A travel guide to the best attractions in Tarifa, Southern Spain: the perfect Tarifa Itinerary
Tarifa may be considered one of the coolest cities in southern Spain. This region belongs to Cádiz, Southern Spain, and is worldwide known as one of the surfers prefered destinations.
If you are planning to go on holiday to Tarifa, you will see that the municipality is more than just a beach resort as it also offers a wide range of historical, artistic and cultural attractions.
The itinerary presented below is a three-day journey about what to do in Tarifa. However, it may be easily adapted to two or four days, depending on your travel rhythm.
Indeed, if you choose just to visit the most relevant places, you may be able to see all of them in just one day.
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Top Things To Do In Tarifa, Andalucia – Our Tarifa Itinerary For 3 days
There is no doubt that there are lots of things to do in Tarifa. However, under no circumstances should you miss:
- Castillo de Santa Catalina
- Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno
- Puerta de Jerez
- Valdevaqueros Beach
- Baelo Claudia ruins
- Parque Natural de Los Alcornocales
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Where is Tarifa, Spain?
Tarifa is the southernmost point of Spain, which also means that it is the closest one to Morocco.
Tarifa is bordered by Algeciras, Los Barrios, Medina Sidonia, Vejer de la Frontera, and Barbate and it is bathed by both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean sea.
How to get to Tarifa
The nearest airport to Tarifa is the one located in Algeciras. From there, you can take a bus that will get you dropped straight to Tarifa’s city centre.
In this section you will find the most relevant information regarding how to get to Tarifa by bus, which may be considered the best option in terms of price range and timetable flexibility.
How to get from Málaga to Tarifa:
Málaga to Tarifa bus:
- Departure – Arrival: Málaga – Tarifa
- Time: 4 hours and 55 minutes – Buy tickets here
How to get from Seville to Tarifa:
Seville to Tarifa bus:
- Departure – Arrival: Sevilla – Tarifa
- Time: 3 hours 30 minutes – Buy tickets here
How to get from Marbella to Tarifa:
Marbella to Tarifa bus:
- Departure – Arrival: Marbella – Tarifa
- Time: 2 hours 40 minutes – Buy tickets here
How to get from Cadiz to Tarifa:
Cadiz to Tarifa bus:
- Departure – Arrival: Cádiz – Tarifa
- Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes – Get tickets here
Visit the Castillo de Santa Catalina
Castillo de Santa Catalina is a Renaissance castle located on the top of the Santa Catalina hill. In the past, it was a strategic area to defend the city.
In contrast, nowadays it is just a place where cultural events are held and a fantastic natural viewpoint from where you can observe the Isla de las Palomas and the Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno.
Opening times: Monday to Sunday: 11am to 7pm
Visit the castle of Guzman El Bueno
Castillo de Guzmán El Bueno is a fortification also built to protect the city from pirates. A curious fact is that it was named after its governor Alonso Pérez Guzmán, who sacrificed his own son in order to keep the population safe when they were attacked.
The building was refurbished in the XVII century to serve as a quartering to Spanish-British troops that were defending Tarifa from the French army.
- October to April: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 4pm
- May to September: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5:30 pm
Wander in Tarifa old town
The old city centre hides numerous charming corners so it seems that walking around Tarifa is a must to those who want to be impregnated by their beauty. Certainly, it may be the best possible way to discover the area.
Some of the places that you should visit are the Iglesia de San Mateo, which was built on the remains of an old mosque; the medieval walls that used to protect its citizens from external threats; and its long harbor.
In order to make the most your time, consider going on a guided tour. – Check tours here
Go shopping in Tarifa’s surf shops
There are lots of shops in Tarifa, but the most crowded ones are surf shops. There you will be able to find thousands of bikinis, exclusive beachwear, and all the equipment you may need to practice sports such as kitesurf, skimboard, or bodyboard, among others.
Some of the most popular surf shops in Tarifa are:
Lunch in El Lola
El Lola is a cozy and traditional Andalusian restaurant located on Calle Guzmán el Bueno, that serves typical regional dishes with a touch of modernity.
One of its main well-valued aspects is its extensive menu, as it will satisfy everyone’s desires. Chocolate dumplings, shrimp salad, or salmorejo are some of its most popular dishes.
Moreover, its delicious desserts won’t disappoint anyone. However, it is highly recommended to book a table in order to avoid the queues formed during peak hours.
Opening times: Monday to Sunday: from 12am to 12pm
Take a picture at Puerta de Jerez
Puerta de Jerez is one of the biggest tourist attractions and a famous landmark of the city. The main reason is that Puerta de Jerez is the only conserved gate of the great wall that surrounds the historic quarter.
It was restored in 2000 and El Cristo de los vientos, which is a painting of Guillermo Pérez Villalta, was placed there to decorate the portico.
Go horse-riding in Tarifa
Horse riding in Tarifa has become a popular activity as it is considered a wonderful and unforgettable experience. Indeed, it allows you to feel the breeze of the sea while you are galloping along its endless sandy beaches.
There is also the possibility to go horse-riding through Tarifa’s Natural Parks, which are the Parque Natural del Estrecho and the Parque Natural de los Alcornocales. – Book your experience here
Hang out at Tarifa’s best beaches
Tarifa is one of the coastal cities with the greatest tourist projection since it is internationally renowned as the windsurf and kitesurfing paradise.
However, it is also the perfect place for those who prefer to chill sunbathing and enjoy a refreshing bath. Some of the best beaches in Tarifa for all of them are:
- Bolonia beach
- Valdevaqueros beach
- Los Lances beach
- Río Jara beach
- Playa Chica
If you’re interested in other beaches in Southern Spain, make sure to check out the following our article about the best resorts near Seville.
Enjoy tapas in Tarifa
Tapas are a typical Andalusian appetizer served on almost every bar you will visit. Some of the most well-rated tapas bars in Tarifa are:
Visit the markets in Tarifa
The Mercadillo in Tarifa is located on the Barriada de Huerta del Rey and it is held every Tuesday from 9 am to 3 pm.
It is an ideal place to walk around as there you will find more than fifty shops, where you can buy new and second-hand furniture items and clothes.
Take a surf lesson
Surfing in Tarifa may become an unforgettable experience for everyone because there is no need to be an expert to enjoy the waves. Moreover, in order to learn the basics, you can join a surf camp in Tarifa.
It will help you to understand the principles of the sport, to dominate the surfing technique, and to try to put it correctly into practice. – Check surf lessons here
Learn how to kitesurf
Kitesurfing in Tarifa is also one of the most popular activities there; however, it may be really difficult to learn it on your own.
If you want to avoid injuries and accidents, maybe you should consider taking a few lessons in one of the kitesurfing schools in Tarifa.
As there are different companies teaching how to practice kitesurfing, you will be able to choose the most suitable option for your budget. – Check offers here
Lunch in El Chozo restaurant
El Chozo is popular among locals for its unbeatable location. The restaurant is just in front of the beach and from there you will be able to see Africa on clear days.
Moreover, it is specialized in traditional Spanish cuisine, which is elaborated using local products.
Another positive aspect is that the staff is really kind and all the waiters and waitresses are keen to help you to make the best decision.
El Chozo is open from 9 am to 12:30 pm every day and it is located on the Camping Torre de la Peña.
Go whale-watching in Tarifa
If you are a nature lover, one of the best things to do in Tarifa is to go dolphin and whale watching.
It’s always just magnificent to witness this natural wonder. There are lots of different companies offering this kind of trip to Tarifa. – Check the best offers here
Go trekking in the natural parks near Tarifa
Tarifa is not just the perfect place for surfers, it is also a wonderful spot for those who enjoy wildlife tours. There are two huge Natural Reserves in Tarifa:
- Parque Natural del Estrecho: Where visitors can enjoy not only strolling through Los Lances or Bolonia beach, but also spending some time at Baelo Claudia Roman city.
- Parque Natural de Los Alcornocales: Which is the ideal place to go hiking and camping in Tarifa. However, as it offers so many possibilities, it is advisable to choose the route in advance in order to avoid wasting your time.
Dinner in Surla restaurant Tarifa
Surla is an elegant beach bar in Tarifa opened almost all day long, from the very early morning until the evening.
There you will be able to taste their spectacular breakfast options, elaborated with top quality products, and a wide variety of healthy and flavorful main courses, such as sushi, woks, salads, or burgers.
Enjoy Tarifa nightlife
Be ready to get surprised by the nightlife in this small town! The nightlife in Tarifa is also one of the biggest attractions there and visitors should not miss the opportunity to enjoy a night out in the city.
There are lots of bars and pubs that get quickly crowded by surfers, as soon as the sun goes down. Some of the most recommended places are:
- Taco Way Tarifa
- Aloha Tarifa
- SurfBar Tomatito
- Cuchitril Tarifa
Visit the ruins of Baelo Claudia
The Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia is a really well-preserved factory-city of saltings declared a National Historic Monument.
It is located close to the sea on the Parque Natural del Estrecho and it is an impressive natural viewpoint.
- October to July: Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm, Sunday from 9am to 3pm.
- August and September: Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 3pm
Entrance fee: 1.50 €
Day trip to Tangier from Tarifa
If you are spending your holidays in Tarifa, you may want to enjoy a day trip to Tangier. The best option to travel from one place to another is by ferry as the journey takes just one hour and it runs all day.
Ferry to Tangier from Tarifa:
- Departure – Arrival: Tarifa – Tangier
- Frequency: from 08:00 am to 22:00 pm each 2 hours
- Time: 1 hour to cross
In order to make the most of your time, I strongly recommend going on a guided tour. They take you to the best highlights in the Moroccan town. – Check rates here.
Day Trip to Gibraltar from Tarifa
Another interesting place to visit is Gibraltar and it may be the best option for you if you do not feel like taking a boat.
There are several day trips offering you the possibility to travel by bus accompanied by a multilingual guide. This break will allow you to purchase some bargains in a tax-free territory. – Check Gibraltar tours from Tarifa here
Go rock-climbing near Tarifa
Parque Natural de Los Alcornocales is the ideal place to spend a morning rock-climbing in a fantastic area near Tarifa.
It is highly recommended to climb to El Pinacho as from there you will be able to get a panoramic view of Cádiz.
However, if you prefer enjoying easier trekking you should head up to Ruta de los Molinos, a path through which ranchers and milling craftsmen usually passed for centuries. – Check guided excursions here
It’s one of the best outdoor activities in Cadiz province. You should also check our 3-day itinerary Cadiz town we wrote earlier in order to make the most of your time.
Taste the local red tuna
Red tuna has been fished in Tarifa for three thousand years and the city honors this kind of fish every year in summer.
Do not forget to check if the Ruta del Atún is being celebrated while you are in Tarifa, as some of the best restaurants in the city elaborate special dishes using this precious product for a limited period of time.
It’s held during the tuna migration time when the swim from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean.
Best Hotels in Tarifa, Southern Spain
Considering the possible diversity of our dear reader’s budget, we present below a selection of the best hotels in Tarifa, Spain.
If you want a dream stay do not hesitate to book a room at the Hotel & Spa La Residencia Puerto ****. If you prefer to save some money on your accommodation in Tarifa without sacrificing the comfort of being in the city centre, we recommend Hotel Punta Sur.
And if you prefer to adjust the budget and still enjoy excellent value for money, your best option is the Beach Hotel Dos Mares.
One of the most special and exclusive hotels in Tarifa Beach is the Hotel & Spa La Residencia Puerto ****, which is located between the harbor and the historical district.
One of the best hotel features is its welcoming rooftop swimming pool, the Moroccan inspired spa, and its healthy and varied breakfast buffet. – Check rates & reviews here
Hotel Punta Sur *** – Mid-Range
Hotel Punta Sur *** is outside the city center but just five minutes walking away from the beach. It is an elegant place to stay, as it is surrounded by wonderful gardens in which lots of weddings are celebrated.
Moreover, it is characterized by the privacy granted to its guests. Some of the most appealing aspects of this hotel are the gym area and the sauna. – Check rates & reviews here
Beach Hotel Dos Mares *** – Budget
Beach Hotel Dos Mares *** is a boutique hotel in Tarifa close to Los Lances beach, for this reason it is one of the favorite surf fans’ places to stay.
One of the main attractions of Beach Hotel Dos Mares is the tasteful decoration of all the bedrooms. In addition, there you will find a huge swimming pool with a massage area, tennis and paddle courts, and a gym.
Moreover, the hotel offers you the possibility to take windsurf and kitesurf lessons and an equestrian center. – Check rates & reviews here
Getting Around Tarifa
One of the best possible ways to discover Tarifa is walking through its streets as it allows you to discover every hidden corner of the city.
However, from the bus station in Tarifa you will be able to take a bus that stops at the most relevant places, which may be useful if you are running out of time.
Map of Tarifa, Spain
A short FAQ about Things to do in Tarifa, Spain
You could learn how to kitesurf, or even horse-riding since they are considered some of the most fun things to do in Tarifa, Spain.
You should wander in the Old Town of Tarifa and have a look at the cute shops.
Have a dinner in Surla restaurant is a great idea when looking for things to do in Tarifa when it rains.