Destinations · Things to Do · Morocco
October 02, 2021 Words: Stephen Milioti

Things to Do in Tangier, Morocco

A gateway between Africa and Europe, this vibrant city is known for its multifaceted cultural, archeological, and historical wonders — and an undeniably royal countenance.

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History is in breathtaking evidence everywhere you look in Tangier; this city in northwestern Morocco proudly displays the confluence of civilizations and cultures that has shaped it over many centuries. Today it is an enchanting mix of past and present: You'll find artifacts from its past as a Berber capital and Phoenician trading center (as far back as the 10th century), as well as modern-day developments and activities meant to certify its place as a prime destination for travelers of all stripes.

Explore the Caves of Hercules Many consider the Caves of Hercules the most important sight to see in Tangier, and with good reason: viewing this historical and archeological treasure is a truly transformative experience. Located just 9 miles (14 km) west of Tangier, this cave complex is both natural and man-made (the Berber people used to cut stone wheels from the walls). There are two openings: one to sea and one to land. The sea opening is known as the "Map of Africa," due to its resemblance to Africa when viewed from sea (it's believed the Phoenicians planned and created it this way). The detailed markings inside — from intricate maps to fanciful carvings in the shape of eyes — are fascinating to behold, so plan on spending a full afternoon here.

Experience the Old City A maze of colorful alleyways that crisscross a cliff toward the ocean, Tangier's medina, or old city, is a must-visit for any Tangier visitor — in many ways, it's the city's heart and soul, especially its center square, the Petit Socco, where you'll see longtime residents playing backgammon. This is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a cup of famed Moroccan mint tea. Don't miss visiting two places of worship nearby, which alone show the city's diversity: the Church of the Immaculate Conception, west of the square, and the Grand Mosque, east of the square.

Spend Time in the Kasbah The Kasbah comprises the entire northern section of the medina, but it has a look, feel, and history all its own. One of the biggest showpieces beyond its storied gates — the Dar el-Makhzen Palace — was built in the 17th century and housed the sultans of Morocco. Today it's the home of the Kasbah Museum, with exhibits devoted to Morocco's history — from ancient archeological finds to traditional Moroccan arts. And the building is art in itself, marked by impressively intricate craftwork, from the marble courtyard to carved wood ceilings. After you've gotten your fill of history, head to the evocative Tangerinn — famously frequented by American beatnik authors and poets including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs (who wrote his novel Naked Lunch in the bar's adjoining Hotel El Muniria).

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The old medina of Tangier, Morocco, facing the Strait of Gibraltar and the Spanish coast.

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