Morocco is a popular travel destination in large part because of its unique culture. It's an Arabic country in North Africa that is easily reachable from mainland Europe. Ferries connect Spain to Morocco, and more recently, discount flights offer cheap airfare from the United Kingdom and elsewhere around Europe. With its easy accessibility, this country sees its fair share of tourists, but it's still not hard to find places that remain untouched by the tourist dollar.
You'll find a wonderful mix of history, culture, nature, and of course food in the area. You can get lost in the medina's of Fez or Marrakesh. They're filled with stalls that sell anything from produce to artwork. You can make a reservation in a room in a historic riad. These traditional buildings have lovely courtyards and gardens so you feel like you've stepped into paradise. Or you could take a camel trek in the Sahara. The stars will fill the sky and the sand dunes go on forever. After days on a trek you'll deserve a few days of relaxation on a beach in Essaouira. The diversity and rich culture throughout the country make it a must see for many travelers.
The area's diversity is a large part of its appeal, but this also makes it hard to see everything in a short visit. It's important to prioritize what you want to see and not try to do too much. If you're short on time, pick only a few sights and take the time to fully experience them. If you find yourself too rushed you're less likely to completely enjoy anything.
Morocco remains a budget travel destination, despite its rise in popularity. There are hotels everywhere and competition keeps prices low. Food is also very reasonably priced and street food offers a great sampling of traditional dishes at a cheap price. If you're on a particularly tight budget, head to the country during the winter months when the crowds are at their thinnest and the prices are the lowest. This is also the best time to visit if you're hoping to avoid the touts.
At A Glance
- Public transportation is very good in Morocco. In most major cities there is a bus station with an indoor area where you can purchase your tickets from official windows. Go directly to your window of choice and do not give your money to anybody outside of the bus station. Touts linger around the buses and carry luggage, purchase tickets or assist foreigners for tips. In some cases they can be a little overly aggressive but generally they are harmless.
- Fresh produce is excellent throughout the country. If you have access to a kitchen, head to the market and pick up some vegetables, spices, and a little meat. You can try your hand at making your own Moroccan feast. Although it may not be exactly what you find in the restaurants, it's still a fun experience.
- This is a very diverse country. It is almost impossible to see everything on one trip. Instead, pick one area or a few highlights and spend the majority of your time at these locations. You'll be able to fully experience a small part of the country and your trip will be more rewarding for the experience.
- Visit this country during the shoulder season. Unless you plan to swim at the beaches, there's no need to be in the country when the weather is hot. The crowds will be less and you'll save a lot of money if you're in town during the late fall or winter months.
- There is no shortage of touts in most tourist destinations. If you're exploring a medina, go past the main entrance to the deeper and more authentic areas. You'll get better deals and have a more peaceful and interesting experience. You'll also see where the locals shop and get away from the majority of the hotels and tourist restaurants.
Top Tourist Attractions
Todra Gorge: Located on the eastern side of the High Atlas Mountains, this is a beautiful canyon that is carved into the mountainside. It's near the town of Tinerhir and has dramatically steep cliffs that are set amongst desert and mountain scenery.
Erg Chebbi: These are stunning sand dunes in the Sahara desert that catch the light perfectly. They are most beautiful as the sun rises or sets when the light is the most dramatic and the colors and strikingly bold.
Fez Medina: This is one of the largest and most elaborate medinas in the country. It's also one of the most traditional with its narrow walkways, stalls of spices, and merchants carrying their goods on the backs of donkeys.
Moroccan cuisine uses rich flavors, fresh ingredients, and slow cooking techniques to make absolutely delicious dishes. Many of the dishes are slow cooked into stew like meals that are served with a side of bread or couscous. Mint tea is a popular drink that accompanies many meals. You'll find delicious restaurants throughout the country and you generally won't have problems finding a dish that you like.
Tagine: Moroccan tagine is a stew like dish that is slow cooked for hours. It's usually made with either lamb or chicken and is marinated with flavorful herbs and spices. It often includes olives, lemons, prunes, or apricots and is served with a side of Moroccan style bread which you can use to sop up the sauce.
Couscous: Couscous is a common grain dish topped with a meat such as chicken and rich spices. There's usually a liquid broth sauce that accompanies it. This is probably the second most popular dish in the area after tagine.
Pastilla: This is a traditional meat pastry dish that is similar to a pie but is instead filled with chicken and spices. It's often seasoned with cinnamon and powdered sugar. It's a very unique combination of sweet and savory flavors and is often served as an appetizer. Despite it's unusual combination, it is quite good and well worth a try.