The best things to do in Asilah, Morocco

by Oct 11, 2019Morocco

Asilah Morocco is an oft-neglected coastal city that offers a quieter medina, a beach, fishing port, street art, and great sunsets too. Here are all the things to do in Asilah.

Barely 40 minutes by car south of Tangier Ville (where one ferry arrives from Spain), Asilah, Morocco is an oft-neglected coastal city (at least by non-Spaniards or -Moroccans!) that offers a quieter, less frenetic medina, plus a beach, fishing port, street art, and great sunsets too. You won’t want for best things to do in Asilah for a couple of days.

The village of Asilah dates back to 1500 B.C. but it was the Portuguese that conquered this city on the Atlantic Coast and built its fortifications in about 1470, starting the area’s tug-o’-war with power changing hands between Portugal, Spain and Morocco through 1956, when Asilah finally became a permanent part of Morocco. There are still a lot of Spanish tourists and a huge Spanish influence. Speaking Spanish is also helpful as you wander Asilah finding things to do. Unless you are spending a lot of time on beaches, or planning a day trip in the area, a couple of days in Asilah is plenty.

Open Doors Morocco

There are also a lot of newer apartments outside of the medina along the beach promenade, and we were told a lot of wealthier Moroccans have vacation places in the area. This is where you also find most restaurants as well as some bright and new ice cream parlors.

Street art

Asilah has gained a firm footing on the map in part due to its international Asilah Arts Festival that has taken place every summer since its creation in 1978 to boost the town’s development. Every year, all of the medina’s walls are whitewashed to prepare for a new slate of street art that is a big part of the festival which also includes music, dancing and exhibitions. Usually it takes place in August, but best to check since dates can move based on Ramadan or other city needs. The art is quaint, without the towering murals you may find elsewhere. The annual white washing leads to a brighter, fresher medina overall than many you will find in Morocco.

Asilah Morocco Street Art Lorenzo Sandrine

Of course, there is also street art outside the medina too.

Asilah Morocco Street Art Man In Door

Medina, its ramparts and gates

The town inside the old city walls is intimate. After less than a day, you should be able to make your way around like a pro. On your list of things to do in Asilah is of course to walk the old walls along the inside although in places it is not totally accessible. Doing this allows you to take in all the views as well as stroll past the Al Qamra tower, Palais de Raissouli (built by an infamous pirate), and Hassan II Cultural Center (which often hosts exhibits when it is open). You can also walk large sections of the outside of the wall, where you will find local, colorful vendors selling fruits and breads along Avenue ibn Batouta. The central Bab Homar gate is a scenic spot that hustles and bustles with comings and goings – take a few moments to enjoy the scene, especially in the evening.

Asilah Medina Gate Bab Homar


Beaches in and around Asilah are popular among vacationing Moroccans and Spaniards for things to do in Asilah Morocco. The closest Medina Beach It is not huge but offers everything you need in a beach! Plus, it nestles right up to the base of the medina, making for good access and nice views, but also perhaps more crowds. Water is shallow for safe wading and for kids. If you are intent on beaches, there are a lot of other beaches up and down the coast from the town of Asilah, most set up with the requisite chairs and palm frond umbrellas and all of which can get pretty hectic in the summer high season.

Asilah Morocco Beach In Fog

Even before the fog lifts early in the morning, the beach and its promenade attract walkers, joggers, and a place for a little girl talk.


We particularly enjoyed the working harbor. Walking along the harbor and breakwater is a nice break from dodging among the medina’s stores along narrow alleys, plus you can scramble up on top of the rock breakwater for sunrise and sunset views. This is also a popular place to jog or walk. Or just to watch the fog roll out at sunrise.

Asilah Morocco Harbor Fishing Nets

Fish market

Not to be found on most list of things to do in Asilah, we suggest you add this to yours: If it is not a Friday, come sunset you will find fisherman wheeling carts along the harbor toward town, all laden with their day’s catch. They stop where the main Rue Moulay Hassan ibn Mehdi ends at the medina, setting up the evening fish market just outside the main city gate. The show gathers quite a crowd of shoppers – plus onlookers if somebody has happened to bring in a really impressive fish, like the amazing swordfish we saw one night! Even if you can’t buy fish, stop in for the evening spectacle!

Asilah Morocco Fish Market Swordfish


If there is one must-do, it’s coming out for the evening promenade before sunset along the medina ramparts that overlook the main beach. When the weather is nice, it will be a bustle of locals and tourists, kids and adults, couples and families, and cyclists and pedestrians. There are two great views for sunset in Asilah: One from inside the ramparts out to the ocean, and the other from the harbor’s breakwater looking back to the medina walls. If you have two evenings, do one of each! I particularly enjoyed the interaction and people-watching inside the medina, as well as the shadows from the sun on the walls.

Asilah Morocco Woman At Ramparts Sunset

The warm light of the sun on the beach and medina as it sinks into the ocean is another beautiful sight.

Sunset In Asilah Morocco

HITT Tip: Local markets are also a treat in Morocco since you move beyond trinkets and tourist souvenirs and can watch real life. Asilah’s weekly market is Thursday, just a bit outside of town. We also experienced a weekly Sunday market in Had Gharbia, less than a half-hour from Asilah and that is highly recommended. It is a sprawling regional affair where vendors sell everything from pans and buttons to shoes and socks to live sheep and goats, with all of the local and seasonal product you can imagine. After several hours walking the aisles, we still didn’t see it all – and we saw not even one other tourist. 

Where to eat in Asilah

Of course, once you’ve knocked off all the things to do in Asilah Morocco, you’ll need to find a good meal too. There are plenty of fast food for beachgoers and families, but for something else try:

  • La Perle d’Asilah – A newer, higher-end restaurant run by an Irish woman and her Moroccan chef husband. The food is definitely finer, with a mix of influences from Spanish and seafood, to Moroccan and Asian. A good wine list is also available. We highly enjoyed a meal there, partly because we had different flavor profiles than we knew we’d be experiencing on our trip.
  • Dar Al Magrhebia – The true Moroccan restaurant in town with all of the tagines and brouchettes you would expect. If you haven’t had enough of this cuisine or are just in Morocco for a few days, you can get your Moroccan fill here.
  • Casa Garcia – A popular Spanish-seafood place with a nice outdoor terrace. You must like seafood to eat here!

Where to stay

Riad Dar Manara offers a convenient, cozy experience not far from Bab Homar and inside the medina walls.

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  1. Jennifer Coleman

    You have me asking now what exactly are the requisite items for a beach, if not umbrellas and chairs? Do you need sand? A boardwalk? Or simply a shoreline? I loved traveling with your words through Asilah. It seems like a mellow way to see Morocco.

    • HI Travel Tales

      good question. I would think sand and water. other than that, what really? in morocco the official beaches seem to be equipped with umbrellas and chairs too.

  2. samantha hint

    This looks like a very interesting place to visit! Looks like a very authentic city in Morocco that would show you what it is really like to live there!

    • HI Travel Tales

      It’s much less touristy and thus more authentic, yes.

  3. Shutterbug Sage

    From the architecture to the street art, this seems like a gorgeous place to visit. And as someone who largely follows a pescetarian diet, I’d LOVE visiting the fish market and eating the local dishes!

    • HI Travel Tales

      Yes, you can get fish there!! and considering the heavily BEEF/MEAT-based diet in Morocco, you’d be in heaven! (p.s. we were too)

  4. Jane Frith

    Asilah looks so interesting with the history, the architecture and the art. I have not yet visited Morocco and have been deterred a little by safety issues reported in the press, although this was a while ago. From your report though this area would appear to be safe/family friendly?

  5. Lara Dunning

    It has been way too long since I’ve been to Morocco. I’d love to go back and check out Asilah. I’m a huge fan of street art and I really loved the images you included, especially the one of the woman. Thanks for tips on where to eat and stay!

    • HI Travel Tales

      yes, we do follow our street art around the world. Isn’t it great how it’s becoming so much more accepted and appreciated?

  6. Sandy Papas

    Fantastic! We plan to return to Morocco in the next year or so and will be combining it with Portugal, Gibraltar and working our way down the west coast from there. Had not even heard of Asilah so this has made me even more motivated. We loved our last visit so cant wait to explore more.

    • HI Travel Tales

      if you are heading down the coast, do go to Essaouira too, as well as El Jadida between that and Casablanca. Although most people take day trips from Casa to El Jadida (you will find it spelled various ways) we loved how small and local it felt and would have liked to have experienced it in the morning or evening before the cruise shiploads (a.k.a buses) of tourists rolled in. Here is Essaouria: and here is the El Jadida cistern:

  7. Astrid Vinje

    Wow, Asilah looks amazing. I love all the street photos. Morocco is on my bucket list, and I’m still trying to figure out a good time to visit there with my kids.

    • HI Travel Tales

      do make the bucket list happen! although warm in the summer, it is NOT as HOT as other parts of Morocco

  8. Mohana Das

    Your photographs are breathtaking! Asilah, being painted over every August, and thus being effectively reborn every year is very interesting. Also, Medina naturally looks a host of colours, ever changing, from dawn to dusk. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • HI Travel Tales

      The whole concept of “reborn” is fascinating, yes. Of course, we have learned that street art is often in a state of flux, so if you see something you like, take a photo and enjoy it. We loved the “sunset promenade” and views from the medina. mostly felt quite local.

  9. HI Travel Tales

    You go to Asilah for the beach and ocean views. Camel rides in the desert are a long trek from Asilah.

  10. Sara

    I tried to visit Morocco last year, but due to the situation I couldn’t, hoping to visit it this year and this guide will surely help!

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