Best for travel in Morocco
In Morocco, architecture crumbling with details and colors, places overflowing with life, shops piled up in the alleys, tempting smells, spices tickling your taste buds, friendly people at every door. Because there’s nothing better than 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.
While some like Marrakech or the Atlas Mountains are a must, others like Chefchaouen or the Aït Bouguemez Valley allow a true immersion in Moroccan nature and culture. Travel a little further. Huge dunes, breathtaking mountains, a sea as far as the eye can see, ochre lands, houses in the rocks, herds of goats in the villages.
THE TOP 10 CITIES YOU HAVE TO DISCOVER
Gateway to the West or bridgehead to the East, Tangier is a thousand-year-old city that lives from day to day. To immerse yourself in its atmosphere, you have to wander through its squares and alleys and corridors. Its status as an international city, established in the 1920s, has allowed it all the eccentricities. Princes, artists, billionaires have flocked to the beautiful bay of Morocco…
Fez is a bustling city: behind the ageless gates of its medina hide sublime palaces, while trendy bars spring up from the shadows of the minarets. Lovers of old stones will marvel at the royal and religious buildings erected at the time of the Merinids (13th-15th centuries). The site of the Merinides tombs, where the sultans rest, offers an exceptional panorama of the city.
Ancient fortress, Rabat knows various destinies until that of capital in 1912. The kasbah of the Oudaïas, built on a military camp, offers a maze of narrow streets with whitewashed walls, crumbling under the bougainvilleas; its door bears witness to the virtuosity of the Almohad architects. The Moorish Café, with its view of the waters, is the citadel’s must-see place to quench your thirst.
The “Daughter of Granada” kept a strong imprint of the Hispanic colonization that lasted until 1956. In its heart, the medina has retained a perfume of authenticity with its small crafts, shady plots and fountains. And for a total immersion, the Ethnographic Museum invites you to live a Tetouanese day, with its customs and habits.
This “Versailles of Morocco”, locked by three speakers, was meant to be impregnable. The preferred site of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl, megalomaniac tyrant and contemporary of Louis XIV, the city is home to a medina on a human scale and a souk much less turbulent than that of Fez. The famous Bab Mansour gate is worth the detour with its excavated ornamentation and its interlacing.
At the mere mention of its name, a host of images emerge: the Jemaâ-el-Fna square and its bustle, the permanent rush of souks, and in the distance, the Atlas barrier. Its multitude of palaces and medersas has earned it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage City. The most cosmopolitan of Morocco’s imperial cities, which makes and breaks fashions, is a favorite destination for tourists and jet-setters.
All shades of blue are declined in this city that breathes the sweetness of life. Follow the springs, wash houses, fountains and mills: this is a pleasant way to discover Chefchaouen! And to recuperate, there’s nothing like a meal on the Uta-el-Hammam square to see the sun ignite the ochre walls of the Kasbah.
EL JEDIDA, THE DISCREET
Let’s stay in an Iberian atmosphere with El Jedida, a former Portuguese counter. In the old city in the shape of a four-pointed star, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together for a long time, as evidenced by the old synagogue and the two churches. The Portuguese cistern in Gothic style, enhanced by its lighting, offers an incomparable spectacle.
The city of Art Deco bears witness to the succession of inventive architects who shaped, during the Roaring Twenties, the new face of the “White City”. For a more oriental atmosphere, a walk by the Hassan-II mosque is a must: built above the waves and adorned with the highest minaret in the world, the building is presented as the “new beacon of Islam”.
It is no coincidence that Orson Wells chose Essaouira for the shooting of his film Othello. Nestling on a rocky peninsula, the museum-city charms with its luminous buildings and its typical blue boats. After a stroll on the skala (ramparts) from where one dominates the city at 360°, it is pleasant to taste grills on the fishing port, very lively.
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