Morocco: What to see

Morocco: What to see

Marrakech is the third largest, beautiful city in the heart of Morocco, with Eastern traditions, very crowded, bustling, attracting tourists with memories of former luxury. Many attractions of Marrakech are UNESCO-protected sites.

Hassan II Mosque

An imposing mosque named after King Hassan II which looks as if it is about to soar off a cliff over the Atlantic Ocean and into the heavens. Casablanca’s main attraction and one of the most remarkable mosques in the world, boasts a 210 m high minaret.

Djem El Fna Square

Jemaa el-Fnaa Square is the soul of Marrakech and its main landmarks are the Cafe du France and the mosque building, where all tours of the city start. The unforgettable atmosphere has become a magnet for millions of tourists from all over the world, visitors to Morocco.

Ait Benhaddou

Once a caravanserai on the route of trans-Saharan caravans, Ait Benhaddou is today the most colorful and authentic sight in Morocco, along with Ouarzazate, which has been portrayed many times in the works of Hollywood directors. In what ever role has this settlement on the slope of the Atlas Mountains.

Volubilis

The most unexpected sight in Morocco are the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Volubilis, an island of ancient culture in northern Africa.

Bahia Palace

One of the main and most beautiful sights in Marrakech, located in the Medina, is the rather young (1880) Bahia Palace (Palais de la Bahia), or, in translation, “the palace of the Belle”. It was built for one of the four wives of the harem by Bou Ahmed Sidi Moussa.

The Kasbah of Agadir

As in many Arab cities, the kasbah was the oldest part of Agadir. Everywhere, a kasbah is a place on high ground where the city’s fortress was built; a kind of Old City. Agadir is no exception in this sense.

Habous Neighborhood

If you want to taste the pluses of Moroccan exotica without the almost inevitable minuses, there is a way out – go to the Habous Quarter, aka the New Medina. Built by the French in the 1930s, the neighborhood in Casablanca is like two peas in a pod.

Mahkama du Pasha

The magnificent palace of the Mahkama du Pacha seems to have been transported into the real Casablanca from the tales of the Thousand and One Nights. Sixty halls, one more luxurious than another, are literally stuffed with masterpieces of traditional crafts – a virtuoso stone carving and delicate wooden ornaments.

Casablanca Medina

A modest counterpart to the “popular” medinas of Fez and Marrakech, the Casablanca medina is definitely not a record-breaker either in its scenic beauty or in the number of tourists visiting it. It is frequented by lovers of exoticism who are not intimidated by Arabic color and by those who have already seen everything in the city.

Koutoubia Mosque

Morocco is a country of stunning contrasts: sandy hills of the Sahara desert and snow-capped mountains, golden beaches and azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea, silvery waterfalls, rushing rivers in the mountain gorges, cedar forests and orange groves, unjustified cruelty and unforgettable hospitality.

Berber Museum

The Municipal Museum of Berber Heritage in Agadir is small but quite interesting. It was opened 40 years after the terrible earthquake, in 2000. In three rooms, about 200 artifacts belonging to the peoples of the Souss-Massa-Draa region are on permanent display.

Arab League Park

Casablanca’s largest park, named after the Arab League, is a favorite stroll spot for locals and a very suitable option to pause for a sightseeing day and enjoy the very beautiful nature almost in the heart of the city.

Birds Park in Agadir

This park is officially called Birds valley, but it is more than just a bird park. It is also a zoo, and by Moroccan standards, and adjusted for its resort location – pretty good. At a minimum, monkeys, gazelles, deer, sheep and llamas are provided.

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Agadir’s Beach

Agadir’s beach, a giant flowing arc that stretches from the port almost to the river Sousse, is the main attraction of this city. 10km of fine sand, with more than 300 days of sunshine a year. The beach is oceanic, that is, relatively windy, with cool water and always with waves.

Ain Diab Beach

Ain Diab beach is to Casablanca what Copacabana is to Rio, the center of beach-sun fun, a place where whole families come all day and the main attraction of the entire local community. Ain Diab is a coastal area close to the Casablanca Central Tram Station.

El Ahad market in Agadir

To visit an Arab city and not go to the traditional bazaar, the Souk, is nonsense. Especially since the El Ahad market in Agadir is one of the few city sights that can really grab your attention completely.

Menard Gardens

Tired of walking around the bustling and crowded Marrakech, tourists find rest, peace and quiet in the Jardin de la Menara. It is a very pleasant place to stay in Morocco outside the Medina.

What else to see in Morocco

Rabat

To visit the epicenter of Arab culture is to feel the spicy embrace of the east. Rabat (from “ribat” meaning “fortified monastery”) is a town whose airy white and turquoise appearance blends both Moorish and modern motifs. The Old City (Medina) on the bank of the Bou Regreg River hosts the 12th century fortress of the Kasbah Udaya. There are ruins of the city’s oldest mosque: according to the plan of the ruler Al-Mansour, it should have been so big that all the soldiers of his huge army could pray in it simultaneously. However, after his death, the construction stopped, and only in the 17th century did the fort begin to be rebuilt. The cannons of those times are still preserved on the walls of the fort. Only the Hassan Minaret with its 44 m height and the poles of the unfinished mosque surrounding it are preserved in their original form. On the territory of the fortress is also an observation deck, where tourists are often photographed.

On Jema Street, the voice of the mosques of Moulay Al Mecca, Moulay Sliman, and Al Fas calls for prayers. There is also the miraculous spring of the necropolis of Shellah and the mausoleum containing the tombs of Kings Mohammed the Fifth and Hassan the Second.

Opposite Rabat, on the opposite bank of the river is the ancient city of Sale. There is a mosque and a madrasa but the pilgrimage destination for thousands of believers is the Muslim chapel of Sidi Abdallah ben-Hassoun. Just 13 km from Rabat you are in exotic gardens, 9 km to the south – and in front of you the gate of the National Zoo.

    Hassan Tower, Rabat The white and blue streets of Kasbah Udaya Fortress, Rabat Guards at Mohammed V’s Mausoleum, Morocco

Marrakech

The contrast between the historic districts and the residential neighborhood of Gueliz in Marrakech forms the image of an eastern city. The tangle of streets in this metropolis leads to the center, to the Koutoubia Mosque in Djem El Fna Square. On your way you will meet the mausoleum of Marrakech’s founder Yusuf ibn Tashfin, the Bab-Agnau Gate, the Almohad citadel, the Mosque of the Golden Apples (Qasba Mosque) and the tombs of the Saadid dynasty.

You can make a stop at the ruins of the magnificent palace of El Badi, in the madrasa and the mosque of Ben Yusuf, Qubba al-Baadin. Lovers of local exotic markets spend hours in the Jewish quarter of Milla. The largest fountain in Marrakech, the Moisin, is near the palace of Bahia (“palace of the Beauty”).

The famous Marrakech markets (“souks”) are open from 8:30 to 20:00. One of the biggest and busiest street markets is around Djema el-Fna Square, the spice market in front of Rabah Kedima Square, the Kimaheen musicians market at the gate of the same name on Bab Doukkala Street, the Dyer, Copper, Carpenters, Jewellers and many other markets.

    Jemaa el-Fna Square, Marrakech The Antiques Store in Marrakech The entrance to the Bahia Palace
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Casablanca

Morocco’s maritime capital has long been home to large trading companies and banks. But there are many historical monuments both in the historical part of Casablanca (for example, the old Medina and the Shleh Mosque), and in the “new Medina” (the luxurious residence of Pasha Mahkam du Pasha, the so-called Palace of Justice).

Casablanca also has its own version of Notre Dame Cathedral (the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes). The second largest mosque in the Islamic world (after the mosque in Mecca), the Great Mosque of Hassan II, is worth seeing. A gambling guest should not miss the large Habbus bazaar quarter, the city has clubs, casinos and amusement parks. The ruins of the ancient city of Anfa are picturesquely located near Casablanca. Those who like comfortable rest go to the resort of Ain Diab, but only Muslims can get to the ancient Kubba of Sidi Abd al-Rahman.

It was in Fez where the Prophet Mohammed once found refuge in moments of danger. The old part, Fes el Bali, is worth exploring before moving on to the new part, Fes el Jedid.

The ancient monuments in the old part are surrounded by ramparts. The palace square is famous for the rich Royal Palace and the giant gate of Bab Decaken. The manicured gardens of Bou Jalud provide a pleasant shade over the Mulay Idris Mosque, which contains the tomb of Idris II. The Bu Inanya Madrasah with its chimes, Gazlean Mosque, Attarin and Sherratin Madrasahs, Karawin Mosque, and Tsetaunin and Nedjarin caravanserais – “fonduki” – successfully complement the religious monuments.

In the New City, there are newer monuments of history, such as the royal palace of Dar el-Mahzen, the “quarter of potters” at the gate of Bab Ftuh and the “quarter of tanneries.

    The Tannery Quarter in Fez

Volubilis

Tourists often head after visiting the city to the Roman town of Volubilis, the ruins of which are located 31 km from Meknes (around 50 km from Fez) at the base of Mount Zerhoun. Some parts of the Roman Capitol, a basilica, the Forum, the Arch of Triumph, built in honor of Emperor Caracalla, the Baths, the rich citizens’ dwellings, the House of Orpheus and the House of Venus are surprisingly preserved.

Morocco sights: from the ocean to the desert by car

Morocco is an amazing country in the north of the African continent, which is sure to be remembered by every traveler! A country of the most unusual contrasts: snow-capped mountains, green forests and hot Sahara desert, scorching sun and ski resorts, street vendors, fortune tellers, snake charmers and luxurious riads – have you ever seen it all in one trip?

If not, you need to go to Morocco now! That’s the reason we decided to take a road trip through this amazing country where you can find literally everything!

Journey to Morocco by car

A road trip in Morocco

This city was the first point of our trip where we spent a couple of days. Fez is a city of artisans and tanners with a thousand years of history . The medina, or historic center of the city, is by some estimates about 6 thousand streets, the exact figure no one knows yet! It is, by the way, one of the largest pedestrian zones in the world. You can wander there endlessly, and the navigator will not help you. The city is just teeming with street vendors and hustlers. If you cast a glance at something, they will come up to you and try to sell it.

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Fez captivated us from the first second. You literally plunge into another world, walking through the streets among the spices and scattered fabrics – just like in the movie “Clone”, remember?

The tanneries in Fez

Fez’s famous dye houses.

Fez was once the capital of Morocco, and if the modern capital is Rabat, Fez wants to be called the cultural capital of this country. Surprisingly, the Medina has not changed since the Middle Ages, which catches the eye.

There is a wide variety of riads (such hotels or guest houses) for all tastes and wallets, so it is not difficult to find accommodation. Also Fez is an ideal place to try the local cuisine . On the streets you will find many restaurants and cafes, where it is not afraid to try the food or drink tea.

The Blue City of Chefchaouen (Shaven)

The city of Chefchaouen is one of Morocco’s most popular attractions and is known for the fact that its buildings are painted in various shades of blue and blue. It is located in the far northwest of the country . There are various legends as to why this city is blue.

The blue city of Chefchaouen in Morocco

Streets of Chefchaouen

One is that Andalusian Jews who fled Spain in 1492 began to paint their homes blue, a color similar to the sky. And then this tradition just continued. And the other story is that the citizens themselves, who over the years have received waves of refugees, painted their buildings blue, as a symbol of peace and tolerance. In any case, the city of Chefchaouen now welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists precisely because of its unusual color and architecture, and we were no exception either.

Ziz River.

Another picturesque place for walks and photos . We found it quite by chance, just driving on the road and saw the observation deck. Decided to stop by and was not mistaken! The view from the top of the river Ziz is breathtaking!

View of the river Ziz from above

River Ziz

Ifran Alpine village

While most foreign tourists are interested in seeing the dunes of the Sahara Desert or getting lost in the medinas of the cities, Moroccans take their vacations in this quaint village and call it the “Switzerland of Africa”.

The Alpine village of Ifrane

This is what Ifrane looks like in winter

Ifrane is located in the Middle Atlas of Morocco at an altitude of 1713 meters above sea level. The city really resembles Europe, and all because it was built by the French. Ifrane is considered the best ski resort in Morocco, where local and tourists from other countries love to relax.

Todra Gorge

A famous attraction in Morocco, the Todra Canyon is located in the eastern part of the country in the High Atlas Mountains. The closest town to it is Tinghir, where you can also stay. The canyon is about 40 km long, but the most beautiful part of the gorge is the final 600 meters. The areas around the canyon belong to Berber tribes, who transport something on donkeys all day, live their lives, and sell souvenirs to tourists in their tents.

Todra Gorge in Morocco

The road through the gorge.

In many places the walls are up to 400 meters high, so the Todra Gorge is very popular among climbers. Here you can stay overnight in hotels 2-3 stars. If you do not plan to spend the night, you can at least have a snack. To visit the canyon is better in the morning, when the sun shines on the slopes of one of the walls of the gorge. In the evening, as soon as the sun begins to hide behind the rocks, it quickly gets cold.

Merzuga and Erg Shebbi

If one of the goals of your trip was to see the Sahara Desert, this is your destination. Merzouga is right on the border where the desert begins. It is about 500 km from Fez. Merzouga is hot, dusty and crowded. This is also the starting point for all camel and jeep tours, as well as for overnight stays of many travelers who cross the Sahara by car or motorcycle on their own.

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The Sahara Desert, Erg Chebbi

The desert is particularly beautiful at sunset

Erg Chebbi is a beautiful desert that changes shape every day because of the wind. The dunes can be as much as 150 meters high. It is especially beautiful during sunset.

We were going to stay overnight in tents in the desert, so we parked our car in Merzug, waited for the camels, and went to look at the endless sands when the sun was already setting.

Camel Riding in Morocco

The camels to the campsite in the Sahara

Sahara Desert.

The best part of traveling in Morocco would be an overnight stay in the desert! Have you ever spent a night in the Sahara desert? And with all the amenities! This word alone reminds me of school geography textbooks or the Aladdin story. It’s probably just impossible to describe in words, the excitement is off the scale! Dinner, dancing around the campfire and amazingly starry sky. This is the best experience that we took away from Morocco and recommend to try it all!

Camping in the Sahara desert

Our campsite in the desert

Everything is really well organized: very comfortable tents with hot water and toilets, great dinner and breakfast, surfboards to ride the dunes, and good company.

Riding Camels in the Sahara Desert

The campsite is about an hour’s walk away.

You can either get there by camel or jeep – the choice is yours. Or you can go there by camels, and back by jeeps with music through the dunes! To be honest we even liked it better by cars, but it depends on your driver if he wants to drive you around “with a breeze”.

Sandboarding in the Sahara Desert in Morocco

You can get sandbords at the campsite.

There are a lot of offers and different companies who organize such overnight stays, but don’t skimp. Be sure to read the reviews and choose the best option. A deluxe tent with dinner and breakfast will cost you about $120 for two people. There are options for $20 as well, but with “backyard amenities” so to speak – the experience won’t be the same.

Camping in the Sahara desert

Tent Inside, Camping in the Sahara

Trekking in the Atlas Mountains

If you love hiking, Morocco has a lot to offer! The Atlas Mountains are an important attraction, and they are endless. There are a huge number of hiking trails, from short trails to multi-day trails.

The Atlas Mountains in Morocco

The Mid-Atlas Mountains.

Our favorite part was in the High Atlas where we stayed overnight with a local Berber family. They gave us some picturesque places to spend the day.

Berber tribes in the High Atlas Mountains

The Berber tribes living in the High Atlas

Meknes

Meknes is one of the imperial cities of Morocco, located in the north of the country, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site . The city is often called the “Moroccan Versailles”. And there is much to see as well as to buy as a souvenir. Magnificent mosques and palaces, the Bab-El-Mansour Gate as well as many other attractions await you in Meknes.

Bab el-Mansour Gate in the city

Bab-El-Mansour Gate

The city is divided into two parts: the old medina and the new part. In our opinion the old town is much more interesting, so here we stayed for the night in a beautiful riad (guesthouse). In Meknes a lot of cafes and restaurants where you can find not only the traditional Moroccan cuisine, but also European food.

In the old town you are sure to find Berber silver, handmade carpets, as well as clothes and shoes. Be sure to haggle if you want to buy something – it’s a custom here!

Magoth monkeys in cedar forests

Not far from the town of Ifrane in the Middle Atlas there are cedar forests. Berber monkeys (or tailless macaques or magots) live there. So this is the only macaque that does not live in Asia.

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Magot monkey, the tailless macaque

The magot is a tailless macaque.

We just drove to this forest, left the car in the parking lot and went for a walk. We were lucky and there were no other tourists. So we had plenty of time to see whole families of macaques. They did not ask for food from us, and generally kept their distance. The forest itself is also very beautiful, and if you go in winter, you will find snow here.

Ait Ben Haddou and Ouarzazate

Would you like to be on the set of movies like The Mummy, Gladiator or Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time? All of these pictures and more were filmed in Ait-Ben Haddou. The city of Ouarzazate is home to the famous Atlas Film Studio.

Ait Ben Haddou Village in Morocco

The famous fortified village of Ait-Ben-Haddou

The town or rather the fortified village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is on the left bank of the Ouarzazate River, which rises in the High Atlas and then loses itself in the sands of the Sahara Desert. In ancient times the caravan road used to pass here and weary travelers stopped there like in an oasis.

Nowadays the village attracts tourists with its unusual multi-tiered architecture and red-clay buildings. The narrow streets here are like a labyrinth. The town is open to visitors at any time.

Draa Valley

The Draa is the longest river in Morocco, it stretches from Ouarzazate to Zagora, also called the “gate of the desert”. The Draa valley is a very picturesque place, because here, in addition to the lush vegetation of the oasis there are traditional Berber villages.

Draa Valley and Oasis

Oasis in the Draa valley

The land is very fertile, so traditionally people grow vegetables, fruits and henna on the farm terraces. The most beautiful part of the Draa valley is about in the middle. The upper part is too mountainous, while the latter is almost dry. If you are driving from Marrakech toward the Sahara Desert, the Draa River Valley is right on the way. Do not miss this beauty!

Marrakech

To pass by this city is to miss a large part of Moroccan culture . The city attracts crowds of tourists not only with its mosques, cathedrals and gardens, but also with another attraction, the central square of Djem El Fna. It’s always noisy and crowded – street vendors and artists, acrobats and dancers, fortune tellers and stalls with street food – a very unusual atmosphere!

Market in the central square in Marrakech

Market in Marrakech

Marrakech is worth at least a day to see the main sights. There is a wide variety of hotels and riads for all tastes, and a huge number of restaurants, cafes and food stalls where you can try traditional Moroccan food.

Casablanca

This is the largest and most populous city in Morocco, located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The main attraction in Casablanca is the Mosque of Hassan II. It is the largest mosque in Morocco and one of the largest in the world. Its construction involved 2,500 builders and 10,000 artists and decorators.

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

The mosque of Hassan II

Casablanca itself is the economic capital of Morocco and has a business center with skyscrapers and is reminiscent of European cities. Despite the influence of technology, the city has kept its traditions and annually attracts not only businessmen but also tourists from all over the world.

In Morocco, it is impossible to cover everything you want in two weeks. We would have a rough itinerary of what we wanted to visit. In practice, however, we stopped constantly to see and photograph something! There are sights at every turn, from beautiful architecture and unusual ancient villages, to stunning canyons and mountains! This is a country where we will definitely go back…and more than once.

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