Morocco may only be a short hop across the Med from Europe but it is another world. When you’re surrounded by salesmen flaunting their wares in souks, robed figures rushing to prayer and ancient palaces decked with dazzling tiles, it’s easy to fall under its spell. We bring you the best spots to visit in enthralling Marrakech, the Atlantic-coast metropolis of Casablanca and the northernmost cliff-side city of Tangier.
STAY: Riad Tizwa: At this six-room riad, breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace and includes a spread of semi-leavened bread, pancakes and homemade yoghurt. riadtizwa.com
EAT: Ksar Essaoussan: Fountains, colourful tiles and hidden staircases lead to a dining room where dinner begins with a rosewater handwash before guests enjoy a multi-course Moroccan menu.
SHOP: Soufiane Zarib: The third-generation Marrakshi is the king of rugs. His designs are minimalist and made with sheep or goat’s wool from Middle Atlas.
VISIT: Maison de la Photographie: This museum collection features 10,000 photos of Morocco taken between 1870 and 1960. The wild Atlas Mountains are a highlight.
DO: Beldi Country Club: Three swimming pools and a hammam set in lush gardens just outside Marrakech make this the perfect place to go for a dip and scrub.
STAY: Hôtel Central: This whitewashed hotel was built in 1912 and sits on a quaint square in the Ancienne Medina. It had a lick of paint in 2018 but retains its heritage.
EAT: Umayya: A Middle Eastern-style joint providing stunning sea views as you tuck into your chawarma au poisson (grilled fish served with saffron sauce in a warm pita).
VISIT: Mosquée Hassan II: Built for King Hasaan II’s 60th birthday, this mind-boggling mosque has a 60-storey minaret.
DO: La Corniche: When you grow tired of the traffic-choked streets, head to this oceanfront boulevard. It’s a cooling stretch that wraps around the windswept coast.
STAY: Hôtel Nord Pinus Tanger: This hotel boasts stellar views across the Strait of Gibraltar. Rooms feature stained-glass windows and ornate wrought-iron beds.
EAT: Le Salon Bleu: A spiral staircase leads to the roof terrace of this small restaurant, where diners can enjoy sardines with couscous – and a stunning view.
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SHOP: Laure Welfling: Welfling founded her fashion brand in Paris in 1978 and opened this boutique in 2001. You’ll find her original designs plus other treasures.
VISIT: Cinémathèque de Tanger: This 425-seat restored cinema opened in 2007 to screen independent films and a range of old Moroccan flicks. cinemathequedetanger.com
DO: Réserve du Cap Spartel and Atlantic beaches: Some 14km west of the city centre, a sign marks where the Atlantic meets the Med. The coastline boasts beaches, a nature reserve and a cave where Hercules supposedly once took a nap.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Monocle Travel Guide to Marrakech, Tangier + Casablanca, which hits shelves in October. See the full collection at monocle.com/shop/print.