You are ready to take that exotic trip to Morocco, so it’s time do what we all do! google 🙂
Casablanca, Marrakesh and Essaouira will sure to be the most-beaten-paths travelled that you’ll come across. Easy! Let’s book that plane ticket and off we go. But wait…
How about taking it a little further and visit some more unique spots. It doesn’t have to be completely off the grid type of place, but perhaps less fanny packs and sandals with socks 😉
Here are some places that I think would be great for a first-time visit to Morocco.
This UNESCO protected medina is quite enchanting and often gets overshadowed by its bigger and more bustling siblings.
“Fez has the best-preserved Medina in the Arab world, the vast and labyrinthine medina of Fez el-Bali, said to also be the world’s largest urban area with no traffic cars. The transportation is provided by donkeys, carriages and motorcycles. This ancient city is one of the most interesting and attractive destinations in the North African country. Perhaps somewhat overshadowed by the more popular cities, Casablanca, Marrakech and Rabat; local Moroccans will tell you how unspoiled and original Fez still is.”
Some stunning photos taken by my friend Linda on her trip to Fes.
Not far from the hustle and bustle of Fes, lies the small town Bhalil which is often overlooked by tourists. And what is so special about Bhalil?
While painted walls, cave dwellings and handmade buttons are definitely remarkable features of Bhalil, what made me love this place even more was a very random and unexpected meeting that became the highlight of my journey. I was happily getting lost in the medina when I stumbled across another group of crafting women, but this time, they addressed me with a sharp “Kamal? Cherchez Kamal?”. I had no idea who this Kamal was and I was standing there trying to understand what was happening when a smiley face appeared from the window on my right, and a kind voice explained me that he was indeed Kamal, owner of the guest house from which he just popped out, and invited me to come inside for a tea and a panoramic view from his terrasse. Soon I was sitting on a bench under a huge ivy roof, the sun warming my skin, a glass of hot delicious mint tea in my hands, hearing Kamal and his guest house’s story.
It may not be an off-the-beaten spot but this blue city is certainly worth a visit. It’s a great location to set yourself up for some day hiking in the Rif Mountains.
“being set amidst the mountains, the town is a great base for some seriously good hiking. In hindsight, I clearly should have taken a guide to help me find Jebel El-Kelaa on that first day. No doubt I would have been up there and down all in a morning if I had. Instead, in my budget backpacker wisdom, we chose to spend hours aimlessly wandering around the incredibly similar and disorientating landscape of the arid mountain range that surrounds Chefchaouen, wondering, at times, if I would even be able to find my way home!”
Don’t expect the hikes to be well marked. You’ll need to ask around to find your way. Linda and Derek did a day hike to a village called Kalaa where the boys from the village will you meet you during the hike and take you to their home and feed you lunch.
Perhaps after some hiking around Chefchaouen, you might want to sit back and relax and smell the sea. Why not head out to Asilah, a small fortified town on the Atlantic coast.
“Asilah is the perfect place to spend a weekend or some quiet days by the beach, taste fish tagine and wander the white-washed walls of the medina (old town). The towns busiest month is August when holiday-makers flock into town.
Highlights of Asilah include a visit to the hammam, the public bathhouse which plays a large part in the social life of local people and where you will probably get the best exfoliation you’ve ever seen. It’s certainly an experience!”
Happy travel planning and let us know what your favorite spots are in Morocco.
And here are a couple of other resources that could help you in your planning.