An increasingly popular destination, a holiday to Morocco is a chance to treat your senses to the exotic sights, sounds and smells of a truly unique country with a wealth of fascinating attractions to savour. Despite its proximity to Europe (making it easy to travel to from the UK) Morocco is firmly, inescapably, North African; a cultural experience to remember.
Top spots in Morocco:
From the moment you arrive in Marrakech, you’ll have to get used to the idea of being diverted and distracted by snake charmers, stall vendors, donkey carts and labyrinthine alleyways with all manner of interesting things hidden within to explore.
Don’t be overwhelmed – a good place to start in Marrakech is the Djemaa-el-Fna, the central square. Best seen in the evening, this is where you’ll find snake-charmers, water-sellers, food stalls, dancers, acrobats, fortune tellers and henna artists; all the things you’d expect to find in an exotic North African market. Bargaining is expected, so don’t be afraid to haggle! Knock those prices down, and have fun with the process. It may feel strange at first, but it’s all part of the experience!
Given that it’s the world’s oldest and largest medieval city, this is where you’ll really see the authentic side of Morocco. Head into the medina and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of the tanneries, spice tubs, carpet stalls, pottery workshops and traditional food stalls. It’s easy to get lost in the medina, so use tourist guides as a starting point to keep you on the right track. Fes el Bali and Fes el Djedid (Old and New Fes respectively) are the medina’s two sections, Fes el Bali being the most traditional and intriguing area to visit. With all the mosques, souks, synagogues, cemeteries and the tannery to investigate, there really is a lot to do in Fes.
Popular with those into ‘alternative lifestyle’ (ie. hippies) since the sixties, Taghazoute lies on Morocco’s Atlantic coast and is well-known in surfer circles and is the perfect place to learn to surf. On the Go Tours offers a Taghazoute surf bolt-on that’ll have you carving in no time.
The Atlas Mountains
The High Atlas Mountains provide hikers with some magnificent trekking routes that don’t require massive levels of fitness. The Berbers trek through the area twice annually with their livestock as they follow the seasons, making this the ideal region to explore if you’d like to see a side of Moroccan life that is not often revealed to Westerners who stick to the bustling medinas of the cities.
Trek through the Saharan sands on the back of a camel and enjoy a traditional Berber experience under the stars in the world’s largest desert. Eat authentic Berber food and then listen to traditional music as you dance the night away. Morocco at its best!
A ‘fortified city’ along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech, Aït Benhaddou is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a real relic from the Morocco’s ancient times. You may also recognize it from films like Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia.
Top tip: The main languages spoken in Morocco are Arabic and French, with very few people speaking English, so take that phrasebook with you!
Have you been to Morocco? Which top spots can you recommend?