The Imperial Cities of Marrakech, Fez and Meknes have a wealth of Islamic architecture and crafts. Visit the magnificent palaces and tranquil medersas to see the exquisite carved plaster, carved and hand-painted cedarwood, delicate calligraphy, mosaic tiles and marble fountains. These ancient skills are still practised in the medinas of Morocco, along with other crafts such as brass and copperware, leather tanning, ceramics and embroidery. We have a special half-day tour in Fez where you can meet the artisans as well as our Architectural Insights tour. See our Activities & Day Trips pages (Fez and Marrakech) for details of all our city options.
Shopping in the souks is legendary as arts and crafts abound. Lanterns, aloe silk throws and scarves, leather bags and belts, pouffes, spices, ceramics, teapots and trays – there’s a fabulously enticing choice. Venturing outside the big cities to smaller towns on market day is fascinating – in Azrou, for example, there are carpets and antiques on sale alongside sheep and vegetables.
The medinas of these cities are just like a living museum. Fez is the biggest, and you soon realise that the medina operates not because you’re there as a visitor, but because people are living there. Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains is the famous blue town of northern Morocco that is so photogenic.
Modernity is visible in the satellite dishes, plastic goods for sale and the odd motorbike. But the medinas are essentially ancient and nothing much has changed for more than 1200 years.
In each of these medinas you will find exquisite traditional houses that have been restored and renovated to include all modern comforts. Accommodation in these cities is in beautiful guesthouses in the medinas.
And on the coast, three cities definitely worth a visit:
Casablanca is Morocco’s gritty commercial hub, with its sparkling new mall and enormous mosque. Tucked away out of sight is a jewel – the downtown area full of crumbling Mauresque and Art Deco buildings.
Rabat, the kingdom’s capital, is a gentle, slow-paced city with clean, wide streets, some interesting monuments such as the pirate lair Kasbah, and excellent restaurants. The tram system will whizz you over the Bouregreg River to Salé and its beautiful medina architecture. The Archeological Museum has treasures from Volubilis, and there’s a new Museum of Contemporary Art.
Tangier, the white city on the hill that has shrugged off its shady past, sports a delightful medina, a Kasbah with beautiful places to stay overlooking the sea, excellent shopping and superb restaurants and art galleries galore. And yet Tangier retains that raffish air of the Beat poets and bathes in the light that so entranced Matisse and Delacroix. (Blog: Tangier – look again)