Where to go in Morocco
Morocco has a rich variety of landscapes. From the peaks of the High Atlas to the ochre plains, from the greenest vegetation to the most complete aridity! However, the kingdom is distinguished by five regions: the Atlas, the High Atlas, the North, the Sahara, and the South. Discover the specifics for Morocco Tours
The Atlas, the center of Morocco
Inherited from various Arab and Berber dynasties, central Morocco is perfect for a first experience of the kingdom. Here you’ll find the famous imperial capitals of Marrakech and Meknes, as well as incredible natural landscapes. As for the cities, you’ll find yourself immersed between tradition and modernity: surrounded by ramparts that shelter the architectural, cultural and artistic heritage unique to each of them, there’s nevertheless a madcap effervescence that will delight lovers of gastronomy, art and even nightlife! Don’t forget to visit Fès, considered the cultural capital of Morocco, and renowned for its fortified medina, the largest in the Maghreb. For lovers of the great outdoors, the region also offers beautiful walks in cedar forests and national parks. Often listed as part of the kingdom’s natural heritage for the diversity of their ecosystems, you can discover a rich biodiversity typical of Morocco. The region is also home to the Ouzoud waterfalls, which invite you to laze by the river and swim in the pools; the marvelous Aït-Bougmez valley for hiking; and the small village of Imilchil, the starting point for many hikes in this beautiful mountain region.
The High Atlas, Morocco for hikers
The High Atlas is Morocco’s highest mountain range, stretching some 750 kilometers in length and dividing the country into three distinct parts: Atlantic Morocco, Mediterranean Morocco and Saharan Morocco. Located in the heart of the Berber region, the High Atlas is populated by Amazigh Berbers, who farm and raise livestock, the region’s economic mainstays. For nature lovers and hikers, it’s a promise of a complete change of scenery! You can explore the region by car, taking in some of the country’s most beautiful roads, or on foot or by mule for several weeks at a time. Whatever your level of fitness or time available, there’s sure to be a way to discover the region that suits you. Between cliff walks, mountains and forests, the High Atlas is one of Morocco’s top destinations. Above all, it is home to the highest peak in Morocco and North Africa. The most courageous among you can climb to the top of Jebel Toubkal, nicknamed the roof of Morocco, at an altitude of 4167 metres. In the Eastern High Atlas, you can also visit the many archaeological sites, where dinosaur bones have been found, or meet the particularly welcoming Berber population.
The North, between imperial cities and beaches
A true crossroads of civilizations, the northern part of Morocco marks the end of the European continent and the beginning of the African one. Here, past and present, history and modernity mingle. It’s also where the Algerian border meets the calm waters of the Mediterranean, the Strait of Gibraltar and the wild beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. A true blend of culture and landscapes: something for everyone! For lovers of tranquillity, northern Morocco offers seaside resorts, colonial forts and turquoise coves. Move further inland from the coast and you’ll find an authentic village atmosphere, including the “blue city” of Chefchaouen. In the north, you’ll find the Rif, a Berber mountain range, ideal for hiking through lush green fauna. For lovers of history, the imperial cities of Rabat and Tangier are among the 10 most beautiful cities to visit in Morocco.
The Sahara, a journey to the heart of the desert
Did you know that the Sahara is the world’s largest desert? Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, the Sahara covers 8 million km2 (almost 15 times the size of France) and is shared by ten states: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania – which is still a source of geo-political conflict. Admittedly, it’s difficult to spend several weeks there, but the Sahara experience remains a unique adventure, indeed the adventure of a lifetime, that can be had in Morocco.
The nearest and best-known villages are Merzouga and Erg Chebbi, which are the main sights of this Saharan frontier. It’s easy to bivouac on the edge of the desert and enjoy the breathtaking spectacle of the dunes shifting in the wind. It’s also an opportunity to discover the culture of the “blue men”, the Saharan desert nomads. You know you’ve arrived at the gateway to the Sahara when the sand and palm trees become increasingly present. Conversely, the deeper you go, the rarer the vegetation and life. Here, the dunes weave their way through the mountains, and you can make out a few mud villages in the palm groves. There are many ways to visit the Sahara, but the most authentic is the méharée, an ancestral trek on the backs of dromedaries or camels, which offers a contemplative journey. For the more adventurous or sporty, it’s possible to do it on foot or by quad.
The South, kingdom of palm groves and ochre valleys
Morocco is surprisingly diverse in its landscapes, and the south of the country is a good example of this. The valleys range from lush green gardens to sun-burnished mountains of dark stone, from golden dunes to spectacular canyons. This region of Morocco is home to the Wadi, the Dades Gorge and the Drâa Valley. It’s an ideal region for excursions or escapades in the heart of nature, authentic, with a thousand and one contrasts, to be discovered absolutely for its diversity and the warm welcome of its inhabitants. Take a trip to Agdz and M’Hamid, via Zagora, to discover the immense limestone and desert plateaus or the flower-filled oases and palm groves. This is also where you’ll find the famous Aït Benhaddou kasbah, the Valley of the Roses and the M’Goun gorges.
The most beautiful places to see in Morocco
Because there’s nothing like tapping into local resources and knowledge to get to know a country better, we asked our local expert to tell us about the must-see sites in Morocco. Some attractions, like Marrakech or the Atlas Mountains, are evident, but others, like Chefchaouen or the A’t Bouguemez valley, provide a true immersion in Moroccan nature and culture.
Marrakech, the unmissable Red City
It’s true that there’s nothing secret about this first must-see site, but it continues to enchant visitors time and time again. The Pearl of the South, as it’s known here, may have changed enormously in recent years, but it’s still a charming and surprising stopover. This is where most travelers land, and you can be sure of an immediate change of scenery! The vast Place Jemaa-el-Fna and its constant hustle and bustle, the smells, colors and noise of the souks, the sumptuous palaces and mosques… It’s impossible to remain indifferent!
Despite its popularity, there’s a lot you don’t know about Marrakech. And it’s these things that I like to focus on when I offer to show foreigners around the city. For example, I’ll take you on a tour of André Heller’s Anima Garden, a stroll through the tanners’ quarter, where you can learn more about the secrets and techniques of leatherworking, and many other surprises that will help you discover Marrakech in a different way.
Essaouira, the Moroccan Saint-Malo
Essaouira owes its nickname of Moroccan Saint-Malo to the ramparts that surround the old city. With its Atlantic coastline and all-white UNESCO-listed medina, it’s simply nothing like Marrakech! And that’s why I find it so interesting to visit both cities on the same trip. Here in Essaouira, peace and quiet reign supreme. The city attracts artists from all over the world, who come to enjoy the very special atmosphere of the former Mogador.
I often say that Essaouira embodies the soul of Morocco. It’s impossible not to notice the various historical influences that have gradually shaped the city, which, after belonging to the Berbers, passed through the hands of the Phoenicians, Romans and Portuguese. It’s a city of many faces that I invite you to discover here. While the charming white houses with their blue shutters will probably remind you of Greek landscapes, the ramparts that have surrounded the city since the 18th century will undoubtedly remind you of Brittany. And with its narrow streets lined with riads and its typically oriental architecture, you won’t forget for a second that you’re visiting one of Morocco’s most typical towns!
The Atlas Mountains, eternal snows of Morocco
after visiting Marrakech and Essaouira, the ideal extension to a first visit to Morocco. In the Atlas Mountains, it’s a purely rejuvenating experience that awaits you, a plunge into the heart of nature to meet the Berber people. This colorful and emotionally-charged stopover is one I generally suggest to hiking enthusiasts, as the region boasts dozens and dozens of kilometers of marked trails. You can find my favorite hiking location, the Jebel Toubkal National Park, in particular. For me, it’s one of the most enchanting places in Morocco, an incredibly varied area of cliffs, fertile valleys, plateaus and thick, green forests. Less well known but just as surprising is the M’Goun region. Here, too, you can hike along majestic ridges, plains, gorges and snowy cirques. The High Atlas is even home to a number of winter sports resorts where you can ski in the middle of winter!
The Moroccan desert, between kasbahs and dune fields
It would be impossible to talk about Morocco’s must-sees without mentioning the Sahara Desert. In Morocco, it is divided into two distinct zones: Zagora, the most arid desert, and Merzouga, known for its impressive dunes (some can reach 150 meters in height!).
Contrary to what you might think, there’s actually a lot to see and do in the Moroccan desert. Let me take you on a tour of the Drâa Valley, for example, where I’ll take you to meet the Berbers in their kasbahs and isolated villages. We can also set off to explore the Dades Valley, renowned for its absolutely splendid gorges and dwellings that blend into the rock. And then there’s another favorite that I’d be delighted to share with you: the Todra Gorge. Go there in the early hours of the morning, when the rising sun turns the ochre rock red under a blazing sun. Nature at its best.
Fès, a plunge into the heart of the medieval Orient
It’s on Fès la Vieille that I invite all travelers to focus. The oldest part of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was built in the late 8th century. It’s home to a number of historical and architectural treasures! The Fès medina is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and authentic in Morocco, having remained virtually untouched since its creation. In a tangle of pedestrian-only lanes, you can find historic hammams, bread ovens, multiple mosques, mausoleums, and caravanserais.
Fez is one of my favorite places in Morocco, and I could easily talk about it for hours. Every day, over 50,000 artisans come here to work in sectors as diverse as wood, pottery, food and leather. That’s why, in my opinion, Fez is the best place in Morocco to shop and bring back authentic souvenirs from your trip!
Chefchaouen, the peaceful blue city
One of my favorite “off the beaten track” vacation spots is Chefchaouen. For me, it’s a must-see if you want to visit northern Morocco. Dressed all in blue, the town boasts a truly unique architecture reminiscent of both the sky and the sea. All the travelers I introduce to this incredible city come back delighted. You can’t help but be enchanted by the peaceful, authentic atmosphere.
A visit to Chefchaouen plunges you into the heart of a more traditional and calmer Morocco than Marrakech. Its small medina offers great opportunities for strolling, far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities. I particularly enjoy observing the scenes of life here, as simple as women washing their clothes by hand in the Ras el Ma spring, or merchants displaying their handmade carpets in patterns as varied as they are colorful. And as the town is perched at an altitude of almost 600 metres, you’ll find incredible panoramic views of the region around every corner. Don’t forget your camera!
Meknes, an imperial city on a human scale
Along with Fès, Marrakech, and Rabat, Meknes is one of Morocco’s four imperial cities. So you’ll understand why I think it’s one of the country’s must-sees. What makes it different from its “rivals”? It’s more human scale, which gives it a calm and peaceful atmosphere to visit. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Meknes is home to some of the country’s finest monuments, including the monumental Bâb-Jema-en-Nouar and Bâb-Mansour gates and the Dar Jamaï palace. During their visit, I invite travelers to wander through a fairytale maze of alleyways. For me, getting lost is the best way to discover all the secrets of this incredible imperial city.
It’s best to concentrate on two of Meknes’ three districts. The imperial city with its parks and palaces, of course, as well as the medina with its bustling souks and ethereal ambiance. The new town, on the other hand, is of little interest, as this is where the banks and government offices are located.
The Aït Bouguemez valley in the heart of the High Atlas mountains
To finish on a high note, I’d like to take you completely away from the classic Morocco tours to discover a region dear to my heart: the Aït Bouguemez Valley. Nicknamed the “Happy Valley”, this high mountain region is very seldom visited, which gives it a great deal of charm. After all, how many places in the world do we know where consumerism and mass tourism haven’t ruined everything? Let me warn you right away: you’ll find it extremely hard to leave the valley, and you’ll have only one thing on your mind: to return as soon as possible to enjoy the local sobriety!
I’ll advise you to travel to small, remote villages to encounter the Berber people while you’re staying in the At Bouguemez valley. You can also go trekking, the local sport, to gain access to magnificent panoramic views of the region. Over a million years ago, the valley was partly covered by a vast lake and inhabited by dinosaurs. Their gigantic paw prints can still be seen today, immortalized in limestone slabs.