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Top 10 Places to visit in Morocco

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The Top Ten places to visit in Morocco

top 10 must-see places in Morocco

Morocco is one of the most diverse countries the world and certainly in the recent years it’s growing out to become the No. 1 tourist destination on its own right. Today’s numerous economical flights, which now fly to over 6 cities in Morocco enable anyone to drop there and spend a great weekend in one of the beautiful cities of the country. No matter if you want to do a cultural exploration of the Islamic – Oriental- Northern African cultural heritages, if you want a culinary tour, or some days of Sun-Sea-Sand, you can now combine all these when in Morocco.

In this article I would like to provide you some guidance on what I think are the top 10 things you shouldn’t miss out on trying or doing when in Morocco.

  1. Visit the Old District of Fez
Fés Medina
Fés Medina the world famous leather manufacture
  Having the biggest, untouched oriental souk (Medieval market) quarter in the whole world (also the biggest city area without any car traffic in the whole world) Fez is one of the most unique places you can ever get to visit. Comprising a huge deal of historical buildings, such as the oldest university in the world, some of the most beautiful mosques in Morocco and a long list of specialty food to try, Fez is a must – see for everyone interested in oriental culture and history. Fez also has one of the biggest untouched Mellah (Jewish district) and there are several guided tours specifically for those who would like to learn more on the history of Jews in Fez and Morocco.  And most importantly do get on a rooftop of a shop to be able to see the iconic traditional Tannery Quarter (only get prepared for a heinously bad smell).

Get there:
Fez has its own international airport and it’s about 3 hours from Rabat and about 4 hours from Casablanca by train. Marrakech is also around 4 hours by train. Morocco’s train system is very modern and this is the most suggested way of public transportation when it comes to travelling to a different city.

1.a)   Moulay Idriss  - Fez province

Moulay Idriss the main place of pilgrimage
An iconic and a holy place on its own right Moulay Idriss is a hidden gem located very close to Fés housing a lovely hillside village. This place has an extreme importance for all Moroccan people, as this was the place where the Arabic Islamic Kaliph Moulay Idriss I arrived back in 789 and this is when the Islamic religion has started to spread and gain importance in the country. The village gives home to the beautiful mosque of Moulay Idriss, which is the one and only circular shaped mosque in the whole world. Moulay Idriss is a place of pilgrimage and therefore it has a high daily traffic of people arrive here to pay respect to the Kaliph.

1.b) Volubilis - Fez province


If you are interested in Roman ruins and tombs you shouldn't miss out on getting to Volubilis, which is situated very close to Fez and it's in fact an UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of the biggest excavated Roman cities which you can see in the world today. Volubilis is also only a few kms of walk away from Moulay Idriss, therefore visitors often visit the two together. 

Get There: guided tours go from Fez to Volubilis. Make sure you book an excursion which includes the visiting of Moulay Idriss. 

  1. Visit the Jamaa el F’na in Marrakech

Jamaa El F'na
Located in Marrakech , the Jamaa El F'na is one of the biggest and most classical example of an authentic medieval market and carnival place in the Arabic world. This square has the highest number of photographs taken and it's definitely the key landmark of Morocco.  Everyone knows about the large and picturesque Jamaa El F’na, with all of its food stalls, the snake- charmers, the henna –makers, the beggars, this place is the fullest in the afternoon to the late evening hours. It’s a definitely a must – see place for everyone ever visiting Morocco. From the neighboring cafés you can enjoy the watching of the ever-moving crowd in a more peaceful atmosphere. The Jamaa is also the entrance to the old town quarter of the city.

If you would like to read more about the Jamaa check out my earlier post " Jamaa El F'na : like an exotic snake"

Get there:  Marrakech has its international airport and also good train connection with the northern cities too. Casablanca is about 4-5 hours by train. Getting to the Jamaa is the easiest by taxi, but bargain the price well in advance. If you plan to stay in Marrakech, get a hotel which is only a shorter walking distance from it.

  1. Visit Ait Ben Haddou – the giant sandcastle –like Kasbah complex

Ait Ben Haddou the sandcastle
Ait Ben Haddou is a place which will make you feel like Lawrence of Arabia: a place which takes you back in the past.

Ait Ben Haddou which is part of Ourzazate was originally built along the ancient caravan road which connected Marrakech with the Saharan villages and was one route with a very high traffic.

This is in real a fortified city, surrounded by walls, housing nearly fifty palaces and six forts, which are also called Kasbah. The whole complex is made out of clay and it is today one of the biggest and most outstanding examples of Moroccan clay architecture. Contrary to it's deserted sight, this is a functioning village. Although many have since moved, there are still families living in Ait Ben Haddou which is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You really need to see this building complex which looks like it grew out straight from the sand because it’s a real one of a kind Kasbah, a large castle – village which is used as the scene of several movies and videos today. 

Get there: There are daily guided tourist to Ait Ben Haddou which lies about an hour from Marrakech.

4.  Take a look at Spain from a stone’s throw and visit the best beaches of Morocco– Tangier

Agadir view

Located up in the Northern peninsula of Morocco Tangier is a distinct Spanish looking city with lots of Spanish effects on its culture and architecture and this is no wonder, as you can clearly see the nearby-lying Spanish coast from its shores and both Spanish fortress cities in Morocco Ceuta and Mellilla are located closeby.

The beaches between Tetouan and Al Hoceima are some of the most beautiful ones you can ever get to see in the whole Mediterranean region with the sea so blue it will make you feel you are in Hawaii. As an extra, these beaches of this region are still low-key, as the hotel business largely concentrates on the Southern-lying shores of Agadir and therefore they are a lot less crowded and give you a chance for a great deal of scuba diving too. Europeans have free entrance to both Ceuta and Mellilla which are both under Spanish governance, therefore Moroccans can only visit them with an EU Visa or an EU Work Permit ( however strange this sounds) 

Get there:  Tangier has its own airport which is probably the easiest way to get there. The city is way closer to Spain than to any other bigger Moroccan cities and a famous excursion point being served by a big international port receiving excursion boats from Spain and other countries in Europe.

  1. Visit Chefchaouen – the blue Berber village

Chefchaouen-the blue town

Chefchaouen ( or Chaouen as the locals call it )  is probably one of the most beautiful and definitely the bluest villages in the whole world: it’s today’s most popular photo-spot and the current hottest landmark of Morocco.

Being a classic berber mountain village Chefchaouen was built around 1471 and originally served as a fortress village against the Portuguese invaders. A lesser known but interesting fact is, that next to the local Berbers, the village also welcomed a great deal of Moriscos ( Moors arriving from Spain ) and Jews too, who have all integrated to become the ancesctors of today's inhabitants.

It's been said that the extreme blue colour can be thanked to the fact that locals realized that the color blue is much less prone to warming up than other colours and it also keeps the mosquitoes away. You can easily examine this theory if you spend a few days in this much relaxed village which is becoming one of the most popular place to stay for those off the beaten track.

Take part in a guided tour where you will get to learn some very interesting facts on the history of this small, relaxed, neon-blue beauty.

Get there: by bus

Situated in the Rif mountains in the North, Chefchaouen is the closest to Tangier and Tetouan by bus. Tangier is served by an airport, so Chefchaouen is the best excursion you can have from there. From Fes and Rabat it’s still the easiest way to take a bus to get there.  

  1. Visit the world’s second largest mosque the Hassan II in Casablanca
the monumental mosque is definitely a must-see for every visitors

Located in Casablanca, which is Morocco's No1. port city and one of the biggest cities of the country, this incredibly huge architectural wonder pays testimony to the eternal beauty of Moorish architecture smartly combining it with modern elements that make this mosque not just one of the biggest and most beautiful but also one of the most modern religious places in the Islamic world.

The Hassan II Mosque ( Grande Mosqué Hassan II) was build between around 1990 and 1993, The mosque has the tallest Minaret in the world with its 210 metres and it also serves as a light-tower for the ships. The mosque is full of beautiful marble elements and the main praying area can house up to 105 thousand worshippers and has a retractable roof. The whole mosque can house more than two hundred thousand worshippers, male and female and it has a beautiful washing, dress - changing and prayer area for the female worshippers which I was very lucky to visit in person.  As salt water and salty air has a highly porous effect on the outer parts of the mosque, it is currently undergoing a detailed restoration.

The mosque is also one of the very few which has guided tours for tourists in multiple languages. Before taking part in a tour please examine and keep yourself to the prescribed dressing code. 

Get there: by plane: Casa has the biggest international airport of the country, next to Marrakech. It also has a fairly good train connection to all the big cities. Marrakech is around 4-5 hours, Fez is 3-4 hours by train. Once in Casablanca, go to the port, to the Old City Souk and you will find the grand mosque lie a shorter walk away.

  1. Ride the waves in Agadir
Beach Agadir
Agadir is a beautiful seaside city, situated at the south of Morocco (in fact it’s the most Southern-lying big city ) stuffed with natural wonders, lunar landscapes and wild beaches.

Agadir is also a huge surfers' paradise and surfers from all across the globe arrive there to ride the waves regularly. The Cascades Ida ou Tanane: a picturesque gorge in the mountains with lovely lakes such as the Paradise Valley is a natural wonder on its own right. Agadir is a great port-city with a busy nightlife, tons of shops, cafés, restaurants can be found there, so if you are looking for a great beach-side city, you should definitely check Agadir out. 

Get there: the easiest is by plane: receiving both domestic and international flights but the city also has a well-developed train system if you plan to get there from another city or region.

  1. Make an excursion to see the old Berber villages and see the natural wonders in the Mountains of Atlas
Ourika valley

Featuring a very specific wild and untamed landscape, the Atlas Mountains houses some of the most beautiful little Berber villages and mountain resorts one can imagine. The most popular areas include
the Ourika Valley and the majestic Ouzoud Waterfalls. As this area is very large, normally one daily trip only covers one attraction. During such a tour or trekking you can also catch sight of the local macaque monkeys which live in that mountainous area. Tourists are generally taken in the Atlas in small groups with a 4x4 SUV.  As the desert area is located right next to the mountains, there are also tours which try to combine the two: you can see both mountains and desert in one day. If you are more adventurous than the average tourist and have a deep love for hiking, check out the tours to Mgoun summit or Air Bougmaz, These slopes are so high they are snowy throughout the whole year.

The newest sensation in connection with Atlas Mountain tours are the Hot Air Balloon rides 

Get there: from Marrakech there are daily excursions to the Atlas Mountains. Take care however and always book your trip through your hotel or through a well-known and well respected travel agency. We don’t suggest anyone to get to the Atlas alone, better stick with the guided tours, unless you have a close friend with a sure local knowledge. One trip generally lasts for a full day, comprises of the visiting of a local Berber village where guests can enjoy a locally cooked lunch and can spend more time with walking around, taking photos or buying souvenirs. 

  1. Visit Rabat – the Royal City

Rabat is straight-up beautiful and extremely diverse

Rabat, hilly the capital city of Morocco is probably one of the most beautiful and most underrated cities of Morocco. The good thing in this is that the city very finely preserves its culture and roots and it’s not stuffed with tourists. Housing a lovely Medina, the beautiful, historical Hassan Tower, Rabat is a real gem with a distinct Mediterranean feel and some great beaches, which one can reach straight or by walking through the Medina. Rabat also gives home to most of the governmental bodies in Morocco and therefore most embassies are also located here. The city has a beautiful hilly part where you can only see rich villas or nice shopping centres, while by the sea you can either choose to visit the Medina and the souk area or you can also decide to enjoy the more modern atmosphere of the downtown area. 

Get there: Rabat is served by an international airport and has a quality railway system, so you can get there easily from every city.

  1. The Sahara

Sahara Morocco
An excursion to the never-ending land of orange colored sand-dunes is an experience you will never forget. This is not just a nature-lovers’ tour. You can also get a nice insight in the lives of the nomadic Berbers (also called Bedouins or Touaregs) and experiment what they eat, wear and how they sleep (in case you choose an overnight tour) Not to mention riding a camel! If you are going from Marrakech choose a trip which also takes you to the world famous Todra Gorge, one of the world’s nicest natural wonders.

Get there: We suggest this trip especially for those who would like to spend a few days in Marrakech as this is the hub for most Sahara / Desert tours. There are daily excursions and there are overnight excursions. It’s important to follow all precautions enlisted before going on a Sahara tour though.  Check out these basic tips by clicking here. If you have any special health condition always consult a local doctor before going on a desert trip. 

I hope you liked this presentation, there is many more to follow.

If you guys have any further suggestions on what are some more must visit places in Morocco, let me know.

Please check out my Pinterest album on Morocco by clicking here

Beautiful desert Morocco


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