Morocco. It seems like we just can’t get enough of it. Mainly because we can’t! We spent 17 days here, and it was still not enough to truly appreciate it to its full extent. Although we saw a lot more than most do because of our private tour with Eco Desert Morocco, we know we will go back to this beautiful country that crept its way up our top 5. So if you’re planning a holiday in Morocco, these are the best sights and cities to add to your itinerary. Just don’t ask us to put them in a specific order, because they are all stunning and worth the time.
If you like quiet and quaint towns, Chefchaouen is the place for you. The Blue Pearl of Morocco, situated in the North of the country, was by far our favourite city in Morocco. It was also a local favourite too when we spoke to our guides.
It was founded in 1471 in the Rif mountains by Jews and Moors who were fleeing Spain. We heard a ton of different reasons as to why the city is painted blue. Some say it’s to keep the mosquitos away – that might have actually worked because we didn’t see any. Others say it was painted by the Jews who settled here after fleeing Hitler. Finally, there are those who simply say it represents the colour of the sea.
Whatever the reason, it’s a beautiful place, especially nestled in the surrounding mountains. The vibe here is just magical. It’s such a chill place, maybe due to the fact that they produce and sell marijuana here. The square is smaller than those of other cities, and blue narrow streets make for some fun exploring.
We would recommend you stay in the old medina for two full days if you can. There isn’t much to do here (visiting the Kasbah is a must and there are some hikes around), so if you just want to make a quick stop here, one day will do. It gets pretty hot during the day, so if your riad has a pool, you should be all set. Make sure you bring something to keep you warm, because it gets pretty chilly at night.
This town is definitely not on the tourist trail. Tafraout (or Tafraoute) is known as the heart of Berber land in the Anti Atlas mountains. You’ll notice how the women here are dressed differently than in the rest of the country. The town, home to only 5,000 people, is situated in an oasis, surrounded by majestic mountains. So majestic, that they are actually home to the Napoleon’s Hat and the Lion’s face rock formations.
But these are not the reasons why this town was a hit on our list. About 4km out of town, you will find Belgian painter’s Jean Veran’s famous work of art: The Painted Rocks. Make sure you head here around sunset to have a surreal moment of beauty. Also, be sure to go with a 4×4 because the terrain is quite rough.
Nothing can compare to what you will discover: the beautiful red sand background, with the dusty rose Moroccan sunsets, and these huge blue painted rocks scattered in the terrain.
Well obviously! How can we not include this crazy beautiful city in our top 10? Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco. It’s one of the most important former imperial cities, and it’s just amazing.
The vibe in the old Medina is electric. The city vibrates to the beat of its people. The vendors walking through the narrow streets with their donkeys, screaming Balak! (move out of the way!) to unsuspecting travellers. The hustle and bustle of the famous Jemaa El Fnaa square that comes to life at night. The maze that they call a souk. And of course, all the beautiful places to visit like the Bahia Palace, Yves Saint-Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle, Koutoubia Mosque, Menara Gardens, Saadian Tombs, and so much more.
We spent 1 full day in Marakech, and it was just not enough. When you go, make sure to spend at least 2 full days here. If you could stretch it to 3, that would be even better! There is so much to do and see, but the best thing is probably just to chill in the souk and to take it all in.
Fes, or Fez, or the second largest city in Morocco is up there in our favourites. More hectic than Chefchaouen, but calmer than Marrakech, the highlight is the old medina. It’s a vibrant city known for its mosaics, copper, tanneries and weavers. It’s also home to University of Al Quaraouiyine, recognized by the Guinness World Records as the oldest existing educational institution in the world.
Beyond all this, it’s a beautiful city. Mosaic fountains are all over the place, adding colour to the mud-tinted walls. The medina itself is a feat and challenge as well with its 9,500 streets and alleys. Back in the day, it was built like a maze to get invaders lost. Today, it accomplishes this same mission with tourists.
You can spend a good two days in Fez. Make sure to visit Bab Boujloud (the blue gate to the medina), Dar el Makhzen (the Royal Palace of Fez), Jnan Sbil Gardens, as well as the Tanner’s Quarters (the oldest tannery in the world), the locals weavers for your rugs, and the different pottery and ceramics stores. So if you’re looking to shop some Moroccan goods, this is the place to do it.
After staying in the desert, we had a quick stop in a Gnaoua village in Erg Chebbi. This small town has a population of only 390 people, mainly of Gnaoua or Berber origins.
In a small room, we sat and watched a dozen men with two really cute kids, perform their traditional music. They moved to a rhythm and beat that was created by their ancestors.
This is slave music from central and west Africa. Long ago, they fled their plight in caravans and settled in this part of Morocco with their families. After their emancipation from slavery, they survived as nomads. They moved around searching of better land for their herds. They only settled here in the 50’s and 60’s and founded this town.
Hearing this music, the repetitive beats that create a sort of trance, you are truly transported to a different time and place. This was a short visit, but it was so enjoyable. We can’t recommend enough that you stop in the village and hear this music.
Once you are done, please head to Zafa Restaurant to have some traditional Berber pizza. You’ll thank us later.
This is another city that’s not on many people’s list, but it should be. Mirleft started to be a popular destination with hippies back in the seventies. We can only imagine what the vibes back then were, because they are pretty chill these days! A beautiful soft sand beach, amazing sunsets on the ocean, delicious food – this town has everything!
This city is small, and calmer than the ones near it, like Essaouira and Sidi Infi. In fact, we much preferred it to Essaouira, that was too windy to actually enjoy the beach. Peak seasons here are from Christmas until mid-January for Europeans, and July and August for Moroccans.
There’s not much to see here, except the kasbah and the beach. Walking on the main road, you’ll get from one side of town to the next in about 20-30 minutes. But if you’re looking for a chill town to hang out in and enjoy the beach, this is the place for you!
Did you really think we were going to come all the way to Morocco and not go to the desert!? This was probably one of the coolest experiences of our lives. We though the desert would just be a huge sandy area, but the sandy part was actually not that big… or we didn’t go to deep into it. Surprisingly, there is a lot of rocky landscape in the Sahara.
There are 2 ways to get to your camp here. You can ride a camel there, just make sure they are being treated well if you do. This means they have enough water, they have shelter and their owners are nice to them. As exciting as it is to ride a camel, let’s not forget to promote an ethical way of treating animals. If not, you can take a 4×4 there. Your accommodations will probably give you this choice anyway.
Once at the campsite, you will have a traditional Berber meal, enjoy some music by the fire pit, and then sleep in a tent. If we have one word of advice here, it’s to sleep outside, under the stars. First, the starry sky here is like nothing you’ve ever seen… unless you’ve been to New Zealand. Next, how many other times will you get to sleep in the desert? There is nothing like sleeping out in the silence of the desert and waking up with the first rays of light. Don’t forget to watch the sunrise the next morning.
Hassan II Mosque
There aren’t many mosques you can actually enter in Morocco as a non-Muslim person. Luckily, Hassan II Mosque is one of them. This is by far, the most beautiful mosque, or religious monument we have ever seen. And it’s the only reason we actually drove into Casablanca (other than Rick’s cafe, which Derek’s parents had too see).
Some fun facts for you. Hassan II Mosque is the largest mosque in Morocco, the second largest in Africa, and the 5th largest in the world. The mosque was completed in 1993, and it was designed by Michel Pinseau and built by Bouygues. The walls are made of hand-crafted marble and what’s cooler is that the roof is retractable. You can fit a whopping 105,000 worshippers at the mosque: 25,000 inside the prayer hall and 80,000 on the grounds outside.
Despite it size, this place is beautiful, peaceful and awe-inspiring. You can enter the mosque and join a tour for a small fee. Just make sure you check the times, so you don’t miss out on this. Tours are offered in many languages like French, Spanish, German, and English.
High Atlas mountains
The High Atlas are North Africa’s greatest mountain range. These mountains stand tall and beautiful, offering beautiful hiking trails for day-hikers or ambitious mountaineers. Historically, and physically, they are the barrier between the northern plains and the pre-Sahara. Driving through them is rough, long, treacherous even. They are quite remote from the country’s mainstream or urban life, yet home to some beautiful Berber villages.
You will need cross the Atlas many times in your journey through Morocco. If you head to Ait Ben Haddou, you will be at their feet. Just enjoy the ride through these impressive mountains and take it all in. Be warned however, because if you have motion sickness, these roads will not be your friends. For more about how to prepare for your Morocco holiday, check out our tips here.
Describing the Todra, or Todgha Gorges is nearly impossible. It’s more of a feeling than anything else, and the feeling here is insanely good.
Crossing the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains, near the town of Tinerhir, this is a hot spot in the summer and dry season. Surrounded by limestone cliffs that can reach up to 400 metres (1,312 ft), there is a peaceful little stream that runs through the Gorge.
On hot summer days, it’s the perfect place for locals and travellers to cool off. On one side of the Gorge, you will find locals setting up picnics, playing music, and bathing in the stream. Don’t be surprised to find kids running around and jumping wherever the water is a little deep.
On the other side of Todra, vendors will set up shop, selling jewellery, rugs, dresses and whatever other beautiful things they have. Take some time here if you can, just chill out and enjoy the beauty of this magical place.
There you have it. Our top 10 favourite stops on our Moroccan trip. These were the places that really struck us. Of course, we had a great time in every other city we saw, but if we were to do this trip again, which we will, we would come back to these very special spots. That’s how special they were!
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If you want to read about our full 17-day tour, you can check it out here.
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