Five Things to See and Do in Agadir, Morocco
Agadir is one of Morocco’s most important cities and an excellent tourist destination due to its location — near the foot of the Atlas Mountains and on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In 1960, Agadir was completely destroyed by an earthquake, but the resilience and fortitude of its people allowed the city to rise back up from the ashes and flourish into the thriving port-city that it is today. Agadir has long been known as a tourist destination for Europe’s rich and famous. Nowadays, it is still brimming with luxurious beach resorts, cafés and restaurants, first-class golf courses, health and beauty spas, and any facilities a vacation-goer might want. Rich in Moroccan history and premium amenities, Agadir has something for everyone. If you have a day or two to explore the city, or even a few hours to spend before your art retreat in Morocco, here’s a list of five things we wholeheartedly recommend you do during your stay in Agadir.
1. Head to the Beach
With 340 days of sunshine per year, Agadir Beach is a paradise for beach enthusiasts regardless of the season. The beaches near Agadir are long and wide, with clean golden sands that stretch for miles. The coastline is kissed by the Atlantic Ocean’s calm waters, due to the natural curve of the African coast around Agadir. The water is perfect for swimming — and don’t worry, it’s totally fine to wear a bikini to the beach and sunbathe as much as you like, just as long as you remember to put something on when leaving the beach. The locals are very friendly and the tourist culture is strong in the area, so the beaches are filled with happy bikini-clad women having a good time. While lounging on your sunbed, you might also be able to see the occasional camel walking by, led by its caretaker. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hop on for a tour and admire the turquoise waves of the Atlantic as you ride down the beach, breeze in your hair, and smile on your face.
2. Stroll the Walled Medina Polizzi
Get a cup of the best mint tea in Morocco at one of the most popular attractions in Agadir, the Coco Polizzi Medina. Located only a couple of miles away from the city center, the complex was rebuilt in 1992 after it was destroyed by the earthquake. This open-air museum is a perfect recreation of the ancient city, featuring traditional Moroccan architecture built in the typical Berber style. The project is the work of Italian artist Coco Polizzi and features an ethnographic museum, an exotic garden, artisan workshops, cafés and restaurants, shops, and a small hotel. This hidden treasure just outside of Agadir is a gem for photographers, social media influencers, and aesthetes passionate about beautiful places. You’ll be able to take jaw-dropping pictures in the Medina that will leave your friends back home wishing they were there with you. In exchange for a small entrance fee that includes a free drink, you’ll be able to explore what Agadir’s bustling central square used to look like and impress the internet with your dazzling pictures and sketches.
3. Shop in Souk El Had d’Agadir
This traditional Berber souk (marketplace) is like Alladin’s cave of wonders — full of gorgeous things to delight all your senses. From spices to housewares, to traditional hand-made souvenirs and delicious homestyle eats, Agadir’s El Had souk has it all. Immerse yourself in a timeless atmosphere behind the souk’s adobe ramparts. Take your time to explore its meandering lanes and try not to get lost in this gargantuan traditional market, spanning more than 32 acres (or 13 hectares) in the city center. Feast your eyes and fill your pockets and bags with fresh dates, olives, spices, honey, rich fabrics, jewelry, artisanal crafts, and hand-made art. Walking through the stalls of this “city within the city”, take pictures of the abundance of colors and diversity of people coming to the market to sell their wares. The stall-holders are very kind, friendly, and open to chatting with customers. If you want a more intense taste of Moroccan culture, try your hand at negotiating for your purchase. Sometimes you can get as much as 50% off, and a fun barter is like a sport for sellers in the market. However, if you don’t feel like it, the merchants in El Had souk are respectful and will not push their products onto their customers. Most of them are trained in customer service and will do a wonderful job of entertaining you or leaving you be as you admire their merchandise, according to your disposition. At the end of your busy walk through the market, you can enjoy some crunchy maakouda (delicious golden fritters made from mashed potatoes with cumin, onions, garlic, and coriander, dipped in beaten eggs and fried to perfection) at one of the many street food stalls found in the souk.
4. Indulge in a Hammam SPA Treatment
After the excitement of the El Had souk, you might want to wind down and pamper yourself with a soothing SPA treatment. Hammam is a type of steam bath typical for the Islamic world. In Morocco, it is considered a sacred ritual for locals, who visit public baths at least once a week. They come for a deep clean but also to socialize, as was customary for the ancient Romans from whom the Islamic world borrowed the habit. A typical public bath is a beautiful space created with your relaxation in mind. After you step through its doors, you enter an atmospheric place where the Moroccan decorations, scented candles, and the murmur of water in the basins soothe and relax your mind and body. The treatment typically consists of a steam bath that will open up your pores, followed by a thorough scrub with foam from the black olive oil soap popular in the area. After this deep cleanse, you can opt for a relaxing and rejuvenating massage that will leave you feeling like you were born again. Indulge in a private hammam experience with many different options at the luxurious Argan Palace, or choose a neighborhood public bath to blend in with the locals and explore the social side of this traditional treatment. Either way, experiencing this local ritual will be well worth your time, and your mind and body will thank you for it.
5. Explore the City Center
Agadir doesn’t have a pedestrian city center, but the central area is still worth exploring for the Grande Mosquée d’Agadir, the Royal Palace, and a couple of insightful museums. The Grande Mosquée d’Agadir is unique among Morocco’s mosques as it is the only one built in a modernist style. It makes for an impressive sightseeing destination even though it can only be seen from the outside, being an active place of worship to which non-muslims do not have access. And while you won’t be seeing the interior of the mosque, rest assured that you will be hearing its call to prayer five times a day, as is customary to Islamic countries. If museum-going is your thing, the Museum of Amazigh Culture is an unmissable stop on your trip to Morocco. Learning more about the Amazigh people (also known as Berbers) is key to understanding the history and culture of modern-day Morocco. The museum is close to the Grand Mosque and the beach and displays a wide range of 18th and 19th-century items, from pottery to art, traditional costumes, and outstanding jewelry pieces worn by Berber women during wedding ceremonies. After your museum visit, you can end your day with a walk in the open gardens of the Royal Palace. The Agadir Royal Palace is closed to the public as it is one of the present Moroccan king’s residencies. However, you can stroll through its gardens and let yourself be soothed by the Mediterranean-style oasis filled with scented eucalyptus plants, palm trees, and lush vegetation.