Things to see in Morocco. 8 Essentials
Travelling to Morocco is undoubtedly an experience for the senses. This country offers a great diversity and richness in terms of landscapes and culture that really excites travelers. So that you don’t miss out on any of what we consider to be the most significant attractions to see in Morocco here is this list especially for those visiting this country for the first time. Obviously in general you don’t have the time for all these things to see in Morocco but at least by having them in writing you can make your own list of priorities.
1- Spend a night in the Sahara desert
Probably one of the unique experiences you can live in Morocco is to spend a night in the desert. One of the things you should not miss if you visit Morocco. Generally it is an excursion that begins in the afternoon. An hour or two before nightfall all the people who go to sleep at the jaimas camp meet to ride the dromedaries that will take them there. If the idea of the dromedary is not for you, it also offers you the possibility of arriving in 4 × 4.
Once arrived at the desert camp where the dromedaries are allowed to rest in the “dromedary parking”. The Berbers of the camp welcome you with Moroccan tea and pastries and install you in your jaima. Before dinner there is free time to enjoy the magic of the desert. In the middle of the dunes, time stops and the senses become more acute, it is a sensation that can only be experienced in places like this. The desert offers a multitude of possibilities and everyone can enjoy it in their own way.
Dinner is served in a large jaima restaurant. These are typical dishes of Moroccan cuisine. After dinner a bonfire will be lit around which we will sit and listen to traditional Berber songs live. In Berber culture, both men and women practice percussion naturally from childhood. Those interested can learn to play some rhythms. Before going to sleep, anyone who wants to can climb one of the dunes that surround the camp to admire the thousands of stars that can be seen desert. The image is recorded in the memory of all those who visit the Sahara.
The next morning, visitors who want to see the sunrise will be called early. In this case it is worth the effort to get up. Depending on the camp you book breakfast is served before returning to town with the dromedaries or once in the hotel to which the camp belongs. You can find more information about this experience here.
In addition to this experience, the desert offers many more things to do. For the more adventurous there is the possibility to book some activity in the desert like driving quads, buggies or a walk through the dunes in 4 × 4. You can also hire yoga or meditation classes and in summer sand baths that relieve muscle aches and eliminate toxins.
2- Discover Jemaa el Fna in Marrakech
If you plan to pass through Marrakech, Jemaa el Fna Square is a mandatory stop. This is without a doubt one of the most charming squares and things to do in the world. To really squeeze it you will need to get to know it both by day and by night. For a thousand years, the Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakech has served as a meeting place and marketplace in the heart of Marrakech. Soothsayers, snake charmers, poets, henna tattooers, massagers, storytellers and many more come to entertain the crowds creating an intoxicating atmosphere unique in the world.
During the day, most of the square is nothing more than a large open space with lots of stalls selling natural juice, spices, traditional medicines, cosmetics and many other things. A handful of snake charmers cast a spell on their cobras with flutes, the healers (especially in the northeast of the square) display cures and noses, and the tooth pullers, wielding fearsome pliers, offer to pull the pain out of the heads of toothache sufferers, trays of extracted teeth that attest to their skill. It is not until late in the afternoon that the square really gets going. Once the sun sets, Jemaa el Fna really comes to life. The restaurants around the square start serving hungry customers as they walk around the square. Berber musicians and Gnaoua dancers begin their evening performances, acrobats and comedian jesters begin to perform throughout the square, and henna tattoo artists compete for customers as storytellers, and poets pass on Morocco’s oral traditions. If you want more information about the things to do in Jemaa el Fna, click on the link!
3- Walk around Chefchaouen
Another thing to do in Morocco that is really worthwhile is to visit Chefchaouen, the blue city. And I say worth it because along with Jodhpur in India, this is the only blue town in the world. Its clear and clean light, its white and blue houses make this city one of the most beautiful in Morocco. That is why it is an irresistible destination for a good number of painters, artists and, nowadays, instagrammers who take beautiful pictures with blue background. It is a city of captivating beauty, to which its architecture of popular Mediterranean design contributes, with the blues and indigo of its century-old doors and the indigo whites of the walls, the latter covered with layers and layers and more layers of lime.
The people of Chaouen paint the walls and floors of the houses several times a year, and even paint the floor of the streets (many of them in the shape of irregular steps), coinciding with the changes of season and the annual celebrations. This almost obsessive work, which aims to purify, sanitize, bring freshness and scare away insects, has forged the uniqueness of the population.
Brushes tied to broomsticks as an extension of the arms are used to paint the highest areas, but where they do not reach, they maintain their yellow and red ochre colours. Since the layers of paint do not occur on the same day, the inhabitants of Chaouen unwittingly achieve a surprising variety of shades of white, blue and indigo. So much so that a group of neighbours has emerged to ensure that the houses and streets are painted in the traditional shades of the city. Visit our article on the blue city in Morocco if you plan to go to Chefchaouen.
4- Visit a city on the Atlantic coast
Especially if you are going to travel during the summer one of the things to do in Morocco that we recommend is to go and see some of the small towns on the Atlantic coast. In this article we propose you Essaouira and Asilah. These are small towns with lots of charm and smell of the sea.
Essaouira is a port city and a commune of Morocco not far from Marrakech. The medina of Essaouira, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, is worth a visit. This medina is not claustrophobic like other Moroccan medinas, the streets are generally wide with many stalls and the fish market where you can buy fresh fish that they will prepare for you for only 10dh in one of the restaurants there. Within 5 minutes from the exit of the medina you will find the port and from there also on foot the beach. A long and wide beach where you can enjoy the ocean and those surf lovers have many schools to rent equipment or hire a class.
Asilah, sometimes nicknamed the pearl of Morocco, is a small port city located on the Atlantic coast, about 50 kilometers south of Tangier. This city is not yet invaded by tourism and yet when you visit, you can feel the tourist potential of Asilah: authenticity, beautiful beaches nearby, a magnificent and artistic medina, walls on the ocean … The charm of Asilah is undeniable! It is a real pleasure to get lost in the alleys of the medina to visit Asilah.
5- Discover the High Atlas
The High Atlas is the mountain range that runs from the coast of Morocco to Allergy. The range includes the Toubkal National Park, which contains Morocco’s highest peak, the Jbel Toubkal (4,160 meters). The Berber village of Imlil is a good place to start climbing Toubkal. The highest mountain range in North Africa, the High Atlas, offers opportunities to enjoy the outdoors all year round, from snow sports in winter to hiking in summer. One of the best places to visit in Morocco is Todra Gorge in the eastern part of the High Atlas, near the city of Tinerhir. Both the Todra River and the neighboring Dades River have carved steep canyons into the cliffs through the mountains. The last 600 meters of the Todra Gorge are the most spectacular.
6- Shopping in the souks
The souks are a very important part of Moroccan life. Not only because of the shopping but because they become an essential element of social life. Depending on the location, souks can be permanent, meaning that they are open every day or only one or several days a week. Without a doubt, one of the essential things to do in Morocco is to go to a souk. You don’t have to buy anything but at least walk around. In these markets, you can find handcrafted products, food and practically anything you can think of. If you feel like buying something, don’t forget that in Morocco it is essential to haggle to get a good price. In this article you can find an infallible technique to get it. It is something that should not stress you or make you angry, take it as something not so serious since you are not risking a good sum, joke with the seller and enjoy the experience.
7- Walk around some medina
Another essential thing to see in Morocco is a walk in a medina. One does not get used to the idea of life in Morocco if one does not spend some time observing the movements in a medina. A medina refers to the old part of a city as opposed to the modern European-style neighbourhoods. In principle, the medina is just the Arabic word for “the city”. With European colonization and the creation of “new cities” that were juxtaposed to the old medinas , the meaning of the term was restricted to the notion of “historical city”, “traditional city” or even “indigenous city”. A medina is characterized by its exchanges with the surrounding rural areas that nourish it and by the commercial activities that sustain it, despite the walls that close it off and protect it from the threat of invaders. A large part of the medina is occupied by the souks. The medinas are characterized by a great mix of human activities. They form a space where residential, economic, social and cultural functions are juxtaposed.
Today, globalization and/or the development of formerly colonized countries call into question the traditional modes of production of goods and services and, consequently, the traditional fabric of the medinas. Therefore, the medinas are defined in relation to and in a socio-economic relationship with the modern cities that have grown up alongside them. Awareness of the need to safeguard them is recent. Thus, the Medina of Tunis was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. In fact, the medinas can play a very important role in the revitalization of the arts and traditions that have shaped high-quality crafts, which are in the process of disappearing or are only devoted to tourism. There are 31 medinas in Morocco, the most populated being those of Marrakech, Casablanca and Fez.
8- Visit the KASBAH AIT BEN HADDOU
If you want to know something really authentic in Morocco, there is nothing like a visit to the Kasbah Aït Ben haddou, a fortified village located in the southeast of Morocco. A great example of Moroccan adobe architecture that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. The Ait Benhaddou kasbah is a destination appreciated by nature and history lovers. Built ten centuries ago, it is surrounded by an exceptional nature of palm groves, mountains and rivers.
The Ait Ben Haddou kasbah is located on the southern side of the High Atlas. It is 30 kilometers from the center of Ouarzazate, the city to which it belongs. This place is the most famous ksar in the Ounila Valley, in the middle of the arid desert is a spectacle for the eyes. If you make a trip to the desert of Merzouga from Marrakech this kasbah, as well as the Todra Gorge of which we spoke earlier, you get caught on the way.
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