Visiting Morocco? Don’t miss Agadir, the best beach resort in the country. Virtually destroyed by an earthquake in 1960, the southern city preserved its traditional heritage while undergoing a modern renovation. Come to Agadir to relax on golden-sand beaches, shop at maze-like souks and get pampered at a hammam. Tempted? Here are the top things to do in Agadir, Morocco.
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Hike up to the atmospheric Agadir Oufella ruins, also known as the Kasbah, sitting on a hilltop overlooking the city’s fishing port and beach. Explore the remains of this ancient fortress, built in 1540 to protect Agadir from Portuguese invasions and later destroyed by an earthquake in 1960. Although only the crumbling walls and entry portal of the site remain, it offers views over Agadir, which are especially majestic at sunset.
Hit the beach
As Morocco’s favourite coastal destination, Agadir has a long stretch of honey-coloured sand perfect for basking. Unlike the beach at nearby Essaouira, which is battered by Atlantic winds almost year-round, this one is sheltered, with waves that break far out to sea. Expect pristine sands and lifeguard patrols in the peak summer months. Arrange a boat trip along the coast, book surf lessons and enjoy a meal accompanied by sea views on the buzzing promenade.
Relax in a hammam
On of the best things to do in Agadir is to savour a slice of Moroccan culture with a hammam trip. It’s a sacred ritual for locals, who usually visit once a week for a deep clean and to socialise. Steam open your pores, then prepare for an intense body scrub with black-olive-oil soap, which will leave you feeling thoroughly cleansed. If you’re after a more luxurious experience, head to the Argan Palace, where you can opt for a private hammam followed by a soothing massage.
Eat at Les Blancs
If you’d like to enjoy a beautiful view alongside your meal, visit Spanish-Mediterranean restaurant Les Blancs. This popular eatery on Agadir Beach, in front of the marina, offers open-air terraces where you can drink in sparkling sea views. Feast on a menu of fresh seafood or tapas; there are even 10 varieties of paella. Staff are known for their friendly service, which attracts locals and the resident yachting crowd.
Shop in the Souk El Had d’Agadir
Soak up the colours, smells and sights of Souk El Had, which is open every day but Monday. With about 6,000 stalls, it’s one of the largest markets in Morocco, sprawling over more than 13ha (32 acres). Enter through one of 12 gates and browse stores laden with everything from fragrant spices to piles of colourful produce, clay tagines, handmade rugs and homeware. While some sellers advertise set prices, you’re mostly free to haggle.
Visit the Memoire d’Agadir
Learn about Agadir’s catastrophic 1960 earthquake at this compact museum, set on the edge of the Jardin de Olhão. You won’t find any hi-tech exhibits, just newspaper cuttings and photographs that detail the deadly event, which killed more than 17,000 people and levelled much of the city. The museum also traces the history of Agadir since the 1920s and sits within a peaceful garden filled with palm trees and cacti.
Stroll around La Medina d’Agadir
Want to know what Agadir looked like before the earthquake? A must do thing would be to visit Medina d’Agadir, a detailed replica in Ben Sergao, just a short drive south from the city centre. Constructed in 1992 by Moroccan-Italian architect Coco Polizzi, this medina is part museum, part work of art. Picture classic Berber architecture made from local materials such as rock and slate from the Atlas Mountains. Wander atmospheric streets lined with shops that are home to artisans, painters, metalworkers and carpenters.
Take a trip to the Souss-Massa National Park
Escape the city hubbub for a tranquil day trip to the Souss-Massa National Park. It covers 33,800ha (83,522 acres) of wetlands, forests and rippled Sahara-like dunes. Its focal point is the Oued Massa (Massa River), where exotic birds come to breed, including flamingos, cormorants and sandgrouse; it’s one of the only places in the world where you can see the northern bald ibis. It’s best to visit with a knowledgeable guide.
One of the things to see in Agadir is to visit the rare Nile crocodile at this wildlife reserve, just east of city. These animals once thrived in Morocco but have largely been wiped out in the wild by hunters. The crocodiles live in huge enclosures that mimic their natural habitat; Crocoparc also has a laboratory and nursery where you might catch a glimpse of hatchlings. When you’ve had your fill of wildlife spotting, stroll around the 4ha (10 acre) botanical garden filled with more than 300 plant species.
Picnic in the Vallée des Oiseaux
The Vallée des Oiseaux, a green space in the centre of Agadir, is free to enter and makes a great spot for a family outing. It features a playground, a walk-through aviary and enclosures where you can spot parrots, flamingos, deer and even kangaroos. The park is well shaded and filled with magnolias and banana trees, with a small fountain at its heart; chill out with a cold drink at one of the cafes clustered around the main gate.
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