Where to go in Morocco? Our travel ideas for all seasons with Mediterranean, oceanic, approximate, urban or Saharan… So many facets of the kingdom and so many ways to travel in cultural, festive or sporting mode. Our selection to (re) discover the Moroccan way of life.
From Essaouira to Dakhla, the novelties of the Atlantic coast
Nearly 3000 kilometres of coastline, mostly wild, and 3000 years of history, between Phoenician colonies, Portuguese trading posts and… state-of-the-art seaside resorts. With its invigorating climate and waves designed for surfing from Essaouira to Dakhla, the Atlantic is a breeding ground for lovers of heritage, idleness or thrills.
In Essaouira, you can discover the mysteries of the argan tree, endemic to Morocco, between two visits to the Unesco-listed medina; in Agadir, you can go on a mini-safari in the Souss-Massa national park to observe Saharan antelopes and some 260 species of birds. And in Dakhla, on the edge of southern Morocco, you can spend the night in a bivouac alongside surfing or kitesurfing sessions.
The best season: in Essaouira, the trade winds, which guarantee blue skies without excessive heat, and kitesurfing blow mainly between May and September, depending on what you come for! Temperatures are mild all year round and the ocean (17° to 22°) pleasant in the off-season. In Agadir, the winters are temperate, the summers often misty. In Dakhla, the regular north/north-easterly winds temper the heat just enough (25° on average).
In the High Atlas, Berber hikes
Summits, gorges and valleys dotted with ochre villages stretching over more than 700 km: in the heart of the Berber world, the High Atlas is the Olympus for hikers. From day trips starting from Marrakech, promising a change of scenery within an hour and a half’s drive, to a three-week trek, there are so many variations to suit all tastes, including those of the whole family.
The ascent of Mount Toubkal (4167m), North Africa’s highest peak, is a favourite with those seeking a sporting challenge: 970 metres of positive ascent to be covered at dawn from the refuge to the summit in a rocky setting. But you can also put your bag down to hike in a star formation like in the Aït Bougmez Valley (4h30 from Marrakech): between fields irrigated by seguias (traditional canals), apple orchards and earthen villages, at an altitude of 2000 metres, you live at the rhythm of the farmers.
The best season: from April to October for the summits such as Toubkal, or the Aït Bougmez Valley, superb in spring. In the region of Marrakech, it is possible to hike all year round, including in the summer, when you are looking for a (relative) coolness in altitude.
In Tangier the white, fabulous medina and beaches
Facing the Strait of Gibraltar, 14 kilometres from the Spanish coast, Tangier is the gateway to another Morocco, shaped by influences since antiquity, a world city with a cosmopolitan aura. A city of hills, you can’t get enough of its dazzling panoramic views over the Mediterranean and the vintage charm of its old districts, medina, Kasbah and “new” town from the beginning of the 20th century, where you can find jewels of Art Deco, Moorish and Bauhaus architecture.
Around its bay, modern Tangier is pushing back its limits, according to major industrial projects, but the artistic soul is intact, carried by a young guard eager to dust off the myth. And Tangier is just a stone’s throw from the beaches: on the Mediterranean or Atlantic sides, very busy in summer, but divine in the early and late seasons.
The best season: winter is usually rainy, so April to October is the best time to visit, preferably in spring or autumn.
In Fez, a bath of Arab-Andalusian culture
This is where it all began! The first capital of the kingdom, founded in the 8th century, and always its spiritual beacon, the medina of Fez is the memory of an Arabo-Andalusian culture, steeped in music, gastronomy and refined decorations which are celebrated in the secrecy of the riad-palaces. One does not come here to party like in Marrakech, but to taste a unique art of living and to dive into a great bath of colours, scents and sounds. Fez is on the edge of the Middle Atlas, where olive trees and vineyards have been famous since the Romans. Another history to discover around Meknes, and the Roman city of Volubilis (1 hour away) with its superb mosaics.
The best season: avoid the very hot summer and prefer autumn and spring, when mountains and fields are adorned with wild flowers.
In Chefchaouen, the colours of the Rif
Of course there is the indigo blue of the medina of Chefchaouen (also called Chaouen), so Instagrammed that it has triggered a “chaouenmania”. Tourists are returning, but the cascades of alleys winding their way between small squares, staircases and tiled houses are a return to the indolence so dear to this holy city, long forbidden to Christians.
With two natural parks on its doorstep, Chaouen la Rifaine also sees life in green. In the Talassemtane park (nearly 59,000 hectares belonging to the Mediterranean Transcontinental Biosphere Reserve), beautiful confidential walks can be organised in grandiose landscapes between gorges, peaks, valleys and forests. The most remarkable? The fir grove planted with Abies pinsapo marocana, one of the park’s 300 endemic floral species.
Best season: spring to autumn, avoiding the height of summer for hiking.
In Ouarzazate or the Draa Valley: dunes and deserts
How can you tell the difference between ergs, regs and hamadas? By exploring the Moroccan desert! On the roads and tracks in the south from Ouarzazate, you will cross large stony plateaus (the hamadas) and rocky regs before reaching the grail: the sand dunes. There are two major ergs to choose from, the orange dunes of Erg Chebbi near Merzouga in the Tafilalet or the sea of sand of Erg Chegaga. In both cases, the immersion is total and the landscapes crossed are of breathtaking magnificence.
The best season: winter, but also spring when everything is green! Avoid the months of July and August if you are afraid of the heat
In Marrakech, a festival of novelties
Marrakech again? The imperial oasis is never short of ideas to attract both novice and hardcore travellers. The Red City is celebrating its return to life with a blossoming of novelties. Between the ochre walls of its freshly renovated medina, you can find trendy craft bazaars, designer boutiques, small bohemian cafés and rooftops where you can watch the sun set against the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. On the fringes, new districts are emerging, such as M’Avenue, a “lifestyle” centre around the Pestana CR7 Marrakech hotel, the brand associated with Cristiano Ronaldo and Sidi Ghanem, a craft district and a breeding ground for arty addresses.
The best season: winter, with its often blue skies and snow-covered Atlas mountains (November to May, depending on the weather), is mild, with large temperature differences between night and day, and summer is very hot (36° on average, with peaks of almost 50°). The late season and spring are very pleasant, with 340 days of sunshine per year!