Discover All the Hidden Gems of Morocco
Morocco, the captivating North African gem, has long been a dream destination for travellers seeking to experience a rich blend of culture, history, and natural beauty.
After exploring Morocco on a National Geographic Journey, I can attest that this is an incredibly diverse country. From the endless expanses of Saharan sand dunes, to towering skyscrapers, there is a world of adventure beyond the markets of Marrakesh’s medinas.
5 Incredibly Unique Places in Morocco:
1. Casablanca – the Modern Face of Morocco
As Morocco’s most populous city, Casablanca serves as the nation’s economic hub and is home to a population of three million. The city has transformed from its traditional narrow streets to a skyline dominated by soaring skyscrapers, leaving me in awe of the modern face of Morocco.
A visit to Casablanca would be incomplete without experiencing the grandeur of Hassan II Mosque. It is one of the two mosques in Morocco that welcomes non-Muslim visitors, making it a must-see attraction in Morocco.
Situated along the coastline, this renowned mosque is among the world’s largest, boasting the second-highest minaret. Its impressive size and stunning architecture make it one of the best things to see in Casablanca.
Where to stay in Casablanca: Art Palace Suites & Spa – this is where we stayed. The gorgeous suites, Moroccan hamman, and traditional dishes served were to die for (I highly recommend getting a tagine here).
Top Tip: Getting Around Morocco
Be prepared to use a map or a phone with data to get around – I always use Airalo e-sims, which offer a variety of data packages to help make your travels as easy as possible.
Morocco travel tip: It’s not uncommon to encounter locals on the street offering directions and then asking for money in return, so simply politely decline and move along!
If you’re planning to explore Morocco in depth, train travel is a great option and can easily be booked with Omio (super handy travel app I use all the time, as it lets you compare and book trains, busses and flights). If you have the luxury of time, I strongly encourage delving into the various regions to visit all of the top attractions in Morocco.
2. Fez – Morocco’s Cultural Capital
Embark on a journey through history by doing a walking tour of Fez, with the medina being a quaint World Heritage site that dates back to the 9th century. Top tip: Make sure you book a guided tour as the winding alleyways here make it extremely easy to lose your way, and waste the day!
As you navigate around Morocco’s cultural capital, you’ll be captivated by the stunning visuals, from vibrant heaps of spices to brightly coloured ceramics.
For me, the most fascinating thing to do in Fez is visiting Chouara Tannery, where renowned tanners employ age-old techniques to treat and dye leather. It’s perfect for getting some Insta-worthy shots!
Also, another amazing thing to do in Fez is visiting the awe-inspiring Madrasa al-Attarine, which is an exquisite example of elaborate Islamic architecture.
Where to stay in Fez: Royal Mirage – this hotel had one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever stayed in and its location is ideal – right within the heart of Fez.
3. Merzouga – the Enchanting Gateway to the Sahara
Nestled at the edge of the Sahara Desert lies the stunning oasis town of Merzouga. This enchanting Moroccan destination is a hidden gem, often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts. But make no mistake—Merzouga is a must-visit for any traveler seeking to experience the magic of the Sahara.
While you’re here, be sure to check out the spectacular Erg Chebbi Dunes. These majestic golden sand dunes stretch for miles, with their ever-changing shapes and heights reaching up to 150 meters.
A camel trek across the dunes during sunrise or sunset is an unforgettable experience in Merzouga, as the sun paints the sands in a breathtaking array of colours. After doing this myself, I guarantee it’ll take your breath away.
Where to stay in Merzouga: Riad Les jardins de Merzouga – a gorgeous hotel built in a traditional Moroccan style, with the warmest and most attentive staff you could ever wish to meet, as well as the best desert views.
4. Dades Gorge – a Stunning Natural Wonder
For adventure-seekers looking to marvel at incredible landscapes and experience genuine Berber culture, look no further than the Dadès Gorge, which is an absolute must-visit destination in Morocco.
The gorge, in fact, comprises multiple separate gorges created by the Dades River’s flow, and it is accessible through a local road called the ‘Road of a Thousand Kasbahs.’ Those navigating its winding turns will encounter awe-inspiring rock formations in shades varying from beige and tan to golden, rust red, and muted mauve.
Overlooking the valley, the historical kasbahs and ksour (fortified villages) of the Berber people stand tall, as the river sustains the lush palm and almond tree groves below. Some of these villages are still inhabited by locals, while many kasbahs have been transformed into boutique hotels catering to adventurers.
Where to stay in Dades Gorge: Hotel Xaluca Dades – this luxury hotel is perfectly located in the heart of the Dades Gorge, all rooms have an amazing view of the Valley and the spa here is incredible.
5. Aït Ben Haddou – Land of the Kasbahs
Explore the enchanting, winding pathways of Aït Ben Haddou, a historic fortified village and UNESCO World Heritage site that should undoubtedly be on every traveler’s bucket list!
This ancient UNESCO World Heritage site boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, and a unique cultural experience that will leaves you mesmerised.
As you stroll through the winding lanes of Aït Ben Haddou, you’ll be transported to a bygone era. The iconic red mud-brick buildings, with their intricate designs, showcase the remarkable architectural prowess of the Amazigh people. Each structure is a testament to the centuries-old traditions that have been preserved and passed down through generations.
One of the many reasons to visit Aït Ben Haddou is its prominence in the film industry. This picturesque village has served as a backdrop for several iconic films and TV series, including ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Gladiator,‘ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ So if you’re a movie buff you will love this cinematic gem!
The village’s charm is further amplified by the warm and hospitable nature of its residents. As you delve into the hidden corners of Aït Ben Haddou, don’t be surprised if you’re invited for a cup of traditional Moroccan mint tea or a home-cooked meal, offering an authentic glimpse into the local culture and way of life.
Where to stay in Aït Ben Haddou: Berbere Palace – celebrity treatment with world-class service! Truly one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed at – I’m already planning my return.
Is Morocco Safe?
While safety is always a top concern when planning a trip to North Africa, fear not, Morocco is actually one of the safest destinations in the region.
Over the years, the Moroccan government has made significant strides in enhancing security for both locals and visitors. From the bustling city centres to the picturesque countryside, you’ll find a robust police presence and diligent security measures in place. Even in the most touristic areas, you’ll notice the reassuring presence of uniformed and plainclothes officers.
Morocco’s warm and welcoming locals also play a vital role in the country’s overall safety. The Moroccan people are known for their friendly demeanour and genuine hospitality. The spirit of community and camaraderie here is truly palpable, with locals often looking out for one another as well as tourists.
That being said, it is always essential to exercise common sense and maintain situational awareness, just as you would in any destination.
Petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, especially in crowded areas. Taking simple precautions such as keeping your belongings secure and not flaunting valuables can help to mitigate the risk.
For solo travellers, particularly women, I would be mindful of cultural norms and dress modestly to respect local customs and avoid unwanted attention.
What to eat in Morocco
Moroccan cuisine is known for its rich and flavourful dishes, often featuring a mix of savoury and sweet flavours, aromatic spices, and fresh herbs. Some typical and extremely delicious Moroccan dishes include:
- Tagine: a delicious slow-cooked stew made with meat (often lamb or chicken), vegetables, and spices, served in a traditional clay pot called a tagine.
- Couscous: a dish made with steamed semolina grains and served with vegetables, meat or fish, and a flavourful sauce.
- Harira: a hearty soup made with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, and spices, often served during Ramadan.
- Pastilla: a sweet and savoury pastry made with layers of thin pastry dough, chicken or pigeon meat, almonds, and spices, dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
- Mechoui: roasted lamb, traditionally cooked in a pit in the ground and served with bread and mint tea.
Best Time to Visit Morocco
While Morocco is a stunning destination that can be visited year-round, the best times to visit Morocco will depend on what you’re looking for.
If you’re seeking sunshine and warmth, the summer months of June to August are a popular time to visit. However, we went in July and I will say this – be well prepared for crowded tourist areas and high temperatures!
For milder weather and smaller crowds, the months of April to May and September to November are ideal. These months offer pleasant temperatures, colourful festivals, and a chance to experience Morocco’s beautiful landscapes without the crowds.
Winter is also a great time to visit Morocco, especially for those looking for a skiing holiday in the Atlas Mountains.
Overall, whether you’re looking for a beach vacation, a cultural experience, or a ski adventure, there’s no wrong time to visit Morocco – just be sure to pick the time that suits your interests and needs the best.
To sum up, Morocco is a country that is full of surprises and has a lot to offer beyond Marrakech.
While Marrakech is undoubtedly an amazing city to visit (you can read my travel guide here), there are many other places in this fascinating country that are well worth exploring.
From the rugged terrain of the Atlas Mountains to the vibrant city of Casablanca, there is an abundance of unique things to see and do in Morocco.
Whether you want to immerse yourself in the local Berber culture, savour traditional Moroccan cuisine, or simply admire the natural beauty of the country, there is something for everyone.
So, instead of limiting yourself to just one city, take the time to discover all the wonders of Morocco and experience the magic and diversity of this magnificent country.
Find Discounted Tours in Morocco:
Best Morocco Travel Insurance
Obtaining global travel medical insurance is an absolute necessity when moving to or visiting any foreign country. This became extremely apparent after my partner nearly died in a motorcycle accident in Bali, and his medical bills ended up totalling over £10,000 (luckily he was insured!)
So, if you’re traveling around Morocco, I highly recommend getting travel medical coverage. Nomad Insurance with SafetyWing is probably your best bet, as it covers emergency medical evacuation and bedside visits, starting at just $42 per 4 weeks. While I hope you never have to use it, it’s there in case of emergencies that can seriously rack up expenses.
This is particularly important for Morocco, as the costs of healthcare here can be high, particularly if you require emergency medical attention or evacuation.
One of my favourite features of SafetyWing Insurance is that you can use it as a subscription service, meaning you don’t have to pay for the whole year upfront. Instead, you’re charged every 28 days, until you cancel (for for a maximum of 364 days), which gives you the ultimate level of flexibility.
Another massive benefit of SafetyWing is that there’s no limit on travel duration, so you don’t need a return date (and a return ticket) in order to activate your insurance. So in my opinion, it’s the perfect safety net for anyone on the move!
Check SafetyWing Insurance out for yourself here:
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