Updated: May 18
From blue Chefchaouen to the warm colors of Marrakesh.
Exploring culture, food and architecture while catching a glimpse of the famous Moroccan hospitality!
Morocco is like a step back in time, fascinating and intriguing at the same time.
Rather uncivilized at the beginning but offering great hospitality and experiences if you know how to make your way around.
Although many people think of Morocco as being only a desert, Morocco is so much more than that: it has beautiful mountains, greeny landscapes,a lot of coast lines and incredible culture. Not to mention about the famous Arabic hospitality found in the traditional riads.
Morocco is a North African country that has a coastline on both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco has got Moroccan Western Sahara independence in 1973.
Ethnically speaking, Morocco is composed mainly of Arabs and Berbers or a mixture of the two. Sizeable numbers of Berbers live mainly in the country’s mountainous regions, long areas of refuge where they have preserved their language and culture.
Morocco is quite a big country and the best way to explore it is by car. There are obviously alternative ways such as buses and trains which could make your journey more exotic, but this would take some extra time.
The most important places that one should consider visiting are: Tangier, Chefchaouen, Fes, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakesh, Essaouira, Agadir and the Atlas Mountains.
However, most of people decide in between some of them, as usually there is not enough time to cover everything.
We only had a week so we decided to rent a car and travel from North to South. We started in Tangier and finished in Marrakesh while stopping in Chefchaouen, Fes and Rabat.
And for this type of trip, we must say that a week time was just perfect!
There are several airlines flying into Morocco out of which some are low cost carriers. We used Ryanair to get to Tangier and then back from Marrakesh.
Most travelers who want to visit Morocco can do so without applying for a visa if your trip will not exceed three months. However, is it essential that all travelers arrive with a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time you enter Morocco.
EU citizens usually get visa on arrival. However, you should check visa requirements based on your nationality prior to book your tickets.
Something important that you might wanna take into consideration is that drones are strictly forbidden in Morocco! So, if you have a drone ( like we have ), just don`t take it to Morocco as it will get confiscated otherwise.
Since March 2015, the government has prohibited the import of drones for security reasons. Companies may use drones in Morocco only with a special permit. However, private use is completely prohibited.
However, if you declare the drone upon arrival, you may expect to take it back just before departing from the country. On condition you are departing from the same port, airport of course.
This is probably one of the most challenging parts when considering to go to Morocco.
There are obviously a lot of buses and trains within the country but these are often slow and not so reliable, not to mention that they limit you to certain places only. So it might be frustrating to rely on public transport.
Therefore, the only option that remains is renting a car.
However, if you do a bit of research on renting a car in Morocco, you might be frightened of what you may see. Most of the people will write only about bad experiences and even the famous car rental companies such as Hertz and Europcar have extremely bad reviews. Not to mention that they ask for considerably high deposit amount which you might even not get it back in the end.
So what to do?
Well, we were in the same situation and because we only had limited time, we couldn`t afford anything else apart from renting a car. So we started doing a lot of research on which company is the best. At the beginning we couldn`t find anything reliable but eventually our prayers were heard.
We found out about one of the best rental companies in Morocco which we will definitely recommend to anyone that wants to rent a car in Morocco.
The name of the company is Medloc Maroc and it is based in Marakesh. However, they are highly flexible and, for a small fee, they will provide car delivery to most of the places in Morocco. And trust us, it`s definitely worth it!
For us, the delivery price to Tangier was 100 euros which we had to pay in advance at the time of the booking, but considering the 700 km distance from Marrakesh to Tangier, the price of fuel plus the person driving and which needed to return to Marrakesh afterwards, it was actually a very small fee.
The whole process ran smoothly and we didn`t encounter any issues. We made the payment by credit card at the time of delivery.
The deposit was quite high though, almost 1000 euros for a Fiat 500, but this is standard in Morocco. However, upon returning the car, we got our money back in less than a week.
The cars have full insurance but we recommend doing another personal insurance for your peace of mind.
Insurance 4 Car Hire is the website we used because we heard good reviews from people that we know. The insurance costs about 60 euros for one year and it is valid worldwide. In case of any incident/ accident, you`ll have to pay yourself initially but you`ll get your money back in about two weeks.
A small downside of the Medloc staff is that they don`t reply very fast to e-mails so we suggest giving them a call or contact them via Whatsapp.
Even if they are slow, don`t worry as this is normal and it doesn`t make them less reliable!
Tips: make sure you check the car thoroughly at pick up time; we suggest taking photos and videos of the car as well
This is probably one of the best things in Morocco! The rather cheap but authentic riads ( local guest houses ) offer a remarkable experience of Moroccan hospitality. So, whenever going to Morocco, stay at a local riad!
Generally speaking, the services are very good in Morocco, so any riad that has good reviews on Booking will do. The prices are pretty low as well, so, for about 50 euros per night you will get a traditional room with a nice breakfast included in the room price.
We stayed at Puerta Azul in Chefchaouen, Riad Ouliya in Fes and Riad Anjar in Marrakesh. All of them were nice. We liked more the breakfast in Puerta Azul, Riad Ouliya had a traditional architecture and looked more impressive and Riad Anjar was cozy and had the popular small pool inside.
Initially, Chefchaouen was one of the main reasons we decided to visit Morocco. When I first saw the pictures of the blue city, I thought to myself: "I need to get there someday!".
And we must say, in reality it is as impressive as it looks in the photos!
Chefchaouen is a small town and everything is within walking distance. Here, you just need to take your time and wander on the streets. Although is one of the most touristic places in the country, there is always something interesting to see or photograph in every little corner. There are a lot of fresh juice bars and we highly recommend trying those!
Bear in mind that the town is located in a mountainous ares so it might be slightly cooler here than in other parts of Morocco.
This was the most authentic city we visited in Morocco. Much less touristic than Chefchaouen, Marrakesh or Rabat, Fes is a place not to be missed while here. The medina in Fes is huge with over 6000 streets and we were told by a local that not even him managed to get to all of them. At the beginning it might look overwhelming but there are plenty of indicators and if you just follow the flow you`ll end up somewhere. 😃
There is a whole list of places to visit while in Fes, but unfortunately not all of them can be seen, especially the mosques.
Some of the most popular places are : Bou Inania Madrassa, The Tanneries, Fes Medina, itself, Mellah ( Jewish Quarter ), El Qaraouiyine Mosque ( but this one cannot be visited )Al Quaraouiyine University and Biblioteque, Royal Palace in Fes ( Fes El Jedid ), Al-Attarine Madrasa, Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Crafts, Sefrou, Blue Gate ( Bab bou Jeloud ), Place R'cif.
Bear in mind that there are a lot of tanneries in Fes and a lot of people will just try to cheat asking you for a lot of money to visit them. Usually visiting in free so just try to get to see another one.
Apart from these places, it is always nice to just wander around medina streets and to get the city feeling.
On top of that, enjoying some drinks and food on a rooftop restaurant is also a must. Our riad ( Ouliya ) had one of those rooftop terraces and it was nice to enjoy the evening there.
And don`t forget to drink one of the most fresh orange juice in the world! 😊
Rabat, Casablanca or both ?
Rabat and Casablanca are very close to each other, less than 100 km apart. In this trip we only stopped in Rabat for few hours ( on the way to Marrakesh ) but I visited Casablanca on another trip before.
Casablanca is the largest city and Rabat is the capital, but none of them is truly special. We would suggest maybe spending a day in both of them, just to have an idea of how they are like.
Some of the popular things to see in Rabat are: Hassan Tower, Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Kasbah of the Udayas, Rabat Medina and maybe Rabat beach with the lighthouse. From Hassan Tower to Kasbah of the Udayas there is a pedestrian path along the river which is nice to walk on.
Although much dirtier, Casablanca has the famous landmark which is nice to see: Hassan II mosque.
Other popular places are: the Old Medina, the Corniche, Place Mohamed V or Central Market.
There is also Rick’s Café Casablanca, which is a restaurant, bar and café. Opened on March 1st, 2004, the place was designed to recreate the bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the movie "Casablanca".
Everyone heard about Marrakesh, right?
Although one of the most popular cities in Morocco, we must say that we didn`t like it that much as it was too touristic for our taste.
Obviously, the services are better but also more expensive and the restaurants look cleaner and more European that the typical Moroccan restaurants. But this is not necessarily a good thing as the authenticity gets lost at the same time.
But we think Marrakesh got its popularity mainly because it is the gateway to desert safari trips and to Atlas mountains. Which is nice to experience if you have enough time.
We weren`t interested in doing the desert safari as we spend 2 years in the desert and we know how it`s like. 😀 But if you are interested in doing it, bear in mind that it`s going to take at least 2 days.
We did a day trip to the mountains, however. Atlas mountains are taller and much greener than we expected and there are a lot of hiking trails to choose from if you are interested and have time.
We went all the way to Imlil and back for few hours. Imlil is a small village in the high Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It is 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) above sea level. It is a great base for trekking the Atlas Mountains among waterfalls, Mount Toubkal, & Berber villages.
Other day trips from Marrakesh include Ouzoud Waterfalls, Agafay desert, Ait Benhaddou and Ouarzazate and Ourika Valley but they all require more time as they are farther away.
If you are only staying in Marrakesh, apart from wandering the medina streets you could also see the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Bahia Palace, El Badi Palace, Saadian Tombs or Bab Agnaou. Bear in mind that most of them are super crowded.
Next, we invite you to inspire yourself from our photo gallery.
We used our Olympus OM-D M5 ( 12mm, 25 mm, 75 mm ) for photography and Samsung NX-1 ( 16 -55 s mm ) for the video above.