Looking for the best things to do in Tarifa? Then you’ve come to the right place!
Let me tell you about this little gem I stumbled upon during my travels. Tarifa isn’t just the most southerly city on the Iberian Peninsula; it’s a mecca for all things wind-related.
Think of it as Europe’s wind capital, where the beaches come alive with colorful kites every time the Levante and Poniente winds decide to dance.
Tarifa isn’t just about wind and kites, you’ll find a hub buzzing with activities. From the mighty waves of the Atlantic to the serene embrace of the Mediterranean, from majestic mountains calling out to be explored to a cafe scene that’s as vibrant as it gets – Tarifa has it all.
So, ready to dive into my Tarifa favorites and make the most of your time here? Let’s go!
- Tarifa, Spain: A Quick Guide
- Best Time to Visit Tarifa
- Tour Highlights in Tarifa
- Best Things to Do in Tarifa
- 1. Learn to Kite-Surf in Tarifa Spain
- 2. Join a Surf Camp in Tarifa
- 3. Go Dolphin & Whale Watching
- 4. Hike along Parque Natural del Estrecho
- 5. Go Rock Climbing in Tarifa
- 6. Eat Like a Local
- 7. Head for Baelo Claudia
- 8. Watch the Sunset at Playa de los Lances
- 9. Go Diving
- 10. Take a Bike Ride
- 11. Enjoy the Tarifa Nightlife
- 12. Chill at Tarifa Beaches
- 13. Spend a day trip in Jerez de la Frontera
- 14. Discover the Old Town
- 15. Puerta de Jerez (City Gate)
- 16. Los Alcornocales Natural Park
- 17. Isla de las Palomas – The southernmost point of continental Europe
- 18. Iglesia de San Mateo (Church)
- 19. De Guzman el Bueno
- Where to Stay in Tarifa
Tarifa, Spain: A Quick Guide
Before I walk you through the best things to do in Tarifa, Spain, let me share why you need to add this destination to your Spanish bucket list. Located in the Andalucian region of Spain, Tarifa is the Spanish city closest to the African continent.
In fact, you can cross over for a day trip… but more on that later! Located just a few hours away from popular destinations like Malaga and Seville, this little seaside town is known for its beautiful beaches, and its rough and rugged surf.
Due to its location, it also gets A LOT of wind making it a mecca for adventure seekers all over the world.
Best Time to Visit Tarifa
If you’re looking for some sun and sand, the best time to visit Tarifa is during the summer months (mid-June until mid-September). This is when you can expect sunny skies and little to no rainfall.
While the spring season (March- mid-June) can also be a good time to visit, there still might be periods of bad weather.
If you’re there to enjoy the kitesurfing/ windsurfing, although you can technically do it all year round, the wind starts to pump from April to October.
Tour Highlights in Tarifa
- Kitesurfing lessons- Join this local tour as you do kite surfing lessons on the beaches of Tarifa with a certified instructor.
- Tarifa to Tangiers Day Trip- Discover a new continent as you join this fun day trip to Tangiers, Morocco where you can walk around the Medina (local market) and much more.
- Dolphin and Whale Watching in Gibraltar- See the beautiful dolphins in the Strait of Gibraltar on this wildlife boat cruise.
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Best Things to Do in Tarifa
Without further ado, here are our top recommendations on what to do in this stunning seaside town! While there is a wide plethora of things to do in Tarifa, do keep in mind that during the windy months, some places are TOO windy making it difficult to sightsee and walk around.
With that being said, there is plenty to do even when the wind is pumping!
1. Learn to Kite-Surf in Tarifa Spain
If you don’t already kite-surf (and if you do, you’ll know all about Tarifa’s incredible beaches and clean wind), then here is the place to learn.
Come in the summer months for pretty much-guaranteed sun, smooth winds, and a huge variety of kite schools. With mile upon mile of pristine sands stretching from Playa de los Lances to Playa Valdevaqueros and beyond to the bay of Punta Paloma, there is no shortage of places to start your kite-surfing education.
Learning to kitesurf in Tarifa is so much fun. Like-minded wind junkies are all looking to catch the next gust and master the skill. A day on the water will exhilarate you, and within a week you’ll be taking your first solo outing.
Come prepared though; it’s hard work and you will spend more time in the water than on your board!
2. Join a Surf Camp in Tarifa
With so many amazing surf spots in Spain, joining a surf camp in Tarifa is a great way to experience one of the best kite surfing and windsurfing destinations in the world.
Surf camps in Tarifa offer a range of accommodation options, from shared dormitories to private rooms, and they provide surf lessons and equipment rentals for all levels of surfers.
These camps also offer other activities, such as yoga classes, excursions to local attractions, and cultural activities.
Click here to see a few of the best surf camps in Tarifa!
3. Go Dolphin & Whale Watching
From April to October, you can take a boat trip from Tarifa to see sperm, pilot, fin, and orca whales as well as lively dolphins. Sail the Atlantic Ocean to the Strait of Gibraltar on this dolphin and whale watching tour and prepare to be amazed.
Orcas are the main draw here as they follow the migrating bluefin tuna as they move from the Med to the Atlantic to spawn. Watching these beautiful whales and their antics as they catch tuna and work as a pod to round them up is fascinating and a real privilege.
4. Hike along Parque Natural del Estrecho
There are hundreds of trails in the mountains north of Tarifa and along the beautiful coastlines on both sides of the peninsula, all within the Parque Natural del Estrecho. Not all are well documented or signed but with the help of an app such as View Ranger, finding an awesome hike is easy.
Hike up to the iconic La Pena and wander amongst the hundreds of wind turbines across the ridge or head for El Bujeo. You can also enjoy the most incredible views across the Straits of Gibraltar to the majestic Jebel Musa in Morocco.
For a gentler hike, try the Colada de la Costa on the Mediterranean coast, with its weird and wonderful rock formations. Alternatively, head north on the Atlantic Coast to the Cape of Trafalgar, the remote and windswept Cabo, and the scene of the historic battle of the same name.
For more information on hiking in Tarifa, click here.
5. Go Rock Climbing in Tarifa
Whether you’re new to climbing or an experienced climber with your own equipment, there’ll be a route to suit you on the San Bartolo range in Betis.
This tiny village offers access to over 280 routes with glorious views of the Atlantic, the Riff Mountains in North Africa, and Punta Paloma Beach. Routes vary between 8m and 90m, and all are on hard-quality sandstone and well-bolted.
Why not try your hand at yoga rock climbing or full moon climbing… we’re not sure what either involves but they sound intriguing!
You can also boulder here, the discipline of climbing on smaller rock formations without a rope and harness, which may appeal if you don’t like heights or are new to rock climbing.
6. Eat Like a Local
Head for the charming old town of Tarifa where you will find a great variety of cafes and bars serving fabulous Desayuno (breakfast), from chocolate y churros and tostada to Mexican-style egg dishes and the absolutely to-die-for Spanish jamon.
Later in the day, try some tapas with a glass of crisp, chilled wine or a cold beer for lunch. This is usually served around 2 p.m. and can go on for several hours, well into the Spanish siesta that is still observed and much treasured.
Even later in the day, it’s the Spanish way to have coffee and cake to keep you going until dinner, often served after 10 p.m. Eating like a local not only means enjoying fantastic Spanish tapas, jamon, and seafood but also changing your dining times; it makes sense when it’s still 30°C at 9 pm!
Spanish food is one of our favorite cuisines and it is easy to see why.
One other food tip: try the local red tuna when you’re in Tarifa old town. It’s literally caught off the coast by the small fishing fleet using traditional methods and will be served to you on the day it is caught. It’s the best tuna we’ve ever eaten!
A few restaurant recommendations in Tarifa:
- Bar El Frances
- Silos 19
- Braseria Vaca Loca
7. Head for Baelo Claudia
Accessible from Tarifa by car or a great 20km cycle through Betis, Baelo Claudia is an incredibly well-preserved Roman ruins village by the sea.
Free to enter, these Roman ruins are extensive and remarkably intact. The views from here across the wide bay to the mountains beyond will leave you in no doubt as to why the Romans wanted to live here.
8. Watch the Sunset at Playa de los Lances
Located 20 minutes away from the historic center, making your way to Playa de los Lances for sunset is one of our favorite things to do in Tarifa. You can either bring a beach mat with you or opt to go to one of the many bars along the coastline.
Sit down, relax, and enjoy a few sundowners. Remember to bring a light jacket because as soon as the sun drops, it can get cold due to the wind.
9. Go Diving
Whether you’re a beginner or a certified diver or prefer to snorkel, you can do so in the Mediterranean while you’re in Tarifa.
The meeting of two seas creates a specific bio-diverse environment, rich in marine life, which makes diving in Tarifa a great experience. Plus, the water is crystal clear and warm during the summer months.
10. Take a Bike Ride
Cycling is one of the most popular activities in Tarifa after kite-surfing. It’s all about the mountains here; whether you want to challenge yourself to a steep uphill, or fly down the mountains on fat tires, you can do it in Tarifa. Perhaps you prefer a flat amble along the coast roads? You can do that too.
There are numerous cycling routes for all skill and fitness levels. Take a group tour or hire bikes and head out with a map – for us, this is the best way to do it! You’ll get lost, see incredible scenery, and find new trails and places to explore.
11. Enjoy the Tarifa Nightlife
Work hard and play hard is definitely practiced here in Tarifa!
Head for the old town and in particular Calle Santisima Trinidad, a street lined with clubs and lounge bars. Partying won’t start until after midnight though, as most Spaniards will still be enjoying dinner at 11 pm!
12. Chill at Tarifa Beaches
After all the activity, take some time to chill and relax at the beach.
There are beaches here to suit all tastes. If you like big expanses of open sands and a few waves, then head for Playa de los Lances right in town.
At the most southerly point of the beach, you will find cafes and chiringuitos (beach restaurants) serving coffee, beer, and snack food. All are great places to hang out for a few hours.
If you prefer your beach with a little more natural interest, then head west along the Colada de la Costa route for stunning sandy coves with incredible rock formations to explore. There are no chiringuitos here though, you might want to take a picnic!
13. Spend a day trip in Jerez de la Frontera
An hour north of Tarifa is the charming and typically Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera, known as Jerez.
Jerez is in the famous sherry triangle. Visit a bodega, where you will find out how sherry is produced and get to taste all the different types. Sherry used to be seen as an aperitif for the elderly but there is so much more to it.
We’re sherry converts. We spent a happy afternoon wandering the tabancos (sherry bars) of Jerez in search of the perfect Pedro Ximenez, the intensely sweet and sticky dessert sherry that we fell in love with!
Jerez is also famous for its flamenco tradition. The Festival of Flamenco is held annually in February and March, and it’s a true Spanish spectacle of fantastic colorful music and dance.
Also check out the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Arts, where you can watch the iconic beautiful, and high-stepping thoroughbred horses go through their paces.
This part of Spain is the perfect spot for a day trip!
14. Discover the Old Town
The old town is where the heart of the city truly beats. As you wander through its narrow lanes, you’ll find remnants of ancient civilizations, from Roman relics to Moorish mosaics.
The architecture is a delightful mix of the old and the new, with centuries-old buildings standing proudly next to modern cafes and boutiques.
One of the standout attractions in the old town is the Castle of Tarifa, also known as Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno. This fortress, perched overlooking the sea, has stood the test of time since the 10th century.
It’s not just its imposing walls and towers that impress, but the panoramic views of the coastline it offers. A walk around the castle grounds transports you back to medieval times, and the on-site museum provides fascinating insights into the castle’s storied past.
Why visit? Because it’s here that you’ll get a genuine feel of the city’s soul, its traditions, and its vibrant culture. Plus, there’s nothing like sipping on a local brew in a centuries-old tavern!
15. Puerta de Jerez (City Gate)
Standing tall as a testament to the city’s medieval past, Puerta de Jerez is more than just a gate; it’s a piece of history. Once serving as the main entrance to the city, this gate has seen countless tales of love, war, and trade. The intricate carvings and robust structure are a marvel of ancient engineering.
Today, as you approach Puerta de Jerez, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe. The archway, with its weathered stones, beckons visitors to explore.
Nearby, local artisans often set up stalls, selling handcrafted goods that pay homage to the city’s heritage. It’s not uncommon to find musicians playing traditional tunes, adding to the gate’s enchanting atmosphere.
16. Los Alcornocales Natural Park
Spanning a vast area, Los Alcornocales Natural Park is a haven for biodiversity. Home to the largest cork oak forest in Spain, the park is a sanctuary for numerous bird species, making it a bird-watcher’s paradise.
The trails here range from easy walks to challenging hikes, catering to all levels of adventure seekers. You’ll love the untouched beauty, the chance to spot rare wildlife, and the pure, unfiltered air that rejuvenates the soul.
Located just over an hour from Tarifa, reaching Los Alcornocales Natural Park is fairly straightforward. If you’re driving, simply follow the road signs leading to the park from Tarifa or any nearby town.
The journey offers scenic views and takes you through picturesque landscapes.
17. Isla de las Palomas – The southernmost point of continental Europe
The southernmost point of continental Europe, Isla de las Palomas is a geographical wonder. Apart from its stunning beaches, it’s a place of historical significance, with ancient ruins and remnants of fortifications.
The views of the merging seas are unparalleled, especially during sunrise and sunset. Enjoy a unique blend of nature, history, and the mesmerizing sight of two mighty seas meeting.
Reaching Isla de las Palomas is a breeze. If you’re in Tarifa, it’s just a short drive or a leisurely walk to the entrance of the natural park that leads to the island. There’s a pathway that takes you directly to the viewpoint.
If you’re relying on public transport, local buses from Tarifa town center frequently head towards the island.
18. Iglesia de San Mateo (Church)
A beacon of faith and art, Iglesia de San Mateo is not just a place of worship but also a gallery of religious art. The Gothic architecture, combined with Baroque elements, makes it a visual treat.
Inside, the stained glass windows cast a kaleidoscope of colors, while the altars tell tales of devotion. Experience spiritual tranquility and appreciate the artistic brilliance of a bygone era.
Located in the heart of Tarifa’s old town, Iglesia de San Mateo is easily accessible. If you’re staying in the town center, a short walk will lead you to its grand entrance.
For those staying a bit further out, local buses and taxis frequently ply to the old town. You can also consider renting a bike for a leisurely ride to the church.
A few points to note before visiting:
- While there’s no entrance fee, donations are appreciated to help with the church’s maintenance.
- Remember, it’s an active place of worship. So, dress modestly and maintain silence, especially during service hours.
- Guided tours are available if you’re keen on diving deep into the church’s history and art.
- Check the church’s schedule before visiting, as it might be closed for private events or services.
19. De Guzman el Bueno
De Guzman el Bueno is a name that resonates deeply within the heartbeats of the city. But he’s not just a name; he’s a legend, an embodiment of valor and sacrifice.
His story is one of unwavering courage and determination. When the city faced the threat of invaders, it was De Guzman el Bueno who rose to the challenge, defending its walls with a passion that has become the stuff of legends.
Throughout the city, you’ll find monuments and plaques dedicated to this heroic figure. Each of these landmarks stands as a testament to his bravery, narrating tales of his fierce battles and the sacrifices he made for the love of his city.
The intricate details on some of these monuments capture the essence of his spirit, from the determined look in his eyes to the stance of a warrior ready to face any challenge.
Where to Stay in Tarifa
Tarifa has a ton of options when it comes to hotel accommodations. Here are our best recommendations.
- If you’re looking for a fun yet functional apartment, the Lances Beach Penthouses are hard to beat. Offering fantastic oceanfront views, this place is a gem!
- On another note, if you’re in the market for a romantic holiday, The Riad offers the perfect adults-only getaway. Located right in the old town, this place is equipped with spa services, a hammam, and more.
- Last on our list is the beautiful Hotel Punta Sur which is a lush oasis located right by the beach.
We hope that our recommendations of things to do in Tarifa will help you discover and enjoy this perfect little corner of Spain, which we have come to love.
Tarifa truly is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be uncovered. From its wind-kissed beaches to its vibrant cafe scene, there’s a little something for everyone.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking to ride the waves or someone just wanting to chill with a coffee in hand, Tarifa has your back.
I’ve had some unforgettable moments here, and I’m sure you will too. So, pack those bags, grab that adventurous spirit, and head on over to Tarifa. Trust me, it’s a journey you won’t regret!
Planning a trip to Spain? Check out these articles!
- Best Places to Visit in Spain
- The Best Beaches in Spain
- Hiking in Spain: 10 Epic Hikes You Must Try
- Food to try in Spain
- A Complete Guide to Frigiliana