Agadir isn’t my favourite Moroccan city: it’s a strange combination of Costa del Sol-style tourist development and bustling Moroccan city. However, it is the gateway to the fertile Souss region and an intersection of the desert, the Anti Atlas and the Atlantic. As such, it’s an important transport and trade hub.
It is also a major tourist destination. On a recent visit with a friend, we avoided the strip of package holiday hotels on the seafront and discovered that it is perfectly possible to pass an enjoyable day in Agadir without spending too much money at all.
1. Souq el Had
This largely covered market is a great starting point to try the produce of the Souss: argan oil, honey, fruit, vegetables, dates and olive are all sold here. You’ll also find all the necessities for modern Moroccan life (made of synthetic materials in China, largely) as well as a decent selection of handicrafts and souvenirs. The market is busiest at the weekend (‘had’ means Sunday in Arabic). If you are feeling peckish, pick a tajine from one of the cafes around the intersection at the corner of the market – they are freshly prepared and very reasonably priced.
The Kasbah, on a hill overlooking the city and the port, marks the site where the medina of Agadir stood until the 1960 earthquake. Although you don’t need to pay to visit it, you will need to pay a taxi for the steep ride up (and down) unless you can wangle a lift. Even if you are fit, walking down is long and deserted – not to be recommended. The views, especially at sunset, are breathtaking: of sprawling modern Agadir, of the large port, and of the Atlas foothills. Don’t forget your camera! There is a mass cemetery part way for to the 1960 victims.
3. Jardin des Oiseaux (Bird Garden)
Although not entirely populated by birds (there are a few members of the goat and gazelle family in here) and the labelling isn’t always 100% accurate, this public garden makes for a pleasant stroll from the beachfront up towards the city. The winged varieties are not the only lovebirds you’ll spot here – it seems to be a common venue for dating couples.
4. Marina and Promenade
The Marina development, with its unending lots of Zara shops and swanky apartment complexes, gives an insight into the burgeoning Moroccan middle class. It’s pleasant to walk around, admire the view back up to the Kasbah and marvel at the high-end European cars trying to find parking spaces so that the occupants can be seen in the pavement cafes nearby. The promenade, by contrast, is a social leveller. Tourists, touts, families and kids walk, play and hustle side-by-side.
Agadir’s broad, sandy beach is the draw for most of its many visitors. Even sunnier and less windy than further up the coast, it is popular in winter and summer. Not all of it is free, or accessible – many hotels have private beaches, but there is plenty golden sand to go around!
Many budget and charter airlines serve Agadir airport from Europe and it’s a good base from which to explore Berber culture, visit the desert or the Atlas mountains or practice watersports. For information on transportation out of Agadir, click here.