Tarifa is a small, historic town in the Province of Cadiz, Andalusia, Spain. Tarifa is the southernmost point of mainland Europe and Africa is just 14 km away across the Strait of Gibraltar and is exact point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea.
Tarifa's popularity as a holiday destination has markedly increased in the 2010s, mainly fuelled by its position as Europe's most significant kitesurfing destination.
The charming walled Old Town has maintained a distinctive atmosphere and the surrounding area has avoided the worst ravages of the tourist developments which have blighted much of the Spanish coastline. Much of the surrounding coastline is still protected by law and a few kilometres to the west of the town are two of Spain's most beautiful beaches.
You can get the bus to Tarifa from from Algeciras, La Linea, Malaga, Jerez, and Cadiz. Timetables can vary throughout the year and buses can sometimes be few and far between so make sure you check the timetable if you're going to rely on them.
From the port a fast ferry by FRS leaves every other hour to the port of Tangier, Morocco. Cruise time varies from 35 minutes to 1 hour. One-way, €36. Round-trip, €65. There's also another company plying the route, Intershipping. Also here, there are departures every second hour, the crossing taking one hour and prices are as of June 2016 practically the same (€65.70 for a round-trip). Ticket holders can then take free shuttle buses at Tarifa onward to Algeciras, duration 45 min.
On the official Port of Tarifa website [formerly dead link], you can book ferry tickets and find further information.
A walk around the 1 historic centre is a good start to exploring Tarifa. Many of the most interesting architectural sights are on a walking distance.
- 2 Baelo Claudia (in Bolonia, 20 km from the old town). Roman ruins right on the beach. Remains of temples, baths, houses, and a Roman theatre.
- El Camino de la Isla de las Palomas. The road that leads to the former island "dividing the Mediterranean and the Atlantic". Beautiful views over the strait and to Africa (16.4 km). The little castle is called Castillo Santa Catalina, built in 1929. Go to the southern tip of Isla de las Palomas, and you're at the southernmost point of mainland Europe.
- 3 Castle of Tarifa (Castillo de Guzmán El Bueno). Daily 10:30-14:00, 17:00-20:00. Probably one of the best maintained medieval buildings in Spain, built in 960 by Abd ar-Rahman. From the tower you have a 360-degree view over Tarifa and the Strait of Gibraltar. The legend of Guzman the Good is that the Moors held his son captive at the bottom of the rampart. "Give us Andalucia or we kill your son!" they cried out. Without hesitation, Guzman threw his knife into the heart of his son. Thus ended the 800-year occupation of Spain.
- 4 Church San Mateo (Town centre). The Gothic church was built in the 16th century. The facade was rebuilt in 1774 by La Vega faithful to the original. The door of the church is always open.
- 5 Los Lances Beach (Playa de Los Lances). The famous surf beach. Wide and white sand. The immense beach at Los Lances is recognised as the best kite and windsurf beach in Europe and is home to a number of kitesurfing schools providing lessons for everyone from kids to experts.
- Plaza de Los Ocho Ranitas (Eight Frogs Plaza). Also called Plaza de Santa Maria. The main buildings are the La Alcazaba in neoclassical style, Tarifa city hall, and the local library.
- Puerta de Jerez (Jerez Gate). Main entrance to the old town of Tarifa, part of the medieval wall, is the only gate of the original three that has survived. Above the entrance is written, Very noble, very loyal and heroic city of Tarifa, won from the Moors, reigning Sancho IV el Bravo 21 September 1292.
- 6 Torre de la Peña. 24/7. Ruins of an ancient watchtower. Free.
- 7 Playa Chica. Nice sandy beach.
- 8 Mayor de San Mateo Church (Iglesia Mayor de San Mateo). Built in 1506 on the remains of a mosque. Its current Baroque facade was designed by architect Torcuato Cayon de la Vega in 1774.
- 9 Punta de Tarifa Lighthouse (Faro Punta de Tarifa). Southermost lighthouse in Spain.
- 10 Cueva del Moro. Cave with prehistoric wall paintings.
- 11 Santiago Church (Iglesia de Santiago).
- 12 Torre del Rayo. Fortified medieval tower.
- 13 Torre de las Palomas. 16th century watchtower.
- 14 Torre del río Guadalmedina.
Seven species of marine mammals can be found in the Strait of Gibraltar. In addition to the year-round local bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins and pilot whales, you can occasionally see orcas, fin whales and sperm whales. In Tarifa, various providers offer observation trips from the end of March to the beginning of November. Such trips only take place when the sea is calm.
Tarifa owes its fame to windsurfing. The bay is ideal, with fresh winds from the Atlantic, the so-called Poniente wind, and the warm strong Levante wind from the Mediterranean. The best spots are Valdevaqueros, Los Lances, Balneario, Playa Chica, and Bolonia. Windsurfing schools are open all year around and offer the best and latest equipment.
Tarifa is also a great place to kitesurf, with huge beaches, steady winds and sun all year round.
- Graykite, Ctra Comarcal 9210 KM 2, Zona Pedro Valiente (the usual meeting point for lessons is at Chiringuito Agua on Playa Los Lances), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:00-20:00. Graykite is a kitesurfing school offering lessons for beginners, advanced kiteboarders and children. All instructors are IKO qualified and have between 4 and 14 years of teaching experience. Most beginners can kitesurf independently after a 3-day course. Help with travel arrangements and accommodation can be provided if required. €70-160.
- Alex Pastor Kite Club, Calle Mar Adriatico 24 (starting from €20/h), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 10:30-20:30. kitesurf school & kite shop. Airush kite shop & test centre, with kite gear from Airush Kiteboarding. €20-55/hr.
- Fasinas Restaurant (a few kilometres to the north from Tarifa. Follow the road to Cadiz and in about 10-12 km there will be a right turn to Fasinas with a hardly noticeable sign. This restaurant is just before the village, i.e., a kilometre or two away from the main road). There is a restaurant near a village Facinas. It is a meat restaurant with extremely delicious dishes, especially meat ones, and very friendly staff. The portions are rich and generous. Prices are about €25-30 with wine (€35 tops to full you completely) for two persons. The place is sometimes (mainly at weekends) crowded with locals watching football matches on TV or conversing. One of the best restaurants in this region. Nobody speaks English there.
- Mandragora (On Independencia, a small alleyway between the city wall and the Church of San Mateo). A nice restaurant in the old city. It is not cheap, but the food is the best.
- Mirador el Balneario. Probably the best spot in Tarifa to enjoy the impressive famous views over the strait and sunset.
- La Plaza de Los Lances (At the Paseo Marítimo in Tarifa West). Some nice bars and restaurants serving all kinds of food and cocktails. Every afternoon, sunset celebration with live music. From the terraces great views over the beach and Atlantic Ocean.
- Dos Mares Apartment. A stylish two-bedroom apartment with balcony views, swimming pool, storage for equipment, close to town and windsurfing and kitesurfing beaches. English-owned and managed.
- Hostal Alameda (City centre). Comfortable, cosy hostal.
- Hotel Arte Vida, CN340 km 79.3 (Los Lances Beach), ☏ . Great views over the Strait of Gibraltar. The restaurant is well known for fresh fish and ambiance. Don't miss the sunset celebration parties at the beach club. Great mojitos.
- Hotel La Mirada, Calle San Sebastian 41. Nice English-speaking staff, decent location. Good en suite bath and flat-screen TV. €40.
- Pension Facundo. Great hostel accommodating backpackers and travellers on a budget. The hostel cares for hygiene and maintains cooking facilities and free Internet. Staff has problems speaking English. €20/night for a bed in the dorm or more for a nice private room.
- Tangier — Africa is just a short boat ride away
- Cadiz — the capital of the province offers 3000 years of history and a huge Carnival.
- Jerez de la Frontera
|Routes through Tarifa|
|Tangier ←||S N||→ END|
|Cádiz ← ←||NW NE||→ Algeciras → Malaga|