Long stretches of warm beach, labyrinthine medieval cities, fast-paced modern urban centers, five-star restaurants, sprawling desert landscapes, lush date palm oases and adventures on the slopes of snowcapped mountain peaks should be enough to draw any traveler looking for a new vacation destination to consider, but what makes Morocco far-and-away a must-see destination is the famed Moroccan hospitality extended toward all visitors.
For travelers looking for cultural immersion, the medinas (old, mud-walled cities) of Marrakech and Fez are vibrant destinations that will transport you back a thousand years. Here is where you can experience Moroccan life and cuisine as it has been lived for generations with the floating call of the muezzin’s call to prayer wafts over the miles of pedestrian-only alleys and sprawling squares where artisans continue working with wood, leather, copper and other materials, making the hand-crafted goods that Morocco is famed for.
Along the coast, the idyllic, artsy coastal towns of Essaouira and Asilah are calm, relaxing spaces where the medina meets the ocean, the fresh catch is the plat du jour, and where miles of unclaimed beach can be found for relaxing, swimming or surfing, while the notably chill coastal town of Taghazout is the surf capital and where you’re more likely to be greeted with a s’up than salaam alykum.
Morocco’s four mountain ranges-the Rif, Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti-Atlas-provide nature lovers with plenty of national park space, soaring alpines, breathtaking valleys, jaw-dropping gorges and winding mountain treks to explore by foot or by mule, as well as numerous possibilities to peak bag and hit the slopes.
The more European cities of Rabat and Casablanca, as well as the ville nouvelles of most major cities, provide modern comforts and maintain an air of the recent French and Spanish protectorate era with wide boulevards, art deco architecture, sprawling urban gardens, classy French-style bistros and, in the north, the occasional tapas bar. Meanwhile, the Spanish exclaves of Melilla and Ceuta are just a short border crossing away.
Of course, the Sahara is what draws most visitors, with picturesque blue-turbaned desert nomads leading camels through the sand dunes, past palm-lined oases to a series of temporary Bedouin tents. In the Moroccan desert you can see the night sky at its most vivid while sunrises and sunsets will leave you in breathless wonder.
Morocco has long been a crossroads of culture. With its unique position in the northwest corner of Africa, just a few miles across the Strait of Gibralter from Spain, as well as its Amazigh and Islamic heritage, this is a true meeting of Europe and Africa, East and West, old and new.
The people you’ll meet on you travels through the country are diverse as its landscape with a true mix of cultures and languages. The ville nouvelles have a distinctly European vibe and you’re as likely to hear French as Moroccan Arabic, while in the traditional medinas, the feel is more Middle Eastern, and in the rural areas the different Tamazight languages are more likely to be heard with people proud of their pre-Islamic tribal roots. English is gaining hold as the language of travel and most hotels, guides and restaurants have at least some English as well, putting mono-linguists to shame.
With Marrakech leading the way, Morocco has become one of the trendiest vacation destinations for travelers in-the-know. With its world-class hospitality and enough sites and sounds for travelers of all stripes, it’s easy to see why. So come, sip on a refreshing Moroccan mint tea, and start exploring this remarkable corner of Africa.