Things to do in Morocco: the essential Cities and sights

Things to do in morocco

  Any traveler visiting Morocco is sure to be captivated by the country’s enchanting and unexpected charms. Its diversified terrain ranges from the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert, and it is the most European nation in Africa. The Atlantic and Mediterranean meet in this country. Cities in Morocco with medinas that stun tourists coexist with the country’s magnificent landscapes and storied past. So that you may begin to plan your next vacation to Morocco, this article will provide things to do in Morocco with an overview of the top attractions.

Things to do in Morocco: visiting the imperial cities

  Morocco is a country that has been around for a thousand years, and the towns that make up that kingdom have made their mark on history. At various points in the nation’s history, four of these cities referred to as the imperial cities served as its capital. Taking a tour of each of these places will take you on a journey through the centuries-long history of this kingdom. They are the most picturesque towns in all of Morocco.

1. Marrakech, the Liveliest City

   Marrakech, the “Red City,” pulses with vibrant energy at every corner. Its ancient medina is a labyrinth of alleyways crammed with colorful stalls, fragrant spice shops, and mesmerizing artisans hammering brass lanterns. The iconic Jemaa el-Fnaa square comes alive at dusk, transforming into a feast for the senses with fire-eaters, snake charmers, and henna artists sharing the stage with food vendors roasting skewers of sizzling meat. Beyond the medina, escape to the serenity of Jardin Majorelle, a vibrant explosion of cobalt blue walls and lush greenery dotted with cacti and bougainvillea. At night, the Koutoubia Mosque bathes the city in golden light, a beacon guiding you to rooftop lounges where you can sip mint tea under a canopy of stars. Marrakech is one of the things to do in Morocco.

Must-dos in Marrakech:

  • Get lost in the maze of the medina and haggle for treasures in the souks.
  • Marvel at the intricate tilework and mosaics of Bahia Palace.
  • Witness the sunset casting its warm glow over Jemaa el-Fnaa square.
  • Relax in the tranquil oasis of Jardin Majorelle, once owned by Yves Saint Laurent.
  • Enjoy panoramic city views from the Koutoubia Mosque tower (open to non-Muslims on weekdays).

2. Fez, the Cultural Capital

    Fez, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a living museum steeped in medieval charm. Its labyrinthine medina, one of the largest and oldest in the world, is a maze of cobbled streets and tanneries, where the pungent aroma of leather mingles with the scent of exotic spices. As you navigate the alleyways, encounter centuries-old madrasas (Islamic schools) with exquisite carved stucco and zellij mosaic, a testament to Fez’s rich academic past. Climb the Bou Jeloud Gate, adorned with blue and green ceramic tiles, and wander through the vibrant souks, bursting with handcrafted pottery, carpets, and Berber silver jewelry. For a touch of history, visit the Batha Palace, a former sultan’s residence transformed into a stunning museum showcasing Moroccan art and architecture.

what to see in morocco

Must-dos in Fez:

  • Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of the medina and discover hidden gems in the souks.
  • Be awed by the architectural masterpiece of the Al-Attarine Madrasa, decorated with intricate carvings and mosaics.
  • Visit the Bou Inania Madrasa, known for its graceful arches and cedarwood ceilings.
  • Explore the Batha Palace, a lavish testament to Moroccan craftsmanship and design.
  • Hike to the Merenid Tombs for panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside.

3. Meknes, the undiscovered beauty

   Often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors, Meknes holds a hidden gem status that’s waiting to be unveiled. Step back in time to the 17th century with a visit to the monumental Bab Mansour Gate, the largest gateway in Africa, intricately carved with cedarwood and adorned with mosaic tiles. Immerse yourself in the Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where sprawling palaces and gardens transport you to the reign of Moulay Ismail, the city’s flamboyant founder. Marvel at the opulent Dar Jamai Museum, showcasing Moroccan art and artifacts within its richly decorated walls.

   But Meknes is more than just historical grandeur. Escape the hustle-bustle in the serene Lahboul Gardens, a paradise of citrus trees, fountains, and tranquil ponds. Discover the bustling souks, where the air is thick with the aroma of spices and artisans display their mastery of traditional crafts. And for a touch of the macabre, venture into the underground Heri Souani stables, once housing 12,000 horses, their echoing chambers whispering tales of a bygone era.

Must-dos in Meknes:

  • Be awestruck by the grandeur of Bab Mansour Gate, a monument to Moroccan craftsmanship.
  • Explore the Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and delve into the history of Moulay Ismail.
  • Discover the exquisite collection of Moroccan art and artifacts in the Dar Jamai Museum.
  • Seek serenity in the verdant Lahboul Gardens, a haven of peace and beauty.
  • Step back in time at the Heri Souani stables, a unique historical landmark.

4. Rabat, the Capital of Morocco

   Rabat, Morocco’s coastal capital, blends modern chic with historical charm. Stroll along the Bouregreg Corniche, enjoying breathtaking ocean views and the cool Atlantic breeze. Take a dip in the vibrant Kasbah Oudayas gardens, where ancient ramparts overlook the bustling port. Step into the Hassan Tower, a 12th-century minaret reaching for the sky, its unfinished beauty an enduring symbol of unfulfilled ambition. For a taste of modern Morocco, visit the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, showcasing works by both local and international artists.

   Rabat also offers a glimpse into Morocco’s political heart. Witness the changing of the guard ceremony at the Royal Palace, a vibrant display of military precision and colorful regalia. Explore the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, a masterpiece of Moroccan architecture with intricate tilework and cedarwood ceilings. For a deeper understanding of the country’s history, visit the National Museum of Archaeology, housing artifacts from prehistoric times to the present day.

Things to do in morocco

Must-dos in Rabat:

  • Stroll along the scenic Bouregreg Corniche and soak in the ocean views.
  • Wander through the Kasbah Oudayas gardens and explore the ancient ramparts.
  • Be mesmerized by the unfinished majesty of the Hassan Tower.
  • Discover the cutting edge of Moroccan art at the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
  • Witness the colorful spectacle of the changing of the guard ceremony at the Royal Palace.
  • Pay your respects at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, a stunning architectural gem.
  • Delve into Moroccan history at the National Museum of Archaeology.

5. Hassan II mosque in Casablanca: A Beacon of Serenity in a Bustling City

   Casablanca, the bustling economic hub of Morocco, might not be the first place that comes to mind for spiritual reflection. However, nestled within the heart of this dynamic metropolis lies the Hassan II Mosque, a majestic architectural marvel that offers a haven of tranquility amidst the urban chaos.

   Completed in 1998, the Hassan II Mosque is the second-largest mosque in Africa and the seventh-largest in the world. Its sheer scale is awe-inspiring, with a minaret reaching 210 meters (689 feet) into the sky, the tallest in the world until 2016. The mosque seamlessly blends traditional Moroccan architectural elements with modern touches, creating a truly unique and breathtaking sight.

   Beyond its imposing façade, the Hassan II Mosque boasts a beautifully illuminated interior adorned with intricate tilework, carved stucco, and cedarwood ceilings. The prayer hall, bathed in soft light filtering through stained glass windows, can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers. Visitors can also admire the spectacular ocean views from the mosque’s esplanade, creating a sense of connection between the spiritual and the natural world.

Must-dos at the Hassan II Mosque:

  • Marvel at the mosque’s breathtaking architecture and sheer scale.
  • Be dazzled by the intricately decorated prayer hall and its illuminated stained glass windows.
  • Soak in the panoramic ocean views from the esplanade.
  • Take a guided tour to learn about the mosque’s history and architectural significance.

6. Tangier, on the Strait of Gibraltar: Where Africa Meets Europe

   Tangier, perched on the northern tip of Morocco and overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar, has always been a melting pot of cultures and civilizations. Its strategic location at the crossroads of Africa and Europe has imbued it with a unique charm and historical significance.

   Wander through the vibrant medina, a labyrinthine maze of narrow alleys lined with colorful shops selling spices, handcrafted goods, and local treasures. Climb the Kasbah, a historic fortress overlooking the city and the strait, and capture breathtaking panoramas of the Mediterranean Sea. Delve into the city’s artistic spirit at the American Legation Museum, housed in a former diplomatic residence and showcasing stunning art and artifacts.

   For a taste of European influence, stroll along the Avenue Pasteur, lined with Art Deco buildings reminiscent of Tangier’s colonial past. Sip mint tea on the Grand Socco, a lively square bustling with locals and street performers. And in the evening, head to the Caves of Hercules, a natural wonder steeped in myth and legend, where the setting sun paints the sky in mesmerizing hues.

Must-dos in Tangier:

  • Explore the vibrant medina and discover hidden gems in its labyrinthine alleys.
  • Climb the Kasbah for stunning views of Tangier and the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • Immerse yourself in art and history at the American Legation Museum.
  • Wander along the Avenue Pasteur and admire the Art Deco architecture.
  • Relax with a cup of mint tea on the Grand Socco and soak in the local atmosphere.
  • Witness the sunset at the Caves of Hercules, a natural wonder and mythical landmark.

7. Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou: A Time Capsule in Southern Morocco

  Travel back in time to a world of caravans and desert merchants at the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. This fortified village, constructed centuries ago of adobe bricks, rises dramatically from the Ounila River like a golden mirage.

   Wander through the labyrinthine alleys, stepping back in time as you explore the kasbah’s traditional Berber architecture. Climb to the top of the hill for panoramic views of the surrounding palm groves and sun-drenched valleys. Imagine the bustling trade routes that once passed through this strategic outpost, carrying spices, gold, and other precious goods.

   Ait Ben Haddou’s fame extends beyond its historical significance. Its captivating beauty has graced the silver screen in numerous films like “Gladiator,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Game of Thrones.” Explore the kasbah and feel the magic of cinema come alive around you.

Must-dos at the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou:

  • Hike to the top of the hill for breathtaking views of the village and surrounding landscape.
  • Explore the labyrinthine alleys and discover hidden courtyards and traditional Berber houses.
  • Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting a Berber market or enjoying a cup of mint tea with a local family.
  • Take a guided tour to learn about the history and architecture of the Kasbah.
  • Spot filming locations from your favorite movies and TV shows.

8. Zagora and Merzouga Deserts: Embracing the Endless Embrace of Sand

   Venture deep into the heart of the Sahara Desert and experience the boundless beauty of Zagora and Merzouga. These golden landscapes, dotted with towering sand dunes and nomadic settlements, offer a sensory feast unlike any other.

   In Zagora, known as the “Gateway to the Desert,” feel the warm sand beneath your feet as you explore the Draa Valley, an oasis of lush greenery amidst the arid plains. Ride a camel through the dunes and witness the mesmerizing sunrise or sunset, painting the desert in a kaleidoscope of colors.

   Merzouga, home to the iconic Erg Chebbi dunes, promises an unforgettable adventure. Climb the towering sand peaks, feeling dwarfed by the sheer immensity of the Sahara. Spend the night in a traditional Berber tent camp, gazing at the star-studded sky and listening to the enchanting tales of nomad storytellers.

what to see in morocco

Must-dos in the Deserts of Zagora and Merzouga:

  • Take a camel trek through the sand dunes and experience the desert in traditional style.
  • Climb the Erg Chebbi dunes and witness breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.
  • Spend the night in a Berber camp, enjoying traditional food and music under the stars.
  • Go sandboarding or quad biking for an adrenaline rush on the dunes.
  • Visit a local village and learn about the fascinating culture of the nomadic Berber people.

9. Chefchaouen, the Blue Pearl of Morocco

   Nestled in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen, also known as the “Blue Pearl,” is a fairytale-like town where every shade of blue imaginable paints the houses, doorways, and even the stairs. This enchanting town, founded in the 15th century as a Jewish and Muslim refuge, offers a unique blend of Berber and Andalusian influences, reflected in its architecture and vibrant culture.

   Wander through the maze-like medina, losing yourself in the labyrinthine alleys and soaking in the mesmerizing blue hues. Discover hidden squares adorned with colorful fountains and bustling with local vendors selling spices, handcrafted souvenirs, and delicious treats. Climb the Kasbah Museum, housed in a former military fortress, and soak in panoramic views of the blue rooftops and the surrounding Rif Mountains.

   Chefchaouen is much more than just a pretty face. Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting a traditional hammam, a public bathhouse, for a rejuvenating experience. Sip mint tea on a sun-drenched terrace and watch the world go by in one of the numerous cafes. In the evening, indulge in authentic Moroccan cuisine at a cozy restaurant overlooking the medina, relishing the flavors of tagines, couscous, and fresh seafood.

what to see in morocco

Must-dos in Chefchaouen:

  • Wander through the blue-washed medina and savor the vibrant atmosphere.
  • Visit the Kasbah Museum and learn about Chefchaouen’s rich history and culture.
  • Climb the Spanish Mosque for breathtaking views of the town and surrounding mountains.
  • Relax in a traditional hammam and experience the Moroccan bathing ritual.
  • Sample delicious Moroccan cuisine at a local restaurant overlooking the medina.

10. Essaouira, a surfing Mecca and Seaside Charm

   Escape the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and explore the laid-back seaside town of Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador. Essaouira’s historical medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is enclosed by 18th-century ramparts overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, creating a picturesque scene that has captivated artists and filmmakers for centuries.

   Essaouira is much more than just a postcard-perfect town. It’s a haven for surfers, with consistent waves and an international surfing scene. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a curious beginner, you’ll find the perfect wave to ride here. For something less adrenaline-pumping, stroll along the sandy beach, collecting seashells and soaking up the sunshine.

   Beyond the coast, Essaouira boasts a captivating medina. Discover hidden treasures in the souks, filled with handcrafted jewelry, colorful textiles, and aromatic spices. Indulge in fresh seafood at a harborside restaurant, watching fishing boats return with their daily catch. In the evening, wander through the lively Skala Square, where street performers and musicians create a vibrant atmosphere.

Must-dos in Essaouira:

  • Catch a wave and experience the thrill of surfing on the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Relax on the beach and soak up the sun in a pristine coastal setting.
  • Explore the historic medina and discover hidden gems in the souks.
  • Sample fresh seafood at a harborside restaurant and enjoy the ocean views.
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Skala Square in the evening.

11. Ouzoud Waterfalls: A Hidden Oasis in the Middle Atlas

    Escape the desert heat and plunge into the verdant paradise of Ouzoud Waterfalls, nestled amidst the rugged cliffs of the Middle Atlas Mountains. This series of cascading waterfalls plunges over 180 feet into a refreshing pool below, creating a breathtaking spectacle that has earned it the nickname “the Moroccan Yosemite.”

   Hike down a scenic path surrounded by lush vegetation and colorful Berber villages, feeling the cool mist spray on your face as you approach the falls. Take a refreshing dip in the pool at the base of the falls, or rent a small boat and navigate the calm waters beneath the cascading torrents. In the afternoon, relax on the sun-drenched rocks and soak in the stunning panoramic views of the surrounding valley.

   Ouzoud is more than just a watery wonderland. Explore the charming Berber villages clinging to the cliffs, where locals sell handcrafted souvenirs and offer delicious home-cooked meals. Get a taste of adventure by riding a mule through the valley or scaling the cliffs for even more breathtaking views.

Must-dos at Ouzoud Waterfalls:

  • Hike down to the base of the falls and experience the power of nature firsthand.
  • Take a refreshing dip in the pool or rent a boat for a closer look.
  • Relax on the rocks and soak in the panoramic views of the valley.
  • Explore the Berber villages and discover local crafts and cuisine.
  • Embark on a mule ride or hike for a more adventurous experience.

12. Volubilis: A Journey Through Ancient Rome in Morocco

   Step back in time to the Roman Empire at Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved Roman ruins in North Africa. Located near Meknes, Volubilis offers a glimpse into the prosperous Roman city that once thrived here, with its temples, baths, forums, and Triumphal Arch still standing as a testament to its former grandeur. It is on of the best things to do in Morocco.

  Wander through the ruins and imagine the bustling streets, chariot races, and toga-clad citizens filling the squares. Marvel at the intricate mosaics adorning the floors of villas and public buildings, depicting scenes from mythology and everyday life. Climb to the top of the Capitol and be rewarded with panoramic views of the archaeological site and the surrounding olive groves.

  Volubilis is not just a collection of stones; it’s a window into a bygone era. Learn about the history of the city at the onsite museum, where artifacts and exhibits bring the Roman past to life. Imagine the trade routes that connected Volubilis to Rome and beyond, transporting spices, olive oil, and exotic goods.

Must-dos at Volubilis:

  • Explore the ruins of the Roman city and discover its temples, baths, and forums.
  • Admire the intricate mosaics and imagine the stories they tell.
  • Climb to the top of the Capitol for breathtaking views.
  • Visit the onsite museum and learn about the history of Volubilis.
  • Picture yourself as a Roman citizen walking through the bustling streets.

13. Todra and Dades Gorges: Nature’s Sculpted Masterpieces

    Embark on a journey through a landscape sculpted by time and wind at the Todra and Dades Gorges, dramatic canyons carved into the High Atlas Mountains. These towering rock formations, reaching hundreds of meters high, create a labyrinthine wonderland of narrow passages, hidden oases, and breathtaking viewpoints.

   Hike through the Todra Gorge, following the gurgling Todra River as it navigates the narrow passage. Feel dwarfed by the towering walls of rock and marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds you. In the Dades Gorge, known as the “Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs,” discover traditional Berber villages clinging to the cliffsides, their adobe houses blending seamlessly with the rugged landscape.

  Take a 4×4 adventure through the gorges, navigating bumpy tracks and crossing rushing rivers. For a more relaxed experience, go for a camel ride or mule trek, immersing yourself in the Berber way of life. In the evening, watch the sun cast its golden glow on the canyon walls, creating a magical spectacle of light and shadow.

Must-dos in Todra and Dades Gorges:

  • Hike through the Todra Gorge and be awed by the towering rock walls.
  • Explore the Dades Gorge and discover traditional Berber villages and kasbahs.
  • Take a 4×4 adventure through the gorges and experience the thrill of off-roading.
  • Go for a camel ride or mule trek and immerse yourself in the Berber way of life.
  • Witness the stunning sunset paint the canyons in a magical light show.
  • Support local artisans by purchasing handwoven carpets and crafts in the souks.
  • Savor delicious Moroccan cuisine in traditional Berber villages.

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