Les remparts de la ville d'Essaouira (anciennement Mogador)

Fancy visiting Morocco: follow the guide


La Méridionale whisks you off to visit Morocco on-board its Marseille to Tanger-Med ship. By making the crossing on our ferry to Morocco, you can travel with your car, motorbike or campervan and start your road trip as soon as you arrive.

Are you wondering what you can do in Morocco? The kingdom of the far-distant setting sun, a mix of sea and desert, ocean and mountains, invites you to delight in a host of options. Marrakech, with its palaces and museums is a must-visit place. But, the country overflows with treasures. Tangier's beaches, the port of Essaouira and the medina in Chefchaouen will also be unforgettable experiences for curious travellers. And for nature lovers among you, head off to Agadir and its Paradise Valley as well as the waterfalls at Draa.

Visiting Marrakech, Gateway to the South

Marrakech, founded in 1062 by Sultan Youssef Ibn Tachfine, bears its title as imperial city of Morocco proudly, as can be seen through the myriad of palaces it boasts. The splendour of Bahia Palace, also known as El Badi Palace, whisks you off into an atmosphere worthy of the 1,001 nights.

The ochre-hued city grew greatly and is now divided into two parts. The old town unveils its soul to visitors through the labyrinth of alleyways and its medina. In between trips to the souk, step over the threshold into the Jardin Secret. This site is actually two gardens, one botanic and the other Islamic, and together they are a real haven of peace. Relax under the orange trees and enjoy a few moments of quietness, far from the hustle and bustle of the kasbah and Place Jemâa-El-Fna.

On the opposite side of the square, you'll find the Gueliz district, the modern, western city. Even though it's less typical, it's worth a visit during your trip around Morocco.

This is where the Majorelle villa and its iconic blue garden nestle, as well as new art museums such as the Yves Saint-Laurent Museum and the Museum of Art and Culture of Marrakech (MACMA).

Le jardin de Majorelle à Marrakech

And, activities galore await you in Marrakech. History buffs will opt for a trip to see the Saadian Tombs whilst families will enjoy a camel trek through the palm groves. The most foolhardy will be tempted by a flight over the city in a hot air balloon or a paragliding trip.

When evening comes around, the city of seven saints becomes a party capital. Inhabitants from all over the kingdom flock to Marrakech to dance, play in the casino or just relax and sip cocktails in one of the city's bars.

Visiting Tangier, Pearl of the North

Tangier, the most northern city on the African continent, stands out with its mix of cultures. This cosmopolitan, freedom-loving city was a haven for hosts of artists, from the painter Matisse to beat-generation poets.

The Pearl of the North has mellowed a bit yet you'll never get bored when you visit Tangier.
After enjoying some mint tea in one of the cafés in the Grand Souk market, head off and get lost in the medina's maze of back streets.
Because of its bright façades, it's been nicknamed Tangier, the white city, but inside, vibrant colours reign supreme.
You can have a break at one of the stalls or stores to indulge in sweet delights or enjoy a tajine lunch before pursuing your route to Mendoubia Gardens and the seafront.

La Palais du Sultan - Musée de la Kasbah à Tanger

You may have discovered during your Marseille-Tanger-Med crossing by boat that the city is located at the crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. When you swim off the municipal beach of Tangier, you'll actually be splashing in the sea and ocean at the same time.

When Sunday arrives, the locals get together with their families or friends in Perdicaris Park. It's the perfect place for discovering local fauna and flora. Acacia, laurel and pine trees spread out over 67 hectares. When you cross the immense garden, you'll arrive at Cape Spartel. From the lighthouse, which was the first in Morocco, the vista over the Strait of Gibraltar is breathtaking.

Jean Genet and Delacroix weren't the only ones to have found refuge in Tangier. Legend has it that the mythical hero Heracles sought refuge a few kilometres from the city once he'd completed his 12 labours. Those who are sceptical can make up their own minds after visiting the Caves of Hercules.

At high tide, the sea flows into this succession of limestone grottos. In the largest cave, an opening depicts an upside-down version of the shape of Africa and invites to admire the sea.

La Place du 9 avril - Grand Socco à Tanger
La Place du 9 avril - Grand Socco à Tanger

Visiting Essaouira, the Wind City

Essaouira, protected from the Atlantic winds and covetousness behind its ramparts, reveals itself as you stroll along the kasbah scala or the port scala. You'll discover the workshops of artisanal cabinetmakers and enjoy the view over the medina, the port and the Îles Purpuraires. The public are prohibited from visiting Mogador Island, the main island of the archipelago. However, you can approach it by boat to observe Eleonora's falcons.

Pursue your trip around Essaouira by following the colours of its medina. White façades with blue doors give way gradually to ochre-hued streets. In the middle of the zellij and ashlar doorways, you'll come across a jeweller's store. This means that you've reached the mellah, the Jewish district as well as the city's most vibrant market.

The port is also very bustling, especially around noon when the fishermen bring their daily catch to shore. It goes without saying that seagulls also hang around, ready to pinch a few freshly-caught sardines.

Before leaving this city of Trade Winds to pursue your discovery of Morocco, take a break on the beach. Ten kilometres of fine sand is waiting for you. Because of the swell, it's not always possible to swim but surfers and windsurfers will be in their glory!

Tangier may have been the refuge of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, but Essaouira was a haven for Orson Wells and the hippie community. Orson Wells loved the fish restaurants along the port while Jim Morrison and Cat Stevens settled here for a few months. Rumour has it that the village of Diabat, just 3 kilometres away, and its ruined fortress, inspired Jimmy Hendrix to write his track "Castles Made of Sand".

Le port de pêche d'Essaouira
Le port de pêche d'Essaouira

Draa Valley

The bed of the Draa wadi, the oldest, longest river in Morocco, gave birth to one of the largest oases in the kingdom. Date palms flourish at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, at the gateway to the Sahara. Along this fertile valley, the valley of a thousand kasbahs begins, a must-do route for anyone wondering what to visit in Morocco off the beaten track.

First stop-off in Agdz that houses the Qaid Ali kasbah. His descendants, who still live here, will take you on a guided tour. This kasbah, built back in the 18th century, was restored and is listed as a heritage site in Morocco.

The Aït Benhaddou Ksar is also listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. And, if ever, despite its exoticism, you think this village with its adobe architecture looks familiar, well, it's normal. It was used as a film set for Lawrence of Arabia, Babel and the series Game of Thrones.

On the caravan route, you'll also come across the Berber village of Tamnougalt with its ksar. Take a break here to enjoy the vista over the palm groves, the valley and Rissani Mountains and visit the qaid's kasbah.
The fauna and flora in this valley are unique. To preserve them, UNESCO has listed them as a biosphere reserve.
In between visits to ksars, make a detour to admire the natural heritage treasures and cool down by diving into the natural pools and waterfalls of the Draa. And, if the weather's not good enough for swimming, you can delight in the scenescape during a hike or while sipping on mint tea with Omar, the guardian of the site.

Ksar of Ait Ben Hadu dans la vallée du Drâa est inscrit sur la liste du patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO
Ksar of Ait Ben Hadu dans la vallée du Drâa est inscrit sur la liste du patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO

The Draa Valley didn't always have the same landscape as today. In prehistoric times, the valley and even the Sahara Desert were covered with…savanna. Hard to imagine? To check this out for yourself, head to the douar of Aït Ouazik. Berbers in Neolithic times would draw the elephants, antelopes, rhinoceroses, etc. they'd cross on the rocks!

Visiting Chefchaouen, the blue city

Chefchaouen, or Chaouen as the Moroccans call it, was declared a holy city given, amongst other things, its many religious buildings and marabouts, and was forbidden to Christians until the beginning of the 20th century. Now that it's open to the world, the blue city should definitely be a stop-off on your road trip when you visit Morocco.

The azure façades of its medina alone are worth the detour. Around the corner of an alleyway boasting Andalusian architecture, you'll see the minaret of one of the city's many mosques. Here, peacefulness reigns. You can take time to take photos or meet people, haggle over the price of embroidery, leather goods and rugs, or just wander around.

Visiting Chefchaouen also means sipping on a coffee on Place Mohammed V, among the oleanders opposite the park designed by Joan Miro. Or, perhaps you prefer to indulge in a couscous on Place Uta-El-Hammam under the great cedar trees. Once you've satisfied your appetite, you can begin your exploration of the kasbah and its 13 towers.

Ruelle de la ville bleue de Chefchaouen
Ruelle de la ville bleue de Chefchaouen

Now, time to head for Ras El-Maa. This spring, which led to the construction of the city, is still used by the inhabitants. Women come here to wash their clothes in the wash house. Two trails await you here: a one-hour hike to the old Spanish mosque that overlooks the city or a stroll that takes but a few minutes to climb to the spring's source.

Fancy getting far away from the crowds? Then, plan a stop-off at Akchour Waterfalls, located in the Talassemtane Nature Park. Here, you can switch between hiking, swimming and having a gourmet break in one of the local restaurants. Once here, you can also contemplate God's Bridge, a natural archway that spans the river at a height of over 25 metres.

Visiting Agadir, the Pearl of Morocco

An earthquake ripped through Agadir in 1960. The town was rebuilt to become a seaside resort. It welcomes tourists who wish to relax and travellers en route for the Souss Massa National Park, Taroudant and Tafraoute.

There are only a few traces left of Agadir before the earthquake. You can still see the vestiges of the old kasbah. The site, standing at 260 metres altitude, has become a prairie where the building's foundations still exist. The former stronghold offers a magnificent vista over the bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

City renovation led to the creation of the largest souk in Morocco, the vast, really modern El Had Souk. It boasts over 3,000 stalls and boutiques covering almost 11 hectares! It's a traditional place with its craft boutiques as well as a meeting place for locals who come here to do their shopping.

But, the main reason holidaymakers visit Agadir every year is its fine sandy beaches. The six kilometres of shoreline are fringed with public and private beaches. The bay, which is sheltered from the wind, is the perfect place for a swim. If you fancy surfing or windsurfing, then you'll need to leave Agadir for Taghazout (12 kilometres away).

Taghazout, village de pêcheurs au nord de la ville d'Agadir réputé pour ses plages de surf.
Taghazout, village de pêcheurs au nord de la ville d'Agadir réputé pour ses plages de surf.

But, don't leave Agadir without going to Paradise Valley!This site, located at 35 kilometres from the centre of town, sits at the foot of the Atlas Mountains and overflows with natural pools and waterfalls. The locals even say that the water here has therapeutic virtues. If you've forgotten your swimming gear, you can head off for a hike along the Tamraght River. You can then continue your journey to other towns in Morocco, in your campervan or car, with your head full of memories.

Do you dream of visiting Morocco, strolling through Marrakech or going on a trek in the Draa Valley? Well, La Méridionale, historic shipping company serving Corsica, provides its know-how and warm hospitality to travellers who wish to discover Morocco. Book your place on-board Pelagos or Girolata, our ships to Morocco. We ensure you a crossing with total peace of mind on-board our ferries to Morocco.