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10 Places in Morocco You Need to See

There is just something incredibly alluring about Morocco. The bustling, fragrant markets, graceful mosques, and sweeping desert have attracted travelers for centuries. Today, it is known as the gateway to Africa, and is one of the world's most popular destinations. If you're thinking of heading to Morocco, here are ten destinations you don't want to miss.


Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakech
Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakech

Marrakech

Most travelers choose to begin their vacation in Marrakech, known as Morocco's “Jewel of the South." An ancient city that has been invigorated with new hotels, restaurants, and bars, Marrakech is a mix of old and new. One of the can't miss sights in Marrakech is Jemaa el-Fnaa, one of the world's great markets and the heart of the old city. Day and night, the open-air market bustles with locals selling spices, rugs, street food, and kitschy souvenirs. After a whirlwind experience at the market, find some peace and quiet at Majorelle Garden, a Moorish-style botanical garden designed by the French painter Jacques Majorelle.



A view of Tangier, Morocco

Tangier

Just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain, Tangier is a lively port city that has been a gateway between Africa and Europe since Phoenician times. While it's a common day trip from Spain, it's worth spending at least two days here to get a sense of the city's culture and history. Wander through the tight lanes of the medina (old city) that once beckoned the likes of Matisse and Delacroix, admire Moroccan art at the Sultan's Palace, and experience the city's Spanish flavor at the Plaza de Torros.



A view of Fez. Morocco.

Fez

Also spelled Fes, you may know it for its red cylindrical cap, but there is so much more to this city that's known as Morocco's cultural capital. The major highlight here is the medieval medina, an intoxicating, maze-like blend of riads (traditional Arabic houses built around central courtyards), shops, and handicraft workshops. Fez is one of the best places to pick up an authentic Moroccan rug, so put on your bargaining hat and start searching! Adding to its allure is an excellent array of restaurants and the annual Festival of World Sacred Music celebrating world music.



Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco
Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Casablanca

A touristy must, Rick's Café is a busy café recreated in 2004 to resemble the café that Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman frequented in the classic movie Casablanca. Other places you should experience are Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco and one of the largest in Africa, and Corniche, a beautiful, palm-lined, oceanfront promenade with restaurants a cafes. Grab a seat and witness a beautiful Moroccan sunset.



A view of the Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains, a mountain range that runs 1,600 miles through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, is one of the country's iconic sights. Home to soaring mountain peaks, remote villages, and deep valleys, the Atlas region is one of Morocco's off-the-beaten-path destinations. It's also one of the best places to experience the rich Berber culture. The Berbers, an indigenous group in North Africa, are known as highly-skilled farmers and craftsmen. They are also extremely warm and welcoming, so don't be surprised if you get invited over for a cup of sweet mint tea!



Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat, Morocco
Kasbah of the Udayas, Rabat

Rabat

The capital of Morocco, Rabat is a UNESCO-certified city situated along the Atlantic coast. Smaller than you would expect, the city is famous for its fairytale 12th-century Kasbah of the Udayas, which is perched majestically over the water. This architectural marvel is the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, and is made up of colorful mosaic tiles and graceful arches. If you plan on visiting, remember to dress modestly.



Fort of Essaouira, Essaouira, Morocco
Fort of Essaouira

Essaouira

A port city on the Atlantic coast, Essaouira is that hip, in-the-know destination that travelers are clambering for. While it's not really a beach destination because of very strong winds, the city has plenty more to offer. The walled medina is one of Morocco's finest, with dramatic 18th-century ramparts that offer the perfect photo op. The colorful port filled with blue fishing boats is another highlight. If you really want to see Essaouira in action, head to the Saturday market by the port, and watch the fisherman sell their catch to restaurants.



Chefchaouen's blue city walls and steps with planters
Chefchaouen's Beautiful Blue City Walls

Chefchaouen

The beautiful city of Chefchaouen is featured on practically every travel Instagram account and in all of the "most beautiful" travel books. Famous for its bright blue medina, Chefchaouen is simply magical. Nestled at the foot of the Rif Mountains, the town was founded in 1471 and was conquered by Spain in the early 20th century, giving it a unique Spanish flair. Its winding, steep lanes are reminiscent of Santorini, while the lush green valley surrounding the town will make you feel world's away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities. A haven for cat lovers, Chefchaouen is also famous for its freshly-squeezed orange juice. Try some while you're there!



Camel and rider in the Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert

Riding a camel through the Sahara Desert is just one of those unforgettable bucket list experiences. Luckily, that's perfectly doable in Morocco, which is home to a large part of the Sahara. If you plan on adding the desert to your itinerary, you'll most likely want to base yourself in the village of Merzouga, where the sand dunes (known as "ergs") of Erg Chebbi lie just outside the village borders. Whether you go on a trek for a few hours or a few days, this is one adventure you'll never forget.



An ornate door in Meknes

Meknes

You probably haven't heard of Meknes, but you will. Often overshadowed by Fez and Marrakesh, this hilltop city is finally getting its dues thanks to the intricate Bab el Mansour gate and Heri Es Souani, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, one of the most notorious Moroccan rulers. Nearby, the Roman ruins of Volubilis attract travelers looking for a glimpse of ancient Morocco that can't be found anywhere else. Combine Volubilis with the whitewashed town of Moulay Idriss, considered the holiest town in Morocco.


One of the best ways to see Morocco is with a guide or on a small group tour. Not only can they recommend the best authentic eateries and local artisans, they also offer unique and exclusive experiences. Take a private tour of a medina, stay at an exclusive tented camp in the Sahara, or enjoy a delicious Moroccan dinner while speaking to a notable Moroccan.


Are you ready to go shopping in a souk? Or experience glamping in dessert? Let me know what you want to experience, and I will design a custom proposal and itinerary.



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