10 Things To Do in Laayoune: Morocco

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Source: Guillaume Galdrat

Laayoune (or El-Aaiún in Spanish) is the largest city in the western Sahara territory. This is the capital of the Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra region in Morocco. Although this is a desert city and mostly has a desert climate, but its weather is moderated by the gulf stream of the northern Atlantic. Therefore Laayoune is a good place to explore the Sahara desert as well as Saharan culture and lifestyle.

1. Visit the Grand Mosque

Mosque Moulay Abdel Aziz
Source: Alexander Leisser

Mosquée Moulay Abdel Aziz or the Grand Mosque is located in the center of the Laayoune city, near Place El Mchawar. The minaret of this mosque is the tallest building in Laayoune. The soft pink color of this mosque is nicely matched with the color of the city. The mosque truly reflects the modern Moroccan architecture.


  • Name: Mosquée Moulay Abdel Aziz
  • Address: Boulevard Mekka
  • Type of attarction: Religious sites

2. Go to Place El Mchawar

Source: David Stanley

This is a large public square with beautiful shades and towers. The place is adjacent to the grand mosque. People gather here and spend their time with friends. At night, poles are lit up with lights which make the place sleek and bright. Spend some time here and explore the whole place.


  • Name: Place El Mchawar
  • Address: Boulevard Mekka
  • Type of attarction: Landmark

3. Buy souvenir from Ensemble Artisanal

In almost every Saharan city in Morocco, you will find an ensemble artisanal. Here the craftsmen produce, display and sell various kinds of Moroccan crafts, jewelry, and artworks. Ensemble artisanal is located opposite row of the Place El Mchawar and behind the grand mosque. Best place for collecting Saharan souvenir and artifacts.


  • Name: Ensemble Artisanal
  • Address: Boulevard Mekka
  • Type of attarction: Crafts market

4. Visit the Spanish Cathedral

Source: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral, shortly called the Spanish cathedral is another place of interest in Laayoune. It was built in 1954 during the Spanish colonial regime in the western Sahara. The cathedral has a mix of Saharan and Spanish architecture and it resembles the unique pink color of the Laayoune city.


  • Name: St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral
  • Address: église espagnole (Spanish church), Laayoune
  • Type of attarction: Religious sites

5. Discover Saguia el-Hamra

Source: andrez_1

Saguia el-Hamra is a wadi (seasonal river) located north of Laayoune city. This is a lake area and the water reservoir of Laayoune which has been formed by making dams. This place has a wonderful natural beauty with the lakes and palm trees. This is also a paradise for the birds, especially flamingos.


  • Name: Saguia el-Hamra
  • Access: Northern part of the city
  • Type of attarction: Nature

6. Stroll in Souk ez Zaj

Source: Guillaume Galdrat

Souk ez Zaj is the oldest part of the city. Visiting this part of the city is worthy because this area has the reflection of the Saharawi lifestyle and their culture. Being the oldest part, there are some budget hotels are located in this area. Roam around this area and explore the Spanish Saharan architecture and buildings.


  • Name: Souk ez Zaj
  • Address: Boulevard 28 Fevrier, Laayoune
  • Type of attarction: Neighborhood

7. Explore the suburbs

Source: kyselak

Exploring the suburban areas of Laayoune is another interesting part of Laayoune trip. Walking through the suburban areas of the city can give you an idea of the sub-Saharan lifestyle as well as their culture. Start from Place El Mchawar towards the stadium and walk further towards the Ibn Battouta road and Ave Hassan II. Walking through these roads you will meet the local people and see their residence.


  • Address: Ibn Battouta road and Ave Hassan II
  • Access: 10 minutes walk from Place El Mchawar
  • Type of attarction: Neighborhood

8. Enjoy in Place Dchira

This is a square with nice modern coffee shops, restaurants and pizza places. In addition, a lot of street side food stalls offer ample of choices of Moroccan food like kebab, grill, BBQ as well as European food like pizza and others. Hang around this area and meet local people. Have your coffee or dinner and enjoy the lively Laayoune at night.


  • Name: Place Dchira
  • Address: Blvd 24 November 1975 and adjacent areas.
  • Type of attarction: Neighborhood

9. Go for an excursion to Foum el-Oued

Less than 25km away, Foum el-Oued is a beautiful beach on the Atlantic ocean. This is a nice relaxed place and suitable for swimming or camping. Go for an excursion in Foum el-Oued and enjoy the breeze of the Atlantic ocean. There are some bungalows and cottages for rent where you can stay and spend the night.


  • Name: Foum el-Oued
  • Type of attarction: Beach, Outdoor activities
  • Access: 25km west from Laayoune city

10. Activities in the Desert

1798849311_1c2b838d52_o (1)
Source: wonker

Lamsayad is an oasis located 19km away from the city and on the way to Laayoune-Smara road. People of Laayoune gather round here to enjoy different desert activities like camel racing and many other sports. As Laayoune is a city in the desert, you must see the desert when visiting this city and this place is the best to do so.


  • Name: Lamsayad
  • Access: 19km Southeast from Laayoune city
  • Type of attarction: Desert, Outdoor activities

Laayoune is a city to explore the western Sahara and its history of modernization. Also, you can see the Atlantic ocean when visiting this city. So, it can be a different experience for you to visit this city.

Have a good trip and travel!

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Africa, Morocco