A break from the norm
Morocco’s introduction to the mainstream holiday market in the late Nineties added a new genre to the library of world travel. Suddenly, holidays were scented with spice rather than sun cream, and the soundtrack of waves was remixed with calls to prayer.
Today, more than eight million tourists come to the country every year in search of a beach break with a twist. Most people choose Agadir as their base, and for good reason. The stretch of coast here unravels for six miles and basks in 300 days of sunshine a year. The city itself eases you in to Moroccan culture gently by offering up European-style cafes and smart hotels alongside its bustling souks and Moroccan restaurants. Agadir is also close to the shape-shifting sands of the Saharan desert. And, the dramatic High Atlas Mountain range is about four hours’ drive away.
Head a little further north from the mountains, meanwhile, and you’ll reach Marrakech. The highlight of this chaotic city is the market place in Jemaa el-Fna square. Even if you don’t have an eye to buy it’s still worth a visit. You’re likely to see bejewelled belly dancers and snake charmers cajoling cobras from wicker baskets.
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Marrakech is known as the ‘Red City’ thanks to the blush-coloured walls that surround it. Constructed in the 12th century, the bricks are made from tabia, which is a mixture of red mud and water from the Hazou plains. But anyone who’s been to the city will know that its nickname doesn’t do it justice. Red is just one colour in Marrakech’s kaleidoscope.
The Agadir area is Morocco’s premier holiday destination for one overriding reason – the beach. The city’s golden sandy sweep stretches for more than 9 kilometres, looping around a wide bay on the Atlantic coast. Its powder-soft sands and translucent waters have earned it Blue Flag status.