Most of the people, who come to Morocco, visit only Marrakesh, Fes and maybe couple more places around. It’s a good choice: i have found that generally Marrakesh got a bit of everything and suited for the tourists in a best way. But if you want to see more Morocco and make the most of it, explore and understand the country, there is much more to see and do here!
I have spend around 3 weeks exploring Morocco and have visited 11 places. Of course, there is always something left for the next time, but i definitely saw the most important places and haven’t missed the best experiences. In this article i will tell you about places to see while visiting Morocco+ will share my 3 weeks iternerary!
Where to go in Morocco
Tangier is a relaxed coastal town in Morocco next to the Spain (you can even see Spain from the coast). It is hip city that became popular in 70’s with lots of celebrities like The Rolling Stones, who have spend some time here. Old Medina is nice and friendly, the coastline is fresh and the views are beautiful. Tangier is more a holiday beach destination and now work hard to become a good (and cheaper) alternative beach destination. I was there in spring and was surprised to see that there are lots of people around, enjoying the sunshine next to the sea.
Tetouan is located not far from Tangier, less than 70km drive. This is more local city, there are less tourists, but it’s Medina is UNESCO World Heritage site and the main point of interest. Tetouan is a bit more real and less touristy, but still beautiful and some views of the area are really great! The combination of white houses and beautiful surroundings was my favourite thing in Tetouan as the area feels so fresh, so green and clean. I can’t believe my eyes that it is still Africa, but it is!
This small city now is the top INSTA spot in the world and one of the main reasons why everyone comes to Morocco. Chefchaouen is famous for it’s pretty blue painted streets and colourful flowers everywhere. The atmosphere here is special as there are locals, who still live here, and there are lots of tourists, who come here (mostly for a few hours) to have fun, take lots of pics, shoot videos etc. Chefchaouen is especially popular among Asian tourists and at some point i even feel like I am in China or Thailand. But it’s cool: everyone have fun here and now it’s very trendy to shoot small music videos at the picturesque streets. Still don’t expect much authenticity here, now it is busy touristy city..
I can easily call Fez the most historical, real and hard place to visit in Morocco. If you want to feel something unique, it’s a place for you. Fez and it’s medina is like a time machine. It is still a bit wild, have it’s own rules and works as a separate system. Fez medina got a special atmosphere, i would hardly call it friendly and it is still a place, where people live and work. That makes it unique! Fez medina is so old and so much has happened here that it is a miracle to have it as it is.
From the other hand, it’s a special world and you can feel yourself as a stranger. If you choose to stay inside medina, get ready for adventure as most of the houses here are small and the hotels are hard to find. If you will get lost (and you will) there is a big chance that someone will try to get something from you. When i was trying to find my hotel, i saw it on the map, but i couldn’t find the entrance. Some guys wanted to assist me, but quickly i have realised that they simply want me to get lost and then will ask for some money to bring me back. This is very common scam here and there are plenty of bad stories about it. Just don’t trust anyone who reach you. Better ask for help in shops around if you will get lost: they will help you for a small tip.
Marrakesh is the most touristy place in Morocco and the place that have it all. It feels more like a holiday destination, a bit too “clean” and touristy oriented, but sometimes it is for good. Generally Marrakesh is safe, clean and easy to explore. This is the main reason why it is so popular. The main square here probably is the most authentic place. If you don’t want too much exotic, but still want to see and experience a Morocco, Marrakesh is your best choice!
>> Learn about cool places to see in Marrakesh
This small beach town was the most recommended place for me in Morocco and it was a great advice! Essaoiera literally means “little picture”. Beach is good and long, you can walk there for hours without many people around (and some beautiful landscapes), Medina is real and pleasant, markets are the best in Morocco and the atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed. If you want more, Essaoiera got some historical armpits (defensive walls) and a castle. No surprise that many people choose it as a place to stay in Morocco for a few weeks or months during long journeys as the area is nice and it’s a good place to be and stay for while.
The capital city of Morocco is not a regular tourist destination, but worth visiting. From the first moment i was surprised how comfortable, cool and modern it is. Everything is clean, well maintained and there are some new modern buildings along with historical areas. Rabat loves it’s heritage: Medina is pretty and colourful and everything is fresh and nice looking. Also i really loved that Rabat is not touristy, so eating out was cheap and healthy (which is an issue in Morocco sometimes).
Meknes is mostly known for it’s UNESCO World Heritage medina. That was the only reason why i came here and, too be honest, you can easily skip it. Though the place and people are friendly, but there is not much to see in Meknes. The most important sights were closed for restoration when i was there. Some streets, old islamic school, markets (same as everywhere else) and high city walls were the only sights i saw. So having +1 UNESCO Site in your collection is the main reason to come.
Mazagan (El Jadida)
EL Jadida is relatively big city not far from Casablanca. The main point of interest here is El Jadida area, which is former Portuguese fort. It is also UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can easily stay inside the fort in one of few hotels, see old Cistern, walk around the walls and couple streets. 1,5-2 hours are enough to see everything in a slow pace, but i have enjoyed it. El Jadida is more off the beaten path city, but it’s a good idea to visit it on your way to Casablanca.
Casablanca is one of the places, that is sometimes overlooked buy tourists. It is business hub of Morocco and many people take it just as a gateway to the country. I decided to stay here for couple days and can say that it is worth spending some time here. Check the mosque, enjoy the coastline, see the Old part of the city and shop at markets before leaving. You will enjoy it!
>> Learn more about best things to do in Casablanca
How to plan your trip to Morocco
Travelling in Morocco was surprisingly easy. The roads are good and there are plenty of transport options for tourists. Casablanca usually is the most popular plane hub and have the biggest number of good flights from abroad. Flights to Marrakesh are surprisingly expensive. Many people come to Casablanca and go to Marrakesh by train. There are lots of cheap flights from Spain to Tangier and Casablanca. Also there are good flights from Casablanca to Malta. That’s why when i was there i came from Spain (Madrid) to Tangier by plane (it was cheaper than ferry) and left from Casablanca to Malta.
Generally everything works fine in Morocco, but don’t expect much as still it is exotic destination (we came to see it as exotic one, right?).
I have planned my route using public transportation: mostly busses and sometimes trains. Busses here are everywhere and serves many routes. There are good CTM busses, which are made for tourists and generally clean, safe and works faster. If you can, buy your tickets in advance as occasionally they can be full and you will have to use other buses. Other companies costs almost the same, but they works mostly for locals and for some reason they are much slower, dirty and there are less room. You will be fine for 2-3 hours, but better take care of yourself and buy your ticket online in advance. The only disadvantage of CTM busses is that they tend to have their own bus stations and sometimes they are located far from the central areas. Still most of the times they do make stops at main stations. Trains are also good option and usually preferred. The system works good and they are safe and (almost) clean, but the routes are limited.
Here is my route in Morocco:
Tangier – 2 days
Tetuan – 1 day
Chefchaouen – 1 day
Fes – 4 days (it was too much, 1 day would be better)
Meknes – 1 day trip from Fes
Rabat – 2 days
Marrakesh – 4 days
Essaouira – 4 days
El Jadida (Mazagan) – 1 day (there is very little to see, but i came late and decided to stay overnight)
Casablanca – 2 days
Generally in most of the places i had enough time not to rush and my pace was pretty slow, so i wasn’t stressed and had several days just relaxing. Same route can be done quicker if you want to.
While choosing a place to stay, you will notice that there are lots of Riads in Morocco. They are not the same, but it is the most popular type of accommodation here. I would suggest not to miss it, it could be an experience. I have spend most of my time in riads and would say that it was a bit challenging as mostly they are located in old houses, which could feel a bit uncomfortable. Most of the people got tired of them in a few days and want a bit more familiar comforts. I would suggest to spend few days in Riads and then choose western style hotels. Morocco is an exotic country and you will need some time to relax and recharge in more familiar ambience.
>>> Check this articles to learn about experiences not to be missed in Morocco
Morocco is a great place to travel to. It is relatively comfortable and you can travel here the way you prefer it: backpacking, adventure, in style, beach time or cultural travel. Morocco got something for everyone and could be the best choice to start exploring Africa!