Ready for a short break in an exciting and exotic destination? Take a Morocco city break, where cultures meet and the history is as vibrant as the people. Whether you want to see the Sahara by camel, explore medieval kasbahs, or sample delicious Moroccan food, there’s a short break to suit you.
Morocco’s proximity to Europe makes it an excellent choice for short vacations. The major cities offer visitors a multicultural world with a rich Arabic history. Short holidays to Morocco provide access to bustling medinas, imposing architecture, and the food and hospitality of local cultures.
Experience the rich wonder of Morocco, modern and ancient. Morocco has everything from the bustling cities of Marrakech and Tangiers with their souks and incredible architecture to the rolling dunes of the Sahara Desert. Our guide to the best Moroccan city breaks will have you ready to go on vacation.
Best Short City Breaks In Morocco
If you only have a few days or a week, pick one city as your base and explore from there. With so much to do, you’ll have less chance of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by trying to cram everything into one trip.
Here are some of our favorite Moroccan cities and what you can expect from each:
Nestled in the foothills of the imposing Atlas Mountains, Marrakech was once one of Morocco’s four imperial cities. Choose Marrakech if you are keen on taking an adventurous day trip by quad bike and camel to the Agafay Desert and Atlas Mountains.
Its distinctive red walls gave Marrakesh its nickname ‘The Red City. This city is packed with architectural wonders, bustling markets, souks, palaces, and gardens. Marrakech has a fascinating history where Arab and European cultures meet and mingle.
See the royal El Badi Palace ruins from 1500, or head to the Medina to lose yourself in a maze of marketplace stalls filled with spices, fabrics, jewelry, and delicious food.
During the sixties and seventies, Marrakech became famous as a hippie destination. Many famous musicians and artists traveled and stayed there. You can find the Majorelle Gardens, which was renovated by Yves Saint Laurent, and visit the museum and exhibitions there.
Other iconic views of Marrakech are the mosques and towers, particularly the Koutoubia, a 12th-century mosque with a fountain, gardens, and plaza, the largest mosque in Marrakech.
Regarding food, Marrakech is a culinary delight—enjoy crusty bread straight from traditional ovens, drink mint tea, and indulge in the delectable lamb kefta tagine.
A port city filled with everything from romantic, elegant architecture to bustling souks, Tangier sits on the Morocco coast. It’s the perfect getaway if you’re looking for a short city break that offers modern, international ease with historical tourism, long white beaches, and a Mediterranean climate.
Tangier has long been seen as the gateway between Europe and Africa. This history is reflected in the meeting of cultures and eras. Its distinctive whitewashed buildings on the hillsides, the towering white beach hotels, and the deep blue ocean make this Moroccan jewel shine.
Visit the winding alleyways of the Medina of the White City, and find bargains and beauties in its maze of corridors. Climb the hill for a view across the port and the ocean, where you can see the distant Spanish coastline.
For those fascinated by the history of Arabic dynasties and Phoenician and Roman traders, take a trip to the Kasbah Museum of Mediterranean Cultures. Once a Sultan’s Palace, this stunning museum offers a view into the past, rich with decoration, and even a secret garden.
Head to Dalia Beach for a moment of escape on golden sand with clear blue waters. While this beach can get very crowded in the season, it is a quiet retreat off-season—afterwards, head to Café Hafa for a meal and a glass of mint tea. Once the refuge of writers and bohemians, this traditional café s over a hundred years old.
If your dream is to step back into the past and discover a world nearly untouched by modernity, then Fez will give you the best Morocco experiences. This ancient city is over 1,200 years old, and until 1912, it was the capital of Morocco.
Filled with museums, mosques, palaces, and narrow alleyways, it offers a glimpse into a world left behind. The city is divided into the old and new—the medina area with its walled districts and the larger New City.
Fez is Morocco’s cultural capital, replete with an old-world atmosphere, medieval architecture, and elaborately decorated religious schools. See the Al Attarine Madrasa, a 14th-century Islamic studies school with stunning tile work and dramatic arches.
While touring the city, remember to sample the fantastic street food. Almond briouates are a traditional pastry with almond paste and honey and are especially popular leading up to Ramadan. Taste flavorsome Moroccan snail soup, rich with spices, or sample the different olives, which are a huge part of Moroccan culture.
Visit this relaxing multicultural former Portuguese port on the Moroccan Atlantic coast. The popular resort city of Essaouira is known for its impressive seafront ramparts and stunning ocean views. Here is a city where cultures meet in a heady mix of Muslim, Jewish, French, Berber, and Portuguese.
The renowned Medina is the city’s heart, and you can fund local crafts, especially wood making, there. With the beach only ten minutes away, you can also try windsurfing or kitesurfing in Essaouira’s bay.
One of the popular aspects of visiting this Moroccan gem is how easy it is to get to, with direct flights from London, allowing an easy weekend break or a short vacation.
Essaouira is also home to many cultural museums, galleries, and the Gnaoua Festival of World Music. The Gnawa music festival is a melting pot of music, with pop, jazz, world music, and rock all meeting in a diverse dialogue. Many of the sets are free, making this festival extremely popular.
Rabat is Morocco’s capital, on the western coast of Morocco, along the Atlantic Ocean. It has a diverse Islamic and French Colonial history, reflected in its architecture, historical landmarks, and museums.
The oldest part of Rabat is the Kasbah of the Udayas. What was once a fortified area is now a residential district filled with blue and white-painted traditional homes. Along with Phoenician and Islamic heritage, Rabat was once a city of Barbary corsairs or pirates and was part of the Republic of Bou Regref.
It was later transformed into the capital city. It lies just north of Casablanca, and you can head on a day trip to the famous city. Many people prefer to visit Rabat for its more relaxed atmosphere, many gardens, and cultural attractions.
Rabat is the perfect destination if you want a small-town feel, wish to visit heritage sights, and have a quieter holiday. People who prefer vibrant nightlife will head down to Casablanca instead.
What to Know Before Visiting Morocco for a Short Break
Morocco is a beautiful and diverse country to visit, as proved by its growing popularity as a tourist destination. However, a few things to remember before you leave on your vacation.
Dress in Appropriate Clothing
Morocco is a Muslim country, and the general attire is more conservative. While most men will be fine, women should keep a shawl or an oversized scarf handy to cover up when visiting religious places such as mosques.
Mosques are religious buildings that are in daily use. Unless you are Muslim, it may not be possible to view inside these fantastic buildings. Be respectful, view the areas where you are allowed, and wear appropriate cover or clothes.
If you wish to visit a mosque, the Mosque of Hassan II is one of the few open to visitors, only with a guided tour. You can find this incredible building in Casablanca. Another example of beautiful Islamic architecture that you can visit is the Bahia Palace in Marrakech.
Fridays and Religious Holidays
Most shops will close on a Friday for prayers, so ensure you stock up on things you need in advance. Many restaurants and attractions will also have shorter hours and may only reopen in the late afternoon.
Traveling to Morocco during a significant religious festival like Ramadan could put a damper on your plans. Because Muslims fast from sun up to sun down during his period, many places will open later and close later in the evening.
If you stick to the major cities, English should not be a problem, as most people in Morocco speak a mixture of Berber, Arabic, French, and English. Do you plan to head further afield and explore some of the more rural areas? Using a translator or going with a safe and experienced tour guide might be worth it.
Haggling for a Bargain
On a short break to Morocco, one of the most rewarding experiences is visiting one of the cities’ medinas, where souks are filled with vendors and masses of vibrant goods. In these bustling marketplaces, haggling is something of a tradition.
While you may need to confirm the haggling etiquette depending on which city you visit, the vendors generally expect you to top bargain. Avoid paying the first-named price; instead, try to get a lower price. A little back and forth and knowing when to walk away can secure you a generous bargain.
Guides and Tours
Find a local, knowledgeable guide through a reputable tour company to stay on the safe side and avoid being scammed. Avoid using guides who approach you in the street. This tactic is crucial if people offer you free tours or walk you to where you want to go.
Water and Street Food
The water in Morocco may not be what you’re used to and could cause stomach upsets. Avoid any issues by buying bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. While you don’t want to avoid sampling all the delicious foods Morocca has to offer, take some Imodium or Loperamide with you. This will save you from dealing with digestive troubles ruining your short break.
While public transport is relatively easy to use and inexpensive, hiring a car is also possible if you travel around and outside the cities. If you hire a car, organize this in advance of your trip and avoid trying to find a car hire when you arrive.
Money and Cards
Morocco uses the dirham as their currency (MAD). Because it’s a closed currency, you cannot take it in or out of the country. You’ll need to bring your own currency and exchange it in Morocco.
If you have a suitable debit card for traveling, you can withdraw dirham directly from your account via Moroccan ATMS. Most major credit cards are accepted at shops and restaurants in the bigger Moroccan cities. Just beware that you may be charged a surcharge when using them.
While using only your card may seem tempting, having some cash on hand for buying smaller items or from stalls is good. You’ll also want cash in small denominations for tipping guides and service staff.
Electronics and Charging
Morocco uses a similar voltage to those in the UK (220 V to the UK’s 230 V). If you’re traveling from the UK, your appliances should charge fine. Most phones, laptops, and tablets do not need a converter and can be charged worldwide.
Due to potential blackouts, it’s an excellent idea to bring a power bank for charging your phone. If you’re traveling from America, bring a power converter and an adaptor that will allow you to use Moroccan power outlets.
As with any other big cities with many tourists, thieves in Moroccan cities will look for easy targets. Don’t wear flashy watches or jewelry or carry expensive cameras and other equipment if you are wandering around.
Refrain from drawing attention to visible wallets. Don’t go off with strangers offering to show you where to go. Wearing designer glasses or ostentatious jewelry could signal you as a potential target for pickpockets.
Is Morocco Tourist-Friendly?
Morocco has steadily grown its reputation as a safe and friendly destination for tourists. If you plan to take a short break in one of Morocco’s beautiful cities, you should be fine. Be sensible and avoid areas that seem unsafe.
Moroccans come from a land where the ancient world rubs shoulders with the modern, and many different cultures have had an influence. While the country is Muslim, they generally accept other faiths, be respectful, and there should be no issues for visitors from the UK or USA.
The people of Morocco are friendly and eager to show off their culture and hospitality. The food is incredible, and the cities have many things to do and see. If you wish to explore further afield, a reputable tour guide can give you the experience of a lifetime and show you all the wonders while ensuring your safety.
What to Wear on a Short Break to Morocco
What you pack to wear on your short Moroccan break will depend on where and when you are going. While Morocco is a hot country, it can get a little chilly over winter.
The coastal areas in Morocco have a more Mediterranean climate. At the same time, as you move further inland, the temperatures will get more extreme.
It will also depend on what activities you plan t do. If you’re in Marrakesh, the temperatures are higher, and it’s hot nearly all year round, but if you plan to take a trip up into the Atlas Mountains, it can get cold fast. On the other hand, if you’re going for a beach holiday in Essaouira, you’ll want clothes for water sports.
Remember that Morocco is a Muslim country, and people dress more conservatively. Especially if you are a woman, you might need to ensure that your legs and arms are covered. There’s no mandated dress code, but the local cultures will still have certain expectations of modesty.
Consider whether you’re heading for the cities or want a more rural Moroccan adventure. The big cities will be more diverse and accepting of dress styles, while rural places will likely be more conservative.
Some basic guidelines for what to wear:
- Sensible, comfortable footwear, especially if you’re going to walk around to explore.
- Loose, long-sleeved tops. Avoid crop tops, tube tops, or spaghetti straps.
- Long, comfortable trousers or maxi-length skirts. Skirts that stop at the knees or higher could attract unwanted attention.
- Pashminas or shawls are an excellent way to provide additional cover-up if necessary
- Sun hats, sunglasses.
- If going for a camel ride, bring jeans.
Morocco is a fantastic place to visit for a short break, and there are plenty of three- or four-day packages centered around the major cities. Choose to relax on a sun-drenched beach, windsurf, and explore historical sites. Or head off for adventure with quad biking, camel riding, and culinary city bike tours.
With a fast-growing tourist industry, Morocco makes an excellent destination for a short city vacation.
FAQs on Morocco City Break
What is a popular destination for a short break in Morocco with well-preserved town walls and stunning mountain backdrops?
Taroudant is an ideal destination for a Morocco short break, as it lies in the heart of the Souss Valley and boasts some of the best-preserved town walls in the country. The town is surrounded by the breathtaking High and Anti-Atlas Mountains, making it a perfect spot for those seeking a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty during their short getaway.
What are some popular activities and experiences to enjoy during a short break in Morocco?
Morocco in North Africa offers a wealth of diverse experiences to enjoy during a short break, including:
- Exploring the spice-filled souks of Marrakech, where you can discover local products, handicrafts, and vibrant culture.
- Savouring traditional home-cooked tajines, a quintessential Moroccan dish that combines a variety of flavours and spices.
- Embarking on a camelback trek through the Sahara Desert, offering a unique and unforgettable adventure.
- For those seeking a more active experience, a few days is sufficient to summit Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in the High Atlas Mountains, and take in the breathtaking views from the top.
What can I expect when discovering the Ourika Valley during my visit to Morocco?
A: The Ourika Valley, nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, offers a picturesque escape from the bustling cities of Morocco. When discovering the Ourika Valley, you can expect to:
- Enjoy stunning landscapes, with lush greenery, terraced gardens, and snow-capped mountain peaks.
- Visit traditional Berber villages, where you can learn about local culture, customs, and way of life.
- Explore the region’s natural attractions, such as the Setti Fatma waterfalls, which provide a refreshing retreat during warmer months.
- Experience authentic Moroccan cuisine in local restaurants and cafes, often prepared using fresh ingredients sourced from the valley.
- Participate in outdoor activities like hiking, trekking, and mountain biking, which allow you to fully appreciate the area’s natural beauty.
What can I expect when visiting Djemaa El Fna, the heart of Marrakech?
Djemaa El Fna, the bustling main square of Marrakech, offers a lively and colourful atmosphere filled with various activities and experiences. When visiting Djemaa El Fna, you can expect:
- A vibrant scene with orange juice hawkers, jugglers, snake charmers, and other street performers vying for your attention in the bustle of the crowd.
- The transformation of the square into a large food market at night, where local chefs serve a variety of delicious dishes from their makeshift grills.
- Buskers playing traditional Moroccan instruments, adding to the lively atmosphere.
- The evocative sound of the call to prayer from nearby mosques, which can be heard above the crowd’s hum.
- A unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience the true spirit of Marrakech which is a great place for a city break.