Top events in Morocco

August
01

Each region in Morocco has its own 'moussem'– a festival which can take any shape. There is usually a souk or market, an agricultural fair...

September
01

The town of Moulay Idriss close to Fes in the north of the country is the holiest site in the whole of Morocco. Each September it hosts the Moulay...

September
01

The fascinating precept underlying this age-old festival has turned it from a traditional local celebration into a serious tourist attraction....

Ancient city of Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
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Ancient city of Ait Benhaddou, Morocco

© 123rf.com/Craig Jakich

Morocco Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

710,850 sq km (274,461 sq miles, including Western Sahara).

Population

32.7 million (2013).

Population density

45.9 per sq km.

Capital

Rabat.

Government

Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from France in 1956.

Head of state

King Mohammed VI since 1999.

Head of government

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane since 2011.

Electricity

127/220 volts AC, 50Hz, depending on age and location of building. Plugs usually have two round pins.

Morocco is a heady mix of languages, cultures, religions, ancient traditions and modern sensibilities. With a climate that ranges from dry and oven hot to cool and drizzly, this exotic corner of North Africa is also a seasonal chameleon. The vast, dusty plains and brick-red mountains of summer and autumn give way to mountain snows in winter and an explosion of leafy greenery in the spring.

Each area of the country has its own distinct character. The rocky spine of the Atlas Mountains divides Morocco in half, separating the endless, rolling dunes of the Western Sahara in the south from the coastal cities of the north. Skirt the eastern foothills of the High Atlas to discover the monumental gorges of Todra and Dades, the palmeries of Tinerhir and the beautiful Berber city of Ouarzazate - a firm favourite with Hollywood producers, thanks to its terracotta kasbahs and outlandish scenic surrounds. Further still to the east, the dunes around Merzouga are a focus for camel trekking and a haven for twitchers looking to spot exotic bird species.

Morocco’s urban population is concentrated in the north and west, and the country’s coastal towns are becoming increasingly cosmopolitan. See for yourself in Tangier, an elegantly faded port, and the playground of international thrill-seekers, aristocratic tax-exiles, authors and spies.

Further down the western coast there’s movie-famous Casablanca, then Essaouira with its stunning historic medina and the lively tourist beaches of Agadir. Inland lies cosmopolitan Fez with its high-sided streets and a maze of stunning riads (traditional houses built around a central courtyard). Explore the grandiose sprawl of Marrakech, vibrant and chaotic imperial city with a magnetism that’s drawn visitors for centuries.

The blend of ancient and colonial architecture that characterises Morocco’s main cities makes them among the most beautiful in the world. Marrakech, Essaouira, Fez and Tetouan are all on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, and archaeological marvels such as the two millennia-old ruins of Volubilis just add to the country’s appeal. When sightseeing begins to pall, retreat to a traditional hammam, sample the scrumptiously spicy street food or pick up anything from precious minerals to Berber carpets at the local souk.

It might be home to a scattering of frenetic metropolises, but Morocco has wilderness at its core. If you’re yearning to escape the crazy pace of city life then the rugged peaks of the Atlas Mountains are rarely more than a short drive away. Adventure junkies should head straight to Toubkal - North Africa’s highest mountain and a focus for trekking in the area. White-water rafting, kayaking and four-wheel-drive experiences are becoming increasingly popular, although the biggest adventure to be had in the High Atlas is still an overnight stay with a Berber tribe in one of the remote villages dotted across the mountains.

Whether you’re adventuring in the Atlas, camel trekking in the dessert, soaking up the atmosphere in the souks or simply relaxing on the beach, Morocco is a country that can often feel like a whole new world waiting to be explored.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 22 July 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

There is a general threat from terrorism. The Moroccan authorities have warned of an increased threat linked to the number of Moroccans belonging to international terrorist organisations operating in Syria and Iraq.

There have been some demonstrations in various locations across the country. Most of these have been peaceful.

In 2010 a number of foreigners, including British nationals, were expelled from Morocco for alleged proselytising.

Morocco has a poor road safety record.

If you’re travelling to Western Sahara, you should read our travel advice for this disputed territory.

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