1. Introduction

The North African nation of Morocco is an often overlooked holiday destination. Yet those who do choose to visit rarely leave disappointed. From the great capital of Marrakech to the timeless tranquillity of the desert, Morocco has a great deal to offer. The country is steeped in a rich and diverse history, and has a strong cultural heritage that is evident throughout. It is easy to find many beautifully preserved examples of ancient civilizations, from the Roman ruins of Volubilis, to the Islamic architecture of the Imperial Cities. Morocco is also a land of striking scenery. The magnificent Atlas Mountains cut across the country, rising to a height of around 4000m, their snow-capped peaks towering above the blistering hot Sahara. The mountains provide an excellent trekking and skiing terrain. The valleys beneath are home to rural Berber villages, and the fertile plains below are thick with lush orchards and the fragrant scent of orange groves. Eager hikers, and those looking to experience the charm of a mountain village, will find much to love in the Atlas.

2. Planning Your Trip

Choosing the time to visit Morocco is a huge number of tourists with multinational which has resulted in various cultures. Climate in Morocco can also help you to know about choosing the time for a visit. Good travel deals are available in the shoulder seasons, at the beginning and the end of the summer and the winter. But weather is the best consideration. Summers are hot, for some painfully so. The coolest weather can be found at the coast, while the interior areas are much warmer. Winters are wet in the north, but the south can be bitterly cold, compounded by houses ill-equipped to deal with the colder weather. During these times, the only areas that are comfortable are in the extreme south, the desert, or the Sahara. So deciding the places you want to visit can also be a factor in the timing of the trip. If you are going to be in the Atlas, plan on cooler temps. If you want a heat escape, head south. Morocco isn’t a country that you can take in with one week’s vacation. It’s best experienced with at least a few weeks. I’d personally recommend a full month if possible, allowing time for Islamic events that can disrupt travel plans. If you’re planning a specific event or enjoy a certain seasonal weather, ask around for the best time to accommodate your desires. And of course, there’s always room for a return trip. A week, however, is better than not making the trip at all.

2.1. Choosing the Best Time for your morocco vacation

Now that you have some understanding of the climate in Morocco, it may be easier to decide what time would best suit your preferred vacation activities.

The Sahara: The Sahara has extremely high temperatures in summer, so the best time would be spring, autumn, or even in the winter where the climate is very pleasant during the day. At night it can get extremely cold so it is wise to prepare adequately.

The Mountains: The Atlas Mountains are best enjoyed in summer and can be cold and damp in winter. Snow sports can be enjoyed during winter on the higher peaks.

The North: Cities such as Chefchaouen or Fes can be extremely hot in summer and cold in winter. High altitude towns like Ifrane can even experience cold winters with the possibility of snow.

The Coast: The coastal regions such as Tangiers, Asilah, Essaouira, and Agadir enjoy a moderate Mediterranean climate making them prime locations for escaping the summer heat or even a winter in Europe. The summer climate can occasionally be windy, particularly on the Atlantic coast, and coastal towns are often a few degrees cooler than inland cities.

There are no right or wrong choices, however one should consider the timing of their vacation in the context of the activities and atmosphere they are looking for. Morocco is a diverse country with a wide range of climates and geographical situations, so it is advisable to plan your vacation time wisely.

2.2. Deciding on the Duration of Your vacation

When deciding on the duration of your trip to Morocco, the first thing you need to do is sit down and determine what are the main places in Morocco that you want to see. Morocco is a fascinating country with so much to see and do, and you need to be realistic in deciding how much you can cover in the time you have available. For instance, if your dream is to hike in the Atlas Mountains, visit the deep south, and see the beach, then consider spending at least 2.5 – 3 weeks in Morocco as these places are far-flung and you don’t want to rush your trip. Another aspect to consider is, are you on a fleeting visit, or does your Morocco trip form part of a wider North African or European vacation? If you are only planning to stay for a week and you are coming from Europe, then an ideal trip could be a cheap flight into Marrakech with a few days there, then going to Essaouira for the beach, and then a day in Casablanca before flying out. The beauty of Morocco is that you can see and do a lot in a short time, so even if your trip is only short, you can still pack in many memorable experiences. On the other hand, if Morocco is the sole destination of your trip, any time from 10 days upwards is a good amount of time to have a fulfilling trip that involves moving around and seeing the raid the sights that you can’t miss on your first visit.

2.3. Researching Visa Requirements

When you visit Morocco, you’ll need a strategy visa. Travelers who don’t require a visa can stay for up to a quarter of a year. Guests from the EU, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand don’t require a visa. Visas are free for natives of nations, like the USA and Canada. Be that as it may, visa rules and necessities are liable to change so it’s a smart thought to check for the most recent data. By and large, your visa must be utilized inside 90 days of being issued. It will permit you to stay up to 90 days. On the off chance that you overstay your visa it can make issues for you when leaving Morocco. Usually, a voyager who has overstayed up to 90 days is not permitted re-entry for three months. On the off chance that you have over-stayed by in excess of 90 days you will be restricted for one year. This could mean some genuine migraines on the off chance that you need to come back to Morocco. It is vital to check to what extent your visa is legitimate for upon section in Morocco. Keep in mind, visa rules can change so it’s dependably a smart thought to check the most recent data.

2.4. Booking Flights and Accommodation

Accommodation in Morocco caters for all budget levels. The cheapest option is to stay in basic hotels or hostels with shared a bathroom and/or a dormitory-style room. Price ranges between cities and while off-peak, you can always negotiate a better rate. A great number of midrange three-star hotels exist. They are normally in old buildings and have retained traditional Moroccan style. They are relatively cheap, about $15-30 EUR for a double room. Morocco also has a large amount of tourist properties where you can rent a room: Riads, Kasbahs, and Dars are the most popular. A Riad is a traditional Moroccan house within the old city, often with a garden courtyard in the center. It can be a very tranquil place to stay and many have been converted into luxury and boutique guest houses. It is common to be greeted with mint tea and use of a hammam at the Riad. Nothing is ever too much for the staff and they are renowned for an exceptional level of service. A Kasbah is a place that you must see. It is a fortified city where the ruling Pashtuns used to reside. But now, many have been converted into tourist accommodation. Finally, a Dar is a guest house and the terms Riad, Kasbah, and Dar are sometimes used to describe the style of accommodation rather than the building. High-end accommodations include 4-5 star luxury or business hotels and luxury touristic properties. High-end tourists expect a high level of service and it is not unusual for the price of a top Moroccan hotel to be similar to what you would pay for a night in a 4-star hotel in Western Europe or the United States.

When booking your flight, an open jaw air ticket which flies into Casablanca and flies out of Tangier can save you time and money on retracing your steps across Morocco. So if you have an itinerary planned, explore this option but always take the time to compare the difference between two one-way tickets. For example, from London to Casablanca then return home from Rabat compared to the open jaw ticket. The choice of airline can matter. Larger airlines flying to Morocco employ local Moroccan and North African air crews who tend to speak better English than a stewardess from an airline that is based in another country. Royal Air Maroc is the national carrier of Morocco and often has competitive pricing on its tickets. They may include a free stopover in Casablanca enabling you to see double the destinations for the price of one. There are also a number of cheap airlines that fly direct to Morocco from Europe such as Easyjet, Ryanair, Air Arabia, and Atlas Blue.

3. Exploring Moroccan Culture

As the capital of Morocco for over 350 years, Meknes is another of the country’s historical gems. The city is saturated with the culture of the sultan who made it his home, and the stables and granaries constructed at this time can still be seen. Meknes is also the most convenient base for visits to the Roman ruins at Volubilis. The ruins are extremely well preserved and are a hauntingly evocative sight.

A good place to start an exploration of Moroccan culture is Morocco’s history. Learning about Moroccan History Morocco has a very rich and multi-layered history, with many different aspects to explore. Visitors may find the ancient imperial cities to be the most exciting and tangible evidence of Morocco’s history. The oldest of these cities, Fes is said to be the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco. Built in the 8th century, it is still very much alive with traditions of the past, giving visitors the impression that they have stepped back in time.

Visitors to Morocco are likely to find themselves exploring the country’s culture, both its historical culture and the contemporary life of the cultural scene. The culture of Morocco has been influenced over the centuries by a diverse and blending of civilizations – firstly the indigenous Berbers, then the Arabs who spread their Islamic and cultural way of life (including the language) and later, the Europeans with their more modern way of life. The interaction of all these has led to a rich and varied culture in Morocco.

3.1. Learning about Moroccan History

For thousands of years, Morocco has been a cultural crossroad, a blend of the indigenous Berber people of North Africa and successive invaders from the East (Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Byzantines) and the West (Romans, Vandals, Moors, Spanish Andalusians). In the 7th century, Arab invaders brought their culture and the religion of Islam, mixed with an enigmatic blend with the Berbers. The Arab control eventually fragmented, however, as various tribal groups vied for power. This is in contrast to the Idrissid dynasty (788-974) named after the founder of a powerful state during that time. The history of Morocco is rich and varied, with roots in Islamic and Arabic culture. It is long and full of conflict. There is a great deal of recorded history available to the inquisitive traveler. From the classical era, much evidence can be found throughout the country in the form of the old Roman settlements at Volubilis, the Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat, and the restored Marinid Tombs at Fes. An important period in Morocco’s history was the rise of the Almoravid dynasty who came from the Saharan oasis of Awdaghust. They were responsible for unifying Morocco, the invasion of Spain and the Maghrib, and the spreading of the Maliki rite of Sunni Islam. This was in many ways a high point in Moroccan culture and influence. Much from Andalusian and Maghribi and Almoravid architecture remains.

3.2. Discovering Moroccan Cuisine

Moroccan cuisine is a mix of Berber, Spanish, Corsican, Portuguese, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and African cooking. The cuisine of Morocco is mainly Berber-Moorish, and European influences brought by the French and Spanish during the colonial period. Morocco produces a large range of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables and even some tropical ones. Common meats include beef, goat, mutton and lamb, chicken and seafood, which serve as a base for the cuisine. Characteristic flavorings include lemon pickle, argan oil, cold-pressed, unrefined olive oil and dried fruits. As in all North African countries, couscous is the staple food and in Morocco it is served in many different ways. Moroccan cuisine uses dried fruits and is also known for being sweet and savory. Moroccan cuisine is known for using a lot of fruit and vegetables. A common meal would consist of a mixture of dishes, with the first being a salad or cooked vegetable salad. Preserved lemons are added to make it sweet and sometimes it is followed by harira, a spiced and warming tomato soup with chickpeas, lentils and meat. Spices are used in abundance in Moroccan food. This can sometimes result in the final dish being quite spicy; however the spices used in Moroccan food are usually not hot. Some popular flavorings include saffron, olives and oranges. Now with a change in trend, the cuisine is moving more towards international trends by adding more variety/giving more free options to select from frozen food and marine products. But the traditional cuisine is still followed in most parts of the country.

3.3. Experiencing Traditional Music and Dance

Hispanic, Arab, and Berber rhythm and African drumbeat are blended in Moroccan music. This makes a unique sound and style, mastering the use of an array of traditional instruments – the bagpipes, rebab (a one-stringed fiddle), and the derbouka (a type of drum). The music ranges from Andalusian to upbeat folk music. Jajouka is a form of music and dance involving heavy rhythm that is often accompanied by a type of native folk trance. Morocco also has a very active scene for contemporary world music. Traditional music is often played in some of the smaller bars and lounges in the old medinas. Even in modern Moroccan music, the traditional music and dance styles still hold considerable appeal – though the younger generations are likely to prefer the chaabi, a rhythmic and lively style of dance music accompanied with intricate dance moves. During certain times of the year, there are some fantasia festivals where several horsemen charge in a line firing rifles into the air. This re-enacts the war scenes of the past and is often performed to the sound of traditional music.

3.4. Visiting Local Markets and Souks

A souk is a market, and they are a fundamental part of Moroccan life. Visiting a Moroccan souk can be an enlightening and enjoyable experience. You can observe the way in which business is conducted, watch the haggling and exchange, and also learn a great deal about Moroccan people in the process. Traditionally, the souks are a place for the local people to buy their everyday provisions, and visiting a souk in a small town or village will often prove to be a more authentic experience, as many Moroccan cities have now established separate markets for the convenience of the locals, and the tourist markets are an entirely separate enterprise which sells goods aimed specifically at visitors. For example, in a typical Moroccan city, the first souk you will come across is the Place des Ferblantiers, and this is a souk for metal workers where a variety of metal goods are made and sold. Another interesting example is the Souk Kchacha, which is a shoe market and contains a massive variety of different styles of shoes and leather slippers. These are both located in Marrakech, which was until recently a major city where Berber villagers would come to trade both livestock and artisan goods, and this trade still goes on and has a major cultural importance in Morocco today. At the aforementioned souks, you may well still come across Berbers in their traditional dress! Souks selling food are an excellent place to purchase some cheap and Moroccan food, and you can often find the best bargains away from the tourist markets. One product to look out for is Berber honey, which is often vastly superior and cheaper than the honey sold in the medina and supermarkets, and the herby spice mix of Ras El Hanout is an iconic Moroccan food ingredient which makes an authentic and useful souvenir. Many souks will have a number of cafes or food stalls where you can sample the local cuisine at a very reasonable price, and this is certain to be a far more authentic experience than the restaurant menus aimed at tourists. Traditional Moroccan food would be a tajine or couscous dish, and you will also be able to enjoy the classic Moroccan tea. This is made from Chinese gunpowder tea, a handful of fresh mint, and an enormous quantity of sugar, and it is sure to be offered to you if you spend a long time browsing in a shop. The products souk vendors sell to tourists might seem too gimmicky for a real purchase to some, and haggling to acquire such products can often develop into a rather tedious process. However, if you have a proficient grasp of the French or Arabic language and an ability to speak with the local accent, you may find that you can use your language skills to turn the situation into an interesting cultural exchange with some of the vendors. Many products have an interesting story behind them, and Moroccan craftsmen are often plying a trade which has been passed down through the generations in a manner that has changed very little, so do not dismiss a potential discussion with somebody who is trying to sell you something. Even if you do not make a purchase, locals will often be proud to show you their workshop and explain how they make their goods. The exchange is much more genuine and pleasant than, say, the bored vendor who tries to sell you a tacky keyring in the street and gives up as soon as you ignore the inflated price and give him what you know it is really worth.

4. Must-Visit Cities and Attractions

Marrakech is a city in Morocco that is filled with culture, history, and art. You will definitely feel like you’re in Morocco as soon as you arrive in Marrakech. The Medina is the old city, and it is where you will find history and amazing Moroccan food. You can take a horse-drawn carriage tour around the city, which is a unique thing to do. I would recommend staying in a Riad, which is an old palace house that has been converted into a hotel. The food in Marrakech is traditional Moroccan, with Tagines and Couscous being the main dishes to try. There are also plenty of things to do outside of the city, like hot air ballooning, quad biking, and water parks for families. The nightlife is also very vibrant, with plenty of night markets and live music everywhere. Jemma El Fnaa is the main square and marketplace at nighttime, where you will see some very interesting market stalls, food, and street performers. Chefchaouen is a very interesting and unique city in the north of Morocco. It is usually called the “blue city” as most of the buildings here are painted blue. It is nestled in the mountains, and the air is fresh and clean. Chefchaouen is a great place to relax and take things slowly. The markets are not as pushy as places like Marrakech and Fez and are a great place to buy Moroccan crafts. There are also plenty of hiking trails in the mountains, and it is even possible to camp and do a multi-day hike to other cities. Easier day trips can be made to the Roman ruins of Volubilis and the city of Meknes.

4.1. Exploring the Bustling Streets of Marrakech for a unique moroccan vacation

Exploring the bustling streets of Marrakech for a unique Moroccan vacation. Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco and lies near the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. The city was founded in 1062 by Abu Bakr ibn Umar, a chieftain and cousin of Almoravid king Yusuf ibn Tashfin. In the beginning, the city was possibly founded as a camp of nomadic warriors on the way to fight for the capital of Morocco at the time, which was Fes. Marrakech has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco and also has one of the busiest squares in Africa and the world, Djemaa el Fna. The square bustles with acrobats, storytellers, water sellers, dancers, and musicians. By night, food stalls open in the square turning it into a huge busy open-air restaurant. Deep in the medina is the Ali ben Youssef Medrassa, it was an Islamic college in Marrakech which was named after the Almoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (1106-1142) who expanded the city and its influence considerably. The college was founded during the Marinid dynasty in 1565 and later was refurbished in 1950. During the 16th century, the Saadian dynasty built the Ben Youssef Mosque in this area. The current building may not be the original as it was rebuilt during the Saadian and Almoravid ruling, and then in the 19th century. Marrakesh has the largest traditional Berber market in Morocco and the image of the city is closely associated with its souks. Paul Sullivan cites the souks as the principal shopping attraction in the city: “A honeycomb of intricately connected alleyways, this is a micro-medina in itself, comprising a dizzying and disorientating array of market stalls”. Many of the souks sell items such as carpets and rugs, traditional Muslim attire, leather bags, and lanterns. Influenced by the city’s recent history, there are now many cooperatives in Marrakech that sell items such as Berber carpets, and argan and olive oils, which were used traditionally in Morocco. The influx of these cooperatives into the city has led to a rise in the sale of these items in the souks, where they are often much cheaper than in the stores or at the markets in the new city. The souk of Marrakesh is the largest traditional market in Morocco, with wonderful little souks (markets) in the medina. A “souk” is an Arabic word which means “market”. Usually, a market in an Arab city has many souks with specific streets or areas for a particular product such as food, clothes, or crafts. This is because historically, trade in the Muslim world has often been a question of exchanging one product for another, and the concept of a shop with cash to purchase goods is quite a foreign idea. Today, the souks of Marrakech are still a wonderful world of haggling, and a great theatre of commerce. Many of the small stalls in the souks specialize in specific types of the particular item, for example, there are a great many stalls specializing in the making of babouches, the Moroccan leather slippers. The modern age has seen the souk also being used by the locals as a place to meet to chat over a coffee, and to exchange the latest gossip. The Marrakech souk is a very exciting place for tourists to visit. They will be marveled by the vast and colorful array of products and will relish the general activity and enthusiasm of the souk. Tourists will also be bemused by the labyrinth of the souk as it twists and turns endlessly with a huge variety of treasures to buy.

4.2. Discovering the Blue City of Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen is known as “The Blue City” due to its buildings and streets painted in vivid blue and purple colors. The beauty of Chefchaouen’s blue-washed houses is a clear observation of the relationship between the locals and the town’s stunning natural surroundings. It is an extremely popular destination for tourists from around the world and a common destination for both Moroccans and visitors for a nice escape from the heat in the larger cities. Chefchaouen is a fantastic destination for those interested in mountain tourism or for those who wish to take a break from the sometimes excessively warm temperatures in the rest of Morocco. It is most well known for its hashish, which is widely available. However, despite the drugs which are mainly sold to tourists, it is a relatively quiet and safe place and has a strong, vibrant culture and arts scene. The local people are very friendly. This makes it a great place to visit in order to accomplish projects that require speaking with locals, photography, or simply people who want to interact with people who are not begging for a few dirhams. Established as a holy city and open to non-Muslims in 1920, the Spanish occupation of the Rif brought a Catholic church that still stands today. Closed during periods of anti-Christian fervor, notably after the independence of Morocco and the 1958 disturbances, it was rededicated in 2010. It is an imperative part of the local culture and still hosts both Spanish and Moroccan priests. Anyone is welcome to observe or take part in the services held there.

4.3. Visiting the Ancient Ruins of Volubilis

Volubilis is a partly excavated Roman city in Morocco situated near Meknes between Fes and Rabat, along with being a UNESCO World Heritage site dated back to 1997. The olive presses and the houses are exceptional and well preserved, as well as the mosaics in them. There is also a basilica, temple, and triumphal arch. The capitol is quite a sight: it is an empty basis and columns standing upright in the middle of nowhere. If one ventures to walk up the mountain, Hassan, there is a sanctuary on the way and a stunning and breathtaking view of the Roman ruins and the countryside. A museum has been built, Abdel Moumen O. al Saidi, designed to accommodate the mosaics that were taken from the site to ensure their preservation. A trilingual system has been used, and a pamphlet exists to guide the visitor through the ancient ruins. The most visited places are the House of Orpheus and the Labours of Hercules. The site also includes the Arch of Caracalla, found by the Decumanus Maximus (main road

4.4. Exploring the Coastal City of Essaouira

Essaouira is a city where you can relax in beautiful, natural surroundings. Essaouira is a beautiful coastal town with amazing beaches. It has a very relaxed atmosphere that is a stark contrast to other Moroccan cities. The people are incredibly friendly, and you can enjoy fresh seafood every day at a very low cost. The city itself is an artists’ colony, and has always attracted a bohemian crowd. Orson Welles once said that he would like to film Othello in the town, and this is where he did so – the ramparts and the harbour are well-preserved and haven’t changed since then. This is a relaxing town to explore, with lots of old town and modern shops. The medina of Essaouira is a UNESCO world heritage listed site. It is virtually traffic free and you can explore the town at your leisure. It is well known for its silver souks and for its kheleeji (Gulf Arab) style doors which are intricately designed and decorated. The beach of Essaouira is very popular and you can sometimes spot the odd celebrity having a day out on the sands. Blue and white paint the beach view as parasols shade many from the heat and camels are kept in stables along the beach for time to time rides. Beach side cafes and small restaurants mean a full day can be spent at the beach and the strong wind means that the city is ideal for windsurfing. Essaouira is world famous for its kitesurfing and windsurfing. The best time for consistent wind is between April and November, and many fans of the sports converge on the town during these periods. Fishing is also a major industry in Essaouira, and the harbour is a hive of activity. I would highly recommend making a visit to the fishing port for early birds, as the local fishermen bring their catches in and sell them fresh off the boat which is often an interesting sight.

4.5. Experiencing the Sahara Desert in Merzouga

Well rested after a night at the lodge, it was time to board the bus again and head towards the highlight of the tour, the Sahara. The drive was long, and it was easy to notice we were getting close to the desert. The ground became more and more orange from the sand, and before we knew it, we had reached the town of Merzouga, located at the edge of the dunes of Erg Chebbi. Before heading into the dunes we were told to only bring a daypack with us, and to leave the big bags on the bus. There is a great reason for this. The camp we would be staying at was a few hours into the desert, and the best way to get there was by camel. A long line of camels awaited us, and after a safety briefing, we were on our way into the dunes. Erg Chebbi is huge. When our camp finally appeared it was already dark, and our only source of light were the millions of stars above us, and the weak lanterns hanging from the tents. An incredibly tasty tagine feast was served, and then the staff at the camp busted out their drums and started a fire. At this point they were begging for some of us to dance, and it wasn’t long before the whole group was up and dancing. The following morning was an early one. The best time to see the dunes is of course, sunrise. Everyone staggered out of their tents, rubbing their eyes and dressed far warmer than they expected it to be, the desert gets very cold during the night. We climbed to the top of one of the smaller dunes near the camp, and waited. As the sun started to appear, the sand around us constantly changed in colour. The photos and memory will last forever.

5. Outdoor Adventures in Morocco vacation

Trekking in the Atlas Mountains might not be the easiest thing you can do in your period. Yet it might be the most satisfying. The Atlas Mountains are less than an hour’s drive away from Marrakech and a lot of day trips are possible. However, if you do possess the time, the proper way to experience the Atlas Mountains is with a multi-day trip taking in the beautiful scenery, charming kasbahs, and meeting the welcoming Berber people. A four-day trek beginning in Imlil and ending in the Azzadene Valley surpassed all my expectations. The stunning beauty of the Atlas mountains is beyond belief and there’s no better feeling than being on foot, working your way through the diverse terrain and altitudes to have a Berber village, meeting locals, and mint tea will ever appear. Accompanied by pack mules and a cook employed from one of the local villages, trekking in the Atlas Mountains is a unique way to escape the modern world and experience the good thing about the environment. Camel riding in the Sahara Merzouga and sleeping in the Berber tents. On the second night, we would like to recommend a luxury option of staying at a Merzouga luxury camp, where you may enjoy the comfort of your tent, VIP treatment service, camel trekking, sandboarding, and superb Moroccan cuisine served under the stars or inside the restaurant. It offers an ultimate experience for those seeking a unique Sahara desert adventure.

5.1. Trekking in the Atlas Mountains

The two most visited areas are the Toubkal and Mgoun Massifs. The former being higher and more easily accessed, the area is generally more popular with those aiming to summit Jebel Toubkal, North Africa and the Arab World’s highest peak. At 4167m, Toubkal is a non-technical winter climb and can be ascended with little more than mountaineering in the summer months. The area is well facilitated with refuge accommodation, providing an excellent base for trekking in the high mountains and a fantastic opportunity to experience high altitude trekking and for those tackling the Atlas’s highest summit.

There is no doubt that trekking in the Atlas Mountains provides a fantastic opportunity to experience the best of Morocco on foot. Whether it’s a day trip to the foothills, a trek between Berber villages, or a six-day ascent of Jebel Toubkal, the atmosphere, scenic beauty, and pleasant climate combine to create a truly unmissable trekking experience. Only a short drive from Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains are the perfect destination for those looking for adventure in a time frame to suit. The range boasts a number of trekking areas, each with their own unique attractions.

5.2. Camel Riding in the Desert

Camel riding, known as the “ship of the desert,” is often associated with Morocco and provides an authentic way to experience the country’s majestic Sahara Desert. Riding a camel is comfortable, the movement of the animal is gentle, and the rider sits in a particularly advantageous position to take in the views. We recommend a few hours to a few days camel trek with a guide and as little equipment as possible. The guides generally have a lot of experience and can teach you a lot about the desert. Getting to know your cameleer and traveling by camel gives you the chance to meet and understand the traditionally nomadic desert people and their way of life. Most treks cover the area around Tinerhir and Todra. Tinerhir is at the edge of the desert and 15km south of the Todra palmerie and the beginning of the stunning Todra Gorge. The walk from Tinerhir to the gorge can take approximately half a day and is lined with beautiful ancient kasbahs/palaces, carved from the dust, and surrounded by palmeries. An overnight stay in the gorge is also a popular option, where you can experience traditional Berber culture and have a meal by the fire under a clear starry sky. A camel trek can be arranged from most Moroccan cities to Fez, Marrakech, and even as far as Casablanca, but the most authentic experience is in the south.

5.3. Surfing in Taghazout

Surfing is the major draw in Taghazout, Morocco’s main hippy destination. An endless selection of point breaks covering all degrees of difficulty wait along a ten-kilometre stretch of stunning coastline. Taghazout is an international surf mecca where surfers eat, sleep, and breathe the surfing lifestyle. The most famous wave is Anchor Point, a world-class long right break. A short walk around the headland is ‘La Source’, a powerful and often challenging reef break. A further walk south is the long stretch of beach break at ‘Devils Rock’. Hash Point, just in front of the village, is a fun and forgiving right and left point break. There are many other waves within walking distance. In recent years, the combination of local surf culture, beautiful and varied geography, and relative political stability has witnessed a growth in the availability and quality of education and training in Morocco. Surf Berbere is the main surf school in the area and holds international accreditation from the Royal Life Saving Society. Surf Berbere offers surf lessons and guiding for surfers of all abilities and access to all the best and most suitable breaks in the area. Surf Berbere’s instructors are English, French, and Arabic speakers and hold either ISA or BSA qualifications. Other local schools include Surf Maroc and Dfrost Surf and Yoga Hotel, who cater mainly for their own guests staying in their accommodation. Offers of ad-hoc lessons from local Moroccans can be found easily but do not ensure quality or safety. It’s always a good idea to ask about qualifications and experience before committing.

5.4. Exploring the Todgha Gorge

Rated one of the most spectacular canyons in the world, the Todgha Gorge is only 20 minutes from Tinghir. The canyon is a paradise for rock climbers. The quietness of the place is a wonderful change from the frantic souks and cities, and the locals are always willing to show you the way. Inside the narrow canyon, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking with the narrow canyon walls going up 300m on either side of you. The walk through the gardens and villages across the bridge isn’t half bad either. Todgha Gorge is recognized around the world as one of the most famous locations to partake in the sport of rock climbing. The Austrian and French national teams are even known to use it for winter training in preparation for the competition season. The Todgha Gorge is a must-see location for independent travelers interested in seeing some of the most beautiful scenery that Morocco has to offer. Don’t miss it!

6. Moroccan Traditions and Customs

Morocco is a place that is deeply rooted in tradition, often creating practices and customs that are unfamiliar to those coming from the West. Muslim influence has strongly shaped Moroccan customs. The visitor’s best approach is to be modest and polite. This implies not only the acceptance of local dress and custom but also attempting to understand the Moroccan way of doing things. Trying to follow this simple guideline can spare the visitor a great deal of embarrassment and misunderstanding while fostering goodwill. The importance of formality, in the eyes of most Moroccans, is the surest sign that a person is cultured. Good manners are a way of showing respect for another, and in so doing, a person wins respect for himself as well. Courtesy and diplomacy are universally appreciated. The process of selling and buying can be rich and fulfilling, and taking time out in the rituals of transactions serves to enrich the quality of community life. Hosts will go out of their way to make guests comfortable, often allocating the best of what they have to offer. An acceptance of the best paying gives face to the host and implies that the guest respects him highly.

Understanding Moroccan traditions and customs is very distinctive and deeply rooted. Morocco’s culture is a blend of religious and ethnic traditions, encompassing Berber, African, Arab, and Jewish traditions. All over Morocco, human warmth, temperature, and kindness, alongside a series of rituals and traditions, often make a traveler’s experience rich and fulfilling.

6.1. Understanding Islamic Customs and Etiquette

Moroccan Islam is colored by a tradition of hospitality and openness, which should be apparent in the first interactions you have with Moroccans. Islam has a strong influence on gender roles in Morocco. While you will find that most traditional Islamic etiquette regarding dress and public conduct is not forcefully imposed, Moroccans are still more conservative than people in the West regarding male/female relations. Public displays of affection between couples are strongly frowned upon. If you are married, wearing a ring will fend off a lot of unwanted attention from women, and lying about having a spouse is not considered ethically problematic for men. Because Moroccans are friendly people, you are likely to be asked personal questions that are generally considered impolite in the West, such as queries concerning your religious beliefs or why you are not married. Answer these questions sincerely and politely, and you will gain respect in the eyes of Moroccans who ask them. This is related to the widespread custom of “ordering the ma’ruf and forbidding the munkar,” which involves enjoining what is right and discouraging what is wrong, as defined by Islamic morality. By and large, Moroccans are tolerant of other religions, though Moroccans who have changed religion are liable to run into trouble with the family rather than the state. The minority of Christians and Jews have practiced their religions in Morocco for centuries, and it is essential to maintain respect and tolerance between these groups.

Islam is the dominant religion in Morocco, and its precepts permeate the society. All Moroccans are Sunni Muslims, and while there is a small minority who are Berber or Sufi Muslims, it is still the Islam of the Arabs—the Islam of the Quran and the Sunna—which provides the moral framework of public and private life. The religious institutes—zas or madrasas—have been a bastion for Arabo-Islamic civilization and a focal point of Moroccan intellectual life for over a millennium. As a visitor to Morocco, it is, of course, not necessary for you to behave as a Muslim, but understanding Islamic customs and beliefs can be rewarding, spiritually enlightening, and can foster good relations with Moroccans.

6.2. Dressing Appropriately during your Morocco vacation

In 6.2 Morgan outlines a number of important points. Firstly, he advocates the need to dress modestly in Morocco. He points out that, due to the values of Islamic culture and the king’s own beliefs about what constitutes a ‘real’ Moroccan, women in particular should seek to dress conservatively. Moroccan women rarely wear trousers, so it is best to avoid wearing these. Instead, Morgan suggests women should wear knee length skirts and loose fitting tops. At least in initial stages of your visit, women should not wear tight clothes, though these may be accepted by some of the more liberal or westernized families in larger cities. Women should not wear sleeveless tops as these are not deemed appropriate. Morgan adds humor to his points when he says “very often, Moroccans will have a better tan than you will, so avoid the strappy tops till you get back home.” He also points out that, while it can be difficult when the weather is so hot, women should try to wear tops with high necklines. On a very similar note, Morgan suggests that men should always wear a shirt in public, as many Moroccans would find it offensive that men walk around bare-chested. He feels it is never appropriate for men to wear shorts in Morocco and I have to agree with him on this point. Most Moroccans would find this childish and undignified for an adult male to do. It is suggested that men wear light cotton trousers in summer months, and would only need to wear jeans in the cooler regions of Morocco and during winter. Finally, the guide advises both genders to avoid wearing tight-fitting or overly revealing clothes. All in all, you are unlikely to be arrested for breaching a dress code in Morocco, but you will be showing a great deal of respect and will be treated more favorably by Moroccans if you dress in a modest fashion.

6.3. Learning Basic Arabic Phrases

Moroccan culture and traditions revolve around basic values such as hospitality, good nature, and respect for elders. Understanding Islamic customs and Moroccan traditions will not only add to your holiday-related knowledge but it’s also the best way to show respect towards local people. Language is the key to unlocking doors to a new culture. People who are able to speak the local language of the country that they are visiting can experience more enriched cultural experiences. People in Morocco are always excited and happy to see foreigners trying to learn their language. Doing so will certainly give you a new respect for the people of Morocco and their culture. If you plan to travel to Morocco, it would be beneficial to be able to speak at least a little Arabic as French and Spanish are not as widely understood or spoken in certain areas of the country. The following is a brief guide to help you on your way to learning Moroccan Arabic.

6.4. Participating in Moroccan Tea Ceremonies

Moroccan hospitality is not only associated with friendliness and sharing meals, but also with the ritual of Moroccan tea. Serving tea to guests is a common ritual in Morocco and in the Arab world. The pouring of the tea can take a form of a ceremonial performance, and is an integral part of any social interaction; it is impolite to refuse it. The serving of the tea can take from 40 minutes to several hours as it involves the preparation and serving mint tea to all that are present. Normally, in the more rural places, there will be a formal tea time, such as after the noon meal. In Berber villages, it is considered impolite to pass by someone’s house without stopping for a tea. Moroccan families may have 3 or 4 servings of tea a day and it is drunk all year round. The tea is the first and the last that a guest will be offered; if more has been had, the host is signaling that it is time to leave. The tea is served in 3 rounds which vary in sweetness. The first round of tea is called “bitter like death,” the second is “sweet like love,” and the third is “gentle as death.” The taste of the tea should get progressively sweeter as long as the guest can handle it. Moroccan tea is made from Chinese gunpowder tea imported through trade routes with Sub-Saharan Africa, mint and sugar, making it an interesting combination to Westerners. Moroccan tea is vended in many places, as the main social activity, angle from which the world may be discussed. Tea stalls, which are run by male tea makers, serve to many more male patrons and are a place for lively political and social debate. This is in contrast to the domestic sphere, where women are the tea makers. Tea in the domestic sphere serves as a means of displaying hospitality and encouraging family time.

7. Practical Tips for Traveling in Morocco

In the taxi, there is often someone who pretends to be a tourist and sits in the front seat. After a long conversation, they will suggest us to use the services of a guide or visit a craft shop. Generally, they will say this place is closed (although it is not), or closed due to a festival held once a year, and usually they will give the wrong information about the festival. This is a fraud.

Believe in the official tourist information when someone approaches us to say the office is closed, as the information is almost always wrong. During the way to the tourist officer, when someone says “hello, where are you from? Is this the first time in Morocco?”, also assume that it is a true mark that someone wants to cheat you. Usually, the office is far from the location and sometimes not easy to find without a guide.

Never believe that you can walk around the city or the medina of every town in a visited country. We should ask someone in an official position (tourist police or tourist information at the airport or railway station).

7.1. Staying Safe and Avoiding Scams

Quite often travellers fall victim to a scam in Morocco. It is worth remembering that this happens in many other countries and isolating Morocco as an extremely dangerous and treacherous place is a little unfair. Having said that, the incidence of scams and hassle is definitely higher here. The reason behind this is the combination of a lower average income, with the perceived wealth of Western tourists. Moroccans often find it difficult to understand exactly how much (or little) money Westerners earn. This however is no excuse, and is obviously a problem for the Moroccan tourist industry. Despite decreasing poverty in the country, it is still viewed as a developing nation, and the government is keen to make Morocco appear a safer destination in preparation for the large influx of tourists. Many locals get by with only a very basic education, and the lack of critical and lateral thinking taught in the Moroccan schooling system is evident. This can often lead a local into making an illogical or absurd decision. Visitors may discover a broken road barrier erected to prevent access to a certain area, with the guardian then asking for a fee to watch your car, which he suggests may otherwise be vandalized or stolen. In this situation it is difficult to prevent an argument, should the visitor decide to ignore the barrier and move his/her vehicle. Logic and reasoning are the best tools to use in any such situation, and the guardian will eventually see the mistake in his ploy. Always stay calm and remember that you are an ambassador for your country. Any negative behavior from a tourist will only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes. It’s tough to bite your tongue as the hundredth person tries to sell you something, but a polite refusal is the best way to avoid hassle.

7.2. Using Local Transportation for an amazing vacation to morocco

Local transportation in Morocco can be fiercely independent and if you are willing to put up with a lot of shouting and jostling, quite an experience. Most buses in Morocco operate on an ad hoc basis; they leave when they are full and on many routes there is no real timetable. If you can get a seat, grand taxis are usually the quickest way to travel between towns which aren’t serviced by buses. Your main means of getting around, the bus network is extensive and frequent, covering virtually every town in the country. The only places you can’t get to by bus are a few small villages in the High Atlas and the Sahara. The train network connects the Atlantic port of Tangier and the administrative capital Rabat with Casablanca and Marrakesh. There are also routes from Casablanca to Fez, Oujda and Meknes, and a few routes further inland.

7.3. Managing Currency and Tipping

As a tradition in Islamic and Arab countries, having been overtaken from North Africa, haggling is a way of life in Morocco and the price of things are often subjective. There are usually no set rates over taxis, market goods, and other things so it is best to ask a local for the price of something first, or if taking a taxi it is to negotiate the price prior to going. Tipping is also a big part of Moroccan culture, and a small tip is customary for many services and is often at the discretion of the amount of service given. It’s wise to carry small change for tipping, and very often people will help with bags unannounced, these are often locals looking for money but at the same time there is no harm in rewarding them for their service. This being said one should exercise caution at over-tipping as there are still people who will attempt to use this to their advantage.

The Moroccan currency, the Dirham, is a closed currency which means it can only be traded within Morocco. It is however fully convertible, so there are no issues with obtaining or spending the currency. Something to note is that the Dirham is not traded on the international market, so one will not be able to obtain it prior to arrival in Morocco, the best idea is to take some Sterling or Euros and exchanging it in Morocco. Travellers should, however, be careful not to exchange money with street moneychangers, despite often offering a better rate, this is illegal and often leads to scams. It’s best to exchange money at a Bureau de Change or a bank where the rates won’t differ that much. Another method is to use cash machines which are widespread in Morocco. These accept most credit and debit cards and offer solid rates. It’s best to check with your card issuer with regards to international rates and inform them that you will be using the card abroad. On topic of safety it’s best to not carry too much cash around at once and have a secure money pouch.

One of the most daunting tasks while travelling is managing the currency in foreign countries. Often the first concern is whether or not the currency can be obtained easily or if it’s tradeable on the international market. The next concern is how best to obtain the foreign currency, followed by where to store it and then the concern regarding how to spend it. Different countries have different customs when it comes to spending and paying, in Morocco it’s not that much different and the money conscious traveller should have no problem in managing their money effectively.

7.4. Dealing with the Moroccan Climate

The Mediterranean coastal strip (northern Morocco) has a Mediterranean climate, with its dry hot summers and mild winters. Expect to have good weather between the months of May and October. Rainfall increases the further north you go. The Atlantic coastal climate can be damp and misty, with a relatively cool summer. Cool weather can also occur and be expected all year round in the northwest. In the Western Sahara, the weather is very hot and dry year-round. In the peak of summer, you could find yourself in temperatures of 54°C – especially when traveling into the desert and the southeast of Morocco. Rainfall is sporadic or non-existent and is highly variable. High winds can occur at any time, brought on by different weather patterns which can cause sandstorms and the surrounding areas to become very dusty.

Unless you are traveling to Morocco in the scorcher of summer, the climate in Morocco can be very unpredictable. Generally, the weather is good all year round. The climate in Morocco is moderate and subtropical, cooled by breezes off the Atlantic and Mediterranean, with a highland climate in the mountain areas. In the interior, the temperatures are more extreme. Winters can be fairly cold and the summers very hot. Snow also falls in the higher Atlas Mountains. The best time to travel in Morocco is spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when the weather is not too hot and the country is lush and green. Unfortunately, this is also the peak time for tourists to invade Morocco and its tourist spots. So, if you like to get off the beaten track, you could travel at other times. For good weather, head south in the winter – although it will be chilling in the evenings.