Things to Do in Atlantic Coast
With its regal cliff-top perch overlooking the ocean and a soaring 210-meter high minaret (the world’s highest) that shines a beam toward Mecca during the evening hours, everything about the Hassan II Mosque is grandiose. The magnificent mosque is among the largest in the world, with space for up to 100,000 worshippers.
A flawless crescent of deep, fine sand, which rolls on for miles to the south of town, Agadir Beach (Plage d’Agadir forms the heart of this seaside resort. A wealth of cafés and restaurants offer food and drink, with loungers for sun worshippers, while water sports run from Jet Ski to boat trips and deep-sea fishing adventures.
Built in 1541 and restored a couple of centuries later, the Agadir Kasbah Ruins (Agadir Oufella stand on a hill a little way out of town. Designed as a fortress, the kasbah once housed hundreds, although all that remains of the structure after the 1960 earthquake is the outer wall. Most travelers visit for the sweeping ocean views.
In the north of the city between the port and the seafront Hassan II Mosque, the Old Medina of Casablanca contains the last vestiges of pre-20th century Casablanca. Though the modern city sprawls in every direction, the historic quarter remains a maze of alleyways and a vast souk, tucked in by the remnants of ancient walls.
Lined with bars, restaurants, and surf shops, Essaouira Beach (Plage d'Essaouira) is a Moroccan hot spot for surfers, windsurfers, and kitesurfers, thanks to its steady, year-round winds. The town has a charming hippie atmosphere, and travelers who are not indulging in water sports enjoy horse, camel, or quad rides along the broad sandy beach.
A Rabat landmark, the 144-foot (44-meter Hassan Tower (Tour Hassan stands tall above the river in the heart of downtown, surrounded by serried ranks of broken columns. After an earthquake in 1755, this is all that remains of an ambitious attempt by 12th-century sultan Yacoub al-Mansour to build the world’s largest mosque.
With a prime location on Morocco’s windswept Atlantic coast, just north of Agadir, Taghazout beach has made a name for itself as one of the country’s top surfing destinations. Running for just under four miles (six kilometers), the sandy beach south of Taghazout town is lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and surf shops, with ample opportunities to rent boards, learn to surf or join a beachside yoga class. Numerous surfing outfitters dot the sand, teaching visitors a thing or two about hanging ten.
The best time to catch a wave is between October and April, but surfing and windsurfing are possible all year-round. There are surf spots for all levels, including gentle waves for beginners and some more challenging breaks for seasoned surfers; Hash Point, Panorama, Anchor Point and Killer Point are among the most popular. When you’re ready to spend some time on land, head into the fishing village for a bite at a makeshift cafe on a warm summer night.
Flanked by Casablanca’s most striking architecture, Mohammed V Square forms the central hub of the city’s buzzy new town. Laid out in the early 20th century and named in honor of the former Sultan, the plaza centers around a monumental fountain, dramatically lit up in the evening hours.
Also written Souq al Had, Souk el Had is Agadir’s main market, a cavernous warehouse of around 6,000 stalls selling everything from spices, fruit, and vegetables through to clothes, perfume, carpets, pottery, shisha pipes, and electronics. Tailors around the market can alter garments or make them to your specifications.
A masterpiece of Islamic architecture, surrounded by picturesque orange groves and elaborate water features, the Royal Palace of Casablanca is a suitably grand abode for the King of Morocco when he’s in town. Located in the Habous Quarter of the city’s New Medina, this is the King’s principal Casablancan residence and throughout the year hosts royal receptions.
More Things to Do in Atlantic Coast
Near the Hassan Tower (Tour Hassan, the Moroccan king’s grandfather rests alongside two of his sons in the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. The building seems simple from the outside, with its restrained mosaic tiles and horseshoe arches. Inside, as you look down on the white onyx tombs from the gallery, it’s a riot of gold leaf and tilework.
Part of Rabat’s UNESCO World Heritage–listed old city, the Kasbah of the Udayas (Casbah des Oudaïas is a 12th-century citadel at the mouth of the Bou Regreg River. Besides the fortress, city walls, and gates, the kasbah houses whitewashed streets, the Andalusian Gardens, the Oudaia Museum, and a wealth of authentic eateries.
Habous Quarter in southeastern Casablanca is one of the city’s most atmospheric districts. French colonizers in the 1920s created the area and small tree-lined squares, neat alleyways, elegant arcades, and a curious mix of French colonial buildings and traditional Maghrebi architecture still remain. Throughout, small souks sell handicrafts and leather goods.
The city’s most fashionable suburb, Ain Diab Corniche is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The district is bisected by Corniche Boulevard, from the Hassan II Mosque in the east to the El-Hank Lighthouse in the west, but the main attraction is the scenic promenade along the Casablanca seafront where everyone comes for at least a stroll.
Located along the busy shopping street of Mohammed V Boulevard, Marché Central de Casablanca is the city’s main market. Crammed with locals, the daily market is a fascinating place for tourists to get a taste of local culture, while picking up bargains on everything from food to fresh flowers and traditional clothing.
All too often overshadowed by the magnificence of the Hassan II Mosque, the Notre Dame de Lourdes Cathedral is an important center of worship for Morocco’s Roman Catholic population and serves as a striking example of Casablanca’s modern architecture.
Learning more about the Amazigh people and their past is a key part of understanding Morocco and its culture. Often called Berbers, the ethnic group is native to North Africa and has a diverse history in Morocco that can be explored at Agadir's Museum of Amazigh Culture (Musée Municipal du Patrimoine Amazighe d’Agadir), which sits just steps away from the city’s sandy coastline.
Although it’s not a very large space, the museum displays a wide range of Amazighe items from the 18th and 19th centuries. While there, explore exhibits featuring everything from pottery to carpets, art, traditional costumes, and cooking utensils. The highlight for many are the collections of jewelry, which include exquisite pieces worn during wedding ceremonies.
Just southeast of Agadir, Crocoparc is one of Morocco’s most unusual and popular attractions—a botanical park that’s home to more than 300 Nile crocodiles. After entering the park through a huge, artificial crocodile mouth, visitors roam the five thematic gardens to see the crocodiles in pools and admire the park’s flora.
Located at the gateway between the historic Old Medina and the new Casablanca built during the 20th-century French rule, United Nations Place is the city’s busiest public squares. The futuristic steel lattice cupola, designed by jean Francois Zevaco, marks the pedestrian underpass, where the city’s principal boulevards intersect.
Those looking to be pampered Moroccan-style will find everything they need at the Argan Palace, one of Agadir’s most luxurious spas. As well as enjoying a steam, scrub and soap massage in the traditional hammam, a range of massages and treatments are available, from a typical Berber massage to relaxing oil massages and reflexology.
Alongside the spa and hammam, the Argan Palace runs a shop selling its top quality, organic cosmetics and perfumes, enriched with the region’s famous argan oil.