Being just a short flight from the UK, Morocco is a popular weekend break to escape our colder months. Whilst Marrakech and Casablanca (both big vibrant areas) tend to draw many of the tourists, there are other less well known, but just as impressive destinations to be discovered.
Known as the Door of the Desert, Ouarzazate is an ideal way to start exploring your surroundings. Head to Ait Benhaddou, which lies on the old caravan route between Marrakech and the Sahara. It's a traditional Mud Brick city and a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of the best preserved medieval fortresses. There will be a lot of steps to climb when you visit, but the reward is well worth the effort as it gives incredible views across the Sahara.
The beach resort and port of Agadir has been popular with northern Europeans seeking for winter sun since the introduction of the Moroccan Grand Prix in the 1950s. The beaches here are clean, sheltered and safe. Activity options vary from camel rides to dune buggies, and the long sandy beach is perfect for a sunset stroll.
This vibrant city is best for foodies. The street food stalls are filled with a myriad smells and exotic spices. In fact there’s so much to learn about Moroccan cuisine and ingredients, that walking tours of all the street food stalls are available. The guides talk about the traditional Moroccan cooking methods and ingredients and even show you delicacies such as cow’s hoof and snail soup. Try an authentic tagine or a hot plate of grilled sausages at Stall 32 at the Djemaa el Fna market, one of the most highly recommended stalls from those who visit.
Fez was the principal city of Morocco in medieval times and is home to the world’s oldest university. It’s the largest car-free urban area in the world and much less developed for tourists than other parts of Morocco. For a cultural day in Fez visit the Dar-el-Batha museum. It boasts a tiled Moroccan courtyard and fountain, and displays 11th century gold embossed books, Andalusian manuscripts and elegant examples of historical calligraphy. There are also works of Moroccan craftsmanship on display with jewellery, ceramics, candelabras and woodwork exhibitions. The Fondouk el-Nejjarine, close to the Henna Souk area is another great place to see spectacular Moroccan wood carvings in the the arches of the building itself.
Where to stay
The iconic Amarjena hotel is nothing short of glamorous. On the outskirts of Marrakech the walled resort is beautifully styled to echo its Moorish heritage and includes luxury pavilions, a golf course, stunning courtyards, fountains and decadent suites. For a more secluded experience of Morocco, stay at the Dar Arbala villa, overlooking the Atlas Mountains. The views of the mountains are incredible all year around, whether they’re frosted with winter snow or wreathed in a summer heat haze. The property includes a private pool, cook service, shared tennis court, fitness room and lush courtyards. Available through CV Villas, the villa is located between Marrakech and the exciting destinations surrounding Ouarzazate.
For more holiday ideas and ways to catch some winter sun, grab the latest copy of Yours.