Should we take a day trip to Tangier, Morocco?
January 24, 2010 5:22 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I are visiting Spain in April. I want to take a day trip to Tangier, Morocco, but he isn't feeling it (he doesn't think a day trip is enough.) So this is my question - should we go to Tangier for the day, or should we find something else in the Seville area to do that day? Right now, we also are planning on visiting the Pueblos Blancos for a day, and we'll be spending a day in Seville. We'll also be in Granada for a couple of days. Thanks!
posted by emilyv to Travel & Transportation around Tangier, Morocco (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Tangier really isn't a great place, a dirty port city full of touts. There are a few attractions, of course, and certainly it's a bit of a cultural change from Spain, but it's true that a day trip might not be worth it. The interior of Morocco is a much nicer place, and it's worth coming back to give it a deeper look in the future.

I did a Tangier day trip out of Tarifa, Spain, back when I was an inexperienced traveler. I went with a day-trip tour group -- you're going to spend half the time sitting in shops being upsold overpriced rugs and spices, you're going to get a bland meal in a tourist restaurant, you're going to be surrounded by touts selling camel rides and snack charmers and begging children, and you're not going to see much at all, except out of the windows of a bus. I somewhat regretted that waste of time and money.

If your goal is to tick Morocco off of your checklist of countries to visit, then OK, I suppose. If your goal is a vanishingly brief whiff of a new culture, that's OK too. But the journey down from Seville is going to take a while in itself, and then you have to take a round trip by ferry to get there and back. That's going to waste an entire day on a city that's not particularly great.

If you really are dying to leave Seville, maybe consider taking a short day trip. The Roman ruins at Santiponce are nice.
posted by SpringAquifer at 5:35 PM on January 24, 2010

Tangier can be wonderful, but I'd hate to have your only experience of Morocco be in a city that's known for hassling incoming tourists from the ferries. I honestly don't think a day trip would be enough, either - plus there's so many amazing things to see in Seville.
posted by HopperFan at 5:36 PM on January 24, 2010

That's ... snake charmer. Ha.
posted by SpringAquifer at 5:38 PM on January 24, 2010

[derail: I seriously LOL'ed at "snack charmer." That would be an awesome band name]

Sevilla is one city I wish I'd had more time in when I went to Spain. It's really fun to wander around the winding streets (making sure not to get REALLY lost, of course), and there were several fun day trips that I wish I'd done from the city (I really can't remember specifics now because this was over 8 years ago. If you're in Granada, you HAVE to see the Alhambra if you weren't planning on it already.

I've never been to Tangiers myself, but my friends who went during their trip to Spain weren't super impressed.
posted by ishotjr at 6:00 PM on January 24, 2010

I did the day trip described by SpringAquifer when I went to Spain on a high school trip, to a T -- except they also took us through a tannery...basically hundreds of pits in the ground, each filled with fetid, stinking liquids of various color and consistency. One girl started crying, but I mostly focused on not passing out from the odor, lest I should topple into one of the pits.

If I was in the area today, I'd go check out Gibraltar instead. There are monkeys!
posted by lhall at 6:29 PM on January 24, 2010

I've visited many many countries. Spain is perhaps the nicest : lovely food, lovely people, spectacularly interesting history, etc. Otoh, Tangiers is clearly among the worst cities I've seen : awful place, miserable people, you'll be harassed incessantly, etc. It'll likely cost well more than 1 day too if your not actually visiting the city with the the ferry anyways. I'd save that Africa check box for Egypt, skip Morocco.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:38 PM on January 24, 2010

yeah I would say just go to Gibraltar.

on teh way tehre, we stopped at some roman ruins, can't recall the name, by the seaside, started with a B, where they made garum, they were really interesting.
posted by wilful at 6:43 PM on January 24, 2010

Baelo Claudia was the name of the ruins.

Which reminds me, Cadiz is really interesting, and near there. And Jerez - go drink some sherry. I think these are better things to do than travel for ages to get ripped off by some tourist tout in Morocco.
posted by wilful at 6:59 PM on January 24, 2010

jeffburdges: "I've visited many many countries. Spain is perhaps the nicest : lovely food, lovely people, spectacularly interesting history, etc. Otoh, Tangiers is clearly among the worst cities I've seen : awful place, miserable people, you'll be harassed incessantly, etc. It'll likely cost well more than 1 day too if your not actually visiting the city with the the ferry anyways. I'd save that Africa check box for Egypt, skip Morocco."

I think you are being unfair - there are lovely places in Tangier if you are capable of escaping the tourist crowds. And Morocco as a whole compares very favourably to Egypt. Furthermore, as you well know, neither are remotely representative of Africa or close to counting as a ticked continental checkbox.

Answering the question, I agree that one day is not enough for even a taste of Morocco though. Give yourself at least a week (preferably two) and make sure to hit Marrakech, Fes, the desert and the mountains. Morocco pisses all over Gibraltar.
posted by turkeyphant at 7:25 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another vote for sticking to Seville. It's easily the most wonderful place I visited in Spain. I can't imagine spending less time there than I did.
posted by bardic at 8:26 PM on January 24, 2010

Seconding Gibraltar. It's a surreal experience - you have to walk across the airport runway and you go from Spain to basically Britain.

I lived in Sevilla for about 6 months back in 2005. If it's still around, go to La Carboneria (locals/your hotel can tell you how to get to it) - they have free flamenco every night around 11pm. If you'll be there during La Feria de Abril, you should definitely stay in Sevilla. It's an experience. Same goes for holy week.

Other cities to think about: Cadiz, Malaga (for the beach), Cordoba, Huelva (for a beach that's a 1hr bus ride away), and Jerez (if you like sherry).
posted by melissasaurus at 8:32 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Unless you want to do it just so you can say you've been to Morocco, don't bother. Tangier is the the typical sleazy port city, and not particularly representative of Morocco in general - or at least not the Morocco I'm sure you're intending to see. It would also be quite a long day from Seville, if that's what you're planning. I would assume from the way you've written your question that travelling further in Morocco is out of the question.

I would also not bother with Gibraltar - it is just full of daytripping Brits holidaying on the Costa del Sol, looking for fish and chips and duty free. I thought it was a fairly unpleasant place. Definitely stay an extra day in either Seville or Granada, both are fantastic places.

So yeah, if you just want the Moroccan stamp in your passport, go for it, you will have an interesting day at least. And if you are organising things yourself, take the ferry from Tarifa - it's less busy, and closer to Tangier than Algeciras - which is a virtue on a ferry journey that is known to be quite diabolical at times (weather-wise).
posted by ryanbryan at 10:15 PM on January 24, 2010


I think it depends. I did a day trip from Marbella to Tangier and had an AMAZING time. If you have never traveled outside of western culture, then I would say absolutely go, especially if you may not get another chance or it will be a long time until you do.

Gibraltar is amusing for about 30 seconds. Really, don't bother.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:58 AM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! After reading everyone's comments, I think that we are probably going to pass on going to Morocco this time. We do want to spend more time there someday, and it just doesn't seem to be worth the trip, especially when there are so many other things to do in Spain.
posted by emilyv at 7:47 PM on January 25, 2010

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