Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. But since you are reading the most beautiful cities in Morocco, I assume you are ready to get out and explore this beautiful north African country. This travel guide also covers your questions of safety in Morocco for a solo female traveler, local people, where to stay in Morocco, visa, Morocco cities to visit, and more. The saying it’s the journey that matters the most, not a destination fits really well when you travel to Morocco and as you go through this article you will see why.
With over 32 million people living in Morrocco, the official name of Morocco is actually the Kingdom of Morocco. Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and Casablanca is the largest city with nearly 4 million people. I flew out of Casablanca and had a day there, truly felt just too crowded.
Having done my share of fast traveling I am now a fan of slow traveling which means spending at least a month or until the visa allows in each new country. Not being in a rush gives me plenty of time to get to know the place, meet the locals, and try food otherwise I would have missed. So, altogether I spent one whole month in Morocco and this article comes from my personal experience and covers the most beautiful places in Morocco, travel tips, FAQ, and the names of must-try meals.
The most beautiful cities in morocco
- The most beautiful cities in morocco
- 1. Marrakech
- 2. The Sahara Desert
- 3. Essaouria
- 4. Chefchaouen
- 5. Fez
- Travel Tips for Morocco
- How to get to Morocco?
- Do I need a visa for Morocco?
- Where to stay in Morocco?
- Is Morocco safe for a solo female traveler?
- Local currency
- People, language and more
- How to get around Morocco?
- What to eat in Morocco?
- Can you drink in Morocco?
Marrakech is one of the most visited cities in Morrocco. To see its true beauty go for a stroll around Jemaa el-Fna- the main square, and walk up to the Ben Youssef, Palace Bahnif, and Hamman bath to admire the craftsmanships. You can also have dinner included in your bath or walk up to the Jemaa el-Fna market to try local couscous or Tajine.
I also recommend visiting Jardin Majorelle, Palácio da Bahia, Anima André Heller Garden, Le Jardin Secret, Medina of Marrakesh, Berber Ecomuseum, Le Jardin Secret, Koutoubia Mosque, and Cyber Park Arsat Moulay Abdeslam. This park offers free internet for locals and visitors.
If you would like to meet other fellow travelers, turn up at the clock cafe (if it’s Monday or Thursday) they run a storytelling night but still a great place to pop by. You can also visit any rooftop cafes at the main square/souks/medina for that grand view.
Before going to bed, ask your hostel/hotel staff to book you in for x days in the Sahara desert or book online for convenience if staying at an Airbnb.
2. The Sahara Desert
Well, the Sahara Desert is not a Moroccan city but it is a must-see place in Morocco that should be in everyone’s bucket list! It is the largest hot desert in the world, and the third-largest desert overall after Antarctica and the Arctic. But you may say I am not a fan of sands but on your way to the Sahara desert, you will stop at various scenic spots and that is what makes the journey to the Sahara desert more beautiful. Places such as the Atlas mountains, Aziz Te Hadad, Gorges de Dades, Sand Dunes near Merzouga, Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou are unforgettable.
Once you arrive at the Sahara desert, you will see Merzouga Camels waiting for you for a sunset walk. Sands everywhere as far as you could see and an amazing sunset with nothing but silence and sounds of sand blowing in the wind as camels walk by. One of the best sunsets I have seen. No joke!
After the sunset, I was dropped off at the campsite where guides prepared dinner and arranged everyone’s sleeping places. They also had a choice of veg and nonveg meals. After the meal and Berber tea, it was time for music and dance. I noticed these guides were very good at playing instruments and singing. Even if I didn’t understand the lyrics, their music was worth around of applause!
With no city lights and no noise pollution in the Sahara desert, admiring the sky full of stars and the milky way was one of the unique experiences in Morocco! I felt a sense of calmness and enjoyed silence like never before! So beautiful.
After a late-night, it’s hard to wake up at 5 am but who can say no to sunrise in sand dunes! The next morning everyone on the tour started going downhill, crossing stunning nature made sand dunes. I couldn’t see much as it was still dark but slowly the sun came up. It was stunning! When everyone arrived back, there was a tasty Moroccan pancake for breakfast with the Berber tea. It was one of my best tour experience ever!
Essaouria is a UNESCO World Heritage city (medina) since 2001. It is a popular tourist destination and is famous for its numerous riads and renowned for its artisan industries, and notably inlaid cabinet work.
That being said, I think it is called one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco because of the stunning sunsets by the Essaouira Fishing port. Other places that I recommend visiting are Medina of Essaouira, Essaouira Ramparts, Essaouira Beach, and Le Souk.
Because it is by the Atlantic coast, you can easily book yourself for scuba diving, fishing, windsurfing, and movie-like walks on the beach on a horse or heavily decorated camels (I do not encourage riding animals though if you like to help the local communities you can instead buy the animals food or donate)
Another must-see in Essaouria is the famous castle made of sand at the beach! Legend says Jimi Hendrix was inspired by that huge rock then the song came out of it called “Castle made of sand”! Finish up your walk at Jimi’s cafe nearby because it is the perfect place for a hot coffee after a cold windy walk. Bear in mind, the beach here is very very very windy so windy it could be frustrating which is why you will rarely see people sunbathing.
I should also mention, that in Essaouria you can shop for the ingredients for the meal you want to eat and find a local home restaurant to cook it for you! I ended up eating at a local Moroccan home with a pregnant woman, her family, and my local friend! It was strange at the beginning but rewarding at the end. Of course, it is not a popular thing to do as you need to know a local to help you find and shop the ingredients but if you happen to know a local, I recommend this activity! It is a less expensive and authentic experience.
One more thing to check out while in Essaouria is the film sets for the Game of Thrones series. If you are a GOT fan, you won’t want to miss it!
Now time to head north to a beautiful town called Chefchaouen. It is world-famous for the striking, different shades of blue-washed buildings which makes it one of the most beautiful cities in morocco. It is mesmerizing to stroll around the blue city but if you hike up to the Spanish Mosque at a top of a hill nearby you will catch the beautiful sunsets over the city. Although the mosque is a bit outside of town and a small hike is needed to reach the viewpoint, it is totally worth it. Just get there a bit early because it’s the most popular place to catch the sunset over the city, and which is why at the end of the day, the place gets a little crowdy. Lots of photo opportunities here.
Wondering why this city is painted blue? According to a local, back in 1492 when the city had loads of Jews escaping the Spanish inquisition, they brought a tradition of painting buildings blue! It was then people began to set the blue hue tone for the city! It really is a magical place to get lost in!
Something else to look at Chefchaouen is the leather and weaving workshops line along the town’s steep cobbled lanes, Calle Sidi Buchuka, Callejon El Asri, White Mosque, El Ouahabi House, Place Haouta, The Arch, Place Outa el Hammam in the main square where you can find the red-walled Kasbah, a 15th-century fortress and dungeon, and Chefchouen Ethnographic Museum.
Lastly, time to explore one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco – Fez. The imperial city whose medinas are on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites, known as the country’s cultural capital and is the oldest city in Africa! Fez is written Fes in the Berber language and is the third-largest city of Morocco, with a population of 1.1 million (2014).
Some of the best places to see the beauty of Fez are Medina of Fez, Jardin Jnan Sybil, Fes el-Bali, Bou Inania Medersa, Bab Bou Jeloud, Al Quaraouiyine Mosque, Dar Batha, Chouara Tannery, Merenid Tombs (best sunset view in Fes), Al-Attarine Madrasa, Dar el Makhzen, Mellah, and Mount Zalagh.
You can also take the day trips from Fes. Such as the day tour of Casablanca, day trip to Chefchaouen, or to Volubilis / Moulay Idriss / Mekness.
Travel Tips for Morocco
How to get to Morocco?
Morocco is bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea which brings the Berber, Arabian, and European cultural influences. When it comes to arriving in Morocco, there are two ways you can try.
The simplest way to get to Morocco is, of course, via plane. I flew into the country at the Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK) from Spain which is a popular choice for airlines arriving from Europe.
You can also consider landing at Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) in Casablanca, which handles most of the country’s long-distance flights.
Alternatively, you could fly to France, Spain or Gibraltar and then cross the Atlantic ocean by picking up a ferry there; or, from Britain or Ireland, you could go all the way by land and sea.
Do I need a visa for Morocco?
Almost all English-speaking countries including Australia (with the exception of South Africa) require no visa to enter Morocco, and we can stay up to 90 days in this beautiful country. You’ll need one blank page in your passport for the entry stamp which they will add at customs. That said, I highly recommend checking online or with your local embassy to find out if your country requires a Moroccan visa.
Where to stay in Morocco?
If you don’t want to stay in expensive hotels or cheap dirty hostels, the easy alternative is to stay at Airbnb. You would be spoilt for choice in some of the best raids neighborhoods in the most beautiful cities in Morocco.
Is Morocco safe for a solo female traveler?
First of all, let’s establish the understanding of traveling is brutality! It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. If you are okay with it, you will adapt, you will survive.
Okay, that may be a bit dramatic but all that to say unless there is a drastic change in the country’s political situation, pandemic, or some natural disaster it is safe to travel Morocco. Just remember to apply a general rule of thumb i.e. Don’t walk down that dark alleyway on your own, respect the culture, don’t argue about religion, dress modestly, trust your instincts, don’t be afraid but be cautious.
The local currency is called The Moroccan Dirham (DEE-rah). Past few years it’s been sitting at 1 AUD to 6-7 dirham. You could withdraw Moroccan Dirham from ATMs. However, remember to consider bank fees from your bank and the ATM withdraw fee while you do your budget.
You may find some people on the street trying to help you find your way to the hostel, restaurant, or wherever you need to go. If you don’t want their help, politely say maybe next time, thanks, and walk away. But if you do need their help, don’t forget to tip 20 Moroccan dirhams for adults and 10 for children at the end of your journey. It is expected and said to be the norm.
People, language and more
Islam is the largest religion in Morocco. The Moroccans speak a fascinating mixture of Arabic, Berber, English, Spanish in the North, and French in the south. In most tourist places such as in Marrakech, you will find almost all Moroccan people warm and welcoming. ie You are casually walking down the street and you hear – ‘Welcome to Morocco! with a big smile on their face’ which is apparently very common but it is also something, you don’t easily forget while traveling. Some will even invite you to share Moroccan whiskey which is actually a Berber tea or a delicious family meal and both if you are lucky!
Women often dress modestly in Moroccan culture, and the Western tendency to want to run around in a bikini, tank tops, and really short shorts are considered rude. So flowy, airy things that don’t constrict but still cover your body would be appropriate, as well as Tshirt, half pants, and one-piece bathing suits. It also depends on where you are, smaller cities/ towns being more conservative than big cities where they’re more used to seeing a variety of people in a variety of clothes. If all fails, you could always buy clothes locally.
How to get around Morocco?
There isn’t any Uber or Lyft in Moroccan cities, but there is a taxi Kebir, called grand taxi in French, or inter-city or group taxi. You can also pick up a taxi cab on the street. Usually, taxis are available 24 /7 For example most journeys within Marrakech should cost less than 20 dhms but all prices are doubled at night time. Prices for grande (big) taxis are also around double unless you negotiate otherwise.
What to eat in Morocco?
You will find many varieties of couscous (the national dish) and Tajine in Morocco. They also have special pancakes for breakfast! Besides these two, give a try to Moroccan Chicken Bastilla, Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives, Lamb or Beef with Prunes, Kefta Meatball Tagine, Rfissa, Harira, Mechoui and Sardines – And Other Fish and Seafood.
Can you drink in Morocco?
Although Morocco is a Muslim country; if you are at a licensed venue, you can buy and drink alcohol, just don’t drink in public because it is strictly forbidden, including outside terraces in the street. An interesting fact is that some locals not only drink alcohol in Morocco but also produce their own in the city of Meknes.
That being said, Morocco is famous for its Berber tea – green tea with mint, they consider it a form of art. You will see what I mean when you witness it first hand!
I hope you will make it to these most beautiful cities in Morocco and get to experience the Moroccan ways asap!
Let me know in the comments:
- Are there any other cities I should add to the most beautiful cities in Morocco?
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