A Travel Guide to Magnificent Morocco
From ancient architecture to bustling cities
When you think of Morocco, magnificent sand dunes and miles of sprawling desert may pop into mind. While this may be one of the starring factors, there is so much more to this North African country. With a fascinating history, ancient architecture and bustling cities like no other, Morocco is as intriguing as it is beautiful.
Immerse yourself in the captivating culture of Morocco by exploring the ancient ruins, browsing the traditional market squares and sampling delicious cuisine. All of your senses are in for a treat, with so much to see, smell, hear and feel while on your trip.
Morocco at a glance
A trip to the exotic country of Morocco is guaranteed to result in an adventure like no other. Big cities such as Marrakech and Agadir are extremely popular, but there are plenty of pretty little towns that are well worth visiting.
Want to know more about this exciting destination? Read on for everything you need to know before you jet off.
Travel advice when visiting Morocco
Morocco is generally a safe location for tourists. According to gov.uk, 700,000 Brits visit Morocco every year, the majority of which are without incident. However, foreign travellers should remain vigilant when visiting as there is a heightened risk of terrorism and political protests in certain places. By avoiding isolated areas, respecting the Islamic culture and travelling as a pair or group, you can expect to enjoy your trip without risk.
As mentioned, you should remain in a pair or group at all times, especially when using public transport. While the most central areas of Morocco are entirely safe, there are some key areas to stay away from. The FCO advise against travelling to areas south/east of the Berm and within 18 and a half miles north/west of the Berm. This is because it is disputed territory, meaning there is little diplomatic presence from any country.
Morocco is a Muslim country, and it is important to keep residents’ culture in mind when visiting the cities. Ensure to dress conservatively by covering arms, legs and shoulders to conform to local standards.
It’s always wise to take out travel and medical insurance when travelling, so ensure you get comprehensive cover before you leave.
If you’re hopping from city to city, trains maybe your best option when it comes to public transport. The lines are limited but reach most major cities quickly and comfortably. You can find timetables displayed in the stations themselves, as well as on the ONCF website. Tickets can’t be bought online, but they don’t usually have to be purchased in advance anyway.
Others prefer to hire a car as the roads are easy to drive on. While the motorways and rural roads are safe, you should avoid driving through major cities such as Marrakech. This is because traffic tends to get busy, so it may be best to avoid unless you are a confident driver. Most people prefer to use a taxi or bus, especially at night when the roads are dark. If you do so, travel in a group and only get into licenced vehicles.
Average accommodation costs
The average cost of accommodation in Morocco is around 394 MAD per night and person, which is the equivalent of £33 or $41.
Popular attractions in Morocco
Morocco is the ideal destination for those who want to get away and experience something completely new. With so much to do in this historical country, it can be difficult to do first. Whatever you decide, don’t leave this magical country without visiting these essential beauty spots.
1. The Sahara Desert
Situated on the eastern border alongside Algeria is the world’s largest hot desert. The Sahara desert is so vast that it spans an area roughly the size of America. Embark on your Morrocian adventure via camel, heading to one of the many popular sand dunes to have your adventure. Tourists typically choose to visit either Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga, both of which offer spectacular views of the Sahara and the golden sand below your feet. Sleeping under the stars in the Sahara is a once in a lifetime experience, offering clear skies to give you a view like no other. Wake up early to watch the sunrise over the magnificent dunes and the sight is guaranteed to take your breath away.
2. Ait Benhaddou
Visiting a traditional ksar is a must when in Morocco, and Ait Benhaddou is one of the most fascinating. A ksar is a collection of earthen buildings, all of which are grouped together and surrounded by high defensive walls. Climb to the very top of the Ait Benhaddou for a fantastic view of the surrounding areas, including the earthy clay houses below. There are a glorious amount of shops selling traditional wares inside the walls, including beautiful jewellery and clothing. Film buffs are sure to recognise Ait Benhaddou from one of the many movies that have been shot there. From classics like The Mummy to the hit show Game of Thrones, a multitude of iconic films and TV shows have featured this wonderful ksar.
3. Jardin Majorelle
A botanical garden may not have been the first attraction that springs to mind when visiting Marrakech, but the Jardin Majorelle is utterly breathtaking. Escape the hustle and bustle of the busy market squares with a stroll around this peaceful tropical garden. The exotic garden was designed over 40 years by French artist Jacques Majorelle before being restored by fashion icons Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé. This resulted in a luxurious, modern garden full of exotic plants; there are over 300 plant species from five continents inside. The Jardin Majorelle is an enchanting garden full of exotic cacti, vibrant blue buildings and striking water features. Consisting of two and a half acres of land, you can spend hours wandering through this peaceful yet vibrant oasis.
The best beaches in Morocco
Morocco doesn’t automatically spring to mind when it comes to beach holidays, but there are many untouched beauty spots all over the country. The country boasts wonderfully unique coastline, giving you a beach experience with a difference. Lay back and relax on the warm red sand after wandering through the secluded coves, dipping your feet in the sea as you go.
Famed for its unique stone arches, Legzira beach stretches over almost five miles. Although this beach is popular with locals at the weekend, you’ll have no trouble finding a quiet spot to sit and relax under the sun. Not only is it the prime spot for a relaxing day away from the busy centre, but it makes for a wonderful long walk.
The best time to visit Legzira beach is at sunset, when the arch turns a vibrant shade of red as the light settles. Thought to be a thousand years old, the arch is surrounded by equally as striking rocky cliffs, cosily framing the beach.
Take it easy by the sea with a trip to the serene Lagoon of Oualidia. Running for eight miles, this beach is the perfect spot to sit back and recharge after a morning of exploring. The dark golden sand and gentle blue waves give it a laidback exotic vibe, ridding you of any stress that may be on your mind. Swimming and sunbathing are essential activities on this beach, offering you the perfect place to chill out and forget your troubles.
Based just 30 minutes away from the city of Agadir is a dreamy tropical beach. Taghazout beach is an unspoilt beauty, as well as a hotspot for surfers. Expect to marvel at some impressive waves crashing through the otherwise peaceful blue waters. Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten your surfing gear – there’s plenty of rental spots closeby, as well as surfing schools for newbies.
If you aren’t much of a surfer, this beach is perfect for a chilled out picnic or sunbathing session.
Excursions and tours in Morocco
There are a multitude of exciting excursions to enjoy during your travels. Ideal for those days when you want to experience something special, there are plenty of tours to be taken from Marrakesh, in particular. From camel rides to hot air balloons, the possibilities are endless.
If you’re looking to travel to Marrakesh and beyond, a day trip to Ourika Valley is a must. Pull on your hiking boots and enjoy this easy scenic trek with the help of a tour guide. The landscape is breathtaking, with magical trees and a waterfall located within the valley. Ideal for nature lovers who want to explore a different side of Morocco, this trip is sure to be one of your favourite moments.
Food and drink in Morocco
Morocco is known for its flavoursome cuisine, so much so that it’s known as a top spot for foodies. Expect fragrant food deliciously seasoned with a variety of aromatic spices and herbs. One of the most celebrated side dishes has to be couscous, which is little fluffy balls of crushed durum wheat. Typically flavoured with fresh herbs, lemon, olive oil and delicious spices, it is an excellent alternative to rice.
Another delicious dish is tagine, a hearty slow-cooked stew made with meat, vegetables and spices. Bursting with savoury flavour, tagine is often served with couscous or bread, which mops up the flavoursome juices. Named after the large earthen pots in which they are traditionally made, tagine is a must-try when you’re in Morocco.
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll adore Moroccan fekkas. Expect a mouthwatering twice-baked cookie, typically flavoured with toasted almonds and raisins. It’s similar to biscotti and is the perfect after-dinner dessert, especially after a hearty meal. You’ll find both sweet and savoury versions of this biscuit, so everyone is bound to enjoy biting into a crunchy fekkas.
Mint tea is a beloved drink in Morocco, so expect to wash down most of your meals with this sweet beverage. Refreshing and moreish, this drink is made with green tea which is steeped with plenty of fresh spearmint. Mint tea is famously sweet but is served morning, noon and night in Morocco.
Many people seem to think that alcohol is banned in Morocco because it is a Muslim country; however, this isn’t true. While there are some regulations to follow – few shops sell it during Ramadan, for example – there is a buzzing nightlife scene in Morocco. Drinking alcohol in public is forbidden, so a drink on the beach is out of the question. However, there are vibrant restaurants, bars, hotels and tourist hot spots that sell it openly.
With its lively atmosphere, Marrakech is one of the most popular party spots in the country. Expect to find a range of busy dive bars and high-class hot spots all over the city centre, all with their own vibe. There truly is something for everyone in this bustling city, so you’re bound to find the perfect place for a tipple and tapas.
Shopping in Morocco
Pick up a souvenir at one of the many traditional market stalls and shops that line the streets. Delicate jewellery, colourful handwoven blankets and fragrant food can be seen everywhere you turn in busy cities. Even the small towns have their own vibrant selection.
There often won’t be any prices on the items as you’ll be expected to bargain and meet a fair price. If you don’t, you’ll end up paying a higher price than normal on these wares. Make sure you carry cash as most vendors will accept credit card, although this usually isn’t a problem in standard supermarkets.
Expect to find a selection of handmade goods when shopping in Morocco, including unique leather pouffes, woven blankets, Berber rugs and Argan oil. City squares tend to be the most popular when it comes to market stalls, although shops adorn most streets in Morocco.
Morocco culture and art
Undeniably rich in culture, Morocco is full of art, architecture and history. You’ll find street art all over, including the New Town tree sculptures of Marrakesh. The Eucalyptus trees have been intricately carved, painted and even burned by artists, transforming them into fascinating works of art.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city by heading to ANIMA. Created by artist Andre Heller, this garden consists of lush greenery paired with unusual yet beautiful artwork. Expect to see sculptures, paintings and photographs surrounded by unusual plants, like a museum and garden combined.
Simply walk the streets of Morocco and the culture will quickly become evident. This country has a rich heritage and has held onto many of their traditions. Even the market stalls are vibrant and artsy, bringing colour to the earthy streets. Discover more about the history of this country by exploring the historic madrasas, palaces and kasbahs located all over.
Outdoor adventure in Morocco
You won’t be short of outdoor experiences when in Morocco. When you aren’t exploring the streets, you’ll be checking out the captivating historical buildings located all around.
As well as the everyday adventures of wandering through a new city, you should take some time to head further afield. Stretching 1,600 miles across Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia is the High Atlas, a breathtaking mountain range that is a haven for hikers. Peaks rise to 4,167 metres, making it the highest in North Africa.
There are a number of hiking trails to follow, all of which offer spectacular views of the land below. Expect to stumble across flowing valleys and waterfalls amongst impossibly tall green trees, all framed by the earthy mountain.
Berber villages are found all over the High Atlas; the residents will greet you warmly with some sweet mint tea. Take some time to sit and chat – it’s a great way to get an insight into the community, even if you have to ask the tour guide to translate.
Stray away from the traditional route by heading off the beaten track. While hitting up the tourist spots is always fun, ensure you take some time out of your trip to experience something more unique.
With streets adorned with vibrant tiles and paintwork, the seaside town of Asilah is absolutely enchanting. Adorned with artwork, Asilah is small yet beautiful and is well worth wandering through when you want to get away from a busy city. You could spend hours admiring the whitewashed walls, most of which are covered with intricate murals and tilework. Enjoy riding bikes along a pretty promenade before heading to the small souk for a spot of crowdless shopping.
With most tourists heading to the more well-known beaches, Mirleft has been left unspoilt. There are a total of five striking beaches located in this charming Berber village, all of which offer a peaceful atmosphere. Despite its sleepy atmosphere, Mirleft has a growing surf scene, so why not rent a board and ride those waves?
Once you’re done getting an adrenaline rush, head into the village to grab a bite to eat. Here you can sample true Moroccan food cooked to perfection.
Renowned for its delicious seafood dishes and vast lagoon, Oualidia is the ideal place to do – well, nothing. Sit back and relax in this laidback town after days of roaming packed cities. The food alone is worth the trip, with delicacies such as fresh oysters, clams and sea urchins sold at a remarkably low price. Tuck into your favourite dishes before watching as the unbelievably blue lagoon turns a delightful pink hue as the sun sets against it.
Best times to go to Morocco
Generally, March to May and September to October is the best time to visit Morocco. Warm but not unbearably hot, it’s the perfect temperature around these times. Summer months tend to be scorching hot, so it’s wise to avoid visiting during June and July unless this is something you’re used to.
The coastal resorts are ideal all year round, as these regions offer warm 30 degree summers and mild winters. The same goes for the High Atlas Mountains as the weather is typically good all year round; however, it does tend to be cold during winter. While most months are fine to visit, anytime between April and October is best when heading to this area.
If you’re heading to the North of Morocco, you can expect a hot Mediterranean climate. Temperatures reach up to 30 degrees in the summer and settle around 20 degrees in winter. The closer south you move to the Sahara, the hotter it gets. It tends to be scorching during the peak summer months but very cold come nightfall.
Now you know all of our top favourite attractions, what’s stopping you from booking your trip? It’s time to get planning and packing for your holiday to Morocco.
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