Morocco

Experience the exotic magic of North Africa just 8 miles from Europe

Overview

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.

Historic Cities

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.


Low Season Saving

From 50% versus Peak Season


Tourist:Local Ratio

Peak Season

Low Season

1:3
1:6


Major Airport

Mohammed V International Airport CMN

Low Season Months

Jan
13°C
32mm
7hrs
Feb
14°C
38mm
8hrs
Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
17°C
41mm
7hrs
Dec
14°C
13mm
7hrs

Hotels

Coming online very soon

Top Experiences

'Ftour' with a local family

During Ramadan, you may be lucky enough to be invited to join a family for their sunset meal. Do go if you get the chance. It’s a great experience and you’ll try special foods like harrira soup and chebekia cookies.

Gnaoua World Music Festival

Annually at the end of June Essaouira is totally transformed from sleepy coastal city to cosmopolitan artistic hub. Gnaoua music is so catchy, has its roots in Sufi Islam and is famous for its percussion, chants and poetic lyrics.

Learn to Cook like a Moroccan

Find your favourite cooking class. Many include a souk visit and take place within a traditional riad courtyard. You’ll learn to make delicious lamb tagine, chicken or fish pastilla and sweet pastry, all accompanied by mint tea.

Insider Tips

  • The Sahara sees 50°C in the summer, and is freezing in the winter. So while a low season desert experience is possible, you’ll be restricted. Erg Chebbi remains an option but leave the more remote dunes at Erg Chigaga.
  • Hands should be washed before and after dining. If a jug isn’t brought for this purpose, go to the washbasin nearby. Only use your right hand to eat; and in a Moroccan home, expect to sit at a low table on a cushion on the floor.
  • Ourzazate is home to the world’s largest film studio and is open for tours so long as filming is not taking place. See the desert locations used in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Black Hawk Down’, ‘Gladiator’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Mummy’.

Good To Know

  • If you’re in the cities during the low summer season, plan to do your exploring in the morning and again in the evening. Save the afternoons for lounging around the pool or the shade of a tree in the interior courtyard of your riad.
  • Go with an open mind and remember that you are a visitor. Don’t try and impose your own cultural norms - in the souks people may bump and jostle you, or worse, try to serve you culinary delights like snail soup and sheep’s head.
  • A good choice for an authentic buy is local rose oil. It takes 4 tons of roses to make 1 litre of the oil. Alternatively, leather goods are good value. You can visit the tanneries where leather is produce but be warned, the rose oil smells better.

Food & Drink

Fresh Produce & Juice

££

In the summer months you’ll find incredible berries, juicy stone fruits, ripe avocados, and prickly pear cactus fruits. The watermelons grown in the south are some of the biggest and juiciest you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Al Fassia, Marrakech

££

Run by local women, Al Fassia now has 2 restaurants in different parts of the city, both with a great atmosphere, good service and exceptional menu. The roasted lamb is their signature dish. Book in advance and arrive hungry.

Fresh Seafood on the Beach

££

Eat on the edge of the ocean, with amazing views and beautiful sunsets. Crabs, oysters, lobster, prawns, monkfish and many more freshly grilled. Favourites are La Coupole in Essaouira or La Plage de la Sultana in Oualidia.

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