Visiting Morocco (with Locals): Where to Go and What to Do

annie-spratt-RCmr0Pe9Uxg-unsplash

Morocco is a beautiful country in North Africa with lots to offer. Although it can be challenging to travel there as a woman, there is so much to explore.

Back in June, I went to Morocco after about 2 weeks of traveling solo through Spain and Portugal. I ended up in Morocco because I have a friend who grew up there and was going back to visit her family, and she invited me and one other girl to visit her during that time. Her father (who is Moroccan) was also present, and kind enough to drive us to multiple cities to see as much as possible within the 9-10 days that we had in the country.

That said: since I was traveling with locals, I found it difficult to truly write a guide or itinerary for Morocco, since I did not plan most of the activities. So, this blog post is going to be sectioned out by the city or area that we went to; and each city will have a link to some other activity ideas for your own trip. I hope it’s helpful! Keep in mind that we didn’t make it to Fez or Rabat, which are also popular cities for visitors to Morocco.

On that note, here are my ideas to make the most out of your Morocco trip:

Casablanca

Casablanca is arguably one of Morocco’s most “Westernized” cities, due to the French colonial influence and the city being Morocco’s commercial hub.

Visit the world’s 2nd largest mosque

The Hassan II Mosque is not only the world’s second largest mosque, but it’s also located right on the water! This of course makes for a stunning backdrop, as you can look out over the sea as you survey the mosque. Unfortunately, you aren’t able to enter the mosque if you aren’t Muslim unless you’re on a special guided tour (which we sadly didn’t have time for), but there are still plenty of views from the outside. Fun fact: the inside of the mosque has a glass floor so that worshippers can feel as though they’re praying on the water!

Lunch at Chez Paul + Gourmet Ice Cream at Oliveri

A lot of our time in the city of Casablanca was spent walking along the miles-long seaside path, but we did stop for lunch at the popular patissérie Chez Paul and popped over to Glacier Oliveri for gourmet ice cream sundaes.

Chez Paul has quite a few delicious options, but I chose to go with a traditional salade niçoise and finished my meal with a blanc mange. And a chousson aux pommes (apple turnover) for the road, of course.

Oliveri has a ton of different ice cream or sorbet flavors to choose from, and you can mix and match some of them to create your ideal sundae!

Head to the beach

Since Casablanca is a seaside city, it’s worth it to dip your toes in this side of the Atlantic Ocean! Although there is a lot of development along the coastline now, it’s definitely possible to find seaside cafes or simply make your way to a less-active beach.

For more activity ideas in Casablanca, check out Top 10 Things to Do and See in Casablanca!

Marrakech

Marrakech is a super-popular tourist destination, and we found a lot to do with just 24 hours in the city! Note: It’s imperative that you stay alert when wandering around Marrakech, especially in the narrow alleys and corners – motorbikes can and do come speeding through and you could get seriously injured.

Stay in a Riad

Riads are traditional Moroccan houses (or palaces) that contain an interior courtyard or garden. When staying in a riad in Morocco, you will often find that it has been converted to host a certain amount of people per room – but everyone has access to the entire house. Traditionally, meals are served as well! If you need a comparison, I think you could (kind of) consider it as an ornate and upscale bed & breakfast. The architecture alone in riads is stunning, and it’s a great way to experience the culture.

Visit the Souk

You can’t visit Marrakech (or Morocco in general) without heading to a souk for an authentic bartering experience! Although there are multiple souks throughout Marrakech, we traveled to the souk closest to Jemaa el-Fnaa square. Be sure to keep your belongings close to you at all times, and hidden when possible. It’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings!

Majorelle Garden

The Majorelle Garden (Le Jardin Majorelle) is arguably one of the most popular attractions in Marrakech, and for good reason. Between the diverse plant life, beautiful backdrops, and vibrant blue buildings, you could easily spend a few hours here. Instead of the Yves Saint Laurent museum, we decided to venture into the Berber Museum to learn more about one of the indigenous people of Morocco. Inside this museum, you’ll find traditional costumes, jewelry, and more!

Have a Proper Tajine

Another thing you simply must experience in Marrakech (and Morocco in general) is tajine! Although this traditional dish is admittedly not vegetarian-friendly, the lamb tajine in Marrakech was insanely good. I seriously think the best tajine I had during the whole trip happened to be in Marrakech…and we had a lot of tajine throughout our 10 days.

For more activity ideas in Marrakech, check out Top 10 Things to Do and See in Marrakech!

Agadir + Essaouira

Agadir and Essaouira are two other coastal cities worth checking out while in Morocco! Agadir has a boardwalk and shopping area that makes for a lovely sunset stroll, and Essaouira has a ton of shops in its medina.

Visit the boardwalk

Agadir has an awesome boardwalk that stretches down nearly the entire length of the beach, and the water at this beach is quite tranquil. The boardwalk has a bunch of restaurants that you can stop in; or, if you head to the northern end, you can spend some time in the marina and go shopping.

Another activity that Agadir offers is riding a camel on the beach. Although this activity isn’t something that I chose to do on our day in Agadir, and I certainly have my reservations about riding certain animals, my understanding from both my local friend and some online research is that there are ways to humanely participate in camel riding. For example, ensuring that the camel looks healthy and well-taken care of, and that the owner is not being overly aggressive with it. I’d be curious to hear some thoughts around this subject, so feel free to share your perspective in the comments!

Have some seafood

When you’re in any coastal city, I highly recommend trying the seafood. Although there are plenty of other options, in our case, my friend’s extended family treated us to a seafood lunch at a popular local restaurant called La Pyramide.

The seafood we had here was definitely different from what I’m used to. For example, I tried what I was told was salmon; but it certainly tasted different from any salmon I’d had before, whether farmed or wild. I also tried sardines for the first time (ironically, I didn’t in Portugal). The taste of the sardines was perfectly fine, but the process of eating this seafood definitely wasn’t for the faint of heart: be prepared to be presented with the entire fish – with some organs potentially included.

Wander the Medina

Although there is more to see in Essaouira, we mainly stuck to exploring the large medina (market) in this city. There are countless vendors with a bunch of different products for sale, and the medina itself is located inside an old fortress – so that was a cool experience! Essaouira is also a good place to visit an argan oil cooperative, to see some of the process involved in making pure argan oil. Tip: aim to visit and purchase from a female-owned cooperative to have the best shot at supporting local Moroccan women.

For more activity ideas in Agadir and Essaouira, check out these Top 10 Things to Do and See in Agadir and Essaouira.

Tiznit + Tafraoute

Tiznit and Tafraoute are two cities that can be done in one day if you wish. Tiznit is the old silver capital of Morocco, and Tafraoute is great for getting away from the cosmopolitan side of Morocco to experience some laid-back authenticity.

Visit the market and buy some silver jewelry!

Tiznit is well-known for having quality silver for a reasonable price, so if you’re able to stop by (which is much easier if you’ve rented a car) I recommend it! There are tons of shops to choose from, so just have a general idea of what you want; decide what you’re willing to pay; and be sure to inspect your item before you finalize the sale.

Drive through the mountains + Village Visit

Tafraoute has a lot to offer along the lines of tranquility and low volume of tourists. We ended up visiting my friend’s father’s family home, before heading to the nearby Berber village where he grew up. Tafraoute also has a lot of small shops, as well as plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling, and more. We had a short time in Tafraoute, so I’d recommend checking out this post for more ideas if Tafraoute is on your list!

Chefchaouen

Ah, Chefchaouen. Hands down, Chefchaouen was the city that I was most excited to visit because it’s been my bucket list for a few years now. In case you’re unfamiliar with the city, just know this: the old town is almost entirely painted in blue!

Get a (Good) Case of the Blues

We had a very short time in Chefchaouen (just under 24 hours!) but it is admittedly a pretty quiet place. There are plenty of stalls and shops to peruse for more authentic Moroccan souvenirs, but besides that, you can simply enjoy getting lost among the various shades of blue to be found in the city. Since we mostly ate and walked around here, I’m going to let the following photos speak for themselves!

Go Hiking*

*Although we didn’t get to go hiking, there are apparently some beautiful sights to see outside of the city – perfect for the nature lover! For more information, check out Culture Trip’s Top 10 Things to See and Do in Chefchaouen.

~

As I said at the start of this post, I definitely did not have the “typical” trip that one might expect in Morocco. Obviously, the trade-off here was getting to travel with locals! This made our interactions much smoother and more pleasant, which allowed me to feel more comfortable being in a completely new place. That said: I can’t wait to go back to North Africa (and beyond), as there is a lot more to do and see! Plus, I still haven’t properly been to the desert – so that’s a must-do.

I hope this post was helpful, and that the extra links provide you with everything you need to prepare for your own Morocco trip!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on stumbleupon
Share on print
Share on email
Share on tumblr
Share on google

1 thought on “Visiting Morocco (with Locals): Where to Go and What to Do”

Share your Thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.