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Tangier is an art and architecture paradise with relics and buildings from the Moorish, Spanish, and French periods in nearly every corner of the city. It is truly a royal city with many of its most important buildings stemming from Sultanic rule, and colonial conquests. The “medina”, or old town, is Tangier’s main draw for visitors looking to experience an authentic taste of local Moroccan culture.
From tea and spice markets to Moroccan haute cuisine, caves, museums, and preserved fortresses from centuries past, Tangiers has a great deal to offer. A cruise to Tangier is a great way to discover a cultural history unique to Morocco and much of the region. It’s a place where 20th-century artists once flocked to in droves to create some of their most iconic works. This majestic city is known as “The Door of Africa”, and the beating heart connecting two worlds. This is a can’t-miss destination, and one that will show you its bustling, cultural, and cosmopolitan sides all in one stop.
The term “medina” in North African Arabic culture refers to the old town section of a city. Tangier’s medina is magical, and a true treat for travelers looking for an authentic, preserved, and still-lively cultural experience. In the medina, drink fresh mint tea with locals at the Petit Socco square. Then wander the tangle of narrow streets, where many of the whitewashed houses are adorned in brilliant shades of blue. Don’t miss the Tomb of Tangier, or artisan market shopping for unforgettable leather goods, jewelry, and hand-woven rugs to take home with you from any of our cruises to Tangier.
The Caves of Hercules are located just west of Tangiers on the historic Cape Spartel, located just nine miles outside of the city. The Cape Spartel area was made famous by the Phoenicians, and later as the summer residence of the King of Morocco. The caves are steeped in legend, and are believed to be where the Roman God Hercules rested, hence its name. Walk through a guided tour of the natural and man-made cave sections and see the impressively detailed “Map of Africa” sea gate, carved into the rock by the Phoenicians to resemble the African continent.
As part of your incredible cruise to Tangier, you can’t miss a trip to the famous Kasbah. This walled fortress, made mostly of intricately crafted limestone, has withstood over 400 years of battles and conquests, and now tourism. The royal fortress is like a city in itself, with palatial patios, hand-carved wooden ceilings, and artifacts that date back to the 1700s. End your visit with a guided tour of the Kasbah museum, where you’ll learn about the many Moroccan sultans who once called it home.
Classic French café culture abounds in this quaint, lively, little French neighborhood made iconic by some of the world’s most influential artists, writers, and poets of the 20th century. This area truly captures the unique blend of Tangiers’ colonial past, with a modern chic vibe that is sure to delight the senses. Sip café au lait, or a tasty Moroccan mint tea. Shop for hand-made gifts and antiques on Rue Magellan, where William S. Burroughs wrote “Naked Lunch”. Dine at one of the city’s famous French-inspired Moroccan restaurants on the luxurious Boulevard Pasteur before boarding your ship.
At first glance of the blue walls of the terracotta-tiled houses that line the entire village of Chefchaouen, a pretty village nestled in the Rif mountains, you’ll feel like you’re in a dream. Chefchaouen is a visually stunning city, known as the “Blue Pearl” for its colorful facades, re-painted each year to keep their shine. Take a day trip tour here to learn about its history in both ancient culture and modern Moroccan history. The entire city was painted blue by its Jewish population in the 1930s to represent the sky, and therefore Heaven, and it has become a local icon among visitors to Morocco ever since.
There’s nothing that accentuates one of these luxury cruises to Tangier quite like a peaceful picnic atop Parc Perdicaris. Pick up a baguette and small mezze platter in town to take with you before you go. Then, take an easy hike up to the top of the hill to get the best views of the sea and city, and best seats in the park for your picnic. There are also biking trails, plenty of shade from the trees, and a refreshing Atlantic breeze from the adjacent ocean. Par Perdicaris is just a 10-minute drive from the center of the city, and you can take a tour there, or hire a private car or taxi service to take you.
If dining and drinks are on the agenda (and they should be here) then the Port of Tangier does not disappoint. This city’s mix of culture and trade routes adds to a near limitless array of local flavors and dishes. Moroccan food in Tangier is best known for dishes made with local North African spices, blended with French and Spanish culinary style. These dishes often include couscous, lamb, fresh fish, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric, and mint. Make sure to try tajine, a Berber dish slow-cooked and served in a clay pot.
To understand the many layers of culture and history in Tangier, it’s important to appreciate its strategic location. This city is the southernmost gateway to the Mediterranean, and with that positioning has come thousands of years of trade, conquest, and cultural development. Originally founded as a Phoenician colony between 8,000-9,000 BCE, Tangier has seen epochs of Roman, Arab, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English rule, and independence. Its contemporary culture is Arab North African with many southern Europeans traits blended in seamlessly.
Tangier cruises are convenient and popular due to the proximity of the port to the city’s attractions. Tangier’s port faces the narrow Straits of Gibraltar, the gateway to the Mediterranean, with Spain just across the water. The port lies just a few short blocks away from the ancient Medina (old city). Within minutes of disembarking your cruise to Tangier, you’ll be right in the heart of the bustling, historic streets and markets. There’s no shortage of things to see and eat, do, eat, and see within easy reach of your ship.
Though public transportation is abundant in the form of buses, traveling by foot, private shuttle, or licensed taxi is best. Tangier can get crowded with visitors, particularly in the Medina and other central areas. This means walking is often the quickest way to get around. Private shuttles and licensed taxis are air-conditioned for comfort, and many services come with English-speaking drivers, too. Always negotiate a price before setting off.
For the best shopping in Tangier, you don’t have to go far. Head to the Fondouk Chejra weavers’ market for authentic hand-made woven rugs, robes, scarves, and clothes. Browse exquisite antiques at the Galerie Tindouf, and while there, head for some more local fare at the Tindouf Bazar next door. You will also find lots of great authentic souvenirs at small shops spread all over the Medina during your cruise to Tangier.
The local currency in Morocco is the dirham. There are ATMs in the city, but many are unavailable after banks close for the day. You can withdraw cash at the ATM located adjacent to the cruise terminal, or exchange currency once inside the old city walls. Cards are accepted in many places, as are Euros, but many smaller vendors prefer cash, so bring plenty with you on these cruises to Tangier. Tipping is common, but usually done by rounding up in small amounts, or leaving 5-10% for good service at a restaurant or following a tour.