Morocco gives travelers the opportunity to experience life in an ancient Moroccan culture, sunning on beaches or snow skiing in the mountains. Whether rambling through ancient medinas, sampling cuisine at a local souq or relaxing in the sun at a white-washed seaside town, the past is always present in this diverse and colorful country.
No trip to the North African nation would be complete without a visit to at least one of these places.
An overview of the best places to visit in Morocco:
Situated at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, the imperial city of Marrakesh is noisy, atmospheric and full of history. There’s a lot to see and do, from sampling traditional Moroccan street food at the nightly market in Djemma el Fna; to shopping for spices and artisan jewelry in the atmospheric souks of the medina. Attractions like the Saadian Tombs and El Badi Palace give an insight into the city’s rich history. For the most authentic Marrakesh experience, consider staying in a traditional riad within the medina walls.
Fez served as Morocco’s capital for more than 400 years and is still an important religious and cultural center. Home to the University of Al-Karaouine, the world’s oldest university, Fez is an ancient city that still retains two old medinas. The old walled part of the city, known as Fes el-Bali, was founded in the 9th century and is recognized by UNESCO for the historical importance of its Idrisid dynasty architecture.
If you’ve ever gone on Pinterest or Instagram, then you know about Morocco’s famous blue city, Chefchaouen, nicknamed the “blue pearl of Morocco.” Nestled amidst the scenic peaks of the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is a small town in a big landscape. It is a center for creativity, attracting painters and photographers with its clear light, serene blue-painted houses (and its reputation as the cannabis capital of Morocco). Browse local arts and crafts in the quaint shops of the medina, enjoy a drink amidst the architecture of Uta el-Hammam square or sample fine Moroccan cuisine at a Riad restaurant. The surrounding countryside is full of beautiful hiking trails.
The High Atlas is a mountain range that runs from the coast of Morocco towards Alergia. The range includes Toubkal National Park, which contains Morocco’s highest peak, Jbel Toubkal (At 13,667 feet/4,167 meters). The Berber village of Imlil is a good place to start the climb of Toubkal. The highest peak in North Africa. the High Atlas offers outdoor recreation opportunities year round, from snow sports (in Oukaimeden) in the winter to hiking in the summer. The best places to visit in the atlas are the Ouzoud waterfalls in the Moyen Atlas (150 km northeast of Marrakech), the Todra Gorge in the eastern part of the High Atlas, near the town of Tinghir. Both the Todra and neighboring Dades rivers have carved out steep cliff-sided canyons through the mountains. The last 600 meters (2,000 feet) of the Todra gorge is the most spectacular. On the edge of the High Atlas Mountains is Aït-Benhaddou kasbah, a traditional Mud Brick city that has appeared in many movies including Game of Thrones, Lawrence of Arabia, and Gladiator.
A trip to Morocco would not be complete without a trip to the Sahara Desert. Riding off into the dunes as the sun sets, spending the night under the starry African sky, drumming around the fire following an impressive Berber dinner, camping in a traditional Berber tent or watching the sun rise over the mountainous sand dunes. It’s an unforgettable experience, that is. If you are prepared.
Essaouira is known as Morocco’s windy city. A combination of spectacular beaches, great sea. the almost constant tropical trade winds have changed this city from a hardworking port into one of the world’s greatest sites for windsurfing, kiteboarding, and other exhilarating watersports. The city has a dual heritage and this can be seen in the mighty walls that surround this old Moroccan trade center. Once a Portuguese fortress, rusting cannons between the ramparts still point out to sea, and there is a certain European feel to the construction of the city once known as Mogador. However, the narrow winding streets are filled with the sound of Gnaoua singing, women in white haiks weave their way through the alleys of the old medina, and palm trees cast their shadows across the walls of white-washed houses. At its heart Essaouira is, and always has been, a Moroccan city.
One of the most evocative places in Morocco, the name Tangier immediately conjures up images of an exotic city – bright white buildings under a hot sun blazing down from a clear blue sky, the gateway to this much-loved kingdom. Its proximity to Spain makes it an ideal place to enter Morocco, a great launch pad from which to explore more of the country. Tangier has inspired people for generations with its offering of fascinating history, beautiful scenery and eclectic mix of people. Whether you want to spend time on the lovely beaches, take a mint tea in one of the cafés where Burroughs and Matisse used to sit. Or explore the old quarter, this is a place where you should spend time, never just rush through.
A peaceful town on the northern coast of Morocco, Asilah is a tranquil and beautiful destination on the Atlantic Coast. Offering a refuge from the nearby bustling cities of Tangier and Tetouan, Asilah features deserted, quiet beaches and a relaxing atmosphere. The town has Mediterranean-influenced buildings, including whitewashed houses with blue accents on walls and doors. The array of houses decorated with paintings highlights the island’s reputation as an artists’ hangout.
Agadir is an absolute gem on Morocco’s coastline. With spacious streets, palm-lined boulevards and bright white buildings, it’s a city that is designed with the visitor in mind. Agadir is one of Morocco’s finest holiday destinations and people come here from all over the world to enjoy the fine beaches and the 300 days of sunshine that Agadir enjoys. The summer heat is pleasantly tempered by the coastal breezes that blow off the Atlantic, and during the winter it seldom gets cold enough for you to need long sleeves. It is also near to the Anti-Atlas and the Sahara, making it a great base to explore some of Morocco’s outstanding natural features.
The whitewashed town of Moulay Idriss sits astride two green hills in a cradle of mountains slightly less than 5km from Volubilis and is one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites. Given its picturesque setting, pretty historic core and national importance, it’s a mystery why more tourists don’t visit. The good news is that its lack of popularity means you can often have the place all to yourself.
Imperial city, cosmopolitan center of commerce and capital of Morocco, Rabat is a delight for holidaymakers. It’s a grand city, full of fine buildings and welcoming people, with plenty to see and plenty to do. Over the centuries Rabat has been owned by the Phoenicians, Romans, Almohads and Merenids, and you’ll find plenty of monuments in the city to these past cultures, not least in the ancient medina. But it’s not all about history in Rabat, there are many fine restaurants to eat in, hotels to stay at, and a long warm beach to relax on.
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