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City guides

Tarifa city guide

Alcazar de jerez de la Frontera

Tarifa – History, nature and (lots of) wind

Tarifa is the closest city to the African continent in Spain, just 14 kilometers from the coast of Morrocco, where the waters of the Mediterranean meet those of the Atlantic. 

Tarifa enjoys excellent weather year-round and is a city brimming with history. Due to its unique location, it became a highly coveted place by different civilizations over the millennia.

In Tarifa, you will find relics left behind from prehistory, the Phoenician, the Roman ruins, and medieval Spain.

Tarifa has a unique cheerful and carefree atmosphere, and although its average temperature is 17 degrees, there is one characteristic Tarifa is best known for around the world: the wind. Tarifa is Surfing and Kitesurfing heaven.

 

Tarifa city guide - Table of Contents

Practical information to plan your visit to Tarifa

5 top reasons to visit Tarifa

Tour the old town of Tarifa

One most iconic site in Tarifa is the 13th century Puerta de Jerez. the Puerta de Jeez is the old entrance gate to the city and it is still located between the Medieval Walls, and declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 2003. This gate is the only remaining gate from that era after the other two gates that the city had, the Puerta del Mar, located in the west, and Puerta del Retino to the east were lost.

The best way of getting to know the city of Tarifa is by getting lost down its winding streets, strolling leisurely. Lovers of history and culture will find their little paradise in Tarifa.

Its old town with is nothing but narrow cobbled-stone streets adorned with colorful carnations and full of monuments that tell the story of a defensive, fortress-city

Tarifa is filled with excellent little bars where you can enjoy some tapas, small boutique shops and a lively nightlife. Typical gastronomy from the region of Cádiz is on display in Tarifa, of which the Almadraba red tuna is the star.

Castle of Guzman el Bueno, Tarifa

Another very emblematic historical site in Tarifa is the Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno (The Castle of Guzmán the good), who in a heroic act that is still remembered to this day, gave the life of his son to the Muslims to protect the castle and the city of Tarifa.

The castle was built in 960 by Caliph Abderramán III and passed through the hands of the Almoravids, Umayyads, Benimerines and finally conquered by the Christians.

A few meters from the castle we find the Plaza de Santa María, also known as “Plaza de las Ranitas”. The Plaza is surrounded by old and important buildings such as the Casa del Pósito, an old grain warehouse.

The plaza is also home to Tarifa Town Hall (a beautiful, white neo-Arab building) the Municipality Library, the Tarifa Museum, and the Church of Santa María built in the 13th century where the Islamic mosque once stood with a neoclassical facade.

The historic city center is one of the liveliest areas with bars and taverns where you can take in the characteristic bohemian atmosphere of the city.

The Beaches of Tarifa

Tarifa is home to some fo the best and most pristine beaches in the region of Cádiz: Playa de los Alemanes, Playa de Valdevaqueros, Playa de los Lances or Playa Bolonia, 

Playa Bolonia, in fact, was warded in 2015 by TripAdvisor in the Travelers Choice awards as the tenth most beautiful beach in Europe and the second in Spain.

These beaches are famous around the globe, however, both for their natural beauty and for their perfect conditions for practicing water sports such as windsurfing and Kitesurfing, so much so that the world championships of both these modalities are held here every year.

Baelo Claudia archaeological site: Roman ruins by the sea

Just a few meters from the fantastic Bolonia Beach, surrounded by an enormous dune, we find the ancient Roman city of Baelo Claudia. A unique archaeological site, due to the beauty of its location in front of the sea and how well preserved its remains are. The city was built in the second century BC, near the nearby slat factories the Romans had established. 

You can still see certain features of the city that give us insight into how life must have been in Baelo Claudia: The pools where they allowed the fish to ferment, the cities forum, the theater, aqueducts, or temples. A place that will undoubtedly transport any visitor back into the past. 

Castle of Santa Catalina

Located just 400 meters from the Castillo de Guzmán El Bueno, at the top of a small hill, we find one of the unique buildings in the city, the Castillo de Santa Catalina. The castle sits at 24 meters above sea level and overlooks the city.

The castle was once a small hermitage to which it owes its name, but because of its strategic location, it soon became a military outpost.

Whale watching  

Tarifa is one of the best places in Europe for the sighting whale watching. The straight that Tarifa creates with Morrocco is the only crossing point for many whales and dolphins into the Mediterranean Sea. Killer whales in particular are habitually sighted off the coast of Tarifa, chasing tuna into the warm waters of the Mediterranean. 

In the city, there are many companies that make boat trips to see these curious animals, whales, dolphins, sperm whales, and pilot whales.

Best time to visit Tarifa

The weather in Tarifa is very consistent, and rarely if ever, gets unbearably cold. Be that as it may, the best time to visit Tarifa is of course during the summer months. With so many water-related activities to be enjoyed in Tarifa, there really isn’t much more of an option. 

If you are looking to avoid crowds, your best option is to aim for May/June. It is early enough in the year that crowds shouldn’t be that bad, and the weather should be warm enough to enjoy Tarifa to the fullest. 

Weather in Jerez de la Frontera

The weather in Tarifa is very consistent year-round. Tarifa enjoys what is known as a Mediterranean climate and temperatures average about 17 Cº.  

interactive tourist map of Tarifa

Recommended attractions in Tarifa

Tarifa orcas
Adventure

Tarifa orcas : the amazing tuna hunt

Tarifa orcas: Tarifa is continental Europe’s southernmost point and enjoys a unique climate and natural setting that makes it an excellent place for whale watching, the local population of orcas is particularly amazing to watch as they hunt tuna.

Whale watching in Spain
Adventure

Whale watching in Spain: complete guide

Spain may not come at the top of your head when you think of whale watching. Off the coast of Tarifa from Algeciras until the Cabo de Gracia in Tarifa, you’ll find the “Estrecho y Reserva Intercontinental de la Biosfera” (natural park), a protected shoreline area that occupies the meeting point of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, an area with exceptional biodiversity made of migratory birds and marine mammals.

Adventure

Kitesurf in Spain

The long white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters of Tarifa are paradise for thousands of athletes who love sailing sports – especially windsurfing and kitesurfing and look for fun and adventure in the South of Spain

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