With so much to see and do, choosing Our Morocco Top 5 is not easy! Much of Morocco’s magic lies in its diversity of landscapes, people and culture. We have focused on Our Top 5 general areas to think about when planning your trip to Morocco. If you consider even a little from each of these, we are confident that you will get a taste of the very best Morocco has to offer.
1) Explore the South
Many people say that Morocco is divided into two cultures: the culture of the North and that of the South. Part of this difference is a result of hugely diverse landscapes. Stark High Atlas mountain ranges are cut by green ribbons of farmland and Berber villages. The houses in these villages are built in the traditional way, using the earth of the region. From afar houses practically blend into the face of the mountains. Almost every valley in the High Atlas is more stunning than the last. Some famous ones include Dades, Draa, the Valley of the Roses, Ghris, and the Ziz Valley. Continue further South and you are in the desert. A camel trek and a night under the stars in the vastness of the Sahara desert is a truly magical experience. Even if you haven’t got time for an overnight stay, just visiting the dunes will open your eyes to this other world.
Try to include a visit to the South if you can! Even if you are short on time, day trips from Marrakech provide a good option to get a taste of the culture and life of the South. There are so many wonderful places to see and visit – just contact us and we can provide you with recommendations.
2) Visit Amellago
As our home, the small Berber village of Amellago, in the heart of the South, is one of our great loves. Come and be part of our family. Walk in the fields, trek or climb in the mountains, see the almonds in full bloom, bake bread, make couscous, help with annual harvests, learn about traditional agricultural practices which have endured for centuries, or explore Berber artisan crafts. By immersing yourself in a totally different way of life, exploring diverse cultural landscapes, and participating in meaningful cultural exchanges, your world becomes open to new experiences, perspectives, and possibilities. Feel the warmth of your reception the minute you enter, with the beauty of Amellago, matched only by the legendary hospitality of our people.
3) Visit the Imperial Cities
Morocco’s Imperial Cities of Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, Meknes, Marrakech and Tangier, offer you the opportunity to explore centuries of history. Explore historic buildings and architecture, museums, tombs, palaces, and winding medina. No two cities are alike and it is possible to spend weeks discovering the wonders of these ancient cities. If you really have to choose, we would suggest visiting Fes, with its UNESCO World Heritage site medina being one of the largest living medieval cities in the world. With so many sights and experiences, Fes really is a city like no other. Fes also provides a great base for excursions to the Middle Atlas, Meknes and Chefchouen in the North.
Marrakech, has always been an important stop for traders and travellers. Set against the spectacular snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains, a must see in Marrakech is Djemaa El Fna Square. This centre square of the medina comes alive at night with storytellers, musicians, entertainers, snake charmers and the scent of delicious food being grilled over hot coals. Wind your way through the spice scented souks and handicraft quarters; a riot of colour, noise and motion. Marrakech also provides a great base from which to take day excursions , with Essaouira, Oualidia, the Ourika Valley and High Atlas mountains all within range.
Located on the Atlantic Coast within easy reach of Casablanca and Fes, Rabat is often missed as a destination but it is well worth a stop or an overnight stay. Recently listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, the White Imperial City of Rabat offers palaces, parks, monuments, boulevards, foreign embassies and ancient kasbah. Not to be missed is the Oudaya Kasbah, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and offering fabulous views, as well its narrow twisting alleyways which are home to Moroccan artisan galleries.
4) Explore the North
Often the North of Morocco is missing from the must-see lists! But as with the South, the North offers yet another insight into the extraordinary diversity and intersections which are Moroccan history and culture.
If you are coming from Europe, consider taking a ferry from Spain (a mere 9 miles away!) across the Strait of Gibraltar, and beginning your tour from the top. Tangier has for centuries been a gateway for many cultures. With its souks, traditional cuisine, stunning beaches, and historical and cultural attractions such as the Mendoubia Gardens, Caves of Hercules, and Museum of Moroccan Art, Tangier is Morocco’s most international city.
If you are not beginning your journey in the North, then a visit to the enchanting blue mountain town of Chefchaouen can give you a wonderful glimpse into the unique culture of the North. Nestled high in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is famous for its vivid blue rinsed houses and buildings. Winding lanes and narrow alleys are home to numerous souks offering cuisine and artisan works, such as woollen items, intricate embroidery, and goats cheese; all native to the North and not found anywhere else in Morocco. If you have some extra time while visiting Fes, a short tour to Chefchouen is well worth it.
5) Visit Coastal Morocco
Coastal Morocco, in particular the small fishing villages on the Atlantic Coast, are another window into the culture of Morocco. Offering welcome respite in the warmer summer months, there are several easy options to choose from. Essaouira offers a perfect break from the hectic pace of Marrakech. A simple day trip from Marrakech, the tranquillity of Essaouira belies its rich history and the many international influences that have permeated this ancient trading and fishing port. Relax over a freshly caught fish lunch at a local restaurant, and take in the view of the blue fishing boats bobbing in the harbour. Stroll through the serene squares, browse artisan shops and galleries, and observe the handicrafts of the ’tuya’ wood found only in Morocco.
Head north up the coast to the town of Safi. With its ancient Portuguese fortifications, Safi is renowned for its sardines, pottery and ceramics. Continue to Oualidia, a small seaside village with a protected lagoon, estuary, and the wild Atlantic Ocean all right on your doorstep. Walking, birdwatching (Oualidia is at the centre of Morocco’s richest bird habitat, particularly in Spring and Autumn), fishing, swimming, kayaking, kite surfing and surfing are just some of the activities you can enjoy in Oualidia.
Further north is El Jadida, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and former Portuguese colony with its fortified and moated medina lying adjacent to the harbour. Traces of its Portuguese past remain in its lanes and ramparts, and most notably its underground cisterns, pillared and vaulted like a church crypt and illuminated by eerie shafts of sunlight.
If you have some time in Marrakech, or are travelling from Marrakech to Casablanca (or Casablanca to Marrakech) it is easy to build in a visit to coastal Morocco. The route between Casablanca and Rabat also offers some stunning beachside towns, just perfect for relaxing in the sun!