Man on motorcycle moroccoThe harsh truth: Agadir has a reputation of being a tourist trap. If you’re looking for the true Moroccan experience, most say this city will disappoint. But we’ve got good news—the traditional Morocco you may be searching for is just a short day trip away from Agadir.

Marrakech is a must-see destination if you plan on spending time exploring other cities in Morocco. History buffs, you’re in for a treat. This city is packed with culture. Explore the Medina and other souks sprinkled throughout the city. Prep your bartering skills and dive into the adventures of haggling down the typically high tourist prices. Pack a decent pair of walking shoes as well as an attitude ready for the commotion of Marrakech. A circle drive surrounds the souks, with taxis continuously picking up and dropping off customers. When you enter into the souk area you will see dancing Cobra snakes and monkeys on chains. Several wildlife organizations warn tourists to stay away because of the inhumane treatment of these animals.

In case the hubbub of busy city life isn’t what you had in mind for the day, there are plenty of relaxing getaways near Agadir as well.

The nearby town of Essaouria is another authentic Moroccan destination. About an hour and 45-minute drive away, the windy destination is entirely tourist-friendly. Although Essaouria has plenty to do, it’s a much more relaxed city when compared to Marrakech. If you’re hoping to explore some culture and history as well as have a relaxing day, this seaside town is the perfect fit. The walled 17th-century Portuguese village is famous for its fisheries. Meander down the tightly wound streets where locals sell handmade wood carvings, clothing and trinkets. Sunbathe on the low stonewalls bordering the coast while peeling some locally grown Clementine oranges. Even in the winter months, Essaouria maintains mild temperatures, ideal for a relaxing day trip.

Take a ride in a two-person buggy about 150 km south of Agadir to a small seaside village, where you can sip tea and venture onto the sandy dunes. This trip is popular with tourists, and your hotel reception should be familiar with the excursion details. After driving your buggy to the shoreline you can to step out and explore the nature surrounding you. Take a dip, sunbathe on the sandy coast or climb up and down the dunes to snap some photos.

If all that gazing out onto the watery horizon makes you yearn for some time on the sea, try a full day Atlantic cruise. Although it may not be the most Moroccan experience, it can lend you some necessary rest and relaxation. After spending a day or two in cities like Marrakech, you may be aching to test your sea legs and soak in some sweet African rays out on the water. The cruise departs from Agadir on Thursdays and Sundays.

If you’ve made plans to stay in Agadir but have heard negative comments about the city’s lack of history and culture, there is still plenty of “real” Morocco to see around the area. All it takes is a short bus (or buggy!) ride to immerse in a traditional Moroccan experience.

Written by Amanda Sandlin.

Photo by dominickgolenia.