Tarifa – where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean

Tarifa is a municipality and city in the province of Cádiz (Spain), Andalusia. Located at the southernmost end of the Iberian Peninsula, it is primarily known as one of the world’s most popular destinations for windsports.

It’s a popular part of the Costa de la Luz of the Atlantic resorts of Spain.

The cape or Punta de Tarifa also serves as a dividing line for the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, which intersect right in front of the city itself. At exactly 36 degrees latitude, the Punta de Tarifa is the southernmost point of continental Europe.

Tourism and main attractions

The historic center of the city of Tarifa, delimited by its old medieval walls, was declared in 2003 a Site of Cultural Interest in the category of Monumental Complex. Of the old walled enclosure, wide sections are preserved either in their original situation or integrated as part of the buildings in the Alameda area, a tree-lined pedestrian walkway built in the second half of the 19th century, at the southern end of which is the monument to Guzmán el Bueno erected in 1960 by Manuel Reiné Jiménez.

The Castle of Tarifa, also known as Castle of Guzmán el Bueno, was built in 960 by Abd-ar-Rahman III, Caliph of Córdoba. When Tarifa was taken over by the king of Castile, Sancho IV in 1292, the castle was handed over to Alonso Pérez de Guzmán for its defense. Pérez de Guzmán got the nickname of “Good” (el Bueno) by refusing to hand over the castle in 1296 to the besieging forces of the Infante Don Juan, the rebellious brother of the king Sancho, and the Marinids, in exchange for the life of his son.

Recently refurbished, the castle is open to visitors. The coast and mountains of Morocco are visible from its towers.

The Castillo de Santa Catalina de Tarifa is a fortress located on the Cerro de Santa Catalina, near the Port of Tarifa and the city center. It was built in 1933 and is currently in disuse.

Iglesia de San Mateo (St. Matthew’s Church) is the main church of Tarifa. It was supposed to have been built in 1506 on the remains of an old mosque, although worship at the church has only been mentioned in documents since 1534, another date given for its inauguration. Numerous alterations have been made to the church over the centuries.

The main Baroque facade was designed by architect Torcuato Cayon de la Vega in 1774, and the work was completed four years later under the direction of maestro Carlos Hermida. The bell tower has a square, robust base, and is topped with a fluted dome. The Capilla del Sagrario was restored in 1899, a magnificent dome on scallops that extends to the ground forming three semicircular chapels.

Baelo Claudia was an ancient Roman town of Hispania, located 22 kilometres outside of Tarifa, near the village of Bolonia, in southern Spain. Lying on the shores of the Strait of Gibraltar, the town was originally a fishing village and trade link when it was settled some 2,000 years ago. Although prosperous at the time of Emperor Claudius, it went into a decline hastened by earthquakes and was abandoned by the 6th century.

The study of its architectural remains shows its Roman origin at the end of the 2nd century BC, already observed since that time a great wealth that makes it an important economic center in the Mediterranean area.


The playa de Los Lances is a beach that forms one side of the town of Tarifa.

The beach is more than seven km long from Punta de la Peña to Punta de Tarifa, with an average width of 120 metres. It is usually differentiated into two zones: North Los Lances, an undeveloped beach away from main population center, and South Los Lances, very close to the town of Tarifa and with extensive human occupation. The Río Jara separates the two areas of the beach.

Los Lances’ location on the Atlantic side of the Strait of Gibraltar creates unique wind conditions which have made it Europe’s foremost destination for kitesurfing. The beach is also a favorite for windsurfing and similar sports, and has ample facilities for participants in these sports.

Valdevaqueros is a beach located 9.7 kilometres by road to the northwest of Tarifa. The beach is more than for km and about 120 metres by width. Valdevaqueros has the Spin Out Kite surfing centre, established in 1988, and beachhouse and several hotels and a camping site and is a busy beach during the summer months, and borders the Playa de Los Lances.

Transport and how to get to?

There are regular ferry services connecting Tarifa with Tangier (40 minutes) and Ceuta (1 hour) from the ferry port.

Bus services run from the bus station on Calle Batalla de Salado. There are regular services between Tarifa and Algeciras, about 20 km to the northeast, and Seville about 200 km to the north. Direct buses also run to Málaga and Cádiz.

By car:

From Madrid 6 hr 49 min (685 km) via A-4

Main information

Area: 419 sq. km (municipality)

Coordinates: 36°00′55″N 5°36′20″W

Population: 18 183

Languages: Spanish

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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