September 25, 2009 2:45 AM   Subscribe

Three weeks in Morocco with a new sweetheart...give us the perfect itinerary!

Based on your experience, what do you feel is the best month to visit? We are adventurous, experienced and independent. I'm interested in perfume; the Rose Festival in June might be a pivot point. We both love food, cultural and coastal experiences...oh and trance / house / dance experiences... Should we follow the coast with forays inland? We like the offbeat, unusual, edgy and eclectic stuff. Give us the perfect itinerary. Budget travel to a point with two or three big splurges. We've read the books...more interested in your unique experiences and 'the not to be missed.' Beyond the general like the Medina in Marrakech to that specific hilltop, neighbourhood, valley, alley, village, festival, little shop or cafe we shouldn't miss. Have at it, mefites!
posted by Muirwylde to Travel & Transportation around Morocco (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don't know if this is within your budget, but my BF and I stayed in this restored house in Fes's medina last spring: It was definitely the highlight of our trip.

Another highlight for us was an "art deco walk" we took through Casablanca - we saw some amazing buildings and another side of the city. I think we just followed the walk listed in Lonely Planet.

On my last day in Casablanca, I ventured out to Benis Patisserie in the Quartier Habous. It took forever to find, but was well worth searching for - the pastries were amazing.
posted by anonymous78 at 3:05 AM on September 25, 2009

Basically you just need to swing by any bookstore and grab Lonely Planet's Morocco. They're pretty much the aficionados on Africa and they actually write different itineraries for different amounts of time (i.e. if you only have 1 week, if you have 3 weeks, if you have 2 months, etc.). The website will also be helpful but the book will get you sorted in a hurry.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:12 AM on September 25, 2009

Avoid Tangier. Go into the desert and ride a camel!
posted by molecicco at 7:08 AM on September 25, 2009

There's nothing wrong with Tangier if you avoid the crap. There are some lovely old hotels there. The area around Hotel Continental in Rue Dar El Baroud is lovely in the evening. You can probably miss Essaouira though.

Eat shawarma. Fall in love with tagines. Avoid pastilla. Eat everything you can in the Djemaa El-Fna and have fresh orange juice. The best food I had in all of Morocco was from a galette girl down a tiny alley in Marrakech. I can't find a decent map, but I think her stall is about here:

Don't buy marble or crystals. Smoke lots of shisha. Drink mint tea everywhere you go.

Make sure you visit Ouarzazate, Tinihir and spend time in Todra gorge. Avoid the tourist traps at Tetouan and spend at least a night as far out into the desert as you can go.

Casablanca is missable. Fes is not. Stay in a riad for at least one night.

Whatever you do, make sure you go to a genuine hammam. Marrakech has dozens hidden round every corner. Spend a few hours in the Jardin Marjorelle.
posted by turkeyphant at 7:58 AM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like Lonely Planet, but be aware that the authors (usually one for the North and one for the South, different people each edition), normally don't have time to update every listing, or are having too much fun touring the country to do so. If a place has different prices or isn't even in business now, despite what the guidebook says, just roll with it.

House in Fez - that's Dar Bennis, restored by David Amster, definitely worth a visit. I would also recommend contacting Sandy at A View from Fez, if you include that city in your itinerary. Between the two of them, they should be able to hook you up with all sorts of weird/interesting/artistic stuff to see.

The Rose Festival in El Kelaa M'Gouna is neat, but very touristy. Be prepared for entire buses full of Japanese and French tourists. Worth a look, though. Make sure to pick up a couple of boxes of rose water (3 small bottles to a box) to take home, works wonders as a skin toner.

I would hit Essourira, especially if you'll be there in June - there's a million little riads and small hotels to stay in, I can't find the name of my favorite one, though. You can memail me for that if you like, I should be able to dig it up.

Also, the desert - the two main camel-riding joints, M'Hamid and Merzouga, are both inhabited by swarms of shysters who like to pretend that they're Tuaregs. As long as you're aware of that and do a little reading up on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forums on what the going rate is for a camel jaunt/overnight stay, you'll be good.
posted by HopperFan at 8:06 AM on September 25, 2009

Also, I lived in the Todra Gorge, so if you're interested in going there, please memail me.
posted by HopperFan at 8:08 AM on September 25, 2009

Stay in Riads as often as possible! They can be really wonderful.

Check out Essaouira (sp?) towards the end of your trip when you might be feeling burnt out-- it's a great and comparatively laid-back beach town. And so beautiful!

I'd recommend taking a cooking class where the chef takes you into the souks to buy the food in person. It was the highlight of our trip. You can find several places listed if you search around on
posted by np312 at 10:23 AM on September 25, 2009

may I third Essaouira!

Yes there'll b a million tourists there (mostly maroccan and french) there are expensive places to stay on the beach just outside the walls of the city... and a few expensive places inside... but lots and lots of small places that are cheap to stumble around and check out (yes, use the lonely planet guide mentioned above).

For a treat, get up early (don't remember if it's every day or just certain ones) and go to docks to buy fresh seafood... you can pick out something interesting like an eel... have it delivered to a restaurant (don't recall if we went to the restaurant first... but you can figure this out, it's part of the fun)... they'll fix the fresh catch and tell you what time to come for dinner... very nice!

take lotsa photos on the beach there (after you walk waaaay past the camel ride/tourist trap vendors)

Have fun!

Spent lots of time in Marrakesh myself... was a nice city, nice souk - can hang out and chat with the rug merchants (as in any city in Marrocco), learn about the culture from an interesting point of view... and see very interesting haggling skills close up... maybe buy a rug that's "much too low a quality for you" (as I'm sure they'll determine the level that you 'need' for your palace - and appear horrified should you shop 'beneath' that).

have some tea with the locals! just sit and smile... it's nice.

...mmm... I'm jealous.
posted by Jiff_and_theChoosyMuthers at 11:13 AM on September 25, 2009

Since someone else mentioned cooking, I'll just add that while staying at Dar Bennis we had a cooking lesson at the house with a wonderful teacher, Laila. She met us in the medina, took us shopping and then showed us how to make a tagine. It was yet another highlight of the trip and so I would second the suggestion of taking a cooking class.

I would also recommend having a drink at Riad Fes - super posh hotel with an amazing bar/lounge area.
posted by anonymous78 at 12:06 PM on September 25, 2009

Agadir is a fun beach town
posted by saraindc at 8:43 PM on September 25, 2009

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