Backpacking in Morocco on a Gap Year

Countries  »  Morocco

Morocco is popular with backpackers as the gateway to Africa, the diversity of the country preparing travellers for their journey deeper into the continent. Comprising staggering mountain ranges, sweeping deserts, and traditional cities, backpacking in Morocco never threatens to grow dull.

Cities in Morocco

Most visitors to Morocco will arrive in capital city Marrakesh, which is handy as it serves as a microcosm of the country, offering a dazzling array of sights and experiences while rarely threatening to overwhelm.

Waking to the reverberation of the call to prayer, you can spend the day exploring the intricate architecture of mosques, seeking out traditional Moroccan dishes like tagine, b’ssara, and makouda from street stalls, or head inside the medina’s ramparts to get lost in the tightly wound lanes of the souqs. Find Djemaa el-Fna square at night to party late into the night with musicians, acrobats, and other street performances.

Other cities you shouldn’t miss include Fez to the northeast, known as Morocco’s cultural capital, coastal Casablanca to the west, and picture-book Chefchaouen to the northwest, its blue-washed cobbled lanes couched under the ravishing Rif Mountains.

Countryside in Morocco

There are few experiences like riding a camel across the Sahara desert, and Morocco is the perfect place to do it. The highlight attraction is Erg Chigaga, a gently undulating golden sand sea where travellers can camp in solitude under the stars. Visit between October and April for daytime temperatures the right side of boiling.

Head north from the Sahara region and you’ll find that Morocco’s terrain is largely mountainous, the Atlas Mountains forming a spine at the centre of the country and offering countless hikes and picturesque views. Along the north coast you’ll also find sparkling Mediterranean coastline with views across to Spain on the clearest days.

Top Experiences in Morocco

Djemma el-Fna, Marrakech

This enormous plaza is home to ceaseless street theatre, particularly at night when restaurants and street food stalls get cooking and musicians, actors, snake charmers, dancers and more get into full swing.

Medina, Chefchaouen

Smaller, quainter, and less crowded than Marrakech’s medina, these winding lanes in Chefchaouen feel just as vital, charming blue-washed streets lending everything a hazy, otherworldly feel.

Erg Chigaga, M’hamid

Backpacking in Morocco isn’t complete without venturing into the Sahara Desert, and Erg Chigaga is the most iconic sight of the region, wind-shaped waves of golden sand rolling until they break on the mountains.

Medina, Fez

Yes, we’ve gone a bit medina crazy, but it’s impossible not to fall for the impossibly dense, frantic, and car-free medieval alleyways of Fez’s medina, every winding passage, low doorway, or blind corner hiding another traditional delight.

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

This massive, flamboyant mosque is the third-largest in the world, its intricate craftsmanship of stone, wood, and marble serving to boast of Moroccan skill. The basement has a glass floor that overhangs the ocean, the roof is retractable, and its 210m-tall minaret beams a laser towards Mecca. There are few more spectacular buildings in the world.