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This tiny town in southern Spain is not only the southernmost point on the European continent; it’s also world-famous as a venue for windsurfing, kite surfing and scuba diving, drawing thousands of water sports fanatics every year. The town has a rich history that extends all the way back to the Roman era. It offers visitors Roman, Al-Andalus and Gothic heritage sites, superb opportunities for leisure in the form of hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and rock climbing, as well as some great nature-watching, such as bird watching or whale and dolphin watching in the nearby Straits of Gibraltar.
Who to Book With
Most travellers arriving by air do so at Malaga Airport, 100 miles to the west of Tarifa. Here, you can find offices of all of the major car rental companies, such as Europcar, Sixt, Budget, Avis and Hertz, as well as lots of local operators. It pays to pre-book a vehicle using our comparative website to obtain the best deal and eliminate the chance of encountering problems with availability on arrival.
Best Time to Go
Poised on the very tip of Europe, just a stone’s throw from North Africa, Tarifa has a distinct climate which combines both Mediterranean and Atlantic elements. This means that it is quite wet in winter (the wettest months are December and January) and very dry in summer. What is more, winters here are generally much warmer than in the rest of mainland Spain (one of the factors behind its all-year resident population of foreigners), while summers do not reach the scorching temperatures that affect the rest of Andalucía.
Need to Know Essentials
When hiring a vehicle, you will need to present the following documents:
- An International Driving Permit or a DVLA driving licence
- A passport or another valid form of identification with a photograph
- The same credit card as the one used for the reservation
- A printed copy of the confirmed reservation
See our FAQ page for more help.
In the height of the tourist season in summer, it can be difficult to find adequate parking in Tarifa. There are a number of large car parks outside of the town centre. Most people opt to park their rental vehicle in a car park on the outskirts or at one of the beach residences and then get around the small town centre on foot. Car parks can be found to the left of the port, at the beach beside the football pitch. Avoid parking in the historical zone as fines for offences are high.
Read our Guide to Spain for more details on driving conditions.
Public transport within Tarifa is provided by Tarifa bus (+34 609 338 457). The main bus station is located in Batalla del Salado. You will find that Tarifa is small enough that you can easily get around most spots of the town on foot, but a hire car is useful for daytrips.
Buses depart from Algeciras, 12 miles to the northeast, for Tarifa and Cadiz as well as the city of Seville, 125 miles north of Tarifa.
The nearest train station is in Algeciras, 12 miles away.
There is a fast ferry which runs several times a day from the Port of Tarifa to Tangier in Morocco. The journey takes just 35 minutes.
There is a taxi rank located in Avenida Andalucia or you can book a cab by telephone (+34 956 684241).
Once you have had enough of all the vigorous outdoor pursuits Tarifa has to offer, the surrounding area has an abundance of interesting cultural, historical and natural attractions. Renting a car is the easiest way to get around and enjoy them.
Baelo Claudia - Just 14 miles from Tarifa, you can visit the ruins of the 2nd century BC Roman town of Baelo Claudia, located right by the sea, within El Estrecho Natural Park. In fact, these ruins are the most comprehensive remains of a Roman town to have been discovered in the Iberian Peninsula. The site makes for an ideal daytrip from Tarifa by hire car. It offers those who visit not only remains of temples, baths, homes and an amphitheatre, but breathtaking vistas of the Straits and the African continent beyond. Admission is free on producing evidence of EU citizenship.
Doñana National Park - This huge nature reserve encompasses wetlands, dunes and streams in Las Marismas, the delta where the Guadalquivir River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a biodiversity practically unmatched in Europe. Countless species of migratory birds and other animals inhabit its almost 350 square miles of protected space. To get here by hire car, take the A-381 via Seville. The total distance is just over 200 miles and the journey time is 4 hours.
Vejer de la Frontera - The charming hilltop town of Vejer de la Frontera is situated west of Tarifa in the province of Cadiz. It is a classic Andalucian ‘white town’ with groves of orange trees and lots of Moorish style architecture. From Tarifa, take the N-340. The town is just over 30 miles away.
Cadiz - Founded by the Phoenicians, Cadiz is Spain’s oldest continuously inhabited city and, with roots going back over 3,000 years, it is reputedly the oldest settlement in the whole of southwestern Europe. It’s an atmospheric, typically Andalucian city which enjoys a unique position, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. Landmarks include the 150-foot high Tavira Tower, the Admiral’s House, the old Customs House and the newly discovered Roman Theatre. The quickest route to Cadiz from Tarifa is to take the N-340 followed by the A48. The journey time is about 1 hour, 15 minutes.