Best Things To Do In Asilah

Asilah, located in the Tangier-Tétouan-Al Hoceïma region of northwest Morocco, is a picturesque coastal town famed for its pristine beaches and charming blue and white houses. Its walls and fortifications date back to the Portuguese era, reflecting a rich history that began in Phoenician times. The town was under Portuguese control for many centuries from the 15th century onwards.

Today, Asilah is renowned for its vibrant annual arts festival held every summer, which attracts artists and musicians from around the world. This festival livens up the town with colorful street murals, adding to its festive and artistic atmosphere.

Asilah is also loved for its stunning beaches such as Sidi Mghait Beach and Paradise Plage Beach, known for their clear waters and scenic views, making them perfect for swimming and water sports. Here are some best things to do in Asilah during your visit:

1. Explore the medina

Medina Of Asilah
The north entrance to the medina of Asilah

The Asilah Medina, enclosed by historic walls, features quaint, narrow streets with homes painted in white and blue, showcasing detailed wooden doors and ornate iron windows. The locals are famously welcoming.

Inside the medina, there’s a variety of shops and markets selling handcrafted items like rugs, pottery, and jewelry, where skilled artisans happily share their craft with visitors.

Important sites include the Al-Hamra Mosque, known for its Moroccan Islamic architecture and square minaret, and the 19th-century Place Hassan II fountain, a popular meeting spot.

The area is also great for trying local food, with many cafes and restaurants serving fresh seafood, vegetables, and spices, usually accompanied by freshly baked bread and olives.

2. Visit the city walls

Walls Of Asilah
The ramparts of Asilah

The walls of Asilah are a major tourist attraction in the city. They were built during the Portuguese occupation in the 15th century, and have since been restored and renovated several times.

The ramparts surround the old town of Asilah and are made up of thick stone walls, reinforced by bastions and towers. They are pierced with several doors and gates which once made it possible to control entries and exits from the city.

While visiting the Asilah Walls, visitors can admire the beauty and impressive construction of these walls, which stretch for several kilometers along the coast. The ramparts offer stunning sea views, with panoramic views of the city’s beaches, cliffs, and harbor.

The walls of Asilah are also a fascinating testimony to the history of the city, particularly the Portuguese influence in the region. They are therefore an essential stopover for history and culture lovers. These walls also provide a pleasant walking experience, with paths and narrow passages winding along the walls. Visitors can wander around at their leisure, take photos, or simply enjoy the view and peaceful atmosphere of the city.

3. Stroll along the beach

Sidi Mghait Beach
Sidi Mghait Beach

Walking along the beach is one of the most popular activities in Asilah. The city has several stunning beaches that stretch for several miles, providing visitors with a stunning natural setting to relax, swim, and soak up the sun.

The most famous beach in Asilah is undoubtedly Sidi Mghait Beach. This fine sandy beach is located about 7 kilometers south of Asilah and offers crystal clear waters, ideal for swimming and water sports. The beach is also surrounded by limestone cliffs, giving it a wild and picturesque landscape.

Another popular beach in Asilah is Paradise Beach Kaf Lahmam. Located about 10 kilometers south of the city, this beach is famous for its fine, golden sand, as well as its peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. The waters of Paradise Beach are also very clean and clear, making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

Many other beaches around Asilah are less crowded, but just as beautiful, such as Rmilat Beach and Lalla Fatna Beach. Some of these beaches are also ideal for practicing water sports such as surfing, kitesurfing, or windsurfing. 

4. Attend the Asilah Arts Festival 

Things To Do In Asilah

The Asilah Arts Festival is one of the most important cultural events in Morocco and the Maghreb region. It takes place every year during August and attracts artists, musicians, writers, and intellectuals worldwide. The festival was established in the 1970s by a group of local and international artists, and since then it has become an annual tradition enjoyed by Asilah residents and visitors from around the world.

During the festival, the city transforms into an open-air museum, with colorful murals, art exhibitions, concerts, and dance performances. The city’s streets and squares are spectacularly decorated, creating a unique festive and artistic atmosphere.

The festival’s activities are varied, with traditional Moroccan music, jazz, pop, rock and classical concerts. There are also art workshops, lectures, film screenings, and contemporary art exhibitions. Visitors can watch traditional Moroccan dance performances and participate in children’s activities.

The Asilah Arts Festival is a unique opportunity to discover Moroccan culture from a different perspective. Visitors can discover new artists and interact with intellectuals and thinkers from around the world. The festival also offers the opportunity to sample local cuisine, with food stalls offering Moroccan specialties such as couscous, tagines, and pastries.

5. Taste the local cuisine

Asilah Local Cuisine

Asilah, located on the Atlantic coast, offers a rich culinary scene that is a highlight for anyone visiting the city. Thanks to its coastal location, Asilah has access to fresh seafood, including shrimp, squid, and various fish, which local restaurants use to create diverse and flavorful dishes.

Tagine, a quintessential Moroccan dish, is a favorite here. Cooked slowly in traditional clay pots, tagines in Asilah might include combinations like prune and almond, chicken, veal, or fish, each offering a unique blend of spices and textures.

Another local delicacy is the pastilla, a flaky pastry that comes filled with either meat, fish, or seafood, and is typically dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon for a sweet and savory flavor. Beyond these, visitors can also enjoy other Moroccan staples such as kebabs, shawarma, and hummus, making dining in Asilah a richly varied experience.

6. Visit the Saint-Barthélemy church

Saint-Barthélemy Church In Asilah
Saint-Barthélemy Church in Asilah

Saint-Barthélemy Church in Asilah is a key landmark reflecting the city’s colonial history. Built during the French protectorate in Morocco in the early 20th century, the church is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. It features striking neo-Gothic architecture with a detailed façade, including sculptures and vibrant stained glass windows.

Today, the church no longer functions as a regular place of worship but serves a new role in the community for cultural and artistic events. Asilah is renowned for its annual arts festival, which draws artists from around the world to paint the town’s walls. Saint-Barthélemy Church participates in this artistic expression, integrating itself into the cultural fabric of Asilah.

7. Visit the Hassan II Center

Culture Center In Asilah

The Hassan II Center is a museum that traces the history of the city of Asilah and the surrounding region. It was named in honor of King Hassan II of Morocco, who initiated the restoration of the city in the 1970s. The museum is located in a renovated historic building that offers stunning sea views.

The museum offers a permanent exhibition that presents the history of the city, from prehistory to the present day. Visitors can discover archaeological objects, pieces of Islamic art, traditional costumes and local crafts. Exhibitions are presented in Arabic, French, and English, providing an immersive experience for visitors.

The Hassan II Center also houses a contemporary art gallery that presents temporary exhibitions by Moroccan and international artists. The works exhibited are often linked to the city of Asilah or to Moroccan culture in general. Visitors can thus discover the richness and diversity of the contemporary Moroccan artistic scene.

8. Go shopping

Moroccan Crafts In Asilah
Moroccan crafts in Asilah

Asilah is a shopper’s haven, especially for those interested in traditional Moroccan crafts. The local markets are filled with items like pottery, rugs, jewelry, leather apparel, and decorative pieces.

The highlight is Asilah’s weekly market, held every Thursday morning in the town’s medina. Here, visitors can browse through a variety of artisanal items, fresh produce, and an assortment of spices and herbs.

Additionally, the old town features many shops and boutiques that sell Moroccan artisan products. These include handwoven carpets, ceramics, traditional clothing, silver jewelry, and home decorations.

What are the other best things to do in Asilah?

Things To Do In Asilah

If you find yourself with several days in Asilah and you’re looking to mix up your activities beyond just exploring the medina and its fortifications, there’s plenty to do. Here are some suggestions:

9. Beach Swimming

Asilah is renowned for its beautiful beaches. Spend some time soaking up the sun and enjoying the clear waters.

10. Hiking

The area around Asilah offers fantastic hiking opportunities. There are trails that wind through breathtaking landscapes and traditional villages, perfect for nature lovers.

11. Water Sports

For those who enjoy more active pursuits, Asilah is ideal for water sports. The area is well-suited for surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and sailing.

12. Cultural Events

Asilah isn’t just home to its famous annual arts festival; the town also hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year, including concerts, art exhibitions, and music festivals. These events offer a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.