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Ferry from Spain to Morocco: All you need to know

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Wondering if there is a quick way to get to Morocco without flying? Well taking a ferry from Spain to Morocco could be your best option to explore the tip of the African continent. 

Taking The Ferry From Spain To Morocco: All You Need To Know

Ferry from Spain to Morocco
Ferry from Spain to Morocco

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

There are two great things about the Mediterranean. First, it’s warm throughout most of the year. So for a warm European winter, it’s ideal. Second, Africa is right on the other side.  

Spain is a popular exit point from Europe to North Africa. At its closest, across the Strait of Gibraltar, it’s a mere nine miles of ocean that separates the continents. As a result, Spain offers an alternative to flying to the amazing country of Morocco – why not consider taking a ferry?

Several operators or ferry companies run services out of a few ports on the Spanish mainland, and there are a few entry points in Morocco as well. Here is a guide to what you will need to know, should you choose the ferry option from Spain to Morocco.

Tanger Port - taking a ferry from Spain to Morocco
Tanger Port – taking a ferry from Spain to Morocco

Why Take Ferries From Spain To Morocco?

Flying might be quicker in some cases. But be honest: if you could do without the hustle and bustle of the airport, the hassle of airport passport control, and the inconvenience of sitting in a tiny seat, why wouldn’t you?

A ferry offers the advantage of being free to move around at least on the boat. There’s also the added benefit of fresh ocean air and views, not to mention the ability to take as many bags as you want. You can even take your car, provided it has the right papers and insurance. 

Prices may vary dramatically, but in general, seem much more worthwhile than airplane tickets. Ferry tickets fluctuate in price depending on the ferry company or operator, different routes, the time of year and sometimes demand. Generally, you could pay from as little as $40 USD for a one-way walk-on between Tarifa and Tangier. But that could increase to much more than double if you take a car, or travel during high demand.   

Glimpses of ports near Spain, Morocco and Gibraltar
Glimpses of ports near Spain, Morocco and Gibraltar

Where To Find Spain To Morocco Ferries

People often ask: How far is Morocco from Spain? At its closest, it’s barely nine miles. But when it comes to ferries, you have several choices when it comes to departure points. Furthest away is Barcelona, while the south-eastern and southern coasts have Almeria, Motril, Malaga, Gibraltar, Algeciras and the closest ferry port, Tarifa. 

These connect to one or more of the Moroccan ports of Tangier, Tangier Med, Al Hociema, and Nador. Some Spain to Morocco ferries may also connect to Ceuta or Melilla, but bear in mind that these are Spanish territories, and you will have to pass through a land border to enter Morocco.  

What To Know Before Arriving In Morocco 

Depending on your passport and nationality, you may require a visa to enter Morocco. European Union and US citizens, for example, are allowed three months of Morocco travel without a visa. It’s advisable to check what documentation you will need before getting on the boat, just to be safe. 

Filling out Immigration Forms inside the ferry from Spain to Morocco
Filling out Immigration Forms inside the ferry

Some ferry routes will have the passport checks on the boat itself during the crossing. An official will be able to check your papers and stamp them with appropriate authorization. You will also need to fill out an arrival card for Morocco, which you can do on the ferry as well. This is really convenient and saves on waiting in long lines at the other end. 

It also makes a great argument for avoiding the ferry to Ceuta or Melilla. At these destinations you will have to wait at the land border once you reach the other side, which could be very crowded. 

If you are taking your car along, remember to have your insurance card, log book and driver’s license with you. This will be checked on the Morocco side of the journey. 

Travel Tips – On Ferry Prices And Travel Times

The price of Spain to Morocco ferry tickets fluctuate dramatically due to a number of reasons. Different operators, time of year, routes taken – all have an effect on the price of tickets. The same factors also affect travel times. Most travel times are therefore estimates, but can vary by an hour or more. 

Barcelona Spain to Morocco ferry
Barcelona Spain to Morocco ferry

Taking the Ferry from Barcelona

If you’re in no hurry to get there, the ferry from Barcelona will help you pass about 30 hours of holiday time enjoyably.

GNV and Grimaldi Lines operate a combined six trips per week from Barcelona. You can connect to either Tangier Med or Nador through these. Be aware that sometimes the timetables are irregular, so best to keep an eye on whether the services are running on time and as scheduled. 

Port Details 

Ferries depart from three of Barcelona port’s terminals: E (18B), N (18A), and S (18C). Most of the ferries to Mallorca, Genoa, Ibiza and Morocco depart from these terminals. 

Two parking garages can be found nearby, if you are not taking your car with you. You can also find parking in the nearby World Trade Center.

Expect to pay (average price, per person, one way, no vehicle): 

  • Barcelona to Nador: $70 USD
  • Barcelona to Tangier Med: $70 USD

Taking the Ferry from Almeria

Almeria’s ferry service connects from the Port of Almeria to Nador and Melilla, and takes four to six hours. Transmediterranea, Balearia, and Naviera Armas are the three options operating from here. 

Between them, they offer 25 crossings to Nador, and 10 crossings to Melilla on a weekly basis. 

Port details 

The port is located in the center of the city, and is primarily a ferry terminal. You can purchase tickets from one of the ferry operation offices in the main terminal building. There are a few restaurants, restroom facilities, and a supermarket just outside the main building. 

These are useful in the event of a long wait for the next ferry. Passengers can then board the ferry from the first floor of the main terminal building. 

You can get to the cruise terminals in one of the following ways: 

  • Book a shared bus transfer from the city, usually from your hotel
  • The hop on hop off bus service has two stops near the cruise terminals
  • Take a taxi

Expect to pay (average price, per person, one way, no vehicle): 

  • Almeria to Melilla: $45 USD
  • Almeria to Nador: $45 USD
Port of Morocco - Take a ferry from Spain to Morocco for a day trip or longer stay
Port of Morocco

Taking the Ferry from Motril

From Motril, visitors can reach Nador by ferry with Naviera Armas 4 times a week (4 hours), Tangier Med with RFS 7 times a week (8 hours), or Al Hoceima, also with Naviera Armas, 4 times a week  (5 hours).  

RFS also offers a service to Melilla 6 times a week. 

Port details 

Just 30 minutes from Granada City, Motril is a modern port, with three parking structures available. A nice plus for those departing from Motril: Parking is free for anyone departing from Motril for up to eight days. 

How to get there: 

  • By car, via the A7 motorway.
  • The public bus system has stops at the port

Expect to pay (average price, per person, one way, no vehicle): 

  • Motril to Al Hociema: $45 USD
  • Motril to Nador: $46 USD
  • Motril to Melilla: $45 USD

Taking the Ferry from from Málaga

Málaga offers the option of ferrying to Melilla, which takes seven hours. Thirteen ferries per week run to Melilla.

Malaga Port - Ferry from Spain to Morocco
Malaga Port – Ferry from Spain to Morocco

Port details 

The large port of Malaga is about 100km from the Strait of Gibraltar. It’s the oldest continuously operating port in Spain and possibly the Mediterranean. Most of the ferries depart from wharf 3, and there are plenty of parking options – long term, short-term, secure, etc. – for those leaving vehicles behind. 

How to get there:

  • By train to Centro-Alameda station, followed by a 15-minute walk to the ferry pier
  • Take a taxi from Maria Zambrano
  • Take a bus to Plaza de la Marina – the ferry building is close by.

Expect to pay (average price, per person, one way, no vehicle): 

  • Málaga to Melilla: $48 USD

Taking the Ferry from Algeciras

There are lots of services running from Algeciras, making it one of the most popular options for ferries to Morocco. Five companies operate the route from Algeciras to Tangier Med or Ceuta, averaging about 45 crossings per day between them. The crossing takes up to 90 minutes.. 

  • Balearea – 11 times per day
  • Trasmediterranea – 9 times per day
  • FRS – 8 times per day
  • AML – 12 times per day

Inter Shipping – 36 times per week

Port details 

The industrial town of Algeciras is situated on the Rio de la Miel. There are two car park options directly connected to the port. One is undercover and the other is not, but both offer 24 hour security. There are a few more options outside the port, the closest being the Parking Verboom, about half a mile away. 

How to get there: 

  • By car – follow the signs to the port from anywhere in the city
  • Some bus services do stop at the entrance to the port. Others’ closest stop is 20 minutes away by foot 
  • The train station in Algeciras is not too far from the port entrance – about half a mile 
  • By taxi – there is a taxi rank just outside the entrance to the port  

Expect to pay (average price, per person, one way, no vehicle): 

  • Algeciras to Ceuta: $40 USD
  • Algeciras to Tanger Med: $30 USD

Taking the Ferry from Tarifa

Tarifa is the most popular ferry route for crossings to Morocco, because it can be the quickest at around 45 minutes. It is estimated that Tarifa now ferries more than a million visitors per year between Spain and Morocco. It is also the only route that connects directly to the port of Tangier Ville in  Tangier itself, as opposed to Tangier Med, which lies outside the city.   

Tarifa Port ferry from Spain to Morocco
Tarifa Port ferry from Spain to Morocco

FRS (12 times per day)  and Inter-shipping (6 times per day) operate from Tarifa. 

Port details 

You can purchase tickets in the terminal body, at the ferry offices. Be aware that there might be crowds, so take that into account for time. Also take into account the time it will take to pass through customs and ticket checks. The port’s car park offers 30 minutes free, and then charges by the minute. 

How to get there: 

  • By car, take the N-340 and follow the signs to the port in the southern part of town
  • Bus and FRS bus shuttle services run from the center of town to the port. The FRS shuttle also runs from Algeciras train station   

Expect to pay (average price, per person, one way, no vehicle): 

  • Tarifa to Tangier City : $50 USD

Traveling To Spanish Enclaves or Cities In North Africa

Ferries also travel to Melilla and Ceuta, which are two Spanish territories in North Africa. While you will not have to go through passport control on the ferry, you will need to pass through a land border, if you want to travel into Morocco from there. 

Simply proceed to the border post and be assisted by the Moroccan officials there. If you choose to stay in these small enclaves, you will not need to fill in control forms or check for visa requirements.  

Strait of Gibraltar Ferry from Spain to Morocco

Final Word On The Ferry To Morocco 

The relative comfort and ease of traveling by boat from Spain to Morocco makes it a wonderful alternative to flying. Whether it be for a day trip or a longer stay, you will have a choice of destinations along the Mediterranean. 

Importantly, it’s also a lot cheaper than flying. And there’s the added luggage advantage; pack as many bags as you like, even take your car along. It’s all permitted on the ferry. 

Best of all, you may be able to avoid waiting in queues at customs, as the official may actually be on board. So relax, take in the views of the Med, and enjoy the ferry cruise to Morocco!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Morocco Travel Posts: 

Here are some essential Morocco travel posts to help you plan your trip. 

All you need to know about taking the Ferry from Spain to Morocco

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