Tarifa is amongst the most unique towns in Spain and there is a special reason – it is the Southernmost point in not only Spain but in the whole of Europe. So here are the best things to do and places to visit in Tarifa!
In this blog post, you will find all the places with descriptions, photos, and locations where they can be found on Google Maps. We loved spending the whole day wandering around Tarifa and exploring it to the fullest! It definitely has its charm! Happy exploring!
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1. Walk the border between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea and visit Isla de Tarifa
Definitely one of the coolest places to see in Tarifa is the border between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. There is a narrow road into the water that draws a line between the two bodies of water.
Approximately in the middle of the road, there are two metal signs indicating which side of the road belongs to which territory – the ocean or the sea. Definitely snap a photo here while standing between the sea and the ocean!
This is a must-visit place for any visitor in Tarifa! Luckily the road is open all the time so you can go there any time of the day you want. Beware that the wind may get crazy here! It almost swept us off our feet!
As you walk further down the road you will reach the Isla de Tarifa islet. It is the Southernmost point in Spain and in Europe. However, you should know that the whole islet is closed down. You can only get there in guided groups by booking an appointment prior to your visit.
Although you probably won’t be able to access the islet, you won’t miss out on much! There is not much left of the fortress and the old port that was on the islet years ago. But you can walk down to the beaches on the islet and enjoy the scenery from there.
We spent some time watching the ferries leave and enter the port and water sports enthusiasts riding the waves of the ocean. It is a special place to be and the walk to the islet is very beautiful.
2. Enjoy Tarifa beaches and walk along the promenade
When visiting a beach destination, definitely go to the beach! 🙂 We visited Tarifa in spring so swimming or sunbathing was not on our minds, however, the water was full of kitesurfers and water sports enthusiasts. They really took advantage of the windy conditions that day!
But Tarifa is actually a great place for a beach day. There is a long sandy beach with shallow water almost surrounding the town. The part on the side of the Atlantic Ocean is definitely better suited for relaxing at the beach.
As you walk along the promenade near the border between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea you might notice a small hill with a castle on top – Castillo de Santa Catalina de Tarifa.
The castle was never really a castle – it was built around 1930 and recently served as a Meteorological Observatory, the southernmost weather station in Spain and Europe. However, it has since been abandoned in recent years and sealed by the city government.
Because we visited Tarifa in spring, enjoying the beach and water was not on our minds. However, we got some sweets from the Old Town and coffee from the Espresso bar Numero C and had a small picnic at the promenade. Plus it was definitely fun watching others ride the waves! The day was as windy as it gets!
Location: Beaches of Tarifa
3. Take a quick look at the street art square!
We found a colorful corner in Tarifa while walking along the promenade. The street art is located in a small square on Calle Grupo Cardenal Cisneros street next to the beach.
There are multiple paintings with quotes on the wall as well as rainbow-colored stairs leading up to the street.
In case you are looking for a fun Instagram photo from Tarifa then definitely pay a quick visit to this spot (exact location below).
Tarifa is all about the wind and flying (thus – the wings, I guess!?). And these blue-wing street art paintings are a fitting look for the town.
Location: Street art and rainbow stairs
4. Visit the impressive Castillo de Guzman el Bueno
Castillo de Guzman el Bueno castle probably is the main tourist attraction in Tarifa! If you want to know absolutely everything that happened in this town, find out its history and all the legends then you must visit this 10th-century castle with an impressive defensive wall and watchtowers!
The entrance fee to the castle is 4 EUR per person. Not only do you get to see thousand-year-old artifacts but you get to know the town’s history, and you get some of the best views over Tarifa, the port, and even see the mountains in Africa when looking over the Strait of Gibraltar from the top of the castle!
I think we wandered around here for about an hour exploring the towers, the views, and the thousand-year-old walls, reading about the history of this unique town and the most famous figures in the town’s history.
The visit to the castle grounds is self-guided and you can do it at your own pace. The only thing is that the whole route is already pre-planned and you only have to follow the directions everywhere you go.
I enjoyed this visit and felt like I got to know everything I needed to know about Tarifa here! And the views over the town and the port were amazing!
Location: Castillo de Guzman el Bueno
5. Find the old city gates – Puerta de Jerez and Puerta de la Almedina
There were once multiple city gates built in order to allow access to the town and were integrated into the massive defensive wall. However, today only one of the gates has remained intact – Puerta de Jerez.
It is a medieval arch-shaped city gate with two big towers. It is very well visible that the gate has a Moorish architectural design (the shape of the arches!).
Puerta de Jerez served as the entry point to the old town and it continues to do its job today! The gate was built during the 13th century and was restored in 2000. This is a must-see place for any visitor to Tarifa!
Another spot to visit is the place of Puerta de la Almedina. This is another historic access point to the old town – the entrance to the walled enclosure of Almedina.
You can get there if you turn from Guzman el Bueno street – named after the most famous figure in the town’s history – to a short staircase, Calle Almedina. Sadly, the gate structure hasn’t survived centuries of events.
6. Explore the wonders and hidden gems of the old town!
Tarifa’s old town is very beautiful with whitewashed buildings mixed with centuries-old stone walls, cobblestone streets, different architectural designs, and modern parks. We loved walking around the old town and finding hidden gems along the way.
One of the most unique hidden gems in Tarifa is a tunnel next to the tourism office. Firstly, there is a huge illustration on the wall made out of tiles depicting a moment out of typical village life in the past.
Secondly, there is a super unique lamp. If you pay attention, you will notice that it actually is a weathervane showing all cardinal directions – North, East, South, and West.
Besides, there are small ring bells attached to the lamp that make a sound when the wind blows. But the main structure of the lamp consists of three star-shaped elements and a pointy part shaped like a diamond. Beautiful!
Plaza de Santa María is one of the most beautiful and charming squares in Tarifa! It sits right in front of the local government building and is full of blooming trees, plants, and fountains.
One of my favorite things about it is the tunnel-like passages that are overgrown with plants. They are in every one of the four corners of the square. There is also a fountain decorated with beautiful tiles and figures of frogs in the middle.
Iglesia de San Mateo Apóstol is the main Catholic church in Tarifa and one of the must-see places in the old town.
The church was built on top of an old mosque during the 16th century and features a beautiful Baroque facade. It is a magnificent sight both from the outside and the inside.
7. Go shopping in the streets and take a tour to see the killer whales!
A fun activity to do in Tarifa is to explore the local market and go shopping! There are many boutique shops around the old town, many artisan pastry shops, and street markets as well. If you are visiting Tarifa from Monday to Saturday definitely visit the Mercado Publico de Tarifa with its beautiful interior!
Another great thing to do in Tarifa is to take a tour! Did you know that you can see killer whales, orcas, and dolphins around the Strait of Gibraltar? You can take this 3-hour boat cruise from Tarifa or this 2-hour whale-watching boat tour to visit the only area with the regular presence of killer whales in the Mediterranean Sea! Definitely include this cool experience in your itinerary!
8. Try local tapas in one of the many amazing restaurants!
No visit to any Andalusian town in Spain would be complete without trying local tapas in a local restaurant or bar. There are great options here in Tarifa. We visited Bar Ola Ola Tarifa, however, we wanted to go to Bar El Frances, but it was full of people already!
Other options for local tapas include Brasería Vaca Loca, Bar El Tapeo, Bar Los Mellis, El Lola – Bar de Tapas y Flamenco, and Mesón Picoteo. Some tapas with a glass of cervesa, tinto de verano, or sangria is exactly what you need after a long walk around the town.
9. Spot Africa’s mountains from El Mirador de Africa
El Mirador de Africa or the Viewpoint of Africa is a charming corner in the town where you can enjoy amazing views of the Strait of Gibraltar and the mountains of Africa (can you spot them in the photos?). There is a small square with plants and benches next to it.
The square actually sits on the wall of the Old Town (Old Medina). In the corner of the square, there is an old tower that is integrated with the Medina wall. You can climb up and have a great view of the coastline. Entrance to the tower is free, however, it does have working hours.
On the opposite side of the square from the tower, you will see a yellow-and-white building. There is an illustration of the mountain range in Africa that is clearly visible from this viewpoint (hopefully there is no calima when you are visiting!).
You can even distinguish which hump over the horizon is which mountain on the nearby continent! Pretty cool I should say! Although we had some haze in the air we still could see the mountains pretty clearly. In reality, it was much better than in the photos! 🙂
Location: El Mirador de Africa
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Tarifa town is a hidden gem in Andalusia. It has these relaxed vibes and a Medieval charm combined. Whitewashed houses mix with ancient stone walls, castles, and churches. But the most important part – it is the Southernmost point of Spain and Europe!
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this wonderful town and were happy to spend the whole day walking around the old town, getting to know its history, and exploring known and unknown corners. And I hope you enjoy it too!