Tangier – an introduction

Tangier (Tangiers/Tanger/طنجة )

A port city based on the tip of Morocco where there is a fusion of cultures, religions and attitudes.Tangier is truly an International city full of life and energy, that continues beyond the spirit of the infamous interzone days.

Yes, it had an edge – but in return, you get authenticity. 

On the streets, you will likely hear Darija (modern Arabic), Berber, French, Spanish and English spoken. At times, it feels more French than Paris and more Spanish than Malaga and it does this without even trying. However, it is often overlooked by tourists and backpackers.

P1020782Tangier - grand central cafe

This unofficial guide provides information I have learnt from visiting Tangier over the last 10 years. I will offer a fresh perspective on what has been written elsewhere. My hope is for the day tripping tourist or backpacker transiting through, to give the city more time and an opportunity to reveal it’s true character.

I am not Moroccan or an official representative of Tangier – this guide is 100% unofficial and is written through the eyes of a western visitor. 

My 1st experience of Tangier

I first arrived back in December 2004 on a solo trip. Having saved money working in hotel jobs all summer, I booked my flight to Jerez, Spain. From here, I made my way to Algeciras for the ferry to Tangiers. Like a lot of backpackers, we were warned that Tangier was a ‘nightmare’ a ‘backwater’ and should be avoided at all costs. I also heard all the horror stories about hustlers and touts. Needless to say, the journey across the straits of Gibralter was one of intrigue and anxiety. It was my first visit to a different continent.

Algeciras to Tangier

Algeciras Port – catching ferry to Tanger

After the ferry departed at least 2 hours after the scheduled time (this always happens) – it was starting to get dark. As the ferry approached Tanger port, the blood red setting sun, illuminated the minaret at the top of the Casbah. It reflected rays of shimmering and sinister light. An intense energy arose from the port area that I could sense from some distance.

I had arrived. The ships anchor was dropped and the ferry doors opened for the passengers to alight. The air smelt of sweat, diesel and spice and the evening heat reminded me I was now in Africa. And on my own.


“Monsier, Monsier!” the sun kissed, gummy toothed ship porters shouted and climbed over each other – all striving for attention. The port area was a blur of people and movement. I found a taxi from the many dozens available and after many attempts, gave what I had hoped were directions to Tanger Ville train station.Tangier Boulevard

The city was now fluorescent and full of life as the taxi sped past groups of teenagers. Men and women dressed like “ghosts” and people lurked in shadows.

Tangier was a beautiful chaos that created a buzz like no other I had experienced. In those 30 minutes of exposure, I was hooked.