Winter sun is always great, especially when you’re escaping the grey winter days of London. I had found a reasonably cheap return flight to Fes and decided to book myself a 2 week trip to Northern Morocco over New Years.
The previous year Emily and I had done a 10 day trip to Morocco in which we’d covered Marrakech, Essaouria and a 3 day trip out to the Sahara desert. This had started my love of the country and I’d been itching to get back to see some more.
As Emily was going to Australia for a month to visit her sister this time I was going solo. Having survived driving an auto-rickshaw 2000 miles across India a year earlier I was excited to see if my travel mentality for the crazy hustle and bustle of the country had changed since the first trip.
After some planning I settled on a rough loop around Northern Morocco but as with any trip things change and after not particularly enjoying the feel of Tangier I left a day early and popped down to Asilah for a night. So my final route ended up being:
Fes –> Chefchaouen –> Tangier –> Asilah –> Rabat –> Meknes –> Moulay Idriss –> Fes
Below is a selection of my favourite shots from the two week trip. I’ve tried to add helpful captions to the images but as always let me know if you want any more info on any of them.
After visiting Marrakech the previous year, Fes felt like a much more authentic and genuine Moroccan city. I had a fantastic few days in the city, getting horribly lost in the medina only to pop out somewhere I knew or recognised. I feel the only way to really explore Fes is to just wander and get lost. As usual I had offline maps downloaded onto my phone so if I got really lost I’d at least be able to pinpoint where I was, it didn’t help at all with actually getting around the maze as the GPS signal jumped around so much that it was almost useless.
Chefchaouen is an incredible town up in the mountains. Famed for being the hashish capital of Morocco and most known online for it’s highly Instagram worthy pretty blue streets. I spent several days, including New Years Eve, walking up into the surrounding hills and appreciating the chilled out vibe and laid back tourists the town attracted.
I’m afraid to say I didn’t particularly love Tangier, before I’d arrived I’d already heard from several people that it’s a love or hate city so I was interested to go in with an open mind and make my own decision. Sadly as with many industrial port cities it felt a bit too raw and rough around the edges for me. After initially planning to spend two full days exploring the city I ended up cutting my time here short and jumping on the train down to Asilah for a night instead.
Asilah was a breath of fresh air and backed up my earlier decision to leave Tangier. It’s a beautiful small coastal town, known for it’s bohemian vibe and pretty white washed houses in the medina. Due to the large community of artists living in Asilash you find murals adorn many of the walls. I spent my time meandering around admiring these pieces, which ranged from tiny little doodles up to full walls.
The capital city of Morocco, Rabat, is surprisingly only it’s 7th largest city. This actually works well for it giving the city a more relaxed vibe to it’s bigger brothers such as Fes and Marrakech. There is plenty to see here if you aren’t content with just wandering including a fantastic Kasbah, a ruined roman town and of course the open expanse of the ocean.
Moulay Idriss and Volubilis
From my research it seems that most people swing through Moulay Idriss on a day trip combining the town and Volubilis. I decided I wanted to give the town a bit more of a chance and I was glad I did. Although there isn’t a huge amount going on I really enjoyed just drinking tea and watching local people go about their daily business.
Another reason for staying the night was so that I could get up nice and early and make my way over to the sprawling ruined roman city of Volubilis before the tour groups from Fes and Meknes arrived.
Meknes was my last stop on my whistle stop tour of Northern Morocco. Meknes had a strange feel to it, it seemed to fit somewhere between the hustle of Fes and the relaxed feel of Chefchaouen or Asilah. I spent a few days wandering around checking out the main tourist sites and coming to the realisation that I’d soon be back at my office desk in London.
And that wraps up the two week loop. Going back this time I felt I was in a much better mindset to deal with the occasional hassle. I also really enjoyed getting out my comfort zone a bit, partly by travelling solo and also by exploring parts of cities we probably would have avoided on our first trip.