Morocco, an elusive and beautiful country, has enticed foreign visitors for millennia and is still one of Africa’s most popular destinations. Here is a list of the best cities to visit in Morocco, which are built around laid-back beaches, soaring mountains, and busy souks.
Morocco’s capital, Rabat, is well worth visiting, despite being overshadowed by Agadir, Casablanca, and Marrakech. It is one of the country’s four imperial towns, situated on the northwest coast and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. Rabat is a lovely place to stroll around, with peaceful palm tree-lined boulevards and an atmospheric old medina. There are also fascinating historical sights and cultural landmarks strewn around. The main attraction is its well-preserved kasbah, which is surrounded by a vast Royal Palace and a stunning Art Deco cathedral.
This beautiful old mosque is surrounded by an idyllic Andalusian Garden and a splendid museum dedicated to the history of the sprawling site. Lots of exquisite architecture, as well as a lovely blue and white painted neighborhood, can be found within its solid stone walls. You can also get stunning views of Rabat, its huge public beach, and the ocean from the kasbah.
#best cities to visit morocco: Rabat
Essaouira is a quiet coastal town with a distinct European flavor. It saw hippies, musicians, and travelers of the 1960s move into the city when it was under the French protectorate, which resulted in a fusion of cultures and architectural styles. As a result, it has become accustomed to foreigners and is now a popular tourist destination for those looking to spend some time walking through the medina. Essaouira has lovely sandy beaches, but sunbathing is difficult due to the powerful winds. Water-sports enthusiasts, on the other hand, recognize the value of the wind and congregate on Essaouira’s beaches during the summer months to hone their windsurfing skills.
The harbor and old city walls add to the city’s history and, with their narrow lanes and ancient streets, provide the ideal setting for getting lost and discovering new and fascinating secrets concealed within the walls.
#best cities to visit morocco: Essaouira
Ouarzazate, the gateway to the Sahara Desert, is located south of the High Atlas Mountains. The colossal Taourirt Kasbah, a 19th century fortified palace, dominates this tiny and dusty desert settlement. The palace offers breathtaking views of the red-hued mountains. It’s so distinctive that it’s been used in several films. There are many hotels and small, reasonably priced local restaurants to choose from in the area. The city’s location also makes day trips to nearby attractions like the Ait Benhaddou kasbah, which is in excellent condition.
Tetouan, which means “water springs” in Arabic, is a small city in the north of the country that sits at the foot of the Rif Mountains. The city was once the capital of Spanish Morocco and is now a significant port on the Mediterranean Sea. Its streets are lined with square, white-washed Spanish-style buildings, and broad boulevards; don’t miss the city’s wonderful medina, which will transport you back in time.
#best cities to visit morocco: Tetouan
5. El Jadida
El Jadida, a lively port city, is a popular holiday destination for Moroccans. During the summer months, the long stretch of sandy beach here is packed with families spending some quality time together. The city itself isn’t especially interesting, but it can be visited on a day trip from Casablanca. Take a stroll along the 16th-century Portuguese Cistern’s ramparts and take in the sights.
#best cities to visit morocco: El Jadida
Marrakech is an eclectic meeting place of various cultures and the country’s most vibrant metropolis, being both African and Arab, eastern and western. Marrakech, one of Morocco’s four imperial towns, is located in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains.
The city’s landmark 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque, with a single minaret that can be seen for miles around, is perhaps most famous for its medieval medina, a UNESCO-protected labyrinth of alleys and markets. For others, getting lost is part of the pleasure of visiting Marrakech. If this describes you, embrace the chaos as you walk the souks of the medina in one of Morocco’s most beautiful cities.
Jemaa el-Fna square, Marrakech’s cultural core for 1,000 years, comes alive each evening at sunset. Locals and tourists alike flock to see the acrobats, magicians, fortune tellers, snake charmers, Gnaoua singers, and storytellers who put on a spectacular open-air show. A burgeoning contemporary cultural heartbeat complements the city’s Moorish roots and artistic heritage.
As a result, Marrakech has been named the African Capital of Culture for 2020. Throughout the year, museums and galleries such as the Museum of African Modern Art Al Maaden, the Museum of Photography, and the Yves Saint-Laurent Museum host activities. In the year 2020, there will be much more to explore in Marrakech’s cultural scene.
Meknes, the smallest of Morocco’s four imperial cities, provides a fascinating glimpse into the megalomaniacal reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail. This picturesque hilltop city is nestled in the heart of Morocco’s premier wine-growing area, and it’s the ideal starting point for day trips to the nearby Roman ruins of Volubilis and the holy town of Moulay Idriss.
From 1672 to 1727, Moulay Ismail ruled Morocco from Meknes with an iron fist. The city prospered during this period because it was surrounded by fertile land and good trade routes. Ismail constructed a sophisticated defensive system that includes impressive fortifications that have stood the test of time. Meknes is an excellent choice for those looking to get off the beaten track in Morocco, with its UNESCO-declared medina to match Marrakech’s, the beautiful Bab Mansour gate, and the mausoleum of Moulay Ismail.
Fez is another of Morocco’s imperial cities and its former capital, and it is one of the oldest and most historic settlements in North Africa. Fez is also believed to be home to the world’s oldest university, which was established in AD 859, as well as one of the largest mosques outside of Mecca and Medina. This city is a cultural melting pot, with large Arab and Berber communities that have been augmented by refugees from Spain and Tunisia.
Travel back in time to El Bali’s Old City, a mystical maze of medieval markets, palaces, and mosques. Many of the crafts and trades that keep El Bali’s narrow streets afloat haven’t changed much in 1,000 years.
The blue-washed city of Chefchaouen, nestled among the peaks of the Rif Mountains, is a lively arts and crafts center with a peaceful atmosphere. Unlike the rest of the world, where Arabic and French are the most commonly spoken languages, many people here speak Spanish. There are a few hypotheses as to why Chefchaouen’s buildings are painted blue.
Some speculate that the movement started with an influx of Jewish immigrants fleeing the Spanish Inquisition; blue is the color of divinity in Judaism, and it is also the color of the sea and sky. Some people say that blue repels flies and mosquitos. Whatever the cause, this beautiful city encourages a slower pace of life and is undoubtedly one of Morocco’s best cities to visit.
Tangier is one of Morocco’s most famous cities, and it has long attracted a diverse crowd ranging from artists and authors to foreign spies. Tangier is just 9 miles (14 kilometers) from Spain, which is located at the northernmost point of Morocco – and indeed Africa. For millennia, the city has been a vital crossroads in trading routes, with many cultures leaving their mark, particularly on the Medina. Tangier has recently attracted artists, writers, and musicians such as Henri Matisse, Jack Kerouac, and the Rolling Stones. Some of Morocco’s best beaches can be found in the area around Tangier.
Casablanca, another of Morocco’s iconic cities, was immortalized in Humphrey Bogart’s 1942 film of the same name. But don’t be fooled by the city’s on-screen picture of a sin city: Casablanca, Morocco’s economic hub and a fast-changing metropolis are one of the country’s most modern cities.
Casablanca’s burgeoning business market, as well as the city’s westernized middle class and cosmopolitan outlook, reminds one of the souths of France rather than the Maghreb. The city’s architecture is an odd but distinct mix of Parisian art deco and local Moroccan craftsmanship, which contrasts sharply with the city’s contemporary neighborhoods and districts. The ornately decorated Hasan II Mosque, the Place du 16 November, and the Place Mohammed V are only a few of Casablanca’s must-sees outside of the Medina.
Agadir, a busy and bustling port area, is a holiday destination in and of itself. After a devastating earthquake in 1960 destroyed most of Agadir, especially its most historical parts, the city was rebuilt, but it is far less beautiful than Morocco’s many intricate old towns. Agadir, on the other hand, rose from the ashes to become a flourishing seaside resort with a laid-back vibe to match. The city’s laid-back beachfront promenade is ideal for strolling and taking in the sights like the locals. Drop by one of the food stalls for a bite to eat and a chat with some of the city’s friendly residents.
This laid-back summer destination attracts a large number of domestic visitors during the summer months. The River Loukas winds its way through Larache, and nearby is the incredible ruins of Lixus, where the famed Gardens of the Hesperides are said to have once stood. Don’t be surprised if you come across tapas bars and Spanish churches in this city’s Spanish quarter.
#best cities to visit morocco: Larache
Resources: Top 3 cities to visit in a week