Welcome to the European capital of water sports! It is a true mecca for windsurfers and kite-surfers due to strong Levante and Poniente winds. Tarifa is often omitted in vacation plans and that is a shame because its hippie-surfer atmosphere is madly original! 

It is a special place not only because of the always present wind and the beauty of the area, but also because of its location. The city is situated on the southernmost point of the continental Spain and it lies the closest to Africa. A photo taken on Punta de Tarifa – the southernmost point in Europe will surely become one of the favourites souvenirs. Here, in the Strait of Gibraltar, waters of Mediterranean Sea mix with waters of the Atlantic Ocean… On a sunny day, you can sit on the beach and enjoy the view of the Dark Continent and Morocco with Atlas mountains in the background. You can even go for a day trip by ferry to Tangier.

 

A BIT OF HISTORY

In the ancient times, the region was inhabited by Phoenicians, later by Romans, and in 710, the city was conquered by the Moors led by Tarif Ibn Malik (the order to attack was given by Tariq ibn Ziyad, who in 711 conquered Gibraltar) – the city was named after him. One of the remains of the Arabs, who used to live here, is the Castillo de Guzman el Bueno fortress from the tenth century, surrounded by walls, and named after Alonso Perez de Guzman, who, in 1294, protected the city against the Arab invasion. At that time, Tarifa was ruled by Castile (since 1292, thanks to Sancho IV de Castilla – a monument to honour this man is situated on the plaza in front of the entrance to the castle). According to chronicles, the Arab attackers captured Guzman’s son and wanted to exchange him for the surrender of the fortress. Alonso refused to give up the city and proposed to use his own knife to sacrifice his son…

In 1340, the Marinid armies once again surrounded Tarifa, and the city was defending itself from 23 September to 29 October – until the day when join armies of Castile and Portugal defeated the enemy in one of the most important battles of Reconquista – Batalla del Salado.

In the next centuries, the castle was turned into a garrison of the Spanish armies, which together with the British troops protected the city and its walls in 1811-1812 from Napoleon armies. 

 

NOW


Tarifa is continuously developing as a city – they are building there new subdivisions and the tourist offer is varied and that is the main source of the income here. Another source of income here is wind energy generated by the strong and famous wind called Levante. If you take a walk through the city, you will surely notice lots of kite-surfing schools and water sport shops, because due to the windy atmosphere, Tarifa is a real paradise for those who enjoy swimming with kites.

 

From the coastal promenade or the beach, you can see the island called La Isla de las Palomas, which in 1808 Antonio Ginzalez Salmon connected to the mainland. Due to its unique historical, ecological and cultural quality, it is not available for the public. There are remains of places, in which Phoenicians and Carthaginians made ritualistic sacrifices, Roman quarries, military buildings from later centuries. In the 60s of the twentieth century, Spanish troops were stationed there. Currently, the “island” winks with the eye of the lighthouse to large container ships passing through the strait…

Tarifa is not a large city, you will not need the municipal public transport or any other special means of transport to see all of it. 

In the evenings, especially during summer, when the wind quietens, the town begins its nightlife. Cafes, bars, pubs, restaurants, hipster shops, ice-cream shops, stores selling exotic clothes and souvenirs seems very inviting. We often come here because of our love for kite-surfing and because Tarifa is a place that makes us very happy when we are there. I sincerely recommend it! 

 

 

THE MOST IMPORTANT MONUMENTS
  • Defense walls with the Puerta de Jerez entrance. Many sections of the original construction have been integrated with buildings from the nineteenth century. Puerta de Jerez is a gate with a characteristic monument of Tarifa’s history. Above the arch, on the plate it is written: “Muy noble, muy leal y heroic ciudad de Tarifa, ganada a los Moros, reinando Sancho IV el Bravo el 21 de septiembre de  1292”, which means “Extremely noble, loyal and heroic city of Tarifa won a battle against the Moors, commanded by Sancho IV Bravo on 21 September 1292.”
  • San Mateo church from the fifteenth century with baroque façade and gothic interior.
  • El Castillo Santa Catalina – outside the municipal walls, there is a fortress with the same name. In the sixteenth century, there used to be a hermitage. 
  • On the coast of Tarifa, there are 8 watch towers built before the sixteenth century, including Torre de la Pena, Torre de Cabo de Gracia turned later into a lighthouse and renamed to Camarinal or Torre Guadalmesi.

A few old shots of Tarifa:

 

BEST BEACHES:
  • Playa de Los Lances – right next to the city, perfect for surfing
  • Playa de Valdevaqueros – conquered by kite and windsurfers
  • Playa de Bolonia – a bit further from the city, you need to get a car to get there. It is a perfect place to rest. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Andalusia. Above it, there is a remarkable dune. 
 

 

FOR GEOLOGY LOVERS
  • Cueva del Moro – inside, there are rock engravings from the Palaeolithic. From the inside, you can enjoy the beautiful view of the Strait of Gibraltar and the coast of Africa. 

 

FOR NATURE LOVERS
  • Los Alcornocales National Park
  • Trips to watch whales, orcas and dolphins (I recommend the Firmm company)
  • Estrecho Natural Park

 

FOR SPORTS LOVERS
  • Landsailing
  • Horse riding – more info HERE
  • Kite surfing
  • Surfing
  • Snorkelling

 

WHERE TO EAT

• Pacha Mama – in front of Rio Jara campsite

• Chiringuito Tangana - near Playa de Valdevaqueros

• La Caracola

• Chilimosa Vegetarian Food

• Raizes restaurante

• Mandragora

• Waikiki Beach Cluba

• Tarifa Ecocenter

• Restaurante Souk

• Ola Ola bar

• y mucho mas:)…

 

On 31 August 2014, on Los Lances – a beach in Tarifa – the Guinness Record was broken regarding the number of people kite surfing for a mile at the same time. 352 kite surfers turned out to be the new record! It took place on Los Lances beach. 

 

How to get there?
  • Find cheap bus and train transport in Andalusia Busbud

 

 

 

 

 

 

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