Morocco must-sees - cities, coast, mountains & more

12 Feb 2018

Whether you'd rather see the flicker of everyday life in one of the dusty souks, catch some waves off the coast of a creative port city or hike through remote expanses in the heart of Berber country, Morocco is bound to satisfy even the most extreme case of wanderlust. With so many options to choose from, where should you make a beeline for on your upcoming Morocco holiday? Here are a few of our favourite Morocco destinations, along with some insider tips for first-time travellers.

Best for... beach bums

Essaouira (pictured above and below), a hippie mecca on Morocco's wild Atlantic coast, is the first port of call in Morocco for both beginner surfers and expert wavecatchers alike. The breezy peninsula was a favourite holiday spot of Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens in the 1960s, and to this day it remains a free-spirited place beloved by musicians and artists. Think blue and white fishing boats bobbing in a harbour, whitewashed buildings shaken by the sea and biscuit-coloured cats prowling the dockyard for scraps. If it looks like somewhere you might recognise as a filming location from "Game of Thrones", that's because it is.


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Best for... literary pilgrims

Due to a somewhat frowsy reputation as a centre of international espionage, the "White City" of Tangier remained largely forgotten until the turn of the century. However, the former capital is now regaining its old character as a sunny Mediterranean port, and the ghosts of the Beat Generation still skulk on its street corners. Williams Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and friends spent years in Tangier discussing poetry in cafes over strong black coffee. Follow in their footsteps by grabbing a drink at the unhurried coffee joint, Café de Paris, and drop by at Hotel El-Muniria to see where Burroughs spent two years of his life writing Naked Lunch. If you're interested, he lived in Room 9.

Best for... photographers

Chefchaouen, a small mountain village lying inland from Tangier, has become popular in recent times thanks to its eminently Instagrammable architecture. In line with a tradition dating back to the town's first Jewish immigrants, the lower levels of its medina are painted in various shades of otherworldly blue, originally intended to remind those who walk through it of the heavens above them. Chefchaouen's sea of blue buildings is a treat for photographers, but remember to ask before taking pictures if there are any people in frame - the body is sacred in Arabic culture, and it's improper to reproduce it in a photograph without prior consent.

Best for... explorers

The Atlas Mountains have a well-deserved reputation as a hiking hotspot, with vast expanses in tones of cinder and rose that are just begging to be explored on foot. You'll find a score of traditional Berber mountain villages in the foothills of the High Atlas range, overshadowed by the highest point in northern Africa, the 13,671-foot high peak of Toubkal. If you're not quite ready to conquer Toukbal, never fear - there are plenty of guided walking tours into the mountains and villages for complete beginners, and many depart from Marrakesh. The area is remote, but you'll often find locals are happy to meet visitors and chat about life in the mountains, particularly in popular trekking stops such as Imlil.


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Best for... treasure hunters

All travellers have a pre-formed idea of exotic Marrakesh, but it's hard to appreciate the frenetic pace of the city until you've experienced it first-hand. You might have to sift through a lot of dross to find some gold, but part of the fun lies simply in the chase. Wander through the higgledy-piggledy souk with an orange-blossom pastry, breathe in air heavy with warm spices and keep an eye out for valuable Moroccan crafts like kilim rugs, Berber burnooses, tanned leather and traditional copperware. Take a minimum amount on your first trip, keep your money well concealed and always remember to barter. The opening price might be up to 10 times more than you're actually expected to pay!

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