How To Daytrip To Morocco
Morocco is an interesting place with a rich history spanning thousands of years and dozens of empires who have all claimed the area on the tip of North Africa at one point or another. Much of that history still remains in a way that it doesn’t in some of the more tourist focused areas of Spain and Europe.
Morocco has the advantage of not being nearly as travelled as its neighbor across the straits of Gibraltar. However, it also has the advantage of being a stable country, which sadly has become rare these days in the area due to terrorism and political instability. The result is an enticing mix of mystery and safety that can be hard to find in most of North Africa.
So if you happen to find yourself in Spain this summer, why not take a break from the expensive and crowded streets of Cadiz and take a quick jaunt to Africa? It is a fairly easy thing to do, and you can still be back in Spain in time for a nice dinner of Paella.
The most convenient way to get to Morocco is across the straits of Gibralter, which separates Spain from Morocco by a mere 9 miles. The most common route is from one of the Spanish port towns near Cadiz to the Moroccan city of Tangier.
There are a number of companies that will ferry you across, vehicle or pedestrian, for around $50 round trip. FRS is one of the most popular and operates a modern, high-speed ferry that completes the trip in around an hour. They also offer guided tours with lunch in case the prospect of navigating the Bazaars in Tangiers on your own seems a little bit daunting.
Most ferries leave from the cities of Algeciras or Tarifa. These are somewhat tough ports on the southern coast of Spain. Not the sort of place you really want to linger, but they can both be reached easily by hourly buses from Cadiz. There are places to book these tickets online, but they are in Spanish and can be tough to navigate for foreigners. It is pretty easy and cheap to just pick up the tickets in the bus station in Cadiz, and this is perhaps the best option. Once you make it to the ferry, you will be assigned an airplane-style seat for the crossing and a Moroccan customs form. Fill it out. It will save you a prodigious wait in the customs line.
Once in Tangiers, you can spend the afternoon exploring some of the remarkable sights from the middle ages or take in some authentic cuisine. You can even go shopping at some of the cities unique marketplaces. Be prepared to haggle though. If you decide to stay overnight, you can find a number of hotels and at much cheaper prices than you would find in Europe.
Tangier can also be a gateway to many other cities in Morocco, like the former capital Fez, and the seat of the former Berber Empire, Marrakesh. And if you are a Bogart fan, you can take a train from Tangier to Casa Blanca, which is now a bustling port. Though you should know that sadly the movie was actually filmed in Burbank, so you might not recognize anything if you do go.
Once you decide to head back to Spain you can catch a taxi back to the port and take one of the ferries back. They run every two hours all summer, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding one.
Just try not to brag too much about having been to Africa when you get back. Don’t be one of those people.