About Morocco Travel
Rabat: Rabat’s history began with a settlement on the banks of the Bou Regreg River in the third century B.C. Rabat is the capital and second most important city in the country behind Casablanca. It has a long history as a capital city dating from the 12th century. The medina here is not as large as those of Fez or Marrakesh, but it sells baboshka shoes, baggy pants, ornate mirrors and plates, carpets, and the like. On the facing shore of the river lies Salé, and together the two cities have nearly two million people. The royal palace is in the heart of Rabat, across from the king’s personal mosque, a fine example of Islamic architecture. The elegant Hassan Tower was begun in the late 12th century. Sights to explore include the mausoleum of the late King Mohammed V, the imposing royal palace, residence of the king since 1912, Kasbah of the Oudaias, Chellah Necropolis and the Rabat Archaeological Museum.
Fes: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fes was founded on the banks of the Fes River in 789 A.D. It is one of Morocco’s four “imperial cities” (along with Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat). In “new” Fes is a mellah, or Jewish quarter, where the Jewish population was confined beginning in the 15th century, and especially in the early 19th century. The city has two medinas. The larger Medina of Fes el Bali is believed to be the largest contiguous car-free urban area in the world. The University of Al-Karaouine was founded in 859 A.D., making it the oldest continuously operating university in the world.
Marrakesh & More: Marrakech originates from the Berber words meaning “Land of God.” It is the third largest city in Morocco and lies near the foothills of the snow-topped Atlas Mountains. An entire day can be dedicated just to wandering the varied markets, seeking the best bargains on almost anything from spices to shoes, kaftans to tea pots. The old walled city offers no end of fascination. Long a crossroads of cultures, it is still home to medieval craft guilds that continue to operate according to their old traditions. Djmaâ El Fnaâ Square is jammed with an ongoing street theater of acrobats, fire eaters, snake charmers, sword swallowers and assorted other performers. The Kasbah, the Mellah (Jewish Quarter), and the Palaces of El Badii and El Bahia are all of interest. The new European district called Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores. The city also offers several historical and architectural sites as well as some interesting museums. The14th-century Ben Youssef Medersa is one of the most beautiful buildings in Marrakech. The Saadian Tombs of the Saadi Dynasty were built between 1578 and 1603. They were only discovered in 1917, and have since been beautifully restored. They have become a major attraction for visitors of Marrakech. The Bahia Palace is an ornate and beautiful structure that offers a glimpse of what life might have been like for a 19th-century nobleman in Morocco.
Casablanca: The modern city of Casablanca was founded by Berber fishermen in the 10th century B.C. Originally a Carthaginian stronghold, it has been used or occupied by Phoenicians, Romans, Merenids, Portuguese, Spanish and French before Morocco gained independence in 1956. The Hassan II Mosque, Central Market, the King’s palace precinct, and the Habous New Medina are highlights of Casablanca, now Morocco’s largest city. It is also the most liberal and progressive of Morocco’s cities. The gleaming white city on the north coast is now the second-largest city in Africa, after Cairo. Here, Morocco’s international personality mixes with European influences
Erfoud, Ouarzazate & Erg Chebbi: Not far from Marrakech, this area is rich with small settlements, kasbahs and villages that cling to their ancient customs. Erfoud, once a French Foreign Legion outpost, still maintains its roots as a central trading point. The main souk sells olives, henna, mint and other produce from surrounding villages. But the jewel of the oases is the date. Date palm trees stretch far into the haze of the desert. The village of Merzouga is the gateway to the fascinating Erg Chebbi. It is known for its unusual ergs – giant wind-formed dunes that reach 500 feet into the cloudless sky. Here, visitors can ride camels and view incredible sunsets over this amazing landscape. The town of Ouarzazate sits on a 3,806-foot plateau south of the High Atlas Mountains. Its name comes from a Berber phrase meaning “without noise.” It was once a minor crossroads for African traders seeking to reach the rich northern cities in Morocco and Europe. Kasbah Taourirt is one of the best preserved old-world Kasbahs and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is home to many Berbers, who built the major Kasbahs. The Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou is a traditional pre-Saharan mud brick ksar, or “fortified village.” This UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by high walls, and the ruins have a unique geometric arrangement of the bricks at oblique angles and in zigzag patterns. These are the earliest surviving examples of this unique architectural style. Houses crowd together within the defensive walls, which are reinforced by corner towers. Distinctive landscapes and cultural heritage make this an enriching journey into the desert heart of Morocco.
High Atlas Mountains: The High Atlas Mountain range rises in the west at the Atlantic Ocean and stretches to the east to the Moroccan-Algerian border and on to Tunisia. The Berbers have played a role here on the north coast of Africa for at least 5,000 years. The Arab invasion of North Africa in the 7th century forced Berbers to either assimilate or take refuge in the Atlas Mountains. As a result, towns and villages serve as strongholds of Berber culture, preserving their lifestyle, music, spirituality and art. The mountains are well known to trekkers, ski enthusiasts, or travelers interested in the local Berber culture. The higher elevations in the range receive regular snowfall, offering winter sports. Snow lasts well into late spring in the High Atlas. Jebel Toubkal is the highest peak in Morocco at about 13,671 feet, and lies in Toubkal National Park. It is a challenging trek to the summit, but worth it for the spectacular views. These noble mountains echo Morocco’s past and offer a chance to encounter the rich culture of the Berber people.
Suggested Morocco Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Casablanca, Morocco / Rabat
Day 2: Rabat / Meknes / Volubilis / Fes
Day 3: Fes
Day 4: Fes / Middle Atlas Mountains / Marrakech
Day 5: Marrakech
Day 6: Marrakech
Day 7: Marrakech / Depart
Custom Travel Options
Casablanca (3 days)
Casablanca is Morocco's largest city, where past and present coexist easily in the traditional mosques and new resorts.
Erfoud, Ourzazate & Erg Chebbi (4 days)
This area is known for ancient Berber villages, and Erg Chebbi with its enormous 500-foot-tall sand dunes.
Hiking in the High Atlas Mountains (2 days)
Jebel Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa, at 13,671 feet. It is a natural draw for trekkers and climbers. Remote until recent decades, many mountain villages have changed little.