Two Gomarbella readers wrote in this morning. They asked about going by ferry from Algeciras to Ceuta, a little Spanish enclave on the northern coast of Morocco. Both wanted some contact with different cultures.

Before I got my Spanish residence permit and before Spain was in the EU I used to go to Ceuta every three months. I had to leave Spain to get my passport stamped to show I had not overstayed the permitted 90 days. Ceuta was my closest exit point from Spain. I would walk out of Ceuta at the border post with Morroco and then come back in on the other side. The first words in Spanish I learned where “Me puede sellar mi pasaporte por favor?” Can you please stamp my passport?   Things have moved on a lot over the last 40 years  and although I still go back once a year to Ceuta  for work,  I always look with interest at the frontier gates from the comfort of my taxi.

There is a very interesting cultural mix in the little Spanish colony of Ceuta. I was really surprised not to find anything about it in the first three guide books on Spain I looked at. This is probably because Morocco thinks Ceuta should be theirs and Spain won’t give it up. The editors of the books probably don’t want to upset anyone by saying Ceuta belongs to Spain.

Many sub Saharan African refugees periodically try to cross the border fence to gain entry in Europe. The Spanish government will not let any successful border jumpers cross the straits into Spain so they are stuck in Ceuta until they are unwillingly repatriated. 

If you have a couple more hours to spare you could go to Tetuan from Ceuta, a Moroccan village about 20kms into Morocco, sharing a taxi. I think however you will find enough Moroccans in Ceuta not to bother going out of Ceuta.

I would advise you to book your ferry tickets from Algeciras to Ceuta in advance especially during the summer months. There is tremendous traffic in both directions.  Both ferry terminals in Algeciras and Ceuta are large and security and passport checks are as good as any European airport. Although you are not technically leaving Spain, you will need your passport for identification purposes.

The 11km sea crossing itself is enjoyable and you get a great view of Gibraltar as you leave the Algeciras port and the straits of Gibraltar as you sail across. You can see everything on foot. Service onboard is complete with a restaurant or cafeteria and toilets are cleaned between each trip.

In Ceuta do visit the market, the tiny beach and look for a Moroccan food restaurant for lunch. At the end of the day you will definitely feel you have been somewhere different.

You’ll need to get to Algeciras, if you are going by bus from anywhere along the coast, so check out the bus schedules to Algeciras from any bus station on the Costa del Sol. Algeciras bus station is a 20 minute walk from the ferry port or a very short taxi ride. If you are driving to Algeciras port there is ample outside parking in front of the port and a day’s parking in the covered parking garage in Algeciras port works out at around €18.  

Normal travel precautions apply, watch out for your belongings at all times. Keep your passport and money out of sight and reach at all times, especially if you are in a throng of shoppers or leaving the boat. Pick pockets frequent ports and prey on travellers when boarding or disembarking or congregating in queues.  Have a great day out!

21 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Mike,

    I was looking for info on day trips from Marbella and have just come across your blog, very useful!

    I am especialy interested in the day trip to Tánger but, as a female traveling on my own I would rather do it with an agency. Would you have any in particular that you could recommend? Would they pick me up in Marbella/how much would that be aprox?

    Many thanks Mike.

    Elena

  2. Hi together,

    I am searching to rent a small office or a single room with possiblility of internet connection for long time in Ceuta.
    Please, if you have any information contact me to the following e-mail:
    [email protected]
    Thanks,
    Simzak

  3. Hi Kate,

    Thank you for writing in. That's the first time I've been asked about car hire in Ceuta. I went straight onto Gomarbella car hire, chose Country = Spain and sure enough no pick up point in Ceuta comes up.

    I'm assuming you want to drive into Morocco from Ceuta, you won't need a car in Ceuta and you can explore the coastline near Ceuta by crossing the border on foot and hiring or sharing a taxi on the other side.

    Last June I was in Melilla, another Spanish protectorate on the north coast of Africa, like Ceuta and there was only one very small car hire office at the airport. You need proof of ownership of the car and green card insurance and identification so I doubt those hire cars go into Morocco very often.

    I took a Spanish registered car into Morocco through Tangier about ten years ago and it was such a performance that I decided never to do it again and so last November when we visited my nephew in Agadir, we flew to Marrakesh and hired a car from the airport.

    Had you thought of taking the ferry to Tangier instead and hiring a car in Tangier when you are actually in Morocco? It's a very enjoyable crossing on a sunny day. If you do need to get from Tangier across to the Ceuta coastline it's only about 50kms.

    On the Gomarbella car hire engine a four seater car works out at 30 euros a day for a short hire. My advice is to take out the Mondial insurance as part of the booking process and then you can decide what additional insurance you want (if at all) when you pick up the car.
    Kate I hope this helps you and please write if I can help you at all. Best wishes from Marbella.

    Mike

  4. Hi Mike
    We are going to Morocco from Spain this Wednesday 4th May. We are catching a ferry from Algeciras to Ceuta and wondered if we can hire a car in Ceuta because we understand we cannot hire one in Spain and take it to Morocco. Do you know any car hire company in Ceuta?
    Thanks very much!
    Kate

  5. Hi Elena

    Using an agency when travelling on your own in Morocco is exactly the right thing to do.

    You will be left well alone and it will give you a much greater opportunity to enjoy the trip.

    I always recommend Viajes Valemar in the main street in Marbella. Their address is Avenida Ricardo Soriano, 64, 29601 Marbella, it's on the right heading towards Puerto Banus about 500 metres before the copper spire in the middle of the road. You don't need to visit them necessarily, you can make the booking by phone. The number is: 00 34 952 829 944.

    Leo will answer and give you your nearest pick up point in Marbella or along the Costa del Sol. If you identify yourself as being recommended by myself or Gomarbella, you should be recognised as a serious traveller and not likely to let them down as a no show and so you won't need to pay a deposit beforehand. (I do not receive a commission for this recommendation by the way!)

    I hope you have a really enjoyable visit Elena, remember, just because you are offered a cup of refreshing mint tea, it does not mean you need to buy a carpet.

    Best wishes from Marbella and don't hesitate to write back if I can help at all. Thank you for visiting Gomarbella.

    Mike

  6. Hello Mike,

    I was looking for info on day trips from Marbella and have just come across your blog, very useful!

    I am especialy interested in the day trip to Tánger but, as a female traveling on my own I would rather do it with an agency. Would you have any in particular that you could recommend? Would they pick me up in Marbella/how much would that be aprox?

    Many thanks, Mike.

    Elena

  7. Hi Roland, Thanks very much for writing in and your suggestion about which site to use for ferry bookings.

    I checked with my nephew who uses the ferry a lot between Spain and Morocco both with vehicles and as a foot passenger and he uses: http://www.frs.es adding that it is only really necessary to book around the month of August with the tremendous movement of Moroccans backwards and forwards between Morocco and their homes in Europe.

    I have just checked out http://www.frs.es because I'm making a day trip on the 4th of January 2011 from Tarifa to Tangier and the site seems to work just fine. I'll do an online booking just to test it out!

    Thanks again Roland and best wishes from a wet Marbella.

    Mike

  8. Hi I did a little travelling around this area a few years ago. As I'm a little anal (I guess!) I booked everything in advance (I did feel more comfortable!!) The only site that I actually managed to make my bookings at was Ferries to Spain

  9. Hello Molly

    Thank you very much for writing in about your trip to Ceuta. Euros will be fine there, remember while it is a great day trip out on the ferry, you will still be in Spain when you get there. Ceuta is a small Spanish protectorate. It has a very different feel to it though.

    After a quick look around in Ceuta you could get a bus to the frontier in Ceuta, walk through the passport control and then get a taxi to Tetouan just a few kilometres along the coast and visit the market and eat in a Moroccan restaurant and be back in good time to catch your ferry back to the Algeciras.

    The Acciona ferry to Ceuta from Algeciras costs around €56 for a return ticket in early summer and the Acciona ferry to Tangier from Algeciras only costs a couple of euros more.

    You will get a very strong taste of Morocco if you go Tangier but the thing thing about women going to Tangier is that unless you do it as part of an organised excursion or have some males in your group, you will be hassled unmercifully all day. It just won't be enjoyable.

    Last year (2009) a one day trip to Tangier cost €70 with pick up in Marbella. This includes the bus, the ferry across, someone to see you through passport control and of course your group will have a guide for the day. You will probably be taken to a carpet shop and given mint tea, have cous cous for lunch and see a belly dancer as well as a guided tour of Tangier. My group was offered camel rides!

    So if you like to be independent, a little adventurous and visit Morocco with less bother, go to Ceuta and pop over the border into Morocco to Tetuan.

    If you prefer to have everything done for you and just sit back, then take an organised tour to Tangier.

    If the second option appeals to you, write back to me and I'll put you in touch with a very good agency in Marbella who will book the trip for you and tell you where to pick up the bus.

    I hope this helps you Molly, have a great trip and be sure to bring back some spices for a little taste of Morocco when you get home.

    Best wishes

    Mike

  10. Hi Mike
    Your website/Blog is very usefull and I have found lots of information on there that I needed.
    My friends and I are going to Marbella next week and wanted to go to Cueta as a day trip.

    I was wondering if Euro's are still okay to use there? and is Cueta a good place to experience Moroccan lifestyle or would Tangier be better?

    Lastly, Do you know about what prices the ferries cost? So we take enough money with us, but not too much.
    Thanks

  11. Hello Carl

    Thank you very much for your contact.

    The first step will be to check if your hire car company permits the use of their car in Morocco and they should then give you advice on exactly what documentation and additional insurance to be carrrying.

    If it is only short trip I suggest going to Chaouen which is only a couple of hours from Ceuta. One of my travel agent students stayed there a couple of years back and she said it was a pleasant little village.

    I have corresponded with Fatima of the tourist information office there and they have rural houses for rent.

    I'll ask Fatima for information about her rural houses and let you know via this page when she writes back.

    If you need any help in finding a car hire company which allows the use of the car in Morocco, let me know.

    Best wishes from Marbella Carl and thanks again for writing.

    Mike

  12. Hi, I am in the South of Spain for several weeks towards the end of July. I would like to take the ferry to Cueta and do a short trip to Morocco. I will have a hire car which I would ideally like to bring with me. I also have a Wife and a 6 year old to entertain. By short trip I mean, a few hours drive, perhaps 1/2 nights in accomodation. Any suggestions and is driving problematic? Tks. Carl.

  13. Hello again Mustafa

    Fatima of the Chaouen Rural Information Office wrote to tell me the following:

    "H Mike

    At the Ceuta border there are a lot of shared taxis. No problem at all.The only thing is all taxis will try to rip off the clients. This is the bad part of it…

    The price is around 60DH I think. I have never gone from Ceuta to Tangier in a shared taxi.

    A private taxi would cost around 400DH.

    If you need help, please don't hesitate.

    Best Fatima"

    Mustafa I hope that helps you. Many years ago I once went from Ceuta to Tetuan in a big old shared Mercedes taxi and everything was fine.

    I hope you have a good journey

    Best wishes from Marbella

    Mike

  14. Hi Mustapha

    Thanks very much for writing in. I'll try to find out for you. I'll ask my friend Fatima who works in the Chaouen Tourist Information Office and see if she can help.

    I'll put the details onto the blog as soon as I get them.

    Best wishes from Marbella

    Mike

  15. hi Mike, I wanna learn something, I will take a shared taxi from Ceuta to Tangiers airport. Is that easy and done by taxi drivers in a systematic way? And do you know how much does it cost?

  16. Thanks for taking the time to write back Eduardo. I hope you had a good trip.

    Just yesterday, Sunday afternoon, I was coming back from Tarifa and stopped off in Algeciras to explore the Getares urbanisation which is next to the big hospital outside the town. I got a good look at Gibraltar from a very different view. As you sail to Tangier or Ceuta, it's the last bit of Spain on your right.

    Best wishes from Marbella Eduardo and thanks again for writing.

    Mike

  17. Hello Mayar

    Thanks very much for checking in to gomarbella.com

    I have been trying to estimate the distance from Tangier to Ceuta. I have been to both places a number of times by ferry but never driven between them. I estimate it as just under 100km.

    You could share a gran taxi with other travellers to Ceuta or to Tetouan or take a bus. Sharing a taxi will be about the same price as a bus and faster.

    From Ceuta you can take the ferry to Algeciras and then take the bus all the way up to Marbella. From Ceuta to Algeciras allow two hours for the crossing and getting through the ports on either side and from Algeciras by bus to Marbella allow 3 hours. So that’s about half a day you will lose travelling. Will you go home from Marbella through Malaga airport or will you come back to Tangier before you go home?

    I think you are right about not having a lot of time in each place. 4 to 5 days in total will only give you a couple of days in each place. You won’t need to spend more than a morning in Ceuta.

    Let me know how I can help you Mayar, ask me any questions that you think will help you plan your journey.

    Best wishes from Marbella and thanks again for your contact.

    Mike

  18. Hi,
    I am planning to travel to Tanger end of June and will be staying there for 4 to 5 nights,
    i am planning to visit Cueta & Marbella,
    how much is the distance from Tanger to Ceuta by car?
    Can I take the ferry from Ceuta to go to Marbella and spend 2 or 3 nights? and what about the distance?
    Do you think 4- 5 days won't be too little for such a trip

  19. Hi Ciara

    Thank you for visiting the Spain Now and Then blog.

    Check here if you are taking the bus down to Algeciras from Marbella bus station and book your ticket comfortably online It will also give you the schedule of buses from Marbella to Algeciras port and back.

    For a memorable exposure to Morocco I would go to Tangier just for a day. My best advice to you is to go with an organised tour because they take care of everything and you will be left alone and not hassled.

    I will put some information for you onto this blog if you decide to go with a group.

    If you have a male in your party and are feeling adventurous and would like to do the visit on your own, then check on ferry sailing times here:

    http://www.ferrysavers.co.uk/tangier.htm

    Don’t bother to book online, just use the site to check ferry sailing times to match up to the bus arrival time in Algeciras and buy your ticket at the ferry office in Algeciras.

    If you do the trip on your own, please let me know and I’ll send you some suggestions on where to go and what to see in Tangier.

    Thanks again for the contact Ciara and best wishes from Marbella.

    Mike

  20. We’re travelling to morocco from marbella for a day and were just wondering what is the easiest way in doing this? where is the best place to visit once we get there and if the ferries run regularly?

    Ciara

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