Morocco on the road: what you need to know!

Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” – Erol Ozan

Morocco is beautiful to travel to, I wanted to see more than one place, so I rented a car and visited Marrakech, Agadir, Fes and Chefchaouen. It’s important planning your car trip, as anything can happen and you need to have an idea of where you go or what to do. 

What you should know, despite what different people said about it, is that Morocco is a safe place. You just need to realize that it’s a different place, and you don’t know their customs and traditions. The approach of Moroccans sometimes can be considered aggressive, especially when you go inside some Medinas. Keep in mind that most of them are merchants, and the only way for them to sell something and make some money is through tourist. They are not aggressive, actually, I found them friendly, there is nothing to be scared! But that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be aware of what is going on around you. You can avoid particular attention, in big part, by being invisible and respectful. Cover yourself avoiding tank tops, or shorts, I know the temperatures are quite high but this is more safer if you travel solo or if you want to escape from more situations possible.

Travelling abroad means putting yourself in a different mindset and appreciate fully the place that you decide to visit. Morocco has a strong culture, 99% of the population is Muslim and it’s part of their culture to consider all human being as equals. To understand better their culture, I will introduce you to the 5 Islam pillar:

Shahada – the profession of Faith. This is the first belief: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God”. This is the most important pillar as it is the initial submission to Islam, should be recited sincerely three times with full and pure intention. You can find it usually written in Arabic in most architecture and objects, including the Quran.

Salat – prayer. Muslims pray facing Mecca five times a day. Prayer usually includes the opening chapter of the Quran, kneeling and touching the ground or prayer mat with their foreheads, as a symbol of their submission to Allah, they can decide to pray individually or together in a mosque. 

Zakat – alms. Donate to the community as a religious duty, securing the blessings associated with a charity. This is according to Islamic law, whether it is to help those overcoming worldly conflicts and emergencies or those suffering from poverty and hunger, every act of giving is greatly rewarded in Islam.

Sawm – Fasting. Maybe you already heard about Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, every healthy adult Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink during the daylight. During this temporary privation, they renew their awareness of and gratitude for everything God has provided in their lives.

Hajj – Pilgrimage. Every Muslim whose health and finances permit it must make at least one visit to the holy city of Mecca. Muslims believe that it is the house Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) built for God.

Those set of photos are shot from me in the Jardin Majorelle – Marrakech.

Marrakech.

I started my road trip in Marrakech. Inside the medinas, it’s hard to move by car, so I will recommend to use it only to go outside the centre. For example, I used the car only to go visit the Jardin MajorelleMenara garden and the south area of the centre, where you have the Royal Palace, the Saaditi tombs and El Badi Palace.  Bahia Palace is another spot that deserves to be seen. It has an incredible indoor garden and courtyard.  The rest of the things to see in Marrakech is around the medina, easy to explore by walk, so try to find a riad close to it. If you are not confident to leave your car on the street, there are much-paying parking around it, also doing overnight service, not expensive.

View from a balcony in Jama El f’na Market in early morning


Walking inside the market and the medina in Marrakech is fascinating!

You can see thousands of typical product in the small streets of the centre. Starting from the Jama El f’Na Market, go north looking for the Jardin Secret, it’s a beautiful botanic garden. Keep walking and visit Madrasa Ben Youssef, which is an old school with beautiful ornaments, you have to pay a small donation to get in, but beautiful to see. There are other museums which depend on your interest, could be worth to check them out! 

Agadir.

Driving to Agadir from Marrakech, it’s an easy ride almost 4 hours, and you can also see the amazing red sand of the desert!

Agadir is located in the south, along the Moroccan coast. For surf lovers, and whoever would like to just lay on the beach, relax or swim on the Atlantic Ocean.

What I more enjoyed was the warmth of the people, almost all the hotel in the area has a swimming pool at really affordable prices. I also did my first camel ride along the Sous river and spent the night on Agadir Oufella, the top point of Agadir from where you can see the whole city.

Fes.

ChouaraTannery – Fes Medina

Fes is the city that stole my heart. I arrived quite late in the evening, under Ramadan, so everyone on the street was celebrating. The Medina of the city is a real labyrinth, so I decided to have a guided walking tour, to get the best of it. I don’t take a guided tour, as in my opinion they are always overpriced, they always want you to spend your money in friends shops and similar things, but for certain places, I recommend doing it if you are not sure where to go exactly or don’t feel confident by yourself.

I had an amazing time walking into the Medina, visiting the Bab Boujloud (called also the blue door) and the ChouaraTannery (most known as Instagram spot), where the leather is cleaned, softened and dried. It’s a very long process, and you need to know that is one of the most paid jobs in Morocco, as being exposed to constant chemicals like lime, is not only dangerous but may cause loss of some articulations too. Besides the really strong smell too, due to the elaboration on leather with lime. The view is beautiful as is colourful and you feel back in the Middle Ages when they were built.

I had the chance to see a few different shops where they were making bags, textiles and different ceramics.

Fez medina, textile machine
Fez medina, leather shop

It’s fascinating how they can still preserve those artisans jobs through generations. Where in most economic countries, all those artisans activity is completely lost.

Chefchaouen.

Chefchaouen

Greece? No! Just the city most in the north of Morocco and one of the oldest: Chefchaouen.

The drive to Chefchaouen (or Chaouen) is not the easiest one, as it’s a secondary street, quite small and surrounded by hills, which makes the visibility limited and sometimes you can get stuck behind trucks, so from 3 hours and 40 min drive, can become way more. Try to drive early in the morning, and plan to spend one night there.

Important to visit is the local market, one of the most rural I’ve ever seen, and it’s located down the Medina. Then you don’t have to do anything else other than falling in love walking through the Medina, looking at those characteristic houses; all white and blue, this big wooden doors full of details, the beautiful typical shops, to end your tour in Place El Haouta.

Apart from the dreamy landscapes, and the warmth of this population, I hope you enjoyed my post, and to see some comment about your experience of Morocco!

Get in touch

Liliana

Incurable entusiastic of this beautiful world we are in!

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