Hot Sahara sands. Camels. Pyramids of Spice. Arabian Palaces. Bustling Markets. Fresh Mint Tea. These are just a few of the things that spring to mind when I think about Morocco. I have always wanted to visit Morocco. Although parts of Morocco's culture have been greatly influenced by Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the wider middle east, it's mixed Arab and Berber population still hold a strong national identity, creating diverse, exciting cities, on the backdrop of beautiful landscapes.
From the towering Atlas mountains, to the rolling desert dunes and the fields of olive trees, morocco is famous for beautiful landscapes. The Atlas mountains separate the rocky Mediterranean coastline from the Sahara desert, with the highest peak being Toubkal mountain in Toubkal national park. You can hike in the national park, or spend the day riding around the desert on a camel.
In Marrakech, Morocco's cultural capital, there are several wonderful examples of intricate Islamist architecture including the Royal Palace of Fez, the Moroccan Palace and the Bahia palace.
More off the beaten track, Essaouria is a dreamy coastal fishing town famous for its rocky coast line that endures a constant battering from the Atlantic ocean. In Essaouria, like in most North African towns, the medina is the place to go to find bustling souks – markets selling local produce. The medina in Essaouria is walled off from the rest of the city and is probably one of the oldest and most beautiful areas of the town.
Casablanca, Morocco's largest city is home to a very beautiful beach, but it has become very popular recently, so try Asilah beach which is beautifully empty at most times of the year.
However, the most tranquil place in Morocco is definitely Chefchaouen – the picture-perfect blue-washed town. The town's medina is the oldest part of the town and it is where you are immersed in blue-washed buildings and souk markets.
Is Morocco budget-friendly?
Put simply, yes. Morocco is not too far from the U.K. so flight prices are low. A return ticket to Marrakesh can cost as little as £68 per person, and 3/4 star hotel rooms average at around £20 – £35 a night. Therefore, flights and a two week stay in a hotel (inc. breakfast) could cost you less than £300 per person.
Of course it is worth remembering that you would still need to factor in money for food and transport around Morocco, but this can also be budget-friendly if you look out for bargains. Street-food is a great choice for lunch as it is cheap, and offers a taste of what the locals eat.