Tarifa, or as we know it ‘The Windy City’ sits at the southernmost point of mainland Europe and after we visited Seville, Cadiz and Ronda and fell totally in love with them, we thought that Tarifa might be a good place to visit too. It turns out that Tarifa is an excellent town and we had a brilliant time. So here’s our twenty ways to entertain kids in Tarifa!
1. You Must Stay In The Old Town
If you’re visiting Tarifa you must stay in the old town. The town is made up of many cobbled plazas (squares) and houses are built upwards, around them. Nearly all have rooftop terraces and balconies where you enjoy the sun, watch the world go by and often listen to Spanish music which seeps out from old bars.
We booked our accommodation through AirBNB and stayed in a really old building above a cute square.
2. Walk around the old town
The narrow streets, beautiful houses in white, and typical Andalusian courtyards–with bright blue doors and window frames–is just incredible!
Even though the old town is not very big, you can allow yourself to get lost in the small streets and suddenly be standing in a beautiful square.
Calle Sancho IV El Bravo leads to the old beautiful church Iglesia de San Mateo, the Plaza de Santa Maria and Plaza Miramar. Just some of the many exquisite buildings on show.
3. Walk through Puerta de Jerez
Find the old gate, block the entrance and make jokes about being the ‘gatekeeper’ and the ‘key master’.
This will only be funny if you have kids who like Ghostbusters. If not, you can just walk through it and read the sign that hangs above it.
4. Visit The Roman Ruins Of Baelo Claudia
22km north of Tarifa sits an ancient Roman town near the beautiful beach of Bolonia.
Its history lies in the trade routes serving between Europe and North Africa. The town’s strategic position on the coast made it a crucial point between the two continents.
The ruins of Baelo Claudia, with its impressive temple, forum and basilica show how important the town was.
5. Go To Castillo Guzman el bueno
It costs just €5 for a family ticket to enter here. The castle is enormous and sits perched over the coastline from where you can see Africa!
The castle is named after the heroic deed of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán. In 1294, the Muslims besieged the castle and, having Alonso’s son in their power, urged him to give it up or his son would die. Alonso Pérez de Guzmán preferred to sacrifice his son before handing over the town, and even threw down his own knife from the octagonal tower for them to kill him with.
That’s loyalty lol.
6. Visit The Castillo de Santa Catarina
Castillo Santa Catalina is an observation and weather tower which was constructed in 1931 in the style of a 16th-century castle.
The ‘castle’ has a large, strangely out-of-proportion observation tower with mudejar arches and balconies on the corners and has become a much-loved symbol of Tarifa – regardless of how weird it looks.
7. Take a cake break
Being vegan in Tarifa is limiting but definitely not boring. The raw cakes at The Eco Centre are beyond divine! Add in a cup of yogi tea, some relaxing beats and you have a perfect afternoon stop off.
8. See The Port Torpedo
In the entrance to the Port sits a whopping great torpedo. It’s incredible to think that these travel through the water at high speed.
9. Visit the play-park
There are a number of play parks dotted around Tarifa but our favourite was the castle play park just off Calle Alcalde Juan Nunez, between the Monument and Castle of Guzman el Bueno.
10. Which Beach Will You Visit?
The town’s local beach is Playa Chica & El Foso.
La Chica is a small, sheltered beach whilst El Foso is long, wide, huge and white and pounded by small waves!
Tarifa sits at the Strait of Gibraltar where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean meet. This makes it an ideal place to see different types of sea life. You can catch glimpses of dolphins and even whales like the Giant Sperm Whale and Orcas if you’re lucky.
Aside from the two local beaches, which beach should you visit within a twenty kilometre radius?
There’s quite a few: Playa los lances: Playa Bolonia: Punta Paloma Beach – at the far west end are the mud baths where you can cover yourself in mud and then take a dip: Rio de la jara: Valdavaqueros Dunes: Playa del Canuelo – only accessible on foot: Playa de los Alemanas: Playa Atlanterra.
11. Stop In At CICAM
The centre for cetacean interpretation is open during spring and summer months and it’s free to enter. You can learn about dolphins, whales, orcas, porpoise and more.
12. Walk the sea walls
There are two sea walls in Tarifa; Punta Tarifa & Punta Del Santo. Both are windy!
13. Isla de Las Palamas
Entrance to this island is by a guide and permit only so you’ll need to find and book this before your arrival.
The island was once an army barracks and now an immigration centre. Although the walk across the causeway is worthwhile, as is reading the large information board just by the entrance to the camp.
If it’s very windy prepare for a gusty and possibly wet and sandy blasting as you walk across.
14. Find the batteries
There are old batteries ALL over the area including some located on nearby beaches, in the sea and on land.
15. Visit a white village
The countryside that encircles Tarifa is littered with white villages that are often perched on the hills. These villages are often traditional and many of the houses are made of stone (rather than concrete). This is where you’ll find the true Spanish culture and quite frequently very traditional restaurants.
16. Parque del Estrecho
Go walking in the natural park to the east of Tarifa. Find the Bateria de Costa “cascabel”, the bird observatory and interpretation centre and maybe the tower of Vigia Guadalmesí.
17. Bahia Water Park, Algeciras
This is an enormous waterpark just twenty minutes from Tarifa. It has a pool for every age group, including a baby pool, wave pool, a jacuzzi and slides for all ages.
It also has indoor play areas with dancing and restaurants and sun loungers can be rented for extra.
18. Facinas swimming pool
If you don’t fancy the windy beaches or the busy water-park, Facinas outdoor pool might be a better option. There is a larger sized pool for more able swimmers and a smaller, toddlers pool.
19. The waterfalls at Arroyo de la Miel and La Garganta del Capitan, Algeciras
Just a short drive north-east from Tarifa, lie the stunning natural river walks of Arroyo de la miel and La garganta del capitan. Both have fabulous waterfalls and natural pools which are a wonderful temperature in August for dipping into after a hike. Don’t forget your picnic and a towel.
20. Get a ferry to a different continent
It’s not often that you can catch a boat to a different continent now – or at least not arrive within forty minutes!
Tarifa is less than twenty miles from Africa which makes it perfect for a day trip or a long weekend break.
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A Video From Tarifa
A blustery look at our trip to Tarifa.