Come to Morocco for its elusive magic and exotic mystery and you will probably leave with more intimate, human memories: watching kids play football in a dusty square, dodging donkey-carts while attempting to navigate narrow alleyways, enjoying mint tea and good-natured banter with a babouche seller in the local souk.
The romantic image is real enough and is what draws most travellers here, but Morocco is a viscerally lived-in place, where modernity rubs shoulders with antiquity, and a melee of competing sounds, colours and pungent smells is waiting for you just outside the riad door.
So close to Europe, yet so very different, Morocco is hard to pin down. Around every bend in the road you’ll spot a sweeping panoramic view or a half-crumbled kasbah. An alleyway turn in the medina can bring you face to face with either a scene from the medieval era or a street lined with chi-chi boutiques and cafés. Morocco is forever a surprise and an adventure, and the near impossibility of knowing it all just adds to the seduction of trying. This country is rewarding and remarkably good value as a destination for walking, surfing and yoga; for aimless exploring or for focused lazing.
Whatever you do here, the nature of the place will soak into the very pores of your skin, and, once it does, don’t expect any amount of exuberant hammam scrubbing to rub it off. Morocco’s medley of medina mayhem, desert dunes, soaring mountains and verdant valleys has been beguiling travellers since they first set foot on this land. You’re next in line to fall under its spell.