Our recommendation to visit Morocco
Our recommendation to visit Morocco and neighboring countries
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Travel to Morocco
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By far the best trip we've had!
The trip was well-paced with an amazing itinerary, allowing for free time and great sightseeing to experience the different cultures and all that Morocco has to offer! This was our first trip with Exoticca, but it will not be our last! Our group consisted of some amazing people.
Morocco Travel guide
Events and festivals in Morocco
There are many popular festivals in Morocco which you can discover during your trip. This Arab country in North Africa has a very varied calendar of events. In general, the Muslim calendar, or lunar calendar, is the one which marks the main festivals of the country.
To understand the popular festivals in Morocco, it is important to know the Muslim calendar. 98% of the population follows the traditions of this calendar, where the most important months are: the month of January or Moharrem, which marks the New Year, March or Rabi, which marks the birth of the prophet, the month of September or month of Ramadan, and the month of October, called the month of Du al-Haya, when the festival of the lamb is celebrated.
January - Festival of Ashura
One of the most popular festivals in Morocco is the New Year and the festival of Ashura, on 10th January. The latter is similar to the festival in the Christian calendar when we give toys to the little ones.
February - Moussem festival
In February there is the Moussem festival of Sidi Ben Aïssa, one of the events in Morocco which bring together the followers of the Brotherhood of the Aissaoua. During this celebration which lasts several days, the pilgrims settle in Meknes, in tents. Music events and mystic dances are celebrated, along with religious processions and shows with horses.
March - Tafraoute
March is the month of one of the most beautiful Moroccan festivities: the Tafraoute, the festival of the almond tree in bloom. In the south of the Atlas, the almond blossoms of Valle Ameln welcome all those who want to celebrate this event. You can attend concerts, dances and outdoor shows, and traditional markets.
April - Jardin’art in Marrakech
If you are in Morocco in April, keep some time free to attend the Jardin'art festival in Marrakech. Numerous events related to botany, such as ephemeral gardens, workshops, and floral displays take over the city. There is also music, craft stalls and all kinds of traditional shows.
Mai - Gnawa Festival
May is the month with more events in Morocco, we start with the Gnawa Festival of world music. This festival which takes place in Essaouira is a meeting of world music of great prestige and a must-visit.
Also in May, another of the popular festivals of Morocco which you cannot miss is the Kelaa M'Gouna or Festival of the Rose. The oasis located in the valley of the M'Goun River hosts a festival in honor of the rose of Damascus. The festival lasts 3 days, where there are concerts of Berber music, traditional dances, and songs and the famous rain of rose petals.
June - Sefrou Cherry Festival
During the month of June, another of Morocco's most popular festivals is the Sefrou Cherry Festival. This festival has been declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity, so don't miss it. There are parades of floats, dances and the expected beauty contest to choose the Queen of the Cherries.
July - National Festival of Popular Arts of Marrakech
In July the Moroccans celebrate the National Festival of Popular Arts of Marrakech. This festival has also been declared a Heritage of Humanity for its spectacular display of color, music and traditional dances.
In Assilah, you can participate in the International Cultural Festival which bears the same name. There are concerts, workshops, theatre performances, shows with horses and the most picturesque: the white walls of the city are painted in different colors.
August - Moussem Festival of Moulay Abdellah
Among the popular religious festivals, in August the Moussem Festival of Moulay Abdellah is celebrated. At the end of the month, in the Ourika Valley, there is also the Setti Fatma Festival, and to the north of Meknes, the Moulay Driss Zerhoun.
In these festivities of Morocco, religious content is celebrated with great fervor and respect, as it commemorates sacred events in honor of important figures of the Sunni Muslim religion.
September - Festival of the Brides
In September, in the heart of the Atlas, the locals celebrate the Festival of the Brides or Moussem of Imilchil. During this particular festival, some thirty young people from the region are freely chosen and get married. The curious thing about this wedding is that the couple can return to their families if they have not been satisfied with the choice and remarry someone different the following year.
October - Date Festival
In October and among the popular festivities of Morocco, we can attend the Date Festival. This celebration takes place in Erfoud every 17 October and coincides with the harvest of this fruit. There are dances and traditional music, and of course stalls with small sweets made from dates.
On the other hand, we must remember that, according to the lunar calendar, October is the month of Ramadan. During this month, Moroccans fulfill the tradition of fasting from sunrise to sunset.
November and December - Eid Al-Adha
During the months of November and December, at the end of the Ramadan fast, the Eid Al-Adha or Festival of the Lamb is celebrated. This festival commemorates the Sacrifice of Abraham, during which a lamb is sacrificed, to be consumed by families among great delicacies.
As you have seen, there are many popular festivals in Morocco which you can match up with your trip. Nothing like mixing with the people of a country to live their culture and traditions more closely.GO TO EVENTS
Food in Morocco
There are many typical dishes to eat in Morocco, places where Moroccan cuisine is very rich and varied. Depending on the region of this exotic country, you will be able to taste different dishes and decide which one is more delicious.
If you travel to Morocco, you cannot avoid trying their typical dishes, as they are one of the main attractions of this country. Then, we'll summarise the most essential dishes to eat in Morocco.
One of the most famous dishes of Morocco internationally is couscous. It is prepared based on cooked semolina wheat, to which meat and/or vegetables are added. It is cooked in a clay pot, which is hermetically sealed with a cone-shaped lid. The result is a very tasty dish because spices and herbs such as cumin, turmeric, saffron, black pepper, parsley, and ginger are added.
Another dish to eat in Morocco is Zaalouk, made with aubergines and cooked tomatoes. This dish can be considered both a salad and a ratatouille, as it also has olives, but with a special touch of Tabasco and cumin.
This typical Moroccan food dish is a crunchy puff pastry filled with chicken, caramelized onions and almonds. The touch is given by the finish, as it is sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar. The mixture of textures and flavors make this dish a must-try.
Also world famous is the Moorish kebabs, which are prepared with minced meat seasoned with different spices. As a curiosity, you should know that this typical Moroccan dish is traditionally made with camel meat.
Along with couscous, tajine is the star of Morocco's food. The way to cook it is the same as for couscous, in the clay pot. It is prepared with meat, vegetables, and nuts. There are many varieties; it can be chicken, lamb, beef, or just vegetables.
This dish, although it is not the best known, is the most popular in Morocco, unseating the famous couscous. For its preparation, a whole lamb is grilled, prepared with different herbs and spices.
Another dish to eat in Morocco, and that you can't miss out on trying is harira. It's actually a thick soup of lentils, with onions, lemons, and tomatoes, to which lamb meat is added. It is one of the traditional dishes for Ramadan dinners as it goes perfectly after the daytime fast.
Although this dish is of Turkish origin, you will find it a lot in Morocco. The difference is that it is cooked exclusively with lamb or beef. They are served with bread in the form of a sandwich, and if you prefer, there is also the chicken variety.
These meatballs are also part of the dishes which you eat in Morocco. You will find them canned with a very spicy tomato sauce. For lovers of meat, they are an exquisite delicacy.
Moroccan food is accompanied by a bread known as Hob. You should know that bread for Moroccans is a religious symbol, so, when ordering, keep in mind not to leave half-eaten pieces.
And after tasting one of the typical dishes of Morocco, what better than to finish with a good selection of sweets and a good Moorish tea.
Arab sweets are delicious, mostly crunchy and filled with nuts, washed down with plenty of honey. One of the most popular which you have to try is the Kaab el Ghazal or Gazelle Horn. It is prepared with a mass of almonds, egg yolk, and orange blossom water, all a delicacy.
This fruit is typical of Morocco, and you will find lots of them in the street stalls. The best and tastiest are the Deghet and Ghars, the first are harvested in October, and the second at the end of August. As a snack they are perfect, they satisfy and give you energy, as well as enjoying their sweet flavor.
Mint tea, besides being known worldwide, is refreshing, digestive and very rich. It has a delicious flavor and is served in a silver teapot, accompanied by glasses of various colors. It is drunk at almost all hours, so you will have many opportunities to try it.
And this is where our culinary journey through the flavors of this country stops; now that you know what to eat in Morocco, don't miss the opportunity to stop and taste each dish with true devotion.GO TO GASTRONOMY
Shopping in Morocco
It's very difficult to choose what to buy in Morocco since it's a shopping destination. In fact, a large percentage of visitors to this country mainly go for shopping. The great variety and quality of its crafts in carpets, ceramics, leather goods, costume jewelry, textiles, etc., attracts millions of tourists every year.
Of all the typical products of Morocco, craftsmanship occupies a very prominent place. Bear in mind that yes, bargaining is mandatory, because it is part of the idiosyncrasy of the country. Although it can be exhausting, bargaining is a national tradition which is impossible to avoid.
If you want to find the best souvenirs in Morocco, crafts are one of the most important industries in the country. The list of things to buy in Morocco is so immense that we cannot cover everything, so we will try to highlight the best:
Furniture made of cedar wood, Tazenakht rugs, and bedspreads, textiles (djellaba, kaftans, aprons, shawls, handkerchiefs, and embroidery). You also have basketry, cane raffia, copper crafts, tin and brass, and wood crafts. Inside the leather goods, you will find everything from dresses to shoes, via cushions, bags, wallets, boxes, and a lot more besides. Gold and silver are also finely worked products to form incredible jewels.
Also among the typical products of Morocco are the glass crafts: glasses for tea, vases, mirrors and even lamps. Don't forget the craftsmanship of wax, candles, candle holders, lanterns and containers for all tastes. Likewise, clay pottery is a whole craft industry with vases, jars, pots, dishes, tiles and a myriad of objects.
Music lovers will be delighted to buy musical instruments: El Tebilat (twin drums), primitive guitars and flutes, and other instruments typical of Moroccan music. If you are a lover of fossils, you will enjoy buying dishes, watches, ashtrays and all kinds of stone objects with fossils inside.
As you may have noticed, the list of souvenirs in Morocco is long and varied. Make sure you leave enough time on your trip for shopping, or you won't know where to start. But let's continue, there's still a lot to discover.
Typical food of Morocco
On your trip to Morocco, there are two-star products in terms of food: couscous and green tea. You can get these two typical Moroccan products at a very good price and a very good quality. You also have nuts, such as dates, figs, almonds or peanuts.
The traditional sweets of Almond and Honey are almost obligatory if you like sweet food. Pastes such as gazelle horn, Feqqas, Ghoriba, and Chubarkia, along with hazelnut nougat and candies, are great options.
Another of the products which you buy in Morocco for its great quality and world fame are natural oils. Argan oil from Essaouira and Agadir Taroudant are one of the most valued products for its healing properties. Other natural oils which you can find are the oil of the Chumbo fig, "Ashira", which is used as a natural botox. Olive oil, especially from Ouezzane, Meknes, Essaouira (Chiadma), and the Mouluya Valley. And finally, almond oil very sought after for its aesthetic properties.
Following on with the things to buy in Morocco, spices are another of the typical products which are mostly bought. There is a wide variety of spices such as oregano, cinnamon, spicy paprika, chili pepper, fennel, sesame or clove. Don't miss the verbenas for tea, capers, coriander, thyme or cumin, to name a few.
You can buy the spices by weight separately or mixed, in different combinations depending on the use you want to make of them. Saffron is one of the spices par excellence of the country; the variety produced in the Atlas in the south of the country is the best quality and the most economical.
In Morocco, numerous perfumes based on plant extracts are made. What better Moroccan souvenir than a perfume of Rosa de Mgoumna. If you don't like the scent of roses, don't worry, you can have them with extracts of citrus blossom, Chamomile, Mint, Lavender, Thyme, Jasmine, Apple, and even Oregano.
Creams for skin and hair made from the famous Argan oil, or Nopal, are another of the things to buy in Morocco which will be popular with friends and family. You also have soaps and shampoos, made of almonds, honey or different types of natural oils.
The magic lipsticks are another of the most well-known attractions; what's unique about these lipsticks is that the color changes according to the temperature of the lips. In addition, they are made with natural oils and not only give shine, but also moisturize.
The famous Henna, a dye which is obtained by the extraction of several typical plants from the oasis of Tazarine and the valley of Ourika. This dye is used as a beauty product for hair, but also to make complicated and beautiful temporary tattoos. Saharan women use it a lot to tattoo their hands and feet as a symbol of beauty and status.
As you can see, there are too many things to buy in Morocco. You will have to carry an empty suitcase just for shopping; the price and the quality of the Moroccan products are unbeatable.GO TO SHOPPING
Morocco tourist attractions
More information about Morocco
A holiday to Morocco is an adventure into a country of rich landscapes. From its famous fortified villages, better known as kasbah, its huge ocher-colored dunes of the Sahara, the green of its large palm groves and high snow-capped mountains, to its labyrinth-like medinas and bazaars. Below, we show you the reasons why choose a trip to Morocco is worth it.
Geography of Morocco
The Kingdom of Morocco is located in the northwest of the African continent, in the so-called Maghreb region. It borders the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Algeria to the East, the Sahrawi Arab Republic to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The capital is Rabat, but the most populated city is the famously immortalized Casablanca.
Morocco’s almost 36 million inhabitants are distributed in the 16 regions in which the country is divided. These, in turn, are subdivided into 27 prefectures and 45 provinces. Arabs and Berbers represent the majority of the population, although there is also an important Jewish community.
The country has two major mountain systems: the Rif, which borders the Mediterranean coast, from the Muluya River to the Strait of Gibraltar and whose highest peak is Mount Tidighine at 2452 metres; and the Atlas mountain range, a must visit on any tour to Morocco, formed of three mountainous massifs: the Great Atlas to the south, where the highest mountain in the country is found, the Central Atlas and the Anti Atlas that reaches out to the Atlantic coast.
Between the Rif and the Central Atlas stretches the valley of Sebú. To the east of the country are the High Plateaus and to the south the great desert of the Sahara. The most important rivers are the Oum-er-Rbia and the Sebú, which flow into the Atlantic and the Muluya, which flows into the Mediterranean.
The official language is Arabic whilst the Berber languages of Tarifit, Tashelhit and Tamazight, are spoken in the Souss, the Rif and the Atlas. Most Moroccans speak French, which is used commercially and there is also a small Spanish-speaking population.
Islam is the official religion and 98.3 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim, with the king being the highest authority.
The country is a constitutional monarchy with an elected Parliament. King Mohamed VI holds broad executive powers and directs military forces.
In the economic context, income comes from services, agriculture, and the mining industry, phosphate, food, leather, textiles, and tourism, with infrastructures prepared to accommodate countless organized travel options and package holidays, from upscale resorts to cozy medina riads.
The climate varies between the desert of the south, the Mediterranean of the north and the continental of the interior, with temperatures ranging between 10 and 25 degrees Celsius, although in certain areas of the country it can occasionally reach up to 50 degrees.
The flora of Morocco is one of the richest in North Africa with some 4200 species. It is the country with the largest forests in the Maghreb, which contain cork oaks, holm oaks, conifers, junipers, cedars, firs, pines, argan, thorns, while in the arid zones there are date palms. As for the wildlife, there are foxes, rabbits, otters, squirrels, gazelles, wild boars, baboons, panthers, ibis hermits, and horned vipers.
History of Morocco
Morocco is an ancient nation and as such, it has a long and fascinating history. The human presence in the territory dates from the year 8000 BC. Since then, a long list of communities has left their marks on the land. Fishermen and breeders of Saharan horses arrived around 2500 BC, joining the indigenous populations. At the end of 800 BC, Phoenicians and Africans arrived from the East and the Romans eventually invaded in the 4th century BC. Continuous challenges and rebellions on the part of the Berbers towards the Roman Empire resulted in the expulsion of Romans in the 5th century. Vandals, Visigoths, and Byzantines succeeded the Romans, although the lands of the high mountains were always dominated by the Berbers.
In the 7th century, the indigenous Berbers, Jews, and Christian converts, were aware of the new religion founded by Mohammed bin Abu Talib, the prophet Muhammad, who revealed that there is only one God and that believers share the common duty of submitting to his divine will. Following his death, in the year 632, Islam spread to central Asia and western Africa.
The Umayyad leader Uqba bin Nafi reached the Atlantic coast of Morocco in 682 but failed to break the Berbers. It took time and compatibility with the concepts put forward by Muhammad, which emphasized the duty, courage, and loyalty of the group, which led to the conversion of many in Morocco to Islam. Through diplomacy, the Umayyads managed to impose themselves in the country in the 8th century, although in the middle of the century they were exiled and the new leaders dominated the trade of silver, gold, and slaves.
In the year 786 the descendant of Muhammad, Idris I, fled to Morocco, was appointed imam or religious leader by the Berbers, unified the north of the country and converted Fez into the capital. Their descendants expanded the power of the dynasty in the north of the country and part of Europe.
Meanwhile in the south, a detractor prophet established an illegitimate Islam, and the behavior of the military in the area, caused a dissatisfaction that led to the emergence of the Sanhajas, a Berber tribe of tenacious warriors from the Sahara, who created the dynasty of the Almoravids with its capital in Marrakech, which was later razed by the Almohad Berbers in 1147, ending with the power falling into the hands of the successors of Emir Ben Ali Ben Youssef.
The Almohad defeat came in 1269 at the hands of the Berbers who established the Benimerin dynasty, during which madrasas were built in the important cities and whose empire was devastated by the plague and by the continued assassinations of the leaders at the hands of their advisers. From 1420, the Wattasíes began to exercise control and in 1465 the last Sultan Merinid Abd al-Haqq was killed. In spite of everything, they were not able to consolidate their power, as the Portuguese possessed dominion over the main ports of the country by the beginning of the 16th century. Melilla was conquered by the Spaniards in 1497. The Berber Saadians of the Draa Valley fought against the Lusos, restoring internal trade and European markets which supplied sugar, ivory, gold, and slaves. The Saadian dynasty ruled the south until 1554 and the entire territory until the death of Sultan Ahmad el Abbas in 1659. The indulgent nature of the Alaouite Kingdom allowed Jews to demarcate their own neighborhoods or mellah in several of the cities.
The sixth Sa'did Sultan, Ahmad I al-Mansur, was the most famous of the dynasty. He built the great palace of Marrakech and participated in alliances with Christian economies until his death in 1603. The civil war of 1620 to 1627 led to the fall of the Saadians and the arrival of Alawites, descendants of the illustrious Muhammad. The reign of the second ruler, Mulay Ismail, was based on despotism and cruelty, and the capital was moved to Meknes. The Alawi dynasty lasted until the twentieth century.
France allied with the Berbers around 1830 and Spain took over some northern cities such as Ceuta. In 1880, Europeans and Americans established duty-free trade in Tangier. Under the Sultanate, the Algeciras Conference was held in 1906, in which it was agreed to hand over the management of banks, customs and Moroccan policy to France and with the Treaty of Fez in 1912, the country became a French protectorate.
In 1944, the Independence Party demanded the end of the French mandate with the support of the United States and the United Kingdom. France allowed the king to return to his country in 1955 and independence was achieved in 1956.
The dissatisfaction of Moroccan society for inequality between rich and poor and tax burdens, together with half political unrest, led to large protests in Casablanca in 1981, to which the Government responded with violent repression that resulted in deaths and imprisonment. But popular activist pressures led the king to found the Equity and Reconciliation Commission with the aim of investigating the human rights abuses that occurred during his reign. His successor since 1999 and until today, Mohammed VI, guaranteed the repair of the damage caused to the victims of the so-called "Years of Lead" by means of indemnities. The monarch has made great democratic changes, but the Casablanca attacks of 2003 resulted in the deduction of some civil liberties.
The traces of a past of emperors, warriors, viziers, sultans, and settlers, has created a social fabric that surprises the gaze of the western traveler. A tour to Morocco is the best way to gain insight into the complex history of this country.
Why is Morocco Africa’s most visited country?
The light falls on Morocco in a unique way, so that the colors warmth and harmony of the landscapes are unlike those seen anywhere else. From the pure and exciting tones of nature, infinite color combinations are born with which towns and cities have integrated themselves.
Morocco exhibits pure life, showing itself in all its splendor amidst the bustle of its busy and nocturnal streets and squares. Away from the noise, the deafening silence of the desert, a treasure of the country, is where you can experience the most exciting adventures.
A package holiday to Morocco will give you the opportunity to experience many things, from finding yourself lost in labyrinthine medinas; counting millions of stars in the cold nights of the desert; entering the arid landscapes of mountain ranges; smelling the aroma of mint tea and spices; admiring the iconic belly dance; being captivated by the majestic architecture of arches, stuccos, mosaics and carved wood of the imposing monuments to listening to the eternal call to prayer.
Morocco is the pearl of North Africa and the jewel of the Arab world. Morocco is not a mirage, it is a fantastically real illusion.
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You should always barter when shopping in Morocco.
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