Morocco 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.
2. Visit a tannery
Morocco’s tanneries offer an opportunity to witness one of the country’s historic industries. The tanneries are where animal hide is stripped, dyed in colorful bins and sewed into a variety of products. The site of the tanneries is very iconic, with bins of organic dyes covering courtyards a pungent smell of bird dung and dye stinging the nostrils. Tour guides will walk you through the dying process, as it’s been done for over a century.
3. Get sand in your shoes in the Sahara Desert
Turn the city life on its head and you’ll end up in the Sahara Desert. The Sahara is cold, empty and endless, much as it is portrayed in the movies. A trip to the desert might include a tour by locals living in the area, which you can explore by 4×4 or camel.
4. Make a stop in Meknes
Meknes is a smaller city stop in Morocco, sheltered from the big city busyness. It is quiet yet genuine in its wide-array of ancient historical sites. A stop here lets you see a side of Morocco that doesn’t feel as touristy.
5. Walk around Rabat
Rabat is the capital city of Morocco, which immediately helps it earn its position in the top ten. Aside from its prestige, Rabat has a wonderful Medina and clean neighborhoods that are interesting to explore. The city is extremely user friendly and easy to navigate.
6. Eat tagine
No Morocco top ten would be complete without the country’s signature dish, tagine. Tagine is a quintessential dish that is baked in closed clay pot over a fire. The ingredients bake together and the dish is served with round bread, which can be used instead of a typical eating utensil.
7. Appreciate the mosque in Casablanca
Casablanca’s mosque, the Hassan II Mosque, is gigantic. In fact, it’s the seventh largest in the world. It overlooks the sea and is a testament to Morocco’s commitment to Islam. The architecture of this building alone is well worth the trip.
8. Barter in the market
Bartering in the Medina, whichever one you select, is a long-time tradition in Morocco. This long, drawn-out process of negotiations can feel tedious, but it requires that you get to know your salesperson and establish a relationship with him or her, something most people don’t do on the average shopping run.
9. Splash around on the coast
From Agadir to Tangier, the Moroccan coast is a popular hot spot known for clubbing, tanning and water sports. Inland Morocco has many things to do and see, but most of the luxury lies on the coast. Indulge yourself and live like royalty on even a limited budget.
10. Hunt down history in Fes
Fes (See our Fez city guide) is an ancient relic of Morocco, and much of the city’s architecture highlights this fact. The Medina is full of history and character, and a trip to this part of town lets visitors revel in his antiquity.
Written by Anna Sandor.
Photo by Szagi.