Morocco

Morocco is an incredibly diverse country with so much history and culture to be explored. I spent 10 days seeing as much of the country as I could in October this year!

Flights to Morocco from the UK are fairly cheap with the cheapest being from London. We flew with Ryanair from London Stansted to Fez and then returned from Marrakech to London Gatwick for £112 in total. Flights take approximately 3 hours from London to Morocco. The currency is the Moroccan Dirham which is a closed currency and therefore easiest to obtain upon arrival into the country. The exchange rate from pounds to dirham is around 12 dirham to the pound.  Morocco is in the same time zone as the UK. Visas are not required for UK and Irish nationals.

Fez
Fez is a beautiful City in the north of Morocco that I would definitely recommend visiting! Fez contains the oldest Medina (old town) in Morocco, which is best explored by wandering the streets and getting lost for hours.

Fez airport is set approximately 30 minutes outside of the City Centre. We arrived into Fez airport unsure of how to get into the City Centre, and not wanting to leave the safety of the airport to head outside to the throng of waiting taxi drivers ready to charge extortionate prices! We eventually found the tourist information hub (surprisingly difficult) and learned that we could get a local bus into the City Centre for 20 dirham. With no set schedule of bus times and not knowing where exactly the bus stop was we headed outside of the airport to find the bus, followed all the way by the aforementioned taxi drivers.

To find the local bus stop head out of the airport to a nearby roundabout where local buses come every 20 minutes or so. After sitting in the heat of the day on the side of the road for what felt like an hour but was probably only 15 minutes the bus showed up and we piled on for the journey into Fez. The bus stops regularly for locals who flag it down so if you choose this option to get into Fez expect that it will take about an hour to make the journey. You may prefer to arrange transport in advance or test your bargaining skills with the many taxi drivers at the airport.

We stayed at Riad Verus hostel in Fez which costs £10 per night and provides complimentary breakfast. We were even provided with a free dinner during one of our nights there! The hostel is friendly and open and even has puppies and tortoises roaming around on the roof terrace!

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Breakfast provided by the hostel daily

We chose to visit a Hammam on our first day as we knew that in the unlikely event that we got a tan during our time in Morocco it would be scrubbed off by the exfoliation of the hammam! A hammam is a public bath or spa where locals go to socialise and relax. Women and men attend the hammam at alternating times throughout the day. Be prepared that on arrival you will be asked to strip down, although we did insist on keeping our bikini bottoms on! We were then led into a tiled heated room and scrubbed and bathed by a local woman who even washed our hair! A very strange but fun experience and our skin felt so soft afterwards!

After we had been exfoliated and scrubbed we explored the Medina of Fez. The medina dates back to 789 AD and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The medina is a maze of tiny streets filled with gorgeous ceramics and souvenirs which we had lots of fun admiring and spending our dirham on!

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Chefchouen
Before arriving into Morocco we had no set plans of where we would visit or travel during our time there. We had booked 2 nights in a hostel in Fez and that was it! I enjoy this method of travel however this did mean that we ended up spending our first few days making plans of where to travel. Our hostel in Fez was good at giving advice of where to travel and this is were we first heard of Chefchouen. Chefchouen is a town perched on the side of a mountain 4 hours north of Fez by bus. Chefchouen is nicknamed ‘the blue pearl of Morocco’ as almost every building in the town is painted blue! We heard many theories for this during our time there, with the main theory being that the blue is to repel mosquitoes! Others explained that the blue represents the sky and reminds us to live a spiritual life.

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Chefchouen is beautiful and very popular amongst tourists who wander the streets taking photos on every corner. We stayed at Abi Khancha guest house in the middle of the medina which cost £8 per night. Breakfast was available for an additional 25 dirham. We spent one night in Chefchouen exploring the pretty streets or sat in the main square people watching before making the journey back to Fez the following day and onwards to Marrakech!

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Marrakech
When deciding where we would travel in Morocco we liked the idea of travelling down the coast from Fez to Marrakech, however when investigating this further we found that it would be a difficult option unless hiring a car. Instead we opted to travel straight to Marrakech and use this as a base to travel to other places from. The easiest way to get from Fez to Marrakech is via train which takes 8 hours.

Arriving into Marrakech can feel slightly overwhelming at first. The medina in Marrakech has not banned vehicles from travelling through the narrow streets the way the Fez medina has. We therefore spent most of our time avoiding the hundreds of mopeds and bikes which whizz through the tiny streets daily! We stayed in a Riad called Riad al porte del 5 Jardins in Marrakech, a beautiful little oasis Riad run by a lovely French couple who do everything they can to ensure you have a lovely stay during your time there! The riad cost £17 per night.

Marrakech is filled with beautiful museums and art galleries well worth exploring to learn more about the history and culture of Marrakech. The palace of Marrakech is in the South of the City and contains huge old ruins and tales of the exotic and glamorous history of the royalty who once lived there. Definitely worth a visit!

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The palace of Marrakech

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Zagora- Desert trek
Steph and I had heard lots about camel trekking and sleeping under the stars in the desert in Morocco so this was one of our most anticipated things to do in Morocco. You can choose to explore the Sahara desert on a 3 day camel trek, or if you’re shorter on time like us you can explore the Zagora desert region on a 2 day trip. Be warned though, from Marrakech it takes 10 hours by car to get to Zagora, so most of the trip will be spent in a bus or car! The 2 day trip will stop along the way exploring ancient Kasbahs and cities such as Ouarzazate along the way.

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We spent our time in the desert trekking on camels, eating delicious tagines prepared by the Berber community who ran the desert camp, and lying out on huge mats star gazing before spending the night camping out in tents. The Berber tribe run the camp, a community of nomadic people who live in the Sahara desert continuously moving and travelling by camel following the rain. Such an interesting group of people and culture to learn about!

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Our camp for the night!

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On our return to Marrakech we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy hotel stay for 2 nights. The shower and scrub after a day and night of riding camels and camping in the desert was bliss! The hotel was called Villa Assala, a 10 room boutique hotel set within beautiful gardens just outside of Marrakech. The hotel was so relaxing and the perfect end to our trip!

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Our time in Morocco had come to an end. Morocco is a beautiful country with an incredible history and culture to be explored. My top tips would be to ensure you keep respectfully dressed during your time there by keeping shoulders covered and keep covered to below the knees. I had been warned that the men in Morocco can be quite persistent and hassling, however we found that they weren’t as bad as expected so don’t let this put you off if you are travelling as a single female or group of females. Most of all enjoy your time there, taking in all the culture, food, and history that Morocco has to offer!

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