Flights to Laayoune
Laayoune is the largest city in Western Sahara, and it is also known as El-Aaiun. It’s at the north end of the country near the proposed border with Morocco. There are no official border crossings there so you can drive to Laayoune from Morocco without any difficulty. Though the territory is still in some dispute with Morocco, there is no unrest and tourists are welcome.
The Laayoune Airport (airport code: EUN) is the main airport for Western Sahara though its official name is the Hassan I Airport. From South Africa, flights to Laayoune will have two stops regardless of which airline you are travelling with. Egyptair and South African Airways both go the same way with connections in Cairo and Casablanca. Another option is to fly with Iberia, and they will have transfers in Madrid and Casablanca. Most flights to Laayoune take just over 24 hours because of having to wait lengthy periods for connections.
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The Tourist Attractions of Laayoune:
Western Sahara is a Muslim country, so you should be respectful of that and dress modestly while you are in Laayoune. The language is a particular dialect of Arabic that is unique to the region, so even if you speak traditional Arabic you may have difficulty being understood. English is not commonly spoken in Laayoune.
Within the city, there are few true tourist attractions but you can still find things to see and do. You should do a little shopping at the Djemal souk to see some local culture. It is a very busy place and it can be loud due to all the live chickens up for sale! The locals often just call it the chicken market.
If you take a short drive west of the city, you can visit Laayoune Plage which is the local beach. Due to the strong breezes, it is not a popular place for sunbathing even when the weather is hot. But if you want to take a walk along the water, you should head out that way. Most of the beach is sandy and the waters are cool but blue.
You can walk around Laayoune itself, or take a taxi to see the town (there is no public transportation here). The Place Mechouar is a large square in the north part of the city near the road from the airport. You can relax and watch the city go by, and have a good view of the nearby Great Mosque.
There are several roads leading out of Laayoune if you want to get out into the desert and see the terrain. You’ll find the countryside is a mix of sand dunes and rocky plains. The small town of Semara is to the east, and you can see some old fortress ruins if you visit there.
When Should You Visit?:
Just because Laayoune is located in the Sahara region, it doesn’t mean the weather is inhospitable. In fact, the proximity to the coast gives the city a relatively comfortable climate. It is extremely dry so you never have to worry about rain. For temperature, the nicest months are from December until March when it only gets to 20C (68F) during the daytime. The warmer end of the spectrum is in August and September when it will reach 28C (82F) in the afternoons.