Tarifa Travel Guide
Ibiza Town © Spanish National Tourist Board
The Spanish holiday destination of Tarifa is ideally located on the border of the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz, near the Strait of Gibraltar and a short ferry ride away from the exotic Moroccan city of Tangier. The popular beach resort town is famed for being the windsurfing capital of Europe: Atlantic winds create ideal conditions and kite surfing is also growing in popularity here, especially on the beaches of Playa Valdevaqueros and Playa Los Lances. Those who feel safer on land can try horseback riding, hiking, dolphin and whale watching, cycling, rock climbing and some of the region's best bird watching in Tarifa. The Moorish heritage of the area is evident in the preserved Castillo de Guzman and holidaymakers should visit the old part of the town to wander the narrow streets, shop, and enjoy one of the many great tapas restaurants. Don't expect the madness and mayhem of places like Torremolinos, nor the 'chips with everything' style resorts; Tarifa is a charming beach resort that offers authentic Spanish flavour and plenty of sunshine.
When it's time for shopping in Tarifa there are many options to choose from, but many of the tourist shops sell the same basic stock. The old town has a number of small boutiques and a multitude of surf shops selling all the most popular brands. The old town also has an indoor market where you can buy fresh produce and other food, including the catch of the day in the outdoor area. Tarifa also hosts a market on Tuesday mornings, which stocks tourist souvenirs, artwork, handicrafts and ceramics; you'll find many Tarifa souvenirs echo the region's Moorish heritage, with Moroccan lamps, pillows, shoes and linens all being popular gifts.
Eating out in Tarifa is an adventure in Andalusian food, as the city has a mix of traditional restaurants, tapas bars, and cafes in addition to more cosmopolitan options like Italian, Moroccan, and French eateries. For the most authentic experience, simply wander through the old town and enjoy the local tapas and jerez (sherry). Cafe Azul, Cafe Mogador, Casa Juan Luis and La Trattoria are a few of Tarifa's most recommended eateries for holiday visitors.
Tarifa's nightlife is constantly buzzing. The city's bars are busy with the after-dinner crowd from 9am until 3am when they are forced to close by law. Popular options include Bar Almedina, which is set into the historic city wall, and the stylish Cafe del Mar Tarifa. The clubs take over where the bars leave off, carrying on the party until around 8am. These include the youth-oriented house venue Club New Rif, the historic La Ruina, and the stylish Carpe Diem. Tarifa attracts great live music as well, including Flamenco, samba, jazz, and its own particular brand of hip hop. Many of the hotel bars host live music performances.
Tarifa has ideal conditions for the wind reliant water sports, like kite surfing, windsurfing, and sailing, and you can try your hand at other aquatic activities like surfing, scuba diving and whale watching as well. Although the wind can be a bit off-putting, Tarifa has stunning, spacious beaches, backed by dunes and pine forests, and there are protected areas that are good for sun tanning and swimming. Bolonia Beach is great for families as there are virtually no strong currents. For those more comfortable on land, there are opportunities for horseback riding, bird watching, and visiting historic buildings and ruins. Tarifa also has cheap and convenient ferries to Tangier for those who want to experience the Moroccan souks.
Tarifa is a very windy holiday resort, perfect for kite surfing and windsurfing, but not always ideal for those looking for relaxing days on the beach.