By Brittany Kulick
Morocco. It’s exotic yet familiar. The country has become a fast favourite among travellers for its dynamic cities, tranquil desert, and flavourful food. The only questions to ask yourself are: when will you visit? And will you stick to the beaten path or will you explore a new city?
Join me on a whirlwind journey as I walk you through Morocco’s most popular cities and introduce you to one of the country’s best kept secret destinations.
Marrakech is described as a Marmite city; you either love it or you hate it. I, for one, love it. And I think you will too if you know where to go!
Although it’s set in Abu Dhabi, Sex and the City 2 was actually filmed in Morocco. In Marrakech, you can shop like Carrie, Samantha, and Aidan at Aziz– an antique shop set on the street where the famous movie was filmed.
You’ll witness vendors offering henna all across the country, but if you want quality brown henna, visit Henna Café. The artists at the cafe offer a book full of designs to choose from, or they can recreate designs you’ve seen online. As you wait for the henna to dry, be sure to order the hummus and falafel. It’s delicious!
We all know Carrie Bradshaw loves shoes, and the selection at Sabir Cuir are fit for a king–literally! The cobblers at this shop used Senegalese fabric to make custom shoes for King Mohamed VI. Purchase a pair off the shelf, or allow two days for custom-made shoes.
If you visit Morocco and don’t ride a camel in the desert, have you really been to Morocco? Join a 3-day/ 2-night trip from Marrakech that escorts you into the Sahara Desert. Here you’ll have the opportunity to ride camels at sunrise and sunset, eat dinner cooked by the local Berber people, and stargaze in the sand dunes. The lack of ambient light guarantees some of the brightest stars you’ll ever see.
In Fes, Google Maps has trouble locating you in the maze of streets and getting lost is a rite of passage. Guides will tell you that Fes is the city of 9,000 streets and 40,000 dead ends. To get your bearings with an aerial view, make your way to the ramparts near the Marinid Tombs. It is a lovely spot to watch the sunset over the city too.
Adventurous eaters are invited to try a camel burger at Cafe Clock. Not into eating something you rode just a couple days ago? Then enjoy some other delicious food while listening to traditional music played on a stringed, wooden instrument called an oud or a storytelling session. The weekly sunset concerts make this cafe a must-visit.
A trip to Fes should include a visit to the Chaouwara tanneries, North Africa’s largest tannery. Here, you can see the pools of saffron, indigo, henna, coal, and poppy flower dye, and the hardworking people who transform animal hides into high-quality leather. Enjoy the sight from a viewing platform, typically accessed through a leather shop, where you can get incredible discounts on purses, jackets, and belts.
No trip to Morocco is complete without a visit to the city nicknamed the Blue Pearl. Chefchaouen is a full day trip from Fes, taking seven hours in the car, so it’s best to book an overnight stay. Two days in Chefchaouen allows you to experience sunrise and sunset over the blue city without feeling pressured for time.
While you’re there, try the Moroccan fava bean soup at Restaurant Beldi Bab Ssour. Work off your meals by climbing up and down the staircases of the city to find the most beautiful blue walls, set off by brightly-coloured flower pots. The most famous spot is on El Asri Street, where you’ll notice a queue of tourists before you see the location, but there are plenty of other Instagrammable gems.
Just 14 kilometres north of Agadir, the hippie village of Tamraght draws surfers and yoga fanatics from around the world. Spend your day learning to surf at Devil’s Rock or Crocodile Beach and cool down in the evenings with a rooftop yoga class.
Babakoul is a popular hangout for tourists and locals alike, offering delicious msemen (Moroccan pancakes) and date smoothies.
Want to give back on your holiday? Volunteer with Morocco Animal Aid, a local non-profit that’s caring for street dogs. They house over 50 dogs, and Monday through Friday, you can join the pack on a guided hike through the Aourir Mountains. Now that’s a holiday to feel good about!
Whether you’re visiting the vibrant cities or escaping into the desert, Morocco is the kind of country that welcomes you with open arms. Embrace the food, the culture, and the unique way of life, and you’re sure to find a home away from home that will welcome you back again and again!