The 15 most beautiful cities to visit in Morocco
The 15 most beautiful cities to visit in Morocco: From the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean to the sandy plains of the Sahara, Morocco has fascinated and attracted travelers for thousands of years.
Morocco’s strength lies in its integral position for trade with the rest of Africa; as such, the country has seen many influences infused into its own Berber traditions. From France to Spain and beyond, all of Morocco’s cities – from cosmopolitan metropolises to traditional medieval towns – are ready to be discovered. Here’s our selection of the best cities in Morocco to help you plan your next Morocco tours
One of Morocco’s four imperial cities, Marrakech has been a key commercial center for many years. The city’s position is integral to the country’s trade in goods, and its emphasis on commerce has shaped the city. Take a look at the iconic Koutoubia mosque, which dates back to the 12th century and is a symbol of the old town. The exquisite 19th-century Bahia Palace also stands out for its sumptuous design.
Marrakech is a lively, bustling city. The main market square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, in the city’s medina, is a hot, cramped experience for most people. There is a sale on everything., it ranges from primates to musical instruments.
Merchants call out to customers to heckle and seduce them – bartering goods is the norm. As night falls, the main square is transformed, giving way to steaming food stalls. Although it may not seem possible, the city becomes even more of a lively, dynamic and exuberant travel experience.
The gateway to the Sahara Desert, Ouarzazate lies south of the High Atlas Mountains. This dusty desert town is dominated by the colossal Kasbah de Taourirt, a 19th-century fortified palace. The palace offers a breathtaking view of the red, mountainous landscape. In fact, it’s so distinctive that it’s been used in numerous films.
The town itself offers plenty of reasonably priced hotel options and small local restaurants. The town’s position also means that it’s easy to make day trips to nearby sites such as Ait Benhaddou, a perfectly preserved kasbah.
Once the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco, Fès exudes culture and history. Well-known for its famous little red hats, the city also boasts many fascinating sites to visit. The emblematic medina of Fès is an immense pedestrian area that exudes atmosphere and history. It can seem completely overwhelming to many visitors, while others fall in love with its bubbling atmosphere.
Those brave enough to wander the narrow streets can discover the city’s two Islamic schools or madrasas. Dating from the 14th century, Bou Inania and Al Attarine have intricate facades carved from cedar and elaborate roof tiles.
The Chouara tannery, which dates back to the 11th century, is one of the oldest in the world and has been making leather for merchants for generations.
The 15 most beautiful cities to visit in Morocco: Asilah is an arty little town where brightly colored murals adorn the walls. The ancient walled coastal town is a vibrant and fun place where Spanish and Moroccan cultures merge.
Take a stroll through the old town and discover the creativity and tradition in every street. The seafront promenade is the perfect place to pedal slowly past pretty cafés and ocean views.
This relaxed summer town is an easy-going place that is invaded by national tourists during the summer months. The Loukas River flows slowly through the town of Larache and the incredible ruins of Lixus lie nearby, where the legendary Gardens of the Hesperides are said to have been located.
The Spanish part of this town is still very much alive – don’t be surprised to come across tapas bars and Spanish churches.
Wedged between the High Atlas Mountains and the magnificent sands of the Sahara, the enticing town of Tinghir lies in the middle of the Todra Valley. Tinghir is a former French town that has grown into a city brimming with flower gardens, magnificent Kasbahs and charming alleyways.
Overlooked by the remains of the 18th-century Glaoui Palace, climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the surrounding area.
The lively port city of El Jadida is a popular holiday destination for Moroccan residents. The long sandy beach here is very popular during the summer months, with families enjoying their free time together.
The town itself has little character and can be explored on a day trip from Casablanca. Take a tour of the 16th-century Portuguese cistern and admire the sights from the top of its ramparts.
The 15 most beautiful cities to visit in Morocco: Charming Chefchaouen, with its famous blue-white buildings and red-tiled roofs, is one of Morocco’s most beautiful cities. Surrounded by breathtaking mountains, the town’s narrow maze of alleyways hides squares and ancient kasbahs (meaning “citadels”), with plenty of photo opportunities around every corner.
With a blend of Moroccan and Andalusian influences, this city is a hotbed of creativity and development. It’s also the perfect place to spend a few days sampling delicious food, chatting to the locals and venturing into the surrounding hills.
In the north of the country, the small town of Tétouan – which translates as “the springs of water” – stands strikingly at the foot of the Rif mountains. The city, which used to be the capital of Spanish Morocco, is a significant port on the Mediterranean Sea.
Its streets are full of square, whitewashed Spanish-style buildings and wide boulevards – be sure to visit the city’s wonderful medina and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.
Everyone knows Casablanca as the colonial setting of the romantic 1942 film, but today’s city doesn’t quite reflect this sense of dream and enchantment. On the contrary, the Casablanca of today is a commercial powerhouse – the importance of the port city makes it the economic center of Morocco.
You can always stroll through Casablanca’s curious old town center to discover its past. The ornate Moorish architecture is infused with European forms and styles. If you really want to go back in time to the black-and-white films, go and have a drink at Rick’s Cafe, the famous bar from the film (it’s a re-enactment, but you can pretend, can’t you?).
The 15 most beautiful cities to visit in Morocco: The gateway to Africa – for Europeans, at least – has a strange and eventful past. The city’s famous international zone was a magnet for all sorts of strange and curious characters, attracting many writers and artists in the 1950s and 1960s – inspiring many novels and songs since.
The Tangier of today is still attached to its whimsical past, and outside influences have affected Tangier’s aesthetic. But with the rise of new businesses and the influx of money, the city has developed considerably and is now a fine example of Morocco’s future.
Busy and lively, the port city of Agadir is a vacation destination in its own right. After much of Agadir was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1960 – particularly its most historic parts – the city was rebuilt, and is far less beautiful than many of Morocco’s complex old towns.
But Agadir has risen from the ashes to become a thriving seaside resort, with a relaxed atmosphere to match. The city’s seafront promenade is perfect for days spent strolling and enjoying life like the locals. Be sure to stop at one of the food stalls for a snack and a chat with some of the friendly locals.
The 15 most beautiful cities to visit in Morocco: Essaouira is a serene coastal town with a distinctly European feel. Once under French protectorate, which led to a fusion of cultures and architectural styles, it saw the hippies, musicians and travelers of the 1960s settle in. As a result, it has become accustomed to foreigners and is now a destination city for travelers who want to spend time wandering around the beautiful medina.
Essaouira has some lovely sandy beaches, but strong winds make sunbathing out of the question. Water sports enthusiasts, however, know the benefits of the wind and can be found windsurfing on Essaouira’s beaches during the summer months.
The port and old city walls add depth to the city’s history and, with their narrow lanes and ancient streets, are the ideal place to get lost and discover new and interesting secrets hidden between the walls.
The Moroccan capital of Rabat lies on the banks of the Bouregreg River. It is famous for its incredible Islamic architecture. The city also has strong links with its French past and – as it lies on the Atlantic coast – has a distinctly European coastal city feel. Rabat’s Kasbah is located in the fortified center of the city.
It’s a fantastic place to sit and soak up the atmosphere. Take a walk up to St. Peter’s Cathedral and soak up its strange, surreal art-deco style – then enjoy a refreshing cup of mint tea in one of the many cafés.
The 15 most beautiful cities to visit in Morocco: Dating back to the 11th century, the old town of Meknes was once the capital of imperial Morocco. The sultan of the time developed the city, building high walls and huge gates to protect it, and creating elaborate, ornate buildings in Moorish-Spanish style.
The city’s numerous monuments showcase the historic fusion of European and Islamic design. The mosaic-clad Bab Mansour Leleuj is breathtakingly beautiful. The mausoleum of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl – who made Meknes his capital – is a royal display of power, with fountains and decorative gardens.