Discover the best places to visit in Morocco from the soft beaches of Agadir to the sandy deserts of the Sahara Desert.
Ever since the moment that Humphry Bogart lifted Ingrid Berman’s chin, looked her deep in the eye, and whispered “here’s looking at you kid,” there has been a romantic fascination with Morocco that just one quit.
The history of this north African nation reaches far beyond that 1943 movie, however. And for those looking to get a taste of what makes Morocco such a fabled destination for travelers of all breeds, these incredible places to visit in the country will open your eyes, wide.
If this country, located just 9-miles (14-km) south of Spain isn’t on your bucket list already, my hope is that what you read here will set your will to explore. Because Morocco is an experience that is so much more than just the land on which it lies.
Morocco is a blend of cultures, lifestyles, religions, and styles from many walks of life. All of whom have congregated in this unique location in a transcendent way. And the best way to understand just what that means is to explore some of the best places to visit in Morocco.
And if you’re like us and decide to visit Morocco with kids, you’ll discover an even deeper side to the wonderful people that live here.
Why Should You Travel To Morocco?
With a rich mix of European, Arabic, Jewish, and Berber cultures, Morocco is truly a melting pot of cultures and styles. The country, located within easy reach of Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa, yet separated from the rest of the African continent by the sea of sand known as the Sahara Desert, Morocco has been a hub of trade for over a millennium.
From the stunning “Blue City” of Chefchaouen to the maze-like Medinas in cities such as Rabat and Fes, urban Morocco is a fascinating melting pot of culture and architecture. Travel further into the country to the towering Atlas Mountains with their 12,000 foot (4,000 meters) snow-covered peaks where nomadic shepherds tend to their flock, through to the infinite sand of the Sahara Desert where dromedaries (one-humped camels) whisk visitors through the sand to luxury desert camps and you’ll see even more of the contrast of lifestyles that await you in Morocco.
For many people in Europe, Morocco can be a popular destination for weekend beach holidays or short adventure breaks. For those, like us, who are traveling from North America or further afield places such as Australia, Morocco is best explored through a multi-week itinerary.
The mix of coastal beauty via the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the Meditteranean Sea makes this country popular for sun-seekers and beach lovers. But for adventure-seekers and explorers, even more, amazement lies deeper inside the borders of Morocco.
These incredible places to visit in Morocco explore the best of both worlds. You’ll get a taste of the sun and fun of the Moroccan coast in cities such as Casablanca and Algiers, as well as the urban hustle and bustle of cities including Marrakesh and Fes. And to top it all off, you’ll get the majestic views and endless sunsets of the Atlas Mountains and the sand-covered mystery of Merzouga.
Along the way, you’ll discover that Morocco is a land filled with warm, and welcoming people who share a range of rich cultures. You’ll be met with exotic and mouthwatering cuisine, a blend of beautiful accommodations, and discover that Morocco is a place you’ll want to return to again and again.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Morocco?
Morocco is a pretty fantastic place any time of year. With the wide range of landscapes, from coastal to the desert, and mountainous areas, you’re bound to find somewhere that has some pretty fantastic temperatures all year round.
However, If you’re like me and you sticking to one place just doesn’t work for you, there are some tips for the best time to visit Morocco.
Generally speaking, from March to May is a fantastic time to explore the entire country. Our last visit took place at the end of March and the temperatures ranged from about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) in the mountains to about 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) in Merzouga and Marakesh.
During the summer months, temperatures in the lowlands and desert can reach between 84.2ºF (29ºC) and 95ºF (35ºC) and during the winters the temperatures can drop to 46ºF. In fact, in areas up in the mountains, such as the Swiss-alps style town of Ifrane, temperatures regularly drop below freezing. There are even a couple of Moroccan ski resorts that you can visit.
The Best Places To Visit in Morocco
Rabat and Sale
Morocco is a country with multiple capitals. While many visitors turn to Fes for its culture and Casablanca for its economy, it’s the Atlantic coastal city of Rabat that acts as the country’s political capital.
Rabat, which is often overlooked by those who travel to Morocco in favor of Agadir and Marrakesh, is quickly becoming one of the top places to visit in Morocco.
Rabat is the political hub of the country. Its wide boulevards are lined with towering palm trees, and modern buildings, including the brand new Opera House, are paired with fascinating historical sites and cultural landmarks.
The Royal Palace draws gawkers hoping to catch a glimpse of the secretive Royal family, however, it’s the city of Fes where the Moroccan Royals typically spend their time. The nearby Andalusian Garden makes for a beautiful stop for those who have exhausted their time peeking over the palace walls.
Change is coming to this city that will increase the draw of tourism to Rabat. Just across the river, in the town of Sale, a huge project is underway to restore and modernize the city’s long-overlooked Medina. In fact, this is all part of a 2.3 billion MAD (Moroccan Dirham) investment into restoring medina’s throughout the country. And once this is finished (estimated completion in 2024), the town of Sale will have among the most pedestrian-friendly and beautiful medinas in Morocco.
Nearby, the Chellah Roman Ruins make for a magical escape from the busy city core.
Meknes and Volubilis
Meknes, like much of Morocco, is an ancient city that is undergoing a great deal of house cleaning.
Centered by a 9th-century medina that holds one of the most beautiful entrances of any of the medinas in Morocco, the Bab Mansour Gate. The medina and the city, at large were founded by a Berber tribe in the 9th-century and rose to power as one of the country’s best fortifications in the 11th century.
During the 1700s, Meknes was declared Morocco’s Imperial Capital. Over several years, not just one, but two palaces were built in the city. This gives it a prestige that stands above many of the more populated Moroccan cities.
The importance of Meknes lies even further back in history, however. Near the city are the ruins of Volubilis, the largest Roman city in Africa. The ruins of this city, which was occupied by around 12,000 Romans and 20,000 Moroccan slaves between 225 BC and 200 CT one of my favorite places to visit in Morocco.
The ruins of Volubilis offer stunning views of the Cypress Mountains. The city is centered by a magnificent basilica that doesn’t seem to offer a bad angle for photography enthusiasts.
What makes Sidi Ifni one of the best places to visit in Morocco is pretty clear to those who visit. This coastal fishing village in the southwest of the country is small and quaint by Moroccan standards. And the Spanish heritage of the town is on full display, helping it stand out from the Arabic architecture throughout much of the rest of the country.
Sidi Ifni boasts some of the best and most temperate beaches in all of Morocco. And if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway with a friendly and upbeat atmosphere, this town should be on your list.
But it’s not all about sand, sun, and relaxation here. Sidi Ifni has a tremendous amount to offer visitors who love to explore a little deeper. Not only is this one of Morocco’s most popular surfing destinations, but the coastline is magical. Legzira Beach, for example, boasts a breathtaking 90-foot high (30-meter) rock arch.
The town remains warm all year round, making it a popular warm-weather getaway for those in Europe. And the unique Art Deco buildings around town offer a nice contrast to the laid-back atmosphere. Quiet oceanside cafes and seafood restaurants line the streets and you’re never far from the dramatic oceanside cliffs of the Atlantic coast.
Where Rabat is the political capital of Morocco, the city of Fes is undoubtedly the cultural capital. Fes is home to the largest medina in all of Morocco. With over 9,000 maze-like alleys, entering this network of shops, cafes, squares, and markets is the ultimate destination for those who love to shop.
In fact, one of the biggest claims to fame for Fes is an incredible range of hand-made leather goods. At the center of this complicated marketplace is the Fes tannery. It’s here where hundreds of open-air vats are manned daily in order to condition and color the dazzling array of coats, bags, and decorations using a stinky combination of pigeon droppings and natural dyes.
The town is also serving up some of the most unique culinary delights in this flavor-filled country. During our visit, we sampled everything from camel hump to sheep brains and bull testicles to spicy honey. The medina is completely car-free as well (although it’s not rare to see scooters and donkeys moving goods throughout).
The city, founded way back in 789, served as Morocco’s capital several times over the centuries. Most recently, it served as the country’s capital until the Alawi dynasty in 1912.
Along with some of the most celebrated tile artists in the country, Fes is also home to the Karaouiyine Mosque. While this is run entirely as a religious school now, it is considered by many to be the oldest university in the world.
Merzouga and the Northern Sahara Desert
If you’ve never traveled to Morocco before (or even if you have), one of the best places to visit in the country is the desert town of Merzouga.
Merzouga is the action capital of the country. The town, which sits within easy reach of the Algerian border, acts as the home base for everything from desert safaris, luxury Berber camps, quad-bikes, and camel rides.
The backdrop for all of these wild shenanigans are the towering Erg Chebbi sand dunes. These epic dunes tower up to 900 feet (300 meters) in height, and on a windy day, fill the air with a reddish tinge. The sand sea that makes up the Sahara desert also makes for an array of dazzling colors during sunset. These vibrant hues are mirrored on the gloriously golden dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Don’t miss the chance to spend the night out in the sand at a Berber camp. You’ll be served fantastic food, enjoy music by campfire, and get a chance to experience the countless stars away from civilization.
Situated amidst the arid landscape west of the Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazat is an exciting city that has been dubbed the “Hollywood of Morocco.” There are four movie studios scattered in and around the city. These studios have been the home base for a variety of big-name movies, including some of our favorite travel movies.
Enter Atlas Film Studios and you’ll find the sets from famous films including Cleopatra, Game of Thrones, Kingdom of Heaven, Babel, The Mummy (1999), Star Wars (1977), and of course, Gladiator. The studio is still in use today, and when I visited in 2022 they were actively filming the new Lord of the Rings series for Amazon.
In line with the glitz and glamor of the movie industry, Ouarzazat is also home to one of the few Moroccan royal palaces that are open to visitors. This “retired” palace offers tours that draw visitors from across the country.
A short drive from town brings you to the Berber town of Ait Ben Haddou. This 11th Century city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. The stunning architecture and scenic location along the Asif Ounila stream led this to be the backdrop of over 50 major movies including Lawrence of Arabia, whose other filming locations we encountered while traveling in Jordan.
To this day, the town remains the home of five Berber families. They continue to farm the land nearby and also earn money off the many tourists who visit the town every day to take in the gorgeous views from the 1,100 year-old-grainery at the top of the village.
Situated at the base of the Atlas Mountains approximately 1-hour from Meknes is yet another former Moroccan capital. The city of Marrakesh is among the most popular cities to visit in Morroco. The central square, located in the city’s bustling medina is the hub of activity in the early morning and late evening.
It is here where rows upon rows of market stalls pop up selling everything from handicrafts to leather goods, fruit smoothies to merguez. It’s here too that you’ll find lines gathered to view snake charmers play their flutes to intoxicated cobras, inviting crowds in for a closer look.
In Marrakesh, you’ll find a variety of incredible attractions including the gorgeous Bahia Palace where you can get an intimate glimpse at royal living. You can also tour the busy souks and bazaars set amidst the red, sandstone buildings that helped the city earn the moniker “the Red City”.
Marrakesh rose to popularity among the hippie crowd of the 1960s when famous wanderers including the Beatles, Yves Sait Laurent, and the Rolling Stones used the city as a home base for their cultural awakenings. With its beautiful architecture and gardens lush with orange, palm, and apricot trees, it’s not hard to see why.
Make sure you take a wander through the majestic Saadiens Tomb, the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque, and the lush greenery of Jardin Majorelle while you are here.
When it comes to the list of the best places to visit in Morocco, the city of Chefcaouen is near the top of almost every group. The city is two-hours inland from Tangier and has gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco.
Chefchaouen has risen to fame among travelers in Morocco for its brilliant blue and white painted buildings that have earned it the nickname “the blue city.” Throughout the narrow streets are centuries-old kasbahs, traditional restaurants, and quiet cafes. The city is also packed with gorgeous hotels and riads that make spending a few days in Chefchaouen very comfortable.
The stunning architecture and the jaw-dropping landscapes of the surrounding Rif Mountains. It’s these landscapes that encourage visitors to explore beyond the borders of the city. Within easy reach of the city is Talasemtane National Park which is packed with beautiful hiking trails. There are also a wealth of beautiful waterfalls and epic viewpoints that are waiting to be explored.
The seaside town of Agadir draws visitors year-round. Often overshadowing larger, more famous cities including Marrakesh and Casablanca. Considering that much of the town was reduced to rubble after a devastating earthquake in 1960, the city’s rebound is no less than staggering.
Today, this Atlantic coastal town is a thriving resort destination. The beautiful waterfront and soft, sandy beaches, and hiking trails of nearby Souss-Massa National Park make this one of the best places to travel in Morocco.
The city offers a relaxed atmosphere that invites visitors to unpack and stay awhile. The colorful, sun-baked streets and countless food stalls serve up delightful treats, meats, and delicacies to those wandering the beachside boulevard.
Perched at the northernmost edge of Morocco between the Atlantic Ocean and the Meditteranean Sea along the Gibraltar Strait, Tangier is a popular stopping point for travelers making their way by ferry from Spain to the continent of Africa.
Tangiers, for many, is the introduction to Moroccan culture, architecture, and food. The city’s unique European-style means that it’s a comfortable stopping-off point for those dipping their toes into a new country.
The brilliant white rocks of the seashore are where you’ll find Dar el Makhzen, a form sultan’s palace that now acts as a museum for important Moroccan artifacts. The Tangier medina offers a wild selection of foods, handicrafts, bohemian cafes, and beautiful riads to explore and stay in.
Less than 9-miles (14 km) from Tangier, located next to the summer palace of the King of Morocco, is the awe-inspiring Caves of Hercules. This sprawling cave was used by Berbers to mine material for wheels. But it was also used by the ancient Phoenicians who drew on the walls a map of the local area.
The High Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains are a unique set of three mountain ranges that cut across the center of Morocco. The ranges are broken up into the Low-Atlas, the Mid-Atlas, and the High-Atlas mountains. The High-Atlas range covers a vast area that includes Morocco’s highest peak, the towering Jbel Toubkal, which reaches a height of 13,670 feet (4,160 m).
Many travelers start their exploration of the High Atlas Mountains down in the Todra and Skoura Valleys, two emerald-green swaths cut from the desert terrain by mountain-fed streams. The Todra Gorge is one of the most stunning spots in the mountains for those who want a sprinkle of color in their mountain journey. The gorge is home to the mouth of a spring that feeds the entire valley and its range of small waterfalls and palm trees. The river runs all the way down to the Todra Valley, ultimately reaching the base of Ait Ben Haddou near Ouarzazat.
For many, the High-Atlas mountains present idyllic hiking and climbing opportunities. The mountains offer year-round opportunities for outdoor lovers. Small, hillside Berber towns such as Ilil offer small gites and accommodations for those looking for adventure.
There are outfitters that offer everything from day hikes to week-long treks into the snow-capped peaks that tower over the country.
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