This week we take you on a journey , as the Free People team explores the depths of Morocco…
Our collective experience as a team, trekking through the beautiful wild of Morocco, was such that we felt obliged to share our itinerary, in hopes that one day you might do the same! The country graced us with its incredibly diverse terrain and rich history, one that dates back to 8,000 BC. Despite having only 10 days to uncover its hidden gems, best local eats and sights, we found a nice composite of some of its finest establishments. Before we begin, here are a few tips to help you if/when you decide to embark on your own Moroccan adventure:
Pack light. Everything you ever dreamed of owning lies in the souks (marketplaces) of the city.
Hire a guide to help you acclimate yourself to each town, even if for just your first day. He/she will help you to obtain a solid grasp of the city’s layout and discover the history behind it’s-soon-to-be-traversed streets.
Disconnect (even from taking photos for a day) and engage fully with your surroundings. Trust me, it’s a completely different experience. Observe as the children play and as the djellabas (traditional robes) flow gracefully through ancient hallways.
Don’t be afraid to haggle. The price of the item is typically only one-third the amount that a vendor may first suggest…start low and you can definitely score a better deal!
Getting lost is a part of the fun when exploring the medina (the typically walled-in mazes of a city). Have a map handy and familiarize yourself with local landmarks. You’ll find your way back, even with a little help. A local will have no problem pointing you in the right direction, in exchange for dirhams.
Set up airport/train pick-up with your riad/hotel prior to arrival. Take photos of streets surrounding your riad to help recollect your steps. If you are lost, simply call your riad and they will send someone to fetch you.
Soak it in, take it slow…live the Moroccan way!
The “Rose City,” located in the central region of Morocco, is a labyrinth of winding alleys, bazaars and riads. Be sure to check out the Jemaa el-Fnaa in the evening where the mysticism of snake charmers, fortune tellers and musicians come to life and carry on through the moonlit streets. For a quieter route, head to a hammam (steam bath), sip on Moroccan mint tea and relax the night away.
Riad Jardin Secret
Dinner & Dancing
The Medina, Marjorelle Garden, Jemaa el-Fnaa, Medersa Ben Youssef, Maison De La Photographie, Bahia Palace, Saadian Tombs, La Mamounia
Essaouira: A coastal getaway…have lunch at Villa Maroc
Atlas Mountains: Visit the small Berber villages that line the mountain range…a great chance to buy rugs and textiles directly from the makers themselves!
Casablanca: The largest city in Morocco…great for nightlife
Enjoy an evening at the 400-year-old Riad Idrissy and be awakened with a basket of coffee/tea at your doorstep, then leisurely find your way to the gardens where your breakfast awaits. Learn how to make couscous from the local chef before getting lost in the souks. Known for being the largest car-free urban area in the world, the streets of Fes carry a quieter and calmer vibe which make it easier to explore. Don’t forget to take a day trip to the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis…it’s certainly a sight to see!
Fes el-bali, Al-Attarine Madrasa, Kairaouine Mosque, Bou Inania Madrasa, Zaouia de Moulay Idriss, Dar el Makhzen
Chefchaouen, a city immersed in shades of blue and nestled into the Rif mountains. Looks like a page from a storybook, right? I only knew what I read and saw in pictures but, once you arrive here, it truly surreal and like nothing in your imagination. It differs dramatically from other areas of Morocco, as it carries a heavy Spanish influence. Folks speak an assortment of languages — English, French, Spanish, Berber and Darija. Feel free to spark up conversation with the locals..they are just as fascinated with your culture as you are with theirs. Stay at Casa Perleta and enjoy the view from the rooftop deck. No need for a guide for this town…just roam freely. Did I mention this is the best place to shop? No haggling like in the souks of Marrakech and uniquely crafted local goods will ensure you some good finds.
The desert may sit miles and miles away, but it is without a doubt worth the trek. By day, explore the endless dunes on camel and by night sleep beneath a sky bursting with stars. Here are a few of our favorite camps sprinkled throughout the third-largest desert in the world:
Fly into Marrakech and stay 2 nights, including a day trip to Essaouira or Atlas Mountains
Spend 2 nights in the Sahara Desert (8-10 hour travel from Marrakech)
Return to Marrakech for 1 night
Take a bus/train to Fes and stay 2 nights (5 hours from Marrakech to Fes), with a pit stop in Casablanca or Rabat, and take a day trip to Volubilis from Fes
Spend 2 nights in Chefchaouen (4 hours from Fes )
Fly out from Tangier (2 hours from Chefchaouen to Tangier)
Traveling through Morocco via public transit is easy and safe! Visit Go Africa for more info on train and bus schedules.
+Have you visited Morocco? Share with us your hidden gems and favorite experiences!
Words and photos by Tina Deleon.