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Travel to Morocco, from medinas to Atlas Mountains

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile
Located in the Maghreb region of North Africa, Morocco is a delight to the senses. It is the most accessible African country from Europe and attracts a varied clientele. From the astounding Saharan landscapes to the historic medinas of Fès and Marrakesh, it is a country bursting with adventures for every interest!

Before leaving

Geography

Morocco is a North African country that has a coastline on both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has borders with Western Sahara to the south, Algeria to the east and the Spanish North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla on the Mediterranean coast in the north. It is just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Gibraltar.

Resorts

Morocco is brimming with breath-taking seaside resorts and beautiful cities, perfect for an active getaway or a little peace and quiet! Saïdia, with its beautifully-maintained beaches, protected natural environment and shaded parks, offers everything needed and more to ensure an unforgettable holiday. The long sandy beach and clear turquoise sea allow for an array of exciting water sports as well as beautiful scenic strolls.

Morocco's capital city, Rabat, is elegant and sophisticated. It is both modern and historic. The Oudayas' beach is Rabat's largest sand beach and a safe spot for surfers of all levels. Or why not visit the famous city of Casablanca? Renowned for its glorious Art Deco buildings, the city has many highlights, including the Boulevard d'Anfa, a palm-lined avenue studded with pavement cafes.

The new resort of Essaouira Mogador offers luxury and authenticity. Essaouira's medina is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site; perfect for history and culture lovers!

Sports and activities

Agadir, the country's seaside resort town famous for its long beaches, is perfect for holidaymakers! Marrakesh will attract party animals whereas surfers can head to the south in Essaouira. Hiking fans can head south to explore the country's more tranquil towns such as Fez or Tanger, or take an excursion high up into the Atlas Mountains. You can also learn how to roll couscous, go camel trekking, shop in the souqs, and lose yourself in the medina. Whether you wish to explore the Mediterranean Sea, desert, mountains, or imperial cities, there is something for everyone in Morocco!

Transport

The bigger cities have public bus services, however, buses can sometimes be extremely overcrowded, therefore 'petits taxis' are often an easier and faster option. Petits taxis are licensed to carry up to three passengers, but are not permitted to go beyond the city limits. They are usually metered, but if not, agree on a price beforehand.

In more remote areas, especially the Atlas Mountains, locals travel between villages in pick-up trucks or old vans. You'll also find shared taxis on the Moroccan roads (grands taxis in French). It is usually easier to use shared taxis to reach The Ziz and Drâa Valleys, the Tizi n'Test and the Rif Mountains, as these areas aren't very well accessible by bus. The fixed-rate fares are a little higher than bus fares, but still very reasonable.

Language

The language used in schools, government services and the media is classical Arabic, though the language which is spoken daily is dialectal Arabic. Berber is mainly spoken in the Rif, Atlas and Souss. Most Moroccans speak French, and some speak Spanish or English.

Beautiful weather

The climate in Morocco differs between areas. The North Moroccan coast and central areas are Mediterranean, with hot dry summers and mild wet winters. Further inland temperatures are more extreme, with cold winters and very hot summers. In the desert, there is about 13 hours of sunshine per day, whereas there is only about nine hours of sun on the Atlantic. In winter, the rate of sunshine drops to about six hours in the North and about seven or eight in the south. The Atlantic coast, e.g. Casablanca, sees most rain - the heaviest being in winter.

Our Editorial team's advice

Morocco can be split into three large regions: the north, the centre and the south. Discover the most authentic form of Moroccan culture in the numerous medinas and souks in Northern Morroco; from the discreet Tetouan to the spiritual Fes. Between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the north of Morocco is lined with long isolated beaches such as Saïda. The corners of the Sherif kingdom - from the North to the South, to the easternmost regions remain largely sheltered from mass tourism. The more popular regions are the beaches of Agadir, the nightlife in Marrakesh and waves at Essaouaria's coast, which always appeal to the surfers.

Central Morocco attracts the most tourists and the guides can help you discover Morocco's cultural wealth. However, to avoid the numerous scam tour guides and fake taxis, organise an official guide recommended by the Moroccan Tourist Board. The region also offers an astonishing mix of tradition and modernity. To discover the artistic, architectural and gastronomic treasures of the country, you need only stroll through the imperial capitals of Fes, Marrakech, Rabat or Meknes. The south of Morocco is ideal for relaxing with the tranquillity of the desert and ocean winds, away from the hustle of the city.

Don't forget to bring an adapter! The voltage in Morocco is usually 220 V, and outlets will fit the 'two-pin plug' known as the Europlug. It is used throughout continental Europe and parts of the Middle East, as well as much of Africa, South America, Central Asia and the former Soviet republics. Europlugs are included in most international plug adapter kits.

Reviewed hotels

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Our journalists' reviews for you 204 hotels Morocco . Take a look at our hotels, their facilities or their value-for-money score according to your departure dates so that we can find the best offer to suit you Morocco . Book a hotel Morocco it's never been so simple !

Reviewed Hotels

Traditions

Ramadan is the traditional Muslim fasting period (ie. no drinking, eating, smoking or sex during the day) which lasts for 29 or 30 days. During this period, it is expected that shops, restaurants, banks, etc. are completely closed or open just for a few hours per day, either in the morning or at night. However, in tourist areas, restaurants and cafes usually remain open during the day.

Religious life in Morocco strictly adheres to the Muslim calendar: the Hegira, the day Mohammed left Mecca for Medina, marks year I. The Hegiran year has twelve lunar months of 29-30 days and is therefore shorter than the solar year by an average of eleven to twelve days.

What to see

High Atlas , At the heart of the mountains , Morocco
The High Atlas
The beaches of Rabat , View over the Atlantic , Morocco
The beaches of Rabat
The beach at Essaouira , Morocco
The beach at Essaouira
Morocco : Explore

Food

Moroccan cuisine is known to be one of the greatest cuisines in the world. It involves subtle spices and delicious flavour combinations. B'ssara is a traditional rich soup of dried broad beans usually served for breakfast. Moroccan meals usually begin with at least seven cooked vegetable salads scooped up with bread. They can include green peppers and tomatoes, sweet carrots or courgette purée, and a dish of local olives alongside. Zaalouk is a smoked aubergine dip, seasoned with garlic, paprika, cumin and a little chilli powder.

For a main course, Morocco boasts a rich selection of fish dishes. Fish chermoula is a combination of herbs and spices used as a marinade before grilling over coals, and as a dipping sauce. A traditional Moroccan dish is Kefta tagine. This is beef or lamb mince with garlic, fresh coriander and parsley, cinnamon and ground coriander rolled into balls and cooked in a tomato and onion sauce. For desert, try a b'stilla pie - layers of thin pastry with pigeon meat, almonds, eggs and spices. The traditional drink of Morocco is mint tea.

During the holy period of Ramadan, the fast is usually broken at sunset each day with a hot bowl of harira soup. Rich with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas and lamb, it is finished off with a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped coriander, and served with a sticky sweet pretzel called chebakkiya.

Moroccan street food consists of kebabs, calamari and grilled sardines - the best place to taste these is Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech. You can also find more unusual delicacies such as meat of sheep's head, snails cooked in a spicy broth, and skewers of lamb liver. Small deep-fried potato balls called Makouda are also available, which are delicious dipped into spicy harissa sauce.

Souvenirs

You're likely to be familiar with Morocco souks; known for their bustling markets and unfixed prices. They sell a range of goods; from jewellery to local crafts and a range of spices. Each city has its own speciality: Meknes is known for its woodwork, Rabat for its materials (embroidery, weaving and traditional eighteenth century rugs) and Marrakech for its leather. You'll find handmade bags, belts and shoes made using ancient methods. For those who prefer a quieter shopping experience, Morocco is also home to the biggest commercial shopping centre in Africa, the Morocco Mall, recently opened in Casablanca. Wherever you decide to visit, make sure you don't miss out on the shopping!

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