Asilah, the light in northern Morocco
The city of Asilah is located on the Atlantic coast, 50 kilometres from Tangier and 100 kilometres from Ceuta. It is on a plain on a hillside right by the sea.
It is a tourist city, very neat and clean, with friendly and hospitable people and is a great place to try the very best fish and seafood of the Moroccan coast. The city is full of light, with extensive, fine-sand beaches and a wide range of leisure activities.
The city is one of the main summer tourist destinations in Morocco. During the summer months, the population increases dramatically with foreign tourists and Moroccans alike.
Like most Moroccan cities, Asilah is made up of a medina and a new town. The medina is small and clean, and boasts murals by African artists. It is considered the most beautiful medina in the country.
It has a vibrant nightlife and a simple range of accommodation options, focused on summer tourism, with lovely hotels full of charm.
Asilah also hosts an arts festival every August, during which its walls are covered with impressive murals. You can spend an entire day walking around the medina and admiring these beautiful paintings.
Visiting the medina
The Asilah’s medina is one of the most beautiful in Morocco thanks to its narrow streets, indigo walls decorated with murals, Moorish-style houses, cleanliness, peacefulness and the sound of the waves from the nearby sea.
It is surrounded by high walls built by the Portuguese in the 15th century during their occupation and there are several gates. The most important ones are: Bab Homar or ‘The Door of the Earth’, located under a tower and decorated with the coat of arms of the king of Portugal, in a very lively area with a market and various restaurants; Bab al Bahar or ‘The Gate of the Sea’, located next to the Portuguese square tower that dominates the city and the sea; and the Bab Kasbah, in the north, surrounded by gardens and located opposite the Muslim cemetery.
Stroll down Alcazaba or Kasbah Street, where you'll find the Kebir mosque, with its tall octagonal minaret and the Centre Hassan II Rencontres Internationales, built on the site of an old barracks, and host to cultural exhibitions of all types.
Another interesting place inside the medina is Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouche square, with a small mosque, which was used as a Catholic church in the Portuguese occupation, and which is dominated by the Portuguese tower, the symbol of the city.
Don't miss the Muslim cemetery, next to the sea, with its multi-coloured ceramic tombs. Here you'll find the Mausoleum of Sidi Ahmed El Mansur Saadi, who reconquered the city after the Battle of Three Kings.
For the best views, head to the lookout point of Asilah above the cemetery, where you can catch a magnificent sunset with the sea in the background.
Asilah's beaches are one of its main tourist attractions. They are extensive fine-sand beaches, perfect for going for a stroll and enjoying water sports. They are located to the north of the city, stretching several kilometres.
The beaches are frequented by surfers due to their orientation and waves. Many people go there to enjoy the best sunsets around.
Shopping in Asilah
Most souvenir and local craft shops are concentrated in the medina. There is something for everyone: slippers and shoes, handbags, jewellery, ceramics, textiles, carpets, hand painted furniture, fabrics, woodcarvings, brass lanterns, herbal products and even musical instruments.
Those selling are generally friendly and relaxed, and the starting prices are reasonable, especially since haggling is expected. It is best to bring cash in local currency, the dirham, since paying by credit/debit card is generally not possible and not all establishments accept euros. It is best to get dirhams beforehand. We recommend exchanging at hotels, at the port, or at any bank.
Shopping in Asilah is much more relaxed than in other cities such as Tangier, because there is less hustle and bustle and prices are very reasonable.