|Destination||Reasons to Go|
|Casablanca||Romantic movie locations, Spectacular mosque|
|Fes||Fantastic medina and souks to wander|
|Essaouira||Beautiful beaches and architecture|
|Marrakech||Atmospheric architecture and souks|
|Atlas Mountains||Morocco’s highest waterfalls, Valley of the Roses|
|Sahara Desert||Camel rides across Erg Chebbi dunes, Ouarzazate and surrounding desert sights like Fint Oasis|
Casablanca, with the main international airport in Morocco, is likely to be your arrival point, and most visitors make their way through the country east to Fes or south from here. With ten days in Morocco, the best base is Marrakech, because of its central location: it is easy to arrange a visit into the Atlas Mountains or out to the Sahara Desert from here, whilst Essaouira is also not far.
Relive Romantic Movies and Spy Morocco’s Mightiest Mosque in Casablanca
Casablanca might be Morocco’s most important international transport hub, but it will steal your heart just a little bit too if you let it, and it makes an interesting introduction to your time together in Morocco.
For a start, it shares its name with one of the world’s all-time great romantic movies, Casablanca, set here during WW2 and starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. And there is no more romantic venue at which to begin your honeymoon that the lavish recreation of the movie’s fictional Rick’s Cafe, where Bogart’s Rick Blaine and Bergman’s Ilsa Lund meet in the film. Relax amidst the enchanting decor evoking the bygone glamor of the movie with some seafood or a cocktail.
The city’s most striking sight is Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco, sitting right on the ocean’s edge. The vast complex includes a museum, baths, Koranic school, library, and prayer room capable of holding 25,000 people, and the ornate design ensures it is a picturesque spot for those of every faith. Take a romantic walk together along the seafront promenade afterwards to see this elaborate building in perspective. Heading here from downtown, you will also pass the intriguing 19th-century Old Medina, the old part of town, full of winding lanes and lively cafes. Afterwards, explore the Quartier Habous, replete with a pretty mix of Moroccan and European architecture. You could treat your partner to something sweet at Pâtisserie Bennis Habous, a traditional bakery in existence since 1930.
Step Back in Time in Fes
If you explore only one city’s souks, the traditional markets generally held in the Medina, or old town, then it should be those in Fes. Entering the high walls of this Medina is like a trip back in time to the medieval era. This is the world’s largest car-free urban area, and you and your loved one can lose yourself in narrow twisting alleyways where donkeys carry goods, or sip a mint tea on one of the squares to enjoy the bustle from there. At the labyrinth of souks you can pick up exceptional handicrafts, particularly if you or your partner has ever craved anything made from leather. Also in the Medina are the tanneries, where fabrics still dyed by age-old methods such as pigeon droppings and limestone are hung to dry on the buildings. And for those couples that love literature, a visit to Qarawiyyin Library in the Karaouine Mosque complex, known as the oldest library in the world, is a must. It houses one of the oldest manuscripts ever written on gazelle leather. Whilst it is not open to the general public, if you enlist the services of a local guide they may be able to get you a peek inside.
After the bustle of central Fes, you could make the journey with your spouse out to Moulay Yakoub, where the two of you can bathe in traditional Moroccan style in hot springs.
Bask on the Beach in Essaouira
By the time you make it out to Morocco’s 1550 miles (2500 km) of coastline, you are approaching places that see almost 300 days of sun per year. Essaouira, a long-time hippy haunt, is one of Morocco’s most appealing beach destinations. A prime example of an 18th-century fortified town and UNESCO-listed as a result, this white-and-blue Atlantic port’s name translates as ‘little picture’ from Arabic, and visiting honeymooners will find a picture-perfect backdrop to their stay here.
The beach is perhaps the main attraction: long, sandy, relatively uncrowded and perhaps one of the world’s few strands where kitesurfers and camels amicably mix! But you could also linger on Place Moulay El Hassan with your loved one over a platter of grilled just-off-the-boat seafood, explore clifftop bastion Skala de la Ville or visit an argan oil cooperative such as the one outside El Hanchane, 21 miles (34 km) east of Essaouira. Here, you can watch the famous cosmetic product being made (a fascinating process, as goats clamber into the trees to eat the argan fruits, excreting the pits which then get collected, crushed and pressed to extract the oil). You can also buy argan oil products on site.
Relax in a Romantic Riad in Marrakech
The superstar of Moroccan destinations, Marrakech is a place guaranteed to make your honeymoon memorable. This is somewhere that assails all your senses: a bright cornucopia of fortress and palace, minarets and museums, squares and souks.
It begins with where you sleep. Bedding down in a riad is the quintessential city experience: these lodgings look like nondescript wooden doors from outside but inside, they dazzle with beautiful courtyard gardens and offer serene, secluded breaks from the city bustle. See here for a list of the best riads in Marrrakech. Of course, your explorations of the city have to begin with the medina and its souks selling everything from babouches (slippers) to lanterns and carpets: haggling for a gift in one of the colorful alleyways is a memorable way to buy your loved one something special. Next, wander the vibrantly blue-painted Jardin Majorelle with your loved one: an oasis with over 300 plant species exploding in a riot of cactuses, bamboo and fountains. And explore the mysterious Fondouks area north of the medina, courtyards closed off behind huge doors that were once important caravanserais on the Trans-Saharan caravan route where merchants once arrived laden with silks, spices and precious gems. You could go for a romantic horse and carriage ride with your partner, too: perhaps around the ritzy Palmeraie, a palm oasis of luxury retreats just outside the city. And be transfixed five times per day as the call to prayer resonates from a mosque like Koutoubia: one of the most moving sounds you can hear in Morocco. Outside the Koutoubia, beautiful gardens invite you and your loved one to linger. And for some romantic downtime in the city, consider a hammam that caters for couples such as the upmarket Les Bains de Marrakech.
Bathe in Waterfalls and Breathe the Scent of Roses in the Atlas Mountains
Flanking Marrakech on two sides, the delightful Atlas Mountains soar in jagged Jurassic peaks for around 620 mi (1000 km) across Morocco. Here is a chance for you and your spouse to escape hectic city life and truly unwind in peace and pristine surroundings.
About 100 mi (160 km) northeast of Marrakech are Morocco’s highest waterfalls, the tranquil Cascades d’Ouzoud. At this popular destination, cascades plunge photogenically down a gorge, and you can bathe with your beloved in the pools at the foot of the falls, or take a boat ride. But the romantic highlight of a visit to these mountains is to the town of Kalaat M’Gouna, 177 mi (284 km) southeast of Marrakech, and the nearby valley, Valley of the Roses. A rose festival takes place in the town every May, reflecting the importance of the flower which is grown throughout the valley close by. The journey up the valley to Bou Tharar is a dramatic one of green valley floors and towering red rock cliffs – best taken in April or May to see the roses growing and being harvested. The Atlas Mountains are also dotted with poignant kasbahs (fortifications) like the UNESCO-listed Kasbah Aït Benhaddou in the Telouet Valley: a wonderful place to pause with your partner and appreciate the scale and scenery of this mighty mountain range.
Let your Love Heat Up in the Sahara Desert
You could scarcely ask for a more otherworldly backdrop for your honeymoon than the empty landscape of the Sahara Desert. The most popular excursion is from the village of Merzouga, from where you can take a tour by camel of the swooping amber dunes of Erg Chebbi, the tallest dunes in the Sahara. Some of these sandy summits reach over 650 feet (200 m) high, and watching the magnificent desert sunsets from the top of them is a romantic experience you will treasure forever. For a similar experience with far fewer crowds, the two of you could also go camel-riding and sunset-watching in the wilder Erg Chigaga near M’Hamid El Ghizlane, the Sahara’s largest unspoilt area of dunes.
In the western desert, 120 mi (193 km) southeast of Marrakech, one of the main attractions is the city of Ouarzazate, known as the ‘door to the desert’ and a major movie set for Holllywood blockbusters like Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia. From here, you can take excursions out to see petroglyphs, beautiful desert oases like Fint Oasis and gorgeous swimming spots such as at Tizgui Waterfall.