This is how I did it, and would recommend doing it: Try to time your arrival on the ferry from Spain to coincide with the departure on the Marrakech Express train (go first class). You don’t really want to spend time in Tangiers.
Hang out in Marrakech for a few days, checking out the souk. It’s great to get a guide one day to really get in there and see all the diffrent guilds.
From Marrakech, hire a company to take you over the High Atlas mountains to the Sahara Dessert and ride camels and stay at least one night in a Berber tent.
Return to Marrakech.
Now, what I did was travel on to Asilah on the coast, by way of Tangiers. That was okay, but I wish I had used the time to check out Fez instead.
By the way, from everything I’ve heard, Casablanca is not a nice place to visit.
I think I spent 10 days in Morrocco total, which was about right. It’s a difficult but fascinating place to travel.
Marrakech is a must – spend a few days there. Don’t let the guide books scare you – venture into the medina and eat the local food (be assertive and confident – don’t let the shopkeepers give you any hassle. Have fun with them. If you don’t want to buy something, tell them – they all speak english and if they can’t it’s probably because they’re pretending not to!).
Avoid the obvious places like Cassablanca (industrial city) and Rabat unless you have loads of time to waste.
Fez is worth seeing as it’s not as “touristy” as Marrakech. It is a world heritage site so it’s being kept nice and traditional.
I never got a chance to go to the Atlas mountains but it’s one of the first places I’ll visit if I ever go back!
Some of the best experiences in Morocco for me involved getting a regional “coach” (with live chickens running around) and taking a grande taxi back to Marrakech – a real grande taxi is a large mercedes and the driver will not leave until the car is full (6 people). It’s more of a bus than a taxi. You’ll find that the drivers in the city will simply take you and your mates and rip you off…but when you get outside the cities they run them properly so you’ll end up sharing with a load of locals. The drivers drive like crazy people…great fun!
One thing tho – don’t see Morocco as a ‘circus’. You’re not there to gawp at people and look through their windows at their “simple lives”. Don’t get annoyed when you see TVs and mobile phones being sold in the markets -this is not the “West invading Morocco” or “the bad face of globalisation”. This is simply development – whether you like it or hate it!
1. Do you speak either French or Arabic?
2. If you speak neither, the first place you should go is to a bookstore for an Arabic phrasebook.
3. I travelled to Marrakech (a must), Agadir (a must), the Atlas (a must), Casblanca (yecch), and Fez (a long way but consider it). Use the bus – it’s a great way to meet the locals.
4. If you are a runner (I was), Morocco (Al-Maghreb in Arabic – Maroc is French), the Moroccans take huge pride in their Olympic distance running champions dating back to 1984. If you have lightly used running shoes, bring them along. Someone will be grateful for them.
Marrakech for sure. Rabat is also nice. Casablanca is a pit; ugly and dirty. I liked Tangiers, but I think a lot of people don’t.
As others have said, definitely Marrakech. Take in the sites and smells and tastes and wild cacophony of the souqs, and then get yourself Essaouira. It’s gorgeous and peaceful. You don’t drive in the city, as it is a 15th century, walled fort. You park outside, near the beach, and then the rest of your stay is on foot.
If you can’t (or don’t want to) get a bus, rent a car. There are the usual international car rental chains but be sure to shop around, otherwise you can get SERIOUSLY taken (even by the chain reps). (Sadly, this is voice of experience talking.) People, in general, are very friendly and curious, and it would not be uncommon for you to get invited to someone’s home for tea. This is a great way to really get to know the country. Do it!
Generally, it’s pretty safe, and, while people expect tips for all sorts of services that Westerners would consider trivial, being treated to tea at someone’s home is not one of them. If you like to bring a gift, pick up a cone of sugar in the market. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to travel with a few small gifts (pens, baseball caps, or something picked up locally). It saves you the trouble of scrambling to find a gift after a new friend has already collared you and brought you to their home to meet their family.
Don’t be bugged by the tipping thing. If you are asked for a dirham just because someone took your rucksack off your should and dropped it in the trunk of the bus for you, pay it. You aren’t being bilked for being a tourist. Even the locals pay for stuff like this. It’s one way that they have found to spread around the little wealth they have. So, always keep some coins in your pocket for unexpected tipping.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of scammers out there. The harsh truth is that people are very much in need of income and poverty makes people do funny things. So, travel with an open heart and a wary eye (a fine art, I tell you) and you will have a great time.
When I get home, I’ll try to remember to look in my old travel books and find some restaurant and hotel recommendations. If I don’t get back to you right away and you are ready for the info, feel free to drop me a line.
Fez is a great place that is often overlooked. Try to get there as well as the other more popular locations.
A word of warning. I have traveled to many countries in Afric, Asia and the Middle East and it was in Morocco where I was most concerned about safety and well-being.
It may have just been my luck this time but someone tried to pick my pockets in Tangiers and we – two women – were followed mercilessly in Casablanca.
There is also one scam that I know to beware of. Some unsavory carpet and leather dealers offer tourists a glass of mint tea as they enter the store. Usually one on a back street, that promises to have better prices than the more obvious shops.
This tea is frequently spiked with a tranquilizer or halucinigenic drug of some sort that the shopkeeper thinks will lower your resistance to a sale.
Most of the store owners are lovely and although you do need to bargin vigorously they are respectful and enjoyable to chat with.
We took a local bus through the Atlas mountains and visited many small villages. That is where we fell in love with Morocco.
chef chaouen in the kif mountains is a beautifull sky blue city – relax on the town square under the tree!
you can catch a bus from rabat – circa 10 hours i think..
I second chefchaouen. the mountains are gorgeous.
If you are a biker, I recommend riding through morocco.
There’s also a place in the desert to the south, I forget the name, but it’s well known. Z-something ?
I took a pretty cool desert trek out of Ouarzazat on camel back. Pretty amazing, but it depends on what you are looking for. I also recommend Chefchaouen- white painted city with blue doors, beautiful!
It really depends on when you go, how long you’ll have and how you plan to travel. Morocco is large geographically and diverse in its makeup. If you have a photographic or artistic eye you’ll just love the light and colour that defines Morocco, it’s a country in Technicolor. On the whole the people are friendly, helpful, honest and hospitable. As with every country however you may meet some less than scrupulous individuals but in my experience (6 times in Morocco) not many.
Travelling is easy; that is places are connected by a good road network and frequent services but distances can be great and progress slow. The average travelling speed is about 50 kph.; allowing for stops and town traffic, and even less in the mountains. If you plan to drive you can hire a car which has the advantage of allowing you to travel at your own pace and go precisely when you want to go at a time that suites you but it is very expensive compared to bus and taxi travel services which are very cheap and abundant.
Accommodation is also quite cheap (compared with Europe) starting from as little as 10 euros or even less and even “international” type hotels are much cheaper than Europe (50 Euros upwards), with lots in-between although you may struggle to find any hotels in some smaller out of the way places. Eating can be incredibly cheap (and good).
If you are tied to a specific time I’d favour the north of the country or the Atlas or Anti Atlas mountains in the Summer (July/August). Spring is a particularly good time. In the winter go south of the Atlas, Agadir Tiznit, that way.
Unless you have a particular interest such as mountain trekking or surfing and want to spend most of your time doing the activity I’d suggest spending a few days in a few places rather than being based for your whole stay in one city, or trying a marathon journey to see everything in one go. I usually plan for two nights in each place but only book a night at a time. I can then arrived find a hotel, check the place out, If I like it I can extend the stay, If I don’t I can leave the next morning. The places I’d recommend worth trying to see would be Fez, Chefchouen, Marrakesh, Taroudannt, Tafroute and Essaouira Take the road over the Tizi n’ Tichka to Ouzarzate then the Draa Valley to Zagora.
Whether it’s landscapes, architecture, nature or people, Morocco is photogenic. But be sensitive to peoples’ sensitivities; not everyone is happy to be just used as a picturesque subject. If possible ask if you can take a photo and respect the answer and don’t be surprised if you’re asked for some payment. It is not patronising to offer some small token in a country that has little in the way of state welfare. Everybody expects to “earn” what they can at every opportunity and with the sort of wages an unskilled person would earn (about $7 a day – http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/progdesc/ssptw/2004-2005/africa/morocco.html) even a small amount can make a difference to them. Small children are often happy to accept a small gift, a pen or bon-bon or a small item that you’ve brought from abroad. In the cities people are more sophisticated and wise to tourists and occasionally you’ll meet someone who is dissatisfied with what you offer, don’t take it personally or take offence if they don’t seem thrilled at your token.
If you like to meet and talk with people you’ll meet more than enough and time in Morocco is different to time in Europe, people are less frenetic, they will spend time with you, even change there plans to sit and talk, friendliness and hospitality are ingrained in Moroccan life.
i like taghazot niceee place and wild of atlas
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