Tarifa’s eclectic, beach town vibe remind me of somewhere like Santa Cruz, California. With Moorish influences and a white washed old town, you could say I was sold on Tarifa pretty much from the moment we checked into our hotel. Not to mention all of the things to do, the city’s history, and endless outdoor activities like swimming, wind sports and whale watching.
Tarifa is just over an hour by car from the city of Cádiz, making it an easy day trip or weekend getaway. I’m lucky to have been twice. The southernmost point in continental Europe is also the perfect stop on any itinerary in Andalusia, Spain. In this guide to Tarifa, I’ll share the best places to stay, things to do and where to eat.
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Where to Stay in Tarifa
Hotel Hurricane is truly a hidden gem. It was such a treat to stay at this special property during early spring when the wisteria was in bloom.
The present day bar and reception area was formerly part of an old family home until it was converted to a hotel in the 1980s. Today, choose from over 30 rooms (preferably sea facing to see the sunset) and have a memorable dinner at their onsite restaurant below the archways. Check rates and availability here.
For a stay in the city center, choose Posada La Sacristía for a boutique hotel with exposed beams and nice lounge spaces. I quite enjoyed the tiny terrace outside our room on the top floor. They also serve a nice breakfast and spa on the rooftop. Also pet friendly! Check rates and availability here.
Things to do in Tarifa
Tarifa is known for being the windiest town in Europe and therefore, ideal for wind sports like kitesurfing. You’ll have your choice of schools and supply rentals. I am not near athletic or adventurous enough to try kitesurfing, so you will find me on the beach instead.
Swim & Visit the Beaches
In southern Spain in general, there is no shortage of sandy beaches. Tarifa has miles of coastline starting in Playa Valdevaqueros. Go even further north and you’ll find the beaches and dune of Bolonia.
In Bolonia, you can’t miss the ancient roman town of Baelo Claudia about 20 minutes north of Tarifa city center. The archeological site displays a 2nd century BC city including a basilica, aqueduct, forum, four temples and fish factory. Admission: free for EU citizens, 1,50 euro for other. Check the informational page for opening hours.
Take a whale-watching cruise through the Straight of Gibraltar.
Walk to Calle Segismundo Moret
Walk along the Calle Segismundo Moret, the narrow road built in the early 1800s that connects Isla de Las Palomas to the mainland. From housing remains of 4th and 6th century BC Phoenician-punic funeral chambers to a military post, the tiny island has a very long history.
The gate to enter the perimeter walls was locked at the very end, so I don’t think it is open to the general public. However, it is still worth walking out just to be between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. You can also see Morocco on a clear day in the distance. I have a video of this saved in my Instagram highlights.
See the churches
At the end of the restaurant lined main street, you’ll find the 16th century Iglesia de San Mateo (St. Matthew’s Church) that was built on top of an old mosque. Although not quite as grand, the small San Francisco de Asis Church tucked away one street behind Paseo de la Alameda is very charming.
Visit the Castle
The Castle of Tarifa was built in 960 as a Moorish fortress. It is also known as the Castle of Guzmán el Bueno, named after Alonso Perez de Guzman who defended Tarifa in the late 13th century. It was open either time I visited Tarifa, so be sure to check the schedule for opening times.
Tarifa has so many cute shops with baskets, colorful dresses and boho finds. Bliss and Tarifa Soul are beautiful shops on the main street, but you’ll also find some in the maze of narrow streets one block back. Be sure to stop my Moroccan Home for unique ceramics and rugs from Morocco.
Where to Eat in Tarifa
After sightseeing and shopping, have lunch at one of the cafes in town or a chiringuito on the beach. You’ll find a wide variety such as seafood, vegetarian dishes and regional specialties. I enjoyed the food at Waikiki Beach Club, not to mention its friendly employees and prime location on the sand.
I also have had an amazing sandwich at Andrea’s Brunch. They also offer gluten free bread!
For ice cream, stop in Casa del Gelato.
When to visit
Temperatures are mild and consistent with a typical Mediterranean climate. Highs are in the upper 70s in August and lows in the winter don’t fall below 50 degrees.
Honestly, it is pretty windy all year round to your delight or annoyance (depending on if you are visiting for wind sports or not). The windiest months are from November through April. The windfinder website/app is helpful with its hourly wind speed information.
How to get to Tarifa, Spain
The most efficient way to get to Tarifa from any one of the three nearby airports is by car: Jerez (90 minutes), Malaga (1 hour and 45 minutes) and Seville (2 hours and 20 mins).
In Tarifa, I used the public parking lot located here (free during the off season). It is an easy walk from there to most of the things to do.