What to do in Asilah?
Asilah is a charming coastal town in the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region of northwest Morocco. It is known for its beautiful beaches, its white and blue houses, as well as its fortification wall dating from the Portuguese era.
Asilah has a long history dating back to Phoenician times, but the city was dominated by the Portuguese for several centuries from the 15th century. Today, traces of this period can be seen in the city walls and in the fortifications of the Portuguese castle.
The city is also known for its annual arts festival, which takes place every summer and attracts artists and musicians from around the world. During the festival, the streets of Asilah are decorated with colourful murals, creating a unique festive and artistic atmosphere.
In addition to its cultural and historical heritage, Asilah is also appreciated for its beautiful beaches, notably Sidi Mghait Beach and Paradise Beach. These beaches offer crystal clear waters and beautiful scenery, ideal for swimming and water sports.
There are many things to do in Asilah, here are some of the must-do activities to do during your visit:
Explore the medina
The medina of Asilah is a historic area of the city that has retained its traditional charm. The medina is surrounded by walls, and its narrow, winding streets are lined with white and blue houses, with carved wooden doors and wrought iron windows. The inhabitants of the medina are known for their hospitality and friendliness.
As you explore the medina, you can discover the many shops, markets and boutiques that offer a wide variety of handicrafts, such as carpets, pottery, jewellery, clothing, and much more. Local artisans are known for their skills and talent, and are often willing to share their knowledge with visitors.
The medina is also home to several historical monuments, such as the Al-Kamra Mosque and the fountain in Place Hassan II, which dates back to the 19th century. The Al-Kamra Mosque is a typical example of Moroccan Islamic architecture, with its square tower minaret. The fountain on Place Hassan II is a popular meeting point for locals and visitors alike, who come to chat and refresh themselves.
While exploring the medina of Asilah, you can also sample the local cuisine in the many traditional restaurants and cafes. Local dishes are usually made from fresh ingredients, such as seafood, vegetables and local spices, and are often served with fresh bread and olives.
Visit the city walls
The city walls of Asilah are a major tourist attraction in the city. They were built during the Portuguese occupation in the 15th century, and have since been restored and renovated several times.
The ramparts surround the old town of Asilah and consist of thick stone walls, reinforced by bastions and towers. They are pierced by several doors and gates that used to control the entry and exit of the city.
By visiting the ramparts of Asilah, visitors can admire the beauty and impressive construction of these walls, which extend for several kilometres along the coast. The ramparts offer a breathtaking view of the sea, with panoramic views of the city’s beaches, cliffs and port.
The ramparts of Asilah are also a fascinating testimony to the history of the city, particularly the Portuguese influence in the region. They are therefore a must-see for history and culture lovers. The walls also offer a pleasant walking experience, with narrow paths and passages winding along the walls. Visitors can stroll at will, take photos, or simply enjoy the view and the peaceful atmosphere of the city.
Walking along the beach
Walking along the beach is one of the most popular activities in Asilah. The town has several beautiful beaches that stretch for several kilometres, offering visitors a wonderful natural setting to relax, swim and enjoy the sun.
The most famous beach in Asilah is undoubtedly Sidi Mghait beach. This fine sandy beach is located about 7 kilometres south of Asilah, and offers crystal clear waters, ideal for swimming and water sports. The beach is also surrounded by limestone cliffs, giving it a wild and picturesque landscape.
Another popular beach in Asilah is Paradise Plage. Located about 10 kilometres south of the city, this beach is famous for its fine golden sand and peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. The waters at Paradise Beach are also very clean and clear, making it ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
There are many other beaches around Asilah that are less crowded, but just as beautiful, such as Rmilat Beach and Lalla Fatna Beach. Some of these beaches are also ideal for water sports such as surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.
The festival’s activities are very varied, with concerts of traditional Moroccan music, jazz, pop, rock and classical music. There are also art workshops, lectures, film screenings and contemporary art exhibitions. Visitors can watch traditional Moroccan dance performances and participate in children’s activities.
The Asilah Arts Festival is a unique opportunity to discover Moroccan culture from a different perspective. Visitors can discover new artists and interact with intellectuals and thinkers from around the world. The festival also offers the opportunity to sample the local cuisine, with food stalls offering Moroccan specialities such as couscous, tajines and pastries.
Taste the local cuisine
Asilah’s local cuisine is a must-do culinary experience for any visitor to the town. The town is located on the Atlantic coast and the sea offers an abundance of fresh seafood, such as prawns, squid, fish and shellfish. Local restaurants offer a variety of dishes prepared with these fresh ingredients, providing a unique dining experience.
Tagine is another traditional Moroccan dish, which is often prepared with meats, vegetables and spices. Tagine dishes can be cooked in clay dishes, giving a unique texture and flavour. Travellers can try the prune and almond tagine, chicken tagine, veal tagine or fish tagine.
Pastillas are also a local specialty in Asilah. These are flaky pastries filled with meat, fish or seafood, and often sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon. Travellers can also try other popular Moroccan dishes, such as kebab, shawarma or hummus.
Visit the Hassan II Centre
The Hassan II Centre is a museum that traces the history of the city of Asilah and the surrounding region. It was named after King Hassan II of Morocco, who initiated the restoration of the town in the 1970s. The museum is located in a renovated historical building with a breathtaking view of the sea.
The museum has a permanent exhibition that presents the history of the city from prehistoric times to the present day. Visitors can see archaeological objects, Islamic art, traditional costumes and local handicrafts. The exhibitions are presented in Arabic, French and English, providing an immersive experience for visitors.
The Hassan II Centre also houses a contemporary art gallery that presents temporary exhibitions by Moroccan and international artists. The works on display are often related to the city of Asilah or to Moroccan culture in general. Visitors can thus discover the richness and diversity of the contemporary Moroccan art scene.
The museum is also equipped with an auditorium where conferences, film screenings and concerts are organised. Visitors can attend cultural and educational events throughout the year.
Asilah is an ideal place for shopping enthusiasts, especially for those looking for traditional Moroccan handicrafts. The town’s local markets offer a wide variety of handicrafts, such as pottery, carpets, jewellery, leather clothing and decorative items.
The most famous market in Asilah is the weekly market, which takes place every Thursday morning in the town’s medina. Here travellers can find local handicrafts, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as spices and herbs.
In addition to the weekly market, there are many shops and boutiques located in the old town, offering a variety of Moroccan handicrafts. Travellers can find carpets, ceramics, traditional clothing, silver jewellery and home decorations.
For those looking for unique souvenirs, a visit to the Asilah Women’s Cooperative, which offers handicrafts made by local women, is recommended. Products include carpets, bags, cushions and clothing, all handmade using traditional Moroccan techniques.
What activities can you do in Asilah?
If you are spending a few days in Asilah and want to do some sport and other activities other than visiting the medina and its ramparts…there are many activities to do in Asilah, here are some examples:
Swimming on the beaches
Asilah is famous for its beautiful beaches, where you can enjoy the sun and the sea.
The Asilah region offers great opportunities for hiking, with trails through beautiful landscapes and traditional villages.
Asilah also offers many opportunities for water sports such as surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing.
Participate in cultural events
Asilah is known for its annual arts festival, but there are also other cultural events throughout the year, such as concerts, art exhibitions and music festivals.