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  • Writer's pictureGreen Traveller

Train from London to Morocco

Green Traveller’s guide to getting to Morocco without setting foot on a plane – instead travelling overland by train and ferry from London St Pancras via Barcelona and Algeciras to Tangier.


Marrakesh market. Photo Wix Media

Summary: Train via Paris, Barcelona and Madrid to Algeciras in southern Spain then catch the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangier

Journey Time: about 48 hours

Approximate cost (one way):

Eurostar to Paris from £52

Train from Paris to Barcelona from €39

Train from Barcelona to Algeciras via

Madrid from €51

Ferry from Algeciras to Tangier from €25


Train tickets provided by Trainline:




Ferry tickets provided by Ferry Hopper:



 

What's the journey like?

Take the Eurostar, the UK’s international high-speed rail service that runs from the magnificently renovated London St Pancras International Railway Station. On board, there’s no weight limit for your luggage, but you should be able to carry and lift your bags safely. To get to Barcelona on the same day, take an earlyish Eurostar, e.g. the 9.24am departure, arriving Paris just before 1pm, in

order to catch the mid-afternoon train down to Barcelona to arrive early evening.


In Paris, you change stations from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon to take the train south to Barcelona. Crossing Paris to change stations is only two stops on the Paris RER D line, though we recommend you leave at least 50 minutes for the entire transfer. See our guide on How to transfer between train stations across Paris.

Stopover hotels to break the journey in Paris

If you want to break the journey and stay overnight to see a bit more of Paris while you're travelling through, there are lots of lovely places to stay near both Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon. Here are some examples of hotels that are conveniently near these stations:


Miss your connection in Paris?

Don’t panic. Railteam’s ‘Hop on the Next Available Train’ service means that if you have missed your connection between high speed trains because of a delay on the preceding leg of your journey, you’ll automatically be put on the next available high-speed train. NB Remember to get your ticket stamped by your Train Manager. Whenever you’re connecting, always remember to validate your onward train ticket at the machine on the platform before departing (these are often coloured yellow).


Onward to Barcelona, Madrid and Algciras

At Gare de Lyon, board a TGV high-speed train to Barcelona Sants station. The best thing about overland train travel is that you have the time and space to walk around the train, visit the buffet carriage, play cards, read the newspaper or a book, catch up on emails and text, watch a film, enjoy a meal, or just gaze out of the window and enjoy the views out of the large windows as the train whizzes across the picturesque French and Spanish countryside. You’ll arrive in to the heart of Barcelona, so no need to take a transfer from an out-of-the-way airport to the city centre; and fortunately there are many hotels very close to the railway station. Stay overnight in Barcelona – it’s a proud Mediterranean metropolis and a city of many faces. From the gracious avenues of Gracia with their chic boutiques, to the atmospheric, winding lanes of the Barri Gòtic, the city’s patchwork of neighbourhoods entices visitors with their distinct characters.


Hotels near Barcelona Sants Train Station

The following morning take the high-speed AVE train to Madrid (it leaves about 11am and arrives at about 1.45pm) from where you take the train down to Algeciras in southern Spain (it leaves about 3pm and arrives at about 8.30pm). It’s a glorious journey that gives you an appreciation of how southern Spain becomes progressively Moorish as you whizz down across the mountains to Cordoba and onward to the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula.


Bus from Algeciras to Tarifa then Ferry from Tarifa to Tangier

Stay overnight in Algeciras (there are some lovely tapas bars that open late), then in the morning walk over to the modern ferry passenger terminal where the fast ferry company FRS provides a free transit bus to its ferry terminal departure in the nearby town of Tarifa (it’s about a 30-minute drive).


Here, you take the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangier, a journey of about an hour. It’s an epic journey; look left from the ferry as you pass the awesome Rock of Gibraltar, and then ahead of you looms the continent of Africa.


Arriving in Tangier

The ferry conveniently arrives in the heart of Tangier’s old town – you’ll be met off the ferry by lots of taxi drivers but you’re only a few minute’s walk to Tangier’s railway station and the medina. For onward trains to Meknès, Fez, Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech, see: oncf-voyages.ma.


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There's an excellent description of this trip by Kevin Rushby in the Guardian, see:


For more overland routes to Spain, see Green Traveller's Flight-Free Train/Ferry Journey Planner

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