Things to Do in Morocco - page 3
One of Marrakech’s most fascinating museums, the Tiskiwin Museum, or Maison Tiskiwin, is housed in a beautifully restored riad tucked between the Bahia and Dar Si Said Palaces and showcases a quirky array of North African arts and crafts that chronicle the region’s vibrant cultural history.
The collection, amassed by Dutch anthropologist Bert Flint who has resided in the city since 1957, is organized into geographically themed exhibitions, with each room of artifacts marking out a different spot along the along ancient Saharan trade route from Marrakech to Timbuktu. A colorful assemblage of objects are on display including exquisite hand-woven carpets and textiles, traditional Berber clothing and jewelry, intricate basketwork and tribal handicrafts, many of which were bought from the legendary souks of Marrakech and preserved by Flint.
A masterpiece of Islamic architecture, surrounded by picturesque orange groves and elaborate water features, the Royal Palace of Casablanca is a suitably grand royal abode. Located in the Habous district of the city’s New Medina, this is the King’s principal Casablancan residence and host to a number of important events and royal receptions.
The palace grounds, as with most Moroccan royal residences, are closed to the public, but that doesn’t stop it from being a popular attraction on city tours. If you’re lucky enough to peek through the ornate gates, you might catch a glimpse of the spectacular façade, flanked by a team of uniformed royal guards.
A short stroll or tram ride from United Nations Place, in the heart of Casablanca city center, the Marche Central de Casablanca is the city’s main market, located along the busy shopping street of Muhammad V Boulevard. Crammed with locals, the daily market is fascinating place for tourists to get a taste of local culture, as well as pick up bargains, with everything from food to fresh flowers and traditional clothing on sale.
The vibrant stalls serve up a myriad of fresh produce, with mounds of fruit and vegetables, a vast array of fish and shellfish, and a rainbow of spices filling the senses with exotic sights and smells. This is also a popular spot for lunch, with a number of renowned fish restaurants and hole-in-the-wall eateries lining the market place.
Rue Dar el-Bacha marks the northern edge of Marrakech’s Central Medina — the city’s heart and soul. This area is also home to many of Marrakech’s top shops, restaurants and hammams. Walk along the road, and you’ll find shops selling antiques, Oriental rugs, Berber jewelry and housewares, as well as a handful of fondouks — a sort of Middle Eastern caravanserai — dealing in artisan wares like bags, tapestries, hand-painted tile and ottomans.
Dar Moha, ranked among the city’s top Moroccan restaurants, occupies a beautiful riad along Dar el-Bacha, where diners can eat al fresco around a patio swimming pool. For a bit of relaxation after a day wandering the medina, Dar el-Bacha boasts two excellent spas, the more traditional, public Hammam Dar el-Bacha (the largest traditional hammam in the city) and the upmarket, spa-style Hammam de la Rose.
Spread over 24 acres (10 hectares) just outside of Marrakech, Oasiria Water Park offers a perfect place to get away from the city and cool down in sunny Morocco. The water park has a bit of everything you’d expect, including thrilling river rapids and water slides, as well as a lazy river, splash tower, adults-only pool areas and Africa’s largest wave pool. Young visitors enjoy their own pirate-themed splash zone and mini toboggan slides.
While Oasiria doesn’t permit outside food or drink (except water), the park does have five eating establishments to choose from, including a sit-down restaurant, two fast food counters and a dessert cafe serving waffles, pancakes and pastries.
Morocco’s bathhouses, or Hammams, are both an important cultural tradition and a right of passage for travelers to the country, and Marrakech’s hugely popular Bains de Marrakech (Marrakech Hammams) is one of the most famous, located at the gateway to the Medina. The luxury private spa was the first of its kind in the city, opening in 2001 and now even featuring its own range of cosmetics, sourced from natural Moroccan-sourced ingredients.
The creative mastermind behind the spa is Frenchman Kader Boufraine, whose vision was to marry western facilities and spa innovations with the steam rooms, plunge pools and cleansing scrubs found at a traditional bath house. The Bains de Marrakech’s modern flair has served it well, making it a popular choice for first-timers looking to experience the time-honored Moroccan hammam within lavish surroundings and without doing away with their modesty.
Located by the village of Tanaghmeilt in the High Atlas Mountains, the Ouzoud Falls are Morocco’s highest waterfalls, tumbling 110 meters through a dramatic red-rock gorge of the El Abid River. Taking their name from the olive groves that blanket the valley (‘Ouzoud’ is Berber for ‘Olive’), the summit of the falls is still dotted a number of historic water mills, some of which are still in use, extracting olive oil from the surrounding crops.
A popular day trip from nearby Marrakech, the three-tiered falls provide a magnificent backdrop for hiking or picnicking, surrounded by lush greenery and trees teeming with macaque monkeys. Clamber down the stone steps into the gorge and you can even enjoy swimming beneath the falls, take a scenic boat trip along the river, or explore the natural caves carved into the cliffside.
Stretching along the high Jebel Zerhoun plateau in northern Morocco and blooming with wildflowers throughout the summer months, the Roman ruins of Volubilis are a striking sight. Renowned as the best-preserved ruins in Northern Africa, the archaeological site offers a unique glimpse into ancient Morocco and makes a popular day trip from nearby Meknes or Fez.
Initially founded as a Carthaginian settlement in the 3rd century B.C., Volubilis became an important Roman town from around 25 BC and later, the administrative center of the province of Mauretania Tingitana, producing and exporting commodities like grain and olive oil to Rome. Today, the ruins are conserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site and feature the ruins of a series of houses, temples, olive mills and public buildings, surrounded by the remnants of the city defense walls.
More Things to Do in Morocco
Few places in Morocco offer the epic sunrises and beautiful sunsets found amid the towering sand dunes of the tiny village of Merzouga. Located in the unforgiving Sahara Desert near Erg Chebbi, this quiet destination is known for its iconic views, camel safaris and Berber culture.
Intrepid (and fit) travelers can attempt to climb the massive dunes that surround Merzouga, while less the adventurous embark on a 4x4, motorbike or camel trekking tour. While spotting wildlife in the barren desert landscapes can be a challenge, birders will find plenty of opportunities in spring months when a nearby lake fills with water and attracts rare winged wonders.
Home to some of Morocco’s best preserved Kasbahs, the UNESCO-World Heritage listed city of Aït Benhaddou once occupied a prominent position on the trans-Saharan trade route and is now one of the country’s most famous attractions. Sculpted from traditional mud bricks, the town is a striking sight, perched on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains and fortified by walls of dark red pisé.
The highlight of the city is the Telouet Kasbah, once the lavish 20th-century home of notorious Thami el Glaoui, ‘the Lord of the Atlas’, who was both a pasha of Marrakech and the chief of the Berber Glaoua tribe, and famously conspired to overthrow Sultan Mohammed V. Since his death in 1956, Aït Benhaddou fell into ruin, but traces of its former glory linger on in the immaculately restored buildings, the magnificent hilltop Granary and the elaborate Mausoleum of Benhaddou.
These massive dunes formed by golden wind-blown sand offer visitors an iconic taste of the Sahara’s constantly changing landscape. Spanning more than 50 kilometers near the border of Algeria, these towering shape shifters prove a destination for locals and tourists alike. While nearby Merzouga is considered the tourist center of this area, it’s the overnight journeys—either by foot, camel or 4x4—into the desert that provide visitors to Erg Chebbi with the quintessential Moroccan escape.
Nestled in the foothills of the mighty High Atlas Mountains, the Ourika Valley makes a popular day trip from Marrakech at just 30km from the city center. A lush expanse of terraced fields and forested hillsides, the valley provides a picturesque backdrop for hiking expeditions, with its verdant hills set against the stark red rock of the mountains. At the heart of the valley are the dramatic Setti Fatma falls, a series of 7 cascading waterfalls that flow into the Ourika River and make a thrilling scramble for adventurous travelers.
Set at around 1,300 meters, Ourika not only offers welcome respite from the summer heat of Marrakech but makes a popular base-camp for winter tourists visiting the ski resort of Oukaimeden. For the majority of visitors though, the area’s principal attraction is its traditional Berber settlements and the valley sides are dotted with red mud-built houses, camouflaged against the sparse mountain slopes.
When you think of the Sahara, Northern Africa, or the sunny Moroccan plains, things like snow, ice, and crampons usually aren’t part of the picture. When climbing Mount Toubkal, however, conditions quickly go from hot to brisk, mountainside cold. Towering 13,751 feet above sea level, Mount Toubkhal is not only the highest mountain in central Morocco, but also the highest in the Atlas Range and all of Northern Africa. It’s a trail that’s accessible all year round to a wide range of hikers, and is more of a long, very steep stroll as opposed to a technical climb.
Trips begin from the town of Imlil about an hour south of Marrakech, where temperatures can still be blazingly hot despite the hillside perch. By the end of the first day of walking, however, the trail levels out at Toukbal Refuge near 10,000 feet elevation, where the air is suddenly crisp, cool, and a welcome break from the heat.
The Sahara Desert has two major dunes that are tourist attractions – Erg Chebbi near Merzouga, and Erg Chigaga near M'hamid. Both dunes are difficult to access – you can only reach them via 4x4 vehicles or camels, or by walking – although Erg Chebbi is better known and more visited. Erg Chigaga offers a somewhat wilder dune experience. You can do camel treks, 4x4 excursions, or overnight camping trips at Erg Chigaga, all provided you've got a guide. There is even a luxury camp at Erg Chigaga, with 10 large tents or a smaller private camp with four tents.
From trekking across the dunes on a camel, following ancient Sahara trade routes, to sleeping out under the stars in a traditional Bedouin encampment, then rising at the break of dawn to watch the sun rise over the desert plains; visiting the Sahara desert will likely check a few things off your bucket list. Multi-day tours from Marrakech are the most popular way to experience the desert and most trips pass through the gateway town of Merzouga, before continuing on to the dunes of Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga.
With seemingly endless swathes of untamed terrain, there are also ample opportunities to get off-the-beaten-track and enjoy longer treks through the Sahara, but don’t be tempted to go it alone – the scalding hot climate, ferocious sand storms and vast uninhabited plains mean tackling the desert is a task best entrusted to seasoned guides.
A winding strip of blacktop known by locals as the “Road of a Thousand Kasbahs” leads to the famous Dadès Gorge in the beautiful countryside of Morocco. This scenic drive is lined with hundreds of Islamic cities, fortresses, palm trees and desert sands, which make it one of the most epic roads in the country, but traveler say it’s the rolling red hills of the Dadès Gorge that are truly worth the trip.
After navigating switchbacks by car, visitors can wander the quiet trails of this scenic destination on foot and enjoy a steaming cup of Moroccan mint tea at the top of the gorge. Breathtaking vistas and uninterrupted views of rolling read rocks make for a memorable resting place and quiet escape before embarking on a return trip to the city.
Things to do near Morocco
- Things to do in Marrakech
- Things to do in Fez
- Things to do in Casablanca
- Things to do in Agadir
- Things to do in Tangier
- Things to do in Essaouira
- Things to do in Merzouga
- Things to do in Ouarzazate
- Things to do in Spain
- Things to do in Portugal
- Things to do in Central Morocco
- Things to do in Atlantic Coast
- Things to do in Morocco Sahara