17 Places You Have to Visit in Morocco
Morocco is one of the most interesting countries in the world; a melting pot of Berber, Arabian and European cultures. There’s a unique fusion of influences that is evident in the history, architecture and culinary experiences that travellers often encounter. And offering a bold contrast of desert, mountain and urban landscapes, Morocco is a place with so much to offer. Here are 17 places that you just have to visit during your time here!
1. OUDAIAS KASBAH
For postcard-perfect views, you simply cannot miss the neighbourhood of Oudaias Kasbah in the capital, Rabat. This quaint and peaceful part of the city is defined by its pretty white and blue houses, and cobbled streets decorated with painted front doors and flower pots. You will feel worlds away from the bustling centre and you’ll want to bring your camera to capture it all. Other sights and attractions in Rabat include Hassan Tower, The Chellah museum and gardens, Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Dar al-Makhzen, and Rabat Zoo.
2. THE MARRAKECH MEDINA
There are fewer places in the world more vibrant and spectacular than the Marrakech Medina and bustling market square. Jemaa el Fnaa is a place for snake charmers, medicine men, hustlers and orange juice vendors by day. But by night, it transforms itself into a magical hub of local life at its most authentic, the best street food in the city, and live entertainment and music.
It’s noisy, full of people and a total assault of the senses. For anyone travelling to Morocco for the first time, this night market a must-visit. The tagines are to die for and you’ll be able to get delicious escargot for a fraction of the price that you would find in French restaurants.
3. TOUBKAL NATIONAL PARK
Toubkal National Park is located in the High Atlas mountain range and is home to North Africa’s highest peak, the snow-capped Jebel Toubkal. Treks start from Imlil, the principal trailhead village located in the heart of the national park. Not only is this an excellent base for hiking, but the area provides great places for mountain biking. Another great place to visit is Morocco’s best ski resort, Oukaimeden.
At 8,530 feet, the Oukaimeden resort is the highest in the entire continent. And there are 10km of slopes available during the open season, with ski lifts and a ski school. With lift passes priced at just £7, plus lessons ranging from £3 to £8, it’s a bargain compared to the famous resorts in Europe.
4. JEBEL SAGHRO
Go hiking and spend a few days camping in the wilderness in the Jebel Saghro mountain range. Located between the High Atlas and the Sahara Desert, this unique region offers some of the most spectacular views. It has striking volcanic peaks, table top mountains, and beautiful oases and is also home to the nomadic tribe, Ait Atta. Cultural encounters with the Ait Atta tribe can be arranged, and there are a number of different hikes to be enjoyed. A full hike of the Jebel Saghro can be anything up to 8 days, but day hikes are also possible.
5. ERG CHEBBI DUNES
The Erg Chebbi is one of Morocco’s two Saharan ergs, which are large dunes formed by wind-blown sand. Folklore tells the story that the dunes were a punishment sent by God, and they are one of the country’s biggest attractions. Located right on the edge of the dunes in the desert town of Merzouga, where travellers can camp or find local accommodation. If you wish to explore the dunes, the most authentic way is to do it by camel trek. But you can also choose to hike on foot or book a 4×4 desert tour with knowledgeable drivers and guides.
6. FEZ EL BALI
Together with Marrakech, Fez is one of Morocco’s unmissable cultural destinations. But unlike Marrakech, Fez remains relatively untouched by tourism. For an authentic experience of the city, be sure to head to the Old City (Fez el Bali), where you will find a photo opportunity around every corner.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves buildings and streets from its past as an Imperial city, and the medina is one of the most stunning and complex in the country. Don’t be alarmed if you get lost whilst shopping here – just be sure to bring a camera and take a tour of the tanneries if you can handle the smell.
Situated on Morocco’s northern tip, just south of Tangier, this coastal town is an interesting mix of cultures, traditions and architecture. The medina and old town area is enclosed with a 15th Century wall that was erected by colonial Portuguese. The proximity to Spain and history of Spanish occupation means that you will find the best paella and rioja around.
Spanish food and drink is served in most of Asilah’s restaurants, and the sleepy seaside town offers a laid-back atmosphere with great beaches for sunbathing. For first timers to Africa, it acts as a good introduction to the continent and a suitable base for exploring the northern region of Morocco. Don’t miss the annual festival, the Moussem Culturel International d’Asilah, and hop on a train to nearby Tangier for a day trip.
The city of Chefchaouen should be on every traveller’s bucket list. Tucked away in the hidden crags of the Rif Mountains, this remote community is one of Morocco’s most interesting. It’s definitely one of the prettiest towns, recognised instantly for its spectacular blue washed buildings and red tiled rooftops. The streets are a sight to behold and even though the area has attracted much tourism over the years, it still remains very much an untouched hideaway for those in search of an authentic travel experience.
Walk around the beautiful medina, shop for crafts and handmade souvenirs, and visit the stunning Spanish mosque and Kasbah. If you’re after romance and magic to impress a loved one, this is the place to come. Wonderful as a destination all year round and a good selection of accommodation in riads.
9. ROMAN RUINS OF VOLUBILIS
This Mauritanian capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site is an important archaeological gem that dates back to the 3rd Century BC. It became a significant outpost of the Roman Empire, and today many of the ruins are still standing for all to see.
The ruins cover more than 40 hectares, with archaeological vestiges that take you back in time to a number of different civilisations and amazing mosaics that have been preserved in situ. It’s an easy day-trip from Meknes or make your base in nearby Moulay Idriss to ensure that you don’t miss the stunning sunrise photo opportunities.
10. DADES VALLEY
After a few days of souks and busy night bazaars in Marrakech or Fez, you may feel like you need to head out of the cities. The Dades Valley is the perfect place to come for some peace and quiet, for nature spotting and some soul-searching. It’s known for boasting some of Morocco’s most breath-taking scenery, as well as some of the best luxury hotels.
If you want to relax, the Dades Valley has everything you need. The snow-capped mountains of the High Atlas form a backdrop whilst the lush fields and small Berber villages provide plenty of outdoor space to roam freely. Birding is a popular activity here, and you will also find a number of places to buy traditional Berber carpets and craft items.
11. MAJORELLE GARDEN IN MARRAKECH
Another attraction not to miss whilst you’re staying in Marrakech is the famous Marjorelle Garden. It’s one of the most visited sights of the city, and it took more than 40 years of hard work to create and finalise. The garden is the work of French painter Jacques Majorelle between the years of 1886 and 1962, and it represents the artist’s lifelong love for flora and fauna.
The garden was bought by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980, making it an interesting landmark not only for nature and art lovers, but fashion lovers alike. They spent time restoring the original garden of Jacques Majorelle and even transformed his studio into a museum.
12. AIT MANSOUR GORGE
The Ait Mansour Gorge is located in the Anti Atlas mountain range, a region that attracts hikers from all over the world. The beautiful gorge is perhaps the main attraction, but many also come here to see traditional Berber villages. The main settlement is Tafraoute, a place where time seems to have stood still. There are no road signs, just a cluster of minarets and traditional houses. It’s a good camping base if you plan to hike the gorges, and you can explore the area on foot or by bike.
13. HASSAN II MOSQUE
Casablanca was made famous perhaps by one of the most romantic movies in the history of Hollywood. There are many sights to explore, but the city’s landmark building has to be the Hassan II Mosque. It features the most outstanding architectural detail and décor that required the hands of more than 10,000 artisans to complete. From intricately carved marble and delicate mosaics to the handmade Moroccan tiles, it’s every bit the symbol of tradition and opulence.
14. SIDI IFNI
Bigger on atmosphere than sights and attractions, Sidi Ifni is the place to go if you’re looking to get away from it all. This small fishing town and former Spanish territory is good for enjoying a bit of peace and quiet, and gorgeous sea views.
Set along the Atlantic coastline in southwest Morocco, the town is a haven for surfers, beach bums and sun seekers. And because of its mild and balmy weather all year round, you’ll have an awesome time no matter the season. The average temperature is around 22°C throughout the year, so anytime is a good time to visit. If you want to rub shoulders with the locals, be sure to go to the weekly Sunday market or the lively fish market.
A beautiful gateway guards the entrance into this spectacular imperial city. As one of Morocco’s previous capitals, it is home to a number of important sights. Including the aforementioned preserved gates, Bab Mansour, and the Dar Jamai Museum, which houses some of the country’s most fascinating exhibits.
There’s also the fantastic Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail and not to mention, the famous Meknes Medina. The city itself is small, yet full of charm and you will definitely want to bring your camera. Everywhere you turn, there will be striking mosaics and spellbinding architecture to take you back in time.
16. AGADIR BEACHFRONT
Agadir is one of the Morocco’s most famous seaside resorts and the beach promenade is the place to be at night. It comes to life as locals and tourists come out for evening walks, street food and social meetups. And the beachfront is lit up by the writing on the hills, which translate as “God, King and Country”. The seafront area has a number of restaurants and is also a great shopping area for anyone in search of hand crafted items, jewellery, leather goods, souvenirs and gifts.
Walk up the hill to enjoy amazing views of the ocean from the Agadir Kasbah, enjoy surfing or sunbathing in the warm ocean, visit the Valle De Oiseaux to check out local wildlife, or visit one of the three golf course nearby – there really is so much to do.
Kick back in the seaside town of Essaouira, one of the favourite hippie haunts of the 1970s. Once you get here, you’ll see why it was such a popular place for the bohemian crowd. The vibe is laid back and you can spend hours just watching the day go by as small fishing boats bob on the water. For activities, you can go shopping in the medina, learn to surf, or enjoy horse riding on the beach. The best thing about this destination is that it hasn’t lost any of its authenticity, so you won’t feel like you’ve entered into a tourist trap.