Whether you want to experience the bustle of Marrakech or the tranquility of the Sahara Desert, Morocco is sure to leave a lasting impression. This North African country is home to ancient cities, stunning coastlines, and majestic mountains but with so much to see and do, it can be tough to narrow down your options. To help you plan your trip, here are the best places to visit in Morocco!
10. The Capital, Rabat
While many people think Marrakech is the capital of Morocco, that title actually belongs to Rabat. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, this beautiful city is home to some of Morocco’s most important government buildings and institutions, including the Parliament, the Royal Palace, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
9. Shop Fez Medina
Walking into Fez Medina is like taking a step back in time. Unesco considers it one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world and harks back to the glorious reign of the Marinid Dynasty in the 13th or 14th century. However, the aspect which shocks tourists the most is that there are simply no cars.
Fez Medina is a car-free city full of narrow alleyways and lanes that make it too small for motor vehicles. Instead, goods are transported into the city through mules or small chariots. It is the largest car-free urban area in the world, and there are roughly 9,000 alleyways and passages, so it is an easy way to get lost!
It is also home to the world’s oldest leather tanneries, and Al Karaouin University is the oldest degree-granting university in the world, having opened in 859. There are mosques everywhere. In fact, every single neighborhood has a mosque.
There are also palaces, madrasas (schools) and fondouks (restaurants). Do not, under any circumstances, visit Morocco without tasting its fantastic food!
Fez is not the capital of Morocco, but definitely one of the go-to cities. It is the oldest of Morocco's four Imperial Cities and is considered the cultural and spiritual capital of the country. If you only have time to go to one place, this is where you get the most authentic Moroccan experience. Of course, Marrakesh, which we'll look into later, might have something to say about this! But Fez is definitely one of the main attractions.
March, April, and May are the ideal months to visit, particularly in May when the Fez Festival of Sacred Music takes place. Things can get quite rainy from December to February, but you might also be able to beat the crowds.
8. Hot Air Balloon Ride Across Marrakech
While Fez is known as the cultural and historical capital, Marrakesh comes highly recommended. Winston Churchill famously told President Roosevelt, “You cannot come all the way to North Africa without seeing Marrakesh,” and described it as “The Paris of the Sahara”.
Marrakech is another city brimming with sights to see and things to do. And the hot air balloon ride allows you to view the city from up above. You will get some breathtaking views of the Berber villages, desert oases, and the surrounding Atlas Mountains.
Back on the ground, you can check out the Djemaa el Fna, which is the busiest market in Africa and will expose you to snake charmers, belly dancers, herbalists, and street entertainers. The city is full of life, but if you’re looking to relax, you can try a hammam, which is a traditional Moroccan steam bath.
You can get a one-hour flight or a six-hour train from Fez. These two cities are definitely doable within the same trip.
7. Relive Game of Thrones at Essaouira
Further west of Marrakesh is a place Games of Thrones fans might recognize. Essaouira is a fishing village that was the location of some iconic scenes from season 3 of the HBO series. You can relive Daenerys' travels to Astapor to rescue The Unsullied in Season 3 in a somewhat more relaxed and less violent fashion.
But don’t worry if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan and didn't understand a word of what I just said. What you get is a friendly and peaceful laid-back city. Essaouira Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches the country has to offer, and its fishing port is a photographer's jackpot.
It’s often referred to as the more laid-back alternative to Marrakech. Sure, it's got ramparts, medinas and souks, but it’s just a little bit more peaceful. It’s ironically the complete opposite of an episode of Game of Thrones.
It’s something you can tie in with your trip to Marrakesh as it is a three-hour bus or two-hour drive away from one another. As we’ll get into, Morocco is a huge country, bigger than Japan or Germany, so getting from one place to the other does take time.
6. Hike Mount Toubkal
We briefly touched upon the Atlas Mountains earlier, which are just south of Marrakesh. The biggest and most iconic mountain in this range is Mount Toubkal, which is 4,167m high and is the highest mountain in not only Morocco but also all of North Africa and The Arab World.
This is a moderately difficult hike and is suitable between May and October. Hiking Mount Toubkal does not require years of experience or the most expensive technical gear, but it is still a difficult hike. To have the best chance of summiting, you need to be in good shape, have a guide, and be properly acclimatized to the altitude. Even with these precautions, there are always risks involved in any outdoor activity.
The climb usually takes two days. For the more novice hikers, this can be spread out into three days.
People normally tie in Mount Toukbal with their trip to Marrakesh, where a two-hour shuttle bus will bring you to the common starting point of Imlil.
5. Explore Chefchaouen’s Blue Alleyways
Possibly the most beautiful city in Morocco, and certainly the most eye-catching, is Chefchaouen. It’s a city almost entirely painted in the color blue. But the beautiful blue is not just for fun and has a deeper meaning behind it.
The city was painted this color by the Sephardic Jewish community because the color blue reminded them of the sky and the presence of god. This city has historically been a safe haven for Jewish people fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the 1400s and, more recently, from Hitler in the 20th century.
Exciting landmarks within the area include the beautiful Spanish Mosque and its Kasbah museum. Nature lovers will also love the nearby Rif Mountains and Talassemtane National Park
This is a three-hour bus ride from Fez, and renting a car for this trip might not be a bad option either.
4. Visit the Hercules Caves in Tangier
Morocco was also once part of The Roman Empire and home to one of its mythology’s greatest heroes - Hercules. As the legend goes, he slept here on his way to steal three golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides, which would grant him immortality.
This tale probably bares as much truth as Game of Thrones, but you can see why these beautiful caves inspired so many myths and legends. The cave has two openings, with one leading to the sea and the other to the land. "The Map of Africa" is the name of the sea entrance.
It is thought that the Phoenicians built the sea entrance, which, when viewed from the sea, resembles Africa. Additionally, there are several eye-shaped inscriptions on the wall that form a map of the neighborhood and are allegedly the work of the Phoenicians too.
These are situated just outside the city of Tangier, which is well worth a visit in its own right. It’s a vibrant multicultural city and at one point has been the home of writers such as Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. Morroccos’ most famous writer, Mohamed Choukri, was also born here. It’s a vibrant city bursting with culture and definitely worth a few days of your trip.
Location-wise, Tangier is on the northern tip of Morocco and can even be reached by boat from Spain and Gibraltar.
3. Casablanca City Tour
Of course, classic movie fans won’t need to be told to visit Casablanca. In the movie, Humphrey Bogart’s character delivers the immortal line, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” This was known as Rick’s Cafe and a replica has been created in this very city.
But there’s more to Casablanca than the movie. Far from it, in fact. The city is home to the Hassan II Mosque, which is Africa’s largest mosque. Then there’s the Museum of Moroccan Judaism, which is the only Jewish museum in the Arab World. There’s also the Casablanca Cathedral and The King's Palace. You will be simply spoilt by the amazing architecture the city has to offer.
Although not positioned directly between Fez and Marakkash, it can be a nice stop-off place for a few days.
2. Ouzoud Waterfalls
One of the most breathtaking spots in Morocco is the Ouzoud Waterfalls, which are just outside Marrakech. This is a collection of waterfalls that enter into the El-Abid River.
The views are simply breathtaking, and you will also get the chance to play with monkeys and enjoy a cool swim. At the very top is a restaurant to help motivate you to reach the top.
This is a tourist hotspot, so try to visit this place on weekdays where possible. The only drawback is the place can be quite busy. Despite being a tourist hotspot, the nature of the area is relatively unspoiled.
1. Camel Ride in The Sahara
Morocco touches the Sahara Desert to the east. You can camel ride in the desert, or if you think the sun might be a bit too much, you can travel over by 4x4. You can go camping or glamping, depending on your tastes and budget.
Gaze at the elegant dunes and try some sandboarding. At night time, you can be almost guaranteed there will be no clouds and get an unfiltered view of the stars and galaxies above. And make sure to set your alarm for dawn. Watching the sun come up in The Sahara is one of the most incredible sights imaginable.
Be warned, though, the largest dunes are in Merzouga, which is along the Eastern border of Morocco. Getting to this side of the country will involve a long 9-hour bus ride. This is not for the casual traveler but in out opinion sitting under the stars with almost perfect visibility is an experience like no other.
So, have we persuaded you to visit Morocco? Or if you’ve recently traveled there, let us know about your favorite places in the comments section below.