Whether you are a fan of the sun and the sea, you’re eager about hiking and culture abroad, or you just like relaxing holidays, sometimes it is hard to find a destination without swathes of freckly pale British tourists milling around with giant sun hats and oversized beach bags. The most popular destinations such as Tenerife and Hawaii are often populated by tourists, particularly in the warmer months, so where can you go on holiday without having to weave your way around countless other tourists in order to get the best spot on the beach?
As a country rich in both culture and natural beauty, Morocco is a holiday destination like no other. With a number of exquisite and iconic cities each with their own classic theme, you could spend days wandering the intricate streets of Marrakech or Fez and experiencing the many market stalls and array of delectable dishes the vendors have to offer. Or you could take the plunge and explore nature at its finest, with stunning valleys, stretches of beautiful desert, glorious mountains and spotless beaches, Morocco has something for everyone.
However if you are seeking somewhere rich with culture, without having to make your way through crowds of tourists, there are a few destinations within Morocco that are certainly not to miss!
Pronounced ‘essa-weera’, this is a traditional fishing town with an iconic harbour, fortified walls, and a strange design that would not look out of place in France. Nicknamed the ‘Wind City of Africa’ there is a fierce gale that often deters ‘sun sand and sea’ tourists because it often blows the sand in your face!
However the town has its own iconic beauty; with narrow winding streets filled with the exotic aroma of fish blended with spices and thuya wood from the woodworkers of the medinas. You can hire a car or take a walk down the many alleyways, whichever you prefer. Plus if you happen to visit Essaouira in June, you may be privy to the fantastic annual World Music Festival.
The name of the city means ‘noiselessly’ and the city has been nicknamed ‘The Door of the Desert’. Ouarzazate is a great location to see some classical Moroccan buildings as well as going on excursions across the Draa Valley and into the desert, if you’re a fan of bewitching sights. Ouarzazate is also a famous film- making location and has been used as a backdrop for many Hollywood films including Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia.
If you love seeing rare gems amongst the desert scenery, you can also book a local tour to see the Oasis Fint. After a tough trek through the rocky desert scenery you will emerge into a beautiful Oasis Valley with palm trees, native wildlife and a winding river through the valley. Perfect.
No trip to Morocco is complete without visiting the huge medinas of Marrakesh, as some of the greatest souvenirs and cultural pieces can be found by shopping around. However if you want to take a step back from the tourist side of Morocco and look through its cultural and natural beauty, Essaouira and Ouarzazate are two great examples of beauty where you least expect it.
About the Author
Mike James is a fan of Arab culture and Islamic art and enjoys trips to Morocco several times a year. He is a regular visitor to the souks of Morocco and stays at the Riad El Zohar in Marrakech whenever he can.