Must-Do’s In Morocco: Part 1

 

BY WENDY HUNG

RABAT – The Capital

Situated on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and at the mouth of the Bou Regreg River, today’s Rabat is still relevant with foreign embassies and hustling diplomats.

Shop the photo:

Take in the majesty of Hassan Tower.

Boulevard Mohamed Lyazidi, Rabat, Morocco (map)

THE famous must-see in Rabat is the Hassan Tower, which is a minaret of an incomplete mosque (see the next must-see.) During the period of Sultan Yacub al-Mansour, the tower was intended to be the largest minaret in the world in 1195. When the Sultan died four years later, the construction stopped at 44 meters, half of its intentional height at 86 meters with 200 columns and several walls for today’s tourists to see.

Interesting fact about the tower is that instead of steps, it has a ramp which muessin – the person appointed at the mosque to lead the call of prayer through a microphone – used to ride a horse to reach to the top for the call of prayer.

Turn the corner and stop by Mausoleum of Mohammad V.

Boulevard Mohamed Lyazidi, Rabat, Morocco (map)

On the other side of Hassan Tower is a historical building which contains the tombs of Mohammad V, the Moroccan King and his two sons: King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah. The architecture is in the style of modern Alaouite dynasty, which is the current Moroccan royal family. Some symbolic elements include: white silhouette, green tiled roof which signifies Islam.

Stroll through the historical Kasbah of the Udayas.

Rabat, Morocco (map)

Kickstart Rabat with a lot of fresh water air. The Kasbah’s allure doesn’t truly hit you until after passing through the ancient gates constructed in the 12th century. The town was built by Almohad Caliphate (AD 1121-1269) – a Moroccan Berber Muslim movement. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is distinctive in its colors of blue and white. It makes a great bike ride, a morning stroll, and the perfect opportunity to take lots of amazing photos.

Wander through the beautiful Andalusian Gardens.

Rabat, Morocco (map)

Within the Kasbah is the beautiful Andalusian Gardens, constructed by the French. It’s not massive, but the garden has been in existence since the colonial period, with lots of bougainvillea and fruit trees. There will be lots of wild cats to melt your heart.

Sit by Bou Regreg River for a drink or meal!

Choose a waterfront resto for a cool drink on a sunny day!

VOLUBILIS – Archeological Site

When you’re road tripping from Rabat to Meknes, make sure to stop by Volubilis, which is a partly excavated Berber and Roman city.

Spend an hour or two at Volubilis archeological site.

Built in a fertile agricultural area, it developed from the 3rd century BC onward.During the 2nd century, more buildings were constructed, including: a basilica, temple and triumphal arch. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed for being “an exceptionally well preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire”.

MEKNES – Imperial City

As one of the four Imperial cities of Morocco, Meknes was a capital under Sultan Moulay Ismaïl’s reign (1672–1727), he’s also the founder of the current Alaouite dynasty.

Don’t miss the mosques & old town Medina.

Characterized by its Spanish-Moorish style high walls with massive doors, you can see the blend between European and Islamic elements. There are tons of mosques to see here and don’t miss the old town Medina.

CHEFCHAOUEN – Blue Pearl

Chefchaouen is situated in the Rif Mountains, the city was founded in 1471 as a small fortress defend Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco.

Lose yourself in the aqua alleys.

During the Medieval Times, many Moriscos and Jews settled here. In 1920, the Spanish took over Chefchaouen as part of Spanish Morocco. After Morocco’s independence in 1956, Spain returned the city. Famous for its blue houses, Chefchaouen attracts seasoned photographers and solo travelers. The shade of blue is a tradition which derives from the town’s former Jewish population. Although The Blue City of Morocco is known as the capital of cannabis in its country; travelers can go hiking, swimming and wanderlust through gorgeous alleys. 

Shop for souvenirs, especially wool products.

There will be lots handcrafted products to sift through, but there are also ones that are specifically made from the town. Wool garments, wool winter djellaba in long sleeves or short sleeves are made directly from the sheep.

Stay at Dar Echchaouen.

It’s charming and quite luxurious for the middle of nowhere. Book the family suite if you’re with people, the shared suite comes with a fantastic view of the sapphire city. The candle lit tagine dinner sets you on a dreamy night in the impossibly enchanting getaway of a lifetime.

FEZ – Mecca of the West

Fez is not only the second largest city in Morocco, it was also the capital of modern Morocco until 1925.

Entering the medina from Bab Bou Jeloud makes the perfect photo op!

Fes, Morocco (map)

It’s green in the front, blue in the back! Or blue in the front, green in the back depending on where you stand. Bab Bou Jeloud is the famous gate built in 1913 which leads folks right into Fez el-Bali market. Designed in Moorish style, you can see three symmetrical horseshoe arches in the gate. Note the calligraphy, geometry, and floral arrangements in its tile design, utterly opulent.

Find a resto & indulge in local cuisine. (I hear Chez Rachid is awesome!)

Morocco, Rue Talaa Sghira, Fes, Morocco (map)

You’re probably famished by now, so stop by Chez Rachid which is conveniently right in Fes el-bali. For a simple, casual yet completely local flavors, this place will deliver all that you want in a fantastic tagine, kebab and couscous. Go nuts!

Work those narrow stairs at Chouara Tanneries for THAT famous view.

Fes, Morocco (map)

For the most iconic image of Fez, you’ve got to endure the stairs and the pungent odor. Spot #10 on Derb Chaouwara (or ask around, everyone will know), and you will encounter walls of leather goods as you finally reach the perfect window view with the shot of colorful – and somehow, majestic – view of the colored dyes. Yes, it will feel VERY toursisty and commercialized, but this is the only place for the perfect photo snapshot you came here for.

Stay at Hôtel Palais Medina & SPA Fès.

Here, I highly recommend staying at the 5-star Hôtel Palais Medina & SPA Fès. There 2 restaurants, free Wi-Fi, and super comfortable rooms.

Try Pastilla, cinnamon chicken pie.

You’ve got to try Pastilla which is a traditional Andalusian Moroccan dish. If you’ love sweet and salty, this is your jam.

Ifrane – Switzerland of Morocco

If you’re road tripping between Fez and Meknes in Morocco, you’ll most likely run into Switzerland.

Shop this photo:

If you’re a snow bunny, this is your slice of paradise.

Established by the French administration in 1928, Ifrane came to life as a hill station or a resort town where European vacationers could escape the summer heat. Although today, Ifrane’s fame derives from its winter scenery, and as a popular place for altitude training.

Taste whole baked fish, Moroccan-style.

Mmmmm that looks gooood! Gotta taste whole baked fish, Moroccan-style with local spices and fresh squeezed lemon drizzled on top!

Photos: Wendy Hung

What’s your favorite thing to do in Morocco? Share with us in the comments.

BONUS:

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.