To make optimal decisions regarding what to do in Tangier, it is very important to understand the city in itself. Tangier is a cosmopolitan cultural center that has managed to keep its Moroccan identity, while welcoming others with open arms. Its inhabitants have their hearts on their hands and are as warm as their country. It is a real gold mine, not only in terms of discoveries, but also in terms of artistic, natural or architectural wealth.
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5 Things to do in Tangier
Considered as one of the largest cultural cities in Morocco, Tangier is nevertheless little known, even sometimes, ignored. If you’re wondering what to do in Tangier, here are the 5 must-do things for you in Tangier, for a successful and authentic stay.
1. Visit the Grand Socco
Start by visiting the Grand Socco, located between the Medina and the new part of the city. This is the ideal place to start the visit, as it is the nerve center of Tangier and one of the most famous tourist attractions. It always has a lively atmosphere, full of life for a sustainable amount of time, and a traditional place of market.
Nowadays, it is also full of cafes and large areas to rest. Its tall palm trees and the buildings that surround it make it a typical postcard spot with amazing views. Taking a photo here is definitely one of the foremost things to do in Tangier.
In the surroundings of the Great Socco there used to be some narrow streets that were known for being a place of drug dealers and prostitutes. Nowadays, though nothing remains of those times. Today, it is known as Petit Socco and it has become a common place to drink a typical Moroccan tea – another thing you should definitely do in Tangier, Morocco, by the way. This tea is one of the most typical drinks of the Moroccan culture, with fresh mint leaves and a touch of sugar elevating it to almost mythical status in satisfaction.
2. Relax at Cape Spartel
3. See the Medina of Tangier
Thirteen gates, mostly of Portuguese origin, protect the medina. It is through the great souk that we enter this labyrinth of narrow streets lined with white houses whose terraces give a sensational view of the bay of Tangier.
The nerve centre of the city, this vast square is also known as the Square of 9 April 1947 because of the speech on independence given there that day by Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef. Just behind it you can see the minaret with the beautiful multi-colored earthenware of the Sidi Bou Abib Mosque.
On Thursdays and Sundays there is a large market attended by many Rifians who dress in the traditional striped bullfighting and wear straw hats with wool pompoms that sell their products.
In these alleys that go up and down, you can find many craft shops, jewelry stores, herbalists, kissariyas and even stumble on these ancient walls from where you can sometimes see the ocean or the sea.
Starting from the Grand Souk, Es-Siaghin, the Jewellers’ Street has quickly taken your steps towards the small souk, a colorful and always lively square. Central crossing of the alleys around which the city was formed and extended, there are many cafes and cheap accommodation. Nearby, on Rue de la Marine is the minaret of the Great Mosque of Tangier, built by Moulay Ismaïl at the end of the 17th century.
4. Visit the Cave of Hercules
Probably the equivalent of our Eiffel Tower, the Caves of Hercules are one of the main emblems of the city of Tangier. To get there, you will have to take the taxi or stopover option, as they are located about 15km from the city center. However, it’s worth the effort.
They are natural caves, with a breathtaking view of the ocean. The water sometimes rushes in powerfully and resonates throughout the entire cavity. It is named after the hero of Greek mythology who, after a long journey, would have taken the time to rest in this place.
5. Taste the Cousins at Salé
Salé is absolutely an obligatory step when you visit Morocco: taste its cuisine! Indeed, Moroccan cuisine is one of the must-see things to discover when visiting Tangier. So fragrant, comforting and delicious, this gastronomy of the south will delight even the most gourmand. You can stop at one of the many restaurants in Tangier. They serve until late couscous, tagines, chicken pastillas and other keftas to fall down!
But also, you have the possibility to buy some local specialties from a street side shop. For example, the batbout, which, unfortunately, is not Batman’s bread, but a flat bread made of wheat semolina, and which I imagine is just as tasteful as Batman’s bread.
In case you’re not into the harbor, you should definitely explore the baghrir, known as the “pancake a thousand holes”, very supple and light, to be seasoned with salt or sweet, as you wish.
4 Places to Eat and Drink in Tangier
1. Café Hafa
2. Café A L'anglaise
3. Le Nabab
4. Anna and Paolo
3 Places to Stay in Tangier
1. Classic Moroccan - Palais Zahia
2. Modern Ambiance - Der Tanja
3. Luxury - Le Mirage
2 Instagram Spots in Tangier
1. The Tangier Medina
2. Café Hafa
1 Insider Tip for Tangier
Driss Benchemsi is a writer and an explorer. He’s a serial expat who studied on three continents and speaks four languages. He blogs and shares articles, photos and videos about Morocco at Think Morocco.