Morrocco is a unique part of Africa, with an incredible diversity of influence, as it nearly touches Europe. You’ll find French, Portuguese and Spanish flavor, to name a few, and this contributes to the richness. Today travelers will find intact palaces, mosques and fortresses within some beautiful towns, and the Mediterranean or Atlantic often hugs against the landscape. However, you might find yourself in the Sahara Desert or in the mountains. Here’s our list of the best cities in Morocco to get you started on your adventure.
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Travel consciously when visiting Tetouan—locals have done a phenomenal job of protecting the raw culture, and often worry about tourism altering that. As responsible travelers, we can lessen our footprint. Its mountain foothill and seaside location create a portrait worthy backdrop any way you might look, and the town itself appears honest and pure. Fine dining, a whitewashed cityscape and locally inspired hotels make this one an easy pick.
Asilah sits toward the north of the country and embodies a light, organic depiction of Moroccan culture. White buildings are linked by maize like alleys, which ultimately reveal views of the Atlantic Ocean. Asilah is a seaside paradise, while still offering history within it’s perfected Medina, or “old town”. Stay in one of the majestic Airbnbs while here.
Chefchaouen is a town of immense color, which rivals all other vivid displays among Morocco, which is seriously saying something. The cobblestone streets are lined with “blue washed” walls that electrify the Medina, while also being somewhat somber. Pops of red and lime green bring striking contrast that would look good through the lens of any camera. Be sure to stop by one of the authentic shops where crafters weave and make other intricate products.
Tangier is a port town off the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean and Atlantic meet. It’s a significant vein between Europe and Africa. While many say it can be explored in a day, we feel a good 48 hours would allow one to appreciate the history within the Kasba or Mosque. A wealth of drinks and eats like the famed mint tea add to the culinary culture, and white sand beaches await to be enjoyed.
At the entrance of Todra Gorge in Morocco , Tinghir opens up to a vast river carved canyon region that provides some of the most stunning natural views in Morocco. Even the town seems to meld with earth-toned rock, and you’ll also find ancient Kasbah ruins carved from the mountainside. While visitors come to hike the paths that wind through the gorge and near the Todra River, downtown offers places to eat and stay that are both enriching and memorable.
El Jadida is an old port town on the Atlantic, and quite possibly could be the hidden gem of beach vacations along the coasts of Africa. Largely because people flock to more well-known destinations, the beaches don’t get as crowded, and even hotels can be a good bit cheaper. You get the same experience, plus the bonus of being near a UNESCO site while being able to spend less money and immerse yourself into local life. The seafood here, from oysters to fish, is spot on.
Essaouira is lined with old fortress walls from centuries ago, and an overall historic aesthetic. The Atlantic beaches appeal not to sunbathers, but to kitesurfing athletes, because of turbulent winds that whip over the choppy waves. However just going downtown is an adventure on its own, as it’s designated as a world heritage site, and features markets and places to get authentic goodies. Essaouira is also home to a massive yearly music festival.
Ouarzazate is the place to stay when looking to base somewhere for the ultimate outdoor excursion vacation. Known as “The Gateway to the Sahara”, camel rides and sand surfing are at your fingertips. But Ouarzazate also has another nickname, “Morocco’s Little Hollywood”, because of the prominence of filming in the area, which included some Game of Thrones episodes.
Fez houses some deeply interesting sites such as the oldest university in the world, and of course, it’s colorful Medina alone is enough to allure one to visit the streets of this ancient town. When the infrastructure was put into place, river-fed fountains were as well, and now are significant aspects of Fez. Sixty, to be exact, spout water from mosaic-tiled fixtures, and still serve as the water source for older homes without plumbing.
Marrakech is the holy grail of destinations in Morocco because it offers a fine balance between tourist appeal and authentic culture. On one hand, you have fine hotels with gorgeous surroundings and palace-like amenities, but then you have the local markets overflowing with handcrafted goods and lots of tasty foods. The markets are where it all comes alive in Marrakech. Cafes offering native cheap eats, and more fine dining experiences round out the culinary backbone—this is a great starting point to get a taste of Morrocco.