Morocco is the perfect destination for families looking for an adventure close to home. From the sights, sounds and smells of Marrakech’s ancient medina and the beauty of the Atlas Mountains to the shifting sands of the Sahara and the rugged beaches along the Atlantic coast, there’s plenty to do for kids of all ages. Flights to Morocco from the UK are only three- to four-hours long meaning you can be wandering the labyrinth streets of the medina by (mint) tea time. This guide has been created in partnership with Wego.ae, specialists in the Middle East and North Africa.
Colourful Marrakech is an obvious place to start your Moroccan adventure. It’s an exciting city that deserves at least a few days to explore. At the heart of the old town is the Djemma el Fna, once a place of public execution (the name means ‘assembly of the dead’). Today it’s a cheerier place filled with life, particularly come dusk when snake charmers, drummers, acrobats and story tellers gather to perform. The souk can be chaotic but it’s a fun place to discover with kids and they’ll have fun bargaining for souvenirs; stalls sell everything from slippers and lampshades to rugs, personalised baskets, spices and much more. There are a handful of sites to see in Marrakech including the fabulous Majorelle Gardens that were designed by the late Yves Saint Laurent. Filled with bright colours, vibrant flowers and water features, it’s a beautiful and calming place to discover. The old town has some family-friendly riads but if you want somewhere with a bit more space, a swimming pool and very family-friendly accommodation, take a look at Fawakay Villas.
Morocco has miles of beautiful coastline bordering both the Mediterranean and Atlantic seas offering families plenty of beach holiday options. Travel along the windswept Atlantic coast and you’ll find small fishing villages, historic ports built by the Portuguese and some of Morocco’s most well-known cities including Casablanca. One of the best destinations for families along the Atlantic coastline is Essaouira, famous for its swathes of golden sand and its medina. It’s also a great place for water sports and there are a number of surf camps around where the whole family can enjoy daily lessons. The sea can be quite rough along the Atlantic coast, so a hotel or resort with a pool is a good idea. If you’re travelling with younger children then Oualidia is a great option as it has sheltered lagoon beaches.
The Atlas Mountains
Whether you choose a day trip or a longer trek, you can’t miss the Atlas Mountains when you visit Morocco. With snowcapped peaks, mud-thatched Berber villages and lush valleys, North Africa’s greatest mountain range is spellbinding. The High Atlas Mountains are the most easily reached section of the mountain range from Marrakech, and arguably the most impressive. You can visit as a day trip (it takes approximately two-hours from Marrakech) but it’s well worth considering a multi-day trek in order to fully experience the landscape and culture.
There are a number of companies offering family-friendly trekking tours and walks are possible no matter the age of your child; when they get tired they can hop onto a mule! Walking from village to village is a wonderful way to learn about traditional Berber life, not to mention the fresh mountain air and sublime views. If you have time, it’s definitely worth stopping at Atlas Film Studios either on your way to, or back from, the mountains. Located just five miles outside of Ouarzazate, this is the largest film studio in the world and was the shooting location for myriad films including Gladiator (2000) and The Living Daylights (1987). The first film to be shot here (before the studio was even built) was David Lean’s 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia.
Once you’ve seen the cities, scaled the mountains and swum in the sea, the only thing left is to visit the desert. The incredible landscape of the Sahara Desert is home to camels, kasbahs, oasis towns, giant palm trees, and vast sand dunes – it’s the best geography lesson your kids will ever have! To reach the Sahara from either Marrakech or Fez will require almost a full day of driving so allow a few days for your desert adventure. The best, and most memorable, way to experience the desert is to spend the night sleeping out under the Saharan sky. There are numerous tour operators offering trips into the desert where you can ride a camel, visit a traditional Berber camp, roll down sand dunes and gaze at the stars. Camps vary from very basic to luxurious. On your way back to Marrakech, it’s worth spending the night in one of the palmeries you’ll see along the way. These lush oases are filled with date palms and farmland and offer a striking contrast to life in the desert.
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