Morocco is a hot topic in the travel world these days it seems. With our recent guest post from Gail Burgen regarding her scary carpet experience in Fes to the latest reality show Expedition Impossible taking place in Morocco, our interest is definitely sparked.  Saturdays are for dreaming. They are a day to relax and pamper yourself. It’s your day to do whatever you like,  and today we’re dreaming of visiting the exotic land of Morocco in Northern Africa.

Top 5 Things you Must See in Morocco

Morocco is a fascinating multicultural country blended from African, Arab and European influences. It is our closest link to the continent of Africa and a diverse holiday destination. The country offers an incredible amount of history, culture, art and music along with a fascinating geographical landscape incorporating the Sahara desert, the snow capped Atlas Mountains and the Atlantic coastline. There is so much to experience, whether on an adventure or luxurious all-inclusive Morocco holiday, here are five things that you simply must see during your visit:

Visit the Jamaa el Fna in Marrakech

DJamaa el Fna in Marrakech

Djamma el Fna at Dusk

A holiday in Morocco is not complete without an extended visit to Marrakech, the Imperial City of Morocco situated at the base of the Atlas Mountains. There are many things to experience in this city, but you should visit the Jamaa el Fna in the centre of the old city. This square is the home of orange juice stalls and snake charmers, dancers and story tellers, magicians and peddlers. It is a kaleidoscope of colours and as dark falls it becomes a food market where you can purchase some of the amazing culinary delights of Morocco and eat them in the chill of the desert evening.

Around the edge of the Jamaa el Fna you will find the souk, the traditional African markets and café terraces. There are also hotels and gardens and a maze of tiny streets to explore. You will find a visit to the Jamaa el Fna an unforgettable experience.

Spend some time at Fes el-Bali in Fes

Leather_Tanning_fes

leather tannery in fes

Fes is the oldest city in the country and the Medina (or Fes el-Bali) is a World Heritage site. There is nowhere in Morocco that has quite the vibrancy and culture of Fes, and in particular the Fes el-Bali, so a visit to it should be an essential destination on your itinerary. It is worthwhile paying for a guide to take you through its maze of streets and to show you the important sites and explain some of its history. Hiring a guide for a half or even a full day is quite inexpensive and an investment worth making.

In the Fes el-Bali you will take a trip back in time, you will find yourself in a place that is unique to your experience and which others have described as life changing. Many of the houses to be found in the labyrinth of tiny streets can only be accessed by drop ladders; you will find Royal gardens, Mosques, the workshops of local artisans, fountains and several monuments; but most of all your senses will be overwhelmed by the variety of things you will experience.

Watch the sun rise on a Merzouga morning

Merzouga,_Morocco

Sand Dunes near Merzouga Morocco

The sun seems to rise very quickly in the desert. First there is the flash pre-dawn green followed by a yellowing of the sky then suddenly the desert sand are set alight by the vivid morning sunlight and glow a fiery red. To experience a desert sunrise is an unforgettable experience and the best place to do so is at the Merzouga sand dunes or Erg Chebbi. Some of these dunes tower over a 160 metres high and support a highly diverse wildlife of flora and fauna. You will find pink flamingos fishing in the lake and many rare birds taking a break from their spring migration.

To make the most of the region why not spend a few days on a camel trip through the desert spending the nights under canvas after watching the sun set behind the dunes and enjoy an early Moroccan breakfast cooked by your guide as you watch the sun rise; you will never forget the experience.

Take in the Colours of the Dades Valley

Dadès_Valley_Morocco

There is no other place in the world that is quite like the Dades Valley, which translates the Red Valley, though red is not the only colour you will experience. The mineral rich Dades Gorge sparkles in many hues of blue and green as well as white and red.

Many communities populate the valley; these are connected by a long winding road and nourished by the waters of the river that meanders through them. Once these communities were made up of warring tribesmen, but today all is peace and harmony, or at least that is how it appears to the tourist. Drive though and experience the continually changing vista and spectacular views, or if you are brave enough leave the vehicle behind and hire a guide to take you through part the valley on foot.

Relax on the beach in Essaouira

Ramparts_of_Essaouira

Ramparts of Essaouira

Finally, after the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and Fes and the spectacular sights of the desert at Merzouga and the Dades Valley, our final must see is the beach at Essaouira. This Atlantic coast beach is a favourite of wind and kite surfers due to the often shallow waters. It was once a favourite haunt of Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix, though times have moved on since then.

As well as the beach there is also plenty to experience in the town, which is typical of many small fortified Moroccan townships. At one time it was a very important port, it is still a fishing port, and it was a trading post in 400 BC; it is now a World Heritage City.

Conclusion

These top 5 things you must see are just a sample of what’s available for tourists on holiday in Morocco; in such a diverse country there are so many holiday options available. You might prefer to create your own adventure holiday roaming the desert, or if you prefer the comfort of staying in a fine city hotel then a luxury all inclusive resort might be more to your style. Whatever your choice, you are pretty unlikely to be disappointed as there is so much on offer.

Photo Credits
1:Alexander Dimitri, 2- 4: Bernard Gagnon, 3: Bachmont, 5: Kayaky


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15 Comments

  1. Mark Wiens

    I’d also love to visit Morocco!

    That picture of the rolling red sand dunes at sunrise almost looks like a mountain on fire! Beautiful!

    1. davendeb

      Agreed, We have to get ourselves back to Africa. We were considering South America, but Africa is beckoning.

  2. jana

    The possibilities what to do and see in Morocco are endless. I would end to this list the High Atlas Mountains, the many small Berber villages whose homes are made of mud dwellings and totally merges with the mountains. Trekking, or even trying to reach the summit of Toubkal, the second highest mountain in Africa is a real adventure.
    Other of the places would be the Draa Valley. The longest river valley in Morocco lined by many palm groves. The scenery of the valley is so breathtaking.
    Ait Ben Haddou – this UNESCO protected Kasbah that inspired millions of visitors each year as well as thousands of movie makers.
    The list of places to see in Morocco is endless and you need a full year to see it all. We just recommend when planning your vacation in Morocco, please bear in mind to have at least one full week for such a visit!

    1. davendeb

      Jana, that is something that we have wanted to do for a while now. We met a woman in Nepal that talked about trekking across the Atlas Mountains. That would be a dream. I hadn’t heard of Toubkal, That’s going on the list! There are so many things to see and do. I am thinking we will need at least a month. Cheers.

  3. Annette Renee White

    I am planning a trip to Marrakech right now, but now you have made me consider Fes too! Ugh, only have 3 days in Morocco…What to do?

    1. davendeb

      I agree, when you only have 3 days, you have to stick with one destination. If you spread yourself too thin you won’t enjoy yourself. You can always go back. 3 days is just enough time to explore one city, so in my humble opinion I suggest sticking to your original plan. Good luck and let us know how the trip goes!

    2. Amine

      The empirial cities of Morocco are the most beautifu. Marrakech, Fes, Meknes… are places where you discover a beautiful mixture of the three culture (Amazigh, Arabic and Saharian) that build the Moroccan cultures. you may also want to discover some beautiful sites in the Moroccan sahara such as Mirleft, and Dakhla if u like to surf ;)

      1. davendeb

        Ooh, great suggestions Amine. I look forward to taking a camel trek deep into the Moroccan Sahara one day soon.

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  5. Nicole

    Volubilis NEEDS to be on any Morocco list. Hands down – it’s an amazing experience and time will eventually take its toll on the ruin unless the government takes steps to protect it. Gary just wrote a post about that; take a look at the photos:

    http://www.cultureaddicthistorynerd.com/2011/07/preserving-the-past/

    We’re likely going back in November, even with a short 5 days there.

    I’d also say the Hassan II Mosque and Casa are worth a visit – they’re not touristy, but they’re where Moroccans live. And I enjoyed being part of that.

  6. Holly

    One of my “must-sees” in Morocco are the ruins of Volubulis. Marvel at the stonework (especially the arched entryway), appreciate the ancient mosaics that are surprisingly intact, and take some time to enjoy the view across the rolling hillsides. A gorgeous place to spend an afternoon!

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