Tarifa: where Europe ends and Africa begins

I am standing on the walls of the Guzmán El Bueno Castle. Below me are the blue waters of the Mediterranean and in the distance I can spot the lights of Tangier, Morocco. I have arrived in Tarifa, Spain, the southernmost point of the European continent, the place where Europe ends and Africa begins…

I love these kind of places: they make me somewhat dreamy, nostalgic, sad and curious at the same time. I could sit here for hours, watching the ferries coming in and out, wondering what lies across the water, barely 11 kilometres away, but no doubt a whole world apart.

things to do in Tarifa

I have been travelling through the white villages of Andalucia to discover the Moorish influence in the region. The numerous castles, the white-washed houses and the winding little streets all bear witness to Andalusia’s Moorish past. Tarifa is my last stop on this trip and I am curious to see what 700 years of Moorish rule (roughly 700 AD-1450 AD) have done to this city’s layout.

things to do in Tarifa

When approaching the old town, there’s no doubt that the Moorish heritage is still very present: the medieval gateway could easily be mistaken for the entrance to a Northern Africa medina and the narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed alleys are a proof of the once so close link between the 2 continents.

things to do in Tarifa

But this is also unmistakenly Spain: Tarifa’s gorgeous beaches are known as a hip and breezy mecca among windsurfers and as the evening falls, the historic squares get filled with people spilling out of the nearby tapas bars. Locals and tourists alike are getting ready for a long evening out.

The next morning, I go back into the old town. Morocco seems at an almost-touchable distance and my only regret is that I am not able to jump on the ferry this time. But one day, I will stand on the other side of the Mediterranean and look back at Tarifa from there!

things to do in Tarifa

(Spoiler alert: in March 2015 I did exactly that! Standing on the castle walls of Tangier, looking out towards Spain!)

Have you ever stood on the borderline of two continents? If so, where was that?

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on StumbleUpon0Pin on Pinterest96

14 Replies to “Tarifa: where Europe ends and Africa begins”

  1. Sally from Passport & Plates

    I LOVE Andalusia and Morocco! They’re both regions that I’m a bit obsessed with because I’m so fascinated by the mix of Arab and Spanish influence. I never made it to Tarifa but I definitely want to go back for a visit. Great post 🙂

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks Sally! I’m the same, I find those regions one of the few most interesting ones in the world: I love the mix of Spanish and Arab culture!

      Reply
  2. Tom

    Enjoyed reading this, southern Spain is still on my very long travel to-do list, as is Morocco… The nearest I’ve been to straddling two continents was Rhodes on a family holiday years ago, the island is part of Greece so therefore in Europe (politically if not geographically), but you could see the coast of Turkey (the Asian part) on the horizon. At the time I’d never been to Asia, so it fascinated me to be able to see it sitting there so close, but so tantalisingly out of reach – very much like how you describe Morocco here.

    Reply
  3. Jonny Blair

    Great site and blog here and finally we see a travel blog that isn’t based on places like Paris, New York, London and Bangkok. And even within Spain isn’t based on Pamplona and Madrid. This is a cool off the wall spot that I’d also love to visit. As for the 2 continents thing – I’ve been to Palestine and Turkey which kind of sit in the Europe – Middle East – Asia enigmatic triangle. The Mexico – Guatemala border is also often classed as the border between North and Central America. I’ve been to a few country hat trick borders too down the years and love them. Thanks for posting and safe onward travels. Jonny

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks for the compliment, Jonny! Yes, Turkey and the Middle East are definitely interesting places to visit! In the midst of different civilizations! Happy travels to you too!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *