By Christine Medina
Beautiful, blustery Tarifa. Perched on the southernmost point of continental Spain, Tenerife tourism becomes a haven for wind-surfers, backpackers and sun-worshippers. Whether you come in the summer high-season (June to mid-September) or during the quieter low-season months, here’s how you should pack your 24 hours on this beautiful island:
Like almost any Spanish town, there’s no shortage of tapas bars in the center. Head towards the church of San Mateo and be sure to stop in at Bar El Francés (Paseo c/Sancho IV El Bravo, 21) for Andalusian classics with a French twist: rabo del toro, calamares and carne con tomate.
A great option for vegetarians and carnivores alike is the Tarifa Eco Center on c/San Sebastian, 4 (found outside of the walls of the old town). This restaurant-meets-shop-meets-tearoom is a relaxing place to rest your tired feet, or even stretch out with some yoga in one of the back rooms.
One of my favorite places for snacks and drinks is the bar located in Hotel Misiana in the center(Paseo de la Alameda 2). It’s stylish, affordable and centrally located and offers a varied menu to please all.
The old town street of C/Nuestra Señora Luz and outside the walls on C/Batalla del Salado are dotted with surf-shops, gift shops and boutiques. Beach bums beware: you’ll find yourself in shopping heaven here!
Iglesia de San Mateo: (Open daily 9am-1pm and 5:30-8:30pm) A church rich in history, the Church of St. Matthew sits on Tarifa’s bustling main street in the old town. It boasts a richly decorated Baroque style on the outside, Gothic on the interior and dates back to the 15th century–though inside you’ll find an ancient tombstone attesting to the fact that there stood a church in the same place before the Moorish conquest, during Visigoth times.
Castillo de Guzman:Though you likely will be unable to enter as it’s under restoration, the Castle of Guzman the Good has an interesting story behind it. Its history dates back to the 13th Century (though originally built in 960) when Guzman, a Christian general refused to allow the Moors to take over his castle, unintentionally sacrificing his son in the process. You will be able to walk around the area where parts of the castle stood and take in a gorgeous view of Morocco on a clear day.
Windsurfing: Most tourists come to Tarifa seeking the wind and the beaches. Head west and you’ll be meet by miles of golden stretches of sand, littered with kites and wind-surfers. Have no idea how to windsurf? No worries, amigo; ask around town or in your hotel/hostel and you’ll find plenty of schools offering lessons.
Whale-Watching: This patch of water surrounding Tarifa, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea, makes an incredible place for whale and dolphin watching. Most tours will take you out for 2-hours on a multi-lingual tour, and if no whales are spotted, your next tour is free.
Sun-bathing: If the day isn’t excessively windy, head to the beach for a few hours of sun-worship. Be sure to grab lunch at a local chiringuito, the Spanish word for restaurants set up on the beach in the summer months.
Though the air is still lingering with heat, the crowds have started to go home. For those who want to see a pretty, Arab-influenced beach-town at a lower price, now is a great time to head to Tarifa. Prices have dropped, but the weather is still suitable for beach time and cold cocktails
Christine Medina, originally from Seattle, Washington, has been an expat in Andalucia for two years. She shares her travel advice, anecdotes and photography over at http://www.christineinspain.com/