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Winter in the Orient: Experience fairytale Morocco

Culture, exoticism and warm temperatures: Oriental Morocco is the ideal destination for an adventure holiday not far from Austria.

8 November 2021

If you want to immerse yourself in a completely different world on holiday, you don't necessarily have to travel far: Only about four hours away from Austria by plane lies a country full of culture, oriental flair and scenic diversity: Morocco. Due to its geographical location directly on the stormy Atlantic coast with numerous surf spots, its warm climate, its deserts and green oases as well as the exotic royal cities, the destination offers its visitors everything they could wish for in a winter holiday . These are the places you should not miss when you are in Morocco.

Royal city Marrakech

Almost nowhere in Morocco is tourism as noticeable as in Marrakech. So if you're expecting a dream from 1001 Nights, you'll be brought down to earth pretty quickly upon arrival. While the hotels and traditional riads (Moroccan accommodations) are fantastically beautiful and tasteful and fit the fantasy exactly, the bustling souks (Arab markets), crowds of people, donkey carts and other animals, mopeds whizzing by, and all sorts of smells and impressions that hit you can quickly overwhelm you. Nevertheless, one should not cross the adventure Marrakech off one's list. In the medina, Marrakech's old town, visitors can completely immerse themselves in the country's culture in a maze of narrow alleyways. This is also where you'll find the souks, where teapots, rugs, lamps, spices, shoes, scarves, and many other items are available for purchase - perfect for finding souvenirs. However, be sure to negotiate on the price, as merchants always ask for double to triple what they have in mind.

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The Djemaa el Fna, the famous marketplace in the heart of Marrakech, is probably the most important sight and awaits its visitors with a vibrant, colorful hustle and bustle of jugglers, drummers, food stalls and hundreds of tents with various goods and handicrafts. A visit to Djemaa el Fna is definitely an unforgettable experience. A very special highlight are the rooftop bars and restaurants that gather at the edge of the square, offering views of spectacular sunsets overlooking the rooftops of the city. Another must-see is the magnificent Bahia Palace with its Andalusian and Moorish architecture. If you haven't had enough, you can also visit one of the many mosques, such as the Koutouiba Mosque, or take a walk in the Jardin Majorelle, a garden bought by French artist Yves Saint Laurent and extensively redesigned in several stages.

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Sun, beach and sea in Essaouira, Agadir and Taghazout

For all those who long for bright sunshine and a fresh sea breeze, Morocco offers top destinations with the cities of Essaouira, Agadir and Taghazout. The coastal towns on the windy Atlantic Ocean await their visitors with wide, fine sandy beaches and optimal conditions for surfing. Especially in Agadir and Essaouira you will find many chic luxury hotels and numerous bars and restaurants on the beach promenades. If you want something more authentic, you should visit the small villages between the two cities like Taghazout. There are not only great surf spots, but the former fishing villages await you with colorful tiled alleys, traditional food and lots of hand-woven carpets.

Essaouira is not only a city worth seeing, but also offers optimal conditions for surfing beginners. © Peter Schulz/ Unsplash

Spending a starry night in the Erg Chabbi desert

At the latest with an overnight stay in the Erg Chebbi desert, the ultimate oriental feeling should arise in every holidaymaker. The starting point for the journey into the desert is the small town of Merzouga, which you reach after a drive through the spectacular Atlas Mountains. From there, the journey continues on camelback over the extensive sand dunes to the desert camp. There, visitors can usually expect a traditional Moroccan meal and a breathtaking sunset from the dunes - adventurous memories guaranteed!

A night in the Erg Chabbi desert is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. © Peter Schulz/ Unsplash

Immerse yourself in the history of the country in Fez

The oldest royal city in Morocco, Fez is quite rightly one of the country's most popular destinations: The old city, "Fès el Bali", is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world's largest medieval old city. This old town is also a place that immediately captivates you with its size, smells and sounds. A visit to the city gates alone is an experience: the Bab Rcif, the eastern entrance gate, is a large gathering place for the locals and the starting point of countless winding alleys. Visitors can also start their discovery tour from the western entrance gate, Bab Bou Jeloud. Considered the most beautiful and magnificent gateway in Fez, the magnificent blue gateway is one of the city's most important landmarks. Curiously, the area behind the gate is known by locals as the "lost tourists' square", which is certainly not untrue - it's easy to get lost in the old city of Fez.

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Fez is best known for the tanner's quarter, where workers still tan and dye leather by hand using traditional methods. The workers stand waist-deep in the large vats of various liquids and process the animal skin. The closer you get to the quarter, the more intense the smell becomes, which many tourists describe as unbearable. That's why you can buy mint everywhere in the surroundings that you can hold in front of your nose. Although a visit to the Gerber quarter is often only appealing for the mucous membranes, one should have seen this quarter - it does not get more authentic than this. For those who find the experience emotionally and smell-wise too much, there is a bird's eye view of the workers in the tanner's quarter from the terrace of a leather shop.

Although it literally takes your breath away when you visit the Gerber Quarter, it is considered absolutely worth seeing. © Adam Jang/ Unsplash

Visit the largest mosque in Africa in Casablanca

Morocco's largest and most important city is Casablanca, which forms the economic centre of the country and is home to around three million people. On the outskirts of the city, stately villas with green front gardens line the streets, looking proud and sublime, while the cityscape is otherwise dominated by skyscrapers and less oriental flair. On the other hand, there is the imposing Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Africa and probably the most impressive building in Morocco. Alone the sight of this gigantic building with the second highest minaret of the world, the graphic stone plates and a huge forecourt, where easily up to 25.000 people can gather, makes a stopover in Casablanca worthwhile. Those who have planned more time in Casablanca can also visit the quarter named Quartier Habous that was arranged in the 20ies and reminds on a souk - but a cozy one. Here holidaymakers will find many different shops with spices, souvenirs and traditional crafts.

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