The Chiringuito-with-No-Name at El Palmar beach, located half-way between Tarifa and Cadiz on the Atlantic coast is my favourite beach bar in all Europe.
This modest, unassuming shanty serves tinto de verano, a refreshing red wine and soda mix, boquerones (delicious deep-fried anchovies) and other tasty snacks. The charm of this secret gem lies in its unspoiled nature and totally undeveloped facilities. El Palmar is a deserted stretch of sandy, wind-blasted beach that goes on as far as the eye can see. There are no high rise concrete hotel blocks, no fancy restaurants, no lager louts demanding full English breakfasts.
Almost everyone in the bar is a local: either a crusty old fisherman taking a break from putting out the nets to discuss the tide and have a cold beer, surfer dudes or youngsters who come to watch the last 'golden ray' of the sunset while listening to local rock bands. It's always very, very windy here and there is little shade from the intense sun, except in the bar!
The bar can only be reached by car on route A-48 (autovia de la Costa de la Luz)
A short stroll along the beach, heading away from the town centre of Tarifa, leads to the most charming of Spanish beach bars, Gunlao.
Gunlao, Tarifa, sits at mainland Europe’s most southern point. This inviting beach bar offers the chance to really relax in the sunshine; with views of the North African coastline to the left, Paloma Baja sand dunes to the right, with the Atlantic Ocean sprawling out in between.
It is the perfect place to step out of the breeze or wind, depending upon the days weather (Tarifa is renowned for its windy tendencies, attracting windsports junkies from all over the world). Gunloa offers the ideal vantage point to watch the colourful array of windsurfers and kite surfers, dancing across and above the sea. The windswept sand is kept at bay by the short, clear glass walls surrounding the bar, offering the perfect protection, while not detracting from the scenery and surroundings.
The bar itself can best be described as ‘chilled’. An attractive mix of relaxed music, reasonably priced food and drinks menu, together with friendly staff and customers gives this bar an unassuming and unpretentious feel, while still retaining its style and sense of chic.
You will struggle to find a more comfortable area to lounge in, with Gunlao offering what can only be described as seats that are the ideal mix of bed and sofa. The hours disappear once your back hits the cushions, and with friendly table service offered, you’ll be going nowhere soon!
Take your weight off your feet, take a break from your stroll, head in, sit back and enjoy.
Paseo Maritimo Playa los Lances, Tarifa, Lounge Musica Bar,Desayunos,Comidas,Cenas y Show., 11380 Tarifa, Spain
+34 956 68 19 64
Google map: bit.ly/zqG6MH
If you’re staying on the Costa del Sol, the Rif Mountains of Morocco glitter tantalisingly on the horizon… and for about 50 euros each for a return trip, you can take a ferry which spans two hours and two cultures.
You can leave from Algeciras, an enormous, industrial port with an expensive car park, or drive a little further round the coast and use the more low-key port of Tarifa, which also has a free car park right by the ferry terminal.
Don’t forget the Moroccan time difference when catching the return boat, and also, make sure you get your immigration forms stamped on board before arriving.
The ferry is often rammed full of travellers returning from harvesting jobs in Europe, and a bag of sweets to share with curious children is a real ice breaker (a pack of Polos was shared between dozens of families).
You get great views of the Rock of Gibraltar and usually there are dolphins accompanying the ferries. In Tangiers, you can hire a guide for about 25 euros and experience the Kasbah and the markets for a few hours- a rowdy, colourful jumble - and try some of the unusual food and drink before returning to Europe… which will now seem grey and homogenous!
Several ferry companies including:
If you want to have a rare sheltered yet sunny spot by the beach for tanning or just chilling out, try Tangana as it had everything we needed: food, drinks, kite hire and lessons. You can also rent a bungalow for the week (but I have no idea what they are like).
A short walk up the beach westward, there is also a huge sand dune you can walk up for views.
Its a couple of miles west of Tarifa at Casas de Porro, www.tarifaweb.com/tangana/eng/index.htm . We got a taxi from the Port at Tarifa, it cost about €12 one way.
A small funky hotel with Moorish influences in the old town. Price includes breakfast - get the toast with tomatoes and olive oil with your cafe con leche!
Close to lots of bars and restaurants - a great atmosphere in the evening, but not at all noisy when you want to get to bed (eventually!).
After an energy-sapping morning soaking up the rays on Valdevaqueros beach - one of the best along the Costa de la Luz - try lunching at the minute hotel perched on the dunes behind a surf school and shop. Enjoy the typically Tarifan hippy-chic vibe, sitting at oversized wooden tables under generous shady bamboo cover and their delicious array of hearty, green salads and fresh fruit juices make a welcome break after a night of tapas indulgence.
Fast, friendly and affordable service from Spain to Tangiers (or 'Tanger'). The day-trips are inevitably formulaic, with set routes round the old city of Tangiers, but led by well-informed and interesting guides. Even if this is a digression from your travel in Spain, try to fit in the FRS package of one night's stay in Tangiers, which is amazingly cheap and lets you make your own way around the old city and find true bargains in the markets and shops.
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