Exotic and otherworldly as Morocco undoubtedly is, it’s also an incredibly cultured and sophisticated country with some of the world’s most historic architecture, fabulously elegant cities and a legacy of art, literature and music that’s ancient beyond imagining.
Whether you choose the magnificent coast or travel inland to legendary Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, kids will adore Morocco and be loved immeasurably in return. There are few countries so welcoming for children and, to be honest, adults find the strange and eccentric customs and sights as lot more of a culture shock than kids ever do.
Direct flights from London to Marrakech, Rabat, Casablanca and Agadir. Flying time between three and four hours.
Temperatures in coastal cities like Agadir rise to 30˚C in July and August. November to February averages between 20 and 15˚C.
Morocco’s coastline has beautiful beaches, ancient medina, spectacular natural wonders like Plage Blanche and some of the country’s most exotic cities.
The Atlas Mountains are easily accessible from Marrakech and one of the world’s great ranges for walking and climbing.
Morocco is immersed in tradition and ancient ways of life are still very much part of the day to day here – even in major cities.
The country has nine World Heritage sites: Marrakech Medina, the Historic City of Meknes, the Medina of Essouira, Ouarzazate, the ancient Roman city of Volubilis, Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, Rabat, Medina of Tetouan, Medina of Fez and El Jadida.
Jemaa Al-Fna square in Marrakech was the first UNESCO World Heritage site of Intangible Culture.
Morocco’s seaside towns and major cities have a range of family hotels and international brand resorts. But if chlorinated pools and kids’ menus aren’t a deal breaker, consider staying in a riad: traditional Moroccan homes built around a central courtyard. Most historic medina incorporate beautifully restored riads as boutique hotels and guesthouses, self-catering apartments or entire family houses. Also worth remembering: the classic elegance of a riad is what most of the best hotels are trying to emulate.
Sparkling Agadir is one of Morocco’s famous coastal resorts. It’s considerably less historic than some of the neighbours but scores well for sheltered, sandy beaches and a well-ordered sense of calm. Broad boulevards and palm-lined promenades are more Cannes than desert fringe here so adventurers are always pleasantly surprised to discover they’re not too far from the wilds of Plage Blanche and the Western Sahara.
Casablanca and Marrakech are Morocco’s great romantics. Like its inland counterpart, Casablanca is a fascinating mix of age-old tradition and contemporary creativity but it’s completely original too. This is the city where glossy malls are as much of an attraction as medina, new restaurants are springing up all the time and children are as likely to be awed by modern art as ancient mosques and palaces. Casablanca probably isn’t an ideal family holiday base but a string of pretty seaside resorts to the west make it a convenient airport choice from the UK and a fantastic day out – especially for teenagers.
The image of Koutoubia Mosque set against the snow capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains is breathtaking and almost as old as Marrakech itself. Understandably this mesmerising city has always been a magnet for artists, writers, poets and musicians. Yves Saint Laurent made his home here and the gorgeous Majorelle Gardens created a paint colour all by themselves. This is the Moroccan legend which doesn’t need beaches or resorts to make it magical for young children. Take them to Jemaa Al-Fna in the afternoon to listen to the story tellers, wander round the morning souks or visit just after Ramadan for Eid al-Fitr and you’ll have created Marrakech lovers for life. It’s a captivating city for teenagers too and close enough to the mountains for memory-making expeditions – not far from the mighty Sahara or Toubkal either.
It might have a magnificent World Heritage medina and some of the best water sports in North Africa, but that’s probably not the reason spectacular Essaouira seems familiar. Game of Thrones experts will recognise the sea fortifications as the location where Khaleesi marshalled her army of the Unsullied. If you aren’t a fan, it should be enough to know that the show’s creators choose the world’s sunniest and loveliest places to film and Essaouira is no exception. This breathtaking city also has exceptional beaches.
City centres are hectic to drive around, but hiring a car is the best way to explore this marvellous and intricate country. Dozens of operators offer excellent tours to most of the historic sites and even a day in the Atlas Mountain foothills is memorable. Walking is the only way to travel around the medina.