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Boasting an extensive coastline, lofty mountains and vast areas of arid desert, Morocco is among the most exciting countries in North Africa and formerly one of the world’s major centers of Islamic learning. It is a land of bustling bazaars, traditional villages, chaotic cities, irresistible cuisine, welcoming locals, majestic nature and so much more, all waiting to be discovered. To help you get inspired, here’s our guide to the top 15 things to do in Morocco.
- Jutta Marianne Hornbeck
- From USA
Almost every Morocco itinerary includes at least a couple of days in Marrakech, the country’s undisputed tourism capital, and for good reason. The city boasts a labyrinthine medina filled with atmospheric souks and home to Djemaa El-Fna, the old town’s vibrant and lively main square. The city also boasts myriad other attractions that include palaces, gardens, mosques, museums and more, making this a place that warrants several days’ exploration.
- Good to know: Although Marrakech is generally safe for travellers, it is infamous for scams. Look out for taxi drivers who don’t use meter, people telling you the place you want to go is closed and then taking you somewhere else, people giving ‘free’ henna tattoos and then demanding hefty payment — and many more. In short, keep your wits about you at all times.
Insider's Tip: If you're planning a trip to Morocco be sure to dress for the weather and pack accordingly. The temperature can vary greatly depending on the time of year and region you're visiting. Morocco is a land of contrasts, and you'll find yourself exploring everything from bustling Souks to ancient mosques and gardens. Embrace the unknown and be open to new experiences - you never know what you might discover. And when you are shopping in the Souks don't be afraid to bargain. Bargaining is a way of life in Morocco, and it's expected when buying anything from souvenirs to spices. Don't be afraid to haggle a bit - it's all part of the fun! — by Fatimazahra Oukhouya from Cape To Casa
Morocco’s erstwhile capital in medieval times, Fez is home to the best-preserved medina in the Arab world. Known as Fes el-Bali, this bewildering maze of narrow streets and alleys is Fez’s main draw, and soaking up the sights, sounds and smells there will be one of the unforgettable experiences of your trip to Morocco.
- Good to know: Fez’s medina is infamously easy to get lost in. Although it is quite possible to navigate without a guide, you should expect to take a few wrong turns before you find your bearings. This can be a great way to explore, but if you’re pushed for time, you might prefer to hire a guide to make sure you see everything.
The High Atlas region is the heartland of the indigenous Berber people. They have inhabited what is now Morocco for at least five millennia, and this is where their distinctive culture is most visible. The area offers many challenging treks that will take you through traditional Berber villages, allowing you to experience the local way of life and the renowned Berber hospitality.
- Good to know: The best period to hike in the High Atlas region is from April to October; although June to August can be hot, even up in the mountains. November to March will be best for snow sports!
As Morocco’s largest city, Casablanca is one of the main gateways to the country, and although it isn’t counted among the main tourist destinations, there’s plenty there to occupy you for a day or two. Casablanca’s one unmissable sight is the majestic Hassan II Mosque, and other points of interest include the medina as well as the city’s many art deco buildings. While there, you can also enjoy a seafront stroll along the renowned Corniche.
- Good to know: Non-Muslims can only visit the Hassan II Mosque by joining a tour. These are available Saturdays – Thursdays at 09:00, 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00, and on Fridays at 09:00, 10:00 and 15:00. In the summer (15th March to 15th September), there is an additional tour at 16:00 every day except Sunday.
One of Morocco’s lesser-known gems, the laidback town of Meknes sees fewer tourists than some of the country’s more popular destinations. As a result, it is relatively free of many of the hassles found in other parts of the country. Highlights include Bab Mansour, the most spectacular of the town’s 27 gates, the mausoleum of Moulay Ismail and the souk, among Morocco’s most beautiful.
- Good to know: Meknes is located close to Fez and is often visited on a day trip from there. However, we recommend staying a couple of nights and visiting the nearby Roman remains at Volubilis.
In the south-east of the country, the Atlas Mountains end, and the landscape transforms into the desolate vistas of Saharan Morocco. One of the most popular things to do is to explore the desert on the back of a camel and spend one or more nights under a glorious sky filled with innumerable glittering stars.
- Good to know: The most popular Saharan destination for camel trekking is the village of Merzouga, from where you can organize excursions out to the orange dunes of Erg Chebbi.
Hammams are an integral part of local culture and using one is among the Morocco activities that every visitor to the country should try at least once. These public baths can be found in just about every town and city throughout the country, although they can be difficult to recognise from the outside. If you want to locate one, you can always ask in your accommodation for recommendations.
- Good to know: For the most authentic experience, head to a ‘popular’ hammam, the kind used by locals. However, for the uninitiate this can be an intimidating experience — especially if you don’t speak Arabic or French. Alternatively, you can go to one of the hammams specifically aimed at tourists. You’ll pay more, but there will be staff on hand to explain how it all works.
One of the best ways to get to grips with a country and its culture is through the food — and in Morocco, you’re in for a real treat. You can look forward to delicious couscous dishes as well as the ubiquitous tajine, a dish named after the pot it is cooked in. Beef, goat, mutton, lamb and chicken are all widely consumed, as is a variety of fish. There are also plenty of salads and assorted delicious desserts — and traditionally, it’s all washed down with sweet mint green tea.
- Good to know: During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, most restaurants will be closed during daylight hours. Some tourist-oriented restaurants may remain open, but you will be expected to eat inside, out of sight of locals observing the fast. The exact dates for Ramadan vary from year to year, but roughly speaking, it lasts 29-30 days at some point between March and May.
Another of Morocco’s unmissable cities, Tangier shows its historical influence from France, as well as Spain, just 30km across the Straits of Gibraltar. The city boasts a small but fascinating medina that contains the Grand Mosque, several souks and the Kasbah, the fortified former palace of the sultan. Due to its strategic location, the place oozes history, but if you just want to chill, there are some decent beaches too.
- Good to know: Although Tangier’s medina might be relatively compact, it’s still easy to get lost. If you want to find your way out, the best trick is simply to head uphill — you will eventually come to one of the gates leading out.
In some ways reminiscent of the White Villages of Andalusia just across the Mediterranean, Chefchaouen is a picturesque town of white and blue buildings that nestles on the side of a hill in the Rif Mountains. Spending a day or two there can be the perfect antidote when the intensity and chaos of some of Morocco’s larger cities all becomes too much.
- Good to know: This part of the country is known as a centre of cannabis cultivation, and many plantations are found in the surrounding hills. Occasionally, tourists enjoying the hiking trails may find themselves being chased off by growers who don’t appreciate unwanted visitors straying into their patch. To avoid this, hire a guide to accompany you.
Head to the relatively tranquil desert town of to Ouarzazate on the western edge of Saharan Morocco and then on into the Dadès Gorges, a spectacular mountain region of wadis that were created by the Dadès river. This imposing landscape of pink and orange rock formations hides numerous fortresses — or kasbahs — as well as many lush oases and groves of palm and almond. It is, thus, no wonder that it comes as a highly recommended thing to do in Morocco.
- Good to know: The Dadès Gorges are best hiked with a guide who knows the most rewarding trails and can take you to see the highlights. Another alternative is to hire a 4x4 and a driver.
Although it might be the nation’s capital, it is only the seventh-largest city in Morocco, perhaps one of the reasons Rabat feels more easy-going and manageable than some of the other places that draw in the tourists. It doesn’t receive as many visitors as places like Fez or Marrakech. However, with a UNESCO-listed medina, the Kasbah of the Udayas and the 12th-century Hassan Tower among others, there are enough attractions to merit at least a couple of days of exploration if you’re wondering what to do in Morocco.
- Good to know: If you can time your visit for May, it will coincide with Mawazine, a festival of international music that is held in the Moroccan capital each year.
The traditional mudbrick ksar of Aït Benhaddou is another of Morocco’s UNESCO-listed sites and is a must-see if you find yourself in the vicinity of Ouarzazate or Marrakech. The evocative town has been used as a shooting location for several films — including The Living Daylights, The Mummy and Gladiator. Once there, the task is simply to enjoy wandering the narrow streets and drinking in the unique atmosphere of the place.
- Good to know: You can visit on a day-trip from Ouarzazate or possibly Marrakech, but it is better to stay the night since this will allow you to witness the effect of the changing light on the ksar as the sun makes its way across the sky.
Lying just across the sea from Spain’s famous Costa del Sol, Morocco’s Mediterranean coastline boasts one or two worthy stretches of sand of its own. The Atlantic coast also has some beaches of note, as well as several interesting seaside towns, meaning there are plenty of options if you decide you want to take a break from travelling to chill by the sea.
- Good to know: If you want a more laidback vibe, the southern part of the Atlantic coast is a better option than the northern section. Agadir and Essaouira are recommended, although the latter is usually very busy during the June to August peak season.
Since Morocco is a Muslim country, it might surprise you to discover that it produces some rather delicious wines and in fact, vines have been cultivated in the area since before Roman times. The country boasts five different wine regions, so if you are a connoisseur on a trip to Morocco, taking a tour of one of the country’s vineyards could be the perfect way to sample the local product.
- Good to know: Perhaps the most convenient place for wine tasting is the area near Meknes where Chateau Roslane and Domaine de la Zouina, among the most famous of Morocco’s vineyards, are found.
Whether you are looking for exotic culture, gastronomic discovery, high adventure or pure relaxation, Morocco is a country with something for everyone. With so much on offer, perhaps the hardest part will be deciding which of the many things to do in Morocco you want to experience first.