So close to Europe but also so exotic, Morocco has beautiful landscapes and can be visited almost year round. The Atlas Mountains offer excellent walking, there are fairy-like kasbahs on the edge of the Sahara Desert and the walled coastal city of Essaouira has fine beaches and boutique hotels. The highlight though is still Marrakech, a brilliant place to explore – the Djem-el-fna square at night is simply magical
Marrakech is a brilliant place to explore – possibly for a long weekend – where you will never forget the first time you experience the drums and cooking fires of the Djem-el-fna square at night. The myriad of streets in the vast souks and sights and smells shout out exotic. In Spring the glorious snow-capped Atlas mountains form a dramatic backdrop and at just over three hours flight away it is so accessible. The other great Imperial Cities of Fez and Meknes are in some ways even more real, having fewer visitors, and they have more classic sights.
What is a riad and what’s the fuss about? Quite simply a riad is a Moroccan term for traditional house in one of the medinas (town/city centres). For visitors they mean in practice a carefully designed and wonderfully tranquil environment, hidden away from the streets outside. There are likely to be courtyards, galleries, fountains, Moroccan handcrafts, perhaps a pool and/or hamman and perhaps a roof terrace. They are a beautiful oasis to stay in and are also likely to be a real highlight of your trip to Morocco.
Mountains and Sahara
The Atlas Mountains stretch in 3 chains across Morocco and to explore the country you should, and need to, cross into or over them. There are stunning landscapes, dramatic mountain passes and many hospitable, predominantly Berber, villages. There is plenty of excellent walking and it is possible to climb the highest mountain on North Africa, Mt Toubkal (4,167m) – even in a weekend if you wish. South of the High Atlas are enigmatic kasbahs, fortified villages, and various valleys that lead you towards the great sand seas of the Sahara Desert. Camp in the desert or try out one of the kasbahs that has been converted into a boutique hotel!
Essaouira and the Coast
Essaouira is one of Morocco’s most picturesque towns with it’s fortified walls jutting out into the Atlantic. This bohemian town with enormous beach and lively fish market is a perfect seaside escape and watching sunset from a roof top café a joy. There are coastal options further north, and along the Mediterranean close to Tangiers there are also excellent new options, although the other best known beach resort is Agadir in the south. Here it averages 70c in December, has direct UK flights and plenty of kasbahs and adventures inland for those looking for activities.
- Morocco can easily be visited as a long weekend or short week. With the wealth of flights Marrakech is the easiest however Essaouira, Fez and Tangier also are worth considering.
- Watch the date of Ramadan – some Islamic countries will be stricter on their restrictions than others. In all cases you will need to avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public places. If that is the only time you can go then speak to us first
- 2020 – late April to late May
- 2021 – mid April to mid May
- When going to Marrakech there is often a big debate about staying in the Medina or outside – ask us for advice and suggestions.
- Morocco can be cold in winter, particularly in the Atlas Mountains and the North.
- The Djem el Fnaa in Marrakech and the endless souqs there and in Fez
- A beautiful, romantic, riad hotel with peaceful courtyards and fountains
- Mint tea in a Kasbah on the edge of the Sahara Desert
- The Sahara
- Spending an evening relaxing on a rooftop cafe by the sea in Essaouira
- Climbing Mt Toubkal – the highest peak in North Africa
- Visa Required: no
- Population: 33 million
- Capital City: Rabat
- Currency: Moroccan Dirham
- Classic Dishes: Couscous, Tajiine & pastilla
- Cost of Local Tipple: Mint tea (<50p)
- March to May and September to November.