Morocco is the Tooth Fairy of travel destinations — mythical, colorful, and otherworldly. Snow-capped mountains overlook open-air spice markets. Unforgiving deserts and red dunes meld into bustling souks and towering minarets, all of which function harmoniously within the same glorious province. It’s the sort of place you come alone to do a little soul-searching. Or with your person to test some boundaries. Or with your roommate, for that matter, to purchase some truly exceptional home goods without the Urban Outfitters markup.
Morocco has beaches along both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. There are many lovely beaches to relax on. Popular holiday spots with foreign visitors include ‘Tangier’ and ‘Agadir’, while ‘Asilah’ attracts mainly locals and Spanish visitors.
Although fairly under-visited by international tourists, places like ‘El Jadida’, ‘Oualidia’, and ‘El Jebha’ see significant numbers of domestic tourists during the summer months. The most popular beaches typically have great facilities within easy reach, and some destinations, such as Essaouria, are perfect for lovers of water sports.
Morocco’s population is made up of both Arabs and Berbers, with each group has contributed to the rich traditions and cultural practices that can be observed in the country today. You will also be able to spot influences from Andalusia, from the times when Muslims moved to North Africa. There are also legacies from the colonial era, with French, Portuguese, and Spanish influences seen in different parts of the country.
Chefchaouen is a city situated just inland from Tangier in northwest Morocco. It was founded as a small kasbah (fortress) in 1471. Chefchaouen is the chief town of the province of the same name. The city often called Chaouen by locals, gets its nickname ‘The Blue Pearl Of Morocco’ as it is noted for its houses and buildings rinsed in shades of blue. This is definitely one of the must-see places in Morocco. The Chefchaouen countryside is known to be one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco which is why backpackers love it.
There’s also this Sahara Dessert which is the world’s largest hot desert and there are very few places on Earth that compare to its incredible landscape. Located on the western border, many travelers come to Morocco specifically for the desert experience of venturing off into the desert and spending a night under the stars. Choose a hotel or riad in Merzouga as your base if you wish to explore the Sahara Desert during the day, and not spend the night in the desert. It would take almost a full day just to drive to the sand dunes.
Since Morocco is a warm-weather country, the food leans towards lighter, grilled meats and vegetables, with lots of fruit and spice mixed in. Kebabs of all kinds are obviously a must-eat, as are the clay-pot tagines where chicken sits atop prunes, olives and different grains. Zaalouk a smoked eggplant dip is a perfect appetizer. Or if you’re feeling adventurous try b’stilla – also known as Bastilla, a pie with thin, flaky layers of almonds, eggs, and pigeon meat.
Finding restaurants in this country is no harder than in most places, feeling you’ve gotta hit one of the country’s bustling markets. Of course, they’re chaotic, and you can often get lost or, worse, end up eating something that makes you sick. Ayoub Fennine, assistant operations manager for Peak DMC, suggests eating at food stalls where you see Moroccan families eating, as they know best where to dine.
Finally a note on drinking, both alcoholic and otherwise. Though Morocco is a Muslim country, you can find booze pretty much anywhere, and in the cities, you’ll see Moroccans drinking it. That said, many more-traditional Moroccans may be offended if you start walking around like it’s St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, so just be respectful and consume responsibly. Also, don’t drink the tap water. Use bottled water for everything from washing down dinner to brushing your teeth.