How to Get From Malaga to Tangier by Bus, Plane, Car, and Ferry

Cap Spartel Lighthouse near Tangier, Morocco.
Albert Engeln / Getty Images

Although Malaga, Spain, and Tangier, Morocco, are technically on separate continents, they are only about 142 miles (230 kilometers) apart. On the other side of the Mediterranean Sea and across the Strait of Gibraltar, Tangier is reachable from Spain via flight and ferry routes. However, to get there from Malaga, you will have to either fly directly or take a bus to Tarifa, where you can get on a ferry that will dock in Tangier in about an hour. You could also drive yourself to Tarifa and take your car across on the ferry. It's not a very long journey, which means it's very easy to visit Tangier for the day. However, if you prefer not to stress out over bus and ferry schedules, consider signing up for a guided tour so you don't have to worry about making travel arrangements.

  Time Cost Best For
Plane 45 minutes from $45 Fast travel
Bus + Ferry 5 hours, 20 minutes from $58 Sometimes cheaper
Car + Ferry 4 hours, 20 minutes 142 miles (230 kilometers) Adventurous road trip
Illustration showing different modes of transportation between Malaga and Morocco

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Malaga to Tangier?

Although flight prices occasionally drop on this route, it is usually cheaper to take a bus from Malaga to Tarifa, which is 82 miles (132 kilometers) away, and then take the ferry to Tangier. The bus ride takes at least four hours and costs about $20 with a bus company like TG Comes and Avanzabus. After that, the ferry from Tarifa is the quickest way to get across the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates the continents. It takes 1 hour and costs between $44 and $90 for a one-way ticket. When combined with the cost of the bus, this journey's total cost is cheaper than flying most of the time. However, if your schedule is flexible you should double-check flight prices anyway, just in case there's a good deal.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Malaga to Tangier?

It's a short 45-minute flight from Malaga to Tangier. However, the route is not in high demand, so there is only one direct flight serviced by Air Arabia just three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. One way tickets can be found for as low as $46, but usually cost between the $70 to $150. Hands-down, this flight is the easiest way to get between Malaga and Tangier if you have a flexible schedule and budget.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

Despite being on two separate continents, it's not impossible to drive to Tangier from Malaga. If you drive without stopping and get right on the ferry, the whole trip should only take about four hours, 20 minutes including the one-hour ferry ride. However, it's worth considering making a few stops along Spain's scenic Costa del Sol between Malaga and Tarifa.

Firstly, you will need to travel southwest from Malaga via the MA-20, AP-7, and E-15. After passing the town of Algeciras on the Bay of Gibraltar, across from British Gibraltar, you can take the N-340 the rest of the way to Tarifa. Once you arrive in Tarifa, you can drive to the ferry terminal and buy a ticket for yourself and your car with either FRS or Trasmediterranea. The boat will dock in Tangier's main port.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Tangier?

The best time to visit Tangier, and other parts of Morocco, is in the spring and fall when the weather is just right and there are fewer people traveling. Generally, the climate is warm and dry all year, but summer is especially hot.

Tangier is a cultural hotspot and throughout the year, there are many exciting events and parties worth checking out like the annual jazz festival in September or the short film festival in October. You may also consider traveling beyond Tangier to some other cities in Morocco for unique events like the Marrakech Popular Arts Festival in July or the Erfoud Date Festival in October, which celebrates the annual harvest of sweet date fruits.

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Tangier?

Visas are not required for North Americans who plan to visit Morocco for less than 90 days, but you will need to get a stamp on your passport. If you're taking the ferry, you'll need to get your passport stamped at the passport control station located on the boat. As soon as you board, make sure to get in line for a stamp. If it's a full boat and you don't get stamped right away, you may still be waiting in line after the boat has docked in Tangier.

What Time Is It in Tangier?

Despite being directly south of Spain, Morocco is actually in another time zone. While Spain operates on Central European time (GMT+2), Morocco is on West Africa Standard Time (GMT+1), so Tangier is always one hour behind Tarifa and Malaga.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

The airport is 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the city center, but you will need to take at least three buses to get there by public transportation alone. It's a long trip and will take about two hours. The only other option is to pay for a cab, rent a car, or check with your hotel to see if they offer any airport pick-up service.

What Is There to Do in Tangier?

Tangier is Morocco's main port city and is situated on the point where Africa almost touches Europe. It's a city that has inspired the likes of writers and artists from Tennessee Williams to Henri Matisse and is best known for its blending of European and North African culture. While in Tangier, you'll want to make sure to walk along the beach and take a stroll through the Medina to browse the stores and teashops.

The main landmarks you'll want to visit in town are the Kasbah and the Grand Mosque in the city, as well as the Hercules Caves, which are not too far away from the airport. Since Tangier isn't really known for having very clean beaches, you might be better off traveling east about 90 minutes by car to Martil Beach, which is considered one of the best beaches in Morocco.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is the best way to travel from Malaga to Tangier?

    Flying is the fastest and can be the cheapest way to get to Tangier; however, flight availability is limited, so it's not always practical.

  • How do I travel by ferry from Malaga to Tangier?

    The ferry leaves from Tarifa, so you'll need to take a bus or drive your car to that point. If you drive, you can take your car on the ferry.

  • How long is the ferry ride from Malaga to Tangier?

    The ferry ride itself is about one hour, and you'll also need to factor in travel time of getting to and from the ferry.