Best places to visit in MoroccoFrom the exotic sights and sounds of Marrakech's Djemma el Fna and the vast rolling dunes of the Sahara, to the enchanting coastal town of Essaouira and the ancient fortified city of Ait Benhaddou, Morocco has so many exciting places to visit that it's hard to know where to begin. To help you make this tricky decision, we've listed some of the best places to visit in Morocco.
One of the first sights you will see in Marrakech is the iconic Koutoubia Mosque, with its 230 foot high minaret, dating back to the 12th century. Djemaa el Fna, the central square, is best seen in the evening when its overflowing with food stalls, dancers, acrobats, fortune tellers, musicians and henna artists. The square is an incredible assault on the senses, with aromatic smells, weird and wonderful sights and a cacophony of sound. The bustling souks surrounding Djemaa el Fna sell everything from colourful lanterns, leather bags and shoes, to musical instruments and exotic spices. Be sure to barter to snap up some bargains!
Step back in time with a visit to the Imperial City of Fes el Bali, the oldest and largest medieval city in the world. The ancient medina is a bustling hive of activity which remains world's apart from 21st century life. It's very easy to get lost in the labyrinth of winding alleys, scattered with beautiful mosques and minarets, stunning synagogues, market stalls and pungent smelling tanneries. To navigate your way through the medina there are five different circuits you can follow, each with a different colour, each with a different theme, such as palaces and gardens, traditional crafts etc.
The Erg Chebbi sand dunes on the western flank of the vast Sahara Desert are spectacular. Wave upon wave of orange dunes, which reach up to 250m in height, roll out into the distance creating endless patterns of light and shade and the most spectacular panoramic vistas. The best way to experience the desert is to take an epic camel trek across the rolling dunes and spend a night at a remote Berber camp under the most incredible blanket of stars.
The enchanting coastal town of Essaouira has an 18th century, fortified medina. The town has now extended beyond its ancient walls, but is still small enough to explore on foot and any city gate leads to the medina, so you’re unlikely to get lost. There's a broad, sandy beach in front of the medina and plenty of cafés and restaurants with outside terraces for al fresco dining. Blue doors and window frames abound in Essaouira, as do art galleries, jewellery stalls and other handicraft stalls. Activities on offer in Essaouira include horse riding and wind surfing. Laid back Essaouira is the perfect place to enjoy some rest and relaxations after exploring Morocco's bustling Imperial Cities.
Ait Benhaddou is an ancient ksar situated along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. Perched on a hill beside the Ouarzazate River Ait Benhaddou boasts some beautiful kasbahs in Morocco, some of which are still inhabited today. Granted UNESCO World Heritage listing, the site had been the setting for many films including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.
High up in the Rif Mountains the picturesque town of Chefchaouen, which was was originally a Berber post, has a beautiful white-walled medina with distinctive blue-hued buildings. The main square is the heart of Chefchaouen and there is a beautifully preserved 18th century kasbah, a central mosque and cafes with authentic Moroccan style menus. The bustling market offers a mix of traditional Moroccan items and tourist souvenirs and it's a great place to buy kilims.
The Atlas Mountains
Stretching 2,400kms through Morocco to Tunisia, the beautiful Atlas Mountain range includes the Rock of Gibraltar. Trekking is popular in the Atlas Mountains and can be anything from a light stroll to a strenuous hike up to the highest summit in North Africa, Jebel Toubkal. The Moroccan Grand Atlas includes the Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti-Atlas. There are many Berber villages in the High Atlas which maintain a very traditional way of life.