What to See and Do in Morocco: Activities and Places of Interest in Morocco
For Western visitors, Morocco holds an immediate and lasting fascination. Although it is only an hour's journey by sea from Spain, it seems a long way from Europe, with a culture that is almost entirely unknown. Travel to Morocco and you'll discover a country of arid deserts, spice-laden souks, and a melting pot of Berber and Arab cultures.
Throughout the country, despite years of French and Spanish colonial rule and the presence of modern, cosmopolitan cities like Rabat and Casablanca, a more distant past makes its presence constantly felt.
Fez, perhaps the most beautiful of all Arab cities, maintains a life still rooted in medieval times, when a Moroccan kingdom stretched from Senegal to northern Spain, while in the Atlas and Rif mountains, it is still possible draw tribal maps of the Berber population.
Against the backdrop of all this, the physical makeup of the country is extraordinary: from the Mediterranean coast, through four mountain ranges, to the sand and empty scrub of the Sahara. The guide below offers interesting information to know and enjoy your stay in this mythical land even more.
Where to Go in Morocco
With relaxing beach resorts on the coast, beautiful ancient cities in the interior, breathtaking landscapes of the Rif and Atlas Mountains, and the eerie solitude of the Sahara Desert, visiting Morocco offers all kinds of experiences.
To experience the best of Morocco's northern coastline and beaches, head to the cities of Tangier, Asilah, and Larache. For the best coastal spots to the south, El Jadida, Essaouria, and Sidi Ifni are the standout contenders. Agadir is the top destination for package tours and while it doesn't offer anything special, it does provide a good base for exploring.
Inland, the famous and still medieval cities of Fez and Marrakech do not disappoint. The first is richer in terms of monuments, but the second is still more popular with tourists. Rabat and Casablanca are also important cities of interest, although much more modern than Fez and Marrakech.
The Rif and Atlas mountain ranges offer stunning scenery and are surprisingly accessible for hiking and exploring. Trekking is most popular on Jebel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa. Hidden in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is possibly the most beautiful city and the best kept secret in Morocco.
Beyond the Atlas, more can be explored in the pre-Sahara. The oases around Skoura, Tinghir, Zagora, Erfoud and Tata provide you with a stunning contrast of palm trees and desert horizons.
If you're looking to explore beyond the more well-known sites and attractions in Morocco, check out the best places to get off the beaten path in Morocco.
10 Best Places to Visit in Morocco
With so much to see and do, deciding where to go in Morocco can be a daunting task. To help you narrow down your choices, we've put together a list of the top ten places to visit in Morocco.
Chefchaouen: one of the most beautiful and pleasant cities in Morocco, in the Rif mountains, with a medina full of pastel blue houses, is perfect for strolling.
Koutoubia Mosque: Simple but beautifully proportioned, the Koutoubia Mosque's minaret is the most perfect in North Africa and a classic piece of Almohad architecture.
Ouirgane: This region in the foothills of the High Atlas offers hidden walks, breathtaking panoramas, and plenty of outdoor activities year-round, but best enjoyed in the cooler months.
Cascades d'Ouzoud: If you only visit one waterfall in Morocco, make sure it's these. The most spectacular of the country's waterfalls, with hanging cafes and a thunderous layer of water that plunges into the pools at the bottom.
Fez: The most comprehensive medieval city in the Arab world, Fez's labyrinthine streets hide ancient souks and iconic monuments, none more so than the exquisitely decorated Medersa Bou Inania.
Telouet: The abandoned feudal kasbah of the “Lords of the Atlas” is a hugely evocative relic of the time when the infamous Glaoui clan ruled the Atlas and Marrakech.
Sidi Infi: An old Spanish enclave built from scratch in the 1930s with an Art Deco town hall, an Art Deco mosque and even an Art Deco lighthouse.
Casablanca's colonial architecture blends traditional Moroccan designs with French Art Deco in a distinctive style known as Mauresque. The city is also home to the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in the world and, unusually for Morocco, can be visited by non-Muslims.
Asilah: A laid-back beach resort with an intimate pastel-painted Medina, a world-class international art festival, and a former bandit chief's palace. Asilah is also home to one of the best beaches on the northwest coast.
Outdoor Activities in Morocco
Morocco offers magnificent hiking opportunities, impressive golf facilities, a couple of ski resorts (plus some off-piste ski adventures), and excellent fishing.
Trekking in Morocco
Trekking is one of the best things that Morocco has to offer. The High Atlas is one of the most rewarding mountain ranges in the world and one of the least damaged. Several long-distance Atlas routes can be followed, including a full-range "Grand Traverse", but most people stick to shorter hikes in the Jebel Toubkal area. Other promising areas include Jebel Sirwa, the Western High Atlas and, in winter, the Jebel Saghro and Tafraoute region of the Anti-Atlas. The Middle Atlas also has a lot of attractions for walking, in places like Tazzeka (Taza) and around Azrou.
Ski in Morocco
Morocco doesn't immediately come to mind as a ski destination, but the High Atlas Mountains are reliably covered in snow from late January to early April, with good skiing at Oukaïmeden.
Off-piste skiing is popular in the High Atlas, particularly in the Toubkal massif, where the Toubkal Refuge is often packed with groups. Most of the off-piste activity is ski touring, but tight skis (langlauf) are good in the Middle Atlas if there is snow, in which case the Azilal – Bou Goumez – Ighil Mgoun area is possible. Snowboarding is also gaining popularity in Moroccan ski resorts. For more information on skiing and mountaineering, contact the Fédération Royale Marocaine du Ski et du Montagnisme.
The established base for horse riding holidays is the Résidence de la Roseraie in Ouirgane, which organizes trekking tours in the High Atlas. Another stable that offers horseback riding is Amodou Cheval, near Agadir. Several operators offer horseback and camel treks. Consult for options.
Fishing in Morocco
Morocco has a huge Atlantic coastline (and a small Mediterranean one), with opportunities to organize boat trips in Safi, Essaouira, Moulay Bousselham (near Asilah), Boujdour, Dakhla and elsewhere.
Inland, the Middle Atlas is home to beautiful lakes and rivers, many of them well stocked with trout. Good bases include Azrou (near the Aghmas lakes), Ifrane (near Zerrrouka), Khenifra (the Oum er Rbia river) and Ouirgane (the Nfis river). Pike can also be found in some Middle Atlas lakes (such as Aguelmame Azizgza, near Khenifra), and some of the huge artificial dams, such as Bin el Ouidaine (near Beni Mellal), are said to contain huge sea bass.
Water Sports and Swimming in Morocco
Agadir offers opportunities for sailing, sailing, windsurfing and diving, while Taghazout, just to the north, has become something of a surf town, with board rental and repair shops and some great surf breaks. There are smaller surf centers in Mirhleft, Kenitra, Bouznika Plage, El Jadida, Safi and even Rabat. With your own transportation, you could explore remote locations along the coast. When they are working, all breaks can be busy in the high season (October-February), when deep lows come east across the mid-Atlantic.
For windsurfing, the main destination is Essaouira, which attracts devotees throughout the year.
The Atlantic can be very exposed, with breaking waves, and surfers, windsurfers, and swimmers should beware of strong undertows. Inland, most cities of any size have a municipal swimming pool, but women especially should note that they tend to be the preserve of teenagers. In the south, you'll rely on campsite pools or luxury hotel pools (which often allow outsiders to swim, either for a fee or if you buy drinks or food).
The High and Middle Atlas have also become a popular destination for rafting and kayaking enthusiasts. A vacation company specialized in these sports is Water by Nature.
Play Golf in Morocco
The British opened a golf course in Tangier as early as 1917. Today the country has an international level course in Rabat, eighteen-hole courses in Mohammedia, Marrakech, Tangier, Cabo Negro, Saïdia, Larache, El Jadida, Essaouira, Agadir, Fez and Ben Slimane (Royal Golf, Av des FAR, BP 83, Ben Slimane), and nine-hole courses in Meknes, Ouarzazate and Bouznika (near Mohammedia, Route Secondaire de Bouznika Plage). Several tour operators offer golf holidays in Morocco.
Delight Yourself with Moroccan Food
Hearty soups, fragrant tagines and succulent kebabs are just some of the culinary delights to enjoy when visiting Morocco. A typical starter to a meal is the classic spicy harira, beans and pasta.
Tajine is a dish you'll find everywhere in Morocco, slowly steamed in a clay pot. The classic tajines are lamb with plums and almonds, and chicken with olives and lemon. Couscous is another classic Moroccan food that is served with many dishes.
For truly unique Moroccan food, try the “pastilla”, a savory meatloaf with filo pastry. Camel meat is also a common ingredient. There isn't a huge street food scene in Morocco, but you can find plenty of stalls and street food in the Fez medina.
Attend a Moroccan Tea Ceremony
Mint tea is Morocco's national drink and you'll find it alongside a wide range of herbal teas and infusions. In terms of coffee, nus nus (half coffee, half milk) is a popular drink across the country. Delicious freshly squeezed juices are common in cafes and street stalls.
Although tap water is generally safe to drink except in the far south and Western Sahara, most tourists stick to bottled mineral water. As an Islamic country, drinking alcohol is not a major part of Moroccan culture, but it is nonetheless available in bars and large hotels.
How to Get around Morocco
Getting around Morocco is relatively easy, with many good transportation options.
A decent rail network connects the major cities in the north, and the whole country is well connected by a network of nationally run and private bus companies.
The downside is that the buses can sometimes be slow and overcrowded. For shorter journeys, you may prefer to use the large Moroccan taxis. Alternatively, you may want to have the taxi to yourself, in which case you'll be paying six times the cost for a place.
Costs in Morocco
Food, accommodation and travel costs in Morocco are relatively low by European and North American standards. You can find more detailed information about money and costs in Morocco on the travel essentials page.
Accommodation Costs in Morocco
Accommodation can be as cheap as EUR 15, GBP 13.50 or USD 17.50 per night for a double room in a basic hotel. The best luxury hotels and riads can cost up to EUR 500 GBP 450 or USD 590 per night.
Food Costs in Morocco
The same goes for food, which ranges from EUR 6, GBP 5.50 or USD 7 for a meal in a basic restaurant, to EUR 75, GBP 67 or USD 88 in the best establishments. Alcohol is the only thing comparable to western prices.
Cost of Transportation in Morocco
As for transport, renting a car will inevitably be expensive, but trains, buses and shared taxis are all very cheap.
Is It Safe to Travel to Morocco?
Morocco does not have a high crime rate and is perfectly safe to visit. However, thefts do happen, so it is not advisable to carry large sums of cash or valuables with you.
This is especially true in crowded places, such as bus and train stations, where pickpockets like to operate. Credit card fraud is also something to beware of. Never lose sight of your card when paying for something.
Visa Requirements in Morocco
Holders of full passports from the UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or any EU country do not need a visa to enter Morocco and can stay in the country for up to ninety days. It is always worth checking visa requirements before your departure, as these can change. Upon arrival, you must fill out a form with personal data, profession and purpose of the visit.
South African citizens require a visa to enter Morocco and must apply at the Moroccan embassy or consulate in their country of residence.
Applications to extend your stay in Morocco must be submitted to the Foreigners Office to obtain a residence permit. This can be extremely complicated and time consuming as it involves opening a bank account with a minimum of MAD 20,000 in your account and obtaining a Residency Certification. Most people avoid red tape by leaving the country for a few days, usually to Spain, and then re-entering through a different post.
Shopping in Morocco
Part of Morocco's appeal to tourists is its markets, colloquially known as souks. You'll find souks in every city in Morocco, but the largest and most impressive are in Fez and Marrakech. While it can be very tempting to load up on souvenirs when walking through the souks, it's important to consider how you're going to take them home and be wary of fake merchandise and fake “antiques”. Some of the souvenirs you might want to buy include beautiful Moroccan handicrafts, semi-precious stones and fossils, or some authentic and tasty food items, all of which you are expected to bargain for.
Learn more about shopping in Morocco, including what to buy, souk locations and hours, how to avoid scams, and how to bargain.
Morocco Travel Itineraries
Creating an itinerary in Morocco will depend on what you want to see and do. From immersing yourself in the bustling ancient cities of Marrakech or Fez, or hiking in the Rif and Atlas Mountains, or seeking tranquility in the Sahara Desert, your trip to Morocco can be customized according to your needs with travel services tailored to Greca. We await your inquiry!