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Language: Arabic | Currency: Moroccan dirham | Local time: GMT +1:00 | Avg. Flight time: 3 hrs 50m
Scattered throughout the medieval portions of cities such as Marrakech and Fes are sumptuous Moroccan palaces known as riads. Many have been tastefully converted into uber-luxe hotels and make for the perfect base to explore Morocco’s fascinating cities. Thick walls made from sand, lime and egg white cocoon guests away from the hustle and bustle of town life.
The best riad hotels are packed with stand-out features – think sunny roof gardens, plunge pools, cocktail courtyards and traditional hammams – to create blissful havens in the heart of the city. Some of the most famous are concentrated around the medinas of Marrakech, Essaouira and Fes, making it possible to live like royalty while exploring the UNESCO-listed highlights of these spectacular cities.
When city life starts to get a bit much, head off the beaten track and discover a different side to Morocco. The oasis valleys of Dadés and Todra are lush sanctuaries sandwiched between mountain and desert, where upmarket villa retreats draw tourists with the promise of fabulous food, shady gardens and bags of traditional charm. Head west from Ouarzazate to discover bastions of historic tranquillity such as palm-strewn Skoura and Tinghir.
Mountain lovers should make a beeline for remote Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains, home to an appealing mixture of cosy B&Bs and luxurious spa hotels. Alternatively, escape the tourist trail and base yourself at Taza, a 12th-century provincial gem within easy reach of both the Atlas Mountains and Jbel Tazekka National Park.
Sometimes, all you want from a holiday is a palm-fringed beach, a pool surrounded by sun-loungers and plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained. Morocco has its fair share of coastal resort hotels, many of them concentrated around lively Agadir. For a good range of cheap and mid-range beach accommodation plus a charming medina to boot, head to family resort Asilah just south of Tangier.
Oualidia, with its serene lagoon and ruined Kasbah, is home to some of the classiest hotels on the coastline. Alternatively, opt for an urban townhouse in culture-rich Essaouira or colourful Casablanca to experience a fusion of city and coast.
One of the most thrilling ways to see Morocco is by following nomadic tribes through the Sahara Desert or up into the High Atlas. Tent stays are becoming increasingly popular with tourists keen to experience a more traditional way of life, and permanent camps are springing up around nomadic strongholds such as desert outpost Zagora and the Asni valley in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
For something even more adventurous (but not necessarily cheaper), take a camel trek into the dunes of Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga and sleep out under the stars.
The best time to visit Morocco is spring (March and May) and autumn (September and November), as the temperatures are mild and pleasant. Summer can be very hot – it may even hit 45C in Marrakech, but if you don’t mind the heat, you can certainly bag a cheap hotel deal during this period.
Looking to visit Moroco? Make sure to check out our Tips and Advice first.