Things to do in Morocco

Must-see Morocco sights

For Westerners, Morocco holds an immediate and enduring fascination. Though just an hour’s ride on the ferry from Spain, it seems at once very far from Europe, with a culture - Islamic and deeply traditional - that is almost wholly unfamiliar. And it’s that which makes Morocco magical, enchanting and endlessly alluring.

  1. Visit thrilling Marrakech
  2. Take a step back in time in Fez
  3. Visit the enchanting port city of Essaouira
  4. Head to Casablanca for the Hassan II mosque
  5. Head to blue Chefchaouen
  6. Enjoy hiking in the High Atlas
  7. Discover the desert

Morocco is every traveller’s dream. From incredible architecture and tranquil cities, to buzzing energy in Marrakech and non-stop adventure, Morocco is endless fun.

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1. Visit thrilling Marrakech

Marrakech has always been something of a marketplace. It’s where tribesmen and Berber villagers bring their goods, spend their money and find entertainment. At its heart is the Jemaa el Fna Square. an open space in the centre of the city. It’s the stage for a long-established ritual in which shifting circles of onlookers gather round groups of acrobats, drummers, pipe musicians, dancers, storytellers, comedians and fairground acts. The city’s architectural attractions are no less compelling. The magnificent ruin of the El Badi Palace, the delicate carving of the Saadian Tombs and, above all, the Koutoubia Minaret, the most perfect Islamic monument in North Africa.

Best for: A perfect introduction to Morocco

While you’re there: Don’t forget to go to the Majorelle Garden, a sublime garden, with cacti, lily ponds, and an Islamic Arts museum.

2. Take a step back in time in Fez

The oldest of Morocco’s four imperial capitals and the most complete medieval city of the Arab world, Fez stimulates all the senses: a barrage of haunting and beautiful sounds, infinite visual details and unfiltered odours. It has the French-built Ville Nouvelle of other Moroccan cities, but nearly a quarter of Fez’s one-million-plus inhabitants continue to live in the extraordinary Medina-city of Fez el Bali. The old town seems suspended in time somewhere between the Middle Ages and the modern world. Getting lost there is one of the many pleasures of being in Fez.

Best for: An imperial Moroccan city

While you’re there: The Festival of World Sacred Music held in May or June, has evolved into the country’s most inspiring cultural festival.

3. Visit the enchanting port city of Essaouira

Essaouira, by popular acclaim Morocco’s most likeable resort, was once a haven for hippie backpackers. After all, this is where Jimi Hendrix was alleged to have taken inspiration when writing Castles Made of Sand. An eighteenth-century town, enclosed by medieval-looking battlements, Essaouira’s whitewashed and blue-shuttered houses provide a riot of colour. Colonnades, wood workshops and art galleries, boat-builders and sardine fishermen all provide a very pleasant backdrop to the beach.

Best for: Chilled out beach vibes

While you’re there: The windy city is perfect for kitesurfing and windsurfing.

4. Head to Casablanca for the Hassan II mosque

The biggest attraction in Casablanca is the Hassan II mosque. Raised on a rocky platform reclaimed from the ocean, it was inaugurated on August 30, 1993. Designed by French architect Michel Pinseau, it is open to non-Muslims on accompanied visits that also take in the mosque’s huge and elaborate basement hammam. The minaret is 200m high, making it by far the tallest structure in the country. A laser on its summit projects a beam towards Mecca.

Best for: Incredible architecture

While you’re there: The mosque is home to the tallest minaret in the world.

5. Head to blue Chefchaouen

An isolated refuge for over four hundred years before absorption in the 1920s into the Spanish Protectorate, Chefchaouen (pronounced “shef-sha-wen”) is a popular spot. It remains today somewhat aloof from the goings-on in the rest of the country. Visiting Chefchaouen requires venturing into the rugged Rif mountains and it almost feels by chance that one comes upon the town. It’s still hidden beneath the towering peaks from which it takes its name. The setting, like much of the Rif, is largely rural. The bright lights and bustling noise of cities less than half a day’s drive away are soon forgotten. That’s not to say that Chefchaouen is completely isolated, for the town has long been a stop on the intrepid backpacker circuit. It has become popular with mainstream tourists, who are arriving in increasing numbers to wander the town’s blue-washed Medina. Searching for Morocco holidays? We recommend staying at Hôtel Chaouen for a comfortable stay in the blue city.

Best for: The prettiest place in Morocco

While you’re there: Make sure to wander around the medina here. It’s full of craft stalls and perfect for souvenir shopping.

6. Enjoy hiking in the High Atlas

The High Atlas, North Africa’s greatest mountain range, contains some of the most intriguing and beautiful regions of Morocco. A historical and physical barrier between the northern plains and the pre-Sahara, its Berber-populated valleys feel - and indeed are - very remote from the country’s mainstream urban life. The area is North Africa’s premier trekking destination. Casual day-hikers and serious mountaineers alike will find appealing routes in the region, offering both towering mountains (jebels) and spectacular passes (tizis or, in French, cols). Hiking here is one of the most adventurous things to do in Morocco.

Best for: Hiking

While you’re there: A short distance from Marrakech is Toubkal National Park. It is home to the impressive summit, Jebel Toubkal.

7. Discover the desert

What to do in Morocco if you’re looking for adventure? Head to the desert of course. The dunes of the Erg Chebbi stretch 28km from north to south and are 7km across at their widest point. The highest dunes are those near, or just south of, Merzouga itself, peaking with the aptly named Grande Dune de Merzouga, a golden mountain recognizable - in addition to being the tallest dune around - by the distinctive tamarisk tree at its base. The dunes are spectacular at any time of day, but early morning and late afternoon are the best times to view them. To find a relatively peaceful ridge free of footprints, however, you’ll have to be prepared to walk for an hour, or else arrange a camel trip.

Best for: Desert escape

While you’re there: Why not try sand skiing in the Moroccan desert?

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