extremely unhappy with how we were treated by the tour company that day. We did not feel comfortable being transported by ourselves to the hotel by the company that evening. Especially since they told us “Tomorrow we’ll pick you up and take you back to the Medina.” (so more attempts to rip us off at shopping). We were done with shopping and just wanted to check out a nearby artist village. Actually see and experience some of Morocco and maybe talk to some actual locals not affiliated with the tour company. Since this seemed problematic we unfortunately cut our time in Morocco short and just went back to Spain and enjoyed our time there. We’d love to return to Morocco someday under different circumstances. If you have thoughts on how travelers to Tangier can have a better time than we did, do share. Thanks again.

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