From the bustling souk of Marrakech to the ancient Medina of Fes, the historic port of Essaouira, the traditional Berber communities of the desert and snow-peaked Atlas Mountains, Morocco is a stunning blend of tradition and modernity, with an offering as varied as they come, including rich culture, outdoor adventure and an intriguing history. African and Andalusian influences deeply engrained in Morocco’s culture give it rich and entirely individual qualities, and it is undoubtedly one of the most colourful and frenetic destinations you can explore. With new flight routes opening up direct from the UK, it is now even easier to travel to Morocco. Here are some of our highlights…
Beginning your journey in Marrakech, explore the 12th Century Medina (old walled-city), which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meandering along its narrow lanes filled with market stalls selling everything imaginable from pottery-tagines to hand-woven bags, stunning silk scarfs and bags of colourful spices. Dine on one of the many rooftop restaurants with views across the city – most roofs have beautiful tents pitched up for shade, or fireplaces lit in winter. For a really special experience, take a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the city with an amazing vantage point over vast manicured gardens, ornate mosques and streets bursting with activity.
Marrakech has a number of notable galleries and museums to visit, as well as fabulous shopping in the souk. I provide my clients with my own shopping guide to Marrakech, including the top boutiques and hidden stalls for embroidered linens, hand-painted ceramics, crafted leather goods, vintage wear, jewellery, stylish kaftans, local artwork and incredible Berber rugs. The Medina can be chaotic and tough to navigate, so I always recommend exploring with one of my hand-chosen local guides to ensure the experience is stress-free. I have also sourced some incredibly talented local tailors for creating gorgeous bespoke silk dresses and suits – give me a call for my insider tips.
Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Jardin Marjorelle’ are the most beautiful exotic gardens in the city and well worth walking through, with lunch at the sweet little courtyard café there afterwards. Be sure to visit the night market in the Old Town and eat traditional Moroccan street food– it’s an amazing, sensorial experience with so much to see, amazing cooking smells and often great street entertainment. The YSL museum next door is stunning and Le Studio café serves a good lunch.
Take a day trip to the Atlas Mountains, or overnight there, enjoying an extravagant gourmet feast laid out on intricately embroidered rugs and sumptuous silk cushions with sensational views and a blanket of stars overhead – an amazing bohemian atmosphere and the ultimate romantic setting for a memorable evening. If you’re up for a challenge, climb the highest peak in North Africa (or if tight for time, take a helicopter ride to the top for a spectacular picnic lunch with a panoramic view). In the desert, we organise luxury camping, camel rides and dune-buggying, as well as discovering Berber culture on a visit to the Ourika Valley, spending time on a local farm and taking traditional Moroccan cooking classes.
Essaouira is a beautiful walled city and bustling fishing port on the Atlantic coast. Wander the old town ramparts, where brass cannons still point out to sea and the ocean views are gorgeous. The city itself is sleepy and laid-back, with white-washed walls, blue shutters and cobble-stone streets every way you turn. There are some lovely bars and restaurants serving delicious fresh seafood, as well as a great live music scene and irresistible shopping (a more relaxed experience than in the souks of Marrakech). The beaches south of Essaouira, in particular close to Sidi Kaouki, offer perfect conditions for surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing. Over the years the region has attracted a bohemian, artistic crowd (including the likes of Jimi Hendrix back in the day), giving it a relaxed, hippy vibe. It’s perfect for long walks on the beach, watersports and enjoying leisurely seafood lunches at beach shacks with your toes in the sand. We work with a whole host of private houses in the region for a peaceful and luxurious stay.
Fes’s ancient Medina is perhaps the best preserved historic city in North Africa. It’s a medieval maze, with fortified walls, gates and buildings all constructed in different eras, giving the city its colour, character and extraordinary cultural heritage. Be sure to explore the city’s most important religious and military monuments, in particular the Blue Gate. The Medina is home to amazing stalls for crafts, clothes and street-food, whilst also harbouring a fine gastronomy scene, which can be enjoyed either in one of our favourite restaurants or with a local family to try cooking classes and a traditional feast. The city hosts a number of cultural festivals each year, from soul music to culinary – call our team to find out when to travel.
We work with a range of 5-star hotels, stunningly restored ancient palaces, small family-run Riads, luxury desert camps and private villas on the coast. Contact our team to book your stay.
Every time I explore a new destination, whether it’s on an adventure holiday in Peru or a luxury beach escape in the Indian Ocean, I return home full of excitement to share the amazing sights I have seen. Through my own experiences I have developed a love of helping others experience the great wonders of the world; truly getting under the skin of the extraordinary destinations that are at your fingertips. Getting the details right, from which hotel is perfectly located for exploring away from the crowds, to which local guide is most knowledgeable on history or culture or art, is of paramount importance to me. I am constantly seeking out new and exciting experiences and exploring off the beaten track to ensure my clients are receiving the best and most honest first-hand advice.
Take a look at my travel diaries for food for thought on your next trip...