Just a four hour flight from the United Kingdom, Morocco encapsulates the exoticism of far more distant lands. The towering Rif and Atlas Mountains proved historically to be an impenetrable barrier to successive invaders, thereby preserving the lifestyle and language of an indigenous Berber population who have added a richness and unique cultural depth to this Mediterranean country. Morocco holidays are a truly encapsulating way to discover this fantastic country.
Morocco is a mountainous and surprisingly green country of outstanding natural beauty, where the dazzling peaks of the Atlas, give way to the silent shifting sands of the Sahara desert, and the gently undulating hills of Eucalyptus and Argana trees succumb to long ribbons of golden sand on the Atlantic coast.
Few cities in the world enjoy such a dramatic setting and intoxicating atmosphere as Marrakech. The rose-pink walls of the ancient city sit low beneath the soaring peaks of the Atlas Mountains and the fronds of towering palm trees, jostle for position above the medieval ramparts where nesting storks colonise each vacant turret. One of Morocco’s four Imperial Cities, Marrakech was founded in 1062 and is today still the commercial centre for the High Atlas and the Moroccan Sahara. City breaks to Marrakech are perhaps one of the more popular choices for a Moroccan holiday and it is easy to see why. An exciting and lively city, it boasts a vibrant medina listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site, vast souks considered by many to be the best in Morocco, numerous historic monuments, luxurious riads and tranquil, exotic gardens.
Djemaa el Fna
Marrakech has attracted visitors for centuries and Djemaa el Fna square is the focal point to which tribes and travellers have been drawn since ancient times. Each day, as the shadow of the elegant Koutoubia minaret lengthens towards the square, the carnival begins and an extraordinary collection of Berber musicians, snake-charmers, fortune tellers, fire eaters and dancers gather to entertain the ever shifting circles of mesmerised onlookers. A fascinating town and a wonderful choice for Morocco holidays, visitors can wander for hours during the day through the seemingly infinite souks and enjoy a refreshing mint tea, on the terrace of a pavement cafe whilst waiting for the colourful pageant to unfold.
A notable trait of Morocco holidays are the countries charismatic towns. Essaouira is a delightfully enigmatic coastal town popular with international travellers and city dwellers from Casablanca and Marrakech. Above the medieval battlements of its medina, the whitewashed, blue shuttered houses look out over an arc of perfect golden sand towards the Atlantic and the bustling harbour. Inside the city walls, the coastal breeze threads its way through a maze of streets and alleyways where art galleries, antique shops, smart boutiques, excellent seafood restaurants and serious surf shacks for the keen windsurfing fraternity, sit alongside market stalls, barbers and traditional workshops. For holidays to Morocco this is a wonderful choice of destination. The relaxing and enchanting atmosphere of Essaouira offers as easygoing holiday experience.
A popular choice and fantastic choice for beach-lovers on Morocco holidays in the premier beach resort of Agadir, is a modern, well planned resort with a wonderful year round climate and 10km of sandy beaches neighbouring the Atlantic Ocean. The original town of Agadir has been completely rebuilt after the devastating effects of an earthquake back in 1960 although there are still the ruins of a 16th century Kasbah standing guard over the modern port to the north of the town offering lovely views over the bay and along the coast.
Gardens and parkland separate the residential areas from the hotels which border tree lined promenades, boulevards and the beach, and there are numerous restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs, as well as a huge selection of shops, a small colourful souk and, 4km from the city centre and built as a reproduction of a traditional medina, the artisan Medina d’Agadir.
Active visitors can enjoy a wide variety of water sports including windsurfing and jet skiing, and just along the coast to the north of Agadir there is excellentsurfing and bodyboarding for all abilities at the laid back beach resort of Taghazout. There are four excellent golf courses nearby ranging from nine to 36 holes.
Holidays in Morocco are not fully experience without sampling the fantastic cuisine and the food of Morocco reflects the country's diverse cultural heritage. The Berber influence remains strong with many of the 'essential' Moroccan dishes such as couscous, tajine (tasty stews) and harira (hearty soups) being Berber in origin. The Bedouin Arabs introduced dates, milk, grain, bread and dried pasta. The Moors brought Andalusian foods to the feast - nuts, fruits, herbs and oil. Invading Arabs brought a wealth of spices from the East.
Essentially Moroccan cuisine is based around the staples of peppers, tomatoes, garlic, olives, eggs, onions, couscous, chicken, lamb, pigeon, fish and a wealth of spices, fruits, nuts and pastries both savoury and sweet.
Marrakech offers some great Moroccan dishes served in beautiful traditional restaurants. Essaouira has a number of restaurants whose appearance belies the quality of the food available - never judge a book by its cover! La Gazelle d'Or in Taroudant is renowned for the excellence of its cuisine whilst Agadir has a huge number and variety of restaurants with menus offering Italian, French, Mexican, Chinese, Thai and Lebanese.