Promising souk shopping one day and desert adventures the next, holidays to the Agadir area of Morocco make every day different.
Morocco’s best beach
The Agadir area is Morocco’s premier holiday destination for one overriding reason – the beach. The city’s golden sandy sweep stretches for more than 9 kilometres, looping around a wide bay on the Atlantic coast. Its powder-soft sands and translucent waters have earned it Blue Flag status.
Old and new
The city itself was destroyed by an earthquake back in the Sixties and, rather than attempting to rebuild what was left, officials decided to start from scratch. It means the Agadir of today is filled with broad, palm-lined avenues edged by cafés, and high-rise hotels flanked by blossoming parkland. Don’t let the city’s modern face fool you, though. Look behind the scenes and you’ll see it hasn’t lost any of its old-world charm. As you wander past the contemporary restaurants and stores, you’ll come across colourful bazaars, spice-scented souks and spindly minarets.
Agadir puts you in a good spot for day trips. The ancient walled city of Taroudant is within easy reach – a day exploring its Aladdin-like alleyways should definitely be weaved into your itinerary. You’re not far from Massa Lagoon, Morocco’s largest bird reserve, either.
Things to See and Do in Agadir
9 miles in one
One beach rules them all in Agadir. The area’s main beach is located right in front of the town and runs for an impressive 9 kilometres without stopping. If you want a change of scene, there are a few sandy stretches along the coast that leads to Essaouria. It tends to be families and surfers that steer themselves towards these beaches, because they’re slightly calmer than the main strip.
The big beach
Agadir’s main beach is 9 kilometres long and conveniently located right in front of the city. A lot of TLC goes into these sands. And the beach keepers’ hard work is continuously rewarded with Blue Flag status. What’s more, this runway of sand is patrolled by lifeguards and lit up by spotlights at night, so it’s safe as houses.
The secret beach
Paradise Valley, 60 kilometres north-east of Agadir, isn’t exactly a secret, but most tourists see it as out of the way, so they tend to give it a miss. It’s not technically a beach, but it’s home to a water-filled gorge, where the swimming outshines that on the coast.
For good quality jewellery, try the silver city of Tiznit, a few hours’ drive south of Agadir. The stores here stock all kinds of pieces, whether you’re looking for something featuring a precious stone or a delicate style adorned with the Fatima hand – many locals have this symbol in their homes for protection. Closer to home, Le Medina d’Agadir is packed with tiny artisan shops selling high-end gifts.
Woodwork and raffia are Essaouira’s talent. If you’re here on a day trip, try to fit a trip to Scala de la Ville into the schedule. It’s dotted with workshops, where artists carve bowls, chests and chess boards. For raffia bags and hats, meanwhile, Rue d’Agadir in Agadir is your best bet. Argan oil is another home-grown speciality in Morocco. This natural hair-shiner and skin-softener can be bought in the stores around Boulevard Med V in Agadir.
You could do with a sat nav to help you navigate the Souq al-Had on Abderrahim Bouabid street in Agadir. The largest souk in Morocco, it’s home to more than 3,000 stalls. The trestle tables here creak under the weight of fresh produce and souvenirs. You’ll find piles of olives the size of ant hills and stalls where lantern lights hand from the ceiling like a forest canopy.
Book a night at a Berber show if you want to get some insight into the local culture. You’ll get to tuck into delicious local specialities, while your entertainers distract you with belly dancing, tribal drums and tambourines. Lots of restaurants in the city also employ local musicians to serenade you over your couscous. Boulevard Hassan II is always a safe bet for this.
The Boulevard of 20 August is Agadir’s main beachfront strip and, come nightfall, it morphs into a ribbon of flashing neon lights and fairy-lit terraces that stretch as far as the fishing port. Dip in and out of the cafés and music bars, before heading to a nightclub. Just be aware these don’t open until around midnight. For some of the best, head to the hotels. The swish So Nightclub at the Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay wouldn’t look out of place in London’s Mayfair. And the Papagayo at the Riu Tikida Beach blasts R&B, techno and hip-hop.
These little pastry parcels are great for snacking on in between rummaging the souks, and you’ll find lots of locals selling them like hot dogs from carts around the Grand Souk. To make them, flaky filo pastry is filled with pigeon meat, fish or chicken, dusted with icing sugar, and then baked until crispy and golden.
Kaab el ghzal
Thanks to the Morocco’s French heritage, there are Parisian-style patisseries all over Agadir churning out fluffy, sweet-smelling pastries. Kaab el ghzal are crescent-shaped ones stuffed with a gooey and sweet almond paste. Dunk them in a thick chocolate sauce or enjoy them with a traditional mint tea.
This sweet, nectar-coloured dip hails from Agadir, and one of its key ingredients is argan oil – native to Morocco and mainly found around the city. It’s mixed with toasted almonds and honey, and locals sponge it up with fresh bread, or spread some in a sandwich to add flavour.
This warming, rich broth is made with chickpeas, lentils, rice and spices, and it tends to be served on special occasions – the morning after a wedding, for example, or during the month of Ramadan. Locals mop it up with crusty bread, and usually eat it with a stack of fresh dates on the side.
Stay in Agadir, and you’ll usually be given a refreshing mint tea as a welcome drink, which tends to be served on an elegant silver tray. Locals enjoy it as a post-dinner treat, and they’ll sometimes pair it with figs, dried apricots or prunes.