The biggest, and possibly best-known, hot desert on the planet, the Sahara Desert can be explored from a number of places in Morocco. The huge dunes of Erg Chebbi, near Merzouga, are a splendid sight. Camel trekking, camping, and photography are among the area’s top activities. Erg Chegaga, close to the town of M’Hamid El Ghizlane, is also impressive. Accessible only by camel, foot, or four-wheel-drive, the remote dunes see fewer visitors than their cousins at Merzouga.
Morocco has four major mountain ranges, three of which are part of the Atlas system. The High Atlas Mountains are easy to explore from Marrakesh, and include the country’s tallest mountain of Jbel Toubkal, diverse walking trails, and activities aplenty. A highlight of the Middle Atlas range is Ifrane, with its cool temperatures, French design that is reminiscent of a Swiss ‘garden city’, and Barbary macaques. The Anti Atlas Mountains are the driest of the Atlas Mountains. The Rif Mountains, in the north of the country, are also terrific for fans of outdoor adventures. Visit Berber villages, camp in the wild, trek with mules, see native wildlife, and admire stunning views.
Morocco has many splendid beaches that offer a combination of relaxation and active water sports. Indeed, the coastlines that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea feature beaches to suit any mood. Whether you’re seeking a popular tourist seaside resort or a hidden local gem you won’t be disappointed. There are rugged coastal stretches that are ideal for long walks, with great vistas and reliable waves that provide the perfect opportunity for fun water sports. Some of the country’s most popular beaches can be found around Agadir, Tangier, and Tetouan. Essaouira, Safi, and Taghazout are top spots for surfing. Oualidia and El Jadida spring into life with holiday-making Moroccans in the summer month.
While many people associate Morocco with rugged, barren mountains and arid deserts, there are also several spectacular waterfalls to enjoy. Ouzoud Waterfalls are among the most popular. The falls can easily be visited on a day trip from Marrakesh. Paradise Valley, close to Agadir, has several sparkling falls. Take a dip in the pools and lie back on the smooth rocks to soak up some sun and dry off. The Cascades of Akchour, near Chefchaouen, are a beautiful sight. Oum Rabia Waterfall, in Khenifra, sees relatively few visitors, and the multi-level waterfalls of Setti Fatma in the Ourika Valley offer great views.
Each of Morocco’s four imperial cities offers a wealth of experiences and attractions. Take a few days to appreciate the splendour of Marrakesh’s historical sites, shop for bargains in the souks, unwind in delightful gardens, and wander through the frenetic streets of the medina. Admire striking architecture in Fes, wander through the souks, and visit some of the oldest tanneries in the world. Enjoy the calm manner of Meknes as you discover its former royal sites, and contrast the old and new in Rabat, the country’s present capital.
Surrounded by mountainous terrain, the ancient site of Volubilis is a wondrous site for fans of history and archaeology. Widely considered to have once been the capital of Mauritania, the Roman ruins are sure to capture your imagination. As you explore the large site, complete with grand columns and colourful mosaics, it’s difficult not to think about tunic-glad Roman soldiers patrolling the area in times gone by.
In addition to the better-known destinations, like Marrakesh, Casablanca, Tangier, Agadir, and Fes, plan to visit some of the country’s more off-the-beaten-track places, away from the crowds. See unspoilt scenery, visit rustic villages, engage in authentic exchanges with locals, see a wealth of sights, and gain an even greater appreciation for Morocco. Hidden gems include El Jadida, Demnate, and Larache. Sometimes, simply travelling a short way outside of a popular hotspot lets you see a completely different way of life.
Although a trip to Morocco is sure to be filled with many delicious meals, why not learn how to recreate some traditional dishes and impress your friends and family when you get home? There are many cooking schools around the country, with most offering half-day, one-day, and multi-day sessions. Classes often include a trip to buy fresh ingredients from a local market, as well as an explanation about the different herbs and spices that are central to many Moroccan dishes. Common dishes prepared include tagine, couscous, salads, and pastilla.
Relax, cleanse, and ease away any aches and pains with a visit to a traditional Moroccan hammam. Many hotels and guesthouses have onsite hammams, and there are luxurious spas in most major tourist areas. For a more local experience, head to one of the numerous public bathhouses; you’ll find one in almost every neighbourhood around the country.
There are many attractive visual arts to admire around Morocco. Splendid architecture throughout the country showcases beautiful designs and features decorative touches added with skill by master artisans. Pay attention to the details and you’ll notice exquisite wooden carvings, plasterwork, colourful tilework, and more. There are many museums and galleries around the country dedicated to the arts, with paintings, sculptures, and photography among the various pieces you’ll find on display. A stroll around the nation’s many souks will usually provide glimpses of artisans skillfully working on hand-crafted items.
Music plays a large role in Moroccan society. You’ll likely hear chaabi music drifting out of shop doors and playing on the radios in taxis. The similar genres of Andalusian, gharnati, and malhun are also popular. Other types of music you may hear when travelling around Morocco include gnawa, sufi music, rap, and rai.
Pet a donkey, ride a camel, try shisha, drink mint tea, experience local life in a cafe, and stay in a traditional riad – there are numerous terrific things to see and do in Morocco. While some of these ideas are limited to particular locations there are also those that can be enjoyed wherever in the country you find yourself. Incorporate diverse attractions and activities to experience the best of magical Morocco.