A diverse country in the northern part of Africa, Morocco features a unique mix of cultures – Berber, Arabic, and French. Along the Atlantic Coast, you will witness the imprint of the European colonists. Whereas when you travel inland, you will immerse in the authentic culture of the Berber tribes. If you travel to this country, the following list of places to visit in Morocco might help you plan your trip.
Marrakech was one of Morocco’s four historic capitals – Fes, Marrakech, Rabat, and Meknes. Rabat is presently the capital but this doesn’t make Marrakech less important or visited. On the contrary, the medina’s main square – the Djema el-Fna, is one of Morocco’s best destinations.
Djema el-Fna is an animated public square, full of life at any hour of day or night. One of the symbols of Marrakech, this place is a unique concentration of popular Moroccan cultural traditions. Here you will find musicians playing various instruments, snake charmers, and artists of all kinds. Don’t leave from Marrakech before having a henna tattoo in the Djema el-Fna square.
2. The medina of Fes
Fes features one of the largest and oldest medinas in the world. For this reason, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. Ever since it has become one of the must-see places to visit in Morocco. The medina actually means the old part of the town. A labyrinth of 9000 lanes and alleyways, the medina of Fes is a unique mix of smells, colors, and call-to-prayers.
1200-years old, the medina of Fes features different markets (souqs), Koranic schools (madrassas), and public baths (hammams). Not least, the famed Chouara Tanneries are one of Morocco’s best places to visit. Witnessing how the sheep hides are treated and died is an authentic experience you can have only in Fes.
In addition, don’t leave Fes before stopping in one of the Fassi pottery shops. The local pottery has a unique design and the ‘blue of Fes’ is well known all over the world.
3. Erg Chigaga Sand Dunes
The gateway to the Sahara Desert, Erg Chigaga are the largest and wildest sand dunes in Morocco. They are also known as the highest dunes in the country (300 meters in height). Therefore, they are one of the famous places to visit in Morocco even though the location is more difficult to access.
Situated between Zagora and M’Hamid, the Erg Chigaga Dunes require at least a few days to explore. Both jeep tours and camel treks are available in the region. If you don’t have too much time, then choose a jeep tour and an overnight stay in one of the camps in the desert. If you want to have a deeper insight into the desert’s mysteries though, then a 4/5-day camel trek is the best option.
Whatever means of transportation you choose to explore the desert, don’t underestimate its challenges. Nights might be cold and windy even in summer. On the flip side, days are very hot and it’s better to go there in spring or autumn.
4. The High Atlas Mountains
Also called ‘the rooftop of North Africa,’ Mount Toubkal (4167 meters altitude) is one of the most challenging places to visit in Morocco. Although on many travelers’ bucket list, summiting Toubkal is not as easy as it seems in the guidebooks’ descriptions. If you want to climb Toubkal, you need to have a good physical condition. Keep in mind the ascent is steep and the higher you climb, the colder it gets.
Toubkal has permanent snow at higher elevations and the temperatures drop below 0 C degrees even in summer (especially at night). If you want to be one of the lucky ones who get to the top of Toubkal, then you will need special mountain gear. Bring good hiking boots, wind-proof clothes, gloves, sun-cream, and even crampons for the last sections to the summit (usually the guides can give you snow-crampons if necessary).
If a tough and demanding ascent is not your thing, then you can still enjoy the lovely mountain atmosphere of Imlil. 30 kilometers from Marrakech, Imlil is a small town situated at the foot of Toubkal. From there, many other easier treks explore Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains.
5. The Argan Oil Cooperatives
If you travel from Marrakech to the Atlantic Coast, you will pass the Souss Valley on your way to Essaouira. This region is the paradise of the Argan tree and local women cooperatives produce Argan oil manually. To produce one liter of Argan oil, they need 30 kilograms of nuts and 15 hours of intense work. This is why the Argan oil is the most expensive edible oil in the world (about $300 for one liter).
You can stop at any of the Argan cooperatives signposted on the sides of the road. Besides a room where you can witness the production process, most of them have a showroom with Argan products. Don’t miss the amlou – a delicious mix of Argan oil, almonds, and honey.
Chefchaouen is known as the ‘blue city of Morocco’ and one of the best places to visit in Morocco. Located in the northern part of the country, the small town has an evident Mediterranean imprint. The old medina features blue-washed houses, sloping streets with colorful shops, and a central kasbah (fortress).
Wandering the tangled alleys of the medina will challenge all of your senses. However, if you get lost, keep in mind all the streets go down to the main square. Moreover, strolling around Chefchaouen, you will be asked if you want to buy hashish or marijuana. It is not legal, but it’s up to you if you want to try it or not.
7. The Kasbahs of the Draa Valley
Once you cross the Atlas Mountains, the scenery in the south of the country changes right away. It features palm oasis, mud-brick villages (ksar) and mud-brick fortresses (kasbah). Ait-Benhaddou is the most famous kasbah of the country and one of the best places to visit in Morocco. Several films have been shot in Ait Benhaddou, including Sodom and Gomorrah (1963), Jesus of Nazareth (1977), and The Jewel of the Nile (1985).
Heading more south, another important stop is at the Amridil Kashbah in Skoura. The fortress houses a museum displaying traditional tools, the local way of living, and even earth ovens for baking bread.
Along the Draa Valley, a line of kasbah has protected the valuable green oasis for centuries. The kasbahs have lost their original role but many of them have been transformed into traditional guest-houses for visitors (i.e. Agdz, N’Kob). You can enjoy the ancient Berber decors if you stay in any of these kasbahs.
8. Volubilis Archaeological Site
The north of Morocco was part of the Roman Empire in the ancient period. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, Volubilis is proof of the impressive Roman town that once stood there. Exploring Volubilis offers an insight into the history of the Romans and is one of the great places to visit in Morocco.
Colorful mosaics with birds and gladiators adorned the Roman houses with fountains and patios. You can still see these well-preserved mosaics as well as the ruins of the public baths, a basilica, and the entrance gates. Close to Volubilis, an old Roman aqueduct spans over a deep valley and the locals know its exact location. If you want to go there, you will have to ask about it in the town of Moulay Idriss.
What is the best time to visit Morocco?
The best times of year to visit Morocco are in spring (April/May) or in autumn (September/ October). Summers are very hot – especially in the desert and in the southern parts of Morocco (i.e. Western Sahara). On the contrary, winters may be too cold – in particular along the Eastern Atlantic Coast or in the High Atlas Mountains.
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