Northern Discovery – Designed as an add-on to European travel, this Northern Discovery private tour can also be a stand-alone introduction to Morocco, such a warm and hospitable country. From the white-washed walls of Tangier to Chefchaouen via Tétouan, to the rich cultural heritage in Volubilis, Meknes and Fes in the Middle Atlas and onto Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco’s respective administrative and economic capitals, discover the best of Northern Morocco!
Strategically located on the Strait of Gibraltar in the northernmost tip of Morocco, Tangier has long profited as a gateway between Europe and Africa, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. Its roots in Berber mythology and Roman colonization, this city is a melting pot of culture and languages, haven of international intrigue, playground for the rich and famous, and endless inspiration for writers and artists, such as Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, Delacroix and Matisse.
Visit the medina of Tangier with its narrow and winding alleys. Enjoy Tangier-style mint tea at the Cafe Hafa, legendary hangout of Bowles and William S. Burroughs. Brush up on your mythology when you visit Hercules Cave, said to be his resting place before completing one of his 12 Labors. It offers stunning views of the Atlantic and a silhouetted outline of the African continent in its opening.
Drive along the beautiful Mediterranean coastline as you head toward Tétouan. Catch a glimpse of Europe across the strait, as you drive past Algeciras and Gibraltar. Pass through Ksar es-Seghir and pass by Ceuta, a self-governing Spanish town on Moroccan soil. Continue through picturesque beach towns such as Fnideq and Mdiq, very popular for Moroccans during their summer vacation. Arrive in Tétouan, poetically described as the “white dove”, an ode to its white-washed walls.
Although originally built in the 3rd century BC, Tétouan owes its cultural richness to Spain. Jewish refugees fled here after the Reconquista and were later followed by Andalusian Moors. This heritage is still apparent in the architecture, culinary influence and its medina, one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Morocco.
Continue your drive to Chefchaouen. Your early evening arrival in Chefchaouen allows for an authentic Moroccan tea-time of sweet mint tea and tasty delicate pastries in Uta El Hammam Plaza.
While the name comes from Berber “Look at the horns”, a reference to the two mountains between which the city is nestled, a more fitting nickname for Chefchaouen is the “Blue City”. Chefchaouen’s charming narrow alleys with blue-washed walls and stairs are a treat for the senses. Book an optional guided tour, or choose to explore on your own. Chefchaouen is known for its friendly locals and relaxed atmosphere. It’s also a great starting point for hikes in the nearby Rif Mountains.
First stop: guided visit of Volubilis. Just one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco, Volubilis is a fantastic example of Roman colonization, dating from the 3rd century BC.
Continue on to Meknes, UNESCO World Heritage Site and imperial capital under Moulay Ismail, the second Alaouite ruler. Meknes flourished under his rule, as witnessed by the Heri es Souani, or granaries, designed to store feed for 12,000 horses for up to 20 years as necessary. Another impressive proof of the sultan’s drive: the Bassin de l’Aguedal, a water tank built to supply water not only to the palace but to the entire city as well.
Habs Qara is a more sobering example of Moulay Ismail’s rule. It was used as an underground prison for Christian sailors captured by pirates and used as forced labor for many of Moulay Ismail’s grandiose projects. The sultan’s mausoleum is a calm sanctuary with beautiful curved archways and zellige tile work. Currently, Meknes is home to the Haras de Meknes, one of the national horse studs and stables.
Carry on to Moulay Idriss, a picturesque hilltop town considered one of the holiest places in Morocco and named after this descendant of the Prophet Mohamed.
Early evening arrival in Fes.
Fes is undoubtedly one of Morocco’s jewels. Considered its religious, spiritual, intellectual and cultural center, it is the oldest and longest-running imperial city. It is divided into three parts: Fes el Bali, Fes el Jedid and la Ville Nouvelle.
Start today’s guided tour in Fes el Jedid, the “new city” built in 1276. Dar el Makhzen, the royal palace in Fes, is still home to the king when in town, and its brass doors are a popular backdrop for Fassi newlyweds. Bordering the palace are vestiges of Fes’ important Jewish heritage. While no longer as populous, the Mellah was the heart of the Jewish quarters as early as the 13th century. Its architecture is notably different than that of the surrounding Muslim neighborhoods. The 17th century Danan Synagogue provides a great view of the Mellah as well as the white-washed tombs of the Jewish cemetery.
Next, venture by car to the southern fortress of Fes, which offers an unparalleled panorama of its vast medina as well as the olive tree-dotted hills surrounding Fes. Stop by a local pottery and mosaic co-operative to see first-hand the craft of Fes’ famous cobalt blue pottery.
Last but certainly not least: Fes el Bali, or “old town”, founded in the late 8th century. The medina is among one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Morocco and is virtually unchanged since the Middle Ages. Wander through the maze of narrow, winding passages. From the various souks organized by craft or specialty, along the many medersas, and the unforgettable view and scent of the centuries-old tannery, the medina of Fes is truly a sight to behold.
Get an early start to Rabat, the political and administrative capital of Morocco. It’s also Morocco’s most recent add to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites register. Rabat can be considered a relatively new city, as it was only developed in the early 12th century. Explore the casbah by foot and enjoy the view of Rabat’s rival city and former pirate haven, Salé, from the top of the medina.
Rabat is also home to the King’s palace and its spacious grounds.
Visit the Hassan Tour, the unfinished minaret of the Hassan Mosque. The mosque was designed to be the largest at its time. Construction was halted by the death of Sultan Yacoub el-Mansour and was later destroyed by an earthquake.
Nearby is the Mausoleum of Mohamed V, beloved Sultan, King and the father of Moroccan independence.
Wander around Chellah, site of Roman ruins which were later extended into a necropolis by Merenid rulers. Chellah is also one of many stork colonies in Morocco, where storks are deemed the national bird.
Arrive in Casablanca in the early evening.
Many travelers enjoy an evening at Rick’s Cafe, a cafe, bar and restaurant built to recreate the ambiance of the movie, Casablanca.
End your Northern Discovery tour in Casablanca, the largest city and economic capital of Morocco.
A must- do: a visit to the impressive Hassan II mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. Originally commissioned to honor the former king’s father as well as create “the” landmark in Casablanca, it is a showcase of Moroccan craftsmanship and can accommodate more than 100,000 worshippers.
Transfer to airport.
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Cancellation Policy: We can provide you an initial and informal quote. We will work with you to create your dream vacation, catering to your needs and tastes. Before we can proceed with reserving a driver and accommodations, we will require a deposit. When booking with Mint Tea Tours, you agree to the following:
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Address: 2 Lot Mseffer Rte Imouzer
Res Zomoroda 2, n°11
30050 Fes, Morocco