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  • Writer's pictureSaid Ait Bajja

Best Places to Visit in Morocco on Your First Tour

Morocco, the gateway to Africa, a bucket-list world destination, and one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to visit in 2020.

The country is an oasis of diversity, landmarks, Sahara dunes, and gorge-ringed mountains. With 9 UNESCO sites, it is a goldmine for the culturally-curious and history buff.

Excited to plan your first visit, but in knots about where to begin?

For most, a Morocco tour isn’t exactly a hop, skip, and jump away. Thus, assuming you’ll spend at least a week in the country, here are 6 best places to visit in Morocco for first-timers.

1. Tangier Morocco: Booze-Soaked Off-Beat Excursion

Sitting on the cusp of Africa and Europe, Tangier is a port town with stunning views and a mixture of different cultures. Of all Morocco tourist attractions, Tangier exudes the most irresistible charm, which is a sweet blend of Arabic, French, and Spanish influences. This cultural concoction reflects in everything from architecture to the food menu.

Old town medina is a place to taste the madness of Morocco. You will experience the energy and excitement by strolling through the hash-infused cafés and the stalls selling vegetables, meats, spices, carpets, and clothes.

Tangier’s carefree culture is infectious. It is a city to enjoy a mint tea in Petit Socco, unwind at The Grand Socco, watch a movie at Cinema Rif, and stroll at Beach Promenade. If you want to visit Kasbah, an old fortress which is a museum now, you will be impressed by the spectacular views of Spain across the sea. The entrance ticket will cost you 20 dirhams.

You can complete the tour by savoring the local cuisine, visiting the blue-hued neighbor, and stepping into the mysterious Hercules Cave. The latter is 20 minutes driving from Tangier and it was believed that Roman God Hercules stayed in these caves during his trials.

2. Chefchaouen: Instagram-Worthy Morocco Holiday

Morocco Chefchaouen blue city

Tucked at the foothills of Rif, Chefchaouen is a visual stunner and must-visit place in Morocco. Awash in eye-popping blue and dotted with Andalusian-inspired red-tiled roofs, this mountain village looks pictorial.

You can walk through picturesque blue alleyways of the medina and visit Plaza Uta El Hammam with its 14th-century fortress. Grand Mosque of Chefchaouen, the only octagonal minaret in Morocco is another attraction worth visiting. Nature lovers can explore surplus natural scenery at Cascades d’Akchour, while the adventurer can hike/trek the Rif Mountains. The city is easily accessible from Tangier (84km) and Fes (127km).

3. Marrakech Morocco: An Immersive Experience

Morocco Marrakech souk

Marrakech, as one of the imperial cities, is the most famous and most visited place in Morocco. The city moves to its unique frenetic beats and jitters all your senses at once. From serene Majellore garden to bustling Djemaa El Fna, it is swarming with a variety of attractions.

Jemaa el-Fnaa plaza is the city’s beating- heart and one of the busiest squares in Africa. This sleepless plaza is the home of spice vendors, storytellers, snake charmers, fire eaters, acrobats, musicians, and more. You can try the fresh fruit juices at the plaza which will cost you around 5 dirhams or if you want great views of the plaza, you can order an avocado drink at the terraces of cafes nearby. Although it tends to be a little more expensive, it is a worthy experience.

At the edge of the plaza is Koutoubia Mosque, which was built during the 12th century and is the highest landmark in Marrakech. It is not open to non-Muslims. But it’s worth it to wander around the base of the building, appreciate the architecture from outside, as well as see the lovely gardens.

Majorelle Garden is another popular attraction for tourists. It was first built by French painter Jacques Majorelle, then restored by fashion designer Yves St. Laurent. The bold Majorelle blue in contrast bright yellow, as well as exotic bamboo, cactuses, and palms, will satisfy your arty tastes. Admission to the Majorelle Jardin is 70 dirhams for international tourists.

Foodies wouldn’t want to miss taking a culinary tour in Marrakech. Other things to do include trying fatigue-washing hammams and hot air balloon ride for Marrakech’s aerial view. If you have more time in Morocco, you could explore Morocco’s all four imperial cities in just one visit on a private tour. If not, you could always go on a short trip to Merzouga Desert and Ouarzazate.

4. Fes Morocco: A Historical Tour

Fez Tannery

Fes, the ancient capital of Morocco, will bring you back to the medieval world. In Fes, you will explore one of the world’s first universities, the oldest medina, the oldest tannery in the world, iconic zellij tilework, Jewish quarters, and lots more.

University of Al Quaraouiyine Mosque, the oldest university in the world, was built in 857 AD. Its library contains more than 30,000 books including a 9th century Qur’an. Now it only serves as a mosque and is not open to non-Muslims. But you can still have a peek of this green/ white-colored, world’s oldest university from outside.

The old medina, a UNESCO world heritage site, consists of 9000 narrow streets. The donkey carts are the main transportation here. The streets are packed with shops and stalls selling Moroccan lamps, Moroccan carpets, Moroccan tiles, and tanneries for leather. You can bargain for goods or learn how the craftsmen work in ancient ways. Tourists often get lost in this biggest labyrinth on the planet. Booking a Fes local tour seems a wise idea.

5. Agadir Morocco: A Laid-Back Vacation

Breezy Atlantic coast, chic cafés, wild pubs, and seaside Morocco resorts – whatever makes a summer vacation great – Agadir has it all.

Tucked in southern Morocco, it is a prime destination for hedonists and holidaymakers. Come here to chill on the beach, get tanned with a cocktail, sample moreish local food, get all footloose and fancy-free. Agadir attractions include effervescent nightlife, remnants of Agadir Oufella, upscale Agadir Marina, bustling Souk el Had, and the ancient Agadir Medina.

Perhaps, the quintessential thing to do in Agadir is to take a short trip to Sahara. You can opt for an umbrella tour to camp overnight in luxury Berber tents. Explore nearby Moroccan attractions - Ouarzazate, the African Hollywood; Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, world’s 2nd most- Instagrammed “Game of Thrones” site; and Todra Gorge-hikers’ heaven.

Morocco Kasbah Ait Benhaddou - UNESCO site

6. Casablanca: Modern Morocco

Morocco Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Casablanca unveils the modern side of the country. It is well connected to the world and many direct international flights arrive in Casablanca. The city also sits on the crossroads of Fes, Rabat, and Marrakech. You can easily book tours from here and explore the best of Morocco.

The top attraction in Casablanca is the Hassan II mosque, the 7th largest mosque in the world. It rises up to 60 stories over the Atlantic ocean. This biggest mosque in Africa can hold 100,000 prayers at once with 25,000 people inside. And it is one of only two mosques in the country open to non-Muslims. If you are a fan of classic movies, you may consider sipping a cup of coffee at the romantic Rick’s Café, a filming site for the 1942 film “Casablanca”.

Excursion to the capital city Rabat is another good idea since it is only a 1-hour driving distance from Casablanca. With numbered Moroccan landmarks, Rabat makes a wholesome destination for time-bound travelers. The unfinished red-sandstone Hassan Tower with beautiful and intricate designs, as well as the open surroundings with numerous columns make it a must-see. Next door is the beautiful tomb of King Mohammad V and his two sons. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter and view the mausoleum's tomb chamber from above. Make sure to dress properly for the visit.

Although we highlight only 6 gorgeous places to visit, the list of must-see places in Morocco can go on and on. Morocco has lots to offer to the tourists. No matter that you explore it by yourself on your own rhythm, or book customized tours, your traveling to Morocco will be an unforgettable and fun experience.

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