Morocco

Morocco Travel Guide

Introduction

Sitting a short ferry ride across the Mediterranean from Spain, Morocco is often a traveler’s first encounter with Africa. With a rich culture influenced by Islamic, Berber, French and Spanish inputs, it is a heady introduction to the continent.

From idyllic seaside beaches to the soaring peaks of the High Atlas, and the chaos of the Medina of Marrakesh to the quiet of the Sahara, this country will deliver travel experiences you won’t soon forget.

Currency: Moroccan Dirhams
Languages: Arabic, Tamazight, French, Spanish

What To Do

If you are at a loss for where to begin, start by exploring the Medina of Marrakesh. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being the most prominent economic and cultural centre in Morocco for over a thousand years, it remains vibrant to this day, serving both locals and tourists.

With stalls selling authentic Moroccan street food, spices, shawls, bags, perfumes, souvenirs, and so much more, you’ll be able to get your hands on anything your heart desires – just be prepared to bargain hard!

When you aren’t shopping or watching snake charmers do their thing in the central square, there are a lot of other attractions to see as well. These include mosques, palaces, tombs, riads, and lush gardens, so don’t come down here just to see the souks.

Be sure to spend at least several days in Marrakesh to give yourself a chance to soak up everything this culturally rich part of the world has to offer.

Casablanca resonates in the minds of many culture hounds, as the place where one of the best films in history was shot. There is more to this city in Morocco than movie tourism, though, as it is also home to the Hassan II Mosque.

Ranking among the most significant Islamic houses of worship in the world, it is 13th in the world in overall size. However, its biggest claim to fame is the dizzying height of its minaret, as it is the tallest on Earth at 689 feet high. Topped with a laser that points towards Mecca at night, it is truly a sight to see after dark.

During the day, its perch on a promontory above the Atlantic makes it just as impressive. Tours are available outside of prayer times, but be sure to dress appropriately, or you may not be allowed in.

Make Chefchaouen your next stop on your tour of Morocco. This town in the Moroccan interior is a photographer’s dream come true, as much of the old town is painted in a brilliant blue hue.

While it is not clear why the buildings here were done up this way, leading theories suggest it was an attempt to discourage mosquitoes. Others posit that Jews fleeing Hitler in the 1930s suggested the shade change, as it symbolized heaven, thereby serving as a reminder to the local populace to live a pious life.

When you aren’t capturing a billion photos around town, make time for the Ras el Maa waterfall and hikes in the surrounding mountains, as the first will put you in touch with locals, and the second will connect you with some of the best nature Morocco has to offer.

Fez is another can’t miss city for cultural travelers, as it is home to one of the world’s oldest universities, and its Medina contains buildings and structures which are as stunning as the ones in other Moroccan cities but are unique in their own amazing way.

However, one of the more iconic sights in all of Morocco can be captured here, as Fez is home to leather dying pits that illustrate the hard work that ordinary Moroccans have to pursue every day in order to survive.

When one mentions Morocco, snowy peaks aren’t the first thing that comes to mind, as its location in Africa leads people to assume that is too warm a place for such sights. The Atlas Mountains proves this assumption wrong, as it soars to heights as high as 13,000 feet.

This allows for winter sports from January to March, while mountaineering and hiking go on during the warmer months.

Behind the protective shield of the High Atlas are the shifting, empty sands of the Sahara. If you are looking to experience this place while in Morocco, head for the Merzouga Desert. In this part of the country, there are many tour companies offering visits to nomad camps, camel rides over tall dunes, and the opportunity to see the night sky sans light pollution.

What to Eat

Start your culinary explorations in Morocco by having some Couscous. Considered by locals to be this country’s national dish, it consists of steamed balls of semolina, often topped with vegetables, meat, or by a stew.

It can also be served at dessert with milk and orange flower water, with almonds, cinnamon, and sugar being sprinkled on top, so try it after a meal as well.

However, Tagine is the meal that most people associate with Morocco. A stew that is cooked in a pot called a tagine (hence the name of the dish), it comes in a wide variety of styles, from vegetarian tagine, to tagine with lamb and mango.

Truthfully, you could spend your entire visit to this country trying a different version of this dish every night, and you wouldn’t come close to having them all.

If you find yourself in Morocco during Ramadan, have some Chebakia once the fast breaks for the day. It is a pastry that can only be found at this time; consisting of dough that has been deep fried then covered with rose syrup and sprinkled with sesame seeds, it will be the sweet pickup you’ll love after a day filled with sacrifice.