Recently named one of Lonely Planet’s top city destinations of 2011, Tangier has a lot to offer the tourist that wants to visit somewhere a bit different than your average Mediterranean resort. Despite being only a short boat ride away from mainland Europe, Tangier has all the vibrancy and mystique of the African continent. Whether you want to sightsee, shop or just stroll along the beach, there is something for everyone in this unique city.
Tangier is steeped in culture and has lots of historically and culturally significant sites. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Tangier is the Grand Hotel Villa de France, which was home to French painter Eugene Delacroix in 1932. He completed around 20 sketches and canvasses during his time in Tangiers, and the city had a huge influence on his work. Also try to make time for the Kasbah Museum, which is situated in the former sultan’s palace and showcases various articles from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century.
Tangier also has a decent beach that is ideal for an afternoon stroll when the hustle and bustle of the inner town (Medina) gets too much. In the evening, there are a few bars dotted along the shoreline that are great for the odd drink or two.
Once you have had a chance to take in all the sights, take a detour into one of the many souqs (markets) in the city. You can find some really charming copper, leather and cedarwood goods for next to nothing. Shop owners will be battling for your attention, but if you have a sense of humour and keep a cool head it can be an enjoyable and invigorating experience. It’s also a great chance to try out your haggling skills!
While Morocco is generally a hassle free place to stay, there can be a couple of annoyances. It might be an idea to keep an eye out for faux guides who hang around tourist hotspots and are desperate to show you around for a few Dirham. They can be persistant, so politely decline and move on without shaking their hand or engaging in any more conversation. For an easy life, you can hire an official guide for about DH300 (around £25) who will be able to show you around town and ward off any potential touts.
Tangier may not be the most relaxing trip you ever have, but it certainly will be rewarding and you are unlikely to have another holiday like it. Keep an open mind, a cool head and a sense of humour and you will have a whale of a time. Just bring back a couple of cedarwood boxes for me.
Where do you like to go when you’re in Morocco? Let us know in the comments section below!