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El Aaiun, or Laayoune if one prefers, is literally called “The Springs.” It is the largest community in Western Sahara and was founded around 1938.
In the old quarters of the lower town, there is a cathedral which is still active that was built during the town’s founding which makes for an interesting tour.
Because this region sits in disputed space, you’ll find that there are numerous stretches of open beach to enjoy. You can also access the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert if you wish. There is plenty of space, so take advantage of these opportunities. On a hot day, bring some gofia with you or ask for a panache from a local shop.
You can also spend some time enjoying the sights along the Avenue Makkah al-Mukarramah and landmarks, such as the Monumental Arch, which is located near the desert.
If you’re staying in El Aaiun on an extended holiday, consider adding a couple of day trips to keep things fresh and interesting. Smara may be deep into the Sahara, but it features the ruins of a fortress and is the only region town that was not originally settled by the Spanish. You can also head to the small port of Tarfaya, which is just a couple of hours to the north.
El Aaiun is also a great place to embrace authentic Moroccan cuisine. You’ll also find a handful of European and Western dining establishments.
With the ocean on one side and the Sahara on the other, El Aaiun is a unique and intriguing destination. Go discover what is waiting for you today.