Exploring magnificent Morocco

Start your trip by flying into the capital city of Casablanca. It’s been romanticised plenty with even a cult movie named after it, but the truth is it’s like any other capital with bustling streets and unforeseen traffic.
Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 22:13 IST
Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 22:13 IST

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Home to the ever-so-popular Argan oil and Harissa paste as well as a cinematic blockbuster, the country of Morocco has much to offer. Enchanting souks, rich cultural history and picturesque towns — you’ll experience all this and much more on a week-long visit to Morocco.

Day 1

Start your trip by flying into the capital city of Casablanca. It’s been romanticised plenty with even a cult movie named after it, but the truth is it’s like any other capital with bustling streets and unforeseen traffic. The charm however lies in pockets within the city like their stunning Hassan II Mosque with its towering mosaic minaret — the second tallest in the world. It’s hard not to think of the movie while you’re in Casablanca, so a visit to the iconic Rick’s Café for a quick meal will make you feel like you’re on the movie set. The café takes you back in time and the ambience makes it a worthy visit.

Fun Fact: While the café is dedicated to the movie, none of the scenes were shot here. It’s still a great spot to pretend like Humphrey Bogart paid a visit and the cocktails are exquisite.

Day 2

One of the most picturesque cities in Morocco is the tiny town of Chefchaoen. It’s become what one would call an Instagrammer’s Paradise because of its distinct blue walls and cosy nooks. This North Western city was established around 1471 as a citadel to ward off Portuguese invasion and as a result, is built on a hill. It’s unclear why the buildings are all painted blue but it’s that signature colour that makes it so unique. It’s such a delightful town full of trendy cafés, coffee shops, souvenir stores and the prettiest views of the mountain. One can spend hours lost in the labyrinth of blue streets and enjoy the weather which is much cooler than other Moroccan cities. Don’t expect any fancy hotels here but it’s an experience to stay in a traditional Moroccan riad which is akin to a small bed and breakfast.

Day 3 & 4

From Chefchaouen, a drive to the ancient city of Fez or Fes can be tiring but it’s worth it for the small pitstop at Volubilis. This partly excavated ancient city is a fascinating historical site. Nestled at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, this ancient Roman city is said to have been established before the Christian Era. The site is in remarkable condition through the excavation and is definitely worth a visit especially if you’re a history buff. Of course, you can wander on your own and take lots of photos, it isn’t as congested as other tourist spots. However, a local guide is highly recommended so you can walk through the entire site and understand how the city was built and how people lived. After a tryst with ancient Roman history, make your way to the old city of Fez. This is the third largest city in Morocco and up until 1925, it was the capital city. The main attraction in Fez is the old Medina. It is one of the largest car-free zones in the world (believe me there is plenty of walking) and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Medina is full of hustle bustle and adventure with spice shops, souvenir stores and many local restaurants. It’s also home to the Al Attarine Madrasa. This school was built in 1323 and is beautifully designed with the floor and walls adorned with hand-laid tiles. Next to the Madrasa is the famous Karaouine mosque and university. It’s the oldest degree-granting university in the world. Interestingly, both the mosque and university were built and funded by a woman. Fez is known for its tanneries and there isn’t a tour guide that doesn’t include them. You’ll pass through plenty of leather shops and have to climb a flight of stairs to get to a terrace to appreciate the view of the tannery. Brace yourself for the foul stench but it’s an interesting visit — almost like going back in time to see how leather has been made for centuries.

Day 5 & 6

After the wonders of Fez, make your way to the jewel in Morocco’s crown — Marrakesh. A treasure trove of mosques, palaces, and museums, Marrakesh is also the most visited city in Morocco. At the heart of Marrakesh is the old Medina and the entire city is built around it. It’s a magical mix of souks, cobblestone streets and colourful shops and riads. The medina can be intimidating at first but you’ll soon start to enjoy the maze and get swept away by its old-world charm. At the centre of the medina is Djemma El Fna — a plaza flocked with henna artists, snake charmers and fortune tellers. However, it transforms into the most exquisite al fresco eat street by sundown. Plenty of food stalls come alive with their open grills and communal tables for diners to enjoy some fantastic local fare. This is a local hotspot where folks line up for their choice of grilled meats, hearty soups and stews and those rich flavourful Moroccan tagines. Take some time away from the souks and visit the Jardin Majorelle. This 12-acre ornamental garden was created in the 1920s by French painter Jacques Majorelle. It took him nearly 40 years to build this garden and post his death, it was going to be destroyed by a hotel developer but was eventually bought in 1980 by iconic French designer Yves Saint Laurent who lived there until he died in 2008. It’s a must-visit and attracts the greatest number of tourists year after year.

Published 20 April 2024, 22:13 IST

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