During our 14 days trip through the north of Morocco, we found ourselves again and again in a dream of 1001 nights. Even though I’ve been warned a lot before that Morocco wouldn’t be a really safe destination. Especially for blonde women. Pah! I am convinced this is nothing but a big prejudice. During our tour, I have never felt unusual unsafe. Observed? Maybe. But even in my home of choice in Spain, I feel like I stand out in the crowd somehow with my big blonde hair.
Actually, the case was the opposite. In no other country before I felt so welcome and got introduced to so much hospitality as in Morocco. They may have tried some harmless tourist scams on us. (And failed) Or tried to sell us expensive souvenirs and carpets. But that usually also happens in any other touristic destination.
In the following you can find
10 Highlights you shouldn’t miss during your travel through the North of Morocco
What to find out in this post
- 1 1. Day trip to Volubilis and Moulay Idriss
- 2 2. Walk over the El Hedim Square in Meknes
- 3 3. Seeing the leather production of Fez from above
- 4 4. Exploring the blue Medina of Chefchaouen
- 5 5.The Beach of Assilah around night time
- 6 6.Drink a typical Moroccan Peppermint tea
- 7 7. Couscous and Moroccan Tajine
- 8 8. Having a walk through Larache
- 9 9. Have a glance on Spain from Tangier
- 10 10.Moroccan hospitality
- 11 Want to see the South as well?
1. Day trip to Volubilis and Moulay Idriss
During your journey through Morocco, you should absolutely visit Volubilis and Moulay Idriss if you have the chance. During a stay over in Meknes, such a day trip is best suitable. I highly recommend you to organize this trip yourself. As journeys that are booked with an agency are often outrageously expensive.
Both places are around 27 km away from Meknes and couldn’t be more different.
The former pilgrim city Moulay Idriss is on a 500 meter high mountain top. For a long time this city was considered a holy place and foreigners were not allowed to enter. Anyway, today even tourists are allowed to have a walk through the narrow streets and enjoy the impressive view over the little city.
Our highlight was a conversation with a local guy we met there. His name is Yussuf. After we had a really nice talk with him in Spanish he even invited us to peppermint tea and fresh bread to his house, where he lives with his family.
How to get there?
The best way to get there is by taxi. You can choose between a group taxi or a private one. For the way from Meknes to Moulay Idriss in a group taxi, we have just paid around 1€ per person. Anyhow, the drawback is that you have to wait until the driver found enough people to share the trip with.
The antique roman city Volubilis has been declared Unesco World Heritage in 1997. You can find the biggest collection of Roman ruins in North Africa there.
On site there are usually some locals willing to give you a small paid guided tour around. The guides around there normally speak English, Arabic, French and Spanish. You can as well pretend to be only English speaker and secretly follow some Spanish tour for some extra information for free. (Just a idea of course. We obviously would never do such a thing 😉 )
How to get there?
The best way is to take a taxi from Moulay Idriss. You should ask your driver for a fixed price. Usually it is based on how long you are planning to stay in Moulay Idriss. As the taxi driver is waiting in his car while you are walking around there in order to bring you back to Meknes afterwards. (This unfortunately is necessary as it is not easy finding a free taxi in Volubilis that is willing to bring you back)
2. Walk over the El Hedim Square in Meknes
When walking through Meknes you can’t oversee the big square. (called El Hedim Square) At day time nothing special but it will be filled with people as soon as the sun goes down. It feels like the whole city is on its feet coming together there.
You can get a really nice overview over the colorful nightlife from the restaurant- and bar terraces around.
Moreover, the square is the entrance to the Medina, the Museum and the market zone.
3. Seeing the leather production of Fez from above
Whoever can walk through the Medina of Fez without getting lost even once truly deserves a medal. Without Eduardo I would most probably still wander around there. He is the one of us with a working sense of orientation. Unfortunately, for me this sense is been completely absent and I can’t take even one step without getting lost.
However, if you find people approaching to you in the streets telling you that they can show you the leather production from above it usually is not a scam. (Even it may sound like) When you follow them they will bring you to one of the terraces around. From there you have a nice view (and smell!) on the leather production of Fez.
The owner of one of the leather shops started an interesting conversation with us and explained the procedure. He let us know that the leather gets its color actually because of pigeon poop because it naturally contains ammonium. Wouldn’t have thought so, do ya? Well, at least now we didn’t have to wonderdrive anymore where this strong smell came from.
Of course we already guessed that this guy would try to sell us something (what he obviously did). But he reacted politely when we told him that the leather products are way over our budget.
But if you are interested in a cheap good quality leather jacket you are definitely in the right place around there.
Are you interested in the most beautiful doors of Morocco? Check out this post by Joanna E.
4. Exploring the blue Medina of Chefchaouen
The blue Medina of Chefchaouen, also called Blue Pearl of Morocco, might be one of the most famous places of Morocco. You can already tell when you see the big amount of tourists wandering around the blue Medina.
However, we didn’t really consider them as annoying. (Mostly because we had really bad weather and most of them didn’t even leave their guesthouses in the first place.)
The Medina of Chefchaouen was in any way – with or without tourists- worth a visit.
Anyway, you should keep in mind that this town is in the mountains and therefore usually a little cooler than other places you might have visited before around that beautiful country.
The combination of the blue and white color elements is just gorgeous and there is so much to see. Just get lost a little in the narrow streets of Chefchaouen and get amazed by its beauty.
Want to know more about this blue city? Make sure to read our comprehensive Best Things to do in Chefchaouen Post.
Find 20 inspiring pictures of Chefchaouen in this Photo Guide by the Travelling Stomach.
5.The Beach of Assilah around night time
Assilah was the place of bad luck during our journey. Besides a taxi driver and a local that tried to scam us during our first hour, an unbelievable amount of rain, not working Wifi and laundry that refused to dry, we had quite a nice time in Assilah.
Similar to Chefchaouen Assilah’s Medina is mostly painted in blue and white. But the advantage here is the nice painted colorful walls and obviously the sea. The beach might add this fisher village-like atmosphere to the little town.
Especially around sunset time, a visit at the beach is absolutely worth it. The sea starts directly next to the Medina by the way. So the echo of the waves adds even more romantic touch to the cozy Medina 😉
While you stay in Assilah, you should definitely sit with some locals at the beach. Directly around there, you can find some little bar where you can buy hot Moroccan Mint tea. The combination of the tea while feeling the fresh sea breeze might be the perfect mixture for a relaxed evening. And this being said we can already jump to the next point.
6.Drink a typical Moroccan Peppermint tea
One of the things you just can’t miss in Morocco is the famous peppermint tea. Traditionally it will be prepared out of Peppermint branches which will be doused with brewing water.
In opposite to what you might expect this hot beverage is quite refreshing. Furthermore, it probably is much healthier for the body than the cold drinks we would most probably chose in western countries with such a hot weather.
Little Tip: Locals usually drink their tea really sweet. (and when I say really sweet I mean amazingly sweet). If you don’t mind about some sugar shock- go for it. If you are rather used to the Western quantity of sugar just ask for less or none sugar when ordering the tea. Trust me, even “few” is enough here.
7. Couscous and Moroccan Tajine
Besides the Morrocan Peppermint tea mentioned in point 6 you neither shouldn’t miss out the great food that Moroccan cuisine offers: Couscous and Tajine.
The couscous usually gets served with an additional sauce, so it doesn’t get dry before eating. Great idea!
A Tajine is some kind of Moroccan casserole, that gets prepared in the typical Tajine baking form.
If you are not into meat there are also vegetarian versions with veggies that I can highly recommend. In some restaurants we even saw both dishes served with fish.
We had the best couscous in Fez near the city gate in a small restaurant that was actually more like a tourist one. (a child brought us there and we just couldn’t say no to him) While the best Tajine we had was prepared by our lovely Couchsurfing host Youssef: With chicken and vegetables. It tasted amazing. But about Youssef I will tell you in the following point.
8. Having a walk through Larache
Larache was the absolute highlight of our Morocco journey. Even though, or maybe exactly because it isn’t a typical tourist destination. But I highly recommend you to include it on your Morocco Itinerary.
Larache is a cozy little town near the sea. On the first glance it might seem a little boring. But if you take a look around you will find it is filled with so many exciting details. If you accept help of the locals you will find amazing things, trust me.
We spent most of our time there with Youssef and his fiancée (by now wife) Kholoud. Before we have never met such a hospitable and welcoming couple. Youssef picked us up from the bus and took us home. In his apartment was already a pie waiting for us that Kholoud has prepared. It was amazingly yummy.
Unfortunately, Kholoud couldn’t eat with us, as before the wedding she wasn’t allowed to enter his apartment alone. Instead we went to see her at her work place.
Later on, Youssef showed us around in his little town. He even made it possible for us to visit the old castle, even though it actually was closed. This way, we found ourselves around night time in the basements of the old castle listening to an improvised drum concert.
Also, he showed us the amazing view you can get when climbing on top of the other castle’s ruins from where you can catch an amazing glance on the sea.
Back at Youssef’s he taught us how to prepare the best Moroccain Chicken Tajine we have ever eaten. It was a remarkable experience.
9. Have a glance on Spain from Tangier
Tangier is the most northern city of Morocco and from an arquitectural point of view kinda similar to Andalusia. From Tangier you cannot only see the point where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. But also have a view on the south end of Spain.
Our host explained to us that the southern part of Spain is just less than 20 km from there and easy reachable by boat.
Especially the thought that Spain already belongs to another continent than Morocco is indeed impressive, don’t you think?
Morocco is famous for its hospitality. And we can just highly agree to that. Not only our Couchsurfing experience in Larache, which is descripted in point 8. But also strangers on the street that we got to know were usually friendly and helpful. And yes, without asking for money (Those were the exception really). Strangers invited us home for tea or explained to us Moroccan culture and habits.
On the market square I wanted to buy a single piece of pastry and instead of taking money for it the owner gave it to me for free.
We had spontaneous conversations with locals that spoke English or Spanish for one or the other reasons. Whereever we went we got treated welcoming and inviting.
So, I highly recommend you to be open to have conversations with strangers and locals. As they can teach you so many things about their country that no guide would do. And make you understand their culture a little better.
Want to see the South as well?
Make sure to check out this post about Casablanca.
Or how about a Sahara desert tour day trip from Marrakech?