Morocco is one of those travel destinations that will have you Instagramming up a storm – it’s hard not to come away with so many great photos that you’ll want to share. It’s a country that is filled with culture, gorgeous landscapes, and stunning interiors. But as with any place that has so much flavor, it’s key to know how to navigate it to get the most out of your trip.
Our Market Editor, Victoria de la Camara, recently went on her honeymoon to Morocco – she, a design editor and her husband, an owner of a travel company – put their expertise to task coming up with an insider’s guide to Morocco.
The first reaction of our family and friends had when we announced that we were traveling to Morocco for our honeymoon was surprised. Not a typical destination for newlyweds – especially in Spain, couples tend to head to Thailand, Costa Rica, or Bora Bora – the idea that we’d be headed to the land of souks baffled many. But we were confident in our choice, and since my husband owns a travel company (GM Iberica) that operates trips in Morocco we knew all that it could offer us: luxury, interior design, gastronomy, and adventure. No laying around at the beach for us, Morocco is an exotic place with so much to discover.
That said, it’s important to know these 10 things:
- Not all 5* hotels are 5* – there are many luxury hotels at all prices, but be sure to do your research before to see that both the upkeep of the hotel and quality of service matches your expectations. Especially outside the cities, hotels can be a little less “luxury”.
- The Sahara is a must – not just for those already making a trip to Morocco but for everyone. It’s one of the most spectacular places to be: breathtaking sand dunes, thousands of stars at night, and a place to completely unplug! We definitely recommend staying in luxury tents (or khaimas) to get the full experience. See the slideshow for photographic evidence. Be prepared to drive 7-9 hours by car from either Marrakech or Fes!
- In the desert, you have to experience the dunes by quad – we went on a camel ride at dawn, walked the dunes at sunset, but nothing beat the roller-coaster-like thrill of surfing the dunes by quad.
- Leave the cities – although Morocco’s cities have a lot to offer, exploring its remote towns and locations is probably the best decision you can make. From the Atlas mountains to seeing the nomads in the canyons on our way to the Sahara, every moment during our drives was exhilarating.
- Hire a driver – we do not recommend driving on your own since you don’t have many highways and most likely do not know where to stop for a break. Usually, the hotel, camp or travel company can help you find the right person to take you around.
- Shop rugs in Rissani – if you are heading to the desert the best place to buy Berber rugs is as close to the source as possible. La Maison Saharienne inside Rissani’s biggest Kasbah has beautiful, authentic pieces to shop, and its owner Hafid is very kind and can teach you all about the different types of Berber rugs.
- In Fes have dinner at your hotel, in Marrakech venture out – while Fes has a lot more authenticity in some ways than Marrakech (the later is quite touristic), most of its best restaurants are in hotels. Marrakech, however, is a great city for nightlife and dining out. We recommend La Maison Arabe, for a more traditional experience and le Comptoir Darna for a little bit of swank.
- Wear fashionable but not ostentatious clothing – you don’t have to be completely covered up, Morocco is very accepting of those who have different customs and cultures to their own. While many Moroccan women are completely covered and wear a hijab, for foreigners a medium length dress, for example, is perfectly fine. You can even wear tank tops, but skip the short shorts, lowcut necklines, and miniskirts.
- Order Moroccan wine – to our surprise, Morocco has great quality wines. No need to spend your dirhams on an expensive bottle from another country. De Siroua was one that we loved and was offered in multiple places.
- Riads are beautiful inside but not outside – the biggest shock for most people staying at a Riad is how unassuming the outside is. Often located in back alleys, or in places that barely have an entrance, you might be wondering at first, “am I in the right place?!” but soon you’ll find out that the beautiful hotel you booked will materialize once you pass through the entrance.