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If you’ve been and done Marrakech’s heady souks and jostling main square, try one of these alternative Moroccan destinations to explore the country’s spoils further. From dizzying minarets to flamingo-filled beaches, this is where to go beyond the Red City.
Been to Marrakech? Here’s where to travel in Morocco beyond the Red City.
Once Morocco’s capital, this ancient imperial city is bursting with colourful mosques, leafy courtyards and towering minarets. Wander down alleys lined with food stalls (be sure to try briouat, a puff pastry stuffed with either sweet or savoury fillings from meat and cheese to almond paste and cinnamon) and head to the 14th-century Merenid Tombs at sunset for views across the city.
Where to stay: Palais Amani, a stylish riad where interiors are traditionally decorated with tiled floors, Berber rugs and beautiful mosaiced walls (zellige, the art of painting and placing tiles, originated in Fez). Head to the hotel’s spa to book hammam treatments in the rooftop pergola overlooking the city.
Make like Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart and head to Morocco’s most cosmopolitan city, where towering skyscrapers are interspersed between historic Arabic and Moorish architecture and business-savvy Moroccans break bread with young international creatives. An ex-pirate port, escape the commercial centre to walk along the beach and paddle in the Atlantic.
Where to stay: Riad Hamdani offers a welcome escape from the frenetic city. Wander through verdant gardens filled with palm trees to find birds drinking from trickling fountains, sunbeds lined up by a turquoise-tiled pool and cosy, brightly coloured rooms.
A favourite spot for tortured writers searching for inspiration (Allen Ginsberg and Truman Capote were often spotted in the city), Tangier is one for creative souls. Spend days hopping between boutique clothes shops and craft stores, and evenings popping into buzzy bars hidden inside crumbling art-deco buildings.
Where to stay: Book a room at Grand Hotel Villa de France, Matisse’s favourite spot (see: Landscape Viewed from a Window, painted in room 35). Dine on French cuisine at the terrace restaurant Delacroix, before sipping on cocktails in the seductive red-walled piano bar.
With pastel-hued houses, long stretches of sand and fish markets, this seaside resort oozes bohemian vibes and a laid-back feel. Dodge past donkey-driven carts carrying bags of spices as you admire arches adorned with street art, and while away the hours exploring the medina (a Unesco World Heritage Site) and poking around in the back rooms of Moroccan crockery and homeware shops.
Where to stay: Le Jardin des Douars is a walled hotel perched atop a palm-laden hill. Laze under straw parasols by the red- and green- tiled infinity pool before feasting on North African cuisine at intimate La Table des Douars restaurant.
This lagoon-side village is the perfect antidote to Marrakech’s exhilarating souks. The “oyster capital of Morocco”, come to this fishing town to feast on freshly caught seafood washed down with crisp white wine. At sunset, stroll along the beachfront to spot migrating flamingos and colourful wooden boats as they pull into the shore.
Where to stay: The Moorish fort of La Sultana lies hidden behind palm-strewn gardens and round koi ponds. Soak in outdoor whirlpool baths, order giant seafood platters on the beachfront terrace and doze off after argan-oil massages in marble treatment rooms.
Filled with ancient mosques, majestic palaces and towering gateways, it isn’t hard to see why Meknes has earned itself the moniker “The Imperial City”. Behind the glitz and glamour, stumble upon colourful riads, cosy tea houses and Moroccan art shops are tucked away down meandering side streets.
Where to stay: Dating back to the 1800s, Riad Yacout can be found in the heart of Meknes’ medina. Catch some rays by the pool on the rooftop solarium or head to the riad’s courtyard to sip on Moroccan mint tea by the pond.
A mishmash of culture, this quintessential port town pairs Maghreb architecture with western touches from its history as part of the Spanish Protectorate in the early 1900s. Wander through streets to glimpse colourful murals adorning brick walls and flea markets selling Berber antiques, or head to the beach to dip your toes in the sea.
Where to stay: On the town’s main boulevard, Asilah 32 boasts minimalist interiors, a well-stocked bar and a sea-view terrace. Book a table at Le 32 Resto for Moroccan-style dishes made with local ingredients.
A haven for sunseekers, this Morrocan city has a blissful 300 days of sunshine a year. Visit the town’s Kasbah, dating back to 1541; wander through Agadir’s Sunday market or escape the city to hike up the Anti-Atlas Mountains (an easier trek than the Atlas Mountains for those less athletically minded).
Where to stay: Dive headfirst into the 200-square-metre pool at Dar Maktoub hotel, before drying off by the open fire and dining of French-Moroccan cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant.
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