Located on the Strait of Gibraltar, this popular gateway to Morocco is a swirling jumble of African and European cultures. Dating back to the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, it's been occupied by everyone from the ancient Romans and Arabs to the French and Spanish. Artists such Edgar Degas, Eugène Delacroix, and Henri Matisse found inspiration here in the 1800s and early 1900s. After World War II, it turned into a hotbed of international jetsetters, celebrities, and literary wunderkinds such as Truman Capote and Jack Kerouac. Today, this hilly metropolis has a compact, bustling medina and a European-built Ville Nouvelle neighborhood, where you can savor a calmer side of the city.
What We Love
The Medina: Meander through this ancient labyrinth-like quarter, enclosed by 15th-century ramparts, for its array of colorful shops, food stands, and teahouses. The square at the entrance, Grand Socco, is a prime perch for eyeing the hubbub of daily Moroccan life — a crossroads of cacophonous carts, cars, and commuters.
Kasbah Dar El Makhzen: This 17th-century Sultanate palace now houses a museum showcasing Moroccan art and antiquities. Located at the highest part of the Tangier, it also offers grand, sweeping views of the ocean.
Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies: Also known as TALIM, this is a museum, educational center, and cultural haven all in one. It's also the only United States National Historic Landmark located in a foreign country.
Best Known For
Rugs: Craftspeople have been making and selling carpets in Tangier since ancient times. If you're interested in purchasing one, ask your ship’s cruise director for store recommendations rather than just casually wandering, which likely will result in a hard sell.
Cap Spartel: Around nine miles west of Tangier, this lovely 1,000-foot promontory — with its towering lighthouse — is situated where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet. Tour it on a clear day, and bring binoculars for views of Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. En route, a tree-lined drive winds through the suburb of La Montagne, lavish with villas and palaces. Also stop by the pretty beach nearby for an invigorating promenade or a camel ride.
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Who It's Best For
History Lovers: Tangier’s layered past — it has been by turns a Phoenician trading post, the capital of a Roman province, and under an international regime — serve up fascinating tales of yore.
Shopaholics: Run from the trinket and T-shirt vendors that seem to be everywhere, and instead zone in on specialty artisans who make clothes, jewelry, and home decor items by hand.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Beware of Nighttime Activities: Tangier’s charms are evident during daylight hours, but after the sun sets, be extra cautious. That's when this bustling port town's seediness rears its head in the form of prostitutes, pickpockets, and unrelenting beggars.
Skip the Swim: Beaches within Tangiers can be dirty. If sand between your toes is a must, venture west to cleaner shores.
Laura Manske is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Redbook, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan.