Morocco: A Land Between Ocean and Desert

Here are my top Morocco travel tips for first-time visitors. Morocco is a land of contrasts, but one that I truly love.

Morocco is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and it deserves to be known and appreciated by all world travellers out there. I’m hoping you already know what Morocco is all about, but here is a short summary of Moroccan lifestyle, geography, historical and natural places. I’ve also included my personal impressions and experiences from Morocco.

Morocco

Geographical overview of Morocco

Morocco has a diverse geography, as it is positioned between the Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara Desert. 

Morocco is uniquely positioned at the crossroads of Europe and Africa. Here’s an overview of its key geographical aspects:

Location

Morocco is situated in North Africa, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Algeria to the east, and the disputed territory of Western Sahara to the south.

Coastlines

The country boasts extensive coastlines along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. These coastal regions, particularly the Atlantic coast, are known for their beautiful beaches, fishing villages, and vibrant port cities like Casablanca and Agadir.

Mountain Ranges

Dominating the country’s landscape are the Atlas Mountains, which stretch across central Morocco. This range is divided into the Middle, High, and Anti-Atlas, with Toubkal in the High Atlas being the highest peak in North Africa. These mountains are not only a natural barrier but also a hub for biodiversity and Berber culture.

The Sahara Desert

To the south and east, the landscape transitions into the Sahara Desert, characterized by its vast expanses of dunes, rocky plateaus, and oasis towns. This part of Morocco offers a stark contrast to the lush, fertile regions in the north and is a popular destination for desert tours and camel treks.

Rivers and Valleys

Morocco’s river systems, such as the Draa and the Moulouya, play a crucial role in supporting agriculture and human settlements. The fertile valleys, especially in the Atlas region, are home to traditional Berber communities and are known for their agricultural produce.

Climate in Morocco

The country’s climate varies dramatically from the Mediterranean climate in the north and coastal areas, characterized by warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters, to more arid and desert-like conditions in the interior and the south.

Economy

Geographically, Morocco’s proximity to Europe has made it a significant player in Mediterranean trade and political affairs. The country’s diverse landscapes also contribute significantly to its economy, especially through agriculture, mining, and a growing tourism sector.

Cultural Richness

Morocco’s cultural richness is a vibrant tapestry of Berber, Arab, African, and European influences, making it a fascinating destination for first-time visitors:

Multicultural Heritage

At its core, Moroccan culture is deeply rooted in Berber traditions, enriched by Arab, Andalusian, and French influences over centuries.

Language

Arabic is the official language, with Berber dialects widely spoken. French also plays a significant role in business and communication.

Cuisine

Moroccan cuisine is famous for its flavours and spices. Signature dishes include couscous, tagine (a slow-cooked stew), and mint tea, which is a symbol of hospitality.

Architecture

The architecture is a stunning mix of Berber, Moorish, and colonial French styles, evident in the medinas, mosques, and palaces. Notable examples are the intricately decorated riads and the majestic Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.

Music and Dance

Traditional Moroccan music blends Berber, Arabic, and Andalusian elements, often featuring instruments like the oud and darbuka. Belly dancing and folk dances are also integral to the cultural landscape.

Festivals and celebrations

Morocco hosts various festivals, such as the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music and the Marrakech Film Festival, which showcase its rich cultural diversity.

Crafts and Souks

The souks (markets) are a sensory overload of colours and crafts, offering everything from leather goods and ceramics to spices and textiles. Moroccan craftsmanship reflects a centuries-old tradition.

Historical sites in Morocco

Morocco is a country steeped in history, boasting numerous sites that reflect its rich cultural past. Check out my guide for the best places to visit in Morocco, if you want more details about each place. If you’re just in the planning stage, get these key historical sites on your itinerary.

Marrakech Medina

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Medina of Marrakech is a historic city centre famous for its labyrinthine alleys, vibrant souks, and historical landmarks like the Koutoubia Mosque and the Bahia Palace.

Fes el Bali

This is the oldest walled part of Fes and is renowned for its medieval architecture, ancient universities, and the famous Chouara Tannery. The University of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in 859, is considered the world’s oldest continuously functioning university.

Volubilis

Near the city of Meknes, Volubilis is an ancient Roman ruin known for its well-preserved mosaics, columns, and remnants of grand buildings, offering a glimpse into the Roman occupation of Morocco.

Ait Benhaddou

This is a traditional mudbrick city on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains. It is a striking example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture and has been a backdrop for many films.

essaouira morocco One Month as a Digital Nomad in Morocco

Hassan II Mosque

Located in Casablanca, this is one of the largest mosques in the world, known for its magnificent architecture, intricate tilework, and towering minaret.

Chellah

Situated in Rabat, Chellah is a medieval fortified necropolis. It includes Roman ruins, a royal burial ground, and the remains of a mosque, showcasing layers of Moroccan history.

rabat One Month as a Digital Nomad in Morocco

Kasbah of the Udayas

Also in Rabat, this kasbah is a fortified royal fortress offering panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and a glimpse into the Moorish and Andalusian influences on Moroccan architecture.

Essaouira

A coastal city, Essaouira is known for its 18th-century seaport fortifications and vibrant medina. The blend of European and Moroccan architectural styles reflects its history as a major trading port.

The Saadian Tombs

Located in Marrakech, these tombs date back to the time of the Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur. They are beautifully decorated with intricate tilework and Arabic script.

Medina of Tetouan

This is an exceptionally well-preserved and complete example of Andalusian-influenced architecture, illustrating the interchange of cultures in Morocco.

Meknes

One of Morocco’s four Imperial cities, Meknes is known for its impressive gates like Bab Mansour, palaces, and the nearby Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail.

Morocco desert

Natural wonders in Morocco

Morocco’s natural wonders offer a dazzling array of landscapes, from vast deserts to stunning mountain ranges and picturesque coastlines. Here’s a list and description of some of the most notable natural wonders in Morocco:

  • The Sahara Desert

The world’s largest hot desert, the Sahara, extends into Morocco, offering breathtaking landscapes of sand dunes, particularly in areas like Merzouga and Erg Chebbi. These towering dunes provide opportunities for camel treks and overnight stays in desert camps.

  • The Atlas Mountains

This mountain range stretches across Morocco, dividing the coastline from the Sahara Desert. It’s divided into the High, Middle, and Anti-Atlas. The High Atlas, home to Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, is popular for trekking and offers stunning scenery.

  • Dades and Todra Gorges

These two dramatic gorges in the High Atlas region are known for their incredible rock formations, steep cliffs, and scenic hiking trails. The Todra Gorge, with its towering 300-meter-high walls, is particularly popular among rock climbers.

  • Ouzoud Waterfalls

Located in the Middle Atlas region, the Ouzoud Waterfalls are among the most stunning in Morocco. Cascading over 110 meters into a basin below, these falls are surrounded by lush, green landscapes and are a refreshing contrast to the arid regions of the country.

  • Legzira Beach

Famous for its natural rock arches, Legzira Beach on the Atlantic coast is one of Morocco’s most unique beaches. The dramatic red cliffs and arches provide a stunning backdrop, especially at sunset.

  • Paradise Valley

Nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains near Agadir, Paradise Valley is a lush oasis with palm trees, natural pools, and rock formations, offering a tranquil escape and opportunities for hiking and swimming.

chefchaouen the blue city of morocco morocco One Month as a Digital Nomad in Morocco
Me on the streets of Chefchaouen (I wore yellow on purpose)
  • Chefchaouen Region

While Chefchaouen is famed for its blue-painted buildings, the surrounding region is noted for its natural beauty, including the Rif Mountains and the Akchour Waterfalls, a serene spot with clear pools and lush greenery.

  • The Draa Valley

This valley stretches from the High Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert, marked by a string of oases, palm groves, and ancient kasbahs. The Draa River, which runs through it, creates a fertile green ribbon in the desert landscape.

  • Cape Spartel

Situated at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, Cape Spartel offers stunning views of the meeting point between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, characterized by rugged cliffs and lighthouses.

  • The Rif Mountains

Less visited than the Atlas range, the Rif Mountains in the north offer lush landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, and a cooler climate, ideal for hiking and exploring the traditional Berber villages.

what to wear in Morocco as a tourist?

Personal and local experiences in Morocco


In April 2022, I spent a month in Morocco as a digital nomad, and I absolutely loved it! 

Escaping the chaos of Europe and the pandemic, the reopening of Morocco’s borders in February 2022 was a breath of fresh air for me. Despite the global inflation and high prices, Morocco still stands out as an ideal destination for digital nomads and tourists alike.

So, why Morocco? 

The country is incredibly welcoming, and the people are hospitable. Its proximity to Europe is a huge plus – it’s just a short flight away, with plenty of budget-friendly options. 

The cultural and geographical diversity is astounding, and the contrast between the Islamic culture and the European lifestyle makes it an exotic destination.

rabat One Month as a Digital Nomad in Morocco

Morocco feels like one of the most welcoming Muslim countries I’ve visited. Respect for their customs and religion is key, but they’re understanding of foreigners’ different practices. The history, starting from the Berber era, is fascinating, and the landscape – encompassing mountains, valleys, deserts, and coastlines – is simply breathtaking.

During my stay, I based myself in Marrakesh, exploring the city and its surroundings. I also ventured out to Essaouira for its laid-back atmosphere and Tangier for its European feel. 

Casablanca was good for a day trip, while Rabat warranted a full day’s visit, especially for its lovely medina. I found Fes culturally different, a bit rougher around the edges.

For accommodation, I used Airbnb, but local agencies are also a great option for longer stays. The prices can be much more affordable than online listings.

As a digital nomad in Morocco, the experience is enriching but comes with its unique challenges. The internet speed can be slow, but getting a local SIM card for data can solve most problems. Coworking spaces are readily available in major cities, offering a reliable alternative.

Travelling during Ramadan, which I experienced in 2022, requires some adjustments. Many businesses have different operating hours, and being respectful of the fasting customs is important.

In terms of safety, Morocco felt very secure, even when exploring the cities at night. As always, common sense and respect for local customs go a long way.

Overall, my time in Morocco was incredible. The country is accommodating and full of wonders, making it a great destination for digital nomads seeking new experiences and inspiration. I’m already looking forward to my next visit!

One Month as a Digital Nomad in Morocco

Travel Tips

Travelling to Morocco can be a thrilling and enriching experience, but it’s important to go prepared. Here’s a comprehensive list of Morocco travel tips to help you make the most of your Moroccan adventure:

  • Best Time to Visit: The ideal time to visit Morocco is during spring (March to May) or autumn (September to October) when the weather is pleasant.
  • Currency & Expenses: The Moroccan Dirham (MAD) is the local currency. Credit cards are widely accepted in cities, but they are good for carrying cash for smaller shops and rural areas. Morocco can be budget-friendly, but prices in tourist areas can be higher.
  • Language: Arabic and Berber are the official languages. French is widely spoken, especially in urban areas. English is increasingly common in tourist areas.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Dress modestly, particularly when visiting mosques and traditional neighbourhoods. It’s respectful to cover shoulders and knees.
  • Safety: Morocco is generally safe, but like in any tourist destination, beware of pickpockets and scams, especially in crowded markets (souks). Avoid walking alone at night in less populated areas.
  • Transportation: Trains are a comfortable way to travel between major cities. For more flexibility, consider renting a car or using buses. In cities, petit taxis are a convenient option.
  • Cuisine: Enjoy the local cuisine, but be cautious with street food. Drink bottled water to avoid stomach upsets.
  • Accommodation: Options range from budget hostels to luxury riads (traditional houses). Booking in advance is advisable, especially during peak seasons.
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi is widely available in hotels and cafés. Consider buying a local SIM card for better coverage.
  • Negotiation & Tipping: Bargaining in markets is expected. Also, tipping is customary in Morocco for various services.
  • Respect Local Customs: Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, affects opening hours and food availability during the day. Be mindful and respectful of these practices.
  • Guided Tours: For a deep dive into Morocco’s history and culture, consider hiring a local guide, especially in the medinas.
  • Adventure Activities: If you’re interested in activities like trekking, camel riding, or quad biking, ensure you’re dealing with reputable operators.
  • Healthcare: Travel insurance is strongly recommended. Pharmacies are widely available, but bring essential medications with you.
  • Photography: Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, especially in rural areas.
  • Electrical Standards: The standard voltage is 220 V. Plugs are typically the two-pin European type.
  • Legal Norms: Be aware of local laws and regulations, especially those regarding alcohol consumption and public behaviour.
Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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