Exploring Morocco: Top Things to Try, See, and Buy

Exploring Morocco is an incredible experience. With its diverse landscapes and stunning attractions, the country is a road trip paradise. It’s a destination where you’ll be captivated by the culture’s warmth and hospitality, as well as the stunning natural beauty that abounds – from the Sahara dunes to the cedar trees in Ifrane National Park.

The country’s passionate cuisine blends rich flavors of fresh herbs and spices, while its artisan crafts are filled with impressive works of art. From bustling city souks, to vibrant rooftop cafes and breathtaking coastal towns, immerse yourself with these must-try experiences when exploring Morocco.

Visit the Imperial Cities

The Medina in Fez. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Exploring Morocco’s Imperial Cities is a culturally rich adventure. Travel into the past and experience a country bursting with exquisite architecture, enchanting souks, and lively music. The modern city of Rabat serves as the capital of Morocco. View majestic buildings like the Kasbah des Oudaias citadel while you take in wonderful views of the Bou Regreg river.

Fez, one of Morocco’s oldest cities, has marvelous sites such as ancient mosques such as the Andalusian Mosque, is home to Al Karaouine University (one of Africa’s oldest prestigious universities) and has an intricate tanning industry that continues to operate within its medina walls.

Meknes offers some of the best preserved Moroccan architecture; the Roman ruins of Volubilis, Royal Stables of Meknes, and the impressive Bab Mansour monumental gate.

Lastly, Marrakech, known for its hustle and bustle, is home to the Bahia Palace, Koutoubia mosque, the Majorelle Gardens, and the Jemaa-el-fna square.

Spend the Night in the Sahara Under the Stars

Photo Credit: Getty Images

For a truly magical experience when exploring Morocco, travelers should consider spending the night under the stars in the Sahara. Merzouga is the perfect destination for an incredible night in the desert, offering basic Berber-style tents to luxury-style desert camps where visitors can savor an unforgettable experience.

As night falls, you’ll be enveloped by an infinite blanket of stars, creating an unforgettable sight. With sand dunes as far as the eye can see, it’s an experience of a lifetime.

Walk Through Jemaa El-Fna Square

Jemaa el Fna Square. Photo Credit: Getty Images

No visit to Morocco is complete without a walk through Jemaa el Fna when in Marrakech. It’s easy to see why this busy square is one of the most notable landmarks in the city; it’s full of life and charm.  The square is filled with vendors, henna artists, snake charmers, exotic mystery, and plenty of other performers who keep the energy alive.

 For those looking for a culinary adventure, there is an abundance of street food available. For the best experience, it is best to visit twice – once during the day and once at night. The day provides a unique opportunity to explore the souk without getting lost in the crowds.

At night, however, the atmosphere changes as the square comes alive with street performers, food stalls and more. No matter when you visit, be prepared for a bit of hustle and bustle – but also for a truly memorable experience.

Pay A Visit to the Souks

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A visit to Morocco would be incomplete without shopping for authentic goods and souvenirs to bring home. Souks or marketplaces are always teeming with activity, as one can easily overhear the discussions of vendors and visitors bargaining over the prices of goods.

Moroccan argan oil is a must-have for those who want some of the country’s renowned beauty secrets. The leather purses, wallets, and belts allow you to take a bit of luxury home with you. For something more traditional, there are Berber textiles that come in vibrant colors and unique designs that serve as a great conversation starter when you have guests over.

Moroccan rugs are an eye-catching complement to any home because of their intricate designs. Lastly, the spice markets are the absolute perfect place to look for an array of scents—from ginger to  cumin—which can make any dish feel like an exotic escape.

Try the Local Cuisine

Traditional Moroccan Tagine Dish. Photo Credit: Getty Images

If your taste buds are yearning for adventure, embark on a gastronomic journey with Moroccan cuisine. It is full of flavor and depth, blending flavors of North Africa and Middle Eastern spices. The most popular dish, couscous, is made with steamed semolina grains, vegetables, and cooked meats – usually lamb or chicken. Other local favorites include tagines (slow-cooked stews), pastilla (meat pie), harira soup (a tomato-based stew), mechoui (roasted lamb), kefta (minced spiced meatballs) and more.

Stay in a Riad

Luxury riad interior. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Another fantastic way to immerse yourself in the culture is to stay in a riad, a large traditional home built around an open courtyard, with individually decorated suites and common areas. The term riad comes from the Arabic word ‘ryad’ which means garden. These homes were once the estates of the wealthiest citizens and merchants.

The best part is that many of the riads offer spas, pools, and other amenities for guests to enjoy. Each offers its own ambience and setting, with the goal of making your stay memorable.

Take a Camel Ride Through the Desert

Photo Credit: Kay Pierre

Going on a camel ride is an experience that can take you back in time. As you sit atop the camel, you’ll sway back and forth as it lumbers through the sand dunes. The desert landscape stretches out around you, with nothing but the soft crunch of sand underfoot and the occasional grunt or bellow from the camel to break the silence.

You’ll feel small and insignificant as you gaze out at the vastness of the desert, but also awed by the beauty of the golden sands and the blue sky overhead. You might stop for a cup of mint tea or enjoy a meal with your guide at a traditional Berber village and hear stories about the local culture and history. It’s a truly unique way to experience Morocco, and an experience you won’t forget.

Visit a Kasbah

Kasbah in Ouarzazate. Photo Credit: Getty Images

When exploring Morocco, another must-see attraction is one of the many kasbahs. It is like a journey through time, as these grand fortresses have been around for centuries. The most famous kasbah in Morocco is the Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO world heritage site and has been the backdrop for many movies, such as Lawrence of Arabia.

Travelers should set out to conquer the road of 1000 Kasbahs, a spectacular drive that goes through the Dades Valley. Hundreds of Kasbahs line the route, in which travelers are dazzled by the stunning desert scenery, villages, and palm groves. A trip to a kasbah in Morocco is certain to create a lasting impression.

Explore the Majorelle Gardens

Photo Credit: Kay Pierre

This lush and vibrant garden in Marrakech was created by French artist, Jacques Majorelle, and features fountains, pools, and an array of exotic plants and flowers from around the world. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the colorful garden, which has been carefully maintained to retain its original beauty.

The garden also provides a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, making it a great place to recoup and relax. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful place to spend the day or just want to take in some unique sights, the Majorelle Gardens are definitely worth a visit.

Hike to the Toubkal Summit

The summit of Mount Toubkal during sunrise. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hiking to the summit of Mount Toubkal is a popular choice for adventurers looking for an exciting challenge. Located in the heart of the Atlas Mountains, the trekking peak draws thousands of visitors every year. 

The hike is moderately difficult due to the high altitude. Most itineraries tend to last three days, starting at the village of Imlil before heading up to the mountains. Reaching the summit is both fun and rewarding, making it an experience that should not be missed.

From camping in the Sahara desert to hiking the Toubkal summit, Morocco offers an array of exciting activities and attractions. Embark on a culinary mission and sample the local cuisine. Take a step back in time by visiting the country’s imperial cities, brimming with history and heritage. Wander through the souks and splurge on cultural goods that are exclusive to this region.