Traveling to different continents is incredible; I still can’t shake off the thrill I have felt when hopping from one continent to another. But what if you could enjoy seeing one continent when you’re located in another? The feeling is special, the kind that you would have if you were to enjoy watching Africa from Europe.
Can you see Africa from Europe? You can see Africa from multiple places around the Strait of Gibraltar in Europe, which is a channel of water between the African continent and the European continent. These places include Gibraltar, Tarifa, Mirador dor Estrecho, Nerja, Sierra de Istan in Marbella, and Algeciras.
This article is about seeing Africa from Europe. I have gone into details about the specific locations along the strait of Gibraltar, where you can have the best views. And with the help of my highly recommended Binoculars, you get to see Africa from “up close.”
Further, I have included other beautiful sights that you can enjoy, besides seeing Africa.
Can you See Africa from Europe?
Yes, you can see Africa from Europe. But how much of Africa you see will, of course, depend on the distance between the two continents from your location. In locations where the distance between the two continents is shorter, the view of Africa is better. Also, higher elevations and the use of a binocular will likely give better views. Let me explain:
The European and the African continents are separated by a water channel that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean sea. This channel (referred to as a strait) is called the Strait of Gibraltar.
The Strait of Gibraltar has Spain and Gibraltar on the European side and Morocco and Ceuta on the African side.
How far is Africa from Spain?
The shortest distance between Africa and Spain is 8.9 miles or 14 kilometers and is the straight’s narrowest point. To be even more precise, it takes a ferry about 35 minutes to cross from Europe to Africa at the narrowest part of the Strait of Gibraltar.
The Strait of Gibraltar is, therefore, one place where you can see Africa from Europe. Here’s even better news; there are different points along the Strait of Gibraltar on the European side with fantastic views of Africa.
That said, you can watch Africa from Europe by positioning yourself strategically along the Strait of Gibraltar.
How can you see Africa from Gibraltar?
Gibraltar is an overseas territory of Britain. It is located on Spain’s south coast between Europe and Africa, and it is only 14 miles from Africa. This makes it a great place to see Africa from Europe.
Gibraltar extends over an area of 2.6 sq mi. Its most striking landscape is a 1398ft high Jurassic limestone rock referred to as the Rock of Gibraltar. The rock overlooks the strait of Gibraltar. It is the first thing you will notice when you arrive or land in Gibraltar.
Thrilling fact: Gibraltar airport is among the most dangerous airports in the world. Why is that? The runway cuts through Gibraltar city, and even scarier, it is intersected by one of the busiest streets in the city – Winston Churchill Avenue. Enjoy the thrill.
To reach the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, you have several options:
- Using a cable car
- Hire a taxi
- Hike to the top
- Hire a tour guide
While a cable car takes you directly to the top in just 6 minutes, the other options provide an opportunity for you to explore the rock on your way up.
A circuit tour by taxi takes you around the rock and up to a point near the top with stops at interesting places (listed below). If you decide to take the hike, be sure that you have enough time and prepare to break a sweat, as you will go uphill for quite some time.
- Moorish Castle
- WW2 tunnels
- Great Siege tunnels
- City Under Siege
- St. Michael’s Cave
- The Apes Den (You don’t have to visit the Apes Den to see the apes. You will encounter them throughout your tour. They are all around)
The Views from the Top of the Rock of Gibraltar
Once you reach the top of the rock, you will get some fantastic views from all perspectives around the rock, Africa included.
On the western side, the coastal towns of Algeciras and Tarifa are visible on the Spanish Coast. To the north, you can behold Costa Del Sol, a famous coastal tourist destination in Andalusia. The Sierra Nevada mountains of California are also visible in the north.
Can you see Africa from Europe? In Gibraltar, yes! Across the Strait of Gibraltar is where you get to see the coast of Africa. Emerging in the distance, the mountain ranges of northern Morocco, also called the Rif, form a spectacular view.
You also get to see the Morrocan part of the Atlas mountains. These mountains span three African countries- Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
Where else can you see Africa from Europe?
It is clear now that the Strait of Gibraltar offers several viewpoints of Africa, with the best being in Gibraltar. Given that the strait is over 37 miles long, so where else can you position yourself for great views?
Like I said earlier, you have several options:
This is a coastal town in the Cadiz province of the Spanish Andalucia region. It is located at the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar, 8.9 miles from Africa.
Tarifa town is popular with kiteboarding and windsurfing lovers – thanks to great winds that dominate the region. It also has many bars and restaurants where you can sip your drink away and view the northern coasts of Africa.
Most buildings in Tarifa have roof gardens that offer excellent views across the Strait of Gibraltar to Africa, so you should take advantage of this when you look for accommodation.
For even better and unforgettable views of Africa, you can check out some popular locations. Great examples include Guadalmesi watchtower at the Colada de la Costa hiking trail, the castle of the Guzman the Righteous (Castillo de Guzman el Bueno) within Tarifa town, and the Playa Punta de Paloma, which is a beautiful beach north of Tarifa town.
The view is even more enchanting at night! The water reflects the light from Tangier and other coastal towns of Morocco.
Mirador dor Estrecho (Overlook of the Strait)
This is a viewpoint of Gibraltar’s strait located 3.7 miles north-east of Tarifa Town (less than a ten minutes’ drive).
From here, you can see the majestic 2763ft tall Jebel Musa mountain in Morocco. Jebel Musa is the highest of the Rif mountain chain.
Have you ever heard of Ceuta? This is a Spanish city located on the northern coast of Africa, and you can see it so clearly from Mirador dor Estrecho.
Something else that you can enjoy looking at is the constant movement of many ships and ferries that cross the strait. This happens every single day throughout the year.
Other places where people have claimed to see Africa on clear sunny days include Nerja (a resort town in Spain), Algeciras, Sierra de Istan in Marbella, and other different locations in Malaga port City. Notably, all these places overlook the Strait of Gibraltar.
Amazing Attractions between Europe and Africa
Besides watching one continent from another, there’s so much more to enjoy between Europe and Africa.
Dolphin and Whale Watching
Due to nutrient concentration brought by currents towards the narrow passage between Morocco and Spain, there’s plenty of food in the strait of Gibraltar for ocean life. This attracts large whale and dolphin populations of different species.
The strait is home to over 7 species of whales and dolphins you can watch from different points and at different times of the year.
Note: Check with a tour agency if you can go on a day tour to view Africa and watch dolphins/whales simultaneously.
For birdwatching enthusiasts, you can treat yourself to the over 300 bird species as they migrate to and from Africa and Europe. The Rock of Gibraltar offers a temporary home for most migratory birds since its vegetation offers them rest and food.
It is, therefore, one of the best places to watch them almost all year round. The numbers especially increase during the peak seasons, March-May and August-October.
Ships and Ferries
If you are particularly fascinated by watching ships approach or disappear from the horizon, then you will be in for a treat. The strait is one of the busiest waterways in the world. About 300 ships cross the strait every day. This translates to about one ship every 5 minutes.
Flora and Fauna
This simply means plants and animals. Gibraltar Nature Reserve at the Rock of Gibraltar hosts over 600 species of plants, some of which are native to the region. Animals include various mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects.
In particular, you can see the red fox, the European rabbit, lizards, snakes, butterflies, and numerous birds like I mentioned earlier. The most noticeable animals are the Barbary Macaques or, simply, the apes.
You can certainly see Africa from Europe, and even better, you can visit different locations to get varied views. You will get the best viewpoints along the strait of Gibraltar since it is the closest link between the two continents.