The twisting alleys of an ancient medina, the imposing fortifications of a remote kasbah, a crowded souk full of snake-charmers, colourful pottery and carpets…
Morocco offers all this and more, making it a great destination for taking the kids (and perhaps you too) a little out of their comfort zone. From the stunning snow-capped Atlas Mountains to the family-friendly tourist resorts of the Atlantic coast, this long thin country tumbling down the western side of Africa offers plenty of scope for families, whether you want to hit the beach or sign up for an exciting adventure trip.
Things to do with kids in Morocco
Explore the old walled city of Marrakech. Kids delight in just being here, exploring the medina’s magical bazaars filled with exotic spices and treasures and getting lost in the many winding derbs (alleyways). Head to Jemma el Fna, the medina’s main square, at dusk to soak up the atmosphere and witness snake-charmers, storytellers and acrobats at work, and don't miss the gorgeously hued Majorelle Garden.
Marrakech is the starting point for many escorted family adventure trips (see tab above), some of which take you to out-of-the way places few tourists get to see, such as the remote villages of the Berbers, hidden away in the folds of the Atlas mountains. En route from Marrakech, most adventure itineraries visit the ruined Kasbah of Telouet before moving on to the Atlantic coast to explore the old pirate hideout of Essaouira (see below).
In southern Morocco the adventure continues as you cross the mighty Atlas mountains and head for the impressive Ait Benhaddou Kasbah. Let the kids explore the maze of red towers and fortifications that have been used as the backdrop for films including Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia. From your base in the southern Atlas you can also take walks through local villages and gain an insight into the lives of the Berber people. On any adventure trip, camel rides will be a big hit with little ones, and if you’re travelling with older children and teenagers then a night spent bivouacking in the desert is must.
If winter sun is more your thing, Morocco is also an ideal destination for a little R&R. Take a dip in the Atlantic – Morocco’s most visited beaches and resorts are on the Atlantic coast not far from the cities. The North East trade wind from March to mid-September makes this the best place for watersports including surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Agadir offers good beaches and a great range of family-friendly accommodation, but modern hotels and European cafés mean it’s not the place for those looking for a more authentic Moroccan experience. For more atmosphere, head north along the Atlantic coast to the old port of Essaouira, to explore the imposing ramparts. Once a pirates’ lair, the town is now a popular stop for adventure itineraries (see above). The busy fishing port and laidback souk are ideal places to soak up the surroundings, or enjoy the wide expanse of sandy beach.
On Morocco’s Mediterranean coast a number of new hotels and apartment complexes are opening up the Tétouan area to families. Intimate beaches and traditional fishing villages are just some of sights to explore.
Ait Benhaddou Kasbah.
Morocco’s national dish is couscous but you'll also enjoy kebabs, salads, melons, tasty meat, chicken and fish tagines accompanied by vegetables, and pastries – try briouats, savoury pastries with chicken or beef. Don’t miss out on Moroccan patisseries – sample the pancakes with honey and sesame seeds and cakes made with almonds or raisins, accompanied by traditional mint tea.
For fussy kids, Western favourites are available in the resort hotels.
When to go to Morocco
Morocco is great at any time of year, though with kids you'll enjoy the climate more in spring and autumn. Marrakech is generally warm in winter (20°C), with temperatures soaring in summer to highs of 38°. More moderate temperatures can be found on the coast, with hot days (low 30C°s in summer) and cooler nights. In the mountains the weather is variable and can change from warm sunshine to snow in a matter of hours. Wherever you stay remember to bring warm clothes for evenings, as nights can be cool – especially Nov–Feb.
If you are visiting during the holy month of Ramadan, remember that opening hours at sites and museums may be reduced. This can also be an particularly interesting time to visit Morocco, as the streets are more than usually lively at night.
Morocco can be a relative bargain when it comes to family holidays and breaks. Winter package deals start from as little as £180 for seven nights, and budget flights are available at less than £100 return. A flight-inclusive adventure holiday costs from about £700 per adult, depending on the time of year. Decent evening meals start at around £7pp.
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Flying time3.75hrs All flight times are based on flights from UK London airports, to the capital or nearest destination airport.
Carbon footprint1.8 CO2 Estimated tonnes of CO2 produced for return flights for a family of four.
Majorelle Garden, Marrakech.
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