This thriving industrial port harkens back to the time of the Phoenicians and Romans. Over the centuries, it has been a crossroads of trade — slaves, gold, and ivory in the 11th century; sugar and copper in the 16th century when the Portuguese settled here. British, Danish, Dutch, and French merchants all left their formidable marks as well. Encouraged by its proximity to Marrakech, Safi continued to elaborately expand its maritime commerce — and today its huge factories ship goods, especially phosphates, globally. Meanwhile, smaller artisans do a brisk trade with cruise passengers who disembark here en route to the desert treasures of Marrakech or the beachfront bliss of Essaouira.
What We Love
Medina Shopping: Meander the walled, fortified medina. Consider buying a few yards of brilliant fabric to have a tailor create a tablecloth or dress once you’re back home.
Sardine Cuisine: With a thriving sardine fishing industry, Safi’s shore is lined with netted boats. Sardines are offered on many restaurant menus and you’ll be amazed at the variety of preparations.
Best Known For
Qasr al-Bahr: Built in the early 16th century by the Portuguese, this massive fortress overlooks the Atlantic — and a climb to the top offers great panoramic views.
Pretty Pottery: Vividly hued Safi ceramics with intricate geometric shapes are the favored souvenir. In both artisanal trendy workshops and kiln factories, pottery can be found for every budget. For an eye-opening sojourn, visit La Colline des Potiers, where artisans work as their ancestors did.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs: Not as picturesque as neighboring coastal cities, Safi is a working town. But if medieval architecture and colonial history interest you, there is much to explore.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Deal in Moroccan Dirham: Don’t assume your credit card will be welcome at pottery shops. Have enough cash on hand to pay for your purchase.
Laura Manske is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Redbook, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan.