"Separated from Europe by the Straits of Gibraltar, Morocco feels like another world."
Touring in Morocco
Separated from Europe by the Straits of Gibraltar, Morocco feels like another world. This scintillating country bombards the first time visitor with an overwhelming array of sights, sounds and smells, from the fragrant aromas of a slow-cooked tagine to the whirlwind of the Jemaa el Fna, the famous square at the heart of Marrakech. Lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets of ancient medinas, chat with locals over a pot of deliciously sweet mint tea, or retreat to the serenity of your riad and unwind with a traditional hammam.
Morocco is famous for its atmospheric old cities such as Fez and Rabat, but it’s also a land of dramatic landscapes and striking natural beauty. Scale the rugged High Atlas mountains for dizzying views and invigorating trekking, or hop on a camel and set sail across the rolling dunes of the Sahara Desert. Morocco’s blend of Arab and Berber culture, combined with the lingering influence of the French colonial era, imbues Morocco with a unique identity, discernible in everything from the wonderful food to the colourful crafts on display in the souk at the heart of every town.
Touring Highlights of Morocco
- Marrakech is an intoxicating introduction to Morocco, where every street seems to lead back to the Jemaa el Fna, the buzzing central square filled with snake charmers, street entertainers, hawkers and wide-eyed tourists.
- Fez is one of the most impressive medieval cities in the Arab world. Entering the maze-like medina is like stepping back in time, as donkey carts clatter down the narrow streets and the call to prayer rings out across the rooftops.
- The laid back and arty town of Essaouira charms visitors with its fortified medina, coastal location and narrow streets filled with galleries, boutiques and workshops.
- The remote town of Chefchaouen, situated high in the Rif mountains, is known as ‘the blue city’ thanks to its beautiful brightly painted facades.
- The fortified mudbrick village of Aït Benhaddou, on the old caravan route between Marrakech and the Sahara, has been used as a backdrop for films including ‘Gladiator’, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’
- The High Atlas is North Africa’s mightiest mountain range, separating Morocco’s Mediterranean north from the desert south. It’s a popular destination for trekking, and the valleys are home to remote Berber villages that feel a very long way from the cities of the coast.
- Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city, a busy commercial centre that the French modelled on Marseille. Highlights include the seafront Corniche promenade, the colonial Art Deco architecture and the magnificent Hassan II Mosque.
- The Dadès Valley, also known as the ‘Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs’, is a starkly beautiful landscape of plunging gorges, mudbrick citadels and lush oases.
- The picturesque whitewashed town of Moulay Idriss is Morocco’s most important place of pilgrimage, off limits to non-Muslims for many years but now opening up to tourism.
- Rabat, Morocco’s likeable capital, is more laid back than Casablanca and less touristy than Marrakech or Fez, with plenty of fascinating historical monuments and a charming kasbah.