There are so many beautiful places to see when you study abroad in Morocco, but where do you go when you want to avoid tourist traps? (I’m looking at you, Marrakesh.) Where do you go when you feel like you’ve already been everywhere?
Here are some of the best hidden gems to travel to while studying abroad in Morocco.
Chefchaouen is the most well-known of Morocco’s small cities. Known as the blue city of Morocco, Chefchaouen is a beautiful city in the middle of the Rif Mountains. You can get there easily by traveling with Compagnie de Transport au Maroc (CTM), a bus company that operates throughout Morocco, from Tangier, Casablanca, Rabat, or Fez for less than $15 USD.
There are a ton of hotels and hostels that cater to the European tourists who come during the summer, and the city is known for its textiles — so buy a blanket and a scarf! Make sure to try some of the city’s famous goat cheese, too!
Located between the cities of Fez and Rabat, Meknes is arguably the most underrated of Morocco’s imperial cities. (The imperial cities — Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh, and Rabat — have all served as Morocco’s capital at some point.) You can get there by taking the bus or the train.
Go shopping in the old medina, and don’t forget to check out Beb Mansour! Bonus points if you travel to the nearby Volubilis ruins! (When you study abroad in Rabat with IES Abroad, you’ll get the chance to see the well-preserved Roman ruins and more than 30 original mosaics in Volubilis on a field trip during orientation.)
Well known among European tourists, Agadir is a beautiful beach town south of Casablanca. While it doesn’t have the old medina charm of some of Morocco’s other cities, the town is perfect for lounging on the beach and hiking in the nearby Paradise Valley. You can get to Agadir by bus, but you’ll have to get a guide to take you hiking. Talk to your hotel or hostel about booking a tour.
Stereotypical experience walking through sand dunes with not a building in sight? Check. Merzouga is a town in southern Morocco near the Algerian border. Famous for the nearby sand dunes — Erg Chebbi — there isn’t much besides the tiny village and some fabulous, luxurious resorts. (We stayed at the Xaluca Group resort in Erfoud.) But on the way there, you can check out all the fossil shops. You could buy a pretty knick-knack — or a kitchen countertop! You can get to Errachidia by plane, take a ~$30 taxi to Erfoud, and book your desert excursions through your hotel.
When you think about Morocco, you usually don’t think about snow-capped mountains… But if you find yourself missing winter when you’re studying abroad in Morocco, Ifrane will soothe your cravings.
Situated in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Ifrane was first set up as a colonial settlement by the French because of its similarity to the Alpine environment! Ifrane is easily accessible through the CTM — you can get there easily from Rabat, Casablanca, Fez, and Meknes.
When you study abroad in Rabat with IES Abroad, you can join a field trip to the Middle Atlas Mountains that includes spending two nights with a Berber family, visiting natural springs, and learning about medicinal herbs native to the region.
Emma is a senior at Brown University studying Middle Eastern Studies and Computer Science. She is a two-time alumna studying abroad with IES Abroad Rabat in Spring 2017 and IES Abroad European Union in Summer 2017.
Read Emma’s IES Abroad blog to learn more about her experience studying abroad in Rabat.