North or South Morocco: Which Should you Visit Next?

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From Mountains to Mosques and the Wonderful Souks, All of Morocco Awaits

By Oscar Davis

A visitor and a local guide in Merzouga, Morocco. Intrepid Travel photos.
A visitor and a local guide in Merzouga, Morocco. Intrepid Travel photos.

From the vast, shimmering plains of the Sahara to the lively and chaotic sounds of the local bazaars, Morocco is a land full of immeasurable beauty and fascinating culture.

Now that you’ve decided on Morocco for your next adventure, the hard part really begins. Which part of this captivating country should you actually travel to?

You’ve got the north with its sparkling beaches on the edge of the Mediterranean and the dreamy atmosphere of cities such as Tangier.

But on the south, there are the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and one of the country’s most breathtaking cities, Marrakech.

With unforgettable experiences to be had in both regions (and not enough time to see and do everything), choosing exactly where you should explore requires a little more thought. And list-making. To make this decision a little easier (and if you don’t fancy flipping a coin), we’ve put together a guide on the best parts of both regions.

North Morocco

You can’t go wrong when choosing to adventure through North Morocco with its Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, ancient Roman ruins, the imposing Rif Mountains, and an abundance of multicolored and charming medinas. Not only is Morocco’s north greener than you’d ever expect (they even grow wine grapes and olives), but it’s also bursting with some of the country’s more mesmerizing Imperial cities such as Casablanca and Rabat.

Intrepid Travel Morocco Casablanca Hassan II Mosque02

Visit a Mosque as a Non-Muslim

While non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the majority of mosques in Morocco, there’s one you can visit, and it’s located in the cosmopolitan city of Casablanca. Named the Hassan II Mosque, this magnificent structure is quite simply stunning.

Book merchant in Rabat, Morocco.
Book merchant in Rabat, Morocco.

Whether you want to embark on a guided tour inside the religious temple or wander its surroundings while marveling at its green-tiled minaret and other aspects of its Arab-Muslim architecture, take this once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn about the religious life in Morocco goes a long in understanding this country’s culture.

Discover Morocco’s varied history

Northern Morocco is definitely the region to travel to if you’re a history buff and like the idea of exploring capital cities and uncovering their ancient secrets.

Home to three of the four historical capitals of Morocco: Fes, Meknes, and Rabat (which is also the current capital), as well as the ancient Roman ruins at Volubilis and the 1000-year-old medina in Fes (a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site), this region boasts more history than you’ll know what to do with.

Wander through Chefchaouen

Known as the “Blue Pearl”, the city of Chefchaouen should be at the very top of your Moroccan bucket list. Nestled into the Rif Mountains, this town’s blue-washed medina is not only extremely photogenic (and will make for an excellent Insta post) but it’s exquisite beauty and incredible history make it unmissable.

South Morocco 

Chefchaouen, Morocco, the blue city.
Chefchaouen

Okay enough about the north, it’s the south’s turn. When you think of Morocco, it’s the southern part of the country you probably imagine. From sand dunes for as far as the eye can see and arid mountains begging to be climbed to ancient kasbahs that look like enormous and perfectly constructed sandcastles, the south is a magical place.

Spend a night under the stars in the Sahara Desert, immerse yourself within Berber culture, check out some of the largest oases in the world, or make your way through the twisting and turning streets of Marrakech for an extraordinary trip you’ll hardly believe you went on.

Ride a camel in the Saharan Desert 

You’ll soon forget how awkward riding a camel really is when you soak up the spectacular Saharan scenery unfurling in front of you. So much more than an item to tick off your bucket list, this unique experience will take you over shimmering sand dunes under the blue of a sky that looks as if it’s been perfectly painted.

Ancient ruins in Volubilis, Morocco.
Ancient ruins in Volubilis, Morocco.

Become a movie star in ‘Mollywood’

Live out your Lawrence of Arabia-like fantasies by visiting the town now dubbed “Mollywood” thanks to how many films and tv shows have been shot there over the decades. Think “The Mummy”, “Games of Thrones”, and “The Man Who Would Be King”.

We can’t blame them though because this part of Southern Morocco is absolutely jaw-dropping from its ancient, fortified cities to its mud-brick kasbahs.

Hike up the Atlas Mountains

If the desert is your final goal while traveling in Morocco’s northern regions, then you first have to cross the rocky and rugged Atlas Mountains. But this remarkable landscape deserves to be appreciated in its own right with steep gorges and several traditional Berber villages for you to explore.

Whether you want to lace up your hiking boots in search of some epic vistas or take the time to learn how the locals live, these mountains are an adventure waiting to happen.

With unforgettable landscapes across every inch of Morocco, no matter which region you choose to visit, you’re guaranteed to make memories you’ll cherish forever.

oscar davis unsmushedOscar Davis is a freelance writer from Leeds, UK, and a regular contributor to GoNOMAD. 

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