Morocco travel guide: Explore this dazzling African country
Rich history, friendly people, picturesque landscapes, Morocco is definitely a country to visit if you like adventure and some exotism. This North Africa country has European, African and Middle Eastern influences that have made it a one-of-a-kind-place travellers love. But, where to start? This Morocco travel guide offers an overview of 6 cities one should absolutely visit. Marrakesh, Tangier, Fez, Casablanca, Chefchaouen and Erg Chigaga in the Sahara desert all offer fascinating and spectacular attractions and vistas you’ll remember all your life.
The most stylish and culturally-charged city in Morocco, Marrakesh will enchant any visitor who enjoys art, design, architecture and pretty things in general. The numerous palaces, mosques and gardens sprinkled all over the city are the main attractions as well as the Jemaa el Fnaa, a huge market place to find local treasures.
Whether you are a fan of architecture and fashion, or not, you will want to explore the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh. You will learn all there is to know about the French designer who fell in love with this Moroccan city. The permanent exhibit is a retrospective of his work, while the temporary exhibits revolve around photography, Moroccan art and fashion. The garden is filled with exotic plants, creating an enchanting smell and calmness you don’t necessarily get when you’re in the rest of the city.
Built in the late 19th century, this palace is the epitome of Islamic architecture and style. The painted and decorated wood ceilings, stained glass windows and grand courtyard demonstrate why this is one of the most gorgeous places in the city.
Djemaa El Fna
The city’s main square is a feast for the eyes. Music (actual snake-charmers!), fortune-tellers, henna artists, food stalls, this marketplace will have your 5 senses working overtime. However, all these distractions make it easier for gropers and pickpockets to take advantage of starry-eyed tourists, so you need to stay alert.
Famous for the 1942 movie of the same name, Casablanca will offer you an inside look at modern Morocco. The economic center of the country, Casablanca is filled with eager young professionals as well as creative budding industries.
Hassan II Mosque
Hands down the highlight of Casablanca, the colossal Hassan II Mosque overlooking the Atlantic ocean is a great example of Islamic artisanship and design. The colourful tile work, as well as the hand-carved wood ceilings, will leave you amazed. The blue and sand colours reflect beautifully the surrounding nature and the towering steeple looms over the city like a protective giant.
Mohammed V Square
Located in the center of the city, Mohammed V Square is a great example of Moroccan Art Deco and Hispanic-Muslim influences. Walk through the decorated arcades and enjoy the modern architecture of this building. After, take a walk in the garden for some fresh air while you admire the tropical greenery.
1200 years old, the city of Fez, located in the northeastern part of the country, has an incredible charm that few people take the time to discover.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Old Fez (Fez el-Bali) is filled with charming narrow alleyways, breathtaking Roman ruins and one of Africa’s biggest Mosque’s: Kairaouine Mosque. Visit the Chouara Tannery, the biggest tannery in Fez, to buy gorgeous and durable leather goods. Not a fan of that leathery smell? Visit other artisans and merchants selling carpets, lanterns, and pottery at the honey souk and El Merktane. Admire the incredible and colourful tile work of the public fountains, which are sprinkled all over the city, and are still used to this today. Include a visit to one of the oldest universities in the world, Al Qaraouyine.
The total opposite of Old Fez, Ville Nouvelle will show you how the younger generations of Moroccans are living. Filled with street food vendors, enjoy tasting typical Moroccan dishes like maakouda, meat skewers, fries, and more. The smells will be enough to convince you to try every single dish.
Moroccan travel guide must: You must experience a hammam during your stay in Morocco, and the serene spa at the Palais Faraj hotel is the perfect place for some time for yourself!
Strategically placed, this city links Europe with Africa. It might not be the most beautiful city but it does charm its visitors since international artists, poets and writers have been flocking here for decades. If you’re visiting both Morocco and Spain, take the time to spend at least a day in Tangier.
Caves of Hercules
Whether you’re a fan of Roman mythology or you just want a chance to be close to the water, the Caves of Hercules are full of mystery and intrigue. The story goes that Hercules slept in these caves on his way to his 11th Labor, which was to steal three golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides during his 12 Labors. Another tale suggests these caves link Spain with Morocco! Enjoy walking around and reading about these famous ancient tales.
Dar el Makhzen
Constructed in the seventeenth century, this palace was home to Sultan Moulay Ismail and is now a museum. Perched on the highest area in the city, you’ll discover wonderful views of the choppy sea. Inside, you will get to see the gorgeous inner courtyards as well as the sultan’s lavish apartments.
Place de France
Like many Moroccan cities, Tangier is divided into the Old City (Medina) and the new town (Ville Nouvelle). The Place de France is located in the Ville Nouvelle and is a great place for people watching since most of the middle class from Tangier hangs in the cafes and restaurants around here.
Known as the “Blue City”, Chefchaouen is fascinating, eye-catching and incredibly Instagrammable. Located in the northwest of Morocco, in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is reminiscent of other colourful cities like Santorini with its boxy buildings and narrow streets… and cats!
Get lost in the old city (and the bluest part of the city) where you are likely to find narrow streets, winding paths and, of course, blue buildings galore. After you’ve admired the azure, cobalt, baby blue, and sapphire buildings, visit the Grande Mosquée, the Plaza Uta El Hammam. You’ll find incredible treasures from rugs, woven goods and djellabas to bring back home. If you enjoy photography, this is the place to come for unique photographs.
You can’t go to Morocco without experiencing the desert. Sand dunes and infinite views are definitely not something you see every day. About 56 km from M’Hamid, this expansive sand sea (the biggest one in the country) should be reached by camel ride or 4×4 for the full Moroccan experience. Stay at the Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert camp to admire the night sky (and maybe even the Milky Way) and sleep in traditional Berber tents. Once you’re in the desert, you can do some quad biking, take a guided walk, sandboard, have a picnic, etc. It takes a while to get to the desert from the nearest city so give yourself about a week for your desert experience.
This Morocco travel guide showcased the six main highlights of this wonderful North African country. From the stylish and sophisticated Marrakesh to the historical city of Fez, there is so much to see in Morocco. More and more accessible, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and explore a little part of Africa!
Cover photo credit: @moroccovacations | Instagram