Visiting Spain and Morocco on the same trip makes sense not only because of geography—Morocco is just 14 kilometers (nine miles) from Spain—but also because of the countries' deep cultural ties. It is impossible to fully understand Spain, particularly the south, without visiting Morocco. The Moors ruled Spain for hundreds of years, and they left behind much of their architecture, art and even language.
The Alhambra in Granada and the Mezquita in Cordoba are originally Moorish, while the neo-Mudejar architecture brought Moroccan influences back to Spain. And flamenco, with its Eastern sounding melodies, wouldn't be the what it is today without an African influence.
Below you'll find details of ferries and flights to Morocco from Spain, guided tours of Morocco from Malaga, Madrid and the Costa del Sol, and some advice for when in Morocco.
Morocco escaped largely unscathed from the Arab Spring, the revolutionary fervor that swept through the Middle East and North Africa. There were some protests, the king made some changes and the country went on with its business. Morocco is a safe place to visit today. As the rest of North Africa falls into chaos, with even relatively peaceful Tunisia suffering the shocking beach shootings in June 2015, Morocco remains remarkably oblivious to the events in the region.
How to Visit Morocco from Spain
Morocco is close to Spain, but does it makes sense to take a ferry or should you just fly? Where is a good place to start from in Spain? Is a day trip enough or should you spend longer in the country?
Ferry or Flight?
A quick ferry from the southern tip of Spain is a good way to reach Morocco; there are quick ferries from Tarifa, Algeciras, and Gibraltar (Tarifa is the nicest of these).
But not all ferries are that quick: from Malaga or Almeria you'll need to travel overnight, and from Barcelona, the journey is much longer. Take the boat only if you're already in the area. Buses and trains to the necessary Spanish ports add a lot to your travel time: if you aren't already on the coast, consider flying. Seville has regular flights to Morocco. But once you're taking the plane, you could just as easily fly from Madrid or Barcelona.
Day Trip or Longer?
A day trip provides a good taste of Morocco. But the only way to do this is on a guided tour, which picks you up at the crack of dawn from your hotel, gets you on the earliest ferry available and then gives you a full tour of Tangier before getting you back to your hotel for the night.
Tangier is a city that has gone through varying fortunes over the years. Once a bohemian favorite popular with artists and writers, it went through a very rough patch but is now better than it has been (though it's still not Morocco's best city).
If possible, take at least three days in Morocco and give yourself a chance to at least see Fez or Marrakech. If you don't have time for that, you can book a day trip here:
Guided Tour of Morocco from the Costa del Sol
There are a number of guided tours of Morocco that depart from southern Spain. Note that these tours depart from Spain but head straight for Morocco, without seeing any sights in Spain.
I would recommend either the four- or five-day tour. It's a shame the four-day tour doesn't include Marrakech, but visiting Fes will still make your trip well worth the money. The five-day crams in an extra two cities, which might feel a bit rushed, but at least it includes Marrakech.
- Three-Day Morocco Tour
If you hate the constant moving from city to city of most multi-day tours, then this tour is for you. This tour only visits one city and gives you two nights' accommodation, a guided tour and a free day by yourself to explore the city of Tangier.
Cities Visited: Just Tangier.
Read more: Three-Day Morocco Tour
- Four-Day Morocco Tour
Alternatively, for a slightly less rushed experience (taking in three cities in four days), you could do this tour. It misses out Marrakech, which is a mixed blessing: Marrakech is Morocco's most famous city, but it has become increasingly commercialized in recent years.
Cities Visited: Rabat, Meknes, and Fes
Read more: Four-Day Morocco Tour
- Five-Day Morocco Tour
This tour covers Spain's most famous cities in a very short period of time. It's a little rushed, but it is ideal if you are pressed for time.
Cities Visited: Rabat, Meknes, Fes, Casablanca, and Marrakech
Read more: Five-Day Morocco Tour
- Seven-Day Morocco Tour
For the complete Morocco experience, this seven-day tour takes in all of Morocco's most famous cities.
Cities Visited: Rabat, Meknes, Fes, Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat and Tangier.
Read more: Seven-Day Morocco Tour
Tour of Spain and Morocco from Madrid
If you are starting in Madrid, a combined tour of the south of Spain and Morocco could be your best bet. Departing from Madrid, these tours head into Andalusia, cross into Morocco for a few days before seeing a few more sights in Spain before returning to Madrid.
- 12-Day Tour of Andalusia and Morocco
Visit Cordoba, Seville (two nights) before a night on the Costa del Sol in preparation for a ferry to Morocco in the morning.
In five days in Morocco, see Tangiers, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech, and Fes ( 2 nights). After another night on the Costa, you will have visited Granada and Toledo before returning to Madrid.
This tour is the cheapest of the Spain-and-Morocco tours I've found and it covers all of the essential cities in Andalusia and Morocco.
Tour of Morocco, Spain, and Portugal
Time and money permitting, you could do a lot worse than these tours that include all transport, accommodations, and tours of the best cities in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco.
Visit Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Gibraltar, the Costa del Sol, Toledo, Marrakech, Fez, Meknes, Tangier, Lisbon and several other places en route.
Visit Madrid, Seville, Granada, Lisbon, Marrakech, Fez, the Middle Atlas, Rabat and several other smaller cities and towns along the way.
Things to Remember About Visiting Morocco
Morocco is a beautiful country that is well worth visiting. However, if you decide against a guided tour and want to travel by yourself, there are some points to remember.
- Tangier is not the most interesting city in Morocco. The city used to be horrible, but the tourist industry has cleaned it up a little. Still, you'd be better off heading to the nicer places, like Fez, Marrakesh or Chefchaouen (all of which are easily reachable from Tangier or any of Morocco's ports).
- The Moroccans will overcharge you Particularly in Marrakech. It's a part of the culture, so have a sense of humor and be thick skinned. Barter like there's no tomorrow and be wary of anything that sounds even slightly untoward. Having said that, things have improved on this front, with the police cracking down hard on fake tour guides, but caution is still advised, especially in Marrakech. Fes has improved dramatically.
- Women will get attention Especially if they are blonde. Read more about women traveling alone in Africa.
Direct Flights from Spain to Morocco
Routes between Spain and Morocco seem to change with frustrating frequency. Check with the usual suspects (easyJet, Iberia, Vueling, and Ryanair) for current availability.
- easyJet has very cheap flights from Madrid to Marrakech.
- Ryanair has flights from Seville to Marrakech (they used to fly to Fes).
Ferries to Morocco
There are ferries to Morocco from Tarifa, Barcelona, Algeciras, Gibraltar, Malaga, and Almeria. Read more about Ferries to Morocco from Spain - it's a great option if you're looking for a more scenic route.
Accommodation in Morocco
Looking around for accommodation when you reach Morocco can be a hassle - every man and his donkey will want to 'help' you. Coming prepared with a room already booked will make life much simpler for you:
- Hotels in Fes
- Hotels in Marrakech
- Hotels in Chefchaouen
You might also want to book a tour of Marrakech before you get there: Full-Day Tour of Marrakech