Is Tangier safe? Your 2024 Safety Guide

Adam G
By Adam G Destination: Tangier 2.5k Views 20 Min Read

Tourism to Morocco is increasing exponentially, after a brief slow-down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first eleven months of 2023, Morocco welcomed 13.2 million visitors, beating the previous record set before the pandemic in 2019. 2024 is predicted to be bigger by far as more and more people from all over the world come to enjoy the delights of Morocco. 

Most tourists fly to Morocco, usually to Casablanca or Marrakech, but more flights are arriving in Tangier. Tangier Med Port is now the busiest commercial port in the Mediterranean, while Tangier Ville is only a 45-minute trip from Spain across the Straits of Gibraltar so that Tangier is packed with tourists arriving from across Europe and elsewhere, arriving through Spain, crossing the Med by ferry direct to Morocco or indirectly through the Spanish enclaves of Sebta and Melilla. Ferries are also becoming more regular from Gibraltar, France, and Italy. 

Folks come from Spain sometimes just for a day trip to Tanger or to begin a longer adventure exploring Morocco and the Moroccans are there awaiting them. 

So the question on many people’s lips is; “Is Tangier safe?”

This article will answer the question in some detail, but, spoiler alert!, the short answer is, “Yes, pretty much”. 

So here are some questions we are often asked regarding safety in Tangier, together with up-to-date information and answers 

Is Tangier Safe To Visit?

Tangier is safer to visit today than it has ever been. Nowhere in the world is 100% safe at all times, but Tangier is comparatively safe to visit. An increased and visible police and security presence is noticeable to visitors, helping them feel reassured and able to understand that the Moroccan King, the government, and regional authorities take the safety of tourists very seriously indeed. It is still recommended to take sensible precautions and be vigilant, however. To begin, you should ensure that you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you arrive in Morocco. 

The Travel Advisory listing for Tangier currently stands at Level 2 which is  “Increased Caution Advised”  

General Safety Tips

  1. Take note of specific recommendations or guidelines from local authorities, your tour company, or accommodations. Check for updates just before you travel. 
  2. Always be alert and aware of your current surroundings.  
  3. Ensure your personal belongings are secure, consider a moneybelt, and don’t be ostentatious with electronic equipment, personal jewellery, or flashing your money about. Beware of pickpockets, especially in crowded places and on public transport. 
  4. It is essential to respect local customs, such as Ramadan, and dress modestly in more conservative areas and religious sites. 
  5. Avoid walking about at night time, particularly if you are alone or in poorly lit or unfamiliar areas.
  6. Use official, reputable tour companies, and modes of transport, and be cautious with taxis, ride-shares, and Airbnb or couch-sharing services. 

Is Public Transport in Tangier Safe to Use?

Tangier has an excellent bus service and is the terminal for train travel going elsewhere in Morocco. Thus the trains and buses are used frequently by locals and tourists alike. The trains and buses are well-maintained and the trains have guards while the buses are equipped with CCTV cameras which are constantly being monitored to ensure the safety of passengers which the Tangier authorities take very seriously. Buses are cheap and the most used transport by the locals. Train fares are very reasonable and both methods of transport are considered to be safe ways to travel.

But always be mindful of your possessions as pickpockets are the greatest security threat on buses particularly during the rush hour when there is often standing room only and the vehicles will be crowded. 

Once, when a Moroccan friend of mine was on a bus, a young man tapped her on the shoulder and offered a mobile phone to her. She looked at the device and said in surprise, “That’s my phone!”

“Yes”, replied the man.”I am a thief and stole your phone but it is rubbish so I don’t want it.”! 

Otherwise, the buses are quite safe and passengers and staff will usually be happy to help if you need any local information or want to know which is your stop. 

Is It Safe To Drive in Tangier? 

Many tourists take their cars to Tangier, either by ferry from mainland Spain or from the Spanish enclaves of Sebta (Cueta) or Melilla. Others rent a car on arrival in the city to have more freedom to explore Morocco. 

The road quality in Tangier is generally very good, but Moroccan drivers are often crazy. Drivers will often ignore traffic laws, drive too quickly whilst jumping from lane to lane to overtake and cars will stop beyond the traffic lights to gain a few metres advantage but are then unable to see the lights change and have to rely on vehicles behind blaring their horns to signal a green light. Pedestrians walk in the road and cross at random points as drivers rarely stop for zebra crossings and motorbike riders often ignore even red lights. 

Additionally, note the signage may be only in Arabic in some cases and that the speed limits and distances are set in kilometres per hour not miles per hour. 

The key is therefore to drive defensively. There are many police checkpoints, so always have your documentation on hand. Ensure you have full insurance coverage. Check all the local driving laws and regulations. 

Driving in Tangier can be a harrowing experience, but if you drive thinking that everyone else on the road is an idiot, you should be fine.  

Are Families Safe Visiting Tangier?

The Moroccan people adore children and will spoil them rotten at every opportunity. Even thieves and pickpockets rarely target infants. The tourist sector including hotels and riads will go out of their way to ensure families have a happy and safe time in Tangier. Increased and visible police and security services help to make families feel secure exploring the city. The city is very family-friendly and there are many places to see and activities to share with the whole family The beaches are ideal and fun for everyone. 

Just be sensible and follow the usual safety guidelines and you’ll be fine. 

Are Women Safe Visiting Tangier? 

Sometimes female travellers will worry about visiting Morocco, especially if they travel alone or with other women. Morocco is, after all, a Muslim country but it is very respectful to people who respect the local way of life, and Moroccan women themselves often choose not to wear a hijab and wear modern, western fashions.

Tangier is generally safe for female travellers, but caution is advised, be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t go wandering about in dimly lit areas at night, don’t be ostentatious with your mobile devices or jewellery, keep your bags and money secure and dress modestly in more conservative areas or religious sites. I have met many women who have had a wonderful time visiting Tangier. 

Is it Safe Travelling Alone in Tangier?

Solo travellers have been visiting Tangier to experience the hippy culture for decades. Those days may be gone, but solo travellers still come and are pretty safe when they follow the usual basic safety precautions; staying in well-lit areas after dark, keeping alert at all times, and not flashing about expensive electronic devices or bulging wallets.    

I have been alone in Tangier on several occasions, and, apart from one time when a guy followed me for an hour begging for money, offering me hashish, a hotel, a taxi and to carry my bags, I never had any problems. Even that one guy was in no way threatening, just annoying. 

Is Aibnb Safe in Tangier?

Yes, Airbnb in Tangier is rated as very safe indeed. It can be a great way of finding safe, convenient, and comfortable accommodation in the city. 

As always with this service it is wise to plan ahead and be cautious. Read the reviews and check out the ratings of the host and accommodation. The experience of previous visitors can be telling. Contact the host directly before you book to get the feel of the person and ask any questions that you may have. Their ability and willingness to respond and how they interact with you can be useful guidelines. When you arrive, always check the safety and security of the place; fire alarms and extinguishers, locks for doors and windows, is there CCTV, and is someone always on the premises? 

If you do have any concerns whatsoever, then contact the Airbnb helpline/ customer support which is very effective at finding solutions to your problems. 

Is Uber Safe In Tangier?

Unfortunately, Uber pulled out of Morocco in 2018 due to what it described as the “Taxi Mafia”. But not to worry, Uber’s Middle Eastern subsidiary, Careem, is still operating in Tangier, as well as another taxi app called Roby. These are considered to be safe in Tangier. But always verify the driver’s and the vehicle’s details before entering the car, and check the driver’s photo ID, license plate and number match the information on the app. Tell somebody else the details of your ride before you travel for extra security.  

Is It Safe To Live in Tangier?

I have lived in Fes for nearly twenty years but know several expats who live in Tangier. More ex-pats live in Tangier than in Fes because the Spanish move there due to its proximity to Spain and the Spanish colonisation, the British because of their shared history with the city, and Americans because of the literary and hippy connections. They tell me it is a nice and safe place to reside, especially in the last decade or two since the government and local authorities improved security and tightened up on law enforcement. Crime rates have decreased over this period and are still going down. 

Like anywhere else, crime does still occur, particularly petty thefts, burglary, and scamming, but being vigilant and cautious should reduce the risks greatly.   

Is it Safe To Use Drugs in Tangier?

NO!

Morocco is the number one supplier of marijuana to Europe. It is commonly called hash or hashish here, but it will often be offered to foreigners as “chocolate”, “good shit” or “ would you like to go to a party”. 

However,  the use of hashish and other such substances is illegal in Morocco, and if you are caught in possession you can expect a hefty fine and a lengthy spell in one of Morocco’s not very pleasant prisons. The days of the “Marrakech Express” are long gone and the authorities take drug use very seriously. There are also many scams, some of them involving the police where you can be sold some hash and immediately after get stopped by the police and arrested with a reward going to the seller who informed the authorities! The use, sale, distribution, import, and export of drugs are all illegal. The safety and quality of drugs in Morocco are also suspect; many drugs are mixed with other chemicals to reduce costs to the dealers. These can have worse-than-usual health consequences.   

Using drugs also puts you more at risk of accidents and falling victim to other crimes as your awareness will be lessened. 

So, no, it is not safe to do drugs in Tangier. 

Don’t do it. 

Top Five Scams and Rip-Offs in Tangier.

As with any popular tourist city in the world, there are always those who will take advantage of naive tourists with more money than sense. So be sensible. Tangier is not a hot-bed of crime, but it does occur so here are the Top Five Scams and Rip-Offs in Tangier to watch out for: 

  1. Pickpockets. Sadly, these are not unknown and some of them are so good you won’t notice you’ve been robbed until hours later. Use secure money belts and keep a close guard of your pockets and bags, on buses and In crowded, bustling streets especially in medinas and at prayer times, pickpockets will be present. Keep alert!
  2. Overpricing. Another easy way to lose a lot of money. Some unscrupulous vendors will see a tourist a mile away and assume that all foreigners, especially Japanese, Americans, and Western Europeans, are loaded with money. They will judge you in part on the quality of your clothes, your shoes, and your watch, phone, and jewellery and start the bargaining process with a price based on your appearance. Dress casually and wear sneakers or scuffed shoes, keeping expensive items to a minimum and hidden. And always haggle; the price will be inflated to begin anyway, as that is the time-honoured way of conducting business here.
  3.  Fake or poor-quality souvenirs. Just be cautious, some items are not what they claim to be. Fake watches, counterfeit Brand Name items, and fake fossils are examples of what to look out for, especially in tourist hot spots. Always check the items carefully before purchasing. 
  4. Faux Guides. Official Guides wear a suit or traditional djellaba and have an authorised badge in plain view. Fake guides, called faux guides in Morocco, will often be as informed, professional, and friendly as a real guide, but will take you to shops and restaurants where they get a cut, so they are not necessarily the best places. They also can charge an arm and a leg for their services. Ask for accreditation or trust reputable tour operators. Some better genuine guides are listed on online blogs about Morocco or in tourist guidebooks such as Lonely Planet.
  5. Taxi Scams. The majority of taxi drivers are decent, honest, hard-working folks, but a few are not. Some will overcharge. If you are getting a Grand Taxi to another city, there should be a price list posted publicly at the taxi station so ask to see this. Always agree on the fare in advance. The local, intercity Petit Taxis, pale blue with a yellow racing stripe in Tangier will have a fixed-price meter. Ensure it is switched on and reset at the start of your journey. If the driver says the meter is broken, he is probably up to no good, so get another taxi. Some taxi drivers will also go by a longer route than is necessary. I always tell the taxi driver that it’s nice to be back in Tangier again and I know and love the city. Never fails.

In Conclusion.

In summary, then, tourists can be reasonably well assured of having a splendid time in the beautiful, cultural, and historic city of Tangier as it is comparatively safe to visit. The government, at both national and regional levels, has put a not inconsiderable amount of time, effort, and money into tightening security and improving safety and a very visible police, security, and military presence helps make visitors feel secure.

Take note of our advice, stay informed of the latest local updates, and always be cautious, sensible, and aware of your surroundings and you should enjoy a happy visit to the wonderful Moroccan city of Tangier. 

EMERGENCY NUMBERS:

It is recommended that you write these emergency numbers down and program them into your mobile phone before you travel. 

We very much hope that you will never need them, but it is wise to keep them handy – Just in case! 

  • Police: 190
  • Ambulance: 15
  • Fire Service: 15
  • Tourist Police: +212 539 32 23 61
  • Tourist Board (Tangier): +212 539 93 36 10

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Adam G
By Adam G
Hello, world, here is a little relevant biography about yours truly.I am a Welsh/ English scientist who retired at 39 to come and live in Morocco with wifey. That was back in 2005 and we haven’t looked back since. We rescued a baby tortoise, Tidgy, in 2011 who is our little girl, as we don’t have children. She is the third member of our happy family. We live in the ancient medina of Fes, the largest pedestrianised, urban area in the world and consider it to be a magical place. We love Morocco and think of it as our spiritual home. I spend my time reading, relaxing, exploring this wonderful country whenever possible, sharing coffee and conversation with our Moroccan friends and neighbours, blog-writing(!) and studying palaeontology and evolution. I have visited over fifty countries and previously lived in the UK, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand, enjoyed them all, but Morocco is the best. My motto is, “Life’s Good!”, as this includes the fossil record, our wonderful world as it is today, and my own life, which has been fantastic. I hope to be able to chat with some of you, gentle readers, and maybe even have the pleasure of meeting some of you when you come to visit our incredible adopted country.
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  • AvatarGeorge says:

    Well written, much appreciated

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