Morocco is definitely a place worth returning to. It's like a basket that has something for everyone — the mysterious history of sultans, novel experiences due to its multicultural influences, outdoor adventures from the sea to the mountains, as well as relaxing activities.
The most charming part of Tannery Chouara is the colorful round and square tanning and dying vats. Here, you can witness the memorable sight of workers walking skillfully over the slippery edges of the vats to stir in the dye with their body. The upper floors of the tall buildings around offer good spots for a bird's eye view and taking pictures.
The leather products of Morocco contribute to their export business every year, and the ancient technique of tanning still holds fascination for travelers. There are tanneries in other cities as well, like Marrakech, but Tannery Chouara in Fez is the most recommended one. It is the largest one in Fez since the inception of the city and has now become an iconic site.
2.Jemaa El-Fnaa Public Plaza
This UNESCO site in Marrakech is the most famous plaza in Morocco. Despite its modernization on the outside, the old Arabic style remains. Antique businesses like snake charming, monkey performing, tooth pulling, fortune telling, Gnawa dancing, etc. will entertain you, especially after sunset.
There's no party without food! Barbecues, Moroccan tajines, and fruit juices are available all around, and the smells will tease your taste buds. It would be a great idea to have dinner at the plaza around sunset or just sit in a cafe with a good view.
3.Hassan II Mosque
This is the third-largest mosque in the world and the only one where one-third extends into the sea. Casablanca features some of the best modernized Islamic architecture, and Hassan II is the most iconic example of this. About USD 500 million and 6 years were put into this mosque, which has more to it than its magnificent looks. The money and time were also spent on ingenuity: the 60-meter high roof can be opened in 5 minutes, the marble floor can be heated automatically, and the 25 auto-doors stay stainless in front of seawater, etc. This modern marvel will wow you.
4.The Blue of Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is one of the world's three blue cities and, thus, a popular spot for photography. The blue color that will fill your screen if you search online for Chefchaouen is magical and relaxing in real life, when you immerse yourself in this fairy-tale town.
Inside the blue alleys and corners, enjoy taking photographs, posing, and collecting souvenirs. Walk for about 45 minutes to the Spanish Mosque to enjoy a panoramic view of the whole blue city encircled by the mountains.
5.Medina and Souks in Fez and Marrakech
"Medina" and "souks" mean "old city area" and "outdoor markets" in Moroccan. These are unquestionably the must-see places where daily life follows ancient customs. The typical medinas and souks can be found in cities like Casablanca, Meknes, and Rabat, but the ones in Fez and Marrakech are most recommended.
The medina of Fez is the oldest and dates back to the 8th century (the others started in around the 17th century). It is also the biggest, with about 4,900 alleys and hosts 80,000 residents inside. Marrakech has the most famous public plaza (Jemaa El-Fnas Public Plaza) and the largest souk of Morocco inside of its medina.
6.Stay overnight in the Sahara Desert
The sand of the Sahara is red, soft, and boundless; the sand dunes or sand mountains roll and change their shades and appearances according to the angle of sunlight. Staying overnight in the wild desert will be a once in a lifetime experience for most people.
After travelling for about 3–5 minutes from Merzouga — the small town close to the desert — take a 45-minute to 1-hour camel ride until you reach the base camp in the middle of the sand kingdom. Light up a bonfire, dance around it with bare feet, share stories with newly met friends, or just enjoy a few peaceful moments under the stars. These are moments that are sure to be remembered.
7.Authentic Local Food Tasting
In Morocco, tajine — a special tent-shaped pot in which a mixture of foods is cooked— can be seen on practically every menu, and different cities and restaurants have their own ways of cooking tajine. So, it's not a bad idea to try tajine several times in different places! However, Moroccan cuisine contains far more than just tajine. Medinas are usually the best places to discover local food.
The medina in Fez is the most recommended. You will spot people using stone ovens, frying pans, and unique equipment like a helmet while cooking different kinds of breads and cookies. The combination of bread and local creamy bean soup makes a fine breakfast. Diverse honeys, cheeses, fruits, and dates can be tasted here.
Don't be shocked if you encounter a camel butcher with a camel head hanging in front of his shop in Fez's medina, as it's a common practice for Moroccans to eat all parts of the camel, including the back fat. A cup of herb tea brewed with all kinds of herbs may change your idea of herbal tea, and will help you refresh yourself after indulging in heavy food.
8.al-Qarawiyyin University and Madrasa Bou Inania
The University of al-Qarawiyyin is the oldest continuously operating and degree-granting university in the world. Located in the medina of Fez, the Moroccan religious and cultural center, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter. However, seeing its exquisite courtyard from the wide-open front gate is still satisfying.
Madrasa Bou Inania also stands inside the Fez medina and is the best site to admire the architecture of Muslim educational institutes in Morocco. Sultan Abu Inan spent massive amounts of money on its construction and it is remarkably well-preserved. Most pleasingly, it is open to non-Muslims.
9.Learn to Cook Local Dishes
Learning to cook local dishes is a terrific way to experience the local culture. In Morocco, besides the tajine, varied dishes like couscous, bissara, harira, tangia, r'fissa, Moroccan salad, mechoui, and many others are worth trying. Many restaurants and hotels provide cooking classes if you are interested.
10.Majorelle Garden and YSL
When talking about the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, the story related to Yves Saint-Laurent cannot be ignored. The efforts of Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner are the main reason why Majorelle Garden was opened to the public and became an Instagram hot spot.
This artistic landscape garden was a 40-year endeavor of its former owner — French artist Jacques Majorelle, whose vision can now be admired. After strolling through the artistic garden and photographing the unique blue house located at the center, a visit to the Yves Saint-Laurent museum nearby, which only takes few minutes to walk to, would be the perfect ending to your day.
11.Ait Ben Haddou Village of Quarzazate
Quarzazate is also called the African Hollywood; several movies have shot scenes here, including Gladiator, Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as well as The Game of Thrones (Ait Ben Haddou is where the dragon mother frees the Yunkai in this popular TV series). It is a remarkable place to enjoy sunrises and sunsets.
12.The Arches at Legzira Beach
Legzira was rated as one of the 20 most stunning cliffside beaches by CNN. It is well known for the two peculiar and imposing rock arches on the beach. Because of the continuous erosion caused by sea wind, one arch collapsed late in 2016, and the other one is at risk.
Just like the earthquake in Jiuzhaigou in China or the fire in Notre Dame de Paris, unforeseen accidents can hardly be prevented. Ideally, we should witness these wonders before it is too late.
13.Imperial City Area of Meknes
Meknes' imperial city area, surrounded by more than 40 km of city wall, was called "La Ville aux Cent Minarets", i.e., the city with a hundred minarets. It is also called "Moroccan Versailles" because it was expanded to be an extremely luxurious capital in 1672–1727 by Sultan Moulay Ismail. The Roman ruins of Volubilis and El Badi Palace in Marrakech were dismantled to build the 50 palaces inside.
Due to the earthquake in the 18th century and the wars afterwards, most parts of the imperial city were destroyed. However, the remaining large-scale relics like the city gates, stable, barn, and reservoir are still impressive.
14.Rick's Café in Casablanca
Rick's Café in the medina of Casablanca is not the Rick's Café in the famous old movie Casablanca, but it looks exactly the same. The movie was filmed in Brazil and not actually in Casablanca, but now people can savor gin or coffee and feel that they are in the scene of the movie.
If you are lucky enough, you may meet the owner of this café, Ms. Kathy Kriger, and possibly hear about why she brought Rick's Café into reality.
15.Hiking in Atlas and Rif Mountains
The Atlas Mountains stretch across Morocco and the Rif Mountains stand in the north, creating several spots that are ideal for hiking. The roof of North Africa, Toubkal (4,167 meters high) is located about 63 km from Marrakech, where one can gaze upon a wonderful view of wild land. About 2–3 days of hiking are adequate to reach the top.
There are also median-level and relaxing hike choices available. Near Chefchaouen on the Rif Mountains, there is a 9-hour hike up to the peak of Jebel El-Kalaa, a 4-hour hike to Akchour Waterfalls (also known as God's Bridge), and a 45-minute hike for a panoramic view of the blue city from the Spanish Mosque.
16.Stay Overnight in a Riad
Riad is a term for a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. Nowadays in Morocco, the term is often used to refer to a hotel or guest house with private rooms and shared common areas.
Most riad hotels and guest houses sit inside the medina in Fez and Marrakesh, and the good ones are architectural masterpieces. After walking into their delicately decorated fancy courtyards, sometimes with fountains, their modest outside appearances seem like a disguise. Normally, riads do not have too many rooms because of how the building is constructed.
17.Steam in a Traditional Hammam
Similar to the Turkish bath, the Moroccan hammam was a public steam room for people who could not afford the luxury of a private bathroom in the old days. It also used to be a social place for all genders and ages; men and women would have separate baths. People could spend hours inside chatting with friends.
The Moroccan hammam spa provided in hotels is quite different. You will have more privacy, i.e., you won't need to clean yourself in front of other people, and you will be massaged, rinsed, and exfoliated after (the public hammam bath would not include this, of course). However, you could visit the public hammam if you prefer gaining some cultural insights.
18.Enjoy the Beach
Morocco has two long coastlines — the western one is on the Atlantic side and the northern one is facing the Mediterranean. Besides sightseeing, Moroccan beaches offer various activities like swimming, yachting, surfing, etc. In particular, the beach in Agadir is an outstanding destination for weekends, holidays, and events like honeymoons.
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