BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN MOROCCO
Best places to visit in Morocco
As Morocco is such a diverse country with an abundance to explore, it is hard to make a list and choose the best places to visit. There is just so much to discover, from endless deserts to bustling coastal villages, insanely crowded historical cities and quiet mountain refuges. However, in beautiful Morocco, three things remain consistent: friendly people, amazing food and crazy taxi drivers.
Marrakech is one of the four imperial cities and has everything you would expect of a big historic Moroccan city. Grand palaces, huge squares, winding narrow lanes, vendors that try to sell you everything from dates to shoes and people everywhere. Although confusing and overwhelming at first, Marrakech is a city you simply cannot miss. One piece of advice is to stay outside the old medina in one of the many gated communities. There are many riads you can stay in, usually with a rooftop where you can relax and calm down after a long day of walking in the hectic centre of Marrakech.
2. Anti-atlas (Tafraout & Afella-Ighir)
The sleepy mountain village of Tafraout is perfect for exploring Morocco’s southernmost mountain range; the Anti-Atlas. Purportedly the Anti-Atlas used to have peaks higher than the Mt. Everest. Nowadays these mountains house a moonlike landscape with huge boulders and strange rock formations created by thousands of years of erosion. Traditionally the Anti-Atlas is a Berber region, with Tafraout at its heart, which you notice because of the heart-warming hospitality and difference in language. There are so many valleys to explore and mountains to climb that you can be entertained for weeks and it’s an area that is not as frequently visited by tourists as other parts of Morocco. One off the beaten track place we would definitely recommend going to is the Afella-Ighir oasis. It consists of a beautiful stretched-out village with every kind of fruit and nut tree you can imagine. If you're in the right season you can even eat the dates straight from the date palm trees. Additionally, it offers some incredible views, making it the perfect place for a day-trip from Tafraout. So, if a more peaceful, off-the-grid adventure is what you are looking for, spending a couple of days (or weeks) hiking, biking and exploring the Anti-Atlas is perfect for you.
An hour north of Agadir lies the laid-back surfing village of Taghazout. It is one of the few places in Morocco that manages to maintain the long-lost hippie vibe that used to be abundant all over Morocco. With the main beach easily accessible and waves that cater to both experts and beginners it’s ideal for people who like surfing or beach bumming. It’s easy to find a cheap apartment, the village is full of bakeries that sell their delicious pastries until deep in the night and there are always locals and tourists hanging out in the main square. Although small, it truly is a slice of paradise.
4. Southern Cliffs
A much less explored part of Morocco lies in the south. Dramatic cliffs, laidback people and great food are what you can find here. For those with a car, it is well worth your time going all the way down from Aglou Plage to Sidi Ifni. We spend almost two weeks at a small town called Mirleft, where we rented a full apartment for less than €15 a night. For those who enjoy adventurous walks along ragged coastline with beautiful views on the sea and some villages this is the place to go. A bit more to the south, at Legzira beach, there stands a natural stone arch reaching from mainland deep into the sea. A truly amazing feat of nature and a must see when nearby.
5. Atlas (Imlil)
The Atlas is the biggest mountain range in Northern Africa, with Jebel Toubkal being the highest mountain at a height of 4167m. The main gateway to this mountain is the small picturesque village of Imlil, which has everything you need to hike up or around the mountain. Within two days everyone in good physical condition can reach the summit, as long as the weather allows it. The trek up takes two days, starting from Imlil, and can be done with or without a guide. Walking back and forth to the village Aroumd is another good way of enjoying the fresh mountain air and soaking up the views, without having to climb a mountain of this altitude.
Far less hectic than Marrakech, but with the same Moroccan charm lies political capital Rabat. There is an old medina you can visit, but streets are cleaner, there are less people (and tourists) and vendors are more subtle in their sales techniques. You can also find a clean city beach and the beautiful Mausoleum of Mohammed V. There is a vibrant expat community of people studying Arabic and the remains of Phoenicians that settled first in this piece of land can be explored. It’s a great place to start your trip to Morocco, as it eases you in and gives you time to adjust to a different culture, cuisine and way of life.
Magnetic Fez, home of the world’s largest car free urban area in the world is a feast for the eyes and senses. If it’s medinas you’re looking for, this is the place to be. With so much to explore, you can easily spend a couple of days venturing into this maze of houses, souqs, palaces, tanneries and museums. And when you had your fair share of exploring the ancient city center, with vendors selling everything from camel heads to flipflops, it’s possible to escape this chaos in several ways. You can either wind down at the rooftop of the hostel or riad you are staying at or climb the nearby Merenid Tombs, that offer magnificent views over the city.
Although beautiful and unique in its color, we found Chefchouen a mostly overrated tourist trap. A day would be enough to see what this city has to offer. A much better idea would be to explore the Riff mountains, which we did not have to time to do. Although a bit hard to reach and requiring a guide to provide you safe passage through the villages, we heard great stories about it. We also heard some backpackers talk about a tour of a hashj making. Sounded interesting, but with the high penalties involved in anything drug related we did not dare pursue this activity.
We ended up staying a couple of nights in Taroudant. If you like strolling through a city that truly feels like it’s been preserved in a time capsule, you have come to the right place. The six-kilometre-long walls surrounding the city are one of the best-preserved ramparts of any city in Morocco and all nine gates are still in use. Sometimes called small Marrakech it feels like a fortified market town like they used to exist all over Morocco. The weekly sundat market is also well worth a visit. People from the whole region flock together to browse heaps of fresh produce and amazing snacks while enjoying beautiful scenery and views of the high peaks of the atlas. A true experience of what life is like for most Moroccans who live in smaller cities.