MOROCCO

Africa’s only country with both Atlantic and Mediterranean borders boasts a vastly varied landscape in which you might find yourself surfing serious waves, hiking in the mountains, entering the desert on a camel, or getting lost in the many tiny alleyways of an ancient medina. With a culture that melds Arab, Berber, European and African influences, Morocco always offers up a new experience each time you visit.
BASICS /// Flag: 🇲🇦 // Capital: Rabat // Currency: dirham // Languages: Arabic, Berber, French

 


ITINERARIES

One of Morocco's old imperial cities, with large medina quarters; often considered the country's cultural capital.
STAY
Dar Finn: Relaxing and home-away-from-home B&B set in a beautifully restored dar with amazing terrace views.
EAT
Cafe Clock: Quirky/cool cafe with eclectic decor, plenty of events, and Western/Moroccan fare to feast on as you while away the hours.
Restaurant Numero 7: Ultra-modern and impeccably-designed restaurant with rotating chefs. [NOTE: This restaurant is currently closed but is set to re-open in November 2016 with a new concept and new name - watch this space!]
Ruined Garden: Shabby-chic garden setting with delicious Moroccan dishes.
SEE
Medersa Bou Inania: Intricately-detailed medusa with stunning open courtyard.
SHOP
Talaa Kebira in the medina: Stroll from Bab Boujloud to Place Seffarine on Talaa Kebira to pick up leather, ceramics, pottery, brass, carpets, spices, honey, etc. Along the way, peek in on artisans at work in the various foundouks.
DO
Fez Festival of World Sacred Music: A wide-ranging festival drawing many of the world's best musicians for days full of interesting programming. The nighttime events, often in magical settings, are showstoppers.
Holy city near Fez, spread out over two hills.
SEE
The view from the terrasses: Ask a local for help finding one of the two terrasses which give splendid views of the town below.
Archaeological site of Volubilis: Ruins of an important outpost of the Roman Empire, set in gorgeous countryside outside Moulay Idriss. Check out some of the preserved mosaics (particularly the one in the House of Orpheus) which look like they could have been laid yesterday.
The capital of Morocco, a lively city on the coast.
EAT
Le Petit Beur: Delicious Moroccan food in a homey setting which, if you’re lucky, might include an oud player strumming in the background to serenade you as you eat.
see
Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: Fantastic collection of Moroccan artists organized by time period/theme.
Tiny beach town outside of Rabat on the Atlantic.
eat
Sandwich shop: Take a right off the Route de Mehdia right after the stand with taxis to Kenitra. A few doors up on the left-hand side should be a sandwich shop selling delicious fresh-grilled meats on baguettes, accompanied by equally fresh and delicious fries.
Merzouga: Extensive, diner-like menu if you want a break from from Moroccan food; also one of the only restaurants in town in which to find non-seafood dishes.
DO
École de Surf: Wonderful, chill surf school with patient and kind instructors and staff.
City in the Rif Mountains renowned for its blue-hued medina.
eat
Casa Hassan Tissemlal Restaurant: Fabulous tagines in a cosy setting. If it’s available, try the goat-cheese salad, a local specialty and some of the freshest I’ve ever tasted, sprinkled with thyme and melting in your mouth.
DO
Spanish Mosque hike: An easy hike which leads to a stunning view of Chefchaouen and the surrounds, particularly at sunset.
Small town outside Chefchaouen which serves as an entry point for several hiking trails in the Rif Mountains.
do
Pont de Dieu hike: Moderately strenuous hike of about an 40 minutes each way to a natural arched rock formation. Grab a fresh and hearty tagine for sustenance at any of the cafes along the way, many of which have incredible mountain or river views.
Port town in the far north of Morocco with a fascinating history and vibe.
eat
Art & Gourmet: Elegantly-prepared food with French flair. Sit on the terrace if possible for an incredible view of the Grand Socco. [NB: This restaurant now goes by a new name, but to find it just look for the stairs going up on the side of Grand Socco near the corner with Rue d'Italie.]
SEE
American Legation Museum: Fascinating museum covering historic cultural and diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Morocco. Fun fact: the building was the first American public property outside the United States.
Galerie Conil: Art gallery in the medina near Petit Socco showcasing local artists; worth a visit to see what’s on.



CULTURE FILE

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
Novel about existential despair by one of Morocco's most famous expat writers. Follows an American couple who travel to the Sahara desert and encounter both internal and external hardships along the way.
The Happy Marriage by Tahar Ben Jelloun
Novel by a contemporary Moroccan writer which charts the course of a relationship, first from the husband's perspective, and then from the wife's.
Beyond the Barbed Wire: Selected Poems by Abdellatif Laabi
A selection of free verse poems (translated from French) drawn from the long career of Laabi, a Moroccan poet and political dissident.
Malika Zarra, "Berber Taxi" (album)
A modern jazz musician who fuses a variety of Moroccan musical traditions into her eclectic tunes.
Ammouri M'barek
A "reinvigorator" of traditional Berber music, M'barek has a 30-year career of album releases and often incorporates rock instruments as well as Moroccan instruments into his music.
Zohra al Fassiya
One of Morocco's first female recording artists, she was a leading practitioner of malhun (Moroccan sung poetry with Andalusian influences).
B’ssara
A soup popular in northern Morocco made from dried fava beans.
Tagine
Perhaps Morocco's best-known dish (named for the conical clay pot it is cooked in), a hearty spiced stew of meat and/or vegetables (sometimes with preserved fruits, which give a sweeter taste to the dish).
Harira
Hearty Berber soup made from chickpeas, tomatoes, lentils and other ingredients. Often eaten to break fast during Ramadan.
Couscous
Steamed semolina grains served in a fluffy mound with nuts, vegetables, and other extras.
Pastilla
A specialty from Fez which wraps up meat (traditionally, pigeon) in a flaky pastry and tops it with nuts and cinnamon for a sweet and savoury package.
Mint tea
Often referred to as "Berber whisky" for its absolute ubiquity around the country. Served with fresh mint leaves and, for greater authenticity, should be had sweetened.