From a vibrant Moroccan city to one of Spain’s finest beaches, here’s our selection of the best day-trip destinations within easy reach of Tarifa, Andalusia.
Arguably the best day trip to take from Tarifa takes you to another continent. The vibrant Moroccan city of Tangier is just a 35-minute ferry ride from Continental Europe’s southernmost point and is well worth spending a day or 24 hours in. Getting lost in its old walled town (medina) will give you opportunity to see why this intriguing pace has appeared in so much classic art, from Beat Generation literature to James Bond films.
The Estrecho natural park begins just a few kilometres east of Tarifa and is the most southerly protected area in Europe. Provided you equip yourself with a big picnic to enjoy in the middle of nowhere, it’s the perfect place for a day’s hiking. Exploring Estrecho’s walking trails will give you plenty of opportunity to spot some of the 350 species of birds that pass through here every year, as they migrate between Africa and Europe.
Just north of Tarifa is the Parque Natural de los Alcornocales, home to the biggest forest of cork oak trees in Spain. This is also a great place to spend a day trekking and admiring the park’s outstanding natural beauty. Particularly impressive are the deep, lush valleys called canutos, carved out by thousands of years of wind and water erosion. Spottable fauna includes vultures, Spanish Imperial eagles and Iberian lynx.
Boasting immaculate sand and clear waters, the Playa de Bolonia is a popular day-trip and weekend destination for locals from both Tarifa and Cádiz. Located 25 km (15.5 miles) north of Tarifa, it’s also a kite and windsurfers’ heaven (there are clearly demarcated zones for watersports and for bathing), buffeted as it is by the Levante and Poniente winds. The lovely town of Bolonia itself is also worth a visit, as are the Baelo Claudia Roman ruins.
From Tarifa, it’s a 45-minute drive north to the stunningly-appointed town of Vejer de la Frontera. Packed onto a hilltop 200 m (656 ft) above the river Barbate, Vejer has been named an Historical Artistic Monument of National Importance, and it won’t take you long to see why. The last few centuries simply haven’t happened to the old town, some whitewashed houses of which are built into the medieval castle walls. Be sure to check out the beautiful main square, Plaza de España.
Located just 40 km (25 miles) north of Tarifa is Zahara de los Atunes, one of Spain’s most beautiful and unspoilt beaches. Spaniards flock here from all over the country, drawn by the 6 km (3.7 miles) of virginal white sand and brilliant turquoise waters. The small fishing village of the same name just behind the beach is full of tapas bars and places to stay, and during the summer chiringuitos and beachfront restaurants are also open.
The stately city of Jerez de la Frontera is just over an hour’s drive north of Tarifa and has plenty to keep the day-tripper occupied. Take a tour of one of its world-famous bodegas and learn the secrets of sherry production (aided by tasting, of course); go and see the dancing horses at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art; or simply wander around the charming old town, stopping in the traditional tabancos (sherry bars) for frequent refreshment.