We were on our way to Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou, two sites made popular thanks to films and television shows like Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, and of course, Game of Thrones. I was looking forward to seeing the well-preserved ksar in Ait Benhaddou and confluence of the Dra and Dadès Valleys in Ouarzazate; what I wasn’t expecting was to feel the wonder of recognizing that I was but a tiny speck among the layers of snow-capped mountain ranges and vast valleys of the High Atlas.
A tranquil beach town located around 2 hours south of the city; visiting Oualidia from Casablanca makes an easy choice for a day trip, as well as a popular holiday destination for locals. Oualidia’s ample beaches are its biggest draw and the town is set around a strikingly beautiful coastal lagoon, featuring a sandy central island encircled by long, golden-sand beaches and inhabited by a vast array of birdlife.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Marrakech was all mountains and desert, but the vibrant city is also blessed with an abundance of green spaces. Pack a picnic and escape the bustling medina to explore some of Marrakech’s best parks and gardens.
Drawing more than 6,000 competitors from around the globe, the annual Marrakech Marathon has long been acclaimed as one of the world’s best marathons and with average temperatures hovering around 20°C it’s the ideal spot for winter racing. Renowned for its flat, easy terrain, the Marrakech Marathon is known as one of the world’s fastest marathon routes making it a popular choice for international competitors and those looking to beat their personal best.
With a wide selection of stylish bars, restaurants and dance clubs, the nightlife in Casablanca is second only to Marrakech and you’ll find plenty of spots to hit the dancefloor along the coast. Start your evening on the central Boulevard Mohammed V, where the most popular destination is the famous Rick’s Café, an elegant bar-restaurant inspired by the 1942 movie Casablanca and known for its belly dancing shows. Other top spots in the city center include the hip La Bodéga, a live music club and tapas bar; the glamorous Black House cocktail bar at Casablanca’s Hyatt Regency Hotel; the dazzling Sky 28 cocktail bar, which offers unbeatable views from the 28th floor of the Kenzi Tower; and the lively Cabaret Embassy, a hugely popular local haunt.
Morocco’s warm Mediterranean climate means the sun will be shining all year-round, but the breezy winter weather is ideal for sightseeing and visiting in the off-season can mean reduced rates on flights and accommodations. Whether you want to surf and sunbathe on the southern coast, or party in Marrakech, if you want to escape the cold, here are some of Morocco’s best winter destinations.
Think of shopping in Morocco and you probably imagine weaving through a maze of souks, haggling over hand-sewn beaded slippers and leather goods, or fending off over-zealous carpet sellers, but shopping in Casablanca is nothing like what you’d expect. Morocco’s biggest city is also its most modern and cosmopolitan, with designer labels a-plenty and quiet, well-organized souks free from the rowdy hawkers of Marrakech and Fez.
From ocean to mountain to desert, few countries have as much varied terrain within such close proximity as Morocco, and Marrakech is well situated for exploring the nearby Atlas Mountains or trekking out into the wilderness of the Sahara Desert. Hiking in the hills, riding a camel through the dunes and camping out in a Bedouin tent are all quintessential experiences, but adventurous travelers can now add another activity to their bucket lists – hot air ballooning in Morocco.
With its cornucopia of scents and sounds and dizzying pace of life, visiting Marrakech is a visceral experience and with so much to take in, you won’t have to spend a cent to be entertained. Whether you want to lose yourself in the city’s legendary souks or escape the chaos for a picnic in the park, here are a few ideas for free things to do in Marrakech.
As one of the world’s oldest Islamic nations, Morocco’s historic mosques and medersas (learning centers of religion, law, philosophy and astrology) have long been among the country’s most celebrated assets, equally renowned for their architectural splendor as their long history of worship. From towering mosaic-covered minarets to one of the world’s largest mosques; here are 6 of the most beautiful mosques in Morocco.