Morocco is as diverse as it is beautiful. Unique experiences abound across the country ensuring there is something for everyone to enjoy. Travel expert, Ashling, guides us through an A to Z of all there is to know about this fascinating destination.
During a recent visit to Morocco, I fell completely in love with the country and was so struck by just how diverse and brilliant it truly is. Perfect for couples traveling but I was also very surprised to find out just how great an experience it is for families too. To help you get a feel for Morocco and all it has to offer, here is my A to Z guide to Morocco.
Artisan crafts… I am a design fanatic and everywhere you look in Morocco, from the interiors in your hotel, to areas around the Medina in Marrakech, you can notice the most intricately detailed designs all hand crafted by Moroccan artisans. It is definitely worth visit the Royal Mansour spa to see first-hand what is easily the most beautiful spa entrance I have ever seen!
Berber Villages… To see a completely different side of Morocco, head to the Atlas Mountains to trek with a traditional Berber, visit a traditional home and enjoy an authentic Moroccan lunch with the freshest mint tea and bread. This was by far one of my favorite experiences in Morocco as I was welcomed so warmly into my guide’s home and learned so much about the local area from local people.
Camel Riding… For the animal lovers among us this is a totally unique experience, head out at sunset to enjoy a completely undisturbed view of the surrounding desert as you scale the dunes on the back of a camel. Make sure to take a good camera with you as your photos will make for brilliant mementos of your trip.
Dirham… The currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham which is a closed currency and as such you cannot take it in or out of the country. There are plenty of ATMs in the major cities and your concierge at the hotel will be happy to advise where these are and how to get to them, you will also find a currency exchange on arrival at the airport. However, do be aware that credit and debit cards are not accepted in the markets and souks so you will need to carry cash.
Equine… Horses are intrinsic to the Moroccan way of life and in Marrakech you can find fantastic examples of dressage shows. The Selman has some of the best and most beautiful horses in the country and provide an exquisite brunch show throughout the year which is well worth a watch, however do book in advance as this is a very popular attraction!
Fashion… In recent years, Morocco has found international fame on the fashion scene. Fashion designer, Jasper Conran’s, recently opened L’Hotel, is the proof that the country is going from strength to strength in this industry. Enjoy an afternoon visiting Marrakech’s most fashionable neighborhoods with a personal style guide, including pit stops at designer brand shops and art galleries!
Golf.. Whilst the children are enjoying the activities on offer at the kids’ club at the Fairmont Royal Palm, there is also plenty of fun to be had for parents! Home to a full 18-hole golf course, the hotel is ideal for parents looking for a day of relaxation. I would make the most of the day and head out early before it gets too hot, before relaxing in the Legends Bar with a nice cool beverage afterwards.
Hammam… Whether you enjoy a hammam treatment in your hotel or a more traditional experience, be aware that you will be almost completely naked unless you advise otherwise. If this is something you are not comfortable with then make sure to advise this prior to the treatment starting however my best advice is to just relax and enjoy this truly unique experience as the benefits afterwards are amazing… you will feel refreshed and be glowing both inside and out!
Identity…Lots of people visiting Morocco ask me how to dress there and it is a very important question! As already mentioned, Morocco is a really fashionable country and your clothing can still be stylish whilst being comfortable. The majority of people in Morocco are Muslim so I would advise covering your shoulders and wearing longer trousers out of respect.
Jemaa el-Fnaa… Spend a morning exploring the colorful souks and markets in Jemaa el-Fnaa (the main square) to really get to know the true Marrakech, try spices and tasty treats in the food markets or gaze at the beautiful, traditional Moroccan dresses and shoes. I would highly recommend having a private guide for your first venture out into Marrakech as they will help you to get your bearings and find the best places to visit depending on what you would like to see.
Koutobia Mosque… In the heart of Marrakech you will find the cities oldest mosque. The mosque is a truly beautiful building and although non-Muslims are not able to enter, I would highly recommend visiting to get close enough to see the incredibly detailed craftmanship on the building.
Language… Throughout Morocco you will find that most people are fluent in Arabic and French language. Although English is widely spoken, I do think part of the fun of traveling is to learn the local language. Here are some key words and phrases to learn in preparation for your trip…
- Es salaam alaykum – Hello
- Eeyah – Yes
- La – No
- Wash kat’ref negleezeeya? – Do you speak English?
Marjorelle Gardens… Although Morocco has a dry, desert like landscape – luscious and brightly colored trees and flowers can be found within the Marjorelle Gardens. This is somewhere you simply must visit during your trip!
Night time… My absolute favorite time in Morocco. The air is still warm, the sky is clear and there is a wonderful buzz around the medina in Marrakech. You can enjoy listening to the storytellers or watch the enchanting dance performances taking place around you.
Ourika Valley… For keen hikers, or if you have visited the Atlas Mountains before, then the Ourika Valley is a must. Pack your comfiest walking shoes and camera ready to follow the Ourika River through the mountains, passed Berber villages and under waterfalls.
Picture perfect… To really see Marrakech in all its glory, take a hot air balloon ride above the city. Whilst this takes place very early in the morning, it is well worth the early start to see the sunrise above the city! With clear views across to the mountains this is a truly unique and incredible experience as a couple or a family!
Quad bikes and dune buggies… For thrill seeking teens that need to be kept busy, you will not be disappointed! Spend a day out in dune buggies or quad bikes racing around and exploring the Agafay desert or venture to the Cascades D’ouzoud waterfall for a hike around the beautiful surroundings, followed by a traditional lunch.
Riads and resorts… The variety of accommodation in Morocco means it is sure to tick the boxes for everyone which can be tough when traveling as a family! Whether you are looking for a luxury resort with countless amenities such as tennis courts, a spa, swimming pools and amazing childcare facilities or a traditionally designed riad in the heart of the medina, there is bound to be something for everyone. With the larger resorts having separate children’s pools and fantastic complimentary childcare services available as well, parents are able to relax and soak up the glorious Moroccan sunshine in peace and quiet.
Safety… I personally felt safe during my trip however would advise to just be aware of your surroundings and to stay in the popular areas whilst exploring the city. A private tour should hopefully help you get your bearings in the Medina and improve your knowledge of the areas that are best to stay in. I would also suggest not carrying large sums of cash on you, and if you do have to then to have an over the shoulder zip bag or handbag as opposed to a rucksack.
Tipping… As with most tourist destinations, tipping is common practice in Morocco and will usually be expected for services such as private experiences however do be aware that tips will also often be expected from people that have not helped you, for example putting your suitcase in a car or offering “free” luggage assistance at the airport.
Under the stars… My favorite night during my trip was spent in the Agafay Desert in a wonderful tented camp. Although some facilities such as the bathroom were slightly basic, overall our tent did feel very luxurious and extremely well designed. Picture this… the area around you is completely silent and barren, there is no WiFi or other modern day technology to distract you, allowing you to completely relax and leave feeling truly refreshed. During the day, make the most of your desert setting and enjoy racing around in dune buggies or a sunset camel ride. To really finish a perfect day you can lie back and gaze at the picture-perfect starry sky.
Visas… I am often asked whether you need a visa to visit Morocco and I am delighted to confirm that UK residents don’t need a visa when visiting for less than 90 days. I would however always recommend checking with the www.CIBTVisas.co.uk website if you are unsure.
Watersports… If the cultural delights in Marrakech and the activities in the mountains are not enough to keep your youngsters entertained, then head to the coast to enjoy dramatic coastlines which create fantastic winds, making it a very popular destination for watersports.
Xmas… If you are looking for winter sun, a relaxing atmosphere and delicious, indulgent food then you have found the perfect place. Christmas and New Years Eve are a very popular times to visit and although Muslims do not celebrate Christmas, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the festivities in Morocco. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are usually a quieter affair with lunch and dinner still being traditionally Moroccan whilst New Years Eve is a more celebrated occasion with hotels offering plenty of extravagant activities to help you celebrate in style.
Yves Saint Laurent Museum… Following the theme of fashion in Morocco, you must visit the outstanding Yves Saint Laurent Museum where you will be able to learn about and view many beautiful pieces of work by this legendary designer. The museum is situated next to the beautiful Marjorelle Gardens so works perfectly in combination. Real fashion lovers can also take a tour of the Yves Saint Laurent House for an additional cost.
Zzzzz… To really see Marrakech in all its golden beauty, hop into a hot air balloon and get up into the air – be aware that this is an early, early morning however well worth it to see the sunrise above the city! With clear views across to the mountains this is a truly unique and incredible experience whether as a couple or a family!