Awesome and Unique Experiences in Morocco
Morocco offers so many wonderful experiences for you vacation, sights, and sounds, with numerous options to make your trip even more different to the norm. Many visitors are drawn to the long sandy beaches, the towering mountains, and the atmospheric old cities, such as Marrakech and Fez. Add some unique experiences to your itinerary to have a holiday to remember.
Try an Array of Delicious Food
Morocco is famous for its delicious cuisine, and there are several dishes that you’ll be hard pushed to find, in their authentic form, outside of the kingdom. Tagine is found all around the country; try several types and find your own favourites. Couscous is another popular dish, though you may only find it available on certain days of the week. Traditionally, couscous is eaten on Morocco’s on Fridays.
In Marrakech, look for the local dish of tangia. A one-pot meat-filled meal, it is traditionally cooked in the embers at the heating room of a neighborhood hammam! Ask a butcher to prepare you a pot and take it to the hammam to slowly cook for a few hours. It’s certainly a novel experience!
Try camel’s milk and meat and, for something truly different, visit La Fromagerie in Essaouira to sample their camel-milk cheeses.
Morocco is famous for its argan oil, thought to have beneficial properties for the skin, hair, and nails, but did you know it could also be used in cooking? Look for amlou around the Agadir area, a dip that contains argan oil, almonds, and honey.
Don’t miss trying gazelle ankles when in Morocco too! Don’t worry, they’re not real ankles. And they’re not made from gazelles. Known locally as Kaab el Ghazal, they are sweet and sticky pastries that are loaded with almonds and cinnamon.
Take a Cooking Class
Cooking classes aren’t unique to Morocco by any means, but you can learn how to make tasty and genuine Moroccan dishes and learn more about cooking traditions and ingredients at one of the country’s many cooking schools. As well as dedicated cooking schools, a number of guest houses and hotels also offer cooking lessons.
Some classes include bread baking and pastry making too. One of the most unique experiences cooking enthusiasts can enjoy in Morocco is going into a local’s kitchen to learn their culinary secrets. Several companies match hosts with guests, letting you really get an authentic experience.
Go Wine Tasting and Visit Breweries
Rather unusual for an Islamic country, Morocco has several vineyards, wineries, and breweries where you can learn more about their processes and techniques as well as trying locally made drinks.
The area around Meknes is home to several wineries, including the prestigious Château Roslane and Domaine de la Zouina. Brasseries du Maroc has breweries in Tangier, Fez, and Casablanca.
Buy Traditional Clothing
You cannot help but notice Moroccans walking by in the traditional long hooded robes. Known as the djellaba, it is an important item of clothing for both men and women in Morocco. Ladies can feel elegant and fancy in an ornately embellished kaftan or tackchita.
The soft leather slippers known as balgha are another typically Moroccan item of clothing to take home as an authentic souvenir. You can find a huge selection of clothing and footwear in most of the country’s larger souks, especially those in Marrakech, Fez, and Tangier.
Have a Henna Tattoo
Temporary and attractive, henna tattoos are an important part of the Moroccan culture. Designs often have many symbolic meanings. The henna party is a significant ritual during wedding celebrations, and henna is also worn with pride during festivals and other special events. There are many skilled henna artists around Morocco who will create stunning designs on your skin. Commonly found in the busy souks in popular tourist areas, a henna design lets you wear a little piece of Morocco for up to several weeks.
Do be careful, though, to only use genuine henna—this should be a reddish brown color. The so-called black henna contains several chemicals and can cause strong allergic reactions and severe skin irritations in some people.
Stay in a Riad or Dar
Riads and dars are traditional Moroccan homes in the country’s old medinas. Grand riads were often used as city homes by wealthy members of society and rich merchants. Dars were home to other people that lived in the medinas, and some people lived in smaller properties called dourias.
Built upwards to maximise space, many riads and dars have few outer windows; light enters the property through the open roof. Rooms are built around central balconies, meaning that all levels are open. A defining feature of a riad is an interior garden. Traditionally, the gardens have trees, flowers, and fountains, and the inner walls are usually decorated with ornate tiles and plaster work. A dar, on the other hand, has a central courtyard rather than a full garden. A large number of these traditional properties have been renovated and restored to provide accommodation. Staying in such a place lets you enjoy Moroccan customs all around the clock.
Have a Moroccan Steam Bath
Traditionally an important neighbourhood facility where locals could go and bathe in the times before homes had their own bathrooms, hammams are still an integral part of local life for many Moroccans. There are several rituals that surround the hammam experience, including being scrubbed with an exfoliating mitten, using black soap, and applying ghassoul clay. Essentially, a hammam is a Moroccan steam bath.
At public hammams, visitors can pay an attendant to scrub their body if visiting alone; when visiting with friends it’s common for friends to help each other. While many hotels and guest houses have hammams, the most Moroccan experience can be found in the public neighbourhhod hammams.
Watch Artisans at Work
Fez, especially, is known for its long artisanal heritage. The souks of Marrakech also have several workshops where skilled craftspeople create a range of traditional items and eye-catching goods. Watch as people delicately chisel coulorful tiles to create beautiful zellige designs, see wood being expertly crafted to make a wide array of items, and listen to the clanging of hammers as people work with metal, creating lamps, dishes, jewellery, and more.
Safi is the heart of Morocco’s ceramics industry, and you can watch in awe as people create a huge assortment of pottery. In Meknes you can see the rare art of damascene, whereby fine threads of silver are embedded onto another metal surface to create striking designs.
Take a Tadelakt Workshop
Tadelakt is a technique related to plasterwork. It can trace its roots back to Berber communities that live in the mountains near Marrakech. Often said to be one the best plaster finishes in the world, there are several places around the country where you can join a workshop to learn more about tadelakt processes. The waterproof finish is smooth, shiny, and attractive.
Visit the World’s Oldest Leather Tannery
A well-known attraction in Fez, the fame doesn’t detract from the fact that the enormous and pungent leather tanneries of Fez are among the country’s most unique destinations. There are three major tanneries in Fez, with the Chouara Tannery the oldest leather tannery across the globe. Head onto a roof terrace, armed with a sprig of herbs to help combat the stench, and watch as people work hard to treat and dye different types of leather in the huge vats below.
Explore Ancient Ruins
The ancient site of Volubilis, located near Meknes, is a stunning sight, with glorious ruins from not only the Roman era but also from earlier Berber communities. A UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site today, see what remains of detailed mosaics, once-grand columns, foundations, arches, statues, and more.
Experience the Souks
Other headline attractions in Morocco, the country’s souks are among the most vibrant in the world. Numerous traders sell an even bigger assortment of wares along narrow and cramped streets. Pedestrians often fight for space with overflowing goods, dense crowds, bicycles, scooters, hand carts, and donkeys.
Don’t leave Morocco without visiting one of its vibrant souks! Even if you don’t plan to buy anything (though the temptation will be strong!), experiencing the atmosphere, admiring items, and seeing how people buy and sell makes it a must-do experience. The most exciting souks can be found in the old imperial cities of Marrakech and Fez.
Spend an Evening in Djemma el Fna
The main square in Marrakech, Djemma el Fna is a unique Moroccan experience. Loved by locals and tourists alike, there are perhaps few other places in the world where market traders, orange juice stalls, food vendors, snake charmers, henna artists, monkey handlers, musicians, folk dancers, storytellers, traditional water sellers, street dancers, mystics, artists, and other entertainers and performers
all come together in a riot of sights and sounds. Energetic, vibrant, and exciting, Djemma el Fna is especially enchanting and chaotic after dark.
Visit the Arab World’s Only Jewish Museum
Although relationships between Muslims and Jews have been historically complex and fraught with difficulties, Morocco has a long Jewish heritage with, in the past, around a quarter of a million Jews living in the nation. Many medinas around Morocco have a mellah, the old Jewish quarter, In Casablanca you’ll also find the only Jewish history and culture museum in the entire Arab World.
Tracing the heritage of Moroccan Jews, examining their contributions to the country, and telling the story of the coexistence of Moroccan Jews and Muslims all those years ago, the Moroccan Jewish Museum is a fascinating and unusual attraction.
See the World’s Oldest Library and University
Located in Fez, Qarawiyyin Library and Qarawiyyin University are the oldest such establishments in the world. Restored to their former splendour following years of neglect and disrepair, they were both founded by a wealthy lady called Fatima al-Fihri in the year 859. She also founded the nearby Qarawiyyin Mosque.
Ski at the Highest Ski Resort in Africa
Most people don’t think of skiing when they think of Morocco but between the months of January and March the slopes at Oukaimeden attract snow-sports enthusiasts. With an altitude of 3,268 metres, it is the highest ski resort on the African continent. Donkeys work in place of shuttle buses, there are runs to suit people of different experience and skill levels, equipment hire is available, and there’s a chairlift as well as drag lifts.
Experience Africa’s Only Heli-Skiing
As well as having the highest ski resort, Morocco also boasts the only heli-skiing in Africa. Fly above Ourika Valley and be dropped into remote terrain close to Setti Fatma to ski down the challenging mountain.
Gaze in Awe at Huge Sand Dunes
On the fringes of the Sahara Desert, Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga are both wondrous visions. Towering above the barren and arid landscapes, the dunes stretch for quite some distance. Various activities are available around the dunes, include hiking, camping, camel trekking, and exhilarating sand boarding.
Take a Traditional Sand Bath
Another unusual activity in Morocco’s desert is the sand bath. Available in the hot summer months, people are buried in sand for a hot and soothing experience that has many benefits for the skin, muscles, and joints. It is also cleansing, soothing, and relaxing. Completely covered in sand, save for the head and neck, people remain buried for up to half an hour.
Regular liquids are provided to prevent dehydration and most people cover their heads to combat the glare of the sun. Afterwards, people are wrapped in a blanket to prevent rapid heat loss, and they relax for a while before taking a refreshing shower.
Sand baths have long been used by nomadic Berber groups around the Sahara Desert. Many Moroccans travel to the desert regions in the summer months to benefit from sand-based wellness therapies.
Soak in Hot Springs
Another lesser-known wellness therapy in Morocco is bathing in natural hot springs. Discovered in 1900 and set up for health tourism in the mid-1960s, the Moulay Yacoub hot springs near Fez have a high mineral content. They are said to help with a range of health issues, including skin problems, rheumatism, arthritis, and urinary tract infections. They are also relaxing. Erfoud’s Ain al-Ati Spring is another place to bathe in mineral rich waters.
See the World’s Biggest Tagine and Teapot
Morocco has some of the world’s biggest things that have been entered into the Guinness Book of Records. Safi produced the world’s biggest sardine tagine, with the tagine pot now displayed in the heart of the city. Tea lovers should check out the biggest teapot in the world, located in Meknes. Made of iron, the huge utensil was commissioned by the company Sultan Tea.
Trace the Steps of Dinosaurs
Little-visited and off-the-beaten-track, the mountains outside of Demnate are home to something really quite extraordinary: large dinosaur footprints. The prehistoric tracks are clearly visible in the red stone. While it may take some effort to get here, this is definitely one of the quirkiest historic attractions in the country.
See Goats in Trees
Among Morocco’s strangest sights, seeing goats climbing trees is sure to blow your mind. The animals are attracted by the fruit of the argan tree, a tree native to Morocco. The goats clamber up into the trees to munch on the fruit and, adding even more uniqueness to the event, the undigested nuts pass through the goat’s system and are gathered from their excrement to be used to make the precious argan oil. Other methods are also used for making argan oil too—don’t worry, it hasn’t all been in a goat’s stomach!
Argan trees only grow in specific parts of the country and the best place to spot goats in trees is around Agadir, Essaouira, and Taroudant. Do be aware that, for the gimmick factor, many farmers now deliberately place goats in the trees to delight tourists.
Gaping gorges, traditional Berber mountain villages, calligraphy classes, movie film sites, unusual festivals, and a huge rose-filled valley are just a few more of Morocco’s unique and awesome experiences. It really is a magical land of diversity!