Sidi Ifni and around

One of the most unlikely towns in Morocco, Sidi Ifni was, until 1969, Spainish territory and known principally to stamp collectors. Today, for much of the year, it is a quiet port town with a distinctive Iberian feel, and some unusual buildings in the art deco/neo-kasbah vein, many of them beginning to crumble. Surfers have a number of spots nearby, while camper vans line the town beach in winter, escaping the cold weather further north. In July and August, Sidi Ifni fills up with returning migrant workers and occasional sea mist. Though it can feel like more of a ghost town than its upwardly mobile neighbour Mirleft, there are early signs of European money also arriving in Sidi Ifni and there is an increasing choice of good places to stay and eat.

Ins and outs

Getting there and around

Sidi Ifni can be approached by the coast road directly from Tiznit. Public transport runs both from
Goulimine, around a 1½-hour ride away by bus or one hour by grand taxi and Tiznit, 2½ hours by bus or rather less by grand taxi.

Background

Sidi Ifni was occupied by the Spanish from 1476 to 1524, and again from 1860, as a consequence of the Treaty of Tetouan. The towns was always an enclave, surrounded by Morocco from 1860 to 1912 and from 1956 to 1969, and between 1912 and 1956 by the French Protectorate. The town had a port and an airstrip, and a role as a duty free zone. The economic survival of the town was based on the fact that the border was open to trade. In the 1960s Morocco grew tired of the continuing Spanish presence, and forced Spain into negotiations from 1966. The enclave was returned in 1969.

Sights

Sidi Ifni is much bigger on atmosphere than sights. Place Hassan II, still commonly referred to as Plaza de España, is the centre of the town. Around it are buildings with a 1930s feel: running clockwise as you face the Hotel Belle Vue are the former church, now home to the law courts, the very faded Spanish consulate (open one day a month), the town hall, and the discrete Royal Palace. Past the palace and behind the police villa is an attractive lighthouse with neo-Moorish detailing. Past the hospital and campsite is a new housing development, with the aerodrome on your left. Offshore, the massive concrete structure was once linked to the mainland by cable. Ships would moor here and everything would be hoisted ashore.

There's a
fish market
at the top of town, which quickly turns from soporific to lively once the catch comes in. The
weekly market
is held on Sunday on the old airfield. Sidi Ifni hosts a large
moussem
in June. At low tide it's possible to walk north along the shore to the
local saint's tomb
or
koubba
.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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