The 10 best places to visit in Morocco
Morocco is a former French colony, but it is also a distinctive country with its own history and culture. The influence of the metropolis has undoubtedly had a positive impact on many areas of Moroccan society, but it is also interesting to visit because Morocco has retained its national identity. Morocco offers not only Berber and Arab culture, but also sunbathing on the beach in the High Atlas Mountains.
Travelers to the country should be sure to explore the medinas of Marrakech, the paths of ancient traders in Fez, while the more progressive Casablanca will play up the contrast with its modern way of thinking. To make your Morocco trip memorable, visit the most interesting places that do not leave tourists indifferent.
Marrakech is a city of contrasts. Everything here is so densely intertwined and contradictory that tourists, having got here, for a long time get used to the turbulent life…
The town of Sidi Ifni is small in size, if we compare it with other settlements of the country, but it is interesting first of all not by its size, but by its local color. Located on the southwest coast of the country, Sidi Ifni is a fishing village. It is a great place for those who want to experience the colorful life of the local people. But fishing is for locals, while visitors to Sidi Ifni can sunbathe on the gorgeous beaches or go surfing. The town’s return to Morocco in 1969, after being ruled by the Spanish for ten years, has definitely benefited from the emphasis on local culture, which has attracted tourists.
Coming to Sidi Ifni, tourists will be amazed first of all by the beauty of the town. Here all the buildings are painted in shades of blue and white color, so against the background of the monotonous heat of the desert the town stands out very much. There are even a few buildings in the art deco style, which makes them stand out from the rest. These buildings are scattered throughout the town. The atmosphere in Sidi Ifni is relaxed and friendly, and visitors do not feel cultural or religious pressure. There are many restaurants and cafes with fish dishes. They are located on the ocean, near the bazaar and on the site of the old town.
The main attraction of the town is the gorgeous beach, which is washed by the waves of the Atlantic. Here you can go kitesurfing and surfing or just sunbathe and admire the stunning beauty of nature on the beach. Tourists are impressed by the coastal cliffs, menacingly going under the water. And on the nearby beach Lezgir can admire the thirty-meter stone arch.
Rabat, the capital of Morocco, is definitely a city worth visiting for tourists. Many initially bypass it and do not include it in their program, considering the administrative center boring and dull for visitors, but this is by no means true. It may well compete with Agadir, Marrakech and Casablanca.
Rabat is located in the north-west of the country and is washed by the Atlantic Ocean. Here everywhere reigns the atmosphere of the old medina, and quiet streets with palm trees and call for a walk around the city. Rabat is interesting primarily for its historical and cultural heritage. It should be noted that the local authorities take excellent care of cultural monuments, so many of them are well preserved until today. Attractions are scattered throughout the city, but tourists should definitely visit the Royal Palace and the preserved kasbah.
Be sure to check out the old mosque, the historical museum and the Andalusian Garden during your tour. Exquisite architecture can be found among the walls of the town, and from the kasbah, explore the city and admire the ocean. It is best to take 1-2 days to see all the sights in Rabat. In this case, even five-star hotels will not hit the wallet of visitors hard.
One of the four imperial cities is Meknes. Once the city was even the capital of the country, but compared to other cities Meknes had this status for the least time. Meknes was founded in the VIII century and then the city was called Kasbah, which means fortress. But since it was at that time that defensive structures were built most often, many cities had this name – it is difficult to call it original.
Sightseeing is an essential part of any vacation. Apart from shopping, lying on the beach and eating delicious food in restaurants, etc….
After two centuries, the town took on a different name and became known as Miknasa, in honor of the tribes that lived there. The name of the locality stuck well, but due to accusations of treason by the inhabitants of the city it was completely destroyed and later rebuilt, but it already had more modern mosques and fortified defensive walls, as well as the famous El Mansourou gate.
During the reign of Sultan Ismail ibn Sherif, Meknes was made the capital in 1673. As a result of this capital status, a number of palace complexes and temples were built. Check out the palaces of Dar Jamai or Dar El Mahzen. The Sultan initiated great reforms, including in construction. Meknes was surrounded by 76 fortresses, stables and reservoirs were built. In 1727, when the sultan died, the city ceased to be the capital, but all that was built remained and still attracts tourists. Despite this, Meknes is not an overly visited city compared to the rest. It is not crowded with impassable rivers of tourists, so the city is not only comfortable to visit, but also safe in terms of crooks and thieves. But there are a lot of students and locals, and there are fire swallowing performances in the markets. But it is hardly possible to buy cheap souvenirs – it is better to do it in Fez or Marrakech.
The blue town of Chefchaouen is primarily known for the fact that the houses in it are actually painted in shades of blue, which visually even creates a slight haze over it. Against the dusty surroundings of other towns, it is truly distinctive and unique. There are no large squares in the town, but there are narrow winding streets, where tourists like to wander. Photos from here look very atmospheric, but it is better to take them in the early morning to preserve the color scheme. When the sun rises, the blue color acquires dirty shades or becomes completely white. In addition, in the morning there are still few people on the streets, which will allow you to take photos near cozy houses and not disturb the locals.
There is Andalusian and Moroccan architecture everywhere in the city, as well as many cozy eating places – cafes, restaurants and bars, where you can eat inexpensively. The biggest cluster is in the town square, where locals sell all sorts of things. Souvenirs that they sell are not expensive, but here it is best to bargain with sellers – it is a kind of way to establish contact with tourists. If you get tired of the city, go up to the nearby Talasemtan National Park. There you can stroll along the scenic trails and look at the stunning paintings stretching in the distance.
Asilah is a town located on the Atlantic coast of the Moroccan kingdom. It is located not far from Tangier, 50 kilometers to the south, and is one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco, and most importantly – very ancient. Asila was built in the beginning of the first millennium BC, when the city became a port for the Phoenicians. Up to our time has survived and part of the fortress walls, which remained almost intact. In the XV 15th century the city was occupied by the Portuguese, then the Spanish, and in the XVII century it was again conquered by the Moroccans. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Spaniards returned to the country again and only after the Second World War Asila was officially returned to the Kingdom of Morocco.
Today it is a much sought-after resort town, a center of delicious bread baking, a fishing port, and in the region itself near Asila, cattle and sheep are raised. The city has many modern complexes, shopping centers, comfortable hotels. In summer there is a cultural festival, poets, artists and musicians come here.
The streets in Asil are quiet and beautiful, so the city is perfect for hiking. Not far from the coast there is a beautiful medina, made in blue colors. Now it has turned into a real canvas for artists, as local masters leave their graphiti on the walls more and more often. A cultural festival is held here.
If you walk along the medina towards the sea, you can see the beautiful causeway and the panorama of the sea. Traditionally, seafood and fish dishes can be tasted in Asilah. Today, Asilah is a national monument, an atmospheric, creative city that is famous for its positive attitude towards tourists.
Essaouira is a port city on the Atlantic Ocean. It is located in the center of Morocco. It is very easy to recognize Essaouira – it is contrasting dazzling white houses and windows painted in bright blue. Despite the fact that the city is located quite far from Agadir (175 km), it attracts fans of windsurfing. With a little wind, high waves are created here.
The former name of Essaouira was Mogador, Amokdul, Mogdura. The picturesque town on the Atlantic coast was at one time occupied by Berbers, Portuguese, and in the XVII century Mohammed the Third turned the town into one of the largest ports of Morocco. After that, trade was actively established here: Europeans came here to exchange their goods for gold, salt, oysters and cane sugar. The latter is also called local gold.
The city can be reached by bus leaving either from Casablanca or Marrakech. The way from Casablanca is about six hours, but from Marrakech you can get here twice as fast. Most buses here leave from the train stations, it is a very comfortable means of transportation. In order not to spoil your vacation, it is best to come to Essaouira in August or September. The maximum temperature here is 27-28 degrees, and the average summer temperature is about 20-21 degrees.
Essaouira is not only a port city, but also a city of attractions. Of course, the main business card of the town is the local cuisine. Cafes and restaurants prepare mainly fish and seafood dishes. The most expensive and famous restaurants are located on the seafront, and simple eateries – in the old town. Fresh fish can be cooked yourself, it is sold at the local market and if you order it, it will be fried here. From meat locals like mutton, beef and eat camel meat.
The most colorful place is still the port – here fishermen from morning till evening are engaged in catching fish, getting a good income from it. The city is practically untouched by civilizations. Many things have remained here since ancient times, for example, the Pasha’s residence has become a museum. Those who like to see historical sights can come here. Essaouira will definitely become interesting for surfers. They should definitely visit in Morocco. There are two local surfing centers with their own equipment. Those who just like to sunbathe will also like the town. You can stay in Essaouira in any of the many hotels – these are so-called riyada hotels. It is best to choose a hotel on the second or third line from the beach.
The city of Fez was founded in 789 and for a long time held the capital status of the country. It is the third largest city in the country and became a major artisanal center, so it grew and developed rapidly. For tourists, Fes can be called a truly ideal place in which to plunge into the atmosphere of intoxicating shopping. Now the Moroccan government is taking all measures to restore historical monuments and cultural attractions, so Fes is increasingly attracting visitors as the cultural capital of the country. The medina with a population of about one hundred and fifty thousand people is protected from harmful emissions into the air, as automobile transportation is prohibited here – the locals care about the ecology of their town. And they also love original beauty, so they paint the walls of houses with frescoes, decorate them with mosaics. A simple mud-brick courtyard on a narrow street can turn out to be a real masterpiece of painting and architecture, because Fez is a city full of surprises.
In most cases, tours to Fez are on foot, but you can also go by carriage. To enjoy all the beauty of the city, walk here on foot – so you can wander around the old town, get acquainted with the works of artisans, go to the Dar Batha Museum and look at the collection of ceramic tiles, as well as visit one of the most famous mosques Karaouine.
The mountain range stretching along the country is called the High Atlas. It runs from Morocco to Alerdija. Here there is a national park with the highest mountain peak Jeb Toubkal, which is more than four kilometers high. It is best to start climbing from the Berber village of Imlil, and you can do it at any time of the year – rest and walks in the air will benefit both summer and winter, and the weather and climatic features of the region allow it.
If you are going to visit the High Atlas, don’t forget about the most famous Todra Gorge, located near the town of Tinerhir. There are steep canyons and mountains and rocky slopes everywhere, but it is the last half kilometer of Todra that is the most fascinating. The mountains are so majestic and beautiful that the cinematography did not bypass them – the movie “Gladiator” was filmed here in a town made of mud bricks.
The small village of Merzouga is located near the border with Algeria. It is notable for being a base for travelers going to the Sahara Desert. Above the village rise the huge dunes of Erg Shebbi, which sometimes reach three hundred meters in height.
This is where most tourists come to capture the desert scenery. Indeed, such beauty is rarely found anywhere. Tourist companies organize hiking, motorcycle and quad bike rides, you can take part in a camel safari. These are the most popular ways of traveling through the sands. For those who want to extend the journey, there are overnight excursions. The camp is set up right in the desert to spend the sun there and meet it again.
Despite the fact that Merzouga is perceived as a transit point, the village cannot be called backward. There are comfortable hotels to suit every budget, and guides offer exciting excursions at reasonable prices.
Marrakech, or the Red City as it is known because of its colorful sandstone buildings, was founded ten centuries ago by the Almoravid dynasty. Over time, this Berber town grew rapidly and became a center of trade, philosophy, religion and culture. It was under the Almoravids that red houses were built here, as well as grand palaces and Koranic schools, some of which have survived to this day.
Marrakech became popular as a center of hippie culture as various celebrities such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones began to visit the city after World War II. They revitalized interest in the city, opening it up to the tourist world. Till today Marrakech is hospitable to visitors from different parts of the world.
Most of the attractions are located in the center of Marrakech. Here you can see the old medina with narrow streets and labyrinths, there is a historical museum, grocery stores with local culinary delights, markets. Djema El Fna is the main square of the city, which almost constantly hosts various entertainment events for tourists – musicians, acrobats, fakirs, there are many traders of carpets, ceramics, jewelry. Be sure to visit the Saadid Tomb, Majorelle Garden, Kutubiya Mosque and Bakhtiya Palace during your stay in the city.
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7 Best Day Trips from Marrakech
of contrasts. Everything here is so tightly woven and contradictory that once tourists get here, it takes them a long time to get used to the turbulent life of the city. Mountains and deserts, waterfalls and rivers, earthen buildings of Berber villages are successfully combined here. European trends have not bypassed this conservative country, mixing here with local color and giving the world such a pearl as Marrakech.
It is better to allocate a whole day to get acquainted with this object, as there is really something to do here. Those tourists who like desert vacations or want to get acquainted with the sands for the first time will especially enjoy the trip. The lake is located in the Agafay Desert, which is much closer to the Sahara, but this desert is not inferior to the venerable attraction.
.The lake is originally an artificial body of water. It was built by the French, who colonized the land, in the 1920s. The purpose of the lake was to provide Marrakech with electricity and water. Now there are no bulky industrial facilities, and the lake has become a tourist attraction where you can fish and even catch trophy-sized black sea bass. It is better to go on a jet ski or kayak. Around the lake on the sprawling sands, a popular entertainment is riding quad bikes or taking a horse. Not only entertainment, but also health infrastructure works for tourists. Nearby there are services of a masseur, a spa, yoga.
It is very easy to get to the lake – the way will take only forty-five minutes, after which you will be at the place. It is difficult to get lost here, as you need to follow the main road without turning off. The lake is located southwest of Marrakech. It has stunning views, so be sure to take a camcorder or camera with you – such pictures should be kept in the family archive. Magnificent panoramas in the mountains of the great Atlas will not leave anyone indifferent.
To visit the lake, you can not only plan an independent trip, but also use the services of a guide. Many excursions are built in such a way that visitors will be shown the four valleys, you can also stop by Berber villages and get acquainted with the local color, learn more about the culture and traditions of the people living there.
Imlil is a destination as if specially created for those who love traveling in the mountains. It is located in the valley of the Atlas Mountains, and this point is considered one of the best for climbing Mount Toubkal. The popular tourist route has been tried by visitors for many years and it is the one they leave the most enthusiastic comments about when vacationing in Marrakech.
Toubkal is the highest mountain in North Africa, so only the most avid mountaineers will conquer it. For those who do not wish to venture into the mountains, there are other things to do at the foot of the mountain. Nearby is a Berber village, where you can wander around and get to know the friendly locals, taste the cuisine, and buy souvenirs for keepsakes. The village is all miles and well-maintained, with small mud-brick houses making up the majority of the premises. Here women wash their laundry in the river, as its water is crystal clear, but being honest we note that there are not many water resources here and the river for many people remains the only source of life-giving moisture. Stores with souvenirs and handicrafts are open until late in the evening for visitors. At the top of the Kasbah, you can sip flavored tea while watching the sunset. Imlil is a great place to relax and unwind after the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.
Getting to Imlil is not difficult. The town is located to the south of Marrakech, so you can take a train and in two hours you will be in the right place. Tourists here also catch a double whammy – they can admire Lake Takercoost, which is in the same direction. Explore the sights or wander around the neighborhood and you will have an unforgettable experience in Imlil.
The city of Ouarzazate is located in the center of the country, but this has not affected its tourist popularity, although more people saw it than visited it. How can this be – you ask? And all thanks to the movie industry, because the highest-grossing Hollywood movies are “Gladiator”, “Game of Thrones” and “Lawrence of Arabia”. This is an old Berber city with unique architecture, which is why it has attracted movie directors, and tourists will be surprised all the more.
Ouarzazate is situated in an interesting location that makes it even more popular – at the junction of desert and mountains. And the color of the architecture, consonant with the hue of the bright red sand, creates gorgeous shots in photos. Wander around the town or take a camel ride to appreciate the local flavor and take pictures.
It will take you almost four hours to reach Ouarzazate. Remarkably, tourists do not get bored on the road. The Atlas Mountains are so mesmerizing that the road will seem fast, and visitors will not be able to take their eyes off the majestic mountain ranges in the distance. From Marrakech, there is a highway to the southeast that will take you to the right place. On your way back from there, stop by the Berber village of Ait Benhaddou on the way back.
To avoid planning the trip on your own, you can completely rely on experienced guides. Go on a tour and you won’t regret it. Tourists will make several stops in Ouarzazate and will also be brought to a Berber village. It is very easy to learn about the life of the local population – here many processes take place right on the street, and friendly locals will offer to give you tea, try local cuisine. You won’t leave here without an authentic local souvenir made by the villagers’ own hands. No innovations – only ethnics
Previously, Essaouira was known as Mogador.
. It is located on the coast, which invariably attracts visitors to the country. It is easily distinguishable from the rest by dazzling white buildings scattered along the coast and bright blue windows. Most of all come here lovers of recreation on the water, because Essaouira is rightly considered the center of windsurfing. With a little wind the biggest waves rise here, which take the breath away even experienced surfers. At the same time we note such a striking fact – despite the proximity to the water, here is not particularly developed beach recreation, and sunbathing on the sand can be counted on the fingers. Perhaps it is because of the strong wind, which gave the town its name – the Windy City of Africa.
For a long time the town was rather closed and conservative, but three hundred years ago the sultan began to rebuild it as a port, focusing on trade. The largest European ships came here, merchants brought expensive goods, exchanging them for cane sugar, gold bars, salt and oysters. At that time, and even now, Essaouira is famous for these goods. And because of the abundant sugar cane, the town began to attract enterprising Europeans. Sugar cane immediately increased in value and became the equivalent of exchange.
The local cuisine is the town’s calling card. Here are prepared mainly fish dishes, which will surprise even the most demanding gourmets. There are cafes, restaurants and snack bars scattered all along the coast, where they will cook something to eat right in front of you – quickly and appetizingly. That is why the smells on the coast are predominantly culinary, with a pleasant smoke and the smell of gourmet dishes.
The best way to get to the city from Marrakech is by bus, which leaves from the train station. To visit it is recommended to come in early summer, while the temperature is not so high, because August and September in Essaouira is a real heat wave. Here you can walk around the old medina, buy souvenirs and jewelry of local craftsmen, visit the annual music festival.
The Grand Atlas is not only a series of rocky cliffs, formidable and impregnable. The real gem is the Ouzoud waterfall, located in the mountains at an altitude of 1800 meters from sea level. It is recognized as one of the wonders of Morocco. The name Ouzoud is related to the grinding of grain, so this is the most popular theory of its origin. The second meaning of the word is related to olives, whose orchard of trees grows behind the waterfall.
The water falls from a height of about 110 meters, creating a natural noise, as Uzud has three steps and turns out to be a cascade. And the shimmering drops in the sun will surprise visitors with a real rainbow. Staying at the waterfall until sunset, you can meet monkeys coming here for watering, as well as eat figs growing nearby.
Not far from the waterfall you can see old mills. They worked for their intended purpose long ago when Berbers lived here, but now they have retained only tourist value, being a cultural attraction for visitors, so they are up and running.
The waterfall is located two hours drive from Marrakech, only 130 kilometers of road to overcome. Along the way, guests can see stunning mountain scenery, so the road will not seem long. Head in a northeastern direction, and when you reach Ouled Hellouf, check the signs that will show you the way to the waterfall.
To avoid planning the trip, use the services of a guide. Many buses of tourist companies depart from Marrakech here, because it is one of the most popular routes. The guide will not only show the waterfall and beautiful places for pictures, but will also tell you about the life of the local population and introduce you to the Berber culture. Near the waterfall you can see another attraction – El Abid Gorge.
If you’re in Marrakech in August or September, when temperatures are at their highest, you’ll want to find a place where the sun doesn’t scorch so mercilessly. The locals, who themselves enjoy this way of escaping the heat, will be happy to advise you to head to the Urika Valley. The Urika Valley, located in the Atlas Mountains, is much cooler, so you can escape the heat in summer and early fall, but experienced tourists know a little secret – the best time to visit the valley is when it turns into a flowering meadow. The most acceptable time to come is from February to April. At this time, the valley is flooded with cherry and almond blossoms, hundreds of varieties of wildflowers and almonds, which you should see blooming at least once in your life
The valley is very conveniently located for tourists, with the famous Sitti-Fatma resort nearby. Since it is not far from Marrakech, Sitti-Fatma is known locally as a weekend resort – you can come here for a day and have a great time, sightseeing and shopping. The most convenient thing to do is to take a scooter and go here on a scooter. Don’t forget to bring a food basket and cameras – all visitors here have picnics and enjoy the beautiful views, taking home breathtaking photos. You can even capture the prehistoric rock paintings that Oukaimedina is famous for.
Getting to the Urika Valley is easy – just a forty-five minute drive and you’re in the right place, surrounded by greenery and waterfalls that keep you cool in the scorching heat. It is best to explore the valley on foot to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding landscape without hurrying. You can also go here with a guided tour, if you order it in one of the tour companies in Marrakech. This is a very popular route and it doesn’t cost much to visit.
A day trip to Aint Benhaddou will fill you with a sense of history from and to. All that is hidden from the eyes of modern times can be experienced here. Ain Benhaddou is an ancient town that dates back to the time when all goods were transported by camels in caravans. The town is known for its distinctive architecture, which is why it has been featured in movies such as “The Jewel of the Nile” and “The Man Who Would Be King”. To describe all the grandeur of the town, it is difficult to find epithets. It is breathtaking, and one gets the feeling that one is a grain of sand in this endless world. The terraces of the houses built around you will surround you with a wall, but it does not create an oppressive impression. On the contrary – a sense of pride and grandeur embraces all those who come here. It is a mystical mystery, which is written about by all the tourists who have visited the town, although the locals themselves call it a village.
It takes an average of three and a half hours to get here from Marrakech. The road takes you through the Atlas Mountains, which you can admire again. Signposts along the way will keep you on your toes, and nearby is Ouarzazate – it too can be visited after the village. If you don’t want to plan the road and prefer to go with a guide, a tour to Ain Benhaddou can be booked at any travel agency in Marrakech.
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10 Best Tourist Attractions in Marrakech
Sightseeing is an essential part of any vacation. In addition to shopping, lying on the beach and eating delicious dishes in restaurants and coastal eateries, time should be spent in a useful way. Marrakech has enough unique places, architecture and natural objects that will surprise even sophisticated tourists, which is why firms recommend this city for those who want to learn more about a new country.
The Menara Gardens are not only popular with tourists, but are also visited by locals. Why are they so attractive to the people of Marrakech? The answer is very simple: it is not only a unique natural attraction, but also a place where you can hide from the heat. On a sweltering day, you can always find a saving coolness here.
Menara Gardens were founded in the XII century, and the purpose of the gardens was to save people from the heat. The gardens are organized in such a way that they grow near a large lake, which is fed by inland water channels. By absorbing the water through their roots, the trees attracted more water to the region and therefore enabled the local population to farm successfully. The gardens of Menara are home to palm trees, olive trees and fruit trees. Here you can notice the pickers who carefully go around the trees with baskets, collecting the fruits and sending them to the market. The best way to view the gardens is from a minza or pavilion that was once used by the Sultan and his family.