Morocco has so much to offer that it’s hard to know where to start but let us help you. From Marrakech’s buzzing madcap Djemaa El Fna and cosmopolitan café scene; to Essaouira’s sweeping coastline and Fez’s charmingly authentic artisan wares and medieval architecture; to the breathtaking grandeur of the Atlas Mountains – this is North Africa’s most colourful jewel. Whether it’s hiking, shopping, surfing, skiing (yes, really), or even just doing nothing but observing the locals over a cup of hot mint tea, Morocco has it all.
At a glance
It’s only a short trip from Europe but, culturally speaking, Morocco is a world away. And, in the winding alleys of the souks of Marrakech and Fez, you’d swear that you had gone back in time, too. The sights and sounds (and smells) of Africa come alive in a high definition, techni-colour assault on the senses. The ancient imperial cities have more than enough surprises up their sleeves to entertain and bewitch you – whether it’s your first trip, or your fortieth. Meanwhile, life at the seaside port town of Essaouira is all whitewashed dazzle in comparison to the interior’s earthen hues – and it moves at a gentler place, perfect for a chill out sojourn on your North African adventure. Then, for a completely different cultural experience, you can visit the Atlas Mountains. There, you’ll get acquainted with the local Berber tribes and their simple way of life, far from modern life’s trappings. The mountain range is North Africa’s largest – stretching through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia – and is heaven for trekking and nature fans.
What to see
You can’t go to Marrakech and avoid the Djemaa El Fna. And why would you want to? There are snake charmers, orange juice and water sellers, vendors of kohl (for the authentic Moroccan smokey eye look), story tellers and, after dark, the square turns into a massive open-air restaurant with local cafes setting up stalls. It has to be done. Morocco’s cuisine is deliciously fragrant and exotic, a tagine in one of Marrakech’s many impressive restaurants (we especially love Le Tobsil for its romance and authenticity) should almost be a rite of passage. Fall in love with Morocco’s other imperial city, Fez. Less anarchic than Marrakech, Fez is the country’s artistic heartland and its UNESCO-protected medina is the largest living Islamic medieval city in the world. On the Atlantic coast, Essaouira’s piratical charm and wind-swept beaches (perfect for wind- and kite-surfing) are a magnet for outdoorsy sorts. Essaouira has a reputation as ‘the Woodstock of Morocco’, so if cultural pursuits are more your things, then make sure you’re in town in June for the Gnaoua Festival of World Music. Venture up into the Atlas Mountains to experience Morocco’s majestic landscape on treks through cedar forests, past rivers and waterfalls and cool down in crystal clear natural pools. Not up to the hike? Jump on the local transport instead: a mule and prepare to be transported into Berber heartland.
Why we love it
The colours. The sounds. Even the smells make Morocco a complete contrast to the ordered politeness that we’re used to – and that’s what makes it magical. From the enchanting mayhem of the souk’s spice markets and the melodic call of the muezzin, to dramatic mountain ranges and sweeping coastlines – Morocco has something to spellbind us all.