For souk-filled cities, chilled-out beaches, and a more-than-generous helping of sun, it’s got to be a holiday to Morocco.
This piece of the North African puzzle is less than four hours from the UK, but it couldn’t be more different. Snake charmers and acrobats fill city squares, camels strut along sandy beaches, and maze-like souks are piled high with lanterns and carpets.
City-wise, Marrakech is the big cheese. In the medina a rabbit-warren of souks surrounds the chaotic heart of the city, Jemaa el-Fna. This centre-of-it-all square is the place to be come sundown. Beyond the medina walls, meanwhile, the High Atlas Mountains are within day-tripping distance.
Over on the Atlantic coast you’ve got Agadir. It’s got a 10-kilometre stretch of sand, a crumbling Kasbah and a lively marina to shout about.
Drive two hours north and you’ll hit Essaouira – the former stomping ground of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley. This seaside town has a chilled-out vibe, with an artsy medina and a breezy beach that’s great for windsurfers.
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When you think Agadir’s got a sunshine record of 300 days a year, it’s not surprising most people home in on the beach here. And, thankfully, this stretch really delivers. It spools the coast for nine kilometres, and the sand is about as soft and powdery as it gets. The beach is well stocked in the watersports department, too. Wind- and kite-surfing are the two big favourites, thanks to trade winds coming off the Atlantic. And just behind the sands you’ve got seafood stalls churning out ocean-fresh sardines.
Souks stacked with spices. Mosques with towering minarets. And street scenes starring acrobats and snake-charmers. Marrakech – AKA the Red City – is worlds away from your average Med resort, but that’s all part of the pull. And at less than a four-hour hop from the UK, it’s closer than you think.