Top ten things to see and do in Tarifa

Tarifa is one of the most vibrant sea towns in Spain. Located in the province of Cadiz, it is one of the go-to summer beach destinations for Spaniards to enjoy unspoiled beaches, adrenaline-filled activities and the buzzing nightlife. Tarifa is a special place as it’s where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic and it is the last stop in Europe before you reach Africa.

There is something for everyone, but we have rounded up our top 10 things to do in Tarifa to help you choose what to do first.

  • Kite surfing
  • Whale watching
  • Visit unspoiled beaches
  • See Roman ruins
  • Head to Punta Paloma
  • Go hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Experience the nightlife
  • Walk the castle walls
  • Pop over to Morocco

Kite Surfing

Kitesurfing Tarifa

Kite surfing is the reason Tarifa is no longer just a fishing village. Around thirty years ago the surfers came and conquered, and nowadays the Batalla del Salado, Tarifa’s main commercial street, is lined with surf clothing emporiums and board shops. 

Championships are held here but novices are welcome too – there are also a huge number of kite schools if you are looking for lessons. Consider that it might take a couple of days before you get out on the water., but it will be worth it. The most popular kitesurfing spot in Tarifa is Playa Valdevaqueros, just 6km outside town. 

Whale watching


The Strait of Gibraltar teems with dolphins (common, bottlenose and striped) and whales (fin, pilot, sperm and killer) and most of the companies who offer excursions, for example, Firmm, are so confident of sightings that they’ll take you out again for free if you don’t see anything. 

High summer is the time to see the killer whales and early summer for sperm whales – the other species can be seen all year round. Prices start at around €30 per adult and a little less for children.  

Playa Los Lances

Playa de Los Lances, Tarifa

Kitesurfers head to the beach of Los Lances in the winter as in the high season, the beach is reserved for swimmers and sunbathers. The beach of Los Lances is still relatively undeveloped and wild, a true gem along this coastline and is one of the best places to catch a beautiful sunset. 

Broad and backed by an unspoiled bird reserve, this beach is perfect for family days out, walking and bathing in the ocean. There are a number of chiringuitos if you get hungry and on the other side of the causeway that leads out to the island, you will find the tiny Playa Chica which is more sheltered and perfect for toddlers.  

Baelo Claudia 

Baelo Claudia, Tarifa

Roman ruins are in plentiful supply all over Spain, the best known probably being the aqueduct in Segovia, but nowhere on the peninsula has a whole Roman city been so perfectly preserved as at Baelo Claudia in Bolonia. This ancient site is just 14km outside the town in the direction of Cádiz.

The visitor centre is state-of-the-art and worth seeing for its own sake. The walkways and ramps that take you from the amphitheatre to the temple and the tuna processing plant were refurbished in recent years and have increased accessibility. The main reason the Romans settled here was to make a tuna sauce which they called garum.

Punta Paloma 

Punta Paloma, Cadiz

Punta Paloma is a headland around 10km outside of Tarifa. Popular with naturists, you can go for the day and bare all in a series of sheltered little coves. On windy days the sand can be particularly exfoliating. Head to El Mirlo, a legendary spot in the area where the fish served isn’t merely fresh – the owners catch it themselves.


Hiking in Tarifa

Sandwiched between two Natural parks – Parque Natural Los Alcornocales and Parque Natural Del Estrecho - Tarifa is a hiker’s paradise. Even in the summer the sea breeze keeps long walks feasible, though it would probably be best at that time of year to favour the shadier walks through the beautiful Cork Oak forests. 

One route of interest is the Algarbes route in the Parque Del Estrecho. Starting near Punta Paloma, it takes you past a Bronze Age cluster of cave tombs before ascending to the dramatic rocky outcrop of San Bartolomé. Here you will find one of the best coastal views on the Costa de la Luz. Up here, you can eat in another of the area’s most famous restaurants – El Tesoro.  

Horse riding


There are a huge number of riding schools and stables in the countryside surrounding Tarifa that cater to all levels. It certainly isn't difficult to see why this area is a rider’s paradise – old cork-cutter paths wind through the cork forests and the coast is peppered with smuggler trails. 

Apart from that you have Los Lances beach itself and comfortable riding weather all year round.  



Tarifa has a prolific party reputation and there are a number of ways to do it. Every September as the tourists trickle home, the town celebrates its feria – a week-long frenzy of fairground, food and tradition. At the beginning of the week, the Virgen de la Luz arrives in town by way of a spectacular procession of horses and riders. The week is full of noise, colour, and the smell of incense perfuming the cobbled streets - if you’re here at that time it’s an experience not to be missed.

Not to be outdone by Cádiz up the road and its world-famous carnival each spring, Tarifa celebrates its own the week afterwards and does it in style – the streets fill up for a weekend with Flintstones and pharaohs and the bars move their business out into the street. This celebration is not for the faint-hearted.  

If you aren’t around for the feria, not to worry, there is an all-year-round party scene. Two of the best places for nightlife in Tarifa is the legendary Café del Mar and Tarifa's own La Ruina.

Walk the castle walls

Tarifa Castle

Tarifa’s castle, known as the Castle of Guzmán el Bueno, is said to be Andalusia’s best-preserved Caliphal castle. The name Caliphal means that it was built by the Caliph, Abd-ar-Rahman III in the year 960 when Muslim power was at its height on the peninsula. 

As if that wasn’t enough, it comes with a great story: In the year 1296 the castle was back in Christian hands and being defended against a force of Moors led by the Infante Don Juan, wayward brother of the Christian king Sancho. Guzmán himself was defending the castle and earned himself the nickname “El Bueno” when the besieging force kidnapped his infant son and threatened to kill the child if he didn’t surrender. 

Instead, he threw down his own knife from the octagonal tower that still stands and instructed them to do it with that. They did as well, but they never got to stand on the ramparts, as you will, and take in the astonishing views of the African coast, a mere 15km away.  

Head over to Morocco

Tangier, Morocco

One of the best things you can do in Tarifa isn't always in Tarifa, or Europe for that matter. This is the last stop on the continent and provides the perfect excuse to get on the ferry for a day trip, to Africa.

Just a short trip across the ocean and you will find yourself in Tangier. This legendary port town made a name for itself as a den of iniquity and espionage when it was a designated International Zone in the mid-twentieth century. Writer and composer Paul Bowles famously settled here and blow-ins included William Burroughs and the Rolling Stones. 

It's often said that the smoky, intrigue-ridden setting of the movie Casablanca was actually modelled on Tangier. Guided excursions are available from outlets all over Tarifa but you might as well get on the ferry yourself and tickets will cost just over €30 each way. Ferries leave every two hours and if you fancy making an overnight of it, some very chic riads have cropped up recently and restaurant Le Nabab is fantastic. 

The takeaway

Tarifa is an absolute gem of a town on the Costa de La Luz. From unspoiled beaches where you can practice a variety of water sports to enchanting forests with a plethora of hiking routes. There is something for everyone in Tarifa, and don't forget, Tarifa is the last stop in Europe before you reach the continent of Africa. A day trip to Tangier is a must. 

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