Endless desert, fascinating imperial cities, charmingly, chaotic souks, snow-capped mountain ranges, alluring culture; Morocco is a destination that holds an enduring fascination.
From its vast desert plans and stunning beaches to its arid valleys and snowy peaks; Morocco’s landscapes are almost as diverse as its culture and people. In one just one day, you can both sandboard and snowboard due to the country’s dramatic geography and well-connected travel routes.
Marking the beginning of the Silk Road, Morocco’s ancient trading past oozes from the 9,000 alleys of Fes’ El-Bali, and can be felt in the vibrant medina of Marrakesh, two of the four imperial cities in the country. As diverse as its cities, through centuries of Arabic, Berber and European influences, Morocco’s alluring culture intrigues every traveller and awaits discovery in every crevice.
From the mosque-filled, vibrant cities, you can make your way along the dusty roads past kasbahs and caravans to a world that is uniquely Moroccan. Ouarzazate, the gateway to the desert, has long been a popular stop for African traders and is home to one of the best places to visit in Morocco, Ait Ben Haddou.
When you can finally tear yourself away from the fine earthen-clay architecture, Merzouga awaits as the doorway to one of the most impressive Morocco desert areas. No Morocco tour is complete without spending a day, or even a night or two sleeping under the stars in the desert in a Berber camp.
In between sightseeing, your hunger can be satiated by one of the most famous cuisines in the world, richly enjoying a balance of African, Mediterranean and Arab dishes with a twist that is best discovered on a Morocco private tour.
Whether you have a Morocco desert tour in your sights or you’re coming to tick off the imperial cities and all the bucket-list stops, this intriguing nation welcomes travellers of all styles with open arms. Read on for everything you need to know packed into this handy Morocco travel guide.
- When Is the Best Time to Travel Morocco
- Best Places to Visit & Unique Experiences to Add to Your Morocco Itinerary
- How to Get Around on Your Tour of Morocco
- Where to Stay When You Travel Morocco
- Must-Try Food and Drink on Your Tour of Morocco
- What Your Morocco Tour Package May Cost
- Special Events & Festivals in Morocco
- Quick Tips & Important Facts To Read Before You Travel Morocco
- Ready to Travel Morocco?
When Is the Best Time to Travel Morocco
The best time to take a Morocco holiday if you’re looking for a pleasant climate and summer vibes without it being extreme is spring (April to May) or early autumn (September to October) – also known as the shoulder seasons.
You’ll want to avoid the height of summer (July and August) as the temperatures, especially in the south, make it far too hot to explore in the day. If you’re planning to visit Morocco in the winter, you should be prepared for it to drop to bitterly cold temperatures at night. In winter, the coasts are wet, and the mountains receive a lot of heavy rainfall; it’s not the best time to visit Morocco.
If you’re looking to go hiking in the Atlas Mountains, then the shoulder seasons are your friend. If you’re looking to be a beach bum and try out surfing in places like Tangier and Essaouira then the summer with its high temperatures and cooling ocean breeze is the best time for your Morocco trip.
Best Places to Visit & Unique Experiences to Add to Your Morocco Itinerary
You could write a book on all of the invaluable experiences on offer in Morocco. To save time, we’ve surmised the best Morocco destinations and things to do;
Marrakesh Desert Tours & Camel Trekking in the Sahara
Perched on the border of the Western Sahara and Algeria, Morocco has become a top destination to experience the desert. Known for its luxury camps, unique Berber experiences and camel trekking, Morocco desert trips are accessible from multiple cities in Morocco and open you up to a world of experiences.
This Marrakesh to Fes desert tour takes you on a journey through the Dades Valley, from Marrakesh to the Sahara Desert and finally, to the imperial city of Fes. Picture yourself riding into the sandy sunset on a camel, and you’re there!
Jemaa El-Fna & Marrakesh
There is nowhere quite like the Jemaa El-Fna Square. A chaotic mix of Moroccan and international culture, serving up delicious dishes and entertainment from storytellers, magicians and snake charmers, a surprise awaits you around every corner.
By day, the square is a large open space where traditional pharmacists display cures for all to see and those with flutes charm cobras. By night, thousands of people pour in to spend the night eating, shopping, listening to live music and more. It is one of the most fascinating places to go in Morocco.
Make the most of this eclectic city on this 4-day Marrakesh tour.
In a country of historical imperial cities, there is one that stands out. Fes is the oldest and arguably most impressive imperial city; it is an eclectic burst of spices, sounds and colours all accumulating in the city’s vast medina.
Here, you can lose yourself in the maze of its medieval streets. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fes’ Medina is known for its vibrant souks, timeless architecture and ancient atmosphere.
You can travel Morocco and experience the beating heart of the city on this 8-day Marrakesh to Fes tour!
Trekking in the High Atlas Mountains
If you were intrigued by the earlier statement of being able to sandboard, snowboard and hike in just one day then the Atlas Mountains in Morocco is your ideal destination.
North Africa’s highest mountain range, the Atlas Mountains are characterised by miles of mountains, soaring peaks, dramatic canyons and charming Berber villages running diagonally across the country forming its jagged backbone. Since the arrival of paved roads in 2013, the Atlas Mountains have begun attracting attention from adventurers from all over the world including kayakers, rafters, trekkers and more.
For avid hikers, the High Atlas Mountains are your playground. Spend three days trekking in the High Atlas Mountains on the popular Mount Toubkal trek, and you’ll never look back!
Ait Ben Haddou
Sitting on the outskirts of Ouarzazate on the ancient trading route between Sudan and Marrakesh, Ait Ben Haddou is a vast ancient complex of kasbahs known as an ighrem. Fortified by clay walls and standing tall on the plains, Ait Ben Haddou is a sight that will take most traveller’s breath away.
The finest example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture that still stands today, Ait Ben Haddou is a fortified village that dates back to the 17th century and has appeared in several films and TV series, including The Mummy, Gladiator and Game of Thrones.
You can travel through the imperial cities, the desert and ancient kasbahs, including Ait Ben Haddou, on this 12-day Morocco itinerary.
Morocco’s famous ‘Blue City’, Chefchaouen sits pretty below the cliffs of the Rif mountain range dominated by blue hues of paint covering every doorway, wall, path and house in the city.
Tumbling down from the mountainside, Chefchaouen’s Medina enchants every visitor with its cafe-filled main square perfect for sipping mint tea and people-watching to its grand clay-hued kasbah. Despite claiming the title of one of the prettiest places to visit in Morocco, Chefchaouen has retained its wonderful laid-back atmosphere and authenticity from years gone by.
This 8-day holiday in Morocco invites you to explore its imperial cities as well as the charming blue city of Chefchaouen.
The Ruins of Volubilis
Just beyond the imperial city of Meknes, you’ll find the partly excavated Berber and Roman ruins of Volubilis. Developed during the 3rd century BC initially as a Berber settlement, Volubilis grew rapidly into a kingdom spanning 42 hectares circumambulated by stone city walls added during Roman rule in the 1st century.
Falling as fast as it rose, the city lay inhabited from the 3rd century until the 8th century then abandoned once again in the 11th century. Today, it has been extensively restored and excavated to reveal fine mosaics, public buildings and houses.
Now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can explore the ruins of Volubilis on this 7-day Morocco vacation.
The economic and business centre of Morocco, Casablanca is often missed off the classic itineraries in favour of cities that have more of an immediate bucket-list-ticking draw. However, Casablanca’s architecture is some of the finest in Northern Africa.
Having been a gem of the French empire, a wealth of Moorish art and art-deco buildings scatter the downtown areas where you only need to look up to be impressed by the fine buildings with wrought-iron balconies and tumbling flower arrangements.
Of course, no tour is complete without visiting the impressive Hassan II Mosque like on this 6-day Morocco tour from Casablanca. You’ll immediately recognise the mosque’s minaret which stands as a symbol of Morocco as a whole.
Morocco’s laid back beach town, Essaouira boasts charming harbourside houses, a maze of markets and inviting beaches. Each makes for the perfect escape from the sometimes overwhelming cities.
In Essaouira, you’ll find yourself strolling around the picture-perfect harbour, lounging on the beaches and dipping in and out of the terraced restaurants sampling stunning seafood as you go. You can experience all this on this 5-day Morocco holiday to Agadir, Marrakesh and Essaouira.
How to Get Around on Your Tour of Morocco
Morocco’s long-standing history as an ancient trading route has fed into its current-day transport links and options; getting around Morocco is relatively easy.
Morocco’s rail network connects major cities like Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fes and Meknes with ease. If you’re short on time, there’s now a high-speed train that runs between Casablanca and Fes. Most often, the trains are comfortable, affordable and reliable with few disruptions. If you’re especially short on time, domestic flights between cities run often and are affordable if you book ahead of time.
For a cheaper, possibly more local experience, nationally-run buses lace the country connecting smaller cities and towns. Whilst they are cheap, these buses can be slow and often overcrowded. If you’re just travelling between cities, then it may be better to jump into one of Morocco’s ‘grand taxis’, which carry up to six people and only leave once the taxi is full.
If public transport isn’t your style or you’d like to experience Morocco with a local guide at your side, then you should consider a private Morocco tour. Customised to your liking, private tours in Morocco enable you to experience the country through a local’s eyes, ensuring you never miss the best places to see and eat, off the beaten path. Our Local Designers in Morocco are on the ground ready to create your custom Morocco itinerary.
Where to Stay When You Travel Morocco
Morocco presents a wide range of excellent accommodation options to suit every budget and need. For those on a tight budget, Morocco’s backpacker scene shows up with an array of pleasant hostels and shared accommodation. For those that want to splash out, a number of international luxury chains can be found in Morocco’s major cities.
When it comes to hotels in Morocco, there’s a wide range of choice from budget to luxury and of unclassified and classified. In this case, classified doesn’t always mean superior, so it’s often worth taking a gamble on a place if the reviews are good or you’ve been recommended. As always, it pays to do some research before booking your stay.
Riads are traditional guesthouses in Morocco. Usually refurbished, most riads date back to the 18th or 19th century and can be found in the medinas of Morocco’s bustling cities. If you’re looking for something a little more unique to Morocco, then a riad is the best option. However, be prepared to pay a little more than a hotel but be doubly enchanted by your stay!
To be exact, a riad can only be classified as such if it has a garden divided into quarters with a central fountain. Accommodation in Morocco which features rooms around a courtyard are known as ‘dars’.
Experience the wonder of staying in riads on this 7-day Morocco to Fes tour!
Desert Camps & Berber Experiences
No trip to this country of sand and stone would be complete without a Morocco desert tour from Marrakesh. If you choose to stay overnight in the desert, you can truly experience the Berber life by staying in a desert camp. Just like on this 7-day luxury desert tour of Morocco!
Tip: If you are visiting Morocco in the winter, make sure your accommodation has heating as it can be very chilly!
Must-Try Food and Drink on Your Tour of Morocco
With strong traditions rooted in history, influence from European, Arabic and African cultures and a diverse landscape of vibrant cities, mountain ranges and deserts, Morocco is one of the greatest cuisines in the world.
Moroccan food takes on subtle spices, with aromatic scents and intriguing flavour combinations to make unique mouthwatering dishes. From so-good-they-named-it-twice side dish, couscous, to succulent kebabs and delicious soups, food is sure to be a highlight of your Morocco travel package.
Let’s dive in with a handful of the must-try foods and drink!
Tagine (or tajine, as is often used) is one of the staple dishes of Morocco, one you’ll find everywhere. Classic tagines consist of lamb, prunes and almonds or chicken, olives and lemon cooked in an earthenware cooking pot with a conical clay lid that slowly steam-cooks the delicious combinations to result in a bubbling, mouthwatering dish. You’ll find tagines, served with bread or couscous, everywhere from roadside cafes to high-end restaurants.
Pastilla or B’stilla
For a dish completely unique to Morocco, you should try pastilla, or b’ stilla as it’s also known. This savoury meat pie is made with a paper-thin filo pastry outer and is often infused with saffron, cinnamon and fresh coriander, and dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar to complete. Camel meat is often a popular ingredient in this dish. If Fes is the culinary heart of Morocco, then pastilla sits at the centre.
The drink of choice for every local and the national tipple of the country, mint tea is to Morocco what whisky is to Scotland. Gunpowder tea is added to a teapot which is stuffed with springs of spearmint and heavily sweetened with sugar. At art to pouring it, mint tea is best poured from a height into a tea glass to create a froth known as the crown. The higher the teapot that’s poured, the better.
Whilst drinking alcohol isn’t a big deal in this Islamic country, mint tea will be your go-to choice. Be aware – it’s extremely addictive!
Harira is a classic spicy, steaming bowl of pasta and beans, and often meat. Tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils and lamb complete with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of coriander completes this dish.
Harira is the go-to starter for any meal and is usually served with chebakkiya, a sweet sticky pretzel.
What Your Morocco Tour Package May Cost
Several factors can influence the cost of your Morocco tour; these include and are not limited to;
- Trip length
- Accommodation type
- Number of destinations covered
- Number of activities and tours
- Food & drink expenditure
Accounting for all of these different factors whilst trying to create your dream Morocco itinerary that’s within budget can be a little stressful.
Don’t despair! That’s where our Local Designers in Morocco come in. With Designer Journeys, creating your dream tour of Morocco is made simple. Our Local Designers on the ground can take care of everything for you, whether you’re looking for a Marrakesh desert tour, to travel from Casablanca to Fes or anything else!
By specifying your budget, desired dates, activity preferences and how you like to travel, our Local Designers will design your personalised itinerary.
Choosing to have your trip tailor-made doesn’t mean you blow your budget, it enables you to have the experience you want that is enhanced by local knowledge you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
As an example of what a tailor-made trip may cost, this 7-day tour covers the best cities to visit in Morocco and costs US$712 per traveller and includes;
- Six nights of 3-star accommodation
- 19 guided activities and tours
- 6 breakfasts
- Airport transfers
- Private driver
- Licensed English-speaking local guides
Making your trip more luxurious or more budget-friendly can be done in a few simple steps. Whatever you’re looking for, our Local Designers can make it happen. Start your journey to Morocco by browsing our range of fully-customisable Morocco tours and tap ‘customise’ to be directed to one of our Local Designers who will tailor the trip to you! If you can’t find a trip perfect for you, you can ‘design your own trip’ from scratch!
Special Events & Festivals in Morocco
Morocco’s events and festivals are enticing, exciting and enthralling. Here’s our pick of the top special events and festivals in Morocco;
Fes’ Festival of World Sacred Music
From grand musical performances in magnificent monuments to intimate concerts in charming riads, this festival is your chance to experience sacred music from an abundance of civilisations and religions from all over the world.
Imilchil Wedding Festival
Each year, several Berber communities gather in the rural town of Imilchil to celebrate the ritual of allowing young men and women from different communities to choose their own spouses. The festival was born out of a legend of two star-crossed lovers who were forbidden to marry and drowned themselves in their own tears. Many couples get engaged at the festival, whilst the marriages take place later.
Kalaat Mgouna Rose Festival
One of the most unique and oldest festivals in Morocco, Kalaat Mgouna, celebrates the harvest of its Valley of Roses’ (Dades Valley) fragrant rose fields. The three-day festival annually occurring in June attracts people from all over the world with rose parades, stalls selling rose products and traditional performances.
Marrakesh Popular Arts Festival
Attracting musicians, artists and entertainers from all over the world, this festival takes place in Jemaa El Fna with a special after-dark performance outside the city walls featuring hundreds of traditionally-dressed charging horsemen. It is a sight to behold!
Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
Ramadan is a time to purify the soul by abstaining from food, drink and other needs during daylight hours of the ninth month in the Muslim calendar each year. The festival invites worshippers to refocus their attention on God. The end of Ramadan month is marked by Eid al-Fitr, a several-day celebration of feasting and traditional performances.
Quick Tips & Important Facts To Read Before You Travel Morocco
- Language: The most common language in Morocco is Arabic but French and English is spoken widely, especially in the tourist hotspots.
- Money: Morocco’s currency is the dirham. US$1 is equivalent to 3.67 Moroccan dirhams (at the time of writing – September 2020).
- Cash & Cards: You’ll find that credit cards are accepted as payment most places in Morocco, but you’ll need to carry cash when buying products from souk vendors, small shops and market stalls.
- Religion: Morocco is a Muslim country with 99% of Morrocans being Muslim; the other 1% being Christian and a tiny proportion of that, Jewish.
Ready to Travel Morocco?
There really is no country like Morocco. The diversity of activities, landscapes and cultures on offer will draw you in like no place you’ve been before. Choosing to travel Morocco on a custom tour designed by one of our Local Designers in Morocco will ensure an experience of a lifetime.
Browse our gallery of fully-customisable Morocco tours or design your own trip to Morocco! Either way, you’ll be connected with one of our Local Designers on the ground who will make your dream trip a reality!