A bubbling pot of languages, religions, cultures and ancient traditions make Morocco a truly absorbing destination for travelers. While this North African paradise might only be a short hop away from Europe on the ferry, in terms of culture it may as well be on another planet. Europe’s certainties are suddenly washed away by the full Technicolor arrival of Islamic Africa, which is nothing short of a sensory overload. Morocco, simply put, will astonish you.

 

Eyes.

 

The exoticness of Africa becomes immediately apparent in Tangiers, the elegant yet faded coastal town, the traditional first port of call for many visitors and a playground for thrill-seekers, tax-exiles and authors to name just a few. Further along the coast is the famed city of Casablanca, the country’s economic and cultural capital where western ways are embraced and all-too-visible in its hip restaurants and cozy beach bars.

 

Tradition Meets Echoes of Imperialism

Mosque Hassan II in Casablanca.Asalih and Essaouira, two whitewashed fishing ports, offer a look at the more traditional way of life, while the grand imperial cities of Fez and Marrakesh further inland attract thousands of tourists each year, who throng to see the ancient medinas and mosques, and the vibrant bazaars and soukhs before losing themselves in the winding city streets.

 

But Morocco also has its trump card – the huge wilderness at its center. The terrifyingly vast, empty Western Sahara is a desolate yet magical place that yearns to be explored, either on camelback or by jeep, while the High Atlas Mountains with their rugged peaks and ancient Berber villages are a vivid eye-opener – and seemingly invented for your hiking boots. Morocco is a place that doesn’t disappoint.

 

Budget for one week: More than 500 Euro

Taxes and gratuities: Gratuity is recommended

Local currency: Moroccan dirham

Spoken language and/or official language: Portuguese

Area: 446,550 km2 (710,850 km²)

Population: 32,208,557

Sanitary requirements: You can drink tap water in some places in Morocco

Major cities: Casablanca, Rabat-Sale, Fes, and Marrakesh.

 

Main images courtesy: © Claus Mikosch - Fotolia.com; and © megastocker - Fotolia.com