10 Reasons Morocco Should Be at the Top of Your Bucket List
When Different Is Just What You’re Looking For
With Instagram saturated with photos of well-trodden tourist destinations, it can feel like you have already visited the Vatican, Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower. Sometimes wanderlust makes you crave something a little different, something a little off the beaten track.
If you’re looking for a destination that’s a little bit exotic, a little bit wild, with a hefty dose of culture and just a pinch of spice, you might find what you’re looking for in North Africa.
What you might be looking for is a taste of Morocco.
From the mountains in the north, to the Sahara desert in the south, Morocco has a seemingly endless array of wonders to offer travelers adventurous enough to discover them: towns painted entirely in blue, hippie hot spots once frequented by Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens, delicious smoky tagine, and more camels and donkeys than you can count.
Morocco has a little something for everyone.
Here are the top 10 reasons you should plan for Morocco travel in the near future. (Warning: You will want to pack your bags and go by the time you are finished reading.)
1. Marrakech Is the Must-See Place This Year
Marrakech has topped travel lists for the last few years. With a heady mix of palaces, mosques and streets surging with life, Marrakech tourism is both cosmopolitan and deliciously exotic.
The city is a riot of color, with spices, snakes, food stalls and colorful market goods all packed into the warm red walls of the medina. Shop, eat, explore, or simply sip a mint tea at one of the rooftop cafes surrounding the main square, Jemaa el Fna, and watch the constant movement all around you.
2. It’s Cheap
Insanely cheap. Morocco is one of the cheapest vacation destinations, meaning you can pay less than $5 for a meal in a decent restaurant, around the same for a three hour bus ride, and accommodation in a hotel starts at around $20. Lavish riads (traditional Moroccan palaces) will cost a substantial amount more, but you can still live like royalty for less than $100 a night.
Flights in and out of Europe with budget airlines like Ryan Air are also ridiculously low cost, making traveling to Morocco easier than ever.
3. Chefchaouen Is Possibly the Most Photogenic Town You’ll Ever See
A small, peaceful town tucked beneath the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is unique for one startlingly obvious reason: it’s blue. Every wall, door, step and archway is painted in various shades of blue.
The effect is enchanting and many hours, or days, can be whiled away getting lost (and taking photos of everything) in the medina. Chefchaouen is best visited at the tail end of any trip to Morocco, to soak up the calming vibes and recuperate after the madness of the larger towns.
4. The Weather
Morocco is in Africa, which means Morocco is hot (or at least warm) year round. You can escape snowy climates further north for Moroccan sunshine even in the heart of winter, making Morocco an unusual winter destination you may not have considered before!
5. The Diversity
Packed within this one country, you will find dazzling mountains capped with snow, stretches of beach on both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, and the vast, breathtaking beauty of the Sahara in the southwest. You can spend one day hiking, the next sunbathing, and the one after that riding a camel in the desert.
Anything is possible.
6. Fes Is a Medieval Time Capsule
If you have ever wondered what life was like in medieval times, go to Fes. Despite the rest of the country slowly catching up to the western world, Fes, nicknamed the Athens of Africa, remains firmly rooted in the distant past.
Within the medina you will have to jump aside as donkeys laden with goods march past, and a visit to the tanneries will reveal methods of curing hides that have remained almost unchanged for nearly a thousand years. You won’t have any trouble immersing yourself in Fes (i.e. getting hopelessly lost), with more than 9,000 streets in the medina and barely a street sign in sight.
7. The Sahara Is Waiting for You
Imagine riding a camel through immense sand dunes, camping in a Berber tent, eating tagine around a campfire and trying to spot shooting stars. That could be you.
The Sahara is easily accessible from Marrakech via one of the many tour agencies offering two, three and four day trips to the desert. Go forth and discover one of the most otherworldly landscapes on the planet.
8. You Can Face Your Fear of Public Nudity in a Hammam
If you are willing to lose your dignity and several layers of skin, a hammam is a unique Moroccan experience to try. Traditional hammams are essentially big bathhouses where everyone bathes together — men and women separate though, of course.
‘Bathing’ involves getting slathered with black soap and then being scrubbed to within an inch of your life with a type of coarse glove. Modern hammams can be a little more luxurious (and pricey), including massages and other add-ons.
9. Essaouira Is the Perfect Place to Relax
Popular with artists and musicians for decades, Essaouira is a dreamy seaside town somewhere between a fishing village and a beach resort. Within the whitewashed walls of the medina you’ll find countless things to love.
Piles of oranges, strawberries and peas are sold off carts in the middle of the street, dozens of cats wait hopefully outside the butcher’s shop, and seagulls wheel overhead, a constant reminder that the Atlantic Ocean is just steps away. There is also, surprisingly, a thriving Rastafari culture here, which only serves to add to the relaxed air of the town.
Just be careful; days can easily turn to weeks here.
10. Morocco Is Not as Dangerous as Everyone Thinks
Is it safe to travel to Morocco? Yes, you will be at risk of being scammed by taxi drivers, and yes, Marrakech is rife with pushy touts, but overall Morocco is far less dangerous than most people imagine.
Sadly, solo female travel in Morocco involves enduring constant attention wherever you go, but this rarely surpasses mutters and persistent attempts at conversation. Armed with the phrase “la shukrane,” (“no thank you” in Arabic) and a little determination, there is absolutely no reason why a woman cannot travel this fascinating country alone.
Keep your wits about you and your camera on hand, and you will have the trip of a lifetime.