Finest Things to Do in Marocco

Visit the Tanneries in Fez

The Imperial City of Fez is famous for its leather products, most of which come from the leather bazaar in the old medina. The tanneries have been in operation since medieval times and haven't changed much since. For the best view, head to the leather shops in the galleries above Chaouwara Tannery's central courtyard. From here, you can see the vats filled with colorful dyes; and the skins laid out to dry in the sunshine. The smell of the quicklime and pigeon feces mixture used to cure the hides can be overwhelming, but the sight of history in action more than makes up for it. Browse the shops themselves in search of authentic leather goods ranging from handbags to slippers.

Stroll Through the Blue Streets of Chefchaouen

Situated in Morocco's Rif Mountains, the sleepy town of Chefchaouen provides a welcome respite after the hectic pace of the country's larger cities. Founded in the 15th century, the town served as a place of refuge for Muslims and Jews during the Spanish Reconquista; and again for Jews fleeing from Nazi rule during WWII. Today, it is famous for its bohemian atmosphere and the breathtaking beauty of its cobbled streets. The buildings are painted in a hundred shades of blue, and between them, one often catches a glimpse of the distant mountain peaks. Come to Chefchaouen for its scenery, and stay for its quaint craft markets, traditional guesthouses, and street-side cafés.

Learn to Cook, Moroccan Style

Moroccan cuisine is famous around the world for its fragrant spices and unique cooking methods. It is an amalgamation of many different influences - including the native cuisine of the Berbers, the Arabs, the Andalusians and the French. Sample iconic dishes like tagine and harira at street-side stalls in the city medina, then sign up for a cooking class to learn how to recreate the flavors at home. Many guesthouses or riads offer half or full-day culinary classes. The best ones take you into the market to purchase fresh ingredients, then show you the traditional ways to prepare them. Afterward, you'll get to taste your creation, while the skills you learn are a souvenir that will last forever.

Have Dinner at the Djemaa el Fna

A vast central square located at the heart of the medina, the Djemaa el Fna is Marrakesh's beating heart. During the day, it's a popular meeting place full of snack stalls and street vendors; but at dusk, it transforms into an entertainer's paradise complete with jugglers, musicians, and snake charmers. The snack stands are replaced with stalls offering more substantial fare and the square is filled with tantalizing scents and the smoke from a hundred fires. Order grilled meats and fragrant tagines and eat with the locals at the vendors' communal tables; or watch the action from the relative peace of one of the elevated cafés that line the edge of the square.

Overnight in the Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert is a magical place to spend a few nights. Use the eastern town of Merzouga as your gateway to the spectacular Erg Chebbi dunes (recognizable as the backdrop for movies like The Mummy and Sahara). From here, you can book a camel safari or a 4x4 tour, both of which offer the chance to spend the night under the stars or in a traditional Bedouin village. Sunsets and sunrises are spectacular in the desert, transforming the dunes into dreamlike landscapes of ochre and red. After dark, the stars are blazing constellations unspoiled by the pollution of civilization. Keep an eye out for nocturnal desert creatures, including the jerboa and the fennec fox.

Go Surfing at the Coast

Morocco's Atlantic coast is home to its fair share of surf breaks, some of them world-class. For serious surfers, the best destination is Taghazout, a small fishing village located just north of Agadir. There are waves for all abilities here, from the challenging Boilers site to laid-back Immesouane, one of the longest rides in the country. Point Anchor is famed for its right-hand break, which runs for 500 meters during a powerful northwest swell. Beginner surfers and kite surfers also flock to popular beach resort Essaouira, where the swells are gentler (though less consistent).