The Five Essential Sights of Morocco

Morocco is one of the most fascinating destinations to visit on a holiday to North Africa. Culturally, it is a heady mixture of Arabic, North African, Berber and French Colonial influences, and haggling in souks, enjoying fine French cuisine, wandering through medieval medinas, camel trips to the desert, and trekking through the High Atlas Mountains are just some of the experiences on offer. There’s so much to see and do in the cities and the countryside that it can be hard to narrow down the choices for your trip, but if you are after the very essential sights to see on a holiday to Morocco, look no further than these five…

The Fez Medina

The medina, or “Old Town”, of Fez is perhaps the best preserved medieval city in the world. It was built in the 14th century, and aside from the introduction of electric lighting, little seems to have changed in the six hundred years. Traditional craftsmen still make and ply their wares in one room workshops, and overburdened donkeys are still the only form of transport that can be used in the Medina. The narrow winding streets are a maze for the unwary, and taking a half or full day guided tour may be the best way to see all the sights the Fez medina has to offer on your holiday in Morocco.

Ait Benhaddou

Ait Benhaddou is a series of old Kasbahs located near Ouarzazate, and this fort town is in a stunning position amidst rocky hills and palm trees. Ait Benhaddou has been the backdrop for numerous films, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator, and the nearby film studio in Ouarzazate is now one of the largest studios in the world. It is one of the most popular sights to see while on holiday in Morocco, and it is definitely worth making the time and taking a day trip here.

The Djemma el Fna in Marrakech

Translated variously as “The Mosque of Nothing” and “The Assembly of the Dead”, the central square in Marrakech is perhaps the most unforgettable sight to see while on holiday in Morocco. By day it is a market, with fruit sellers, fortune tellers, henna painters and snake charmers, but it is by night that it really comes to life. Crowds of Moroccans surge around the storytellers and musicians on the south side of the square, while the traditional medicine men and dentists who populate the north side continue to serve the needs of the locals; it is one of the most remarkable sights in the country.

The Town of Chefchaouen

This delightful blue-walled town is one of the most beautiful small towns in North Africa. A holiday here offers perfect relaxation – hiking in the Rif Mountains that surround the city, haggling in the little market at the centre of town, sipping mint tea in the many little cafes, or simply wandering through the streets and enjoying the unusual sky blue buildings.

Ramparts of Essaouira

The port city of Essaouira, located a few hours from Marrakech, is fast becoming one of the holiday highlights of Morocco. The relaxed coastal atmosphere, beautiful old medina and dramatic coastline are all attractions of the city, but the real highlight is the set of old ramparts that run along the seafront. Walking the old fortifications, complete with 17th century cannons, is like talking a walk in time through the city’s colonial history – the architecture is a beguiling mixture of Portuguese, French and Berber styles, and the views are simply spectacular.

Kieron Sellens is the marketing manager of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AiTO). With Morocco holidays from AITO, you can tailor-make the dream trip abroad.

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