Our Morocco travel guide gives you all the advice you need to choose your travel dates, destination and best street food depending your desires.
Morocco can be visited all year round, as long as you take into account the specific climatic features of its different regions. From the Atlas mountains to the dunes of the Sahara, from the beaches of the Atlantic coast to the imperial cities, each season is a good opportunity to discover a part of this warm and welcoming country.
When to go to Morocco?
Morocco has different climates (Mediterranean, oceanic or continental) with generally mild winters and hot summers. Inland, the climate will be drier and in the mountains, the climate will be more continental.
To avoid the sweltering heat of summer, choose a trip to Morocco in spring or autumn. If you are planning a hiking trip, summer is a good time to visit the Rif and Atlas mountains. Morocco can therefore be visited all year round, depending on the type of trip you are planning.
When to go to Tangier and the north of Morocco?
Overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar, Tangier has always fascinated travellers with its medina and mythical cafés where famous writers used to hang out. Like the north of Morocco, the city enjoys a Mediterranean climate, marked by hot, dry summers during which the average temperature is around 29°C.
Winters, from October to March, are mild but cloudier. January is the coldest month with average maximum temperatures of around 17°C. Spring and autumn are the ideal seasons to discover the region and visit the imperial cities of Meknes, home to the archaeological site of Volubilis, Fez, famous for its many souks, and Chefchaouen, the blue city set in the Rif mountains.
When to go to Marrakech?
Sip tea on Djemaa el-Fna square and watch the spectacle of local life, with its mix of storytellers, dancers, snake charmers and street food vendors… This is a pleasure to be enjoyed in spring and autumn in Marrakech. With its continental climate, the city enjoys optimal sunshine and low rainfall during these seasons, making temperatures mild with maximum averages of 26°C.
Summer is marked by a sharp rise in the mercury, which can reach 39°C in July and August. Winters are cold and wet, with a peak in rainfall between November and December. All the more reason to favour the periods from March to May and from September to October to walk around the imperial city, whose pink walls encircle the medina, the Saadian tombs and the Menara gardens, with the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains in the background.
When to go to Casablanca, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco?
The Atlantic coast of Morocco can be visited all year round. Winters are mild and the climate is particularly dry from March to October. Cooled by the ocean winds, even the summer months rarely see the thermometer rise above 30°C. While lovers of seaside pleasures will take advantage of the summer heat to bask on the very (and often too) touristy beaches of Agadir, those passionate about cultural discoveries will prefer the spring or autumn to visit Casablanca and its majestic Hassan II mosque or Rabat.
The capital of the Cherifian kingdom is a dynamic city where modern buildings are mixed with numerous historical monuments with typical Moroccan architecture. The most important of these are the Hassan Tower and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, a richly decorated building in the traditional style, which houses the tombs of the royal family.
Essaouira’s almost constant wind between May and November makes it an exceptional spot for kiteboarding, surfing and windsurfing. This is an ideal time for surfing enthusiasts to discover the city’s white medina, surrounded by ramparts, and the fortifications of the Sqala, a former artillery platform overlooking the ocean.
When to go to the Atlas Mountains and the Moroccan Sahara?
The Moroccan Sahara has a wide variation in temperature between summer and winter. The mercury can rise to 40°C during the summer season while the maximum temperature is 17°C in December. The months of March, April and May, as well as October and November, offer pleasant weather for desert safaris.
You can cross the Tichka Pass and the Atlas Mountains to reach Ouarzazate, from where you can branch off to the edge of the desert or to the road of the Kasbahs and the red clay fortified towns of the Dades Gorge. On hot days there may be a risk of convective storms, but these are usually short-lived.
Street food in Morocco
In Morocco, cooking is sacred and so is the art of tasting it. But throughout the kingdom, even in Fez where the most refined gastronomy is elaborated in the secrecy of the riads, souks and markets abound with small dishes to savour on the go. Often of popular origin, their fragrant flavours have conquered the gourmets who make them their ch’hiwates, these secret delights that we like to pick at as we walk along the streets. We take you to find the crispest of these specialities.
Harira, the Ramadan soup
Do you know harira? Or rather hariras, as this term can refer to a whole range of sweet or savoury, digestive or more hearty soups. During the holy month of Ramadan, there is only one: the one that is eaten as soon as the call to prayer is made at dusk, announcing the ftour, the first meal to break the fast. In this restorative savoury soup, you will find all the ingredients to invigorate yourself: diced beef or mutton, tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, onions, celery, sometimes vermicelli, and above all ginger, saffron and fresh coriander, which give it its inimitable flavour.
Where to taste it?
Jemaa El Fna in Marrakech, every day from 5pm. About 0.4 euro per bowl.
Café des Épices, Place Rahba Kdima in Marrakech, daily from 9am to 11pm. About 2 euros.
Mechoui, its sheep weight
In Marrakech, tasting mechoui at the Ableuh souk is a ritual for the Casaouis and R’batis who enjoy this country dish that has become a festive meal. In most of the gargotes, the meat is bought by weight and people sit around a communal table. The steaming mutton is served on a paper plate with salt, cumin, bread and a glass of mint tea to wash it down. Still hungry? On the floor, a large lid is raised from time to time to allow a whole sheep to be plunged into it. It is the oven of the méchoui!
Stewed, the meat is so tender that it is eaten Moroccan style, with three fingers of the right hand. Not very vegan: you can buy olives at the nearby souk to make up for it… And you can also try the tanjia, a 100% Marrakchi dish made of beef or mutton, preserved lemons and spices cooked in a jar (the tanjia) in the hammam’s oven. Long but succulent!
Where to taste it?
In addition to the mechouis alley of the Ableuh souk, where the flow guarantees freshness, you can enjoy mechoui and melting tanjia at Ouazzani’s in Guéliz, the new city, on the terrace or in the very kitsch room.
Souk Ableuh in Marrakech, open every day from 10 am to 2 pm. Mechoui or tanjia at about 15 euros per kilo.
Chez Ouazzani: 12 rue Ibn Aîcha, in Marrakech. Open every day from midday to 2am. Méchoui or tanjia, about 15 euros per kilo or 5 euros per portion.
Bissara, a bean soup for the day
A speciality of the Jbala farmers of northern Morocco, bissara has conquered the city dwellers and you can taste this delicious puree of dried beans flavoured with garlic, paprika and cumin in all the country’s towns. The artisans of the medinas enjoy it in winter and eat it at breakfast around 10am to warm up and settle their stomachs, drizzled with olive oil, sometimes with chilli and lemon.
Originally a poor man’s dish, including variations with chickpeas or split peas, bissara has become a ch’hiwate, a delicacy that is offered on the go during a stroll. It has been revisited on the most exclusive tables, but hardly as it is succulent in its natural state, it is a good dip to start the agape.
Where to taste it?
In Fez, you can taste Adil’s bissara with your eyes closed, on Place Al Achabine, at the corner of Rue Guezzarine Joutiya. A very simple stall where the soup simmers before your eyes. And if you were to leave with the recipe? In Marrakech or Fez, you can learn to cook bissara at the Clock Café, a cultural café popular with local youth.
Berbouch, the snail soup
If you walk through the R’cif market in Fez, the most beautiful in the medina, you will see huge wicker baskets overflowing with live snails. Smaller than Burgundy snails, they are cooked in a pungent broth known for its digestive benefits… and aphrodisiacs. To try this dish, just look out for the carts of the street vendors with their large steaming pots. In Fez, you will find them in the long street of Talaa Kbira and in Marrakech on the Jemaa El Fna square. Sip it as an aperitif while watching the jugglers.
Where to taste it?
In Jemaa El Fna in Marrakech, opposite the Café Glacier. Every day from 5pm. 0.5 euro for a small bowl, 1 euro for a large bowl.
The trid, the secret pancake
In the large family of Moroccan pancakes, the trid is probably the least known. The very fine dough made from flour, salt and oil is cooked on the terda, a pot that is heated from the inside. In Fez, on the markets, it is the women who make these translucent skeins that can be eaten on the go, plain or with a meat sauce.
But these pancakes are also used to prepare trid with pigeon, a fassia recipe (from Fez) or more modestly with chicken beldi (raised in the open air). This dish, also called rfissa, combines chicken, onions, lentils, small pieces of pancake and spices, including the mysterious ras-el-hanout (the “head of the spice-maker”), saffron and fenugreek.
Where to taste it?
In Fez, at the R’Cif market, you can buy the pancakes from the women, to be spread on the spot with khlii, a speciality of candied dried meat. You can find rfissa at the table of Family Berrada, a small friendly restaurant with a brocante atmosphere mixing locals and tourists. In Marrakech, you can go to Winoo, one of the favourite snacks of Marrakchis at any time of the day or night, which offers chicken beldi rfissa on Sundays, among other specialities.
Family Berrada: 57 Sagha El Achebine in Fez. Every day except Friday, from 10:30am to 7pm. Rfissa to order, about 7 euros per person.
Winoo: 77 angle avenue Moulay Rachid and rue de Mauritanie in Marrakech. Every day from 9am to 3pm (Friday from 2pm). Rfissa, portion about 4 euros. Also tanjia 3.5 euros.
Festivals and main events in Morocco
Here are some of the major festivals and cultural events celebrated in Morocco:
- March, Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles This is the benchmark women’s off-road rally, held in the Moroccan desert, since 1990.
- End of April, Printemps musical des Alizés in Essaouira The city of Essaouira hosts a musical event in honour of chamber music. The free concerts give the opportunity to get to know the great names in this genre of music.
- End of June, Festival of sacred music of the world in Fez Each year, the medina becomes a musical stage where musicians from all over the world perform, honouring spiritual music.
- July, Timitar Festival in Agadir This festival has been an opportunity to discover Amazigh or Berber culture since 2003. Many shows, workshops and conferences are organised in Agadir.
- 30 July, Throne Day in Morocco This festival commemorates the anniversary of the enthronement of King Mohammed VI on 30 July 1999. It is celebrated with numerous fireworks and parades.
- September, Tanjazz in Tangier. This is one of Morocco’s prestigious jazz festivals featuring artists from a dozen countries.
- October-November, Saffron Festival in Taliouine The streets of Taliouine have become theatres where people sing and dance to the sound of Gnaoua music.
A colourful and vibrant whirlpool, Morocco is a never-ending spectacle. From Tangier, the blue village of Chefchaouen or the old town of Fez. A trip through the Dades Gorge and the Dra Valley takes us to the medina of Marrakech, before taking the road south from the Atlantic coast to the oasis of Skoura. Adventurers will explore the Western Sahara to the gateway to Mauritania, a region reserved for the initiated. Our Morocco travel guide to discovering the facets of this much loved country.