For many travellers, Morocco might just be a short hop away by ferry or by one of the myriad budget airlines from Spain, but it’s a much further distance to travel culturally. The regular certainties of Europe are suddenly swept away by the arrival in full technicolour of Africa and Islam. It’s a complete sensory overload.
Tangier, that faded libertine on the coast, has traditionally been a first port of call, but the winds blow you quickly along the Atlantic coast to the cosmopolitan and movie-star famous Casablanca, and whitewashed fishing port gems of Asalih and Essaouira. Inland, the great imperial cities of Marrakesh and Fez attract visitors in droves as they have done for centuries. The winding streets of their ancient medinas have enough surprises around each corner to fill a dozen repeat trips. Away from the urban beat, you’ll find Roman ruins and dramatically craggy valleys to distract you.
If you really want to escape from everything, Morocco still has a couple of trump cards. The High Atlas mountains seem custom-made for hiking boots, with endless trails between Berber villages, and North Africa’s highest peak (Jebel Toubkal) to conquer. Or if you prefer someone else to do the walking, simply saddle up your camel and ride it straight into the Sahara, to watch the sun setting over an ocean of sand.