Berber, European and Arabic influences braid together to make Morocco a one-of-a-kind destination. The melting pot of Morocco’s history infuses everything from it’s local dishes and artwork to its architecture and religion. To break the country down into 10 simple reasons to visit Morocco is an impossible task… So here are our first 10.
The top 10 lust-worthy reasons to visit Morocco
Morocco. A country of contradictions; of bustling souks and deserted dunes; of delicate jewels and soft leathers; an escape from your day to day yet also a return to something you knew before.
The stunning architecture
The four Imperial Cities of Morocco – Marrakech, Rabat, Fez and Meknes – are unmistakable for their striking palaces, the spiralling minarets of their mosques, their opulent shrines and grand universities. Each signifies the height of Moroccan craftsmanship, under the separate dynasties that used their own capital cities to engrave their legacies, both figuratively and literally, into the stones of their cities.
Each city, also known as a medina, follows the same blueprint; soaring fortified walls that are only accessible through the towering doors set into their stones, doors that open to reveal a maze of alleys, dashed with sun rays and shadows playing an unending game of hide and seek. Turn a corner, and you’ll suddenly find yourself in an open courtyard, with fresh water spilling from carved fountains, mosques glowing against the blue skies, gorgeous shrines dripping in gold and jewels, and some of the world’s oldest universities.
You’re probably used to browsing the bohemian stylings of Instagram’s top interior designers, but Morocco is where you can find the real thing. The country’s incredible artisanal offering is a direct result of its multi-layered cultural combinations. Berber rugs, traditional leather tanneries, pottery, silver jewelry, embellished babouche, native Argan Oil, woven baskets, soap – the variety of high quality local goods is unrivalled. This heritage of craftsmanship thrives in daily life, which celebrates tradition and values beautifully made objects. We recommend visiting the ambitious Hassan II mosque in Casablanca is the ultimate window shop for exploring Moroccan craftsmanship.
“Turn a corner, and you’ll suddenly find yourself in an open courtyard, with fresh water spilling from carved fountains, mosques glowing against the blue skies, gorgeous shrines dripping in gold and jewels.”
Metal work, Berber rugs, spices, herb, tanneries and more – souk is the Arabic word for market. A collection of vendors nestled tightly together along the shaded alleyways, brimming with merchandise that is waiting for discovery. A kaleidoscope of colours and sensory stimulation greets you at every turn. As you make your way through the hustle and bustle, often to the sound of “smaa balek” (watch out and move away), busy tradesmen push heavy carts, laden with treasures, through the narrow streets. Divided according to trade, the souk showcases the country’s finest artisans;
Assakikine – The blacksmiths’ souk, perfect for picking up a gorgeous, intricately crafted Moroccan lamp
Aatarine – The spice traders, where the powerful scents of ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and more compete for your attention
Souk Dhab – the Gold market, where you can find beautiful Berber necklaces and bracelets, characterised by bold combinations of semiprecious stones and beads
And many more.
FES / HAZY MOMO, UNSPLASH.COM
Souk (the Arabic word for market) is a collection of vendors nestled tightly together along the shaded alleyways, brimming with merchandise that is waiting for discovery.
SOUK / @READYTOTRAVEL_, INSTAGRAM
MOROCCAN CRAFTSMANSHIP / STOCKSY.COM
After a day spent scouring the local markets for traditional wares – or perhaps in lieu of such a day – a hammam is the most luxurious way to unwind. Arabic for “spreader of warmth”, a hammam is a traditional steam bath treatment used to cleanse the skin, promote longevity, and even (according to some Moroccan women) promote fertility. Modelled after Ancient Roman bath houses, a Hammam is divided into three parts; a hot steam room, a middle room where the massage and exfoliation take place, and a cold room for ultimate relaxation. Traditionally, the hammam has always been a democratic place, where women (and men, albeit separately) from all levels of society mix together to unwind and cleanse, both body and soul.
We may be biased, but Moroccan food is highly regarded to be one of the world’s best cuisines. Morocco’s food, like her architecture, is a melting pot of her history; Arab, Andalusian and Mediterranean sensibilities come together for the ultimate flavor experience. Think mouth-watering, slow-cooked stews, bubbling, aromatic tagines, tangy preserved lemon and olives, layers of flaky pastry covering a delicious Bastila pigeon pie, and a medley of spices – cumin, turmeric, saffron, ginger – wafting overhead. Generous, warm and flavorsome – much like the country herself.
“Morocco’s food, like her architecture, is a melting pot of her history; Arab, Andalusian and Mediterranean sensibilities come together for the ultimate flavor experience.”
MOROCCAN FOOD / @GA.OFICIAL, INSTAGRAM
Serious Sahara vibes
The Sahara is not close (it’s a seven-to-thirteen hour drive from Marrakech, depending on the outpost you’re visiting) – but it is worth it. The opportunity to lie amidst terracotta dunes, watching the sun glowing molten over the horizon is unlike anything near or far. Sand seas (calls ergs), camel excursions, surfing the dunes or meditating are just some of the ways to fill your stay. Luxury bedoin camps located around the edges of the desert offer a private oasis to unwind after a hot day.
Morocco’s famous Mediterranean coast is more than 300 miles long; but don’t forget the Atlantic Ocean to the North, which means an overflow of beach-chic towns to discover. Shadowed by the jagged limestone bluffs of the Rif Mountains, the route from Chefchaouen (Morocco’s famous Blue City – more on that to come…) to al Hoceima weaves along the coast, where the aroma of native Olive trees fills the air. Exhibiting a European (especially French) flair, Rabat and Casablanca are city-side port towns, with wide boulevards and plenty of cozy cafes for sipping on Morocco’s mint tea. Essaouria, the walled 18th century fortress on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast is a dreamy fishing village – as well as one of the world’s greatest surf spots, thanks to its hefty trade winds. Tangier, along the sapphire waters of the Strait of Gibraltar is beloved by sunseekers, while a short way down the coast Asilah’s white washed medina is a travelers’ paradise.
“Essaouria, the walled 18th century fortress on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast is a dreamy fishing village – as well as one of the world’s greatest surf spots, thanks to its hefty trade winds.”
SAHARA DESERT / @TARYN ELLIOT, PEXELS.COM
CHEFCHAOUEN / @VERONICA REVERSE, UNSPLASH.COM
Rugged adventurers, this one's for you. The spine of Morocco, the Atlas Mountains, separate the Sahara Desert from the Mediterranean Sea, while also spanning parts of Algeria and Tunisia. Imlil is a favored starting point for mountain climbers as well as skiers (ski season lasts from December to March, although a word of warning; you will only find fresh, naturally fallen snow here…) Because there are no markets, the local Berber population relies on travelling merchants for supplies. The diverse terrain -- peaks and valleys, waterfalls and canyons -- offers something for every explorer.
Perched beneath the staggering peaks of the Rif, Chefchaouen is one of the most beautiful towns in the world. A sumptuous, blue-washed mountain village that looks to be from another world. The old medina perfectly mixes Moroccan and Andalusian influences with red-tiled roofs, bright blue buildings and narrow lanes, perfect for getting lost in. Jewels, lamps and plates gleam from the shadows, while handwoven blankets conceal walls and tables. We highly recommend enjoying the sunset from a rooftop terrace; seeing the sun dipping below the blue spires is an unforgettable experience. Read more about this enchanting city here.
Ultimately what makes the heart and soul of Morocco is its people. As diverse as the beautiful landscapes, as intriguing as the immense Sahara or eternal walled cities, the waves of inhabitants that make up the fiber of Morocco place hospitality at the cornerstone of daily life. Indulge in friendly banter with the souk shop keepers, say yes to the delightful honey-infused treats, and join in the warmth of ringing laughter. Like their country, Moroccans will warm your soul.
Where to go, what to see, what to do -- there are endless reasons to go to Morocco, but you will no doubt find there are few places in the world that could delight your senses, warm your heart and fill your soul like this magical country.
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