Things to do in Morocco

Modern Morocco is very much a product of its history. The culture is a blend of Arabic and European influences. The French and, to a lesser extent, the Spanish both established colonies that can still be felt in the architecture and language. French is spoken everywhere, as is Moroccan Arabic, while English-fluency is less easy to find. It’s a good idea to have a French-English dictionary on hand as you think of things to do in Morocco.

For ancient cities, there is no better place to visit than Fez. The most complete medieval city in the Arab world, Fez’s twisting streets give way to stunning palaces, mosques and busy souks. Wondering what to do in Morocco, but don’t have much time to spare? There is only one building that you must see and that is the Medersa Bou Inania, a splendidly renovated mosque and Fez’s only active religious building that non-Muslims are allowed to enter. Even though the country is a very traditional Islamic state, Morocco travel is perfectly safe and visitors will feel welcomed by the culture’s hospitality and openness.

Looking for things to do in Morocco that let you channel your inner-Lawrence of Arabia? Hire a driver to take you into the Sahara and grab a camel ride in one of the many desert towns worth visiting, like Ouarzazate or Merzouga. Those with weak stomachs should be prepared for the drive through the Atlas Mountains to get to the desert. The narrow, winding roads are enough to make anyone queasy, but add to that the break-neck racecar driving that some locals practice and you are in for a real treat.

Wondering what to do in Morocco if you’re only going to Marrakesh? Spend at least one evening in the center square, Jemaa El Fna, which is slammed every night with snake charmers, acrobats, and musicians. Afterward visit the striking Koutoubia Mosque, the symbol of Marrakesh. The twelfth-century minaret pierces the sky and can be seen from all over the city. To enjoy some nature, see the Majorelle Garden in New Town, formerly owned by Yves Saint Laurent.

A market of straw furniture and baskets; custom orders welcome.

This tiny boutique Beldi dresses some of Marrakesh’s most fashionable residents in linen shirts, mandarin-collared cashmere jackets, and embroidered silk caftans.

Goods spill out along the seemingly endless miles of rough sidewalk: everything from incredibly inexpensive tin lanterns ready to be repurposed as lamps and antique tubs that can be turned into tables to—legend has it—smaller accessories stamped dunhill or hermès.

Intensité Nomade sells brightly colored caftans by owner Frédérique Birkemeyer, as well as soft leather pants for women, raw-silk pants for men, and Casablanca designer Karim Tassi’s jeans, slinky suits, and sweaters.

The owners provide Perrier shoppers troll the endless array of carpets, most of them ridiculously underpriced at around $300. Make sure you measure your rooms at home before making the trip.

KIS (Keep It Secret) is a hidden boutique on the upper story of a tiny medina house that carries more caftans, as well as jewelry and gorgeous bags designed by Brazilian globe-trotter Adriana Bittencourt and her French partner, Caroline Constancio.

The ambience may be initially inauspicious, but inside, the goods, culled from all over the country, are cheap and first-rate: spice holders, hand-painted cups from Fez, inlaid boxes, miniature teapots, and more.

One of Guéliz’s newest boutiques, Moor, is the creation of Yann Dobry (who also owns the stylish little shop Akbar Delights, in the medina). Dobry’s new outpost, hung with distinctive lacquered lanterns, features his beautifully embroidered linen, silk, and cotton tunics.

The utterly distinctive, handmade, oddly colored booties are embellished with covered buttons and lacings.