Accessible and exotic, Morocco has it all: mountain trekking, Atlantic surf beaches, boutique riads, labyrinthine bazaars and some of North Africa's tastiest food
It's barely 20 miles from Europe, but Morocco couldn't feel more different. Fast ferries from Spain link a country that is part Arab, part African – and with a character all of its own.
Morocco’s cities are the obvious draws. Marrakesh and Fes are the places to explore the medieval alleys of ancient medinas, packed with donkeys, traders and the scents of Africa. Casablanca and Rabat are modern with elegant boulevards and a café culture, while Tangier and Agadir are sophisticated cities where the beach takes centre stage.
Drill down to the smaller towns and Morocco’s heritage is more distinct and accessible. Visit Chefchouan, in the north, where cornflower-blue houses sprawl on a fertile hillside, or the fortified coastal town of Essaouira, once a Portuguese outpost on Atlantic Africa. Inexpensive taxi rides reach stunning highlights, Roman columns preserved by the desert at Volubilis and mud-built forts towering over folding mountain landscapes.
Zoom in closer and be welcomed into village life: ride the waves in surf communities on the sunsoaked southern coast near Agadir, trek to Berber villages huddled against adobe castle walls in the Atlas Mountains, and join nomads on camels to cross Saharan dunes.
At every level Moroccans are exceptionally hospitable: this is one country where you are likely to be invited into private homes and plied with sweet tea. Relax and complete your experience with a taste of Morocco; slow-cooked tagine, pastilla (pigeon pastry) or couscous are specialities.
Sous Massa Draa (Shutterstock.com)
Morocco is a big country, and it contains far more than just the trendy hotspots highlighted by the weekend travel supplements. There are plenty of mountain villages, desert palm groves, picturesque fishing ports and ancient imperial cities that the beaten track merely runs past, rather than through. Our Morocco travel blueprint will help you decide which Morocco is the one for you.
If your dream is to stay in an eco-lodge in the High Atlas mountain, sipping mint tea on a terrace as the sun sets over the snow-capped Toubkal Massif, then Lyn Hughes can tell you how. Want to live like a Berber? Then you’ll need to consult Sabina Trojanova. Just heading to Marrakech? Our ultimate guide to this intriguing city tells you everything you need to know.
Morocco travel blueprint: 4 overland adventures – Wanderlust Team
Rocking the Kasbah – Lyn Hughes
My life as a Berber – Sabina Trojanova
The Wanderlust guide to the best of Marrakech – Wanderlust Team
Sunset in Marrakech (Shutterstock.com)
Only 20 miles from the bottom of Spain, and less than fours hours by plane from most European capitals, Morocco is the perfect destination for an adventurous short break. You could spend it lost in the labyrinth of Tangier. Or enjoy a restorative weekend in Fes. For a beach break with a difference, head to the old Portuguese port of Essaouira.
Chances are, Marrakech is high on your list too. Here’s our ultimate top 5 things to do in the pink city.
A labyrinthe weekend in Tangier, Morocco – Sarah Gilbert
A restorative weekend in Fes – Sarah Baxter
A short break in Essaouira, Morocco – Sarah Gilbert
Ultimate Top 5 Marrakech – Wanderlust Journeys
Camel trekking, Morocco (Shutterstock.com)
Whatever the outdoor activity, Morocco will challenge you in new and exciting ways. You could trek or mountain bike through the Rif Mountains, tackling challenging trails and staying in exotic lodges. You could climb Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. Or you could simply chase the sun and head to southern Morocco where a plethora of water sports await.
For something more sedentary, but no less adventurous, why not consider a desert camel trek? Heather Cole warns there will be highs … and lows.
Trekking in the Rif Mountains – Sarah Baxter
Climbing Mount Toubkal, Morocco – Dan Linstead
Top tips for mountain biking in Morocco – Olly Townsend
Chase the sun, Morocco – Jennifer Smith
The highs and lows of camping with camels – Heather Cole
Foodies will love Morocco. The cuisine is an irresistible mix of Mediterranean, Arabic, Andalusian and Berber dishes and ingredients. A wander through the produce section of any souk is an adventure in itself.
Tagine is the mainstay of course. And Andy Harris is on hand with a recipe for a delicious potato, fennel & pea tagine.
Photographer Rob Palmer and his French/Moroccan wife Sophia, travelled the length and breadth of Morocco in search of lesser know traditional recipes and share three of their favourites, as well as the story behind each.
Finally, chef Jeff Koehler recommends three tasty Moroccan dishes you can try at home. Why not bring the souk to your home this weekend?
Recipe of the week: Potato, fennel & pea tagine – Andy Harris
Tasty Moroccan dishes to try at home – Jeff Koehler
Fruit trader, Fes (Shutterstock.com)
The markets of Morocco are happy hunting grounds for photographers, offering up a smorgasbord of opportunities: sizzling food and intriguing local delicacies, colourful piles of fruit and vegetables, arts and crafts, and a wealth of portraits. Steve Davey reveals the tips and tricks to getting better market photos by engaging with your subjects rather than just trying to ‘sneak’ a shot.
If it’s inspiration you’re after, look no further than the photos taken by our readers on their travels to Morocco. They are vibrant, colourful and full of life.
Photography tips: Markets – Steve Davey
Spice market, Fes (Shutterstock.com)
Ready to start planning your trip? Our Morocco Travel Guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by our Morocco Essential Info page as well, for more everyday (but equally vital) information. We’ve rounded up the latest travel news from Morocco too.
If you have a particular question about Morocco, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about Morocco. The answer to yours might already be there.
Morocco Travel Guide – Wanderlust Team
Local man carrying water from well, Chefchaouen (Shutterstock.com)
Here is a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From cycling in the south and rambling in the Rif to extensive tours that take in the medinas, mountains and the mosques, you’ll find something for every taste and budget.
Main image: Kasbah in the Atlas Mountains (Shutterstock.com)