Morocco is one of the most diverse countries the world and certainly in the recent years it’s growing out to become the No. 1 tourist destination on its own right. Today’s numerous economical flights, which now fly to over 6 cities in Morocco enable anyone to drop there and spend a great weekend in one of the beautiful cities of the country. No matter if you want to do a cultural exploration of the Islamic – Oriental- Northern African cultural heritages, if you want a culinary tour, or some days of Sun-Sea-Sand, you can now combine all these when in Morocco.
In this article I would like to provide you some guidance on what I think are the top 10 things you shouldn’t miss out on trying or doing when in Morocco.
- Visit the Old District of Fez
Having the biggest, untouched oriental souk (Medieval market) quarter in the whole world (also the biggest city area without any car traffic in the whole world) Fez is one of the most unique places you can ever get to visit. Comprising a huge deal of historical buildings, such as the oldest university in the world, some of the most beautiful mosques in Morocco and a long list of specialty food to try, Fez is a must – see for everyone interested in oriental culture and history. Fez also has one of the biggest untouched Mellah (Jewish district) and there are several guided tours specifically for those who would like to learn more on the history of Jews in Fez and Morocco. And most importantly do get on a rooftop of a shop to be able to see the iconic traditional Tannery Quarter (only get prepared for a heinously bad smell)
Fez has its own international airport and it’s about 3 hours from Rabat and about 4 hours from Casablanca by train. Marrakech is also around 4 hours by train. Morocco’s train system is very modern and this is the most suggested way of public transportation when it comes to travelling to a different city.
- Visit the Jamaa el F’na in Marrakech
It has the highest number of photographs and it’s one of the biggest and most iconic historical marketplaces which are world famous everywhere. Everyone knows about the large and picturesque Jamaa El F’na, with all of its food stalls, the snake- charmers, the henna –makers, the beggars, this place is the fullest in the afternoon to the late evening hours. It’s a definitely a must – see place for everyone ever visiting Morocco. From the neighboring cafés you can enjoy the watching of the ever-moving crowd in a more peaceful atmosphere. The Jamaa is also the entrance to the old town quarter of the city.
Marrakech has its international airport and also good train connection with the northern cities too. Casablanca is about 4-5 hours by train. Getting to the Jamaa is the easiest by taxi, but bargain the price well in advance. If you plan to stay in Marrakech, get a hotel which is only a shorter walking distance from it.
- Visit Ait Ben Haddou – the giant sandcastle –like Kasbah complex
Ait Ben Haddou is a place which will make you feel like Lawrence of Arabia: a place which takes you back in the past. You really need to see this village which looks like it grew out straight from the sand because it’s a real one of a kind Kasbah, a large castle – village which is used as the scene of several movies and videos today. There are daily guided tourist to Ait Ben Haddou which lies about an hour from Marrakech.
- Take a look at Spain from a stone’s throw and visit the best beaches of Morocco– Tangier
Located up in the Northern peninsula of Morocco Tangier is a distinct Spanish looking city with lots of Spanish effects on its culture and architecture and this is no wonder, as you can clearly see the nearby-lying Spanish coast from its shore. The beaches between Tetouan and Al Hoceima are some of the most beautiful ones you can get to see in the whole Mediterranean region with the sea so blue it will make you feel you are in Hawaii. As an extra, these beaches are a lot less crowded and give chance for a great deal of scuba diving too.
Get there: Tangier has its own airport which is probably the easiest way to get there. The city is way closer to Spain than to any other bigger Moroccan cities and a famous excursion point being served by a big international port receiving excursion boats from Spain and other countries in Europe.
- Visit Chefchaouen – the blue village
Chefchaouen is probably one of the most beautiful and colorful villages in the whole world: it’s today’s most popular photo-spot and the current hottest landmark of Morocco. Take part in a guided tour where you will get to learn some very interesting facts on the history of this small, relaxed, neon-blue beauty.
Get there: by bus
Situated in the mountains in the North, Chefchaouen is the closest to Tangier and Tetouan by bus. Tangier is served by an airport, so Chefchaouen is the best excursion you can have from there. From Fes and Rabat it’s still the easiest way to take a bus to get there.
- Visit the world’s second largest mosque the Hassan II in Casablanca
This incredibly huge architectural wonder pays testimony to the eternal beauty of Moorish architecture smartly combining it with modern elements that make this mosque not just one of the biggest and most beautiful but also one of the most modern religious places in the Islamic world.
Get there: by plane: Casa has the biggest international airport of the country, next to Marrakech. It also has a fairly good train connection to all the big cities. Marrakech is around 4-5 hours, Fez is 3-4 hours by train. Once in Casablanca, go to the port, to the Old City Souk and you will find the grand mosque lie a shorter walk away.
- Ride the waves in Agadir
Agadir is a beautiful seaside city, situated at the south of Morocco (in fact it’s the most Southern-lying big city ) stuffed with natural wonders, lunar landscapes and wild beaches, Agadir is also a huge surfers paradise and surfers from all across the globe go there to ride the waves regularly and the Cascades Ida ou Tanane: a picturesque gorge in the mountains with lovely lakes such as the Paradise Valley is a natural wonder on its own right.
Get there: the easiest is by plane: receiving both domestic and international flights but the city also has a well-developed train system if you plan to get there from another city or region.
- Make an excursion to see the old Berber villages and see the natural wonders in the Mountains of Atlas
A wild, untamed landscape, the Atlas Mountains houses some of the most beautiful little villages and mountain resorts one can imagine. The most beautiful areas include the Ourika Valley and the majestic Ouzoud Waterfalls.
Get there: from Marrakech there are daily excursions to the Atlas Mountains. Take care however and always book your trip through your hotel or through a well-known and well respected travel agency. We don’t suggest anyone to get to the Atlas alone, better stick with the guided tours, unless you have a close friend with a sure local knowledge.
- Visit Rabat – the Royal City
Rabat, hilly the capital city of Morocco is probably one of the most beautiful and most underrated city of Morocco. The good thing in this is that the city very finely preserves its culture and roots and it’s not stuffed with tourists. Housing a lovely Medina, the beautiful, historical Hassan Tower, Rabat is a real gem with a distinct Mediterranean feel and some great beaches, which one can reach straight or by walking through the Medina.
Get there: Rabat is served by an international airport and has a quality railway system, so you can get there easily from every city.
- The Sahara
An excursion to the never-ending land of orange colored sand-dunes is an experience you will never forget. This is not just a nature-lovers’ tour. You can also get a nice insight in the lives of the nomadic Berbers (also called Bedouins or Touaregs) and experiment what they eat, wear and how they sleep (in case you choose an overnight tour) Not to mention riding a camel! If you are going from Marrakech choose a trip which also takes you to the world famous Todra Gorge, one of the world’s nicest natural wonders.
Get there: We suggest this trip especially for those who would like to spend a few days in Marrakech as this is the hub for most Sahara / Desert tours. There are daily excursions and there are overnight excursions. It’s important to follow all precautions enlisted before going on a Sahara tour though. Check out these basic tips by clicking here. If you have any special health condition always consult a local doctor before going on a desert trip.