Destinations, routes and itineraries in Morocco
Itinerary for a trip to Morocco
Destinations routes and itineraries in Morocco: Morocco is a large country with a diverse landscape that includes great imperial towns, mountains, desert, and a long stretch of the Atlantic Ocean with beautiful beaches.. A one-week trip may be enough to get a taste of the country but ideally two weeks or more will be much more fruitful.
Destinations routes and itineraries in Morocco: Asilah
Asilah is a small town south of Tangier with a beautiful medina (historic area). For those who want to make a quick visit to Morocco, from Portugal or Spain, it is much more worthwhile to make these extra kilometers than just staying in Tangier.
Destinations routes and itineraries in Morocco: Agadir
Agadir is the Algarve or the Benidorm of Morocco! It has become a completely uncharacteristic city, full of “English” tourists doing the typical resort style vacation week. It is not worth visiting. In fact, it is to be avoided at all costs unless the purpose is precisely that kind of trip
Destinations routes and itineraries in Morocco: Casablanca
I confess that I don’t know Casablanca but, most people I talk to and from what I read on other websites and forums, it is the most cosmopolitan city in Morocco but, apart from the great Hassan II mosque, it doesn’t have much tourist interest. It is better to visit Rabat. Modern Moroccans often refer to Casablanca as simply “Home”
Destinations routes and itineraries in Morocco: Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is an almost obligatory stopping point for those coming from the north. It’s a beautiful little town of blue houses and narrow streets, where you can easily shoot 100 photos in one day. It’s worth staying inside the medina, in a guesthouse or small hotel like Casa La Palma. One or two nights will be enough, unless you want to explore the Rif mountains and the surrounding cannabis plantations! There are good restaurants around the main square and some, but expensive, shopping.
I know El Jadida, the Portuguese city of Mazagan, almost only in passing but I confirm the descriptions and recommendations that had been made to me. The great fortress built by the Portuguese, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is imposing and well worth a visit but, for beaching, Oualidia, which is a little further south, is much better and more beautiful
Essaouira is a nice coastal fishing town, but also very touristy. Its medina, also built by the Portuguese (Mogador city), is quite lively but quieter than Fés or Marrakech, so you can walk around a bit more at ease. There are lots of people practicing sea and wind sports (surfing, windsurfing, kiting – Essaouira is Tarifa’s “twin city”) but the beach itself is not great for sunbathing. A little to the south, Cap Sim and Sidi Kaouki are two nicer beaches and much more worthwhile. There’s plenty of accommodation within the medina – I recommend Les Matins Bleus, for example – but you can’t go wrong with the boulevard marginal, Hotel Miramar or other.
The oldest of the imperial cities and home to the world’s first university, Fés is the nerve center of Morocco. Its medina (old town) is the largest medieval Islamic city in the world still “alive” and nothing prepares us for what we will find wandering and getting lost in those narrow streets and alleys. It’s worth sleeping inside the medina and having dinner in one of the restaurants near the Bab Bou Jeloud gate. Stores, stores and more stores for shopping!
Imsouane is a small fishing village mainly sought after by surfers. Apart from the few accommodation options, there is nothing particularly interesting in terms of tourism and it will probably only appeal to those looking for this kind of isolated destination geared towards one activity, in this case surfing. But, within the genre, it’s fine to spend a few quiet days and sun and beach and the surf is usually good! But shhiiuu, don’t spread it around….
Marrakech is a city that needs almost no introduction. It is probably the biggest tourist destination in Morocco and, in my opinion, a must-see. From Djemaa el-Fna square and into the streets of the medina there are plenty of monuments to visit, stores to bargain in, cafes to relax in, etc. Staying in one of the hundreds of riads located inside the medina is a mandatory part of the experience, but the new part of the city (ville nouvelle), such as the Gueliz neighborhood for example, can also be an option and also has several points of interest. If I had to choose between going to Fés or Marrakech, I would definitely choose Marrakech.
Merzouga and Erg Chebi Dunes
Merzouga is the best known desert village “leaning” against the Erg Chebbi dunes and, despite the feeling of immensity and isolation, a very touristy and easy to reach destination. It is the most obvious and practical alternative to spend a few nights in this environment. I recommend at least two nights: one at Hotel Nomad Palace to enjoy the space, the silence, the pool and the rest and another in a tent in the desert that they also have and organize. The town itself has almost nothing besides the many hotels and hostels, but there are things to do, such as 4×4 tours, visits to nearby Berber villages, etc. For those going by own car, the road trip from Fés is fantastic.
Oualidia is a popular destination for Casablanca locals, where the wealthy have their vacation homes. It has a beautiful lagoon and can be a good place to spend a few quiet days resting, reading, sunbathing and sea bathing and little else. It is also a good surfing destination.
Ouarzazate is usually more of a city of passage on the way to / from the desert than a destination in itself, but it can still be interesting to stay a night or two exploring some places in and around the city, such as the Kasbah of Taourirt (old quarter), the film studios, the Ksar Ait Benhaddou (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Fint and Skoura oases and the villages of Toundoute, Anzal and Tazenakht. To stay overnight, nothing better than Dar Rita, of my friends João and Rita Leitão, who are also the right people to organize some tours, if necessary.
Rabat is the administrative and political capital of Morocco and, compared to others, not a very popular destination for tourists. However, it is a very pleasant city to visit, well organized and with some excellent monuments. They say it is one of the best places to shop because the sellers do not ask for an exorbitant price like in Marrakech or Fés and also do not like traditional bargaining. I had the opportunity to check that out
Taghazout is a fishing and surfing village north of Agadir that has since grown a little too big for its liking. It’s home to one of the best waves in Morocco (Ancre Point) and is already full of surf schools and surfcamps. Still, the waves are there when it’s time for them and it’s a must-visit destination for surfers. Other than that, it has excellent beaches, much better than Agadir and, since it is so close, it is an excellent alternative for those who are stuck in this mass tourism den!
Tangier is typically the gateway to and from the country for those coming by car from Portugal and Spain. It’s a cosmopolitan city, perhaps the most European city in Morocco, but it’s not very interesting from a tourist point of view. The ideal is to pass through quickly, preferably with the doors and windows well locked, and make better use of the time further south! The 2/3 day tours sold from the Algarve and southern Spain are also likely to be a disappointment and give a misleading idea of the rest of the country. Might as well spend the money on something else
Weather in Morocco and when to go
What is the climate like in Morocco?
With such a great geographical diversity (coast, Rif Mountains, Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert, imperial cities in the interior), Morocco has a very different climate, depending on the region and the season.
As a reference, we can orient ourselves by the 4 normal seasons of the Northern Hemisphere and then adjust them to the area or areas we are going to visit. In the north, the climate is Mediterranean. On the west coast it is Atlantic, similar to Portugal but tending to be a bit warmer. To the south, closer to the Sahara, it is more desert-like.
In summer, particularly in August, the inland cities (Fés, Marrakech, etc) and the desert can be a real oven and make visits a bit heavy. On the coast a little less so, but as you move south (Agadir, etc) the heat also starts to pick up. Which is not necessarily a bad thing!
In winter, the north and Atlantic coasts have better average temperatures than Portugal. But in the Rif mountains (Chefchaouen, etc) it is often cloudy and raining or snowing. In the mid-high Atlas, it is almost certain to snow and can even get a bit harsh.
When is the best time to travel in Morocco?
The most balanced and probably best times to visit this Arab country are spring (Mar-May), when there is still a lot of greenery and the temperature is already milder, and autumn (Sep-Nov), when the most intense heat of the summer has passed.
In any case, travel is travel and everyone knows their own. And Morocco is a country that can be visited at any time of the year and offers different options for fun. I’ve been to Morocco at different times and seasons and it always feels good to try to escape a little from the usual times and places off the beaten track.
Essential information for traveling in Morocco
Official name, location and time zone
” Official name of the country: Kingdom of Morocco
” Capital: Rabat
” Region: Africa
” Time zone: GMT
Visas for Morocco
Portuguese citizens, or citizens of any European Union country, and Brazilians do not need a visa for tourist stays in Morocco of up to 90 days. They only need to present a passport with at least 3 months of validity.
Languages spoken in Morocco
The official language of Morocco is Arabic, but Berber dialects are also spoken and French is generally used in the main cities and tourist areas. In the north, Spanish is also widely spoken. English, although a “universal” language, is used little and only in tourist contexts. Moroccans are very good with languages and it is common to hear them “jabbering” in any language.
Destinations routes and itineraries: Health care in Morocco
Apart from the normal vaccinations you should always have (tetanus, hepatitis, etc.), no special health care is required for traveling in Morocco. The country is free of yellow fever and malaria may only be present in rural areas of Chefchaouen province, even then with a very low risk and without any recommendation for prophylaxis.
Money, credit cards and where to change money
” The dirham is used as Morocco’s official currency..
” Symbol: Dh
” International code: MAD
The Euro, which is accepted for payment in many hotels and riads in Morocco, is the best currency to exchange. At the borders of Ceuta and Tangier, there are several money changers with usually good rates, and banks are always a good option. Exchanging money “on the street” and in unauthorized places is a mistake and asking to be robbed!
Visa Electron cards work perfectly for withdrawing cash from ATMs, which, except in remote locations, are everywhere. Paying with a credit card is sometimes not possible or not worth it, as it is more or less usual for them to charge the famous “extra fee”. As a general rule, I prefer to exchange or withdraw and always pay in local currency, except for high value purchases and places with more “westernized” processes.
Tipping is an established custom and often the waiters or the menu itself explain that the service is not included. In these cases, the 10% rule works well all over the world, but in these things I tend to just do what I feel like and what I can at the time. It’s good to always carry change to pay for small things like cabs, parking the car, etc… because it seems that in Morocco there is always a huge shortage of change! 🙂
Some reference prices:
Meals: 40-50 Dh (cheap); 70-80 Dh (medium); 100-200 (top)
1,5 liters of water: 6 Dh in grocery stores; 10 Dh in restaurants
Gasoline: 10.5 Dh per liter
Hotel Riad medium/good: 60-75 Euros
Cab within the city: 5-15 Dh
Sockets and electricity in Morocco
The electricity in Morocco is 220V 50Hz and the sockets are type C and E, both with two round pins (European style). So Portuguese travelers don’t need to worry about that, but Brazilians may need to bring an adapter.
Telecommunications and Internet in Morocco
Morocco’s international code is +212. There are public booths and teleboutiques scattered everywhere, so it’s easy to get access to a phone. Portuguese cell phone networks have automatic roaming and it’s also easy to buy a prepaid card from one of the Moroccan networks (Maroc Telecom, Meditel, Inwi) to use on your own device. This is an option I particularly like as it gives great freedom and also allows you to have mobile data and internet at all times.
The internet has a fairly widespread use and it is easy to find places with free WiFi, such as hotels, riads, guesthouses, restaurants and cafes.