Updated: Jan 4
My love for Morocco came about in an interesting way. The first time that I visited, it was based on a friend inviting me along on a trip that she was planning there.
Needless to say, I really did not have much expectation for what I would experience there. But on this second trip, as I sat overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from a restaurant in Casablanca, marveling at being on the other side of the ocean that borders my home country, I realized that after traveling to so many other countries since my last visit, Morocco is a special place and will always have a piece of my heart.
In a week of travel throughout the country, I filled my belly with couscous, drank my body weight in mint tea, and absorbed the sights and sounds of Morocco. This place is full of surprises. If you’re looking for reasons to visit Morocco, here are some of the highlights from my trip:
1. Getting Lost in the Medinas
The medinas are the historic hearts of each city in Morocco. They are part residential area, part shopping center, and part food market.
In some of the medinas, you’ll find twisting and turning streets where shops, restaurants, markets, and homes all line the streets in buildings that seem like they’re too close together and too old to stay up much longer. You can literally spend hours wandering through them, making turns, doubling back, and doing it all over again. Throughout the maze, you’ll find everything from fragrant food to shops selling fabrics to sights of men hard at work at their crafts. If you’re someone that loves to explore, the medinas will be like heaven for you.
Navigating the streets of Fez medina. Photo Cred: Ronda Wright
Word of Caution: Fez medina can be a bit sketchy and unsafe, so do not go too far off the beaten path. Stick to streets with lots of people. Pickpocketing can be bad in the area. Hiring a local guide to walk through with you can be beneficial.
2. Exploring Volubilis
A major trading center and the southernmost settlement during Roman times, Volubilis is one of the best preserved such ruins in the world.
At Volubilis, you’re able to get up close to see the structures without being behind barriers and jockeying for position between tons of people. Most of the city is still unexcavated so the site has a very welcoming feel for those that love archeology. This is a must-see UNESCO World Heritage site that you have to put on your list.
Up close and personal at Volubilis. Photo Cred: Ronda Wright
3. Drinking Mint Tea
When I first visited Morocco in 2014, I didn’t even drink hot tea!
But after that trip, I’ve been a tea drinker ever since! And once again, I came to Morocco and drank mint tea every day. In a country where “having a beer” is not a thing, locals substitute that with having mint tea. There’s even an art to making the tea and pouring it! There’s nothing quite like Moroccan mint tea…and trust me, I’ve tried to recreate it several times to no avail.
4. Camel Riding
While I still wish I had the time to ride out into the desert and camp underneath the stars, there are many locations in Morocco where you can have a camel ride.
Riding a camel for an extended period of time is not the most comfortable experience I’ve had, but it’s certainly a fun adventure to have and your final destination is likely to be a place of beauty. Personally, I rode through Palmerie among palm trees and desert to a camp with Henna and mint tea waiting.
5. Visiting Marrakech
Marrakech is a modern mix of Moroccan and international culture with the most diversity of delicious international food and beautiful architecture in the medina. Marrakech was definitely the most eclectic city on the trip.
The famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square is truly the chaos that everyone describes: tens of thousands of people at night eating, shopping, getting henna tattoos, listening to bands and storytellers, and watching magicians (and snake charmers during the day). It’s one of the most hectic but fascinating people-watching places in the country. It still blows my mind how big and full it was…even during COVID!
6. Eating Lots of Couscous and Tagine
By the end of my week in Morocco, I was a bit “couscoused” out. But I have to say, I ate a ton of it because, I love the different flavors you get to experience as you travel different regions of the country. Tagine (cooked with meat, dates, nuts, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron in a clay pot) was by far my favorite Moroccan dish. Also worth trying are lamb kebobs and the white fish.
Tagine meal with lamb and couscous. Photo Cred: Ronda Wright
7. Admiring Architecture and Character of the Cities
Moroccan architecture is a mixture of Arabic, African and Andalusian influences which makes it unique in the world. Of course, the architecture varies within the country. The most beautiful buildings are found in the cities, while the buildings in the countryside are mostly single-story mud-brick houses or large kasbahs. I couldn’t get enough of the beautifully decorated buildings with so many colors and patterns.
Nejjarine Fondouk in Fes medina. Photo Cred: Ronda Wright
The riads in Marrakech and Fes are also architectural masterpieces that you have to experience. The traditional courtyards in particular are elaborately decorated with mosaics and stucco work. They are like hidden gems within the city and every photographer’s dream!
Bahia Palace Marrakech. Photo Cred: Ronda Wright
8. Experiencing the Blended Cultures
If you thought Morocco was simply an Arab country, you’d be surprised to know that it has a lot of influence from European countries like France and Spain along with Berber and Jewish communities.
The late King Hassan II once said that Morocco is “a tree whose roots lie in Africa but whose leaves breathe in Europe.” When you visit Morocco, it’s hard not to notice that. The mesh of cultures results in a variety of neighborhoods that each have their own cultural flair. It’s an interesting environment to see so many different cultures that have blended to become what is now Moroccan.
Morocco is a great country if you’re traveling on a budget.
The cost of living is relatively inexpensive, and you can still indulge in some fun tours and activities without breaking the bank. Even in nice restaurants, you can get a 3-course meal for under 200 dirhams or about $20. Accommodations will also be quite inexpensive as compared to other locations like countries in Europe or Australia. This makes Morocco an attractive destination for both backpackers and luxury travelers alike.
10. Hearing the Call to Prayer
There was something beautiful about hearing the daily call to prayer. Hearing the call and watching people go to the mosque was a unique cultural experience that I observed and appreciated. Although I’m not of Muslim faith, it was a great reminder for me to quickly close my eyes and give thanks for the people that I traveled with and the many experiences that unfolded for me over the last day.
Morocco is an incredible destination. Even though this was my second time visiting, it is a country where I still feel out of my element and like I was truly someplace new and different. I love that feeling and everything else about Morocco.
Hey, I'm Ronda Wright 👋🏽
I’m the founder of The Wright Getaway. I love all things travel and helping other people experience the world.
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