Best Day Trip from Marbella to Morocco: Top Tours [2024]

Best Day Trip from Marbella to Morocco: Top Tours [2024]

Are you wondering what’s the best way to plan a day trip from Marbella to Morocco?

In that case, you’re at the right place!

I recently took this day trip myself and can recommend a local company for this excursion, saving you a lot of time and frustration doing your own research.

A few local companies in Southern Spain offer these tours, and it’s important to choose one you can trust.

This article provides detailed information about this day tour, including practical tips and things to consider when booking your trip to the African continent.

Let’s get into it!

PS: this article contains affiliate links, I will earn a small fee if you use them, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for helping me run this blog! 

royal palace of tetouan morocco

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Book your tour of Tetouan (Morocco) with pick-up from Marbella via the button below. This is the same company I used for my trip, with over 140 positive reviews.

BOOK YOUR TRIP

Safety in Morocco:

Morocco is perfectly safe to visit, and you have nothing to worry about. At all times, at least three local people will be with you to keep an eye on the group.

Video Tour: My Day Trip to Tetouan

I took a few short clips on my day trip to Tetouan, which you can check out below.

I was focusing mainly on taking photos and listening to the guide, so the video footage is limited but it should give you a good idea about what to expect.

YouTube video

How to Plan a Day Trip from Marbella to Morocco

tourists outside of the Royal Palace in the Medina of Tetouan, Morocco
Tourists outside of the Royal Palace in the Medina of Tetouan, Morocco

Booking a tour from a local travel company is the easiest and fastest way to see Morocco on a day trip from Marbella.

Here is how you can book this trip:

  • choose a day from the calendar here
  • add the number of people
  • from the list of pick up locations, find the preferred option for Marbella
  • there are two pick-up locations in Marbella – in city center or in the bus station
  • next to each pick up location, you will also see the pick up time and map location
  • click add to Cart and proceed to checkout
  • you will also get free cancellation and an option to pay it later
  • you will receive email notification with the trip details
  • you do not need to download any app, just save the vouchers from the email to your phone
  • no need to print the vouchers, you can save them on your phone
  • the tour company won’t even check the voucher, they have your name on the list of the online bookings

Book Your Day Trip to Tetouan:

Only available 1x per week, grab your spot so you don’t miss out.

Tetouan or Tangier: Which Day Trip Should You Book?

Local companies offer two types of trips – to Tetouan or to Tangier.

I booked the tour of Tetouan and I’m very happy I did because as I was told by our local guide, it’s much less touristy and crowded compared to Tangier. 

Tangier is a big modern city with a huge medina that caters more to tourists, and that’s reflected in how crowded it is and what’s on offer there. You are much more likely to be harassed by locals if you go to Tangier, and have a less authentic experience of the country.

My local guide, who visited both, confirmed all of this, and the same sentiment echoes in different forums.

If you insist on visiting Tangier instead of Tetouan, you will have to drive down south towards Tarifa, as the day trip to Tangier is not available from Costa del Sol – at least with pick up from Marbella.

inside the medina of tetouan, morocco
Strolling inside the Medina of Tetouan, Morocco

3 Reasons For Booking This Day Trip by Bus

Booking a tour with a local company has a number of practical advantages:

1. You Get a Licensed Local Guide in Morocco

If you’re traveling to Morocco for the first time, it’s essential that you have a local guide you can trust. Having someone familiar with the local culture is crucial, and legally, they must be licensed.

There are numerous accounts of travelers who’ve landed in Morocco only to fall prey to scams by self-proclaimed ‘guides’ they meet upon arrival, paying excessive amount of money to someone who didn’t even have a license.

This excursion includes services a guide who is a Tetouan local, ensuring you’re in good hands the moment you set foot in Morocco. Additionally, you’ll be joined by two more local guides once you’re there – including a local police officer provided by the municipal government.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a reflection on the safety of the area. It’s purely logistical. The historic Medina is a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets, and an extra set of eyes (or two) can be incredibly helpful in navigating without getting lost.

2. Free Cancellation For Your Tour

One massive advantage of booking this trip as a tour is the fact that you can change your mind, and get a full refund.

The local company offers a full refund if you cancel up to 24 hours before the trip, giving you maximum flexibility in case your plans change.

3. Save Money and Time

Did I mention this tour is the cheapest way to do this day trip?

It not only saves you a lot of money (ferry tickets, guide fees, petrol, car rental, food, parking etc) but it saves a lot of time too.

Having a local tour guide from Morocco cut the waiting time at the borders in half (30 minutes instead of the usual 1 hour), and we were able to see the best places in Tetouan Medina without getting lost.

Book Your Day Trip to Tetouan:

This trip sells out fast, book your spot so you don’t miss out!

Best Time of Year to Do an Excursion to Morocco

You can do this excursion any time during the year, however, here are a few practical things to keep in mind:

  • in winter, the sea can be rough making the 1 hour ferry crossing unpleasant
  • the weather in Morocco is mild generally all year round, but summer can be very hot
  • locals celebrate Ramadan in spring each year, which means the city is less busy and crowded
  • ideal time for the trip would be spring, summer or autumn
  • in winter, keep an eye on the forecast and choose a good weather day to do the trip due to the ferry crossing
local life in the medina of tetouan, morocco
Local life in the medina of Tetouan, Morocco
outside of the royal palace of tetouan, morocco
Posing outside of the Royal Palace of Tetouan, Morocco

Itinerary For Your Day Trip from Marbella

Here is an itinerary of what you can expect when you book the day trip with the local tour company:

  • pick up in Marbella before 7.30 am
  • the bus will drive to the Strait of Gibraltar, so you can admire the views of the Rock on the way
  • as you arrive at Algeciras port, your guide will secure your ferry ticket
  • you will board the fast ferry between Algeciras and Ceuta (Spanish territory in North Africa) 
  • the ferry crossing takes 1 hour
  • in the Cueta Port, a local bus will wait for you and take you to Moroccan borders
  • after arriving in Tetouan, you will start your day with a guided group tour of the Medina.
  • as part of your sightseeing tour, you will visit the local markets, selling things like leather good, vegetables, fish and meat, and even jewelry market
  • your tour also includes lunch in a typical Moroccan restaurant in Medina, where you can taste authentic Moroccan cuisine – coucous, chicken and delicious mint tea
  • you will also visit the royal palace, a rug shop, a local natural pharmacy, and the city center
  • you will return back to Marbella via Algeciras, in late evening hours, between 10pm – 11pm, depending on which ferry you catch back home

Book Your Day Trip to Morocco:

Get tickets for your day trip with FREE cancelation up to 24 hours before the tour.

Pick up Locations in Marbella

There are two pick up or departure locations for this excursion from Marbella:

  • Marbella city center – right next to Alameda park on the main road
  • Marbella bus station – the bus will stop just outside of the building of the bus station

The bus will also drop you off on one of these locations as you return from the trip.

Ferry Crossing from Algeciras to Ceuta

The journey by ferry to Morocco takes roughly an hour.

Your overall trip duration depends on the traffic conditions en route to Algeciras, as that will determine whether you will be there on time to catch the right ferry.

On my trip, we actually arrived in Algeciras early, so had time for coffee and snacks before boarding the 10am ferry, and we arrived in the city of Tetouan around lunchtime.

Operated by Balearia, the ferries are very well equipped and offer plenty of comfortable seating across the deck. Some ferries feature an open-air deck (which I enjoyed on my return trip), alongside a couple of bars and even tiny shops for souvenirs.

The sea was pretty calm on our way there and back, but you can certainly feel the boat moving, even though it’s a big one. If you’re worried about seasickness or travel sickness, you should consider taking some travel medicine before boarding the ferry.

on board of a ferry from Algeciras to Cueta, Africa
Inside the ferry on the way to Ceuta.

Border Control

Ceuta, if you didn’t know, is owned by Spain, so as soon as you arrive in Africa, you will have to cross both the Spanish and also the Moroccan borders.

Depending on the traffic at the borders, we were told to expect to spend at least 1 hour on the bus waiting for our papers to be processed.

The waiting time also depends on the nationalities of the people on the bus and whether or not they require a visa. In our case, 90% of the people were European nationals or did not need a visa, so we were out of there in about 30 minutes.

The Moroccan border control was pretty smooth and everyone was super friendly.

They do stamp your passports with entry and exit dates, and Moroccan police will check the stamps on entry and exit, so these things take a long time, especially if they’re doing this for 50 people in the bus.

No photography is allowed on the borders. We were reminded of this about ten times—they do take this very seriously.

arriving on a ferry to a port of Cueta in Norhtern Africa
On board of the ferry arriving in Ceuta in Northern Africa.

Practical Tips: Day Tour from Marbella to Morocco

  • book this trip as soon as possible – it sells out fast
  • this trip is only available once a week
  • it is a full-day bus trip, so you will spend a lot of time in the bus (take snacks & reading)
  • long sleeve top and closed-toe shoes are required
  • the duration of the trip depends on local traffic, ferry schedules, and the amount of time required for border crossing
  • there is no free time included on this trip for safety reasons – the Medina is huge and its very easy to get lost
  • you will need a valid passport for your trip to Morocco – EU citizens can enter without visa
  • the ferry crossing was very easy and comfortable, you’re unlikely to get seasick
  • do not bring large backpacks with you
  • the trip is not suitable for small kids (under the age of 10)

What to See in Tetouan, Morocco

There are two main places that this tour will focus on: the ancient Medina and the Royal Palace.

In addition to a guided tour of both, your excursion also includes a lunch in a traditional Moroccan restaurant (catering also for vegetarians and vegans), and couple of stops in local shops to learn about the craft of making rugs and natural remedies.

Medina of Tetouan

The Medina of Tetouan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was established in the 3rd century and rebuilt in the 15th century after the Reconquista.

It is a maze with narrow streets filled with vibrant markets, artisans’ workshops, and stunning examples of Andalusian architecture. There are over 40,000 shops in the Medina, mixed between houses, schools and even the royal palace is located in the Median.

life inside the medina of tetouan, morocco
Life inside the medina of Tetouan

Royal Palace of Tetouan

The Royal Palace of Tetouan, dating back to 1740, served as a political hub during the Spanish protectorate until Morocco’s independence in 1956-1957.

Originally the Dar al-Emrat, it later became a royal residence, incorporating the former governor’s palace and Spanish consulate.

You can’t enter the palace, but you will get a brief explanation about it from the local guide.

Book Your Day Trip to Morocco:

Get tickets for your day trip with FREE cancelation up to 24 hours before the tour.

Other Day Trip Transport Options

Would you like to consider other options? Here they are!

Day Trip with a Rental Car

Driving down to Morocco on your own?

Before you venture on the road, you should consider that most car rental companies will not allow you to cross the borders of Spain (due to insurance etc).

If you do find one that allows this trip, they come with excessive extra charges that will make this trip very expensive.

If you insist on driving, I would recommend driving to Tarifa and taking the ferry without the car. I will link some options for local tours from there below.

Day Trip to Morocco by Bus

Bus is not really an option for this day trip as the public buses are extremely limited, and even with the existing connections you won’t be able to make this journey as a day trip.

Alternative Option: Tarifa to Tangier

If you’re happy to drive to Tarifa, you have more options for exploring Africa on a day trip from Spain, arriving at the port of Tangier instead of the port of Ceuta.

In Tarifa, you can either book ferry tickets yourself here, or choose a local company to book this Tangier day trip, which I linked below.

Tangier Tour from Tarifa:

Popular trip available 7 days/week with free cancellation.

Practical Tips for Your Day Trip for Morocco

port of Ceuta - Spanish territory in North Africa
Port of Ceuta, Spanish territory in northern Africa.

Cultural Etiquette and Tips for Morocco

  • Dress conservatively – long sleeve tops, cover your shoulder, closed toe shoes.
  • Tipping is expected and customary in Morocco for nearly every service.
  • While Arabic and Berber are the primary languages, French is widely understood.
  • As in any tourist destination, keep an eye on your belongings and be wary of pickpockets.

What to Pack for Your Day Trip

  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Water Bottle
  • Sunscreen and Hat
  • Local Currency (Dirhams) is not necessary, you can use euros
  • Your Passport

What Souvenirs to Bring from Morocco

  • Berber rugs – they can ship these to your address
  • Argan oil – famous in Morocco for its quality and good price
  • Moroccan spices – saffron, cumin and ras el hanout

Final Thoughts

Phew, we covered a lot, right?

If there is some burning question I didn’t answer in the article, leave a comment below and I will be happy to help. As I mentioned earlier, booking this trip with a local company is a great option because you can always change your mind later and get a full refund.

Thank you for reading!

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pinterest image showing tourists outside of the royal palace in Tetouan, Morocco with a headline: day trip to Morocco from Marbella, Best day trips from Marbella
pinterest image showing streets and homes at the medina in Tetouan, Morocco with a headline: day trip to Morocco from Marbella, Best day trips from Marbella

Southern Spain Travel Tips

Find Best Hotels

Find Hotels

I have been using booking.com for all my trips in Spain and abroad, and it’s the best place to book your hotel.

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Find Car Rental

To rent a car, I highly recommend Discover Cars, an award-winning price comparison site for car rentals.

Book Your Tour

Local travel companies offer many day trip options from almost all the destinations in Southern Spain. You can check them out here.

Book Local Transport

To get the cheapest bus or train tickets, take a look at Omio to find the timetables and prices.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links - if you decide to book using one of the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me run this site. This is at no extra cost to you.

Hi, I'm Lucia

At Viva La Vita, I will help you to discover Southern Spain like a local!

I've been living on Costa del Sol since 2020, and fill these pages with first-hand insights, personal experience and practical tips that will help you plan a wonderful trip to Spain.

Make yourself at home and find the best places to explore in Andalusia and beyond.

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