If you’re travelling in Europe and fancy a trip to Morocco, the ferry from Spain to Morocco is a great, cost-effective option. Booking is incredibly simple. You can do it online or in person at the terminal. There are multiple operators to choose from and the duration is anywhere from one to two hours.
When travelling between Spain and Morocco, you’ll likely take either the Algeciras to Tangier-Med route or the Tarifa to Tangier route. Wanting to do a day trip to Gibraltar before visiting Morocco, I opted for the Algeciras to Tangier-Med route as Algeciras is only a short bus ride (under an hour) from Gibraltar.
Algeciras to Tangier-Med
The ferry that had the ideal departure time for me was Transmediterrean. While the ticket mentioned arriving 120 minutes ahead of time, this was absolutely unnecessary. The boarding passes weren’t even available to pick up until less than an before departure and the security lanes didn’t open until five minutes prior to scheduled departure.
Needless to say, we didn’t depart on time.
The boat itself is quite nice. It was fairly empty, had comfortable seats with tables, and a snack bar among other facilities. There is no WiFi on the boat, unfortunately, but if you’re able to get anything done offline, it’s a comfortable ride and there is space available to do so. I can’t speak to the facilities on other boats, but I imagine they’d be quite similar.
Not long after embarking, you can complete immigration. Simply fill out the form the steward gives you and hand it to the immigration man along with your passport. I was surprised that this was all completed on the ferry, but it is important to have stamped before disembarking.
Arriving in Tangier-Med Port
First things first, when you arrive at Tangier-Med port, you’re not in or near Tangier city. You’re about 55km from the actual central city. Upon exiting the boat, you’ll have your passport checked once again, maybe twice again. All whilst outside standing in a line in a very unofficial looking capacity.
Then, you’ll need to hop onto a (free!) shuttle bus that will take you to the main port. Once you’re in the main port, you have a few options as to how you’ll get to Tangier city depending on the time that you arrive. If you arrive at night like I did, you’re basically shit out of luck and your only option is to take a taxi for roughly 300 dirhams (~30 euros).
If you arrive during the day, here are your options:
There is a bus which connects Tangier-Med port Tangier city. You’ll need to walk past the taxi drivers who will tell you there isn’t a bus. Keep walking. This is of course unless it’s after about 8-9pm in which case there probably isn’t a bus anymore.
If, however, it is broad daylight the bus does exist and here’s how to find it. First, walk out of the station following the signs for “bus” (it’s literally just a picture of a bus, white outline on a blue sign). Walk out of the port, past all the taxi people until you reach the main road. This is called national road 16. Don’t cross this road, just turn right and keep walking until you see a small white bus stop. This is just a little white structure.
While it’s debatable how often the bus comes, I have heard it comes anywhere between every half-hour during peak times, and every hour for off-peak times. The bus you’re waiting for is the I-13. It will be a blue “ALSA” bus. The bus costs only 7 dirhams. This is about 70 cents! If you’re not in a hurry, it is absolutely worth the wait.
The bus ride will take roughly an hour. While it’s no coach, it’s just a regular city bus, it’s comfortable enough. One thing I did notice, is that there are no buttons to press when you want to stop. Passengers simply knock (quite aggressively so the driver can hear them) above the door to indicate that they want to get off.
This bus will take you to the Tangier train station. Right across from a major shopping centre and fairly central in Tangier. From here you can either walk or taxi to your hotel.
The Return Bus Trip
Catch the bus at the same place. It is right near the train station and shopping centre, by a massive roundabout. You’ll see many busses pulling into this area, and likely, a line up of people. The bus is the same, I-13 and costs 7 dirham in this direction as well.
Upon getting off though, it seems like a random place on the side of the road, near to the port. You don’t pull into the port, nor is there a bus stop on this side. I actually got off one stop early because I saw the “Tangier-Med Port” sign, but the other people on the bus quickly went “no, no, no” and informed me to get back on. Then at the next stop said this is where I needed to be. This turned out to be quite helpful, as the walk between the two stops would’ve been a bit of a journey.
While there is a train between Tangier-Med and Tangier city that is said to be much quicker (though their schedules still indicate about an hour), more comfortable and is reasonably priced around 32 dirham. If you get in around the time of one departing, this could be a great option for you. Schedules can be found here.
Taxis are the most convenient way to come to and from Tangier-Med Port and Tangier. You’ll need to take a white/beige “Grand Taxi” and not the smaller blue ones in the city. If you arrive during the day, you shouldn’t pay more than 200 dirham. If you arrive at night, make that 300 dirham. Still not bad compared to North American and Western European standards, but a lot more than the above options.
The main benefits of taking a taxi are that it’ll be private (to you or your party), and directly to/from your hotel and the port. This may be beneficial if you have a lot of luggage. Which, I’m sure if you’ve read other posts, I suggest travelling with only a carry-on. This not only will be more convenient and save you money most of the time, but you’ll also not hurt your back or fall down a set of stairs – something that happened to a woman with too much luggage coming off the ferry.