Trekking in the Atlas Mountains, traversing the Sahara on camel-back, or surfing along the Atlantic Coast: there is a plethora of things to do in Morocco and places to explore. Also, check out the video for some of our favourites. If you are looking for the best experience, check out our Iconic tour of Moroccan cities and deserts.
Visiting Chefchaouen requires venturing into the rugged Rif mountains. The setting, like much of the Rif, is largely rural and the bright lights and bustling noise of cities less than half a day’s drive away are soon forgotten.
That’s not to say that Chefchaouen is completely isolated, for the town has long been a stop on the intrepid backpacker circuit – thanks in part to the easy availability of the Rif’s kif – and it has also now become popular with mainstream tourists.
Find out more in our guide to discover Chefchaouen.
With our tailor-made tour to the Imperial cities of Morocco, you will discover Casablanca, the setting of the movie classic, before heading to Morocco's capital. From the busy streets of Rabat, you will continue to the blue and whitewashed buildings of Chefchaouen before heading to Fez and from there to Marrakech.
The oldest of Morocco’s four imperial capitals and the most complete medieval city of the Arab world, Fez stimulates all the senses: a barrage of haunting and beautiful sounds, infinite visual details and unfiltered odours.
It has the French-built Ville Nouvelle of other Moroccan cities, but nearly a quarter of Fez’s one-million-plus inhabitants continue to live in the extraordinary Medina-city of Fez el Bali, which owes little to the West besides electricity and tourists. More than any other city in Morocco, the old town seems suspended in time somewhere between the Middle Ages and the modern world.
Having crossed Morocco to stand at the edge of the Sahara, you can hardly leave without hopping onto a camel and heading off into the sand dunes. Camel rides range from a one- to two-hour lollop over the crescents to catch the sunrise or sunset to a fifteen-night expedition deep into the desert.
Most people opt for an overnight stay at a Berber camp where you’ll enjoy the clearest of night skies and a memorable sunrise the following day . A cameleer, meals, tea and blankets are included in the price, but it’s advisable to bring extra clothes and a sleeping bag, as nights can get excruciatingly cold.
Enjoy a camel ride through the palm groves of the Oasis Palmeraie on a private tour. Explore the villages of the Palmeraie, try local tea, and admire the incredible landscapes outside Marrakech.
Over the Tizi n’Test pass, the descent towards the Taroudant–Taliouine road is dramatic: a drop of some 1600m in a little over 30km. Throughout, there are stark, fabulous vistas of the Tizi n’Test mountains jutting out around the Nfis Valley with clusters of villages in view hundreds of feet below. Taking a road trip in this area is one of the best things to do in Morocco for picturesque views.
Escape the bustle of Marrakech and admire the breathtaking landscapes of the Agafay Desert and the Atlas Mountains. Discover the rich Berber culture thriving in the mountainside villages with this Atlas Mountains and Agafay Desert Day Trip.
Despite the cascades appearing in every national tourism brochure, the atmosphere remains laid back and relaxing. Throw in the pleasant walks to be had in the locale and, the fact that in late afternoon, arching rainbows appear in the mist around the falls, and you’ve got even more reason to stay overnight.
See Berber villages and the Ouzoud Falls on a full-day tour from Marrakech. Dive into the inviting waters of the Al Abid River for a swim and meet the monkeys of the Grand Atlas.
The mosque to which it is attached (closed to non-Muslims) replaced an earlier structure whose meagre ruins are just next to it on the north side. At 60m by 80m, it’s the largest mosque in Marrakech.
This tailor-made tour is perfect for foodies, your days in Marrakech are spent tasting different delicacies as well as hands-on during a cooking class at a non-profit. Venture outside the city to explore the desert and stay overnight at a desert camp.
The mosque is set a little way above the modern village of Tin Mal (or Ifouriren) and reached by wandering uphill from the road bridge. The site is kept locked, but the guardian will soon spot you and open it up.
Visit the historic 12th Century Tin Mal Mosque as a part of this Atlas Mountains guided tour.
Souks (markets) are a major feature of Moroccan life and are among the country’s greatest attractions. They are found everywhere: every town has a souk area, large cities like Fez and Marrakech have labyrinths of individual souks (each filling a street or square and devoted to one particular craft), and in the countryside, there are hundreds of weekly souks, on a different day in each village of the region.
Our guide to the souks and markets in Morocco will help you choose some of the best markets in Morocco.
In winter, Moroccans often add bitter wormwood (chiba in Arabic, absinthe in French), to their tea “to keep out the cold”. The main herbal infusion is verbena (verveine or louiza).
The Souk el Ghezel – the main commercial centre of the medieval town, including its wool and slave markets – was located just outside the gate, while the original sultanate’s palace stood immediately inside.
Morocco is full of wonders and highlights. On this tailor-made trip, you will experience the real Berber nomadic life in the desert, as well as the cosmopolitan lifestyle many younger Moroccans now enjoy in the cities, from Marrakech to Rabat. Get your dose of culture, history and desert in one trip.
Experience both the past and the present of Moroccan culture when you take this private tour around the beautiful city of Rabat. Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites and explore the authentic medina.
There’s little of aesthetic value – many of the rooms have fallen into complete ruin – but nevertheless, even after over a half-century of decay, there’s still vast drama in this weird and remote site, and in the decorated salon walls, often roofless and open to the wind.
In Ait Benhaddou and Telouet Kasbahs, experience sandy southern Morocco. Learn about the Glaoui tribes and visit the most famous kasbahs of Morocco on this guided Day Trip from Marrakech.
By day, most of the square is just a big open space, in which a handful of snake charmers play their flutes at cruelly mutilated cobras, medicine men display cures and nostrums, and tooth-pullers. Wielding fearsome pliers, offer to pluck the pain from out of the heads of toothache sufferers, trays of extracted molars attesting to their skill. It isn’t until late afternoon that the square really gets going.
At dusk, as in France and Spain, people come out for an early evening promenade, and the square gradually fills until it becomes a whole carnival of storytellers, acrobats, musicians and entertainers. Come on down and you’ll soon be immersed in the ritual: wandering around, squatting amid the circles of onlookers, and giving a dirham or two as your contribution.
If you want a respite, you can move over to the rooftop terraces, such as the Grand Balcon du Café Glacier for a vista over the square, its storytellers and musicians, and the crowds who come to see them.
Few people visit the south without taking in the Todra Gorge, and with good reason. At its deepest and narrowest point, only 15km from Tinghir, this trench through the High Atlas presents an arresting spectacle, its gigantic rock walls changing colour to magical effect as the day unfolds.
Faux guides hang around the gorge, but the hassle is generally low-key, and at weekends and holidays, there’s a cheerfully laidback vibe – locals more than outnumber tourists, and families come to picnic by the river.
The Middle Atlas is home to three-quarters of the world's population, though numbers are severely in decline due to a combination of habitat destruction and illegal pet trading.
Barbary macaque can be found throughout the region, feeding along the forest margins, though you are virtually guaranteed to see them around the Cèdre Gouraud and at the Moudmane junction. Be warned that they are very accustomed to humans due to the unfortunate local habit of feeding them to camera-toting tourists.
Visit the Ifrane National Park to see Barbary Macaque apes in the cedar trees on this day trip to the Middle Atlas. Visit Immouzar, famous for its Apple Festival, see Ifrane's striking French architecture, and have a traditional Berber tea.
Many buildings from that era have been the victims of neglect, but with a realization by the authorities that they attract tourists, steps have been taken to conserve the town’s heritage. In addition, there’s the colonial aspect – this enclave was relinquished by Spain only in 1969 after the Moroccan government closed off landward access, and many locals still speak Spanish.
Asilah (sometimes spelt Assilah) is one of the most elegant of the old Portuguese Atlantic ports, small, clean and easy to navigate. First impressions are of wonderful square stone ramparts, flanked by palms, and an outstanding beach – an immense sweep of sand stretching to the north halfway to Tangier.
An eighteenth-century town, enclosed by medieval-looking battlements, Essaouira’s whitewashed and blue-shuttered houses and colonnades, wood workshops and art galleries, boat builders and sardine fishermen all provide a colourful and very pleasant backdrop to the beach. The feathery Norfolk Island pines which surround it thrive only in a pollution-free atmosphere.
Many of the tourists who come to Essaouira are drawn by the wind, known locally as the alizee, which in spring and summer can be a bit remorseless for sunbathing but creates much-sought-after waves for windsurfing and, increasingly, kitesurfing. The same winds make Essaouira pretty terrible for surfing – those in the know head down the coast to Imsouane and Taghazout.
Enjoy a day trip to Essaouira, on the coast of Morocco. See the Medina, the beach and visit an association of Berber women producing argan oil.
Below their walls, towards the town of Moulay Idriss, stretches a rich river valley; beyond lie the dark, outlying ridges of the Zerhoune mountains. The drama of this scene – and the scope of the ruins themselves – are undeniably impressive, so much so that Volubilis was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997 and the ruins were a key location for Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ.
Visit one of the four imperial cities of Morocco and see the Roman ruins of an ancient kingdom. Explore the Medina of Meknes, go to the historic remains of Volubilis, and see the holy town of Moulay Idriss on the Meknes and Volubilis Day Trip.
Founded by Mediterranean trading nations, ruled by empirical Romans, and squabbled over by European powers before finally returning to the Moroccan nation in 1956, it’s perhaps no surprise that the city defies comparison with any other in Morocco.
The layout within Tangier’s Medina, like most throughout Morocco, was never planned in advance. As the need arose, a labyrinth of streets and small squares emerged that eventually became the various quarters there today. The Grand Socco offers the most straightforward approach to the Medina. This is a busy transport hub and a good place to watch the chaos of traffic, carts, and people going about their daily routines.
Embark on a full-day trip to the historical city of Tangier from Tarifa. Marvel at city and rural highlights on a guided minibus tour, including the Caves of Hercules, and enjoy a delicious lunch.
The French-built city centre and its formal, colonial buildings already seem to belong to a different and distant age. The style of the administrative buildings, in particular, is known as Mauresque, or sometimes as “Neo-Moorish”, essentially a French idealization and “improvement” on traditional Moroccan styles, with lots of horseshoe arches, and even the odd touch of darj w ktarf, originally an Almohad motif.
Casablanca’s most obvious sight is the Hassan II Mosque, and it also has the only Jewish museum in the Muslim world, but the city’s true delight remains the Mauresque and Art Deco architecture.
Casablanca can be a bewildering place to arrive, but once you’re in the centre, orientation gets a little easier. Its focus is a large public square, Place Mohammed V, and most of the places to stay, eat, or see, are located in and around the avenues that radiate from it.
Discover the wonders of Casablanca as you tour around the city’s highlights. As you explore, feel immersed in the unique atmosphere and gain an insight into the city’s diverse history and culture.
Stretching northeast from Ouarzazate, the Dadès Valley is at times harsh and desolate, but there’s a bleak beauty on the plain between the parallel ranges of the High Atlas and the Jebel Saghro. Along much of its length, the river is barely visible above ground, making the sudden appearance of its vast oases all the more astonishing.
Littered with half-hidden mud-brick houses – the Dadès is also known as the Route of a Thousand Kasbahs, for obvious reasons – the palmeries lie along the N10 from Ouarzazate to Erfoud, offering an excellent and easy opportunity for a close look at a working oasism and, in Skoura, a startling range of imposing kasbahs.
Over the three days of the September fair (Friday to Sunday), animals are traded; clothes, tools and provisions are bought and sold; and distant friends and family members reunited before the first snowfalls isolate their high villages. What makes it especially highly charged, however, is that it is here the region’s youngsters come to decide whom they’re going to marry.
Explore more of Moroccan cultural traditions with our guide to the best festivals in Morocco.
The Oued Massa has a rich mix of habitats and draws a fabulous array of birds. The sandbars are visited in the early morning by flocks of sandgrouse (black-bellied and spotted) and often shelter large numbers of cranes. The ponds and reedbed margins conceal various waders, such as black-tailed godwit, turnstone, dunlin and snipe, as well as the black-headed bush shrike (tschagra) and little crake.
The deeper open waters provide feeding grounds for greater flamingo, spoonbill, white stork and black-winged stilt; and overhead the skies are patrolled by marsh harriers and osprey. The surrounding scrubby areas also hold black-headed bush shrike and a variety of nocturnal mammals such as Egyptian mongoose, cape hare and jackal, while Sidi Rabat has a local population of Mauritanian toads.
Twenty kilometres inland, the Barrage Youssef Ben Tachfine is an enormous freshwater reservoir where possible sightings include black wheatear and rock dove.
Visit one of Morocco's most significant national parks and bird reserves, the Souss-Massa National Park. Discover its vast range of interesting birds, both migrants, and residents on the Souss-Massa Park Bird Watching Private Tour.
The Majorelle Garden, or Jardin Bou Saf, is a meticulously planned twelve-acre botanical garden, created in the 1920s and 1930s by French painter Jacques Majorelle, and subsequently owned by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
Visit Majorelle Garden and appreciate artistic vision in lush greenery and vibrant architecture. Stop in the garden’s Berber Museum and then afterwards, relax with a traditional Moroccan hammam experience on this guided tour.
Morocco’s trendiest accommodation option is in a riad or maison d’hôte. Strictly speaking, a riad is a house built around a patio garden – in fact, the word riad correctly refers to the garden rather than the house – while maison d’hôte is French for “guest house”.
The riad craze started in Marrakech and quickly spread to Fez and Essaouira. Since then it has gone nationwide and almost every town with tourists now has riads too. Even the Atlas mountains and the southern oases are dotted with them.
A number of long-distance Atlas routes can be followed – even a “Grand Traverse” of the full range, but most people stick to shorter treks in the Jebel Toubkal area (best in spring or autumn; conditions can be treacherous in winter). Other promising areas include the Jebel Sirwa, the Western High Atlas, and, in winter the Jebel Saghro and Tafraoute region of the Anti-Atlas.
The Middle Atlas has much attractive walking too, in such places as Tazzeka, and around Azrou.
Head off to a nature reserve for a day of adventure from Marrakesh to the Atlas Mountains, enjoying several activities including a high-wire course, zip-lining, or abseiling.
There is an estimated 4200km of rose hedges around Kelâa, with each metre yielding around a kilogram of petals, and ten tonnes of petals are needed to produce just two or three litres of rose oil.
In late May (sometimes early June), a rose festival is held in the village to celebrate the new year’s crops – a good time to visit, with villagers coming down from the mountains for the market, music and dancing
His mausoleum, the reason for its sacred status, is the object of constant pilgrimage, not to mention an important summer moussem.
Non-Muslims are barred from the shrine – but you could easily lose a happy half-day exploring the tangled lanes that shimmy between the sugar-cube houses scattered over the hills. Enjoy delightful window views or just absorb the laidback atmosphere. Few tourists bother to stay overnight, another reason to linger.
Visit one of the four imperial cities of Morocco and see the Roman ruins of an ancient kingdom on a day trip from Fez. Explore the Medina of Meknes, go to the historic remains of Volubilis and see the holy town of Moulay Idriss on the Volubilis and Moulay Idriss Day Trip.
With our guide to the most exotic places to travel in the world, you will find unusual travel destinations that have passed under your radar.
Ready for a trip to Morocco? Check out the snapshot of The Rough Guide to Morocco. If you travel further in Morocco, read more about the best time to go and the best places to visit in Morocco. For inspiration use the itineraries from The Rough Guide to Morocco and our local travel experts. A bit more hands-on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
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