Morocco: A cultural melting pot you can do on a student budget

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Deputy Travel Editor Rachel Evans explores some of the best locations to visit in Morocco.

Laying on the edge of North Western Africa, Morocco has experienced the influence of many different countries and ethnic groups to form the stunning country it is today. The rich cultural heritage, and location makes it an amazing choice for a holiday destination; while cheap costs of food, accommodation and travel, round it off as pretty much perfect for students.

Break down of costs

Morocco is one of the most affordable countries to visit that is still relatively close to home. The flight is an easy 3-4 hours, and a return trip costs under £200. Once in the country, train travel is comparatively cheap, around £15 for a 4-hour journey, which makes visiting multiple cities very easy. Hotels are probably where the standard for the price you pay is the most significant in difference. To put it in perspective, a night in a 5-star hotel will set you back around £55 per person. Food is just as good value, with a smaller local meal costing around £4, and a good evening meal costing around £8.

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Epigram / Rachel Evans

Where to visit

In the mountains in the north of the country nestles Chefchaouen. Chefchaouen, also known as the blue city, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Famed for the medina with buildings painted vivid hues of blue, it is an absolute must-see when visiting Morocco. The architecture is unbelievably photogenic; I think we must have stopped to take photos round pretty much every corner as wandered through the medina. Chefchaouen is everything I hoped Morocco would be. Shops selling all kinds of trinkets and ornaments spill out into the streets; local people sit out on their doorsteps, watching the world go by, and the mouth-watering smell of spiced dishes drifts out from the iconic arched doorways. A short hike from the city are beautiful waterfalls. Rivers run down the hillside by the outskirts of the medina, and people set up tables and chairs in the water in order to provide cold refreshment for the heat of the blazing sun.

If you fancy a visit to the beach then the town of Bouznika is an excellent place to go. Situated between Rabat and Casablanca, the spot is famed for its excellent waves for surfing, and ocean-fresh seafood. The town is undergoing quite a lot of development and construction of holiday complexes, however stretches of beautiful, unspoilt beaches can still be found.

Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and boasts many impressive traditional buildings. The red stone contrasts the pristine blue skies, and palm trees tower over you. As is common in many Moroccan cities, the medina plays host to an impressive market, selling everything from silver to spices. Morocco has a large Spanish influence, especially in the north, and we stopped at an amazing tapas restaurant and bar, with a bold and passionate flamenco show in the evening.

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Epigram: Ravel Evans

Marrakech is the top tourist destination in Morocco and for good reason. The city is located further south than Chefchaouen and Rabat, and with this comes more sun. Morocco is such a wonderful and diverse country because the landscape is so different wherever you go, and you can really see how people have adapted to this. From the Rif mountains in the north by Chefchaouen; you pass through lush, green landscapes that quickly turn into dry, arid desert. Marrakech is on the edge of this dry, desert-like landscape, at the base of the Atlas Mountains. There are countless hotels catering to every budget, from the extravagant palace hotels, to the traditional Riads in the centre.

Food options are just as exciting, with everything on offer from restaurants selling tagines whilst belly dancers shimmy around your table, to the likes of Buddha Bar serving a range of beautiful Asian dishes under the watchful eye of a giant gold Buddha. Morocco is commonly thought of as a country fairly conservative in their beliefs, so many people are put off of nightlife; however, the overall impression of the country was one of openness, with some pretty incredible bars and clubs to show for it. One of the best things about Marrakech is the variety of trips and activities on offer. We were absolutely blown away by the Jardin Majorelle, started by the infamous Yves Saint Laurent. Cacti tower over buildings painted in the electric shade of Yves Saint Laurent blue, and pristine water features glisten in the sun. Another incredible trip was a quad-biking excursion outside of the city. We rode for hours through picturesque Berber villages, and arid, scorching hills.

Finally, we did the typical tourist activity of camel riding. Camels have been a highly important mode of transportation for hundreds of years and are a very important symbol of the country. I had been warned before that they were very bumpy to ride and terrifying to get on and off of, but some things you just have to experience for yourself. Despite all this they were still wonderful animals, and a camel ride through the palm forest was the perfect way to end the trip.

Featured Image: Fickr / rytc


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