There are extensive ferry links between northern Morocco and southern Europe, the most popular of which is Algeciras (Spain) to Tangier. Ferries to Tangier now dock at Tanger Med terminal, except for those from Tarifa, 40km from Tangier.
- From southern Spain and northern Morocco, you can just turn up at the dock and buy a ticket for the next ferry, but book in advance online during high season (mid-June to mid-September, Christmas, New Year and Easter).
- In Tangier and Algeciras, avoid touts who try to guide you towards travel agencies for commission.
- Discounts for students and young people with an ISIC card or similar, and InterRail or Eurail passholders are common. Children aged between two and 12 years often travel for half the fare, those aged under two travel free, and over-60s can often get reductions.
- Vehicles can be taken on most ferries for an extra fee; bicycles are normally free.
- Cabins are available on longer crossings.
Ferry Companies & Routes
Direct Ferries (www.directferries.com) sells tickets for most of the following. The Europe-wide service has sites in most European languages.
Trasmediterranea (www.trasmediterranea.es) Almería–Melilla, Almería–Nador, Algeciras–Ceuta, Algeciras–Tangier Med, Málaga–Melilla.
Baleària (www.balearia.com) Algeciras–Ceuta, Algeciras–Tangier Med, Algeciras-Melilla, Motril-Melilla.
FRS (www.frs.es) Algeciras–Ceuta, Algeciras–Tangier Med, Gibraltar–Tangier Med, Tarifa–Tangier.
Grandi Navi Veloci (www.gnv.it) Barcelona–Tangier Med, Genoa–Tangier Med, Sète–Tangier Med, Sète–Nador.
Grimaldi Lines (www.grimaldi-lines.com) Savona–Tangier Med, Barcelona–Tangier Med.
The journey from Sète (two hours by train from Marseilles) to Tangier takes 36 hours, to Nador takes 28 hours.
There are three sailings weekly to Tangier, and one to Nador.
There’s one ferry a week from Tangier Med. The trip takes a similar length of time to sailings to/from Algeciras (90 minutes), and tickets cost the same.
Algeciras is a better option as it’s a busier port with more choice.
Ferries from Spain to Morocco are plentiful. Tickets start at about €30, depending on season.
Hydrofoils and catamarans (also referred to as fast ferries) are used extensively.
Spanish passport control is uncomplicated, but non-EU citizens and Schengen visa-holders should make sure they get an exit stamp before boarding the ferry.
You need to fill in an embarkation form on board, and get your passport stamped before disembarking.
Algeciras to Tangier Med
The busiest crossing between Europe and Morocco. Ferries run at least every 90 minutes, and hourly in the summer. The crossing usually takes an hour.
Services typically run from 7am (or 6am in summer) until 10pm, but during peak demand in August 24-hour services aren’t unknown.
Algeciras to Ceuta
Several daily high-speed ferries (30 minutes to one hour) leave in both directions.
Almería to Melilla
Two sailings most days of the week. Crossings take up to eight hours.
Almería to Nador
Daily departures in either direction, taking six/eight hours to Almería/Nador.
Barcelona to Tangier
Two companies offer this route to Tangier, one stopping in Barcelona en route from Genoa (Italy).
The three weekly sailings; takes about 36 hours.
Málaga to Melilla
The daily (apart from Sunday) service is normally an afternoon/night ferry between Motil (Málaga) and Melilla. It takes up to eight hours.
Tarifa to Tangier
Catamarans leave every hour or so and cross the strait in 40 minutes, making this the fastest and most practical route.
The fare includes a free bus transfer to Algeciras on presentation of your ferry ticket.
The transfer takes 50 minutes, making the trip via Tarifa a faster way to get to Algeciras than the slower direct ferries.
Motil to Al Hoceima
Naviera Armas has summer services between Motil and Al Hoceima. Sailings are every Saturday.
Two companies sail the Mediterranean from Italy to Tangier, from Genoa (via Barcelona) and Savona. The twice-weekly Genoa service takes 48 hours, as does the weekly Savona service.