Just 14 km across the Straits of Gibraltar at its narrowest point, the town of Tarifa sits right where the waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic meet and enjoys spectacular views of the Rif mountains of North Africa.
Tarifa encompasses almost 38 kilometres worth of beaches, most of which are shallow and have very fine sands, as is the case with Lances Beach, declared a Natural Site. The beaches of Bolonia and Valdevaqueros are among the best beaches in the whole area of Cádiz.
Some of the best kite & windsurfing conditions in Europe have established Tarifa as a true surfers’ paradise. The coastline is as popular with nature-lovers and between bird-watching, horse-riding, kite-surfing, wind-surfing, whale-watching, rock-climbing and scuba diving, there are ample ways of engaging with the beautiful rolling countryside or blue waters.
What to Visit
Tarifa became an important city back in the 10th century, when the caliph castle in the historic quarter was built. The influence of the Arab period can be seen in the present appearance of the city, with its narrow winding streets. It also has other interesting monuments, such as the Gothic-Mudejar chapel of Santiago, the convent of San Francisco, and the churches of Santa María and San Mateo.
The Castillo de Guzmán is one of the best-preserved castles of Andalucia. Caliph Abd-ar-Rahman III built it in 960. Anyhow, it is named after the Christian ruler Guzmán El Bueno, who defended the city from the Muslim invasion in 1294, by sacrificing his own son. You can walk on the castle’s walls for only €4 and stop to take pleasure in the marvelous views over Africa.
Another great site to visit is Mirador El Estrecho, 6 km far from Tarifa’s city centre, you will be left breathless by the panoramic views provided. In fact, from there you can devise the African coast and one of the so-called Pillars of Hercules, the 851 metre-high Jebel Musa. In ancient times, the Pillars of Hercules, Jebel Musa and Gibraltar were said to delimit the end of the world.
Local cuisine in Tarifa is rich and varied, and fresh fish from the area or from Morocco and beef from Spain are the main arguments supporting an enviable gastronomy. You will find sites that serve traditional dishes like stew thistles, cabbages, stew (a sort of Madrid stew) or tripe or, if you prefer, designer kitchen, Italian, Mexican, Moroccan and international. Restaurants can be found in the heart of the historic town but also in the natural park of the Strait, where you can enjoy a good meal while watching one of the most beautiful landscapes of Spain.
Cover image via Cadiz Turismo