Morocco is an interesting place, it’s pretty easy to visit and has good tourist infrastructure, but it still has an unspoiled character and uniqueness. Things don’t always work exactly as planned, but if you are flexible and take it easy you’ll enjoy your trip. We took the train three times in Morocco and each time it was excellent. We travelled first class – which all
The best places to stay in Morocco are often Riads. Riads are small hotels that are often renovated city palaces. The internet has made finding and booking Riads easy. The people working in the Riads are generally very friendly and helpful. After a few days you feel like part of the family. They will cook dinner for you if you order in advance. These dinners were one of the highlights of our trip and seemed to be a better bet than going out for dinner. (You can have dinner at a Riad you are not staying in too.)
In many shops – especially places for tourists – there are no fixed prices. You have to negotiate everything. Remember, the sales people are much better at the game than you are! But, in the end, the negotiation is part of the trip, so be ready to negotiate, use any tricks you know, be prepared to walk away, and set a budget limit.
We stayed three nights at Riad Limouna at the edge of the Medina. Very friendly and competent help from Simo who made us feel totally at home in the hotel and in Marrakesch. Some Marrakech highlights: Marrakesch museum and Medersa Ben Youssef; markets and souk; Café des Espices lunch overlooking the market; Association Amal – wonderful people helping prepare women for employment (restaurant and cooking classes); Jardin Majorelle – amazing garden by the Yves Saint Laurent foundation; Dar Najat Riad, a lovely evening on the roof terrace.
5. Trip to the High Dessert
We planned to take an overnight trip to the dessert, but unfortunately the road was closed due to a rainstorm. There are many tour operators offering similar tours (check the Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet pages!). We chose Morocco Desert Tour which offered a reasonable price and provided quite good information. Most of the tours seem to book you into hotels/campsites and hire independent drivers to do the actual tour.
We really enjoyed Essaouira. The historic city is quite small and therefore very manageable. It is relatively calm and quiet – especially compared to Marrakech! You can swim in the sea on the very nice beach and the food was excellent. Some highlights: Riad Malaika – wonderful people, fantastic food, comfortable and pleasant; Souk Laghzal Fish Market – pick your seafood, they’ll bring it to the adjoining restaurant to be cooked: fun, fresh and good; sunset from the city wall – there’s a free section (Skala Nord), excellent nearby restaurant called Umia.
Casablanca is a big city. There’s lots to see but it’s more business than touristic. Compared to Marrakech, Fes and even Essaouira, it was not very interesting. The Medina is interesting and it’s quite easy to get lost, two children who were excited to practice their English helped us find our way; the Hassan II Mosque is fantastic.
In Fes we stayed in the historic Medina at the Riad Dar Guennoun. The food and hospitality here were also excellent. As in all the Moroccan cities the highlight was just walking around in the historic city. In Fes the Riad arranged our walking tour with a personal guide who spent most of the day showing us around. This is the best way to see the sights, although part of the guide’s payment is kickbacks from the stores and cafes they take you to visit. Try to be clear about what you want and don’t want in the tour especially about negotiating about prices (see below)!