Morocco is packed with amazing things to experience, from surfing to the Sahara, but knowing how to plan your trip can be overwhelming at best. To start exploring the must-see cities for your itinerary, I made this handy list of Morocco’s most popular tourist destinations and their major attractions. Since most tourists move North to South, I structured my list in the same way, grouping together the cities that are close by one another.
Tourist Destinations in Northern Morocco
Tangier is a popular starting place because people can arrive on the ferry from Algeciras and the Tangier airport typically has cheap flights, especially from Paris. It doesn’t have as many unique things going on as some of the other cities, but it’s worth taking two nights or so to walk around, especially if it’s your first time in Morocco. The medina and the Hercules cave are popular destinations. Fair warning—it’s a pretty big tourist destination and has higher rates of crime than other cities, so watch out. It’s also a bit more of a hassle to travel in the North as a woman, so if you’re planning visiting Tangier or Tetouan as a woman, be prepared to not go out much after dark.
Chefchaouen is the blue city in the mountains! It’s famous for its hash tourism, the hike to Akchour (an awesome waterfall) and the God’s Bridge (a cool rock formation and swimming hole), while the medina itself is perfect for purchasing textiles, grabbing a tagine, and seeing the famous blue walls. It’s perfect for people who prefer a bit slower pace of living, and most people I know end up extending their stay here to continue kicking back. If you end up going, look into Aline Hostel. It’s by far the best one.
For more tips on visiting Chefchaouen, check out our comprehensive guide.
In Fes, you can see one of the biggest old medinas. Fair warning—it’s incredibly easy to get lost in there, and I recommend hiring a guide if you want to do some in depth exploring. Fes is famous for its leather trade, and you will be able to tour the places where the leather is made to see the cleaning, stretching, and dying process. You can also see the University of al-Karaouine, the first university to ever be established (and the brain child of an awesome woman!) What you won’t find in Fes is nightlife, since it’s a very conservative city. It’s a short bus ride from Tangier or Chefchaouen, and a good place to catch an overnight but to the Sahara.
Asilah is a beautiful surf town. It’s not incredibly unique compared to other surf cities, but it is a good place to stop if you have a few extra days to kill on your way south. Here, you can relax on the beaches, enjoy some seafood and juice shops, and generally enjoy a space a bit less claustrophobic than the medinas of other cities.
Tourist Attractions in Central Morocco
Rabat is the country’s capital and an awesome place to explore a traditional medina (they’re actually in the process of making it a UNESCO World Heritage site!), try awesome restaurants and street food, and witness the contrast between old and new in Moroccan culture. If you go here, definitely visit the Kasbah and the Hassan tower, in addition to these You will also be able to find the Parliament building here, in addition to some unique colonial architecture.
Casablanca is a short ride by train from Rabat and makes an awesome day trip or overnight for tourists heading south. The major site to see here is the Hassan II mosque, which is one of the biggest mosques in the world outside Saudi Arabia, and one of the only mosques in Morocco that non-Muslims are allowed to enter. The city center is worth walking around, and there is an actual Rick’s cafe you can visit if you’re a fan of the movie, but in all honesty, Casa really isn’t worth an extended trip.
Meknes is a great place to stop if you’re headed toward the desert. It used to be Morocco’s capital and has an incredibly important imperial history. It has incredibly beautiful buildings including the massive palace and the Bab Monsour. It’s a little bit less commonly visited, but it’s rich in history, beautiful architecture, and culture. It’s a great place to take a break from shuffling through the souks of other tourist destinations. If you’re a history, art or archaeology fan, Meknes is a must.
Rissani is another hub town for catching buses to the Sahara, particularly th much cheaper local buses. It’s worth checking out on market day (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday) if you can , as the city comes alive with commerce. As the former capital of the Southern tribal alliance until independence, it is a hugely important area for Morocco’s tribal history and the resting place of the first king in Morocco’s current dynasty. It’s great for eating, resting, exploring and passing through, but don’t plan to spend more than a day or so here.
El Jadida is about an hour south of Casablanca and is famous for its European fort-style construction. It used to be the Portuguese city of Mazagan until the Moroccans overtook it during the Renaissance. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an amazing example of Renaissance architecture and cultural interchange.
Tourist Destinations in Southern Morocco
The Sahara is honestly one of Morocco’s biggest attractions. The easiest way to get there is either from Fes or Marrakech, taking a bus to Merzouga (which actually has a cheap youth hostel!) or Rissani, and catching a grand taxi to your destination. While booking a camel tour through your hotel or hostel in another city will run you close to a hundred euros, organizing your own place to stay will allow you to find camel rides for about 15 euros and afford you the freedom to run around the sand dunes—which are magnificent. It’s definitely worth the trip.
Check out our guide on seeing the Sahara on a budget to learn more.
Marrakech—The biggest appeal of Marrakech is the Jmaa el-Fnaa, the huge central square full of entertainers and merchants. There is also an extensive covered souk in the city. The fresh orange juice that people sell around this square is definitely worth trying, and the market stalls are worth checking out, if you’re prepared to. If you’re looking for a break from the bustle, check out the Jardin Majorelle, a beautiful garden that you can easily spend hours inside of. If you’re looking to treat yourself, check out a restaurant called Nomad for awesome Moroccan fusion food.
Essaouira—It’s famous for being a major surf city and a popular destination for disillusioned Western artists and musicians. There are great places to find live music at night, and there’s even a local vegan food scene.
Toubkal—It’s the biggest mountain in North Africa! At just under 14,000 feet, this mountain is the perfect challenge for the recreational hiker. It’s definitely an achievement, but doesn’t normally take and special skills or equipment to climb. You can take a guided hike with porters and cooks for around 100 euros, or you can just arrange things yourself for a much cheaper trip.
Ouarzazate—This is where the movies are made! The city is known for having a high volume of domestic tourism and you can visit a bunch of the film studios here to learn about the Moroccan film industry. It’s a worthy overnight stop if you’re heading toward the desert.
Agadir—If you’re willing to make the trip all the way down to Agadir, you’ll find a beautiful beach resort town. It’s great for surfing, but also for relaxing on private beaches and treating yourself a bit.
Taghazout–If Agadir is too far South for you, or you’re looking for something that feels a little less like a resort town, then try this laid-back, hostel-heavy surf city. It’s known for the point break at Killer Point and the barrel waves at Anchor Point. Aside from surfing, there are beautiful waterfall hikes and even a natural spring to explore.