Morocco is only a few hours away from many major European cities, and visitors will be amazed by the wonderful colors, smells, and sounds of Islamic Africa. Imagine bustling souks and spice markets, stunning mosques, whitewashed seaside towns and medieval city centres. From the snowy mountains of the High Atlas to the seemingly endless sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, no one will ever feel bored in this beautiful country.
Film-famous Casablanca is perhaps the most famous of all Moroccan cities and is home to the huge Hassan II Mosque, the second largest mosque in the world, surpassed only by the Great Mosque in Mecca. While many travelers quickly leave this bustling and modernist metropolis in pursuit of a more conventional Moroccan experience, you can still spend some truly worthwhile time admiring the impressive colonial, Hispano-Moorish, and Art Deco architecture of the city center. Marrakech, known as the “Red City” and probably the most prominent former imperial capital, will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. While there, take a stroll through the lively souks, spend some time admiring the ancient city gates and walls, visit the Saadian tombs and the ruins of El Badi Palace, or spend some of your time visiting the Koutoubia Mosque featuring a 12th century minaret. When evening falls, however, be sure to return to the Jamaa el-Fnaa, Africa’s largest square, as it fills with steaming food stalls. Take in the hustle and bustle there, listen to Arab storytellers, watch magicians and chleuh dancers. Fes, once the capital of Morocco, is another magnificent imperial city. Get lost in the beautiful maze of narrow medieval streets, enjoy the huge medina, see the beautiful city gates, the old university of Al-Karaouine and the Bou Inania Madrasa. Also be sure to visit a traditional leather tannery. The city of Meknes is often called the “Versailles of Morocco” because of its beauty. Its beautiful Spanish-Moorish style centre is surrounded by high city walls with impressive gates, and you will still be able to see the mixture of European and Islamic culture from the 17th century.
For a more relaxed experience of life in the medina, catch the sea breeze in the coastal towns of Asilah or beautiful Essaouira. The blue-washed town of Chefchaouen is an old traveller favourite and a great base to explore the Rif Mountains. More stunning mountain scenery can be found in the Atlas Mountains. Climb Jebel Toubkal in the High Atlas, the highest peak in North Africa, past pretty mud-brick villages and explore the beautiful Ourika and Amizmiz valleys along the way. The stunning panoramic views from the summit are worth every effort to get there. Other praised hiking routes take you through the beautiful Ameln Valley in the Anti-Atlas and the forests of the Middle Atlas. Hop on a camel and take a trip through the golden sand dunes of the Sahara at Erg Chebbi near Merzouga. Spend the night in a desert tent, under the incredible starry sky. A little less easy to reach, but also less crowded, are the dunes of Erg Chigaga near M’hamid. On your way into the desert, don’t miss the breathtaking Todra Gorge near Tinghir. The old fortified town of Aït-Benhaddou is another must-see attraction. Although rainstorms keep damaging the mud-brick kasbahs, this mostly abandoned village remains an impressive sight and has served as a backdrop for a number of films, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.