Ceuta (Autonomous City of Spain)
Transport options to arrive: Ferry or Helicopter
Seeing as Ceuta is not located on the Iberian Peninsula but is instead over the sea, your transportation options are limited. There are ferries that leave from Algeciras regularly and ida y vuelta will cost you between 80-150€, depending on the time of year. The good news is that your furry friends can travel with you for free! If you’ve got money to blow and are looking for a truly unforgettable experience, you can also charter a helicopter from the Malaga airport or Algeciras port.
Recommended time of year to visit and length of visit: Although a beautiful coastal city, Ceuta is small and can be enjoyed in just 2 days. Consider visiting in the summer months when it’s ideal for enjoying the beach! August is the perfect time as they celebrate feria as well as La Virgen de Africa, the patron saint of this city and the sea.
Fun Fact: In case you haven’t gathered this yet, Ceuta is one of Spain’s two autonomous cities located on the continent of Africa! This also makes it the only city in the world that has beaches in the sea and the ocean. Many different cultures have been present in this city over the years, with evidence of the importance of Portugal apparent in the fact that the flag of Ceuta is literally the flag of Lisbon, but with a different coat of arms.
Top three must-sees:
1. Las Murallas Reales: These “royal walls,” whose oldest sections date back to as early as 962, separate the old city for the new city, so that the city would be protected in case of war. In the past, it was only opened at certain times. The original part was constructed by Arabs and the later part by the Portuguese. The surrounding moat is the only navigable one in all of Europe.
2. El Parque Maritimo del Mediterraneo: This “maritime park,” aka water park, was designed by the architect Cesar Manrique (a Canarian who also built the same park in Tenerife) and consists of four lakes of natural Mediterranean waters, which enters through a filtered system from the mouth of the harbor. There’s even an island where you can visit a bar. The first lake is for kiddies and there are many restaurants surrounding the park so you can spend the whole day. Monday is cheaper but don’t go that day (dirty water from the WHOLE weekend, yuck). Instead, go after 3pm if you’re looking for a discounted price.
3. Mirador Isabel II: Located in a mountain range, you’ll find this lookout point practically in the very center where you can see views of the city of Ceuta and on a perfect day you can even see the Iberian Peninsula! There’s an Arabian cafe just down the steps from the lookout point if you’re looking for a reason to extend your relaxing time.
One thing to eat: Camperos de corazones de pollo
According to my friend who’s from Ceuta, you must try the chicken hearts made with Moroccan spices. If you’ve tried pinchos morunos, these have a very similar taste, but with a different texture. Later, if you’re looking for an afternoon tea, be sure to have a té moruno (which is a mixture of green tea, mint, and a ton of sugar). Olé!