susan on the beach
A perfect day in Tarifa
Updated: Jan 13
Self guided tour of the "southernmost point in Europe", Andalusia, Spain
One of the things that makes Marbella a fantastic holiday spot, are the numerous day trips you can do from this resort town, and be back in time for dinner on the beach and tapas on the seafront Paseo. Drive from mediterranean Marbella to the Atlantic coast for the day, to enjoy an incredible change of scenery and climate - and be back in time for a dinner on the mediterranean beach, maybe Gambas pil pil with a sea view and live music!
If you are staying with us in one of our beach apartments, a one hour easy drive on the highway will bring you from the Mediterranean sheltered and sunny climate, to the more wild and windy Atlantic coast - and the incredible site of Tarifa. As you drive along the A7 you will be greeted with awesome views of the Rock of Gibraltar, and impressive views of the Moroccan coast. Try to pick a clear day to make the most of these spectacular views along your drive.
When you arrive at Tarifa from Marbella, there are 2 entrances from the main road A340. Take the 2nd entrance to come in along the "surf shop road" calle Batalla del Salado, where you have a good chance of finding a parking lot or parking space. Parking near the old town and port are usually very hard to find. There are surfer caravan parkings along this strip, or street parking (pay at the parkmeters). Have a look near the municipal pool, vacant lots are frequently turned into parking lots (and they tend to disappear without notice)
We recommend putting the following interest points in your phone or GPS Tarifa Pirates, just one example among many of the funky surf shops along Batalla del Salado street. Puerta de Jerez, and the plaque commemorating victory over the Muslims in 1292 Mercado municipal (see the tile mural in the passageway to the left of the main door) Iglesia San Francisco de Asis, a bougainvillea covered façade on a beautiful sunny square All the little streets between the Puerta de Jerez Plaza Angel, full of bars but tranquil by day Iglesia San Mateo de Apostel, and all the little side streets in between... Plaza Africa, with it's spectacular view over the coast of Morocco, so close you can almost touch it!
Castillo Guzman el Bueno, go on inside to learn some of the fascinating history of this strategic city. The "Southernmost Point of Europe" is impressive and worth a view and a selfie.
After seeing the old town if time allows you can head to the beach and have lunch at one of the beach restaurants right on the sand, like the Balnearo Beach Club. From there, if weather and tide permit, you can walk back to the starting point: Walk along the beach until you get to the Municipal swimming pool then make you way back up into town to Calle Batalla del Salado. If you want to make a longer day out of it, you can include a longer hike to a viewpoint where you can see the broad vista of two oceans joining together, the point of Tarifa reaching out to kiss the Moroccan coastline... Or book a whale watching boat toar. See dolphins, orcas and other sea creatures that pass through the straights of Gibraltar between these two seas.
This walking tour starts at the Tarifa Pirates surf shop along the Batalla del Salado street. Calle Batalla del Salado is the road with all the famous surf shops, it's fun to look at all the coolest brands... Rip Curl, Hurley, O'Neill.. And lots of independent surf schools and shops with super funky decor and merchandise.
Walk down Batalla del Salado street enjoying the cool surfer vibe until you get to the Puerta
de Jerez, part of the Arab fortifications and a wonderful first glimpse of the Arab architecture and style of the old town.
Enter the old town through the medieval moorish gate and start exploring! The old town is small and you can discover almost every street in an hour of casual strolling. But plan to spend some time exploring the churches,art galleries, bohemian clothing shops, stop at the Guzman castle and covered market... And of course 40 minutes for a cappucino and a brownie or piece of cake in one of the adorable coffee shops in a sunny square. Once through the Arabe gate, you can't go wrong just strolling about and soaking up the unique atmosphere of Tarifa. Let yourself be tempted to glimpse into courtyards and entryways... The homes are built in "Riad" style like in Morocco, often with beautiful entry patios and courtyards, with tiles and fountains. The municipal market is worth a visit to see the fresh tuna caught just off the straights of Gibraltar, and other seafood you might want to have for lunch! The two churches are worth a visit, as well as the castle with it's story of Guzman the Good who defeated the Muslims by sacrificing his son.. The streets are full of bohemian clothing shops, quirky decoration stores, bars and cafés galore.
After soaking up history and surfer vibes in the coffee shops and hostels around town, stop by the Castle Guzman el Bueno for a dose of history. Tarifa sits on a strategic site disputed throughout history by the Phoenicians, Romans, Muslims, and Christians. It was believed to be "the end of the world" by sailors of antiquity, and was one of the most important ports of ancient times thanks to its location straddling the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterannean, on the southern tip of Europe but a stone's throw from Africa. Don't miss the view over Africa from the Mirador Africa .
After visiting the old town, it's fun to go over to the beach and see if the kite-surfers are out. The surfing-cool vibe permeates the atmosphere all over town and it is fun to watch them in action if conditions are right.
Outside of the old town you will find the path to the "Southernmost Point of Europe". You can walk out to the little peninsula, there is a plaque, statue, and explanatory panel. It is amazing to contemplate you are at the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean. The wind, the blue and opal color of the sea, the vast expanses of sand, and the view over the African coast, all contribute to a feeling of grandeur.
The beaches are completely different from in Marbella; large, flat expanse of clean golden sand, and turquoise blue water... But lots of wind! And tide! The amplitude between high and low tide might suprise you if you are used to Mediterranean shores.
If you still have time for lunch, choose one of the several very cool beach restaurants along this strip of beach.
Balneareo beach club is near the center of town on the beach, the atmosphere is so funky cool we are capable of driving all the way from Marbella to have lunch here! Maybe barbecue fish or some fresh grilled tuna just caught off the Gibraltar straight..
To get back to your car near the municipal pool, you can walk along the beautiful beach and make your way up into town when you see the "Demente Tarifa" beach restaurant. To make a longer day out of it, you could include a hike outside of town up to a viewpoint where you can see the expanse of the two oceans and the city of Tarifa from above. Or book a whale watching boat toar with the many tour operators that go out from Tarifa to the waters in the straights of Gibraltar, rich with dolphins and whales.
Extend your day with a longer hike
If you'd like to extend your walk, there are many places to hike up the surrounding hills to vantage points where you can see the impressive Gibraltar straight from a higher viewpoint. Some easy and well marked trails are: Colado de la Costa (closest one to center of old town). For impressive views over the site of Tarifa itself, take the car a bit further north to this Sendero, starting point across from the Villa Maria bed & breakfast.
Extend your day with a whale watching tour
Many whale watching excursion companies are based in Tarifa, have a look on Airbnb Experiences, tripadvisor or google maps to find one you like. Whale watching tours take about 3 hours so definitely plan your outing before arriving in the city.
After your fabulous day in Tarifa, it's just over an hour drive back to Marbella in time for sunset cocktails on your terrace, and maybe dinner and dancing on the beach!
Another perfect day when you stay at our Marbella Beach Apartments!