All photos featured in this article of places to visit in Morocco are courtesy of Julian Walter Photography.
Upon landing in Marrakech after a quick flight from Germany, I took a taxi to my hostel and already got ripped off on the price of the ride. The hostel owner shrugged to me and said “Welcome to Marrakech”, but with a smile that told me “You’ll be fine.”
Now, I hate to bring the typical Westerner view to this moment, but when I first stepped out to walk around the medina in the late afternoon golden sun, I felt like I was in Disney’s Aladdin. The warm tones, the cacophony of sounds from the market, the people, the architecture, and everything else enveloping your senses, made for the perfect backdrop that you would think was created purely to inspire awe. I was lucky enough to get shown around to a part of the city full of artisan shops, the most memorable being a facility where yarn is dyed into vibrant colors.
In the Medina, there’s a main square with lots of performers and amenities for tourists. It’s quite alluring, but some made me feel sad, such as the men who kept monkeys on a leash or the snakecharmers. Locals hustle hard out there and can be aggressive about getting you into their restaurant, which was extremely frustrating. I’d say a quick walk through this square would suffice.
The next afternoon, I hopped in a bus to Essaouira with some new friends from the hostel. It was there that I truly fell in love. A town rich in white and blue colors was huddled inside the golden surrounding wall. With alleyways to make you lose your sense of direction, I was in complete amazement simply by walking around. Essaouira was even used in Game of Thrones as one of its prominent filming locations during one season. The hostel I stayed at had an amazing rooftop with a great vibe for travelers to drink and share stories.
My next week was spent on the southern end of the coast in a little town called Taghazout. It was February, which is prime surf season for the eastern Atlantic. The biggest swells will cause massive waves in Europe and often bring bad weather with them. But by the time those same waves reach Morocco, they have calmed a bit, cleaned up, and the storms that created them have long dissipated. I stayed in a surf hostel and met a bunch of great people to go paddle out with. Then, we shared meals all together on the rooftop while soaking in the views.
Atlas Mountains & the Sahara Desert
After another few days in Essaouira, two friends and I made our way back to Marrakech to hire a driver to take us over the snowy Atlas Mountains into the Sahara. It was amazing going from such heat, up to freezing temperatures, and then back down to more heat, all within a day’s drive.
We got connected to a setup where you can spend the night in a beautiful, comfortable tent resting among the dunes. Before sleeping, we walked out about a half mile to sit under the starriest night sky I’d seen in a long time.
It was sad to say goodbye to our driver and all the other locals we had met on the trip. At these places to visit in Morocco, they are very accustomed to tourists. If you’re able to make a few good connections, you’ll find some incredibly warm people that will truly capture your heart.