Here’s a detailed guide on how to take a ferry from Morocco to Spain.
I’ll tell you where to take the ferry, where to buy tickets and how much the tickets will cost.
Nowadays it’s very easy to get from Morocco to Spain as there are many direct flights connecting the two countries. However, taking an airplane has certain disadvantages. Not only can it be expensive, there are also luggage restrictions and airplanes aren’t always the most comfortable way to travel. Taking the ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco to Spain instead is much better in so many ways.
Firstly, it’s a much cheaper and more fun option. You’ll see the port of Tangier slowly disappearing in the distance and you’ll be able to admire the Spanish port as you arrive in Tarifa. There are almost zero restrictions on the amount of luggage you can bring on board and the whole experience will be much more relaxing.
The distance between the two countries is only 14 kilometers at the narrowest part of the Strait so crossing the sea on a ferry can be done very quickly and takes just under an hour with the FRS service.
Taking a ferry from Tangier to Tarifa is also a fast and easy way to renew your Moroccan travel visa. You can take a ferry to Spain and easily come back on the same day to get a brand new tourist visa.
Crossing the Strait by boat is also the perfect way to enjoy a quick day trip from Morocco to Spain. Tarifa is a gorgeous Spanish city and a great destination for sports like wind and kitesurfing.
In this article, I’ll tell you all about taking a ferry between Tangier and Spain, where to buy your tickets and what to expect once you’re on board. I’ll also cover where you could stay in Tarifa and the process of renewing your visa on your way back.
Which ferry companies operate in the Strait of Gibraltar
There are currently only two ferry companies operating in the Strait of Gibraltar bringing people from Tangier to Tarifa and vice versa.
The FRS service runs up to 8 times per day with a sailing duration of around 45minutes (the fastest boats) to 1 hour while the Inter Shipping crosses up to 6 times per day with a duration of about 2 hours.
I traveled across the Strait of Gibraltar with both companies on many occasions and in my opinion, the FRS service overshadows its competitor by a long run. Their seats are very comfortable, they have big tables, very good wifi, spotless toilets, and a great snack selection.
It’s also possible to take other ferries to different cities in Spain and to other European countries. This broadens your travel options between the two continents. Tangier ferries connect Morocco with Spain, Italy & France with crossings available to Tarifa, Algeciras, Malaga & Barcelona (in Spain), Genoa & Savona (in Italy) & Sete (in France).
Tangier ferry crossings are operated by FRS, Inter Shipping, Balearia, Trasmediterranea, Grandi Navi Veloci, Grimaldi Lines & AML. Depending on the time of year, you’ll find a choice of up to 69 ferries crossings the Mediterranean sea daily.
Where can you buy a ferry ticket in Tangier Morocco
In Tangier, there are a few shops at the port itself where you can buy FRS and Inter Shipping ferry tickets. Going all the way to the port is not necessary as both companies sell their tickets in various locations across the city of Tangier. Tickets can also be bought in various cities along the coast. This is very convenient if you are driving along the coastal road towards the north with your own car or a rented one.
Here are the locations of the different FRS shops in the city of Tangier:
FRS Tangier Ville Port
Gare Maritime S/N Tanger 90000
Avenue Mohamed VI, 2bis C (Entrance of Tangier Ville port)
Avenue Mohamed VI, 2bis C (Entrance of Tangier Ville port)
This is where you can buy FRS tickets on the coastal road to Tangier:
You can also buy your FRS ticket online.
Intershipping service also has various shops around the city of Tangier where you can buy ferry tickets. For a complete list of these sales points, have a look at their website.
What is the ferry schedule
The ferry schedule is often unreliable due to bad weather. This is particularly true in winter when the north of Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar is covered in torrential rains. At that time of the year, the sea is not very stable and high waves can sometimes prevent the ferries from crossing the Strait.
The FRS Service ferries cross the straight of Gibraltar from Tangier Ville (right across from the old medina) and Tangier Med (a port located farther from the city) to Tarifa according to this schedule.
The Intershipping ferries only leave from Tangier Ville to Tarifa and they cross the Strait of Gibraltar according to following schedule.
If you buy tickets for the ferry in a selling point in Morocco or at the port instead of online, buy your ticket no later than 45 minutes before departure. If you bought your ticket online, you still need to collect your boarding pass at the ferry terminal or at the different selling points in Tangier.
How much is a ferry ticket from Tangier to Tarifa
If you don’t have a car, a one-way ticket from Tangier to Tarifa with FRS Service is around 420 MAD (around 42 USD).
A return ticket for a foot passenger will cost around 660 MAD or approximately 66 USD.
With a car, a one-way ticket will cost 1920 MAD or about 192 USD.
You can buy your FRS Service ferry tickets online here.
A one-way ticket for a foot passenger with Intershipping costs around 380 MAD or 38 USD while a return ticket will cost around 580 MAD.
You can buy Intershipping tickets online here.
What to expect when taking the ferry from Morocco to Spain
Before taking the ferry from Morocco to Spain, you’ll need to get a departure stamp in your passport at the port. Once that’s done you’ll be clear to get onboard your ferry.
This is where the port is located in Tangier:
Another option is to leave from Tangier Med, this port is located a bit farther from the city:
The first time I crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, I was surprised by how comfortable the ferry from Tangier to Tarifa was. I crossed with FRS service and their ferry was much better than what I expected.
They have plenty of seating areas inside so you can choose to sit wherever you feel most comfortable. They have a section with rows of comfortable seats and another section that has eating tables where you can eat your own food or snacks from the cafeteria.
The food from the cafeteria itself is a bit expensive and I would recommend you to bring your own snacks instead of buying food on the ferry. If you do want to buy snacks on the boat, you can only pay by card or with Euros.
The section with eating tables has very large seats and a family of 4 can easily sit around the table. The ferry also has a WiFi signal but I must say it wasn’t super reliable during my crossing and I lost connection a few times.
There are plenty of plugs near the windows where you can charge your electronic devices. If you want to stretch your legs during the crossing, you can walk out of the seating area to the top of the boat where you’ll have a gorgeous view of the Spanish and African coast if it’s a sunny and clear day.
When you arrive in Spain, passport control will be done directly at the port. It usually doesn’t take very long to go through the passport control on the Spanish side.
If you are sailing from Spain to Morocco, you’ll have to get your passport stamped inside the boat before your arrival at the port of Tangier (see below).
Moroccan passport control inside the ferry from Spain to Morocco
If you’re traveling from Tangier to Tarifa to renew your Moroccan visa, you’ll get a new Moroccan stamp inside the boat on your way back. Try to board the ferry on your way back to Tangier as soon as you’re allowed to so you’ll be the first in the queue at the passport control.
You’ll have to head to the front of the vessel where there is a small cabin dedicated to the passport control (see picture below) I would advise getting in line as soon as possible. There could be a few hundred people on the boat waiting in line to get their passport stamped and the crossing only takes around an hour.
If the ferry is very full, the last people to get in the queue might still be waiting to get their passport stamped on board even after the ferry has arrived.
Where to stay in Tarifa, Spain
Tarifa is a beautiful city located on the southernmost tip of Spain. It has a very different climate and character than the rest of Andalusia. The strong winds that almost perpetually blow there, attract surfers, windsurfer, and kitesurfers from all over Europe. It’s a great place to stay for a day or two before going back to the African country if you’re here for a Moroccan visa-run.
The architecture of this city reminds me of the old Medinas of Morocco. It’s full of narrow little streets where you’ll enjoy getting lost.
Tarifa has a few good cheap hostels where you could stay for a night before going back to Morocco.
Here are the ones I recommend:
This super cool hostel is located just 300 meters from the beach. From the hostel, you can see people practicing kitesurf on a daily basis. It has a big kitchen that you can use to cook your own meals and an outside sitting area with a table where you can share meals with other travelers and enjoy the sun. It also has a big living room with a fireplace and a bar.
They serve a very good breakfast every morning. On top of being right in front of the beach, this hostel is also near restaurants, mini markets, and stores.
This beautiful hostel is located in the historic town center of Tarifa. The rooms are quite big and each room comes equipped with its own bathroom and toiletries. The staff here is very helpful and they’ll be more than happy to point out places to get some tapas and drinks.
This hostel also has a big terrace with a nice veranda and an amazing view of the Moroccan coast.
The atmosphere of this hostel is very welcoming. The rooms are very cozy and the hostel has a big garden with many seating areas where you can spend time with other travelers. You can also use the kitchen to cook meals. There are enough lockers in the room for everyone so you can lock your stuff away without any problem.
I hope this article was useful and that you’ll enjoy your ferry trip between Tangier and Tarifa or vice-versa.
Have you ever tried taking a ferry between Morocco and Spain? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.
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