Sand, camels and secret oasis? Is this the image that you get when you think of Morocco? Well, it is all true, but it is only a tiny fraction of things that Morocco has to offer. The diversity of this country does not stop surprising me even after my 10th visit!
In the past few years, Morocco has become a trendy travel destination thanks to super cheap flights from Europe and to the fact that Morocco is a safe and cheap place to spend holidays at. Here I have gathered 20 unique and exciting things to try or do when visiting Morocco.
1. Drink mint tea Moroccans love their tea and so do I! The tea is an important part of the Moroccan culture as the family and relatives gather together and enjoy sweet mint tea on a daily basis. Make sure to try some as it tastes super delicious. It might seem weird at first to see people having tea when the temperatures rise over +30 Celsius, but actually drinking some warm tea makes you bear the heat better.
2. listen to Gnawa music If you want to experience something very traditional make sure to go and listen to live Gnawa music. Gnawa is a rich Moroccan repertoire of ancient African Islamic spiritual religious songs and rhythms. It is a combination of ritual poetry and traditional singing and dancing.
Head to the Café Clock in Fez, to listen to Gnawa music
3. Fez Tanneries On your trip to Morocco, make sure to head to Fez, one of the biggest cities in Morocco where you can pay a visit to the famous leather tanneries. There you can see how the leather is coloured and then later manufactured into some beautiful handmade bags, jackets and garments. Entering the tanneries are basically free, but often the guides expect you to give a tip for the service. (15-30 dirhams should be fine).
4. Visit Rabat It seems to be a common belief that Casablanca is the capital of Morocco, which isn't true. Casablanca might be the biggest city but Rabat is the capital. It is not quite as famous destination among tourists but it is worth visiting! Rabat is rather clean and fresh city and there's a great public transport system in the centre, which makes it easy to move around.
5. Rabat old town While visiting Rabat, one should definitely visit the old town of Rabat which is like a smaller and less touristy version of the blue city Chefchaouen. You can get lost in the narrow streets surrounded by houses painted in blue and white and then, later on, visit the big castle area just next to the old town.
6. sahara desert Now we get into the typical stereotype of Morocco. If you are dreaming of experiencing the Bedouin lifestyle and wanting to see the spectacular endless desert, Morocco is a great place for you. Head to the city of Merzouga which is often called the door to Sahara and get yourself a local guide and get on a camel and enjoy the beauty around you.
7. Haggle, haggle & haggle When it comes to shopping in Morocco, you should head to the souks and medinas. These are traditional Moroccan bazaars where you'll find shops next to one another selling souvenirs, paintings, spices, food, ceramics, ...ANYTHING! Just remember to haggle a lot, usually, the prices are not shown and you'll have to ask for them. Never accept the first price; you can haggle 50% off the price with good spirits.
Some of the best souvenirs to bring home are carpets, pillow cases, textiles in general, leather items, jewellery and traditional slippers called charbiles.
8. Try Moroccan Couscous What would a trip to Morocco be without trying couscous? It is very traditional and common dish in Morocco and it is often eaten on Fridays, which is the most important day of the week for Muslims. However, it can be eaten on any other day as well. It is often served with meat and vegetables. Don't be surprised if the waiter brings you and your company a large common plate which will be shared with everyone on the table. That's the local way of eating couscous.
9. Escape the heat to the mountains It can get very hot during the summer months in Morocco. Sometimes the heat might feel unbearable, but no worries, in this kind of days you can take a bus or a taxi to the closest mountains and enjoy the cooler weather and the breathtaking views. Morocco has an amazing mountain range called Atlas, so nearly wherever you are, you won't need to go far to find yourself on the mountains.
If you are looking for a getaway during your stay in Fes, make sure to check out a beautiful mountain town Ifrane. More on:
10. Chefchaouen blue city
I'm sure you have seen those photos of the blue city of Chefchaouen. If the photos seem too beautiful to be true, you should certainly go and explore the city yourself! It's like you are in another world as you get lost in the blue. Make sure to check out my Chefchaouen diaries and read all the tips on what to do in Chefchaouen.
11. train across the country Moving around in Morocco is easy yet a little time-consuming. However, trains are rather nice as you can choose to travel in the first class for your comfort. There are frequent connections between the biggest cities and the train tickets are very affordable. On your train trip, you'll also be able to see the beautiful countryside of Morocco.
12. Meknes Only a couple hours away from Fez, lies a city of Meknes where some of the most important events in the history of Morocco has taken place. Due to that, there are some very interesting sites to see for those who are into Islamic architecture, history and culture.
13. Go to the beach Morocco has long coast of on the Mediterranean sea as well as a long coast on the Atlantic, therefore it's not a surprise that Morocco has some great beaches. There are plenty of beaches where you can try surfing as well. On the Mediterranean coast: Martil and Cabo Negro Some beach towns on the Atlantic coast to visit: Mohammedia, Essaouira and Dakhla.
14. Get yourself a beautiful Henna Henna is naturally produced paint that is very commonly used in Morocco. The orange-coloured paste is used to decorate women's hands and feet especially during important events such as weddings and religious celebrations. There are plenty of henna artists willing to give you a nice design for a less than 10 euros. Henna lasts on your skin approximately for couple days to 3 weeks depending on how long you let it before washing it off and the quality of it.
15. Learn Darija English is not widely known in Morocco, especially when it comes to more rural places. Therefore it is not only useful but also interesting to learn some basic greetings in the local language. Darija, Moroccan Arabic, is a dialect spoken in Morocco that differs from the traditional Arabic quite a bit. If you are not comfortable trying it, French is a great option, as well as around half of the population, knows French.
16. Fez Medina The most famous thing to do in Fez is to visit its Medina (Arabic: city) which is the biggest car-free city area in the whole world. There are plenty of things to do and see there; for instance, pay a visit to the world's oldest university; which nowadays serves as a Mosque and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
17. Hike There are plenty of possibilities to go on hikes. Some of the best views can be seen in the national parks throughout the country. Just remember to follow the advice of locals and find out beforehand if a guide is needed. Some of the best hikes in Morocco; Azrou waterfalls near Chefchaouen & Taza National Park
18. Observe the call of prayer Morocco is a Muslim country, which you will quickly notice due to the fact that there are a lot of Mosques that you'll recognise by the tall tower-like building. The tallest towers are called minarets and they serve as a ''big speakers'' that give a call to a prayer 5 times a day.
19. Mawazine World Rhythms Festival
It's an annual music festival held in Rabat. There are many international and local artists performing and it has become one of the biggest music festivals in the whole world. This year (2017) the festival took place in May. This year artists such as Nick Jonas, Tamer Hosny, Ellie Goulding, Wiz Khalifa and Sami Yusuf performed there among many others.
20. admire the mosaic art Morocco is the place to go for those who are into beautiful architecture. There are hundreds if not thousands of very detailed colourful Islamic style buildings around the country. Some of the best places to admire the architecture are the residences of the king of Morocco.
There were my 20 things to do in Morocco! I could go on forever but I'm sure you'll keep yourself busy visiting and trying these things out first! If you have already been to Morocco, what was your favourite thing to do there? Let me know in the comments!