Morocco is an ancient, mysterious and breathtakingly beautiful country that has lured foreign visitors for millennia. It is a land of contrasts: ancient and modern, Arab and Berber, European and African. The idyllic and isolated Berber villages of the High Atlas seem untouched by time (except for the satellite dishes), while in cities like Fez, Essaouira and Marrakech the medieval intricacies of the medinas go hand in hand with fashionable roof-top bars and chic renovated riads (a traditional Moroccan house with a courtyard).
These contradictions are all part of Morocco's vibrant and unique charm, and what make it is one of the most popular destinations in the world. Read more...
Visits to Morocco – unless lasting a few months – can never take in all the best bits and usually involve weekend breaks to one of the main cities – Marrakech, Fez, Meknes, Tangier – or longer trips, taking in a regional circuit: Marrakech and the High Atlas; Marrakech and Essaouira; the High Atlas and the desert; Agadir and the Deep South; the Imperial Cities of Marrakech, Fez, Meknes and Volubilis; Tangier and the Mediterranean and Rif regions. Essaouira and Agadir are beach holiday resorts in their own right.
Most visitors to Agadir fly straight in from Europe, skipping any other place in Morocco. Those to Essaouira usually combine a few days in Marrakech at one end of their stay. Hiking and trekking, particularly in the High Atlas and increasingly in the Middle Atlas and Rif Mountains, is fast becoming one of Morocco’s major draws, with thousands of enthusiasts flooding in during the season, which runs from October to May, and with an ascent of Mount Toubkal as the literal pinnacle of their trip.
The landscapes of Morocco are extremely varied. The jagged limestone peaks of the Rif Mountains to the southeast of Tangier give way to the cultivated coastal plains between Rabat and Casablanca and the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The dramatic High Atlas range extends for 700km (430 miles) in a series of long ridges reaching 4,167m (13,670ft) at Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.
South of the Atlas runs the Anti Atlas range, with its spectacular rock formations, straight through the lush Souss Valley. Further south the landscape becomes dry and desolate, as befits the fringes of the Sahara Desert, but enlivened by fertile river valleys, with pockets of terrace farming, and green splashes of date palm oases.
The medinas of Morocco are hives of traditional industry, where you will see exquisite examples of the country’s flourishing arts and crafts.Read more
What is a medina? A medina is the old part of a town or city, found in many countries of North Africa, not just Morocco. It is typically walled, and contains narrow streets, fountains, palaces and mo...Read more
For several years now it has been fashionable to buy up a riad and have it renovated into a holiday hideout for yourself, your friends and even paying guests. Madonna, the Hermès family, Jean-P...Read more
Rue Abou el Abbas Sebti, Central Medina
tel: 0524 80 80 80
Built by King Mohammed VI to celebrate the very best in Moroccan design and craftsmanship, this is one of the most spectacular hotels in the world. Accommodation is in one of 53 private riads, each with their own plunge pool. The two restaurants - French and Moroccan - are supervised by three-starred Michelin chef, Yanick Alléno; the spa has Sisley, Chanel and Dr Hauschka products; the bar has walls of rose gold and the library a star-gazing telescope.
tel: 0539 98 92 44
A stunning and excellent-value riad with seven gorgeous bedrooms, a sitting room with open fire and a roof terrace with chill-out area and views over to the Rif Mountains. Welcoming hosts and delicious Moroccan food.
tel: 0535 63 43 31
Nineteenth-century palace with beautiful gardens and views of Fez. Excellent Moroccan food in El Fassia restaurant, as well as a good French restaurant for those tired of tagines. Stay here if you possibly can. It is well worth spending extra for a room with a medina view.
19 Riad Sultan (kasbah)
tel: 0539 94 77 31
A beautifully restored riad in the kasbah with magical views from its roof terrace across the Bay of Tangier to Spain. A chic mixture of Moroccan and colonial European design. Ten rooms around a central courtyard, decadent hammam.
Read more about Morocco in Insight Guides: Morocco
Insight Guide Morocco is illustrated with hundreds of specially commissioned photographs. Our inspirational Best of Morocco section picks out the highlights, ensuring you see the best the country has to offer.For centuries, Morocco's breathtaking landscapes and unique heritage ha...Read full description
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