A Day Trip to Morocco

Updated on June 17, 2020
Panoramic tour of Tangier
Panoramic tour of Tangier

“To Africa!” Cried an old man pointing ferry passengers to the arrivals terminal at Tangier. This northern port city in Morocco has long been a gateway to the vast and magnificent continent for travellers from Europe. For me it was to be an exotic one day diversion during a holiday in Spain.

Visiting Africa from Europe in a day is not usually feasible but from Tarifa, a town on Spain’s southernmost tip it is just a 35-minute ferry ride away. I took a one-day tour with FRS Ferries, the main operator which runs regular services from Tarifa to Tangier and offers guided tours lasting from one to seven days.

The crossing was smooth on a large, modern ferry though the first part was spent queuing to have my passport stamped by the Moroccan authorities. I was met at the port by Fatima, a friendly guide with a broad smile contrasting her austere dress and headscarf. There were two of us that day, myself and a Spaniard and she switched between our two languages throughout the day. We were swiftly shown into a comfy minibus and set off into the city. We passed through the modern quarters of Tangier dominated by the white and sand coloured minaret of the new mosque. There were also churches. Morocco, and Tangier particularly, has been shaped by African, Arab and European influences. We continued up, away from the coast into suburbs where we passed consulates palaces and mansions. Occasionally views would open out of the sea and coastline below. We continued into lush countryside, not desert, until we reached a square where a herd of camels was tethered. For €2 we were offered a ride – just long enough to get a winning holiday snap.

As we drove on I marvelled at how much we had seen in just an hour. Had I come alone I would probably still have been at the port trying to get my bearings from a guidebook and shaking off street hawkers and pushy cab drivers. On the other hand it felt rather like we were on a safari and from the comfort of our air-conditioned vehicle were not really in the country in the proper sense.

A Souk in Tangier
A Souk in Tangier

Soon though were arrived back into the city where we were dropped off right in the hub of local life. A weekend souk (market) was in full progress. We passed women in traditional dress sat beside colourful heaps of fruit and vegetables. We arrived in the Grand Socco - the main square next to the medina area dominated by a mosque with a vivid pink minaret. We were taken into other souks housed in dark tunnels with stalls selling everything from pastries to electrical goods. It would have been easy to get lost in this network of caverns and side streets but Fatima led the way greeting shopkeepers and passersby every few yards.

The Grand Socco
The Grand Socco

We wound up at a restaurant for an early lunch, only 10am local time but Spanish time is two hours ahead in the summer. The restaurant was lavishly decorated with plump, comfy cushions on the seats and was empty apart from another small tour party and a group of musicians who played superb Moroccan folk songs at the start of each course. We enjoyed a three-course meal of traditional Moroccan cuisine. The starter was vegetable soup followed by lamb shish kebabs on alarmingly large sized skewers. The main course was chicken served with raisins and stewed vegetables on a bed of couscous. Baklava - a sweet pastry and Moroccan tea rounded off the meal and Fatima returned promptly to continue our tour.

Baklava and traditional Moroccan tea.
Baklava and traditional Moroccan tea.

We continued a twisting route through the medina to visit a selection of shops. We visited a carpet merchant with a huge showroom. The walls were covered with carpets of every imaginable design and he proceeded to lay out one after another for our inspection. Next we went to a pharmacy with walls lined with shelves containing jars of strange ingredients like a potions class at Hogwarts. A young man donned a white coat before giving a talk on some of the products. On being told I was English he replied, “no problem” and didn’t speak another word of English after that!

A selection of handmade carpets
A selection of handmade carpets
A Moroccan pharmacy
A Moroccan pharmacy

We visited other shops – treasure troves of jewellery, ornaments and ceramics. At one, the shopkeeper said there was a fifty percent discount that weekend but there were no prices on display. If you want to shop in Morocco there is nothing to do but haggle. In the last shop I was shown another selection of beautiful rugs by a skilful salesman and lively raconteur. In demonstrating the functionality of his wares he modelled one rug as a shawl, headdress and piece of wall art as if playing the old game from ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ Finally I asked the price and he quoted €80 before begging and cajoling me into making a counter offer – luring me into his game which ended with me paying €40 for the rug and a set of ceramic bowls.

We were granted a few minutes free time to walk the streets and take photos before being driven back to port in time to catch the 1pm sailing. We were back in Tarifa, Europe by mid-afternoon.

It is not possible to fully experience a country in such a short time but the well-organised programme allowed us to enjoy some of the best parts of its distinct culture and under Fatima’s guidance we were spared many of the hassles and dangers that the country is notorious for. Overall the experience was like the little cups of mint tea served in Morocco – short but sweet.



In addition to being an access point for Morocco, Tarifa is an appealing coastal town with enough attractions to fill a day or two:

The old town - Get lost in a network of narrow streets and traditional whitewashed buildings.

Isla de Las Palomas - Take a walk between the Atlantic and Mediterranean to this islet.

Castillo Guzman El Bueno - A well preserved fortress with impressive views of the seafront.

Whale and Dolphin Tours - Ticket outlets all over town offer tours that typically last 2 hours and offer the chance to see a range of large sea creatures. https://www.firmm.org/en/

Windsurfing and Kitesurfing - Tarifa’s windy conditions have made it a hotspot for these sports with international tournaments hosted there. Lessons and equipment hire are available from a number of venues including www.tarifawindsurfing.com.

The Old Town - Tarifa
The Old Town - Tarifa

Key Information

Day trips to Morocco from Tarifa can be booked on www.frs.es. The website is in Spanish, English, German and French. Ferry tickets can also be booked and the site gives details of longer excursions. These can be booked by phone or email.

Another company offering day trips from Tarifa is www.timeinspain.com which offers pick up by coach from various points outside Tarifa.

Visa Requirements - As always check before travelling but currently visas are not required for US, Canadian and EU citizens for visits up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months.

There is no need to bring Moroccan currency on a one-day tour. The restaurant and shops accept Euros and other major currencies and most take plastic.

Questions & Answers

  • How did you find your tour guide for your trip to Morocco?

    I booked the tour online and she works for the company.

  • We're thinking of staying in Costa del Sol and would love to take the tour described in this article. Did you book with frs.es? Should we ask for anything in particular from frs.es?

    I just booked online. If you have any questions or requests you can contact customer services.

  • Do Australians need a visa for a one day tour to Morocco?

    No, Australian tourists currently don’t need a visa.

  • Do people from India need a visa to travel to Morocco?

    I think so. You can get info for India and all countries here: https://www.moroccanconsulate.org.uk/en/Visa.html

© 2013 Patrick Widdess


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)