You ever wondered what Morocco means? The Yorubas definitely have a different interpretation of this word by merely pronouncing it Mo ro ko! (Now that was on a lighter note) In the real sense, the name “Morocco” conjures up images of large portions of deserts, fascinating coastlines, rugged mountains and rocks. But that is just a tip of the larger iceberg.
Seated between two major oceans – the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean which cuts through the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco offers travellers a peep into some of the carefully preserved vestiges of the North African civilisation.
If you desire the truly perfect vacation that offers both adventure and magic, a trip to the undulating ambience of Morocco should be on your list. From cultural masterpieces spanning centuries to social thrills, Morocco offers all the excitements in one basket.
But where exactly in Morocco are you likely to ask for an encore as a first-timer? In no particular order, here are five top must-see places in Morocco:
First, consider Fez, a major city regarded as the largest medieval Islāmic city in the world. You will savour the car-free urban ambience with hordes of donkeys trekking to tanneries in the leather district. You are likely to find a young man here willing to guide you through the colourful leather-dying pits, all for free. But it won’t hurt either to squeeze some 5-Dirharms into his hands.
Here, you also find the world’s oldest university, the Qarawiyyin. A trip in the Medina is breath-taking. You are likely to be overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and smells of market bursting at the seams, the thrills of Berber Pharmacy, Quatier des tanneurs, Andalusian palaces and gardens, and the Medina Cuisine classes that offer ingredient tours.
And there’s more. Consider the magnificent 14th Century religious college known as Bou Inania Madersa carved with Arabic calligraphy and geometric shapes. A hilly-view of the old city is spectacular with two fortresses overlooking the city – the Borj Nord and Borj Sud. It is not surprising why it is referred to as the country’s cultural city.
If you love to explore new things – from the wonder of snake charmers to the sublime road-trip scenery of Tizi-n’Test Pass, Marrakech offers a total experience that naturally prompts a comeback.
In case you ever visited Dubai and on your list of fun things to do shopping at the Souk was one of them? then you’d love the Marrakech. The city of Marrakech sums up the colourful splendour of the country’s allure. Upon arrival, smooth scammers and snake charmers compete for your attention amidst the bustle of the city. Whether you love bargain hunting in the swarm of shops and souks spread across the city, Marrakech offers myriads of shopping opportunities. For foot wears, the Babouche Souk offers tastefully made shoes that would serve as a reminder of your visit for years to come. Or if all that excite you are assortments of perfumes and spices, a stop-over at the El-Attarine Souk will do the magic.
Yet, it’s not all about adventure. If a serene atmosphere is all that matters to you, the Manara Gardens tucked away in the inner-city of Marrakech offers you a simmer of peace and quiet. Or you could simply straddle a horse and delve into the natural lush of the Toubkal National Park. Here, climbing the 4,167m Toubkal Djebel Mountain while riding atop the horse is an interesting idea. There are cheap and amazing hotels here as part of packages specially designed to make your stay in Marrakech memorable.
Essaouira may not come across as a big city but it sure offers some of the most memorable relaxation experiences to tourists. When the pressure of work chokes you in the throat and you need that quiet get-away, this city should top the chart of your tour options.
Just like other cities in Morocco, Essaouira is a walled metropolis dotted by impressive ramparts on the cliffs. At sunset, strolling along the ramparts is a thrill for both tourists and locals.
Situated along the Atlantic Coast, the water is quite cold and not ideal for swimming. You might just sit and relish the sight of daring folks kite surfing if you are not brave enough to plunge into the surfboards.
At the Hammans, traditional Moroccan sunbath is on offer. A scrub down with a traditional soap is always a great delight.
If you are lucky to visit Essaouira around June, the annual Gnaoua World Music Festival would invoke memories of slave trade in Africa – with clairvoyants, master musicians, metal castanet players and sorcerers and their followers alike.
#4. Dades Valley
Three colours will remain unforgettable as you pick your way through this valley: white, red and green. Your imagination comes alive as you journey through bending roads and villages divided by a swirl of mountains and fresh water.
The more you go on the roads, the more you come in close contact with nature at its exciting best. As you leave Boumaln du Dades, the mountains close up on both sides of you before it opens again.
At some point, the valley forms into strange structures that are delightful to watch. Here, you find fortified ksours along the road that have been transformed into dwelling places.
At Aït Oudinar, which is an hour away from Boumaln du Dades, the valley transforms to a gorge while the stones and mountains lose their red colours. You can make a stop-over here in some of the mini-cafe and hotels. Most tourists embark on this trek to witness Msemrir, a commune in the Ouarzazate Province.
So, if you are keen about nature, fresh rivers, serpentine roads, red soil and mountain coils and breathtaking views of gorges, make sure you add Dades Valley to your itinerary the next time you visit Morocco.
If your soul comes alive at the sight of beautiful beaches, nicely cobbled streets and fascinating courtyards and memorable sceneries, Asilah has all the answers. Just like other Moroccan cities, Asilah has an old part of town known as medina. It seats atop cliffs just above the ocean.
Mind you, Asilah is not all ancient, as you might think. It has a new town with modern facilities like banks, ATMs, cafe and bus station to make sure you enjoy your tour. You’ll find busy shopping centres and just like in Marrakech, you need great bargaining skills here.
For many years, the city has attracted many renowned artists. And so, brilliant paintings are some of the features that reverberate throughout the city. As you stroll past the ramparts, you can pull out your phone and snap a great picture that captivates the eyes.
Click here to plan your next vacation to Morocco