Movie Locations in Morocco: A Tour

Movie Locations in Morocco: A Tour

Morocco is a land of mountains, deserts, medieval cities, roman ruins and more than a few familiar movie locations. Thinking about Morocco and film undoubtedly conjures up images of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 American classic, Casablanca. Ironically none of Casablanca was filmed in Morocco, but many classics were, such as Lawrence of Arabia, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew To Much, and Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky. More recently, not one but two James Bonds have been seen giving chase across the Tangier rooftops, while other hits like Gladiator, The Mummy and Game of Thrones were filmed on locations across the country.

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco

Morocco is home to an impressive 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites! These sites are dotted throughout the country, from expected places like Marrakesh and Fez, to Tetouan, a relatively untouristed northern city, and on to the desert lands of the Sahara. If you are a lover of history and culture, it makes a lot of sense to use these sites as pillars or totems for your own tour of Morocco.

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Gay Travel in Morocco: An Overview

Gay Travel in Morocco: An Overview

When the LGBTQ+ communities were being persecuted in Europe, centers in Morocco like Tangier and Marrakesh were seen as safe spaces. Not only are they wonderful destinations in their own right, but the local populations have a sort of worldly ‘been there, seen that’ attitude of acceptance. In many ways, this remains true even today.

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What is the Impact of Big Bus Tourism in Morocco?

negative impacts of mass tourism in Morocco, why riding tour busses is bad

In the 13th century, Morocco’s own Ibn Battuta, in explorer and intrepid traveler, was the first known traveler to connect distant the northwest corner of Africa to the far East. It’s taken nearly eight centuries, but the connection these days between Beijing and Rabat is strong. With stronger political ties, many are following the route of Morocco’s most famed exploring, making the journey from China to Morocco. And make no mistake about it, in just a few short years, this recent influx of Chinese travelers to Morocco has altered the landscape of some of the most popular destinations around the country, largely because of the number of travelers from China choosing big bus tourism over smaller, more independent and sustainable travel. (more…)

Where to Visit the Ancient Jewish Sites of Morocco

Where to Visit the Ancient Jewish Sites of Morocco

Morocco was once home to the largest population of Jews in the Arab world, a figure topping 300,000 inhabitants. These people left behind a vast history visible through the ancient Jewish sites of Morocco. Today the number has largely diminished but many of the historical sites have remained intact and offer a glimpse into a part of Moroccan culture that is unique to the region. While the relationship between Muslim and Jewish residents has had ups and downs, the legacy and richness of Morocco’s Jewish population remains a national treasure. (more…)

Shopping at Morocco’s Mega Mall

shopping mall window modelsMorocco is known, of course, for its captivating marketplaces, full of twists and turns and treasures. As the country develops, it only makes sense for it to embrace the marketplace of the 21st century—the mega mall. Casablanca’s luxurious mall is a consumers’ paradise for well-to-do travelers and Moroccans looking for global brands.

Inaugurated in 2011 with a Jennifer Lopez performance and the presence of the royal family, the Morocco Mall can be found just outside of Casablanca. Glitz was not spared in its construction. Outside, a musical fountain reminiscent of Las Vegas welcomes visitors with water jets. Though palm trees reach into soaring atriums, and a two-story aquarium ties in with the mall’s coastal location, the mall’s interior would not be out of place in worldwide locations from Vegas to Singapore. With three floors and more than 600 stores, the Morocco Mall aims to be a one-stop shopping destination for North Africa’s elite.

International luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Prada line its storefronts with aspirational finds, alongside more modest but coveted Western franchises like Lacoste, Banana Republic and American Eagle. In addition to clothing, jewelry, electronics and specialty retailers, shops include the Marjane supermarket, the Galeries Lafayette department store and the FNAC store, which sell the latest in technology and entertainment. The Morocco Mall has also tried to mirror the country’s rich market culture with “souk-style” stores selling the work of artisans and artists. (more…)

Top Ten Things to Do in Morocco

morocco tanneryMorocco is a country with a variety of sites to visit, whether you’re into history, adventure or relaxation. Unfortunately, those with limited time must find a way to focus their trip in order to hit the hot spots. Hundreds of books claim to supply a core list of “top ten sites.” However, among these endless lists, there are ten truly, undeniable activities that would make a Morocco holiday complete. Each of these activities is so quintessentially Moroccan that, by experiencing all of them, you are guaranteed to have a completely authentic Moroccan experience.

1. Wander in Marrakesh’s Djemma El Fna

Marrakesh’s Djemma El Fna square is Morocco’s centerpiece. Within this square in Marrakesh, there are exotic performers, Moroccan chefs cooking in open air food stands, small shops welcoming you into the Marrakesh Medina, distinctly Moroccan cafes and high-end Moroccan restaurants. Djemma El Fna square is a crowded meeting place in Marrakesh that encapsulates fine Moroccan foods, crafts and culture. Surely, any trip to Morocco should include a stop at the square, which is also conveniently located near many historic mosques and palaces. (more…)

Morocco’s Southern Port Cities

blue boats moroccoThe southern port cities begin south of Kenitra and go to the Moroccan/Mauritanian border.  These cities all border the Atlantic coast and have a varied mix of colonial influence. The northern cities have heavy French/Spanish influence while the southern cities have a French/German influence. Several of these cities are best known for their ocean activities and lively nightlife.

Rabat and Sale

Rabat is the capital of Morocco and Sale is the twin city opposite Rabat. While primarily serving as the head of the government there are a few unique tourist opportunities. The Hassan II memorial and mosque on the Atlantic Ocean are a quick visit. Outside of Rabat are the Chellah and Sala Colonia. These are ruins from the Roman period. The ruins can be toured and yearly there is a jazz festival held at the site called Jazz au Chellah. If you are looking to spend some time in the area Sale might be a good place to put down roots. This city is mostly a commuter city but accommodations will be cheaper than in Rabat proper. On a historical note, Sale served as a haven for the infamous Barbary pirates who formed The Republic of Sale. Sadly, little exists documenting this time. (more…)

An Overview of Azemmour, Morocco

Azemmour MoroccoWith a population of around three million, Casablanca in Morocco attracts visitors because of its fame (thanks to its namesake movie), attractions and international airport. Although the city offers a wealth of culture, history and entertainment, some travelers like to escape the bustle with a detour off the beaten path.

Travel an hour or so south down the Atlantic coast from Casablanca and you’ll reach the quiet city of Azemmour—a short day trip or overnight jaunt from the big city, or a convenient stop when traveling northward from the popular coastal town of Essaouira. Like much of the coast, temperatures here are relatively mild, with highs lingering around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). (more…)

Top Cities to Visit in Morocco

Marrakesh MoroccoThose unfamiliar with Morocco may only know of one city—Casablanca (thanks to its namesake movie). Although the coastal metropolis offers several worthy attractions, other destinations also abound with local and foreign travelers.

Marrakesh delights travelers with an interest in tradition as well as those who prefer the comforts of modernity. History seekers flock to sites like the gardens of the 12th-century Koutoubia Minaret and the intricately designed Ben Youssef Medersa. Visitors can experience the city’s trendy side through its many nightclubs and luxury spas, or with a shopping trip to the boutiques of Quartier Industrial Sidi Ghanem. Regardless of your specific interests, plan to spend an evening participating in the festivities in Place Djemaa el-Fna, the city’s main square. Dine among the rows of dinner vendors on snail soup, sheep’s head and other traditional fare. Meander past melodies of oboes, drums, finger cymbals, chants, storytellers and henna calligraphers after dinner. Even pay a few dirham to try your hand at a carnival game. Explore beyond the city with a short excursion to the High Atlas Mountains or a night of camping in the Sahara Desert. (more…)

Day Trips from Casablanca





Tile art at Volubilis - day trips from CasablancaSay the name “Casablanca,” and, for most people, it will conjure to mind all the romance and swagger of the 1942 classic movie. Hollywood may know glamor, but the allure of Morocco’s largest city is not fixed in its history. Instead, it is the epicenter of Morocco’s 21st century economy. The Casablanca (see our Casablanca city guide on our Morocco blog and travel guide) of today isn’t the sleepy expat town of film fame (which was actually shot entirely on a studio lot in Los Angeles), and travelers should expect the bustle one would associate with North Africa’s largest port and an industrialized city of 3 million people.

It is home to two international airports, so many travelers will find that Casablanca is their first taste of Morocco. Explore the can’t-miss sites of the city, such as the impressive Hassan II mosque and the art deco architecture of New Town, and then consider visiting some other nearby attractions that make for an easy day trip from Casablanca. The Roman ruins of Volubilis, the medieval Portugese fort at El Jadida and the capital city of Rabat are all within an easy train ride, and the cities of Marrakesh, Fez and Tangiers are accessible within a day’s travel from Casablanca. Even if your time in Morocco is limited to only a few days, Casablanca makes an excellent modern hub for day trippers looking to whet their appetite for traditional Moroccan culture. (more…)

Things To Do In Casablanca

Mosque in Casablanca MoroccoWhen people decide to take a journey to Morocco, they tend to seek out the predefined exotic destinations in the country, and while Casablanca (see our insider’s guide to Casablanca) lacks that label, there are several interesting things to do in Casablanca before traipsing off into the desert for a camel ride. Situated on Morocco’s northwestern coast, the city is known as dar el beida in Arabic. The name Casablanca means “white house.”

Casablanca was founded in the 7th century as an independent Berber kingdom. Later it was seized by the Arabs and subsequently by Almoravids and the Merenids, then finally by the Portuguese and the Spanish. These last two cultures gave the city its name. In the middle of the 18th century, the town was destroyed by an earthquake. It was later rebuilt by Moulay Ismael, the grandson of the second ruler of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty. In 1907, the French took control of Casablanca; they remained in control until 1956 when Morocco gained independence. (more…)

10 Reasons to Vacation in Morocco

morocco things to doWhen you travel, do you like to poke around palaces, indulge yourself in history at a museum or sip coffee at a local café? Do you prefer to take part in extreme sports or wander through the wilderness?

The beauty of Morocco as a vacation destination is that it’s a country diverse in adventure, culture and heritage, and regardless of your travel style, you’ll find something here that suits you. Whatever your preferences when it comes to travel, here are ten good reasons you’ll want to make Morocco your next holiday destination:

1. Trekking experiences are plentiful. The main mountain ranges in Morocco are the Rif Mountains, Atlas Mountains, Middle Atlas Mountains and Anti Atlas Mountains. The Rif Mountains, located in the northern section of the country, are covered with cascades, forested land and caves. Expert trekkers will find more challenging terrain in the High Atlas Mountains. (more…)

5 Must-Have Experiences in Morocco

Camel Tour in MoroccoMorocco: Home of fabulous cuisine, beautiful languages, a unique culture and stunning historical sites. With so much to see and do in Morocco, it can be hard to pick the best experiences. If you’re looking for an interesting mix of adventure, education and culture, here are five Moroccan experiences you absolutely shouldn’t miss:

  1. Visit Ait Benhaddou. This desert fortress (also known as a kabash) is located in the Draa Valley and was built to protect the locals from outside invaders. The city has a frozen-in-history feel with its building designs dating back to the 11th century. It’s little surprise, then, that Ait Benhaddou has been used as a backdrop for several Hollywood films, including Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile and Gladiator. (more…)

Dust and Discovery: Morocco’s Imperial Cities

Meknes MoroccoWhile 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.
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Casablanca, Morocco Day Trips: Out & About (Part II)

On the Sale side of the estuary, it seems that time has been forgotten. It still carries some practices from earlier eras. Sale is a walled city. Central to life is the Grand Mosque and medersa, built in the 1300s. The Mosque itself is closed to non-muslims but the medersa is open to visitors as a museum. Near the back of the Grand Mosque is a shrine to Sufi, Zawiya of Sidi Abdallah ibn Hassoun, patron saint of Sale. The most interesting excursions would be the Souq-el-Ghezel or wool market. Your Morocco tour operator can advise you best on where to go and what to expect. (more…)

Tangiers and Casablanca: Two Unique Moroccan Cities

Morocco has always held some mystery for travelers. This part of North Africa bridges mainland Europe and the African continent, though separated slightly by the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. With the Atlantic Coast thousands of miles long and the Sahara thousands of miles across, Morocco has many different prospects of topography and offers a complete and unique experience for each individual traveler. (more…)