Morocco Calling: How to See the Most Instagrammable Country in the World
It's impossible to accurately describe Morocco without involving all of the senses. The first thing that stands out about the cultural capital, Marrakech, is the scent: Market stalls overflow with carts of fragrant spices, and the air is filled with the heady aroma of cumin and cinnamon. Then there's the chorus of the city. A steady melodic voice rises above the chatter of the marketplace as the call to prayer resounds from the mosques that dot the city. And you can't forget the colours—it's as if Morocco were made for Instagram.
Given how photogenic the city is, it's no wonder that bloggers and celebrities are flocking to Marrakech in force. Thanks to DJ Hannah Bronfman's recent nuptials at the iconic La Mamounia hotel, our Instagram feed has been awash with images of her guests' adventures, reminding us why the North African nation is such an incredible place to go on vacation.
If you've been dreaming of seeing Morocco in person, but you've been hesitant about how to explore the country, we've laid out a simple itinerary for you. Inspired by the snaps of some of our favourite Instagrammers, it hits all the major attractions, from Marrakech to the "blue city," Chefchaouen.
Quit scrolling through your feed and start planning: This is the best way to explore the most Instagrammable country in the world, Morocco.
Riad Yasmine: The hotel's mosaic swimming pool took Instagram by storm last year, so book early to secure a room in this gorgeous Marrakech hotel.
La Mamounia Palace Hotel: Looking to splurge? This iconic five-star hotel lives up to the hype. Bronfman and British It girl Poppy Delevingne both celebrated their nuptials at the property. Don't miss the indoor pool—it's absolutely stunning.
Al Fassia Gueliz: Run exclusively by women since 1987, this is the best place to get hearty, local Moroccan fare.
La Maison Arabe: Order the famous lamb tagine with caramelized oranges, saffron, and turmeric.
The Souk: There's an overwhelming number of food choices in Marrakech's central market, or souk. Sample traditional food like snails and tagine.
Jemaa el-Fnaa: Spend at least a few hours wandering the diverse market stalls that border this vast public square, offering up woven baskets, antique silverware, and more. Don't miss the lantern store on the main square—it's easy to get lost among the glowing pendants.
Majorelle Garden: French painter Jacques Majorelle took 40 years to create this incredible 12-acre botanical garden, painted bright blue and yellow. Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent bought the space in 1980, and it's now open for the public to explore the cactus garden and museum.
El Badi Palace: Wander the remains of this 16th-century palace and its orange orchard, which still stands.
Bahia Palace: You'll need a couple of hours to properly take in the 160 ornately decorated rooms and courtyards in this royal palace.
Riad Idrissy: This 400-year-old riad is named after the descendants of the city’s founder, Moulay Idriss. The central courtyard is enchanting, and breakfast is delicious, making this a great reasonably priced option in Fès.
Dar Bensouda: This serene boutique hotel offers much-needed respite from the often chaotic streets of Fès. It's the first project in Fès by veteran hotelier Abdellatif Aït Ben Abdallah.
Fès et Gestes: Order a traditional herbal tea and sip it in the charming colonial tea garden.
Restaurant Numero 7: Regarded as one of the best fine dining experiences in Fès, this expat-run restaurant is a must. The concept is so smart: It hosts a residency program where chefs from around the world are invited to helm the kitchen for a few months.
Chouara Tannery: Fès is perhaps best-known for its world-class leather products, so a visit to its most iconic 16th-century tannery is a must. The traditional method of dyeing leather isn't for the faint-hearted. It involves soaking hides in a mixture of cow urine, quicklime, water, and salt, and later, water and pigeon poop.
Fes el-Bali: Fès is also known for its blue-and-white ceramics. Pick up a set of handpainted bowls or plates from the marketplace for a souvenir you'll actually use.
Bou Inania Medersa: One of Fès's finest theological colleges, this building is a great example of Moroccan architecture, featuring huge brass doors, ornate plasterwork, and ancient tiles.
LET'S GET OUT OF HERE:
Merzouga: Most organized tours of the Sahara Desert start with a night in Merzouga, a small village in southeastern Morocco that borders the desert. A short overnight stay in the vast dunes of the Sahara is enough for most people; it offers a chance to ride a camel through the dunes at sunset, camp in an oasis, and then ride back at sunrise the next day.
Most tours include meals in their package, but be sure to request traditional Moroccan meals, like harira soup, tagine, and pastilla, a portion of spiced meat wrapped in pastry.
Camel Riding: Chances are if you're venturing into the desert, it's on the back of a dromedary, a one-hump Arabian camel. Trust us, it's not as comfortable as you'd hope, so opt for a 30-minute ride at most.
Quad Biking: Many tours offer quad bikes or ATVs for guests to explore the dunes in the afternoon when the scorching sun has sunk low in the sky.
Stargazing: The Sahara Desert has some of the best views of the night sky in the world. Ask your guide to take you out into the sand dunes at night to see shooting stars and glittering constellations.
Casa Hassan: The small town is free of trendy boutique hotels and chains, encouraging travelers to stay in smaller, locally run guesthouses instead. Casa Hassan is considered one of the best, with rooms adorned with art and accessories by local craftspeople.
Hotel Dar Mounir: Ask for a room with an externally facing window, and make sure you enjoy the view from the panoramic terrace.
Cafe Restaurant Sofia: This quaint local eatery lives up to the hype. It also offers cooking classes, so you can learn how to re-create the delicious Moroccan food when you return home.
Auberge Dardara Restaurant: A 10-minute drive from town, this restaurant is revered for its homemade dishes with fresh locally sourced ingredients.
Wander the Old City: Chefchaouen is tiny, and the main attraction is the surreal powder-blue old city. Spend the day wandering the winding alleyways and taking photographs of the stunning doors and passageways.
Watch Sunset: Chefchaouen is surrounded by mountains, so if you follow a short hiking path past Hotel Atlas, it'll lead to a great lookout. Go at sunset to watch the last rays hit the blue city.
Cascades d'Akchour: If you'd rather try a bigger hike, head to Cascades d'Akchour to trek two hours to a large waterfall.