There is much more to see in Morocco than its big imperial cities, a fact that any traveler who has visited Morocco can testify to. Marrakech and Casablanca are probably the only two cities that one hears about before coming to this magical country, while there are tens of other Moroccan cities and towns which are worth seeing too! Morocco is an enchanting land that will make you want to seek unique experience found in its most beautiful, raw, and authentic cities.
What makes Morocco a great country to visit is that it delivers different experience from one region to another. What you will come across in one part of the country might be nothing like what you will experience in another part only 100km away! Northern Morocco is greatly influenced by the Spanish culture and architecture and central Morocco is influence by that of the French. Long story short- Morocco is a melting pot of fascinating places to visit and an intriguing culture to witness. Everything about the country makes it worth seeing; the traditions, the architecture, the ancient Medinas, the landscapes, the food, and the laid-back lifestyle of the indigenous people. Exploring the not-so famous Moroccan towns will give you the chance to ramble through the real authentic Morocco.
Beauty can be found almost everywhere in Morocco, whether you are by the ocean, in the desert, in the white-washed seaside towns, in the Atlas Mountains…wherever you are in Morocco, it is a beautiful destination. With this in mind, here are 4 laid-back, stunning, and authentic towns you should visit when you are in Morocco.
A forgotten southern town located about 50min away from Agadir. Once you set foot in the city you instantly feel its sleepy, serene, nonchalant atmosphere that is disseminated through its streets, people, and fortified walls. The first thing that may strike you about Taroudant is that everyone uses bicycles to get around the town. This does not only make of it the most clean and eco-friendly town in Morocco, but it also gives it this unique vibe, as if everything in this town circulates in slow motion…as if it is stuck in the past. Everything about Taroudant is just right! Just about the right ingredients to make of it the number one heaven for those in search of the real authentic soul of Morocco, very far away from the crazy and hectic big cities.
Often referred to as the pearl of the North, is really the one place you should not skip while you are in Morocco. Chefchaouen is truly the number one destination for those looking forward to exploring new exotic destinations filled with history, culture, and an array of picturesque blue-washed doors. “Chaouen”, as the locals call it, is much peaceful and quitter than other Moroccan cities and towns. What fascinates me most about Chaouen is the simplicity and hospitality of its people. The pure smiles on their faces, their unique facial features, modest lifestyle, everything about the locals soothes my soul. As they go about their simple lives, they make everyday life seem effortless. I like to sit in a café and gaze at the locals coming and going. Sometimes, I roll my camera and savor some of those moments, but most times I just watch them passing by and admire the unique and peculiar life they conduct, one that has nothing in common with the western life. After moments of reflection, I go back to strolling around the blue washed narrow streets. This town sitting carefully within the sheltering bosom of the mountains, is painted in 100 shades of blue, making its every corner showcasing a different shadow of the blue color.
One of my favorite activities in Chefchaouen is to witness sunrise from the rooftop of my Riad, and I tell you the truth, Chaouen offers the most magical sunrise you will see during your time in Morocco. As the sun rises form the horizon, casting enough light on the blue houses as the mountains stand majestically in the back drop; no words put together can accurately describe the charming view. I also like to climb up the hill where the Spanish mosque is located and enjoy my sunrise there where a perfect view of the city unveils.
The windy city of Morocco, heavily fortified by golden stone walls surrounding the Medina. The Arab, African, Roman, and French civilizations have all impacted the architecture and traditions of the city creating a ripe and bohemian, yet, elegant beach town. Essaouira has its own ways of making others fall for it, and if you do fall, you will have created some sort of umbilical connection to this place, a connection that will always push you to come back to Essaouira to nourish your essence.
My hippie soul always finds its way back to Essaouira. A place for it to fish for lazy afternoon strolls, salty hair and sun-kissed face, bare feet, a body swaying to Gnawa tunes, and many many bonfire nights by the ocean.
The medina of Essaouira has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site for its unique and distinct mixture of Moroccan and European styles. Although it is common to hear that all Morocco’s medinas are the same, Essaouira’s medina is actually a lot different, in the sense that if you walk into it, it is not like you are trapped inside of a maze, so you will not be worried all the time about getting lost and actually enjoy your time there.
Asilah is one of the hidden gems of Northern Morocco. An incredibly beautiful little town overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. In many ways, Asilah is the antithesis to several imperial Moroccan cities; and the reason for that might be because it is governed by a slower and less hectic lifestyle. I always recommend new visitors to head straight to Asilah as it gives them the gentlest introduction to life in the medina.
I have always admired the nautical atmosphere and the one that Asilah offers with its harbor-side location was one that I greatly enjoyed. The sounds of waves constantly crashing against the medina ramparts echoing throughout the quiet streets of the medina lulled me into falling in love with this town, and I could not find it in myself to leave.
The melting pot of cultures which have owned this land have left their imprints that even hundreds of years could not erase. And thankfully, they endured time so that we can witness how they combined together to create a rich multicultural destination, reflecting the Portuguese, Spanish, Andalusian, and Moroccan style.