A three hour flight from dreary northern Europe and there you are…in another world. You’ve barely had time for a panini and a flick through your guide book, before you’re unpacking your weekend bag in a beautifully decorated room overlooking the fountains and flowers of your traditional riad courtyard. Exquisite though the delicate arches and mosaic tiles are, you don’t stay long for there is exploring to be done. Wander the souks among friendly locals draped in djellabas with the sounds of French, Arabic and many dialects ringing in your ears. Take in the distinct aroma of herbs and spices mixing with the ubiquitous scent of mint tea as you haggle over the price of that gorgeous lantern you’ve spotted.
Spring and autumn are the popular periods to experience this diverse region. Indeed the weather then is good for visiting a combination of beaches, desert, mountains and cities. However, summer and winter low season offer fabulous deals and you’ll be mingling with locals rather than the tourist crowds. Take into account also the movable timing of Eid and Ramadan. In 2021 Ramadan will be from mid-April to mid-May and can also be considered low season as Moroccans will be fasting from sunrise to sunset. So while the days are subdued, the nights are full of energy with eating, shopping and socialising. It can be a really fascinating time to visit and learn more about important Islamic traditions.
Low season December to February is a great time to explore Morocco’s UNESCO site filled centres without the heat. Locals might be well wrapped up but visitors will enjoy mild temperatures of up to 18-20°C without the crowds, while costs, always reasonable, are lower than ever. Marrakesh is perhaps the best known with its famed medina, ornate 19th century Bahia Palace, and fascinating museum of Yves Saint Laurent. Consider other cities, like Fez, Morocco’s ancient imperial capital and centre of arts and culture; Tangier with its Hercules Caves, cliff top views and nearby summer street art festival; or charming Chefchaouen where the maze of streets are awash with blue.
The Atlas Mountains
Winter trekking in this stunning mountain range and Toubkal National Park is possible with the right choice of route and altitude. Take local advice and you can enjoy snowy peaks and stunning wild valleys. You can even ski at the resort in the village of Oukaimeden, where the snow covered slopes glisten against blue skies, only 50 miles from Marrakesh. At the other end of the scale, if you do travel in the hot low summer season, leave the steaming urban centres, and you’ll find the Atlas Mountains much cooler. Many luxury retreats, local homestays and trekking companies function throughout the year and it is possible to camp overnight for a chance to really connect with nature. For serious walkers, summer is ideal to trek the high passes as it’s the only time the snow melts enough to allow access to remote routes and isolated villages.
Summer Fun on the Sand
Looking for a beach holiday with a twist? Imagine the blue seas and sandy bays of your Mediterranean dreams but with none of the crowds found on the coast of France, Spain, or Italy. In the northern region, around Tangier and Tetaoun you’ll find luxury ocean front resorts with uncrowded private beaches, while if you’re into a more local scene, head for Agadir and the south were you’ll find a mix of Moroccans and tourists enjoying the wilder Atlantic coast. Oualidia, Essaouira, and Taghazout are some of our favourite picks.