Morocco may conjure images of sand dunes, dusty mountain trail heads and steamy medina alleyways, but that doesn’t mean those are your only travel options. In fact, not only does Morocco have an extensive coastline to explore, but its coastal cities are some of the most beautiful in the country.
Whether you’re looking for sand or surf, a holiday in Morocco can provide it all. Here are some of the must-see cities on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.
Sidi Ifni – In the far south you’ll find Sidi Ifni, a former Spanish port city that still wears much of its history on its sleeve. The town’s art deco architecture is one of the main tourist draws, but don’t overlook the dramatic seaside cliffs and roaring surf below.
Mirlift – Just north of Sidi Ifni is the tiny fishing village of Mirlift. Easily reached by taxi or bus from Tiznit (15 km down the road), it’s an easy day trip, and one that promises a mellow atmosphere. Stroll along the wide sands, collect shells and beach glass or explore the caves on the northern edge of the beach.
Agadir – Truly Morocco’s beach town, the city was all but destroyed in the 1960 earthquake. The government rebuilt it brick by brick but with an eye for tourism and beachgoers. Visitors can now lounge on the beach or watch the world go by at a boardwalk café. You may even want to head out to one of the many nightclubs.
Essaouira – Have you seen Othello? What about Kingdom of Heaven? If yes, then you’ve seen Essaouira. The new town is built up around the original Spanish fortress, which contains the medina, markets and much of the original fortress structures, including cannons along the waterfront ramparts. The wide sandy beach is also excellent but the city is truly known for kite surfing. The constant off-shore winds provide ideal conditions almost year round, and you’ll be hard pressed to go a day without at least a few daredevils showing their stuff in the water.
Safi – Safi is a beach town, but if you want a beach experience, its best to look elsewhere. Where Safi truly shines is in its ceramics and pottery industry. The city boasts some of the finest work in the country and at the best prices available.
Ceuta/Melilla – These two cities are not Moroccan, but they’re a fun, easy diversion if you’re in Morocco for a long period of time. Both cities still belong to Spain and boast all the trappings of Europe just a stone’s throw from Morocco’s larger northern cities.
Rabat – Rabat’s beach is not much more than a few dozen yards of sand, roped off from port traffic, but that’s not the true draw of the city. Here, the sea sits as backdrop to a thriving medina, dramatic citadel and a fascinating history, all in the current government’s backyard. The fresh fish and sea air serve only to deepen the experience.
Tangier – Tangier has long been considered the gateway to Morocco and for good reason. Sitting on the southern edge of the Straight of Gibraltar, Tangier is but a short ferry ride from Spain, and many visitors to the city are there for their first taste of North African and Arab culture. While you’re there, check out the café hang out of your favorite author (believe me, they’ve been).
Saidia – This Mediterranean town boasts a beach nearly 14 kilometers long, making it an obvious draw for beach lovers. The city is easily reached from Oujda and hosts a folk festival every summer.
What coastal cities do you admire in Morocco – tell our team at Journey Beyond Travel in our comments section below.
Written by Margaret Jackson.
Photo by Bialy.