The paintings that fill the white washed walls of the old part of town are by far one of the town’s main attractions and attract art lovers all year round. They change every year, and visitors can wander around for hours admiring each piece of work, some smaller and more intricate, others murals filling whole walls. They offer the most fantastic backdrops for photographs, and a refreshing alternative to standard block color or brown medina walls that can be found in traditional and historical cities such as Fes.
The prime seaside location is complemented by a sweet promenade and beautifully simple town streets. Asilah’s layout, size and location make it perfect for bike riding, so it’s no surprise that most of the local hotels offer bike rental services, and some even bike tours. Take the day to explore the whole of the town by bike, combining sightseeing with sport, and enjoy the fresh seaside air and stunning views. This activity is perfect for those who dislike long treks, but still want to see the town.
The annual arts festival brings international artists to this tiny town and really livens up what is normally a slow paced and peaceful escape. Artists are invited to contribute to the artwork of the town by painting murals all around the medina. Whilst guests can admire this artwork all year round, to see the beautiful pieces in creation, a visit during the art festival itself is a must. Lasting between a fortnight and a month, there’s plenty of opportunity to see these murals being created. As well as the public art demonstrations guests can enjoy concerts and exhibitions, as well as a horse festival to end the events.
Shopping in the charming souk is popular on any day, but in particular on Thursdays as it’s market day. Visitors can appreciate an alternative to the sometimes-overcrowded markets of the huge cities, and instead wander almost peacefully around these varied and enchanting stalls. It may be a small town, but visitors can be sure to find everything from souvenirs, textiles, and even instruments, among so much more. A wander around these market streets will almost certainly allow you to meet local artists rushing to sell you their individual pieces.
Many of the ramparts were built in the 15th century when Asilah was under the control of the Portuguese. Since then, these city walls have been cared for and even renovated in part, and stand today in marvelous condition, framing the old part of Asilah and giving such character and history to this already charming town. Encasing the old medina, the ramparts have two piers stretching out into the ocean, with the southern one open to the public and offering spectacular sunset views.
Asilah has its own small and charming beach, but for an alternative to the busier beach directly off the ancient medina, head a short taxi ride away to the beautiful and aptly named Paradise Beach. Less rocky than the smaller beach, visitors can enjoy soft sand and a tranquil ambiance. The size of the beach means it won’t be hard to find a secluded spot, in particular outside the summer months, where the beach is a private and peaceful haven. Enjoy a drink at a typically Spanish chiringuito, or a traditional camel ride to complete the seaside experience.
For a more formal and elegant experience, head to Restaurante Oceano Casa Pepe. At this two story restaurant, guests can enjoy a terrace overlooking the garden or dine inside. With black tie waiters and the freshest of sea food, accompanied by delicious Spanish wine and a romantic, softly lit atmosphere, this elegant restaurant sets itself apart as one of the best in Asilah.
Address: 8 Pl Zellaka | town centre, Asilah 90050, Morocco
Northwest of the center of Asilah stands the Church of San Bartolome, a typically colonial Moorish style building, built by the Spanish Franciscans. This church is one of very few in Morocco that are allowed to ring the bells for Sunday Mass. It is a private and closed church, still housing resident nuns, however if you visit, the nuns are usually more than happy to give you a little guided tour. Certainly worth a visit, the church serves as a reminder of the Christian Catholic presence in this Islamic country.
A simple icon, El Hamra is a must see as its historical significance dates back to the establishment of the ramparts, built by the Portuguese in the 15th century. This charming and characterful tower is another well preserved piece of history, and makes for simple but eye-catching photos.
An exciting new addition to the restaurant scene, Port XIV offers a more contemporary and less traditional dining experience. Ideally located opposite the port, guests can enjoy the fresh sea air from the beautifully decorated interior, with a blue and white theme reflecting the coastal location, or from the relaxing outside terrace. Uniquely, Port XIV features an open-plan kitchen so guests can see the internationally influenced dishes being prepared right in front of their very eyes. They serve everything from steak to British fish and chips and piri-piri chicken.
Address: Avenue Moulay Hassan Ben Mahdi, Asilah, Morocco