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12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Morocco - The 2018 Guide

Morocco is a wondrous, eye-opening taste of the exotic, with snake charmers and conjurers, souks piled high with hordes of treasures, and endless glasses of mint tea. It's also an adventure into some of North Africa's most stunning scenery, with the desert on its doorstep and the craggy heights of the Atlas Mountains beyond.

Morocco is also a journey into a timeless, tranquil world of cute coastal villages, colorful-painted towns that cling to hillsides, and remote outposts defended by fairy-tale adobe forts. This fascinating country is a merging of the African and Arab worlds and is steeped in age-old customs. It's no wonder Morocco has been feted by artists and writers for decades and continues to enchant all who visit.

1 Marrakesh Medina

Marrakesh Medina
Marrakesh Medina
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The bustling and vibrant buzz of Marrakesh medina sums up Morocco for many visitors and is a major tourist attraction. The old city is entered from the vast plaza of Djemma el-fna Square where, it seems, half the city converges throughout the day and into the evening to hang out with the stall vendors, traditional musicians, snake charmers, and random acrobats. Once inside the medina itself, you enter a world of maze-like alleyways and shopkeeper hustle. It's an experience full of colorful and noisy local life and not to be missed on your Moroccan sightseeing trails.

2 Hassan II Mosque

Hassan II Mosque
Hassan II Mosque
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Casablanca's major point of interest and landmark building, the Hassan II Mosque is a lavish symbol not only of the city, but also of Morocco itself. This modern mosque (finished in 1993) doesn't do things by halves. The decoration detail covering every centimeter of the mammoth two-hectare site took 10,000 artisans to complete. Intricately carved marble pieces, vibrant mosaics, and zellige tile details all pay tribute to traditional Islamic architecture ideals and the mastery of Moroccan craftsmanship and yet, at the same time, still manage to feel contemporary.

3 Oudaias Kasbah

Oudaias Kasbah
Oudaias Kasbah
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Morocco has plenty of beautiful old town areas but Rabat's Oudaias Kasbah neighborhood has to be one of the country's most picturesque. This is a peaceful and perfectly quaint district that feels miles away from the city, despite being right in the city's core. Inside the walls of this old fortress, the lanes of neat white-and-blue houses rimmed by colorful flowerpots and flapping washing have a lost-in-time atmosphere that's hard to beat. Even better, unlike the old town areas of Fes and Marrakesh, there are hardly any other tourists here, so exploring this pretty corner of the capital feels as if you've been let in on a well-kept secret.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Rabat

4 Fes el Bali

Fes el Bali
Fes el Bali
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Along with Marrakesh, Fes is Morocco's other big cultural destination. But unlike its sister Imperial City to the south, Fes hasn't been trussed up for the tourists. Fes el Bali (old city) is an authentic muddle of a place, where it's easy to get lost. The back alleys here, with their chipped plaster-work and gorgeous old doors, will have you stopping for photos on every corner, while visiting the stinking tanneries is one of Fes el Bali's most popular things to do for those who can handle the smell.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Fes

5 Tangier

Tangier
Tangier
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The most European of all Morocco's cities, Tangier has a fascinating and slightly debauched role in 20th-century literary history, and this past is what draws many tourists here. This is the city that inspired famous works such as Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky and William Burroughs' Naked Lunch. Tangier may have been scrubbed up since their day, with the bohemian cafes and louche bars long gone, but you can still catch a whiff of the decadent days gone by.

6 Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen
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In the beautiful Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is a gorgeous labyrinth of blue-on-blue buildings that has an incredibly photogenic glow. There isn't much actual sightseeing to be done, and that's one of the town's main attractions. It's simply about wandering the medina alleys and lapping up all that colorful architecture. It's a peaceful, easygoing town and a great place to recharge if you've been amid the cities for a while. This is also one of Morocco's main hiking and trekking destinations and a starting point and organization center for Rif Mountains walks.

7 Volubilis

Volubilis
Volubilis
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Morocco's number one Roman ruin is a feast for history lovers, with a clutch of remarkable mosaics still interred where they were unearthed. This site is also full of tumbled columns and temple remnants, standing as reminders that even the greatest empires eventually crumble. The hilltop location allows the ruins to lord over the surrounding countryside, adding to the romantic ambiance of lost glory. Head up through the ruins to the Capitol and Forum to feast on the views. This tourist attraction can easily be visited as a day trip from either Meknes or Fes.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Meknes

8 Bab al-Mansour

Bab al-Mansour
Bab al-Mansour
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This mammoth gateway (which guards the entrance to Meknes' Imperial City district from the medina) is noted for its stunning decoration. Meant as a monumental reminder of the sultan's might, the Bab al-Mansour is a magnificent relic of Meknes' glorious era as capital of Morocco. It's widely regarded as Morocco's grandest and best preserved gateway. Come in the late afternoon to photograph the gate in the soft light, then wander through Meknes' small maze of a medina, which is a much more laid-back affair than the medina of nearby Fes.

9 Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou
Ait Ben Haddou
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This golden-stoned adobe kasbah (fortress) thrusts dramatically out of the earth amid scenery that wows all who visit. It's a fairy-tale place, and unsurprisingly the orange-hued turrets and curvy lanes inside have become a favorite film location for Hollywood due to the surreal beauty of the place. You can even sleep within the kasbah if you want the full Ait Ben Haddou experience - though those who like their creature comforts should be aware that there's no electricity within the fortress itself. If you're heading out into Morocco's inland regions, it should definitely be on your must-visit list. Try to come in the early morning or later in the afternoon, as the tour bus crowds descend from around 10am to 2pm.

10 Dades Valley

Dades Valley
Dades Valley
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Hikers, trekkers, and general nature lovers shouldn't miss a journey into the raw landscapes of Morocco's Dades Valley. With the snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas in the distance, the big-sky country here is the perfect antidote for those who have been getting frazzled nerves amid the souks of Marrakesh and Fes. There are dinky villages galore; exceptional bird-spotting opportunities; great day-walk options; and views of lush fields and orchards trapped between the orange cliffs of the gorge, snaking out before you.

11 Essaouira

Essaouira
Essaouira
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Morocco's most charming seaside town is laid-back Essaouira, an old hippie haunt of the 1970s that has lost none of its authenticity. The colorful fishing boats bobbing on the water, stately old shore-side fort walls, and twisty lanes of the old town make Essaouira a delight to discover. There's a decent food scene here, with seafood an obvious mainstay on menus and great café life. For those seeking more active sightseeing, there are also great walks along the beach to outlying villages, and surfing on the beach.

12 Erg Chebbi

Erg Chebbi
Erg Chebbi
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Inland, in Morocco's eastern Sahara region, are the grand and rippling sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi, where would-be explorers and adventure-seekers head to get a dose of desert action. This is prime territory for dune-surfing, four-wheel-drive dune-bashing, and the (much more authentic) camel trekking. For those with less of an active nature, just sitting amid the sand dune splendor is worthy enough of the long journey out here. For most travelers who make it this far, the highlight is spending the evening at a desert camp amid the dunes themselves.

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