Morocco
Although Morocco is a mere step from Europe, across the narrow straits of Gibraltar, it is a world away in culture and experience. It is a country that brims over with contrasts, colour and mystery.
Geographically it’s where East meets West; where Africa and Europe become neighbours and the Mediterranean merges with the Atlantic.
Its Mediterranean climate, stunning crafts and exotic nature have long lured tourists to its shores. But more recently travellers have discovered its hidden delights and adventures: the North for the Rif and High Atlas Mountains for a skiing holiday, or South for the sands of the Western Sahara, on camelback, horseback or 4X4. For those looking for a relaxing time by the coast, Agadir on the sunny Atlantic coast (south west of Marrakech) at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, provides the perfect retreat.
Whether you visit Morocco for the sunshine, or to trek through the mountains or the hot desert sands, it is a sure bet you will also be enchanted by the timeless medieval medinas of the cities. Fez and Marrakech are alive with souks and squares that plunge visitors into a fascinating and spectacular foreign world. Countless travellers have marvelled as snake charmers weave their magic. The air will be filled with the stench of the tanners' yards whilst filled with the call of the muezzins from the ancient minarets.  
Morocco has an array of ancient monuments and magnificent buildings that reflect its turbulent history. This rich past, coupled with a timeless present, makes Morocco a magical mystery tour of surprises and enchantment for thousands of visitors every year.
The currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham however this cannot be obtained or exchanged outside Morocco. Receipts must be retained as proof of legal currency exchange, as well as in order to re-exchange money when departing. Be warned, if you are approached on the street by locals asking to exchange currency it is illegal and the absence of a receipt means that you will not be allowed to change the Dirham back when you depart.
Major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express will be accepted in large hotels, shops and restaurants in the major cities. For other transactions it is advisable to use cash.
ATMs in larger cities such as Rabat and Marrakech can be used to withdraw local currency direct from international bank accounts, although you will be charged for doing so per transaction. 
 
Agadir
Introduction
The coastal city of Agadir is in southwest Morocco located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. During medieval times, there was only a fishing village here however today it is a commercial port.
Unfortunately, much of the city was destroyed in a horrific earthquake in 1960. As a result it is a completely modern city today with little African old world charm.  
As Morocco's premier coastal resort it boasts a magnificent bay of golden sand, beautiful golf courses, broad palm-shaded promenades and international class hotels catering for European package holidaymakers.
 
But if you are searching for the real Moroccan atmosphere or examples of traditional architecture, Agadir is a good place to make daytrips from to nearby highlights including the old walled city of Taroudannt, Paradise valley and the Massa Lagoon.
 
See & Do
As you might expect, life in Agadir revolves around the beach, which is huge and reasonably well sheltered from the ocean winds. It is clean and safe and sunbathers can generally relax in peace thanks to police patrols, which minimise hassle from hustlers and hawkers.
There is an undertow that can make ocean swimming dangerous but you can indulge in activities such as:
 
  • Jet-skiing
  • Quad biking
  • Dune buggies
  • Horse and camel rides
  • Tourist train rides
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Windsurfing
  • Horse riding
  • Tennis
  • Golf
 
 
 
Being a modern, purpose-built resort, Agadir has relatively few sights of interest, but the markets, fishing port and brand new marina are worth a look and golfers have three courses to choose from. The main reminder of the past is Ancienne Talborjt, a grassy mound where the medina once stood, preserved as a memorial of the 1960 earthquake.

Other possibilities are:
 
  • Taghazout beach (to the north) for surfing
  • Souss-Massa National Park, to the south, offers excellent bird-watching
  • Massa lagoon
  • Paradise Valley
  • Vallée des Oiseaux (near place de l'Espérance)
  • Jardim de Olhão (avenue du Président Kennedy)
  • Kasbah
  • Honey festival
  • Timitar Festival
 
Shopping
Agadir has two main daily markets (the Marché Municipal and the Souk) which sell goods from all over Morocco, including fish, fruit, vegetables, crafts and souvenirs such as rugs, chunky Berber-style jewellery, leather slippers, woollen tunics and handmade bags. There's also a traditional-style craft market, the Médina d'Agadir, 2.5 miles out of town where you can watch artisans making tourist trinkets.
The Marché Municipal is a two-story complex of shops selling a variety of Moroccan-made souvenirs such as leatherwork from Marrakech, ceramics from Fez, and fossils from Erfoud at fixed prices.  
Close by is the Uniprix supermarket, which sells a large range of fixed-price souvenirs including T-shirts, beachwear and accessories, toiletries, general grocery items, and alcohol.  Similar supermarkets include Anaprix, Quick Service, and SM Supermarket.
Food & Drink
Food in Morocco is generally spicy with sweet and sour combinations. Chicken is by far the most popular meat, however being a port fish is also very popular fresh from the sea and simply cooked.
Make sure you try some of the local specialities such as:
 
  • Pastilla - made of filo pastry filled with egg and meat or vegetables
  • Harari - lentil and chick pea soup
  • Mint tea - thé a la menthe
  • Kefta – kebabs
  • Tagines – spicy stews of meat with fruit and almonds
  • Mechoui – roast lamb
  • Tanjia – slow cooked beef
 
 
Most hotels and restaurants in Agadir serve a wide variety of international cuisine to cater for the less adventurous diner.
Some placed you might like to try are:
 
  • L’Orange Blue
  • La Scala
  • Le Mauresque Lounge
  • Le Nil Bleu
  • Little Italy
  • Restaurant Jour et Nuit
Drink only bottled water.
 
Entertainment
Agadir's nightlife is not wild and bountiful - think piano bars, casinos and hotel discos. The liveliest of the late-opening nightspots are concentrated along boulevard 20 Août, which runs parallel to the beach.
For a quiet drink and people-watching head for the restaurants Jour et Nuit and Le Nil Bleu. There is also Le Mauresque Lounge for drinks and tapas.  
For a bit more life, music and atmosphere head for the junction of boulevard du 20 Août and rue du Oued Souss. Here you will find The Central English Pub, Jockey Bar, and L'Orange Bleu.
The city’s most popular nightclub is Papa Gayo, at the Hotel Riu Tikida Beach.
Excursions
 
There is much to see around Agadir. During your stay you might be tempted to visit:
 
  • Taroudannt - elegant walled town, with lively souks and good hotels
  • Tafraoute - a good base from which to explore the Anti-Atlas Mountains
  • Essaouira – laid back port with bustling souks
  • Marrakech
  • Tiznit
  • Taghazout
  • Atlas Mountains
  • Imouzzer
  • Souss Massa National Park
 
 
Health & Safety
You should consult your doctor before travelling for the necessary vaccinations (e.g. typhoid). Anti-malarials may be required at certain times of the year in rural areas.
It is not advisable to drink the tap water. Bottled water is available everywhere and is relatively cheap. Do not eat fruit without peeling it first.
Always carry plenty of fluids with you, as dehydration can be a problem. Sunburn times can also be very short in the middle of the day - always wear shirts that cover your shoulders, put on sunscreen and wear a hat.
Crime in Morocco is not widespread but pick-pocketing and petty theft are the most common complaints made by tourists. When travelling dress modestly and only use licensed cabs and licensed guides.
 
 
 
Marrakech
Introduction
Marrakech, the ‘red city’ instantly brings to mind an exotic image of legend and fantasy.  
The city is divided into two main parts: the Medina and Ville Nouvelle. Time appears to have stood still behind the dusky pink walls of the Medina. Here you will be able to glimpse a traditional Moroccan way of life. In contrast Ville Nouvelle has all the modern amenities and business facilities that you would expect to find in any international city.
The heart of the Medina is Djemaa el-Fna, an irregular 'square' where everything seems to happen and the place to which tourists are drawn again and again to soak up the carnival-like environment.  
Snake charmers, magic potions, hidden palaces – all of these are possible in Marrakech. You will become lost amongst its windy streets, entranced by the magic and colour of this incredible city.
One of the many ways to soak up the sights and sounds of Marrakech is in one of the hundreds of horse-drawn carriages, known as caleches that are for hire. But a real treat is to walk through the Medina's souks and plunging into the hurly burly maelstrom of passages. Here you will be engulfed in the Moroccan way where tradesmen ply various crafts, from cloth dying, copper beating, and leather working to herbalists, perfumers and slipper makers. And where shopkeepers try and coax passing tourists into looking at their glorious array of colourful crafts.
See & Do
You will never have a shortage of things to see and do when in Marrakech. It is a colourful, enchanting city that allows visitors to lose themselves in the traditional atmosphere of the Medina, marvel at palaces and mosques and enjoy the modern facilities of Ville Nouvelle.
Here are just a few of the things you won’t want to miss:
 
  • Djemaa el Fna
  • Koutobia Mosque
  • Jardin Majorelle
  • Bahia Palace
  • Palais Dar Si Said
  • Menara Gardens
  • Saadian Tombs
  • Medersa Ben Youssef
  • The Medina
  • Ville Nouvelle
  • The Tanneries
  • Dar Si Saïd Museum
  • The Museum of Marrakech
  • Bag Agnaou
  • Shrob ou Shouf
  • El Badi Palace
 
Shopping
Shopping in Marrakech is a real delight. The highlight has to be exploring the many souks that offer everything from stunning Berber rugs to magic potions.
In Djemaa el Fna you will mind a vast number of souks selling all manner of wares. Haggling is expected so buying anything can become a rather long process.
The souks are named after the products they sell: Souk Cherratine – leather, Souk Rahba Qdima – auction, Souk Smata Babouches – slippers, Souk as-Smarrine – fabrics and souvenirs.
For a more upmarket shopping experience (although possibly not as exciting) head for the La Porte d’Or area where you’ll find exquisite antiques or the Guéliz area
 for boutique-like outlets.
Food & Drink
The city is home to some of the best traditional Moroccan restaurants in the country. You can experience everything from simple cafes with tasty home-cooked meals to all-out dinner buffets with music and dancing.
Moroccan food is so delicious you are unlikely to hanker after the flavours from home. However should the need take you a few different, more international restaurants have appeared.
Here are a few places you might like to try during your stay:
 
  • Restaurant Diaffa
  • Chez Brek
  • Chez Chegrouni
  • Dar Moha
  • Cantanzaro
  • Narwama
  • Tatchibana
  • Puerto Banus
  • Le Marrakchi
 
 
For an Islamic city, Marrakech has a fairly relaxed stance over alcohol. Almost all the city centre bars are found in hotels, though there are more drinking dens in the outlying commercial districts of Guéliz or Hivernage.
 
Entertainment
The nightlife in Marrakech offers everything you could possibly want. It has a wonderful combination of sophistication and tradition, offering everything from local storytellers and dancers to international festivals, lounge bars and nightclubs.
The best of old Morocco can be experienced at Djemaa el Fna square with local musicians, storytellers and dancers entertaining visitors.  
For dinner theatre head for Chez Ali where you can enjoy a four course meal whilst watching belly dancers. If you prefer there is also a cinema (Le Colisée) and a casino (Es Saadi) for those that enjoy a flutter.
If you like your nightlife loud then head for one of the clubs in the hotels in Ville Nouvelle such as Paradise, Le Diamant Noir, Cotton Club and Pacha.
The city also enjoys three festivals each year:
  • Arts festival – June to July
  • Imilchil Marriage Feast – August
  • Film festival – September to November
 
Excursions
 
There is plenty to keep you occupied in Marrakech for several days. However if you want to see what else Morocco has to offer you could visit:
 
 
·         Essaouira – seaside town
·         Todra Gorge
·         High Atlas Mountains
·         Oukaimeden – ski resort
·         Ouirgane
·         Setti Matma – traditional hamlet
 
 
Health & Safety
 
It is not advisable to drink the tap water. Bottled water is available everywhere and is relatively cheap. Also make sure you don’t eat fruit without peeling it first.

In the height of summer Marrakech can get very hot so make sure you carry plenty of fluids with you. Sunburn times can be very short in the middle of the day so always wear shirts that cover your shoulders, put on sunscreen and wear a hat.
 
Crime in Marrakech is not widespread but pick-pocketing and petty theft does occur so take care of your valuables.
Western women can be victims of unwanted attention from the local males, especially if wearing clothes that expose shoulders or legs.
 
 
Fez
Introduction
When you think of Fez, mystical images of Arabian nights and pots of gold immediately come to mind. It is the oldest imperial city of Morocco and sits at the foot of the Rif and Middle Atlas Mountains.
Often travellers come to Fez with romantic notions of Aladdin. But in reality the sensory reality of the sights, sounds and smells of the Medina can be somewhat of a shock. But, if you are willing to risk the sensory overload you will be rewarded with lasting memories of a truly unforgettable experience.
When you travel to Fez, you will travel back in time about 1,000 years.  A holiday in Fez is an exotic, fascinating experience for first world visitors.
Fez is three distinct parts: Fez el-Bali (Old Fez), Fez el-Jedid (New Fez), and the modern, French-built Ville Nouvelle.
The old walled city of Fez el Bali is where the pulse of this lively city thrives. Its medina is an uncharted maze of more than 9,000 alleys where mules are the only form of transport and life is a fascinating blend of medieval and modern.
The area known as Fez el Jedid was built in the 14th century by the Merenids. It has a strong French influence with pavement cafés and wide boulevards. It is also where you’ll find the old Jewish quarter (Mellah) and the Rabbi Shlomo ibn Danan Synagogue.
Ville Nouvelle is the newest part of the city, very westernised and representative of modern Morocco. As you would expect, it is the heart of the business and commercial centre.
See & Do
Surrounded by history and culture, you will never be short of things to see and do during your stay in Fez. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started:
 
  • Shrine of Zaouia Moulay Idriss II
  • Kairaourine Mosque
  • Dar Batha Museum
  • Souk el Henna
  • Tanneries
  • Fez City Gates (Bab Boujeloud)
  • Fondouk el-Nejjarine
  • Merenid Tombs
  • Medersa Bou Inania
  • Boujeloud Gardens
 
Shopping
Shopping in Fez means the souks. In these fascinating markets you can find anything from leather and pottery to herbs and spices. But remember – always strike up a bargain!
 
The two main streets are Tala'a Kebira and Tala'a Seghira. When venturing into the souks it is advisable to engage the services of a guide to help you navigate your way through the 9,000 meandering alley-ways.  
 
The markets are a treasure trove of goods. You will be able to find a Moroccan caftan, everyday wear to something luxurious such as evening gowns made from exquisitely sewn silk and satin.
 
Of course it is the place to be for carpets. You will find top quality berber carpets at the Tissage Berbere souk. 
 
Food & Drink
 
The food in Fez is influenced by French, Spanish, Berber, Arabic, Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine and is infused with spices and herbs. 
 
The cheaper places to eat are in the alley-ways and squares of Fes el Bali, around Bab Boujeloud and Fes el Djedid. Snack foods such pastilla (a large pastry with meat filling sprinkled with cinnamon and some sugar) can be found all over Fez. Brochettes de kefta (ground meat kebabs) are available from Berber-style barbeque charcoal pits and can be bought from food stalls along Talaa Seghira.
 
As for a refreshing fruit juice, go along to Ville Nouvelle where you can chose your own combination of fruits from laden baskets at La Renaissance. Add some sugar and enjoy your custom-made smoothie at this pavement café. Or you can try the national drink, mint tea.
 
Here are a few restaurants you might like to try:
 
 
  • L’Ambra
  • La Kasbah
  • Zagora
  • Al Fassia
  • Dar Saada
  • Dar Roumana
  • La Renaissance
 
 
Entertainment
 
Being a conservative Islamic city, Fez isn’t big on nightlife.
 
There are no cinemas, discos, theatres, opera houses and definitely no casinos. Instead street cafés and larger hotels offer places to eat and drink.
 
Street cafes are ideal for hanging out it but after dark only men frequent them. However hotel bars like the Hotel Sheraton welcome women.
 
If you do want to find something a bit more lively visit the nightlife at Le Mérinides Hotel which caters for young tourists with its vibrant nightclub. Most of the bars are found in the Ville Nouvelle and around the fringe of the medina in the better hotels.
 
As for nightclubs, some of the larger hotels have dance areas such as Le Palace, a trendy nightclub in Hotel Jnan Palace. Hotel Menzh Zalagh has the most popular of nightclubs playing various types of music.   
 
Excursions
 
When you have exhausted everything Fez has to offer, why not take a look at one of these sites to complete your stay in this mystical land:
 
  • Volubilis – ancient Roman ruins and mosaics
  • Meknes – the 17th century capital of Morocco
  • Ifrane – Alpine-style resort in the Middle Atlas
 
 
 
 
Health & Safety
 
It is advisable to drink bottled water outside the main cities and towns and avoid street food. Medical facilities are good in all major towns. Health insurance is essential.
Crime is minimal in Fez but you should adopt the usual precautions when travelling in busy areas and after dark.
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