• Jocelyn L

TRAVEL GUIDE TO MOROCCO by Jocelyn L.

Jocelyn is an Urban Explorer, Foodie, and Music Lover. She loves architecture, history, music, art, fashion, and food. If you are into these, her travel diary will help you decide where to stay, eat, hang out, and play.



It had always been my dream to travel to Morocco and it finally happened in April. Since I had waited so long, I wanted to make sure I went with the right group to create this special memory. Then, this opportunity arose with Sol Sahara. I got more than what I expected from this journey -- it's something that will stay within me forever and the close bond that I made with my new friends from this journey is priceless.


I visited Marrakech, Fes, Casablanca, Merzouga, Zagora and Quarzazate.


Facts about Morocco

  • The majority of Moroccans can speak French and Spanish. The Northern part (Marrakech) speaks French and the Southern part (the Sahara Desert) speaks Spanish.

  • Morocco was a colonial country for Spain and France and gained its independence in 1944.

  • Rabat is the capital

  • Fes has the oldest and biggest medina in Morocco and it also has the oldest university in the world.

  • Casablanca is the modern/metropolitan city of Morocco.

  • Marrakech is a mixture of old and modern, and it's the country's most popular city.

  • The Berbers are Morocco's indigenous peoples but most of them live in the cities now. All the antiques are mainly from Berber. My fave rugs are the Berber rugs.

  • In Moroccan culture, it's not customary to eat out so there are not a lot of restaurants in cities like Fes.


Useful Tips


  • The best time to travel to Morocco is mid-March to May, and September to October.

  • There are many security checkpoints at the airport; make sure you have enough time for your connections in Morocco. I suggest to travel light with only carry-on.

  • Have cash with you. It's the best way to purchase and bargain. But the bigger shops for rugs and antiques do accept credit cards.

  • Most places don't take American Express.

  • Always bargain at the medina. Start with half price of whatever price they give you.

  • You never know if the sellers are telling the truth of the age of the items. If you are looking for real antiques, it is best to visit the bigger and more creditable shops.

  • The best things to purchase in Moroccos are rugs, Berber jewelry, lamps, oils, puffs (be careful with the dye of the leather, make sure it doesn't wear off easily), robes, and Fes hand-painted ceramics.

  • Morocco is not cheap. Be prepare to spend a lot.

  • Most travel guides work with the stores they refer to get a commission on what you buy. The best shopping area in the medina is in the Berber area. I find their items are more interesting and authentic.

  • Bring comfortable clothes and shoes. You don't want to wear heels at the medina.

  • Don't wander in the medina at night alone without a local with you.


MARRAKECH


Le Jardin Secret in the medina

I wish I'd had more time to explore Marrakech's architecture. I'll have to go back next time. I only had 3 nights here and was only able to spend one day in the medina to shop and explore. The other two nights were spent with Sol Sahara for dinner, closing party, and Nomade Marrakech's soft opening party.


Where to stay


Amanjena

There are so many unique hotels with incredible interior design in Marrakech but too little time to try to stay at all of them. I suggest staying in the medina if it's your first time in Morocco. Note that the issue with Riad is that the rooms are not very soundproof and the property is very ancient; it's nice to experience it though.

  • Amanjena (my favorite hotel in Marrakech)

  • Source

  • El Fenn

  • La Mamounia

  • Villa des Orangers

  • L'HÔTEL Marrakech

  • La Sultana Marrakech

  • Nomade Marrakech (opening in 2021)


Where to visit


Image by mvd-marrakech.com

  • Jardin Majorelle

  • Yves Saint Laurent Museum

  • Le Jardin Secret

  • Bahia Palace

  • Koutoubia Mosque

  • Saadian Tombs

  • El Badi Palace

  • Menara Gardens

  • Marrakech Museum

  • Bab Agnaou

  • Agdal Gardens

  • Koutoubia Minaret


Where to shop




These are my favorite stores that I visited and some suggestions from friends:

  • Maison du Caftan (for amazing caftan)

  • Antiquite Brocante (for Berber jewelry)

  • Khakidoun Art (for carpets)

  • Max & Jan (for traditional clothes with a modern twist)

  • Dar Kawa (call for appt. +212-6244-94001)

  • Topolina

  • 33 Rue Majorelle

  • Atika

  • El Fenn



SOL SAHARA: MERZOUGA, ZAGORA, QUARZAZATE




I started out in Marrakech with Sol Sahara. Sol Sahara is organized by Sabo, Helia, and a very talent Sol Selectas and Morokolo team from Morocco. We flew into Zagora and drove into Merzouga (about 4 hours drive). We stayed at a hotel in the Sahara Desert and Sol Sahara set up a really beautiful event there and we watched the sunrise in dunes with beautiful music played by Be Svendsen, Sabo, Goldcap, and Amine K. We then travelled deeper into the Sahara Desert to stay in tents and hung out with the Berbers. The journey back to Marrakesh was not fun and rough since it was a 10-hour drive. But if you want to see the untouched places, you need to travel in. I think it's all worth it.


Where to stay


It's really rural and most hotels are not super nice but I recommend staying in luxury tents (glamping) in the Sahara Desert.


FES



This part is my solo trip. It is really fascinating to be in one of the oldest cities in the world, still standing since the 9th century. I would definitely hire a guide since the medina is so big and you will get very lost. Plus it's nice to have someone explain the city's history to you.



Where to stay


Karawan Riad

In Fes, you have to stay in the medina:

  • Karawan Riad (I stayed here and loved it)

  • Hotel Sahrai

Where to shop


These are some of the favorite stores I visited. I suggest wandering around with a guide.

  • Palais d'Arts Fes (carpets)

  • Les Mysteres de Fes (art and jewelry)

  • Tisserand de Fes (Berber scarves and handmade bags)

  • L'Art Traditionnel (lamps)


CASABLANCA


Hassan II Mosque

I had a layover in Casablanca and spent 3 hours exploring with a taxi driver.


Where to stay


  • Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca

  • Barcelo Anfa Casablanca

  • Hotel Sofitel

Where to visit


  • Hassan II Mosque

  • Mohammed V Square

  • Mahkama du Pacha

  • Royal Palace

  • El Hank Lighthouse

  • Muhammadi Mosque

  • Villa Des Arts

  • Parc Murdoch


Overall, an amazing trip. I highly recommend visiting!


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