Have you ever visited the Kingdom of Morocco? It is the westernmost country in Northern Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the left, Algeria to the east, and the disputed territory of Western Sahara to the south.
Morocco is absolutely magical! I first visited nearly 15 years ago, while living in Valencia, Spain. I traveled by ferry to Tangiers. We stayed just one night, then traveled by overnight train to Marrakech, and after a week there, we went via bus to Essaouira, Fez, and Casablanca.
Our recent visit could not have been more different. Fast forward 15 years from my time as a backpacker, it was a real change traveling back to Morocco with two small children in tow. I was excited to take my son to Africa for the first time, and I knew he and his sister would be fascinated by the desert landscapes, colorful souks, camels, and kind people.
We stayed 30 minutes outside of the center in a small village with an oasis of private homes. We opted for the partial board option, which included simple breakfasts of traditional Moroccan breads and pastries, fruit, and yogurt, and then dinner. This worked out great because (1) we were far from the center and any restaurants, and (2) venturing out to eat every evening with small children is an act of sheer bravery even for the most intrepid among us. The kind woman who hosted us was a talented cook so this gave us an opportunity to savor the range and depth of Moroccan cuisine. This was also a welcomed change from my first visit when I had completely sworn off tajine!
Staying outside of the city requires a car, which I recommend because it gave us plenty of flexibility to explore the city and outer areas. We used our last day in the city to visit a Black woman-owned hotel I’d heard so much about and wanted to see in person.
So, what to see and do in Morocco? Well, there’s SO much I could recommend 100 different itineraries, depending on what you're into, but I’ll share here our hit list for a lovely 10 day stay.
- Visit Marrakech - Don’t miss the medina (the old city), and a visit to the various souks selling everything from carpets, tiles, silver pots, leather goods, dried fruits, spices, soaps, and touristy kitch. Fun fact, I first discovered argan oil in a pharmacy in the medina well before the commercial craze of the mid-2000s, when I went in looking for a cure for dryness in my curly hair. Here's a great guide to the best neighborhoods to explore the city.
- Visit the Jardin Majorelle and YSL Museum - The Jardin has been significantly updated since my first visit, with new pavers, fountains, and a sparkly new coat of paint throughout. It’s a wonderful place to wander around exploring local plant varieties and now has a lovely new cafe serving easy lunch fare and homemade drinks in a sunny outdoor courtyard. The new YSL museum is a cool respite with rotating and permanent exhibits, and the surrounding neighborhood is worth exploring, with plenty of shops, galleries, and cafes.
- Plan a day-trip out of the city to the desert - We booked a day trip to the Agafay Desert via AirBnB Experiences. This included a tour of a woman-owned argan oil cooperative where we enjoyed a simple breakfast of nut butters, honey, fresh bread, and tea; visits to traditional Berber villages in the Atlas mountains; a home cooked lunch in the mountains; and finally, we finished up with a camel ride and 4x4 drive through the Agafay desert. Enjoying sunset views in the desert while the littles learned traditional Berber dancing with our guides is an experience that we won’t soon forget.
- Split your visit between several (or at least 2) cities - Marrakech and Essaouira are must visits, but Casablanca, Chefchaouen, and Fez are also undeniably beautiful. During warmer months, try the off-the-beaten-path beachside region of Taghazout.
- Drink as much mint tea as you can - enjoy it in the desert surrounded by camels like we did during our stay (where Asha almost fell off a camel!).
Whatever itinerary you choose, we cannot recommend Morocco highly enough. There's something for everyone, at every age, beautiful landscapes, vibrant cities, beaches, loads of local culture, warm people, good food, and a visual feast for the eyes.
Flights - Morocco has two major airports, in Marrakech and in Casablanca. You'll likely take a connecting flight to arrive.
Accommodations - Morocco has a long standing and well-established tourism trade so you can find every kind of accommodation, ranging from backpacker budget to 5-starred hotels and private villas. If you choose lodging within the city center or medina, forgo renting a car as parking is a nightmare. If you stay outside of the city, like we did this time, a car is a must, especially with children.
Have you visited Morocco? Drop us an email with your favorite places and tips for visiting.