Nador - Hidden charm with bags of potential!

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April 19th 2019
Published: May 1st 2019
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The bus ride from El Hoceima to Nador took around three hours. We had expected to go along the coast on the N16 as the guide books say that it is a picturesque route. No doubt if we had travelled by taxi, we would have seen that. Instead we took the scenic route through the mountains on roads that are mostly under construction, although some have not yet been built! It was a beautiful journey but at times a little too breathtaking if you get my gist!!

Nador itself will no doubt polarise opinion. Visiting off season like we did, it's a bit desolate in places, but there is a certain charm to the place. In the summer months there are a lot of flights to and from Europe so no doubt the place gets very busy with a lot of the Moroccan diaspora returning to their homeland for family holidays. For us, it was a stopping off point on our way to and from Melilla.

We first stayed in the incredible Riad Dar Nador. Located on a dusty residential street it didn't seem anything special, but once we had entered through the imposing doorway we were transported into a palatial riad. Living in such luxury for such a small price, we didn't want to go out and explore the town! Less adventurous travellers would probably need to get taxis around Nador, but just 15 minutes down the road is the seafront which is halfway through a significant redevelopment programme. We found out about this wonderful hideaway thanks to the blog Travel With Wendy.

You can walk for miles along the promenade. To the south are some birdwatching hides, but we headed north towards the town itself. In another ten years time this sleepy town will be unrecognisable due to the development which is in progress. We loved walking alongside the water, and the sailing club building will be both picturesque and magnificent once it has been completely redeveloped. Nearby is the "I love Nador" sign from our pictures. It's a good focal point despite its cheesiness! How the soon-to-be-built seafront apartments will change the landscape remains to be seen, but it is likely to be significant. The small port with its fishing boats was pretty, and we continued all the way to the new McDonalds restaurant. We didn't eat there though. We made our way back into the town and eventually found ourselves feasting on swordfish and squid in a small restaurant with no menu in English. We just pointed to what we wanted and were then astonished at both the quality of the food and how low the price was. On Google Maps it's listed as Ahmed Niya but as neither of us can read Arabic script, we couldn't verify the name. We can both attest to the quality though.

After our night of luxury with a sumptuous breakfast, we headed off to Melilla for a few days. On our return we stayed at the cheap and cheerful Mediteranée Hotel. Although not particularly cheap, there's nothing better value around without returning to the Dar Nador. It is half the price of the Mercure, directly opposite, and we didn't see the point of breaking the bank. Another stroll along the waterfront saw us succumb to lunch in McD's before feasting on Ahmed Niya's perfectly cooked squid once more in the evening. We also took a look at the modern railway station and the old market, walking past donkeys laden with fresh fruit along the way.

Nador will certainly not please everyone but it's fine for a night. No doubt with slightly better weather it may be possible to explore the "Mar Chica", a huge lagoon which the promenade is on. It's not actually the Med! With careful development this place could be a hidden gem. An early morning taxi then saw us at Nador's airport, some 30km out of town, and heading off back to Tangier. There's significant development at the airport too, so keep an eye out for this place in the future.

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