Flights To Morocco

Morocco is just a step away from Europe, across the narrow straits of Gibraltar, but it is a world away in terms of culture and experience, brimming over with contrasts, colour and mystery. This is partly due to its geographical position, situated at the crossroads where East meets West, Africa shakes hands with Europe, and the Mediterranean merges with the Atlantic.

Sitting at the top northwest corner of Africa and sharing two oceans, the country's main appeal for visitors has always been its Mediterranean charm, the quality of its crafts and its exotic nature. However, in more recent years travellers are discovering other hidden delights and adventures, particularly in the northern and central parts of Morocco, in the Rif and High Atlas Mountains, where it is even possible to enjoy a skiing holiday. Then, down south, some are drawn to explore the sands of the Western Sahara, on camelback, horseback or by 4X4.

Whether you visit Morocco for the sunshine, or to trek through the mountains or the hot desert sands, it is a sure bet that you will also be enchanted by the timeless Medieval medinas of the cities, particularly in Fez and Marrakech, where the souks and squares plunge visitors into a fascinating foreign world. Snake charmers weave their magic; the stench of the tanners' yards pervades the air; and the call of the muezzins wafts from the ancient minarets. The abiding memory will be one of sweetened mint tea, brightly-coloured slippered feet and big smiles.

Although most of its suburban enclaves are modern, Morocco has more than its fair share of ancient monuments and magnificent buildings, reflecting a turbulent history shaped by its strategic location. Since the days of the Phoenicians, Morocco has attracted foreign interest from the Romans, Vandals, Visigoths and ancient Greeks until the coming of the Arabs in the 7th century, who brought Islam and the Alaouite Dynasty. European powers have had their day, too, trying to control this northernmost tip of Africa. France and Spain battled for control, until nationalism triumphed and the Kingdom of Morocco gained independence in 1956 (except for the two small enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the north, which are still controlled by Spain). This rich past, coupled with a timeless present, makes Morocco a magical mystery tour of surprises and enchantments for millions of visitors every year.

Currency

The unit of currency is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD), which is divided into 100 centimes. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger shops, hotels and restaurants.

Language

Arabic is the official language, but eight other languages are also spoken including Berber, French and Spanish. English is generally understood in the tourist areas, but French is the most widely spoken.

Climate

Morocco's climate is moderate and subtropical, cooled by breezes off the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The weather is unpredictable and can be changeable, swinging from extreme heat to unexpected cold. The climate is also highly variable according to region and terrain and travellers are advised to check the conditions for the exact destinations they will be visiting. The climate of the northern Moroccan coast and central areas is Mediterranean, with hot dry summers and mild wet winters. In the interior the temperatures are more extreme: winters can be fairly cold and the summers very hot. Marrakech has an average winter temperature of 70ºF (21ºC) and an average summer temperature of 100°F (38°C). In the Atlas Mountains temperatures can drop below zero in any season and mountain peaks are snow-capped throughout most of the year. The winter, between December and February, is wet and rainy in the north of the country; while in the south, at the edge of the Moroccan Sahara, it is dry and bitterly cold. Summer is the driest season.

Weather-wise, the best time to visit Morocco is generally in the spring and early summer, between April and early June, or in autumn, between September and November, when the weather is warm and dry (and there aren't too many tourists around, either).