Cape Spartel and Hercules Caves are great spots to check out if you’re visiting Tangier for more than one day. Visiting them will take you about half a day, but you can easily make it a full day if the weather is hot enough to let you spend some time enjoying beautiful nearby beaches.
When to go?
The climate on the Moroccan coast is enjoyable for most of the year. The best time to visit Tangier and its surroundings is fall (September to November) or spring (March to May) when the weather is ideal and the holiday crowds aren’t around. I visited in December and it was already a bit too cold for my liking, especially inside accommodations as usually there is no heating.
How to get there?
Cap Spartel is located about 14 kilometres from Tangier and it takes approximately 30 minutes to get there by car.
A shared grand taxi is the least expensive option. You will need to wait until the taxi fills up, but usually, it doesn’t take long. I waited for about 20 minutes. Taxis can be found next to Mohammed V Mosque, just before the roundabout if walking from the medina side. Expect to pay 20 MAD per person.
For the way back, grand taxis wait at the roundabout next to Le Mirage and Hercules Caves. If you don’t want to wait for other passengers, expect to pay 80-100 MAD for a private ride back to Mohammed V Mosque in Tangier.
There is no public bus going to Cap Spartel, however, the Tangier Tourist Hop On Hop Off Bus has a route there. Check the details on their website.
Cap Spartel Lighthouse
Being located at the most north-western point of Africa, it provides beautiful views of the blue sea where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse has been in operation since 1864 and was the first one of its kind along the Moroccan coastline.
One of the most interesting historical events that took place in the area was The Battle of Cape Spartel, on 29 September 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. The engagement took place between two Nationalist cruisers and two Republican destroyers, and broke the Republican blockade of the Strait of Gibraltar, securing the naval supply route to Spanish Morocco for the Nationalists early in the war.
The combined ticket to the lighthouse grounds and the observation deck at the top cost 50 MAD for foreign visitors. There is also a small museum on the ground floor but without any captions in English.
A long sandy beach en route to Hercules Caves, with an option for a camel ride.
It’s about 4.5 kilometres from Cap Spartel to Hercules Caves and the path is very scenic so I recommend walking instead of taking a ride. There are some nicely located cafes if you feel like resting and listening to the sound of waves.
When it comes to the caves itself… Well, let’s say it wasn’t the most interesting cave that I have seen in my life. The entrance ticket for foreigners costs 60 MAD and I can honestly call it a rip-off. There is absolutely nothing to see besides opening to the sea with a shape resembling the African continent.
And what does it have to do with Hercules? According to the legend, Hercules spent a night there before stealing the golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides as part of his 12 labours given to him by King Eurystheus. Ancient Greek writers claimed that the garden was located nearby at Lixus (today it’s an archaeological site near Larache).
The man-made part was used by Berber people to cut stone wheels from the walls. Later on, the Hercules Caves were also used as a brothel and a shelter used by smugglers.