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Latest update: 1 August 2023

You can’t go any further south than this. Or at least not in Spain. Tarifa is a pleasant coastal town where the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans meet. Whom else will you meet? Kite and windsurfers and whales. Find out what more you can do and see in Tarifa.

Tarifa in the mix

The southernmost tip of Spain is only 14 kilometers from Morocco. You can even see the Rif Mountains. As a result, you will notice that different cultures come together in Tarifa. You can see that in Andalusia anyway because the Moors ruled Spain for about 750 years. But in Tarifa, it’s extra clear. You can see it in the architecture, taste it in the food and hear it in the different languages on the street. Mix that with the surf culture and many digital nomads, and you have found yourself in a unique town with Tarifa.

Highlights of Tarifa

So Tarifa doesn’t feel super-Spanish. It’s much more the laid-back surfer vibe that prevails. During the day, people stroll quietly through the town; the nightlife is vibrant in the evening. There are a handful of sights to see in Tarifa, so half a day is enough if you go to Tarifa. But suppose you also want to fully enjoy the surfing opportunities, whale watching and want to go to Tangier. In that case, you can enjoy a holiday in Tarifa for a few days.

The old town of Tarifa is small and cozy. In some spots, you can clearly see the medieval city walls. The Puerta de Jerez is the last remaining city gate. You will find shops, bars, and restaurants on both sides of the narrow streets.

Visit the local market of Tarifa

The covered local market Mercado Publico Tarifa is only closed on Sundays. You can do some grocery shopping at the market or eat or drink something in the market hall. Try to catch some breakfast here before it gets busier. It is only a small market, but I always enjoy roaming local markets.

Google Maps location

Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno – the castle of Tarifa

You visit the castle of Tarifa mainly for the view. Or at least, that’s what I’m here for. Inside there are also exhibitions on Tarifa’s history, the castle’s construction, and weapons. A visit only costs a few euros, and sometimes you can join a tour of the castle for free.

Google Maps location

There is another castle in Tarifa: the Castillo de Santa Catalina. Unfortunately, you cannot visit it, but you will walk past it if you walk towards Isla de Palomas island.

Google Maps location

Castillo de Santa Catalina Tarifa

Whale watching in Tarifa

The best time for whale watching in Tarifa is from April to October. And of course, I was there out of season, so I couldn’t do a tour myself. Note to self: plan another visit to Tarifa during the best time for the whales.

The tours are mainly known for whales, but you could also see dolphins and orcas! The orcas should be there in July and August. You can book a tour on the spot. But, if you only have a little time in Tarifa, I would book a whale tour in advance so that you know for sure that you can join and at what time.

The border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean

A little beyond the port of Tarifa, you will see an island. This is Isla de las Palomas – the Pigeon Island. This used to be a military base. Do you want to visit the island? Please contact the tourism office (located here) because you are not allowed to visit Isla de las Palomas by yourself.

If you walk across the road to the island, you have the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. You walk on the exact border.

Google Maps location

Visit Tangier in Morocco by ferry

You can reach Tangier, Morocco, in an hour by ferry. From Tarifa, you can easily visit Tangier for a day (or longer). You can take the ferry yourself and make it a fun day or join a tour. You can buy a ferry ticket here, and these are a few options for a day trip or longer to Tangier:

Tarifa Tangier ferry

To the beach in Tarifa

Playa Chica is the small beach behind the harbor (here). This is the Mediterranean Sea. It is tiny, so I would go to the beach on the other side, on the Atlantic Ocean side. This is Playa de los Lances (here). This Tarifa beach is longer and wider; you will also find some beach bars. And while you’re chilling out, the surfers paddle towards the best wave.

Surfing in Tarifa

Tarifa has an unprecedented attraction for windsurfers and kitesurfers, especially between April and October. There is actually always wind here: the Levante wind blows strongly from the east and the Poniente from the west. The kitesurfing world championship is organized in Tarifa. Do you want to check that out? View the dates for this year here.

You can rent surf equipment and take a lesson at one of the many surf shops in Tarifa. If you really want to go for it and learn it well, then you should book a kitesurfing holiday. Starting from two days but lasting up to two weeks. Review your options.

Restaurant tips in Tarifa

Café Azul (Google Maps location) is popular for coffee and healthy breakfast. A very international audience enjoys the smoothies, pancakes, and sandwiches. The cafe is run by an Italian, so secretly, I had slightly higher expectations of the cappuccino, but unfortunately, it is Spanish-style coffee.

Chilimosa (Google Maps location) is an excellent vegetarian restaurant in Tarifa. Very small and cozy. Everything is freshly prepared, and the portions are generous! So come hungry.

Parking in Tarifa

Unfortunately, I did not find a free parking space in Tarifa and ended up at this parking facility (here). It’s affordable though, and it has a security guard.

If you haven’t arranged a rental car yet, check out EasyTerra or Sunny Cars to see if you can find a good deal. I like those car rental companies because you can include all insurance in one go to avoid the hassle at the counter when picking up your rental car.

Hotels in Tarifa

In Tarifa, you can stay in lovely hotels and apartments, and some even give you the 1001-night feeling. Start your search for a good hotel in Tarifa with these options:

More Spain inspiration?

  • Accommodation. All-time favorites: Booking.com and Campspace. Rather stay in a hostel? Try HostelWorld.
  • Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. Another good option is WithLocals. And Freetour.com and GuruWalk both offer ‘free’ walking tours, while Baja Bikes has bike tours.
  • Attractions and museums. Get a 5% discount at Tiqets on museums and attractions with the discount code: KIMOPREIS22
  • Boat. You can catch a boat to Mallorca from Barcelona, for example. Book your ticket at Balearia. You can also get to the other Balearic Islands with Balearia. Compare ferry prices at Direct Ferries.
  • Bus and train. Travel to Spain with NS International or Flixbus. Other useful companies are Busbud, 12go, and Omio, also for buses and trains within Spain.
  • Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers. Want to compare more prices? Check out Discover Cars.
  • Flights. Have a look at Transavia and Vueling, but do compare prices! Definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
  • Money. Your debit and credit cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel. 
  • Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? From The Netherlands, there is plenty of choice. ANWB vakanties, Tui, Shoestring or Sawadee, of rather D-reizen, Sunweb, Corendon or Vakantie Discounter?
  • SIM card. Beware of unexpectedly high calling and internet costs. Buy a local SIM card when you arrive, or arrange one online via Airalo.
  • Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
  • Travel guides. Let’s get you ready for your trip! Order a travel guide to browse through. For example, at Bol.com or Amazon.
  • Yoga retreat. Or why not treat yourself to a yoga retreat in Spain!

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