Morocco: a desert country in Africa full of impressive gates, gorgeous tiles, red walls, the start of the Sahara, delicious cuisine, and vibrant marketplaces. There are endless interesting things to do in Morocco – from stunning cities to visit, to delicious foods to eat, to incredible experiences to have.
So let’s dive into the list! Here are 15 unforgettable things to do in Morocco:
Explore Old Fortified Cities
In the desert and the Atlas Mountains east of Marrakech is an area known as the Road of 1000 Kasbahs. A kasbah is a large, fortified home, and generally has four towers in the corners. This part of the Moroccan desert was part of the salt road, and kasbahs dot the landscape. Occasionally, you’ll come across a ksar, or a fortified village.
The most famous of these fortified villages is the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, a stunning fortified village built into the hillside of the desert. Ait Ben Haddou was an important stop on the Salt Road, and thus hosted many travelers and had to ward off many bandits. Today, only a few families live in the historic town, but you can walk through and discover the many alleys, churches, granaries, and shops.
You may also notice during your visit that they still use the same methods of construction in Ait Ben Haddou today as in years past, creating bricks from mud and straw.
Haggle in the Souks
The souks and marketplaces of Morocco, are vibrant, bustling places, full of interesting goods and colorful wares. You can find all sorts of things to shop for and bring home as souvenirs from Morocco, like traditional Moroccan kaftans or djellabas (long “dresses” that both men and women wear, with hoods), tagines (the dish that many Moroccan meals are cooked in), leather shoes and purses, fresh pressed argan oil, ceramic bowls, platters, and plates painted in a variety of colors, buckets heaped full of colorful spices, shiny teapots, and more.
Wandering through the souks is an experience, both because of the things for sale and on display, but also because the salesmen are constantly calling out to you, inviting you to examine their wares. And if you are interested in making a purchase, don’t expect to find any prices listed. Instead, the shop owner will quote you a price, and then you’ll need to haggle the price down to an acceptable point.
In Morocco, haggling is almost like a friendly dance. They quote a price, and then you pretend to consider, and say, “oh wow, that’s a lot. How about this much instead?” And they say “oh no, no it’s very high quality/I need to feed my family/or some other line.”
This goes back and forth for a while until you reach an agreeable price. While newcomers can be a little intimidated by the haggle game, just remember – be friendly but stick to your guns (we usually aimed to pay 50% of the original asking price) and just lean into the process.
Stay in a Riad
A riad in Morocco is a traditional guesthouse that usually has just a few rooms, with an open-air courtyard in the middle and beautiful decorations. Staying in a riad is an absolute must-do when visiting Morocco – it really feels like a cultural experience in its own right.
There are, of course, riads that will fit into any budget, but even the most basic riads have beautiful archways and often some beautiful tilework inside. Many riads feel like little museums in and of themselves, with mosaics, columns, plunge pools, heavy fabrics, and water features.
In particular, the riads of Fes are absolutely incredible works of art, with many of them having carved stucco and cedarwood and being covered in mosaics, at a very reasonable price.
Marvel at the Bahia Palace
Morocco, and Marrakech in particular, has many absolutely gorgeous buildings filled with intricate tiles and mosaics, and are absolutely stunning. Visiting the Bahia Palace is one of the most incredible things to do in Morocco to enjoy these visual masterpieces.
This historical palace is quite large and has many rooms you can wander through. There are large and small courtyards and gardens, plus adjacent rooms, filled with carved cedarwood, stained glass, water features, and symmetrical layouts.
The Bahia Palace is one of the most famous attractions in Marrakech and one you will not want to miss!
Go Glamping in the Sahara
The Sahara desert starts at the very eastern edge of Morocco, and one of the most epic things you can do in Morocco is to spend a night (or two!) in the Sahara sand dunes.
You’ll meet up with your guides in the town at the edge of the Erg Chebbi sand dunes, climb aboard your camel, and then ride the 1.5 hours into the desert, arriving at a luxurious desert camp before watching the sun set on the horizon.
You’ll enjoy your own, spacious tent, complete with a real bed, carpets on the floor, electricity, and a full bathroom, and sumptuously prepared meals where you can dig your feet into the sand while eating your tagine.
At night, gather around the campfire to listen to the men play traditional Berber music, which is heavy on drums and rhythmic beats. In the morning, you can go ATVing, go sandboarding, or just take yourself on a walk into the undulating, orange dunes.
An experience doing a Sahara desert tour will be one of the most memorable nights of your life and is absolutely one of the best things to do in Morocco.
Drink Mint Tea
Mint tea is the preferred drink of practically every Moroccan, and you will be offered mint tea when arriving at your riad and at most restaurant meals. It’s a poignant tradition to participate in, as it comes with some impressive rituals.
Mint tea is actually green tea that has been steeped with mint leaves. Your server will bring the prepared mint tea to your table in a shiny, engraved metal teapot and pour it for you into glasses that resemble a large shot glass. The style of the pour is incredibly important – you must hold the teapot high above the glasses, creating a long arc of tea into the cup.
Plenty of sugar cubes are available at the table to add to your tea – Moroccans love their tea sweet!
Observe the Tanneries in Fes
Fes is an interesting city for many reasons – it has a similar hustle and bustle as Marrakech, but without the red walls. There were more covered passageways in Fes, and the streets felt even more narrow and winding than in Marrakech. And while Marrakech does have tanneries, the tanneries of Fes are indisputably the biggest, best, and oldest in the country.
Observing the tanneries is one of the most interesting things to do in the city. There are a few leather shops with terraces overlooking the tanneries, and shopowners are very happy to let visitors come observe on the terraces. You’ll see men working hides in vats of colored liquids and chemicals, taking the hides through the process to turn them into fine leather products.
Of course, the shopowners are all too happy to show you their goods while taking you back out of the shop (and truly, there are so many incredible leather pieces to buy – from shoes, poufs, wallets, jackets, and more). This is one of the most iconic spots in Fes and worth a stop, particularly if you are interested in making a leather purchase.
Wander the Blue City of Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is known as the “Blue Pearl of Morocco,” as the entire medina is painted varying shades of rich blue! While the origins of why the city was first painted blue are unknown, you can’t deny that it’s incredibly aesthetically pleasing. Chefchaouen is a smaller town nestled in the mountains north of Fes, so there aren’t a lot of attractions in the city – the city IS the attraction.
You can spend a wonderful day wandering the streets of Chefchaouen, finding all the cute little corners and spots, doing some shopping, and taking pictures of the streets with colorful pots or baskets on them. For a great view over the city, do a short hike up to the Spanish Mosque, which sits on a hill overlooking the town.
Stand in Awe at the Hassan II Mosque
As a predominantly Muslim country, you will see mosques and minarets in every town and city you visit. However, the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is the biggest mosque in Morocco, and it is the 7th largest mosque in the world, with the 3rd tallest minaret.
It is also the only mosque in Morocco that allows non-Muslims to enter. There are several guided tours of the mosque available each day, where you can enter the mosque, learn about its construction and history, and learn more about Islam.
The mosque is absolutely exquisite, with intricately carved stucco and cedarwood adorning the walls, ceiling, arches, and columns throughout the mosque. Rich carpets are on the floor, colorful mosaics are on display, and the rooms are large, with soaring ceilings.
Visiting the Hassan II Mosque is an incredible thing to do in Morocco and for sure needs to be a part of your Morocco itinerary.
Feel Academic at Madrasa Ben Youssef and Madrasa Al Attarine
Many of the larger cities of Morocco were locations for universities starting in the 1300s, and today these historic universities, or madrasas, are open to the public. In Marrakech, you can visit the Madrasa Ben Youssef, and in Fes, you can visit the Madrasa Al-Attarine.
In these madrasas, you first enter into a large common room, with smaller rooms tucked off to the side. Then, go up to the above levels to see small classrooms and the “dorm rooms” where students slept. Like every important building in Morocco, these madrasas are works of art, with intricate tilework, arches, and water features in the large gathering rooms of the old schools.
Read also: A week in Marrakech and the Sahara Desert
Explore Roman ruins at Volubilis
Not far from the city of Fes in northern Morocco are the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis (did you know that Morocco had a Roman influence?). Volubilis used to be a wealthy and busy city in Roman times thanks to the fertile region that surrounds it, and it was an administrative center of the Roman empire in that region.
At its height, up to 20,000 people lived here! But after the Roman empire, and several earthquakes, Volubilis was abandoned and destroyed. Today, Volubilis has several really well-preserved ruins, and some of the structures have been excavated and reconstructed, including the basilica, capitoline temple, and triumphal arch.
The ruins are really beautiful and exploring the ruined buildings is one of the most interesting things to do in Morocco.
Enjoy the Sun and Sea at Essaouira
Essaouira is a charming town on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. It’s about 2 hours from Marrakech but feels like a completely different world. In contrast to the busy and frantic pace of Marrakech, Essaouira is laidback and chill and is a haven for surfing and windsurfing, especially between the prime months of April-November.
Essaouira is also a major fishing port, and you can see the iconic blue fishing boats lined up in the harbor and where fishermen are busy at work bringing in their catch of the day.
Besides surfing, a few popular things to do in Essaouira include exploring the charming old medina, where buildings are painted blue and white, or walking the city ramparts overlooking the ocean. You can easily spend just a few hours in Essaouira and get a taste of the city, or spend a few days wandering around and hanging out in this beautiful Moroccan city.
Eat Tagine and Couscous
One of the funniest things to do in Morocco is to sample the local cuisine! Morocco has many very traditional dishes, the most famous and ubiquitous being tagine. A tagine meal is made in a tagine cooking dish (as we mentioned in the shopping the souks section, above) and is generally composed of chicken or beef and vegetables. You can also have a vegetable-only tagine. The tagine dish acts as a steamer to cook the meal.
Couscous is another incredibly common Moroccan food that is traditionally prepared on Fridays, the holy day for Muslims. However, you can find couscous on many menus in the country that are available throughout the week.
Wander the Red City of Marrakech
In many ways, Marrakech is the most classic and recognizable version of Morocco – there’s all the exotic feel and charm you’d expect plus the frenetic pace, smells, and sounds you’d expect from a vibrant city. It is a beautiful city, filled with red walls and arched openings, intricate doors, interesting cultural and historical sites, and beautiful mosaic tiles and floors.
Among the architectural wonders are the Saadian Tombs, the El Badi Palace, the Jardin Secret, and the Jardin Majorelle. The combination of all these factors makes Marrakech one of Morocco’s must-see destinations.
Go Hiking in the Atlas Mountains
There are many hiking opportunities in the Atlas Mountains, which showcase a lot of different terrains – tall gorges, red rocks, valleys, waterfalls, and mountain peaks. One of the great points of hiking in Morocco is that most spots and trails are pretty off the beaten path.
The Ourika Valley is not far from Marrakech (about 1 hour away) and has several paths to hike. One of the most popular hikes is the trail to the 7 Waterfalls of Setti Fatma.
Farther away from Marrakech (about 4 hours away) are the Dades Gorge and the Todra Gorge, which both offer incredible hiking opportunities in the red-orange canyons, through palm and olive groves, and over the tops of hilly ridges.
Best Things to Do in Morocco – The Wrap-Up
For anyone who loves the exotic and a bit of adventure, Morocco is a dream destination. There are practically endless fun and interesting things to see and do in Morocco. Put this cool African country on your bucket list today!