Morocco

Special thanks to Shelby Dubin for the recommendations - check out her website here and instagram @thedubindiaries. Also special thanks to Samir . Visit her instagram @its.a.wanderfull.life or her website here!

Morocco is a North African country strongly influenced by the Berber, Arabian, and European cultures. You can experience the city, water, and dessert throughout different parts of the country. The most popular cities include Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, Agadir, Essaouira, Tangier, and The Sahara. Each city embodies its own unique qualities and is sure to leave a lasting impression.

FES

Things to Do

Al Attarine Madrasa: A small, centuries-old madrasa (school) with an exquisite courtyard whose details are the perfect example of the craftmanship Fes is famous for.

Bab Boujloud: The famous ‘Blue Door’, one of the main entrances to the old medina. There are two roads once inside: one leads you through the street food area, and one leads you directly to the shopkeepers selling their wares.

Chouara Tannery: The largest active tannery in Fes; go as early in the morning as possible to see (and smell) the tannery wells filled with bright colors as the workers soften and dye the leather.

Ifrane & Azrou: An hour’s scenic drive through the mountains from Fes, the cute town of Ifrane is famous for looking like it belongs in the Swiss Alps, and Azrou houses a cedar forest where you can get up close and personal to a small colony of Barbary Apes.

 

Jnan Sbil Gardens: A lovely ancient garden set on the edge of the old medina, offering the perfect breath of fresh air from the lively chaos of the city.

Merenid Tombs: These ruins are the perfect place to see a birds-eye-view of Old Fes and watch the sun set over the ancient medina.
 

University of al Karaouine: The oldest university in the world still in continuous use. It was built by a woman in the 9th century and has been beautifully preserved.


Volubilis & Moulay Idriss: One of Morocco’s best-preserved Amazigh and Roman ruins, Volubilis is about 45 minutes from Fes. It’s worth a day trip to explore the ruins and the nearby holy city of Moulay Idriss.

Places to Eat

Café Clock: Possibly the most well-known restaurant in the city, Café Clock has a fun, vibrant atmosphere, a delicious locally-inspired menu, and has themed nights (like the Sunday Sunset Concert) throughout the week. Try their famous Clock Camel Burger (yes, camel!)

Le Tarbouche: A small eatery decorated with beautiful murals. The menu is full of inexpensive Moroccan food, both traditional and or with a European-inspired twist. You and a friend can cover your table with a full three-course meal with drinks here for around $20 total. Try the chicken bastilla, you won’t regret it. Their chimichanga is also famous for a good reason.

 

The Ruined Garden: Hidden deep in the medina, the Ruined Garden sports some of Fez’s finest traditional cuisine set in a once-abandoned riad. You have to order it a day ahead of time, but the restaurant’s pigeon bastilla is a try-before-you-die Moroccan dish.

Places to Drink

Although Fez is relatively conservative, especially in relation to cities such as Marrakesh, it boasts a thriving local nightlife scene.

 Andalous: A lounge and bar popular with the younger crowd, it has two floors, live music, and great tapas.

O Club: A popular gastronomic nightclub among locals, expats, and tourists that hosts themed evenings throughout the week.

 

The Rooftop: Located on the roof of the luxurious Hotel Sahrai, this bar offers unparalleled views of Fez, great cocktails, and different DJs on the weekends.

 

Places to Stay

Fez has a great choice of inexpensive hostels in and around the old medina, and the following are three of the most well-known:

 

Medina Social Club: Set in a beautiful riad in the old medina, this hostel is probably the most popular among tourists and offers plenty of cultural activities (like cooking classes!) for visitors.

 

Funky Fes: A centrally-located authentic riad that is only a few minutes’ walk from popular medina attractions like the tanneries.

 

Backhome Fez: A simple backpacker hostel just inside the main gates of the old medina; a free lunch of typical Moroccan dishes is offered three times a week.

 

If you’re looking to stay in a traditional authentic riad while in Fes, AirBnB is probably the best option for finding inexpensive deals. Many luxury riads throughout the city, such as Dar Rbab and Riad El Amine, advertise their rooms at good rates on the app.

Transportation

There are plenty of red ‘petit taxis’ roaming around. During the day, the meters start from 1.40DH and go from there; after 8pm, the rate raises slightly to 1.5 times what it is during the day. Pro-tip: If the taxi driver tries to negotiate a price with you, refuse and ask them to turn on the meter. If they say no, get out and find another taxi.

 

If you want to be sure you’re not getting ripped off, download the Careem app. It’s basically the Uber of Morocco!

 

If you’re taking a day trip to a nearby place like Ifran or Volubilis, hire a grand taxi to drive you around the whole time. Prices depend on how many people are going, where you’re going, and how long the trip will be, but make sure put your bargaining skills to work.

The shopkeepers and guides in the old medina can be a bit aggressive at times. Take care to keep your wits about you. If you get lost, don’t take up just anyone’s offer to show you the way out – they might take you further in and then demand your money. Instead, ask a young child for directions and give them some dirhams for their trouble, or follow the streets: up = out.

 

If you arrive to the city by train, don’t take one of the taxis sitting right outside the entrance. The taxi driver usually won’t use the meter, and you’ll get charged way more than normal. Walk across the street or a block or so down and hail a passing taxi from there.

 

Fes couscous is famous in Morocco for being one of the best, thanks to their habit of adding stewed sweet raisins and onions to the top. Don’t miss your chance to try it!

General Tips

 

MARRAKECH

Things to Do

Camels and Quads: This is a must do excursion! Start off with a camel ride and after a tea break continue the adventure around the desert on four wheeler ATVs!

Jemaa el-Fna Market Place: This is where all of the action happens. You will find snake charmers, street food, merchants, and more! This area is bustling with tourists.

Jardin Majorelle: A gorgeous botanical garden located next to Musee Yves Saint Laurent.

Musee de Yves Saint Laurent: A museum dedicated to the work of Yves Saint Laurent.

The Medina: The old part of the town made up of walled narrow streets, fountains, mosques, and riads. It is very easy to get lost but that is part of the fun!

Bahia Palace: A stunning 19th century palace and gardens.

Lazama Synagogue: A Synagogue located in the Mellah (Jewish quarter) of the Medina.

Jewish Cemetary: The largest Jewish cemetery in Morocco.

Koutoubia Mosque: The largest mosque in Marrakech, Morocco. It is located on the border of the Jemaa el-Fna market place.

Places to Eat

Cafe Lobo: A great spot for a little bit of everything including yogurt bowls, traditional Moroccan food, French cuisine, and even pizza!

Vert Midi: Make your own salad bar and smoothies!

Zwin Zwin Cafe: Delicious food, amazing views, and completely Instagram worthy! One of the best spots to watch the sunset while you eat and drink the night away!

Kosy Bar: This upscale Japanese restaurant includes an incredible rooftop and romantic ambiance.

Places to Drink

Highway Marrakech: Disco club and restaurant

555: The most famous nightclub in Marrakech.

Places to Stay

There are a lot of Airbnb options and for great prices.

 

Riads: These hotels located in the Medina and are what you see all over instagram! They are a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden and sometimes pool!

 

Hotels: In the modern area of Marrakech you can find absolutely gorgeous 4 and 5 star hotels!

Transportation

The easiest way to get around is by taxi because there are so many and it is inexpensive. Be sure to barter for prices. 

 

If you are looking to go to other cities in Marrakech, there is a train system.

Make sure to have cash! They use Dirham.

Hold onto your valuables!

Don’t be afraid to barter for proper prices in the markets and for taxis! (For a 4km taxi ride to the airport you can easily pay about 10 USD).

In Marrakech, you don't have to cover up as much but you might feel uncomfortable to let it all hang out.

Only drink bottled water and be cautious eating street food. You can find large bottles of water for very cheap!

Languages: Arabic, Berber, French and English

General Tips

 

Al Attarine Madrasa 

Marina Bouregreg

Hassan Tower

RABAT

Things to Do

Old Medina of Rabat: The city’s beautifully-preserved walled fortress. Inside, you can stroll endlessly among shopkeepers hawking handmade items such as cactus silk scarfs and silver jewelry, sample Moroccan snacks at open-air food markets, and admire the rows of ancient houses in use after all these years.

 

Kasbah d’Oudayas: A 10th century fortress on the Bouregreg River, the inside of which is full of cute blue-and-white houses; the Kasbah café offers Moroccan mint tea, sweets, and great views of the river and Atlantic Ocean.

 

Andalusian Gardens: A peaceful oasis behind the walls of the Kasbah d’Oudayas; it is lined with the rooms of the previous king’s former harem.

 

Hassan Tower: The remains of a 12th-century grand mosque that once aimed to sport the largest minaret in the world, the triplet to the Giralda of Sevilla and the Koutubia Mosque in Marrakech.

 

Mausoleum of Mohammed V: In the same complex as the Hassan Tower, the impressive mausoleum houses the remains of two former Moroccan kings: Mohammed V and his son Hassan II, as well as former Prince Abdallah.

 

Marina Bouregreg: The large river that separates Rabat from its sister city, Salé. For a few cents, you can be ferried across by a fishing boat to visit the Salé marina.

 

Salé’s Old Medina: Just a short boat ride across the River Bouregreg, the Salé medina is even older than that of Rabat. You can find cheaper souvenirs here, authentic Moroccan food, and historic sites such as the Great Mosque of Salé and the centuries-old Medersa (school) of Abu al-Hassan.

 

Chellah: A sprawling set of well-preserved Roman ruins and thriving gardens at the edge of the city.

Places to Eat

Tajine wa Tanjia: Some of the best authentic Moroccan food in Rabat, situated in a colorful, intimate restaurant. A friendly local musician plays the oud during the evenings, and candles light every table. Try the briouat variety plate and the pear tajine, a heavenly combination of cooked beef, syrupy pear halves, and roasted almonds.

 

Yamal Al Sham: A Syrian restaurant that is probably the most popular in Rabat among locals and tourists alike, and for good reason. The interior is a beautiful riot of Syrian décor, and the food is inexpensive and delicious. Order a tasty shwarma plate and fries, or try maklouba – rice cooked with raisins and nuts, flipped upside down, and then topped with spiced chicken leg or breast.

 

Dar Rbatia: A beautiful traditional riad set in the heart of the old medina, offering set menus of Moroccan classics. They do few dishes, but they do them well. There are many salons to lounge in while you eat your meal. Their bastilla – shredded chicken mixed with cinnamon and ground almonds, cooked in a light pastry shell, and topped with cinnamon and sugar – might just be the best in Rabat.

Places to Drink

Although Morocco is a Muslim country, alcohol is easily found in Rabat, although you should never imbibe in public. Bars are kept pretty low-key, too, but here are some more well-known ones:

 

SOttoSOpra: An Italian restaurant that doubles as a music bar and is pretty popular among the international crowd.

 

Le Dhow: Probably the most unique bar in Rabat, it’s part of a boat restaurant floating in the lively Marina Bouregreg.

 

Upstairs: In the hip neighborhood of Agdal, it’s a pub-style bar popular with both Moroccans and expats. Loud music, great snacks, and cocktails – what more could you want?

Places to Stay

If you’re on a budget, your best option in Rabat is AirBnB. There are tons of super inexpensive rooms available throughout the city, so you can stay in any neighborhood you like. Our personal favorite is one in the neighborhood L’Ocean run by a man named Aladdin and his family.

 

If you have money to spare, splurge on a traditional riad in the ancient medina. There are quite a few – some of the best being Riad Kalaa and Riad Marhaba – but they can be pretty expensive.

 

Here are some of the best neighborhoods to stay in while here:

 

Ancient Medina: The heart of Old Rabat, and the best place to stay if you want a true Moroccan experience. It runs for kilometers of colorful wares and fresh food markets, ending at the famous Kasbah d’Oudaya and Marina Bouregreg. You can access most central neighborhoods from one of the many doors of the medina.

 

L’Ocean: One of the central neighborhoods of the new city, caught between the old medina and the edge of the Atlantic. It’s fairly quiet and peaceful, consisting mostly of family apartments, cafes, and fresh local markets.

 

Hassan: Another central neighborhood in the new city. It’s pretty ritzy, and many of Rabat’s fanciest hotels are here, as is the famous Hassan Tower. Many young people and international students live here, and it’s easily accessed by tram or on foot.

 

Agdal: The hip, young part of Rabat. This is where many of the university students and young workforce live, and it’s brimming with trendy restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s a bit removed from the center, but you can easily get around by tram or taxi.

Transportation

Rabat is a very walkable city. Most of the main attractions are in the center, easily accessible on foot.

 

Otherwise, there are plenty of blue ‘petit taxis’ about. During the day, the meters start from 1.40DH and go from there; after 8pm, the rate raises slightly to 1.5 times what it is during the day.

 

If you are making a longer journey, say from one neighborhood to the other, you can take a white ‘grand taxi’ for cheaper than a petit taxi. Each neighborhood of the city has its own grand taxi station. The taxis hold up to 7 people, and the fare is divided evenly between everyone.

 

You can also use the tram system, which is quite comprehensive and runs until late. A one-way ticket costs 6DH and lasts for 2 hours.

As Morocco’s capital, Rabat is a very progressive, international city. Female travelers can wear whatever they like, though its best to keep your shoulders/knees covered if visiting a religious site (same goes for men).

 

The Mawazine Festival, a sprawling, city-wide, concert-filled week of famous local and international artists, occurs during the last week (usually) of every June. You shouldn’t miss the chance to see some of the best North African, sub-Saharan, and Middle Eastern musical artists in action.

General Tips

 
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