Morocco is one of those rare countries that remains true to its own culture and traditions and warmly welcomes visitors. Add in the astonishing desert scenery, and it all adds up to an irresistible destination. Whether you’re a foodie, architecture aficionado or you love the romance and mystery of the Sahara and meandering around medinas, you’re bound to fall in love with Morocco. In our latest blog, we’re looking at nine things to do in Morocco (although we could just as easily have made it 19 things, or 900). Come with us on a journey to a country that will surprise and delight you.
1. VISIT THE “BLUE PEARL OF MOROCCO”
Chefchaouen is one of the most attractive towns in all of Morocco – and not just for its location beneath the rugged Rif Mountains. It has a chilled, artsy vibe, and the pace of life is much slower – and more relaxing – than you might be used to. The main reason to visit Chefchaouen, however, is the surprise that awaits you when you discover that many of the houses are washed in soothing, pale-blue color. This provides a wonderful contrast with the surrounding countryside, and there are a great many theories as to why this hue was chosen by the local people. Some say that it was to repel mosquitoes, or that it represents the sky. Either way, the effect is heavenly.
2. EXPLORE OUARZAZATE
Even if you’ve never been to Morocco, you might find that you recognize the striking red-walled town of Ouarzazate. Known locally as the ‘door to the desert’ for its proximity to the Sahara, this town long ago captured the imagination of Hollywood filmmakers. It has been used as a location for some of the all-time classic desert movies, including David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Gladiator’. More recently, scenes for the wildly popular TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ were also filmed in the area. Once you’ve channeled your inner Maximus, you can explore the intriguing souk in search of traditional souvenirs.
3. GO GLAMPING
With its cool evenings and remarkable night skies, Morocco was made for glamping. Head out into the dunes on a guided 4×4 excursion, before arriving at your camp for the evening. And when we say camp, we’re not talking flimsy orange tents you must put up yourself. Far from it! Morocco’s itinerant Bedouin people are past masters at creating comfortable (if temporary) homes in the desert: carpets and pillows fill tents that are cleverly designed to capture the desert breezes. Enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal under the stars before sipping your coffee around the fire as your guides tell you stories from Morocco’s rich history.
4. SOUK THIS OUT!
The Djemaa el Fnaa souk is the beating heart of Marrakech. People have been assembling in this square for at least a thousand years. The character of the square changes during the day, from being the domain of orange-juice sellers and snake charmers during the day to hosting dancers, story-tellers and aromatic food stalls as the evening comes. But it is the souk where you’ll want to spend most of your time. It’s not just a tourist market – locals also shop here. Whether you’re looking for leather goods, a carpet, or silverware, we recommend taking an expert negotiator along with you to assist with the ‘art of the deal’!
5. INDULGE IN A THERAPEUTIC HAMMAM EXPERIENCE
In a hot, dry and sometimes dusty country like Morocco, travelers (and their camels) seek respite in palm-fringed oases. In the cities, the equivalent experience is heading to a hammam (also sometimes called a ‘Turkish bath’). This is Morocco’s answer to a day spa: a place that is both invigorating and deeply relaxing. In a hammam, you pass through a series of rooms of differing temperatures – with the hotter rooms filled with steam. The idea is that you first sweat, then cool down, and then (after a full-body massage), relax and chat with friends. While a lot of business may get done here, the main purpose of visiting a hammam is to soothe away life’s stresses.
6. HIKE IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS
The High Atlas Mountains fully deserve their name – the tallest peaks here are over 13 000ft high. Lower down, there are myriad hiking trails to explore, through wonderful scenery. Depending on the time of year, you could find yourself strolling through flower-strewn valleys, while livestock grazes peacefully nearby. Or squeeze through hidden passes to reach ridges offering panoramic views that stretch for miles. You’ll be accompanied by local guides (with sure-footed mountain mules to carry your bags) and on longer treks, you can enjoy overnight hospitality in ancient villages and traditional guesthouses. Hiking is a wonderful way to gain insights into rural Moroccan life.
7. FOLLOW A TASTING TRAIL
The best way to understand a culture is to eat its food, and sampling local cuisine in Morocco is a flavorful and rewarding experience. Moroccan cuisine is the result of centuries of cultural influences from Africa and the Middle East. It makes extensive use of spices and Mediterranean fruits and vegetables to create dishes that are healthy and delicious. The best-known dish is probably couscous, and key ingredients include citrus, olives and olive oil, mint, saffron, and raisins. A Moroccan meal often consists of several small courses, with the centerpiece likely to be a tagine. What’s that? Well, it’s a meat dish cooked slowly in a distinctive earthenware dish to seal in all the wonderful flavors.
8. FARM TO TABLE COOKING CLASS
As well as enjoying eating Moroccan-style during your holiday, you can also acquire the skills you need to recreate your favorite dishes once you return home. Head into the Amizmiz Valley, a stronghold of traditional Berber culture, and learn how to cook on an eco-farm set amidst olive groves and orchards. In the shadow of the impressive Atlas Mountains, you’ll discover the fragrant blends of herbs and spices that give Moroccan dishes their distinctive flavors, and even how to bake traditional Moroccan bread. The recipes from this farm-to-table cooking course could just be the best souvenir you bring home from your trip to Morocco!
9. VISIT THE ANCIENT ROMAN RUINS OF VOLUBILIS
This ruined town may sound like a minor character from the Asterix cartoons, but in reality, it’s the proof of the influence that the Roman Empire once exerted over what is now Morocco. Although the centuries since it was built have not been kind to this ancient city, remarkable ruins remain, including the triumphal arch and temple. There are many fine examples of Roman columns still standing proud against the blue sky. As you explore Volubilis, don’t forget to look down – this UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts some of the best-preserved Roman mosaic floors you’re ever likely to see. A highlight of your day in the past is the chance to enjoy a Roman picnic, composed entirely of dishes that pampered Emperors once enjoyed!
Contact our team for assistance with your Morocco itinerary!