All of the things to do in Asilah Morocco plus where to eat

by Morocco

Barely 40 minutes by car south of Tangier Ville (where one ferry arrives from Spain), Asilah 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 things to do in Asilah Morocco 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 Morocco 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.

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 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

Beach

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.

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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.

Port/Harbor

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

Sunset

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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Asilah Morocco Things To Do

Heads up! This information on Asilah Morocco was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). It is your sole responsibility to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, and any other important details before your adventure.

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Therese Iknoian

Co-Conspirator at HI Travel Tales
Little did her parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages and cultures. Trained as a news journalist, Therese Iknoian now focuses her writing and photography talents on travel. Fluent in German, Therese also runs a translation business (ThereseTranslates.com) working primarily with companies in the outdoor/sports/retail industry. She's a French speaker, and loves to learn a bit of the language wherever she goes -- gdje je kupaonica? Мне нужна помощь! -- often embarrassing herself in the quest for cross-cultural communication. Therese is an award-winning member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
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