6 Fabulous Things To Do In Morocco
Located right on Europe’s doorstep, Morocco offers a great introduction to the magnificence of Africa. Known for its centuries-old cities, ancient landmarks, vast deserts, vibrant markets, rejuvenating spas and warm people, the dizzying diversity of Morocco makes it an absolute treat for travellers from all over the world. If you’re looking to explore this exotic destination, read on as Sabiha Ghiasi writes about the top six things to do in Morocco for an immersive experience.
My birthday is a big deal. I owe this to my mother’s love for organising elaborate birthday parties for us when we were kids. So my turning 30 had to be celebrated for the big event it is. I chose to spend this momentous occasion in Morocco, and I totally loved this African country, with a huge European and Middle-eastern influence. If you’re visiting, here’s what you should do in Morocco:
1. View The Hassan II Mosque From Across The Atlantic Ocean
Casablanca is a lot like Mumbai in the sense that it’s the business centre. The biggest and brightest thing about it is the Hassan II mosque. With the largest mosque minaret in the world, at 210 metres, it is hard to miss seeing this from anywhere in the city. Entering the premise of this prayer house, set by the ocean, left us feeling tiny in comparison. The mosque’s intricate mosaic of blue, yellow, and green adds to its grandeur and makes for Instagram-friendly pictures. But the absolute best part about Hassan II is its view from across the Atlantic Ocean, along which it stands. Drive to the other side of town, past the Corniche and up the hill to the last shanties of Casablanca, and be blown away by the beauty of this structure.
2. Bargain For Famous Moroccan Leather Goods In Fes
Each of Morocco’s cities, except Agadir, has a medina – or a traditional market dating back centuries. The one in Fes is a proper labyrinth. Our guide was a local so he could navigate the place like the back of his hand, but I’d probably take a few years to get out of there, if I were left without Maps. Stop at the trinket stalls, dry fruit and perfume shops, mosques, museums and leather shops on either side of the street as you squeeze past animals pulling carts.
While you’re there, grab the chance to view a tannery from one of the many buildings that sell leather goods for a surreal experience. We were taken to view the Sidi Moussa tannery, one of the three at the medina; the Chouara tannery is the largest and oldest here. Sniff on the mint leaves you’ll be handed at the door to avoid nausea from the smell of drying animal skin. If you are a fan, be sure to buy one of the many shapes and shades of leather goods available, but be sure to bargain first! It’s expected and even encouraged.
3. Take A Few History Lessons In Beautiful Meknes
A little off Fes lies the imperial city of Meknes. Testament to its grandiosity is century-old remnants such as the Bab Mansour, an intricately designed colourful gate, whose maker lost his life in the 1700s so that he wouldn’t recreate such a beauty. We discovered the many sites and gates of this quiet city on the way to Volubilis, which is the highlight of this region. A Berber city from the 3rd century, Volubilis was home to Prophet Idris, who is a descendant of Prophet Mohammed. The excavations are half complete but lend a glimpse of this once-rich Roman settlement, complete with its mosaic flooring and Jacuzzi-like home baths. We drove few kilometres through this eponymous town, atop two hills, to enjoy the view of the dotted homes and wonderful landscapes.
4. Watch The Mediterranean Sea Meet The Atlantic Ocean
On our way from Fes to Tangier, we made a quick stop at Chefchaouen, the blue city of Morocco. Perched atop the Rif Mountains, this cool blue city warmed our eyes and filled our bellies with a scrumptious tagine lunch. As we drove down to the coastal city of Tangier, we were welcomed with the stark mix of blue and green waters.
The Strait of Gibraltar is the meeting point of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Watching these water bodies flow and ebb by the beaches of Tangier was the highlight of my trip. On that warm and sunny but windy afternoon, I wanted to do nothing but dip my toes in the chilled waters. However, it was a wise decision to enjoy the view from the high viewing deck, uphill from the city centre. What’s more, Spain is literally a 45-minute ferry ride from this bountiful city!
Another city that offered us a ‘wow’-worthy view of coloured waters was Rabat. We soaked up the sun as we saw the Atlantic Ocean meet the Bou Regreg River, at the Kasbah of Udayas, across from the city of Sale. Make the short climb uphill from the Kasbah’s gates to the 12th century fortress; the brilliant view is guaranteed to take your breath away.
5. Eat Copious Amounts Of Delectable Food In Morocco
Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, whatever your food preference may be, you will not be left wanting when it comes to the delectable food in Morocco. After you’ve had copious amount of sweet mint tea (every hotel welcomed us with this) and tasted all types of tagines (meats and vegetables cooked in an earthen pot), try the famous pastilla. This flaky pastry stuffed with pigeon—most commonly chicken—mince is both sweet and savoury. It packs a punch of flavours and goes well with harira, Morocco’s answer to tomato soup but with bits of meat, veggies, lentils and chickpeas too.
Do not miss the seafood on the coast! It is fresh and mouth-watering. When we were passing through Larache, a coastal town, on the way to Tangier, we gorged on whole prawns tossed in butter, garlic and parsley—shell and all. For an all-round culinary treat, be sure to finish all your meals with some of the local sweetmeats that put the ‘S’ in sugar.
6. Shop For Fresh Olives & Olive Products In Marrakesh
Jemaa al Fnaa is, arguably, Africa’s most famous square. Home to some of the oldest and largest souks in Marrakesh, a visit to this area was a must. It is a bustling (often chaotic for a non-Mumbaiite) market during the day that transforms into a food lover’s paradise by night. We drank an abundant amount of orange juice, priced at only Rs 20 per glass, while shopping for the most beautiful ceramics, processed leather footwear and souvenirs. But the highlight of this place were the olives.
Our guide once told us that there are as many olive trees in Morocco as there are people—so that’s about 3.5 crore! Safe to say, we ate a lot of olives on our trip. This square has a special souk that is dedicated to olives of various colours that are garnished with multiple herbs. At as little as Rs 150 per box, these olives made for some pretty unique souvenirs to share with loved ones back home instead of the customary chocolate.
Morocco is intriguing, exciting and memorable; an experience that will leave most travellers captivated. Sabiha enjoyed her celebratory holiday in this exotic country, one which left her with rich memories of her transition into a new phase of life. If you’re keen on exploring the exquisite architecture, impressive legacy and diverse landscapes of Morocco, turn to Cox & Kings as your travel partner. With specially curated itineraries, packed with some of the most exciting things to do in Morocco and all the essential features, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable holiday.
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About The Author
When she is not creating communication for some of the world’s biggest brands, Sabiha Ghiasi is looking for affordable flights. She travels to eat local, explore the outdoors, and introduce her almost-3-year-old to the world beyond her home. Sabiha blogs at sabihaghiasi.blogspot.in.