If you decide to travel around Morocco, be prepared for a journey of real discovery!
You will have a chance to enjoy the unique scenery of Morocco’s spectacular beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. You can take a breathtaking view of the snowy peaks of the majestic Atlas Mountains. You can walk the golden dunes of the Sahara Desert. All without the need to travel long distances between locations. The Kingdom of Morocco, as Morocco is officially known, is a land of great geographical diversity and stark contrasts. With a territory not much larger than that of Texas State, it has an amazing variety of landscapes to explore. So if you are the outdoorsy, nature-lover, adventurer type, Morocco is your destination!
Are you more of a culture lover? You won’t be disappointed, either. Being at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Arabian world, Morocco is also a country of great cultural diversity. Its four historical capital cities, Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, and Rabat have been important spiritual centers, and hold several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, old medina quarters, mosques and other wonderful monuments. Fez, which is often referred to as the “Athens of Africa,” is also home to the oldest continuously operating university in the world.
Top things to see and do in Morocco
Explore the Sahara by day
Morocco is a gateway to the Sahara desert and local guides offer a wide range of desert tours, fully organized and customized to your needs. If you decide to take one, not only can you enjoy the dramatic scenery of the Sahara, but you can go even further, and see what it is all like from the back of a camel! Although clambering onto a camel is never elegant, it is certainly worth taking the challenge: a camel trek is an unforgettable adventure.
If that is not enough, sports fanatics can try their hands at sand-boarding, a sport very much like snowboarding, except that it takes place on sand dunes rather than snow-covered slopes.
… and by night
Looking for a really unforgettable experience? Camp overnight in the desert! From the outside, the tents might look rather simple, but once you’re inside, you will find them surprisingly comfortable and cozy. Some companies even offer “deluxe tents,” but what really makes the stay a one in a lifetime experience is the breathtaking sight of a million stars in the clear Sahara sky.
Have mint tea with a nomadic family
Sleeping in a tent beneath the countless stars of the desert sky is a truly memorable adventure. And it will probably make you feel like getting to know those who actually live their lives like that. A really great way to do that is to visit a nomadic family. Nomadic people in Morocco have preserved their way of life over the centuries. If you are given the opportunity to have a meal with them in their camel-wool tents, you can take a taste of their traditional cuisine and also their relaxed lifestyle. They will also surely offer you a glass of mint tea, which is a sort of national drink of Moroccans and is a symbol of hospitability and friendship. It is actually green tea poured into a glass filled with fresh spearmint leaves. It is served hot year-round and really heavily sugared. Even if worried about your glucose intake, don’t refuse a second or third serving for that is considered impolite and unfriendly.
Get lost in the Medina of Fez
The Fez “medina” or old city, which is packed with beautiful, well-preserved historical buildings, has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Discover the fabulous mosques, palaces and residential houses dating back to the Middle Ages, some of which you can even rent for the holiday season! The medina is a real labyrinth, just perfect for strolling around for hours and experiencing the reality of life in Morocco. You can very easily lose track of time and it’s just as easy to lose your way, so a good map or some navigation tool will definitely come in handy.
Take a trekking tour in the High Atlas
Go trekking in the High Atlas in Morocco and conquer the highest peak of North Africa (Jebel Toubkal, 4,167 m). If you’re an experienced mountaineer, you can venture to go climbing on your own, but of course, it’s always safer to take a guided tour. Tailor-made trekking adventures are organized throughout the year, and the guides will not only help you achieve your desired peak ascent but also arrange accommodation in local village guesthouses so that you can enjoy the warm hospitability of the Berber people. In the winter you can even ski down some of the snow covered slopes.
Visit the local marketplace
Shopping in a local marketplace is always a lot of fun, and it reveals a great deal about the country you are visiting. Moroccan markets or souks are no exceptions. They are crowded, chaotic, overwhelming and usually run by men. The shops display such an amazing array of colorful ceramics, fine glassware, jewelry and other handicrafts that you will be spoilt for choice. Try your hand at bargaining – it is almost compulsory- or just walk around absorbing the atmosphere. Shopkeepers can be highly persuasive, but not aggressive and a firm ‘no’ is generally accepted.
When should you visit Morocco? Well, of course, it depends on what you are planning to do there. If you want to explore the whole country from the coast to the desert and to the highest mountain peaks, the best time to go is probably the spring (April-May) and the autumn (September- November). Try to avoid the peak vacation season (June-July and especially August), when the heat can get too much to handle and cities are crowded with tourists and Moroccans returning for their vacations.
By European or North-American standards, Morocco is a fairly cheap place to travel around. For about 500 dollars a week, you can find good accommodation, can have nice meals and pay admission fees to major sites.
While a solo traveler is likely to find accommodation in a hostel/cheap hotel for as little as 80 MAD (8 USD), for a basic double bedroom (with a shared bathroom) you will have to pay around 50 MAD (5 USD) per night. Average prices for hotel rooms with a bathroom are between 400–800 MAD (40-80 USD) per night.
Food and drink
The price of a meal in an inexpensive restaurant starts at 20 MAD (2 USD), while a three-course lunch for two in a mid-range restaurant is likely to cost over 100 MAD (10 USD). A beer is between 20-40 MAD (2-4 USD), while a can of Coke/Pepsi is around 6 MAD (0.6 USD).
You can hire a decent car for 100-150 MAD (10-15 USD) per day. Admission fees to sites vary between 10–50 MAD (1-5 USD). ATMs are easy to find in cities, but credit cards are not always accepted except for top-end restaurants and hotels.
Tipping is quite general in Morocco: tips are expected for almost any service.
Visitors to Morocco generally leave with the impression that it’s a really hospitable country with warm and friendly people. It’s also relatively easy to get around on your own, without booking an organized tour. However, it has to be admitted that Morocco is not the safest place for solo female travelers, some of whom has had a tough time here, experiencing sexual harassment ranging from catcalls to actual assaults (in rare cases). Some unwanted attention is inevitable, but you can take certain common-sense precautions to minimize the chance of more serious incidents. Make sure that your knees and shoulders are covered, always walk confidently (even if you have no clue as to where you are), and if the hassle gets too much, head to peaceful places like to Chefchaouen (a calm little town in the Rif mountains) or Essaouira (on the coast).
Pictures of Morocco
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