10 Fabulous Attractions to Visit in El Jadida, Morocco

10 Fabulous Attractions to Visit in El Jadida, Morocco

The port city of El Jadida, fringing the Atlantic coast, is a hotspot for local vacationers but less so for foreign tourists. This list of things to see and do there might just inspire a visit.

Morocco’s coastal city of El Jadida is a popular summer vacation with Moroccans seeking a seaside getaway. Few foreign tourists, however, call by El Jadida when travelling around Morocco.

I spent a month living in El Jadida and was surprised by how much a relatively under-visited destination has to offer… the city is full of history and charming architecture and there are several lovely beaches close to hand. You may not need a month but El Jadida is well worth a few days out of your vacation. It’s easy to reach from Marrakech (just a couple of hours’ drive) and is conveniently located along the coast between Essaouira and Casablanca. There’s little excuse for skipping it!

Here are some of El Jadida’s highlights to inspire you to pay a visit:

1. Portuguese Cisterns

Image credit: damian entwistle

Located in the heart of El Jadida’s Portuguese area, the old cisterns are atmospheric, unusual, and perhaps a little bit eerie. The large underground chamber was once part of the fortress, used as a warehouse for storing arms. It was later repurposed as a water-storage facility. Tall columns and mighty arches stand throughout the subterranean hall, with a circular hole letting light stream in to shatter the gloom. When a shallow layer of water covers the stone floor, the light reflects quite magnificently. A number of movies and shows have been filmed here. There’s a small museum next to the cisterns where you can learn more about the area.

2. El Jadida Port

Image credit: Jacopo Romei

El Jadida’s port is located at the end of the historic Portuguese Quarter. A mixture of small fishing boats, recreational boats, and vessels used for fun water sports bob on the water. You can soak up great views of the sea in front and the old fortress behind, and you can also see across to El Jadida’s newer city area.

3. Mazagan Fortress

Mazagan Fortress is the old Portuguese quarter of El Jadida. Wander through the narrow streets and you’ll discover that the area looks quite unlike many other places in Morocco, instead, taking on more of a European appearance. Charming old homes line the narrow streets, and the star-shaped fortress has high outer walls with rusting cannons still pointing outwards, ready to defend the city. You can walk along sections of the walls for great views. The old fortress is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.   

4. Church of the Assumption

Found within the fortress’s walls, the Church of the Assumption is one of El Jadida’s finest buildings to have survived from the times of Portuguese colonialism. The outside has been carefully restored to show its splendour. It may be locked when you visit but don’t worry—the interiors aren’t as impressive as the outside and are showing signs of age. No longer an active place of worship, there are few signs of religion inside the old church; the building is used as a movie hall today.

5. Chapel of St. Sebastian

Another reminder of El Jadida’s colonial past, the Chapel of St. Sebastian is also sometimes referred to as the Spanish Church. An elegant building, the outsides still look similar to how they would have looked in times gone by. It isn’t a working church anymore, though; the beautiful building is now home to a high-class hotel. You’ll see the tower from the distance as you explore the fortress, but it’s still worth a closer look and some photos from the outside.

6. Sidi Bou Afi Lighthouse

Sidi Bou Afi Lighthouse stands in white glory near the coast. Although not open to the public, it’s worth a quick look from the outside. The site becomes even more interesting when you learn that it was built using prison labour; German prisoners of war were responsible for the construction of El Jadida’s lighthouse.

7. Portuguese City Mosque

Image credit: orientalizing

Look closely at the top of the minaret of the Portuguese City Mosque and you’ll likely notice that it looks rather different than other minarets around the nation—it is housed in an old lighthouse, and the light still tops the towering structure. You may hear the melodic call to prayer sounded by the muezzin. Non-Muslims are not allowed inside this working mosque.

8. Deauville Plage

Deauville Plage is the closest beach to the city centre. And, as such, it attracts lots of holidaymakers who want to unwind on the sands and swim in the sea. There are plenty of shops and restaurants near the beach, and you can enjoy scenic walks along the wide pathway that runs between the beach and the road. You can lay your towel out on the sand or pay a small fee to rent a sunbed if you plan on staying for most of the day and want more comfort.

9. El Haouzia Beach

Image credit: Yahya el kouchi

A few minutes’ drive from the city centre, El Haouzia Beach is quieter than the city’s main seaside stretch. There are few facilities close to the beach, but that’s a small trade-off for the peace and quiet you can enjoy here. Pack a picnic (or, at the very least, some snacks and drinks) and enjoy the quiet vibe. You’ll also be able to see the remains of a shipwreck poking out of the water a short way out to sea and explore the small sand dunes.

10. Mazagan Beach and Golf Resort

Not just a place to sleep and play golf, Mazagan Beach and Golf Resort offers a wealth of activities and onsite attractions for both hotel guests and day visitors. One of the most exclusive hotels in all of Morocco, it’s a truly dazzling resort. It has several nice restaurants, a nightclub, a selection of boutiques, and a lively casino. From horse riding to quad biking, there are many adventures to be found here too.

Other attractions to visit in El Jadida

There are several parks around the city and you’ll find a great assortment of places to shop. The market is a good place to see how locals trade and find the best bargains. Dine on fresh seafood, visit the theatre, see the horse statues scattered around the city, and experience a typical Moroccan seaside vacation away from the international tourist crowds.

About Author

Sarah W
Sarah W

Sarah W is a travelling cat-lover who enjoys exploring places that are a little bit quirky or away from headline attractions. Favourite things include delicious falafel, snuggling under a thick duvet, (badly) belting out karaoke at the top of her lungs, and, of course, her family, friends, and furry pets.

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