Lying just nine miles across the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco can often feel more Mediterranean or Middle Eastern than African. However, it is precisely these influences that have led to a melange of interesting architecture, delicious cuisine and lively culture that travellers from all over the world come to see.
So, if you are thinking about a trip to Morocco for your next holiday, here are five reasons why it would be a great choice.
A Maze Of Medinas
Although Rabat is the current capital, Marrakesh, Fez and Meknes have all held this honour in the past. These imperial cities can, therefore, offer a great deal of history in the form of old buildings like mosques, riads (elaborate palaces with manicured gardens) and museums. The majority of these can be found in each destination’s medina – a walled part of the city that can be compared to the charming Old Towns found in European countries.
Step into any of these medinas and you’ll be transported back in time and to a fast-paced world where life rushes by. These areas are usually the centre of everyday activities and it’s often where you’ll find the most interesting attractions. Souqs, or markets, are great places in which to immerse yourself within the energetic lifestyle. Haggling is not just accepted but expected.
Beaches Bathed In Sun
Beautiful beaches may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Africa, but if any country should buck that trend then it has to be Morocco. Spots along the Mediterranean coast may be better for their scenic views than their swimming, but the stretches along the western side can offer a great environment for a family beach holiday.
Agadir, Casablanca and Tangier are the most popular options for traditional beachgoers – so if you’re looking for golden sands, inviting waters and plenty of facilities, head to any of these. However, there are plenty of other beaches that could appeal to different types of travellers. Sidi Ifni’s Legzira Beach has some interesting rock formations; the high winds at Moulay Bouzerktoune, Essaouira make it perfect for water sports; and The Lagoon at Oualidia has a more local vibe with fantastic seafood on offer.
Morocco is not all about relaxing on beaches and admiring splendid architecture, though. If you’re looking for a more active escape, you will have plenty of adventure options available, giving you a chance to discover the otherworldly landscapes in this part of the world.
The High Atlas Mountains provide the perfect environment for trekking. There are tours to the various Berber villages for beginners, as well as the chance to climb to the highest point in North Africa, the top of Mount Toubkal, for more experienced hikers.
Another great adrenaline-fuelled excursion is a 4x4 safari across the Sahara Desert. As you head out to the Great Dunes of Erg Chigaga, which reach a height of 300ft, you’ll see fossil beds, dried salt lakes and a surprising amount of vegetation. Some tours will also include a night in a nomadic camp. You’ll never forget the starry skies and the sunrise that will greet you in the morning.
You only need to take a walk through one of the bustling souqs to understand how important herbs and spices are to the cuisine here. The flavourful food takes European influence from Andalusia and France, throws in some Arabian zest (sometimes literally) and creates aromatic dishes that go so much further than the tagines that we all know and love.
Popular ingredients include dried fruits, oils, Mediterranean vegetables, lamb, couscous and, of course, spices. Salads play a big part too, along with bread – both of which are often combined to create a fresh start to any meal. Street food is also very popular throughout the country and so the markets can be the ideal place to try a range of different things. Another custom you’re sure to notice is that all restaurant meals are accompanied by a pot of mint tea.
Even if you’re not usually the type of person that brings home souvenirs, the wares on offer in Morocco may make you think again. Beautiful pieces like lanterns, rugs and pots are popular items and are available at very reasonable prices from the souqs or Berber sellers. Another excellent souvenir idea, albeit more peculiar than the other things mentioned, is a fossil. The Sahara Desert is a hotbed (excuse the pun) for dinosaur relics and crystallised minerals known as Desert Roses.
You can view our range of Morocco tours on the website, but if you would like more information about the trips available, call us on 0800 021 3237. Alternatively, you can contact us online.