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Tarifa is located at Spain’s most southern tip. It’s an isolated spot far removed from city life making transport essential.
If planning a trip, it’s best to seriously consider hiring a car. If you plan to camp, bring the surf gear or go off-road, a jeep is probably your best option. There are lots of local hire companies to choose from and average cost per day for Jeep rental is 80 euros.
If you are coming from Malaga, Jerez or Gibraltar airports and don’t want to hire a car at the airport, taking the bus is relatively easy and certainly the cheapest option. All buses lead to Algeciras, the closest city to Tarifa, about 25 km away.
The bus takes 30 minutes and, if at all possible try to travel during the day as the passage along the winding mountain side road to Tarifa offers spectacular views. To your left silent wind turbines perch on the mountain face like oversized seagulls. To your right the shores of Morocco and the majestic Rif Mountains glisten in the distance.
The bus stop in Tarifa is at the opposite end of the town which means the new arrival gets a quick snapshot of the centre of town straight away. When you get off the bus, head east back into town to suss out the many accommodation options.
If you are travelling by car and staying at one of Tarifa’s many campsites, you will bypass the town and continue on the N340. The first beach-side campsite you come to is the Rio Jara about 3 km after the town. All other campsites are situated along this stretch at 1 km intervals.
There are a number of transport options for getting around Tarifa once there. Besides hiring a car, it is also possible to hire a scooter – it is Spain after all. This is the preferred mode of transport for young Tarifenos and the easiest way to navigate Tarifa’s small streets and short trips to the beach.
Beware, however. In true Andalucian style, road safety is not a priority for these youngsters. Helmets are seldom worn and zebra crossings are ignored. Don’t worry too much about your own driving, worry about everyone else’s!
But Tarifa is also about healthy lifestyles, so bicycle hire is also popular. During the summer months the strip of motorway (N340) outside the town is busy with cyclists on their way to the beach and perhaps taking a longer excursion further down the coast to Bologna or Canos de Meca. Bikes are also perfect for short cuts across the beach.
Possibly the best way to take in the scenery and enjoy simple exercise is to walk. Tarifa’s size means it’s not necessary to have wheels to get around. The beach, Playa Los Lances, is only 5 minutes walk from the centre of town and runs west to Hotel Arte Vida but it is possible to walk all the way to Punta Paloma. This stretch of beach runs parallel to the motorway. And the beach is so beautiful, who can resist the temptation to just keep on walking. On a cool summer’s evening, there is no nicer way to get around!
Last but most certainly not least, you must not forget that Tarifa is a gateway to Africa. Every day, at two hourly intervals, the fast ferry travels between Tarifa and Tangier, taking just half an hour to get there. And at the 50 euro mark, the rate at Tarifa is also the cheapest you’ll find for this journey. Just pop down to the port harbour at the far end of town to confirm rates and timetable.