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Agadir vs Marrakech

Morocco is a land of magical Middle Eastern delights and familiar European customs, making it a popular destination with travellers all over the world. It's a place unlike anywhere else: you can spend your days shopping in busy souks with aromatic spices hanging in the air; exploring the vast open plains of the Sahara Desert; relaxing on Blue Flag beaches or in luxurious spas; and experiencing the vivid colours and bustling streets of its main cities.

But when it comes to choosing where to go, do you opt for the peaceful bays of Agadir and its collection of indulgent hotels and delicious cafes? Or the lively, colourful city of Marrakech, which encompasses the heart of Moroccan culture? Here's a guide to help you decide.

Agadir: Morocco’s best beaches

While Agadir's impressive architecture, luxury resorts and access to the desert contribute towards its popularity, the main reason people fall in love with the area is because of its beaches. More than six miles of soft golden sands sweep their way around the city, rolling down into the vast sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean. With Blue Flag status, it's easy to see why so many travellers head to its coastline. Agadir is the ultimate relaxation destination: from chilling on the beach and watching the surfers to playing golf or riding camels through the desert, you can let go of modern life and settle into a slower pace.

Marrakech: the lively heart of Morocco

Dating to the 12th century, Marrakech is a kaleidoscope of bright colours, heady scents and lively streets. It's known as the Red City, thanks to its blush-coloured walls, while its Royal Gardens drape vibrant greens over the city's golds, reds and oranges. For a true taste of Moroccan life, you'll need to visit Jemaa el-Fna. Wandering around the square – Africa's biggest – will bring you acrobats, snake charmers, storytellers and potion sellers. Marrakech sits at the base of the imposing Atlas Mountains, so when you're done haggling in the souks and soaking up the city vibes, head to the rocky range for showers underneath waterfalls and incredible views.

Agadir vs Marrakech: the highlights

Despite being just three hours apart, Agadir and Marrakech offer visitors starkly different holidays. Marrakech is the place to go for a colourful city break, while neighbouring Agadir is the ultimate destination for laidback relaxation.

Marrakech is home to many iconic pieces of Moroccan architecture, and it's a great city to visit to get a historical and cultural understanding of the country. The bustling city's central focus point is the Koutoubia Mosque: wherever you are in the city, you can see its 70m minaret. Likewise, the El Bahia Palace is a grand building depicting the indulgence and glamour of Morocco's past.

However, Agadir has its own formidable architectural feats. too. The Kasbah is a giant medieval fortress that sits on a hill overlooking the city. You can hike to the top and tour the ruins on the back of a camel.

Marrakech's main pull may be its bustling streets and souks, but you should travel out to the Atlas Mountains, where you can visit the otherworldly Paradise Valley and swim in its natural pools.

If you prefer a slower pace of life, leave behind Marrakech's bright lights and non-stop nightlife and choose Agadir. The beach is everyone's favourite spot, but you're also within easy access of the desert. You can ride camels at sunset over the rich-red sand dunes or roar through the plains in a hefty 4x4.

For an even more chilled-out experience, drive 20 minutes north of Agadir to Taghazout Beach. This long, sandy stretch is popular with surfers and has been a favourite hangout since the 1960s. Along the beach are various surf schools, yoga classes and water-sports centres.

Best hotels in Agadir

The Riu Tikida Beach Hotel is an adults-only paradise just five minutes from the city centre. With a traditional Moroccan theme, you'll enjoy the warm colours and contemporary furnishings, as well as comfortable, modern rooms. The outdoor swimming pool and spa are the perfect place to relax in the sun, while in the evening you can choose from a brilliant seafood restaurant or try authentic Moroccan cuisine. It even has its own section of the beach and a nightclub.

The Sofitel Agadir Royal Bar Resort is an elegant resort, again with its own private beach. When you're not sunbathing on the soft sands, you'll have the choice of three high-quality restaurants, five bars, a spa including a Moroccan hammam, a pool and an outdoor area to relax in.

For a more upbeat, action-packed holiday, head to the seafront Robinson Club Agadir. It's a palatial resort with an indulgent oasis atmosphere, where you can partake in activities from body boarding and surfing to golfing. Facilities include two outdoor pools, a children's pool, an indoor pool and a spa area. Plus, there's a beachfront restaurant and healthy food area.

Best hotels in Marrakech

Immerse yourself in Moroccan culture at the Kenzi Menara Palace. Set among citrus-tree gardens, this modern hotel is furnished in deep reds and dark wood. You can eat at a traditional Moroccan restaurant or try the Italian and international venues. There's also an on-site spa with a hammam steam room.

Medina Gardens, a contemporary adults-only hotel, is a short walk from the Medina and close to Jemaa el-Fna. You'll find an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness area, a packed activities schedule, a choice of restaurants and a spa with hammam baths.

If you're travelling with children, the Aqua Mirage Club is an ideal hotel choice. With large rooms, family-friendly activity zones and entertainment for adults, it's a great family resort. As well as an on-site waterpark with huge slides, there's also a fitness centre, sports court, spa, bar and restaurants. And it's only a 20-minute shuttle bus ride from the city centre.

Conclusion

If you love the hustle and bustle of city life, and want to immerse yourself into the beating heart of Morocco's culture and lifestyle, Marrakech is the destination for you. However, if you want a relaxing holiday with chilled-out vibes, you'll love Agadir. But because the two cities are so close, it's easy to squeeze in a visit to both, whichever one you choose.

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