When travelers consider a trip to Morocco, their planning may only focus on the most well-known cities – Marrakesh, Casablanca or Fes – but they would be missing out on one of the country’s hidden gems. The hillside port city of Tangier, once a favorite destination of the Beat Generation (writers like William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg), is a multicultural mecca with rug-draped souks (open-air marketplaces), art deco architecture, eclectic cafes, modern boutiques and unparalleled views across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea. Tangier is a waterfront gem where travelers can spend their time people watching from historic cafes, exploring storied sites and browsing local markets that are a feast for all senses.
Things to Do
One of the most cherished traditions in Tangier is taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy a Moroccan mint tea – a sweet, traditional drink made with green tea, spearmint and sugar. Cafes are sprinkled across the city and draw a lively mix of locals and travelers. Visit Café Hafa to sip hot tea on the open-air terrace and admire stunning panoramic views of the Mediterranean. Or, if you’re exploring the medina – the old, walled section of Tangier – take a break at the Gran Café de Paris on the Place de France. This historical cafe was a favorite haunt of William S. Burroughs and Tennessee Williams, among other famous expats.
A must-visit when in Tangier is the impressive archaeological site known as the Caves of Hercules. Located 3 miles from the city, the site is steeped in legend and ancient history. According to the Greek myth, Hercules rested in the cave before completing his 12 labors. Today, visitors can take advantage of the picturesque site and capture a photo where the cave opens to the Atlantic Ocean and frames it in a way that looks like the shape of Africa itself. Visitors will experience a site that is both natural and man-made thanks to the local Berbers who carved millstones from the cave’s walls. After the caves, take a tip from Hilton insider and Tangier local Oumaima Draoui, nurse at Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa, whose favorite thing to do is visit Cape Spartel – the point where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet underneath what she calls a “mind-boggling and breathtaking” sunset that’s just 2 miles from the caves.
Whether you enjoy shopping or not, visiting a souk is a cultural experience that should not be missed. Head to the medina to browse handmade treasures like antique ceramics, traditional rugs and custom-blended perfumes. On the way out, don’t miss Fondouk Chejra (also known as the Weaver’s Market), which was a reported favorite of late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The intimate market is located on the Rue de la Liberté through an unmarked portal on the outskirts of the medina. Visitors will find a mix of stalls lined with wooden looms and piled high with colorful handmade rugs, clothing, scarves and blankets.
Tangier’s scenic location on the calm Strait of Gibraltar with the Mediterranean Sea to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west also makes it a great beach destination for travelers looking for some R & R. Visitors can lounge on a sandy beach and even enjoy a horse or camel ride along the surf.
Where to Stay
Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa provides a spectacular setting for a stay in Tangier. This oceanfront resort is located between the sea and forest and provides direct access to one of the most beautiful beaches in Morocco. From the well-appointed guest rooms to the vibrant flavors of five on-site restaurants, Hilton Tangier reflects Morocco's rich natural beauty and culture. After a busy day exploring the city, guests can relax and rejuvenate with an authentic, traditional hammam treatment at the state-of-the-art eforea spa or by one of the hotel’s three outdoor pools. The resort is easily accessible from Tangier Ibn Battouta Airport or the high-speed train that connects Tangier to Rabat and Casablanca.