A salty breeze, the richness of the dessert, the thrill of a hidden alley… If you’re looking to spend some quality time during your vacation in one of the most interesting places on this planet, you should take Morocco into consideration. Home of many cultures (Berber, Arab, French and Spanish), this country will overwhelm you with astonishing beaches, deserts and mountains, the Atlantic coast, impressive architecture, mosques, winding alleys, spice-markets, cafés, great traditional food and many other amazing things to do, to see, to experience. Here are some of the most convincing reasons why you should visit these African lands:
1. The amazing Marrakech
The gateway to culture. This is what one could call this amazing town. Marrakech was founded in 1062 and it is nicknamed “Pearl of the North”. It’s located in an oasis surrounded by palm trees, a place where the merchants that were crossing the desert paths once encamped.
Visit the Palmeraie, the green lung of Marrakech. It is a real oasis on the outskirts of the city, covering 13,000ha and has about 150,000 palm trees and some hotels. Go see the square of Djemaa El-Fna, the highlight of any Marrakech night. Here you’ll find an agglomeration of musicians, dancers, and story tellers that will make your head spin with confusion, but also enthusiasm. See the Souks, the markets of Marrakech, right next to the square of Djemaa El-Fna, where you can buy almost anything. The Majorelle Gardens, a park that boasts a collection of plants from across the globe, including what seems like every cactus species on the planet. A good idea would be to try to arrive pretty early, as it gets pretty crowded later in the day. Inside the gardens you will also find the very small Berber Museum. The Ben Youssef Madrassa is one of the largest Madrassas in the North Africa. It is a school attached to the Ben Youssef Mosque and it is one of the best places to admire the beautiful Moroccan art and architecture. El Bahia Palace is an ornate and beautiful palace, popular with guided tours and… stray cats. The palace is well worth a visit and gives a great impression of what it must have been like to be a 19th century nobleman in Morocco. El Badi Palace is now in ruins and inhabited by storks and stray cats, but there are still some very interesting underground passageways for exploration. Also, the view from the terrace is absolutely magical. The Menara gardens consist of a mixture of orchards and olive groves surrounding a central pavilion, a very popular sight on tourist postcards. The pavilion also has a small cafe.
Take enough time to explore the amazing town of Marrakech and discover other attractions too, because this list is far from complete; it is hard to grasp everything in a few words, so go on and explore!
2. The many, many possible destinations in this country
Don’t get stuck in Marrakech! Of course, it is the most popular towns in Morocco for quite a few reasons, but this country has so much more to offer. Fez is the top of the list for its maze-like medina, fabulous foodie scene and for hosting the annual Festival of World Sacred Music. To get a sample of the amazing, hypnotizing Sahara, visit the desert town of Merzouga, near the impressive Erg Chebbi sand dunes. You can acces this area via camel treks, which is also a must-do if you want to fully experience the Moroccan atmosphere. If you’re an active person, you can hike between Berber villages in the High Atlas or head to the blue-hued Andalusian town of Chefchaouen to explore the Rif Mountains. If you feel like laying on a beach and relaxing for a while, laid-back Essaouira and Sidi Ifni on the Atlantic coast are the destinations of your dreams. Surfers often head south to Taghazout. If this trip is “for your soul”, Morocco’s holiest town, Moulay Idriss, is the place you want to go for quiet contemplation or anything else you feel like doing in order to achieve the peaceful state of mind you dream of. Here, you’ll also have the nearby Roman ruins of Volubilis pretty much to yourself.
3. The traditional deliciousness
Experience one of the most interesting and fascinating cuisines in the world. Be careful though, because you aren’t going to find fast-foods at every corner, and if you’re not a fan of their food, it’s not going to be a very pleasant trip. For example, if you don’t like cumin, you may starve. Cumin is one of the main spices used in Moroccan cooking. The pungent powder is used by the local to flavour everything, from tangines to mechoui. Most of the times, the condiment is used along with salt and chili. It is also known for its anti-parasitical properties, so people will definitely recommend it to you if you’re feeling sick because of you stomach or anything like that. Also, a very popular dish, the couscous will be available on every restaurant menu, but keep in mind that it is traditionally served on Fridays, when families use to gather after prayers. It is not served with bread. Turn your meals into a great cultural experience and try everything you can and everything that appeals to you. Don’t settle for a single type of dish out of fear that you won’t like anything else, it would be a shame to miss out on this fascinating cuisine.
4. The beautiful, relaxing cafés
Cafés dominate life in Tangier. They are the key place for socializing, mostly Moroccan men. They gather here to drink sweet mint tea and watch people as they go about their affairs. These cafés are a great place to relax and really look into the behaviour and habits of the local, really analyse their particular ways of doing things, how they interact and how different or similar they are to people from other cultures. Take your time to sit down in one of the beautifully arranged cafés and enjoy the distinctive atmosphere.
5. The thrills!
Go on foot, by 4X4, on the back of a mule or a camel, by mountain bike, for a long trek or a simple walk, and explore Morocco’s untouched nature. Survey the unspoilt world of this country, from mountain peaks to the edges of the desert, from fertile valleys to the arid expanses. Make the most of your African experience by going on an unforgettable adventure.
On the beaches of Agadir and Essaouira, you can try surfing or kite-surfing, or improve your skills with experienced and fully qualified pros on the spot. Discover the famous Anchor Point, Killer Point, Sidi Kaouki and Moulay Bouzerktoun! Admire the wide bays lapping against long deserted-beaches while on an exciting kayak trip. There are also the Atlas mountains and the Ahanezal and Oum Errabia rivers, whose whirling white waters enable fabulous descents in rafts or kayaks. Morocco is definitely the place for an adventurous soul too.
If you’re still not convinced, take into consideration that this is only a small slice of Morocco, and the tourist attractions vary from the most peaceful, unspoilt natural spots in the desert, the Atlas mountains or the Atlantic coast, to the most beautiful, meticulous architecture and the most fascinating traditions and cultural experiences. Prepare yourself for one of the most complex trips you will ever take and check out the complete list of great places to stay in Morocco, right after you find your flight towards the African realms. Enjoy!