While there is a lot of opportunity to get off the beaten path to visit the lesser-explored regions of Morocco, many travelers want to combine fun and adventure along with a dabbling of history into their holiday. For all three, immerse yourself in Morocco’s imperial cities. Be prepared for some stunning photos while meandering through the historical sites, the coast and deep into ancient medinas that have literally stood the test of time.
One of the most popular routes on a Morocco’s imperial cities tour offers a glimpse into the region’s past as you step into the hustle and bustle of daily life. You’ll have the chance to experience Moroccan cuisine each day of your holiday; sometimes you will eat in a family-owned restaurant or hotel and occasionally in a local’s home. A warm Moroccan welcome and a friendly smile are guaranteed.
The typical imperial cities holiday begins in Casablanca. You will have time to visit the Hassan II Mosque, Habbous quarter and a number of buildings designed in an art deco style, which can all be found near the city center.
Then you’ll be off to Rabat, Morocco’s capital city and home to Morocco’s King, Mohammed VI. Located on the coast, spend an afternoon wandering around the Medina or stop by the Hassan Tower. Additionally, the Mohammed V Mausoleum, Chellah Gardens, the Necropolis, and Kasbah des Udayas (Oudayas) are also worth perusing. The Oudayas Kasbah in particular, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, offers an opportunity for fabulous photography.
Meknes, Morocco has the potential to fill another full day if you are interested in history and architecture. The impressive gate called the Bab Mansour is not to be missed. The Fit Hedim Square, the tomb of Moulay Ismail, the stables and the granary are all within walking distance. Spend the night in a quaint riad located inside Meknes’ ancient walls.
Fez, Morocco, is such a large city that it is worth two to three days (as is Marrakesh). Be sure to visit Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, which is located only five minutes from Volubilis, a historic, worthwhile and revealing Roman city. Take time to roam throughout the ruins, which are cluttered with excavation sites, tombs and crumbling walls. An essential element to a visit to Fez is a guided tour of the ancient medina. With over 9,000 alleys and roads, a guide will be sure to show you all the important sights, while getting you around without becoming overly lost! On such a visit, you will be able to see the Kairaouine Mosque, spice market, tanneries, leather market, pottery vendors and henna market. You will also be able to watch wood crafters and metal craftsmen at work, and you may even get to watch students attending the Koranic schools in action.
In Marrakesh, you will have the opportunity to visit Jemaa el Fna Square, Ali ben Youssef Madrassa and the Museum of Moroccan Handicrafts. Spend time at the Bahia Palace, Saadian Tombs and Majorelle Gardens while you’re in the city. Located in the valley of the High Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh is often the starting point for many Morocco trekking excursions. If you have time, you may want to take a few extra days in the High Atlas Mountains visiting Berber villages, enjoying the crisp air of higher altitudes or simply relaxing in a mountain lodge.
Though it would be possible to spend weeks—even months—exploring Morocco’s imperial cities, there will be a time when you will turn back down the road and make the return trip to Casablanca. Only once you return home will the best memories and most interesting, and perhaps exotic, experiences truly sink in.