This North African sovereign state borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea and boasts a reputation as the melting pot of Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences.
Marrakech, also known as the Daughter of the Desert, has plenty of activities to enjoy but for those who would like to venture off the tourist circuit, the region does not disappoint.
The Atlas Mountains are North Africa’s highest mountain range and run through Algeria and Tunisia. The High Atlas range is set diagonally across central Morocco and stretches from the west coast to the Moroccan-Algerian border.
Beyond the quintessential hiking and mountain climbing breaks, this boundless landscape has so much more to explore – without you ever having to break a sweat.
Its diverse landscape includes cosmopolitan cities, splendid mountain ranges, coastlines that sit on cerulean water and undulating golden sands of the arid desert that stretches for hundreds of miles.
Travel through the country visiting significant monuments and highlights including Marrakech’s bustling medina and tranquil Majorelle Gardens; the Karawan mosque in Fez which is the oldest university in the world built by Fatima al-Fihri; the blue streets of Chefchaouen and Casablanca’s Hassan II mosque which has the tallest minaret in the world.
Morocco’s culture is as complex as the intricate mosaics that embellish the country’s resplendent mosques.
It’s the kind of destination where the closer you look the more variation you see – and when it comes to culture, you could spend weeks drinking in the dizzying diversity and still feel like you’ve not even scratched the surface.
Throughout the centuries, this resilient kingdom and its indigenous people have stood their ground against colonial conquests and survived the rise and fall of mighty dynasties.
Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians, Amazigh, Portuguese, Turks, Moors, Arabs, Spanish and French have all had a presence here over the years, weaving the region’s pattern anew.
This melting pot of cultures and customs has resulted in the Moroccan people of the 21st century; a modern and progressive Islamic nation full of Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences.
From the sacred call of Adhan to the beat of local hip hop, the splendor of centuries-old souks and the rise of contemporary restaurants, Morocco’s culture is hard to define but wholly immersive.
Traveling in Morocco starts with nothing more appealing than its national pastime – savoring good food and mint tea in a street café.
Given its history and strategic location between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, Morocco’s food scene has been blessed with a mélange of Arabic, Jewish, Berber, sub-Saharan, and even Roman influences.
From warm vegetable salads to slow-cooked meats, fresh fruits and flaky pastries with orange-flower water, the flavors of Morocco are mouth-watering.
Some of the best eats are on the streets, so be sure to follow your nose into the bustle of the medinas to savor Moroccan street food delicacies such as merguez sausages, golden maakouda fritters, and fluffy Maghrebi treats.
In Casablanca, the Seksu bedawi will entice even the most dedicated carnivores.
While in Marrakesh, the full-bodied aroma of traditional tanjias drift through the bustling streets, and when trekking the High Atlas Mountains, a warm bowl of Mechoui provides a sumptuous respite from the cold.
No matter what you choose to delight in, just be sure to eat with your right hand. Other than that; B’saha – here’s to your health.
Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh, and Rabat are some of the most exciting cities on the continent and all have at one time been the capital of Morocco.
Grand tales of rising dynasties, colonial conquests and the Berber who resisted them, can be heard across all four cities.
The imperial lands are those of vibrant souks oozing with old-world atmosphere, narrow streets and alleys heady with aromas of local cuisine, and ancient landmarks looming over the bustle of modern-day merchants and locals.
While exploring the chaos of Fes, you’ll find the world’s largest medieval medina, the oldest university, and a rainbow of traditional tanneries.
In the seaside city of Rabat, impressive landmarks such as the royal palace, the King’s mausoleum, the Hassan Tower, and the historic Kasbah of the Udayas tell tales of power and conquest.
In Meknes, the world’s most beautiful gates guard imperial treasures such as Dar Jamai while Morocco’s famous Djemaa el Fna overflows with traditional hammams and riads.
Continental in size and exquisite in detail, there are very few places on Earth that compare to the incredible landscape you’ll see while visiting the Sahara Desert.
Out amid the rolling dunes and remote Saharan mountains, days are spent on camel backtracking parts of the Berber’s journey across the Sahara to Timbuktu.
Take in the expansive glory of the Erg Chigaga, the tiny village of Merzouga, and the seemingly endless Erg Chebbi.
In the evenings, a blanket of stars swath the pollution-free sky, stories of dynasties long gone are passed down around a crackling fireplace, and a soft bed of sand is the night-time mattress of choice.
This is the Morocco you’ve been dreaming about.
Known by local Berber’s as ‘Idraren Draren’ (Mountains of Mountains), the High Atlas is a trekkers paradise.
Running diagonally across Morocco for almost 1000km, these rugged peaks have three separate ranges: the High Atlas, the Middle Atlas, and the Anti Atlas.
Casual day-hikers and serious mountaineers alike will find appealing routes in the region, offering both staggering peaks and well-trodden passes.
Other options include rock climbing, ski mountaineering, and mountain biking.
Morocco’s desert dunes aren’t the only landscape that shines gold. 1,200 miles of gilded coastline run along the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, offering travelers a cool respite after days spent in the desert.
Morocco has no shortage of beaches to explore and is fast becoming a premium destination for surfers looking to escape the chill of European waters.
The region’s pleasant climate and exposure to the North Atlantic’s swells deliver an abundance of perfect right-hand point breaks around Essaouira and Taghazout.
On land, the tranquil shores are backed by rocky inlets, mythical cliffs, and shifting dunes, offering beach-dwellers a sandy slice of heaven.
Chefchaouen is an otherworldly escape.
Draped down the foothills of Morocco’s Rif Mountains, this enchanting blue-washed village is one of the country’s prettiest – and most recognizable – towns.
Founded in 1471 by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami, this ancient fortress served as a haven for Moorish exiles, Jews and Christian converts before becoming the Blue Pearl of Morocco.
A mélange of cultures has left their mark on the city, but none are as distinctive as the Jewish who introduced the blue to be reminded of God’s power when they took refuge from Hitler in the 1930s.
Along with a rich tapestry of cultures to discover, Chefchaouen has no shortage of wonders to experience.
Embark on a blood-pumping hillside hike or get lost in a maze of narrow lanes of the old media, bathe in mountain streams, or treat your taste buds to an array of delectable Moroccan delights.
Slip-on your babouche and travel back in time while exploring the ancient Ait Ben Haddou.
Situated along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech, this Unesco-protected red mudbrick ksar is a must-see for history and movie buffs alike.
Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones, and Gladiator have all featured this frozen in time site. But centuries before, the village served as an oasis for hundreds of merchants carrying gold, silver, and slaves on the trans-Saharan trade route.
While much has changed since then, the building still resembles its days in the 11th century as an Almoravid caravanserai and is a striking example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture.
The most outlandish travel stories begin in Marrakech.
Tales of snake charmers and street theatre, vivid medinas, and hidden souks abound in this frenzied city. After a day spent exploring, you’ll want to relax and thankfully Marrakesh has just the thing you need.
Moroccan hammams take the spa experience to a whole new level and are found in every neighborhood in Marrakesh.
While it’s unclear when exactly the hammam first came to Morocco, the oldest -and best – dates to 1572. In the past, the lack of indoor plumbing made hammams a necessity but today, taking time to go to the hammam is a tradition which the locals do at least once a week.
It’s a Moroccan tradition well-worth adopting and the best hammams can be found in Marrakesh.
Just be sure to bring your kessa (scrubbing mitt), savon noir, shampoo and other toiletries, a plastic mat for the floor, a change of clothes and a towel to dry off with.
From agricultural Berber land to proto-Carthaginian settlement and Mauri capital, these ancient lands have lived many lives before becoming one of the most remote cities within the Roman Empire.
Sitting in the middle of a fertile plain, the ruined Roman city of Volubilis is the best-preserved archaeological site in Morocco and well worth a visit.
While tracing the footsteps of people long gone, you’ll spot plenty of treasures – from basilicas to large mosaic floors, that have survived the rise and fall of various religions and devastating natural disasters.
Thanks to the fact that its only 9 miles from Spain and sits on the edge of the sea, Morocco’s climate (aside from the arid Saharan desert regions near Merzouga) is mainly Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cold rainy winters.
Cities that run along the Atlantic coast such as Casablanca and Rabat have a moderate climate; while centrally-located destinations like Marrakech, Asni and Imlil in the High Atlas Mountains region, have their own climate where temperatures are consistently cool due to elevation, and in winter it may even snow.
The ideal time to do a desert tour is usually in spring from March to the end of May and fall which runs from August to late October as the temperatures are pleasant and not as extreme as the summer and winter months.
Top Tip: Be sure to check if Ramadan falls within your preferred travel dates as most businesses within the region close.
Morocco has international airports in several major cities including Agadir, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech, and Fez.
Of these, the busiest airports are the Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca, which handles most of the country’s long-distance flights; and the Marrakesh Menara Airport,a popular choice for airlines arriving from Europe.
Royal Air Maroc, the country’s national carrier, is currently the only airline offering direct flights from the United States.