This African Country Is One Of The Trendiest Destinations For Western Tourists In 2023

Africa has resurfaced as a promising destination after multiple destinations in the continent began loosening their restrictions, be it launching simpler tourist visas or lifting health mandates that had been in place for three excruciatingly long years.

From the Mediterranean coast to the Sub-Saharan hinterland, it is setting new tourism records, but one country in particular has risen to prominence as one of the trendiest for Western visitors due to its excellent infrastructure, stunning natural scenery, and world-class city breaks.

Welcome to Morocco, the jewel in North Africa’s crown:

Morocco Witnesses Historical Growth In Tourism This Year

Koutobia Mosque In Marrakesh, Morocco, North Africa

According to data released by the Moroccan Tourism Ministry, up to 2.9 million tourists arrived in Morocco in the first quarter of 2023, a 17 percent increase compared to 2019 and a whopping 464 percent rise over 2022.

Westerners are back to Morocco en masse, drawn to its boundless cultural wealth and attractive prices. As the entity confirmed, Spanish, British, Italian and American tourists are behind the growth in inbound tourism.

Tourists Walking The Bazaar In Fes, Morocco, North Africa

The Ministry is planning to boost tourism further and host up to 17.5 million tourists annually by 2026, now that all health-related curbs have been scrapped, and air connectivity between Morocco and Europe and North America, two of its most valuable markets, is being strengthened.

Unlike a majority of destinations in Africa, the North African Kingdom grants visa-free entry to American citizens. In order to enter, Americans must present a biometric passport with enough blank pages left to meet entry requirements.

Morocco’s openness to tourism and facilitated travel are not the only reasons it keeps growing in popularity, though:

A Square Minaret Seen Through Bab Bou Jeloud Gate In Fes, Morocco

Why Is It So Popular Among Westerners?

Morocco is Africa’s Northwesternmost nation and a historic state boasting a rich ancient past intertwined with that of Southern Europe.

It is the homeland of the Moors, who would go on to establish powerful caliphates across the territory and conquer large swathes of the Iberian Peninsula, establishing a strong presence in the Western Mediterranean, including Portugal and Spain, which they ruled for centuries.

Moorish design, distinguished for its ornate motifs and square, perfectly-symmetrical shapes, can be seen all around Morocco today, particularly in the centuries-old medinas that flourished as trading hubs during the Middle Ages.

morocco architecture

One of the most famous cities to emerge as economic, cultural, and political centers, Marrakesh is a beautiful maze of sandstone buildings, madrasas, and charming cafes bustling with trade day and night.

Other ‘imperial’ cities you shouldn’t miss on a visit to Morocco include Fes, the largest medina and pedestrianized urban zone in the world; Meknes, home to lush green, Mediterranean-style gardens and a Sultan’s mausoleum; and Rabat, the country’s surprisingly developed capital.

Other than Moorish heritage, Morocco is famous for its well-preserved French and Spanish colonial-era architecture, a distinctive feature in cities like Casablanca and Tangier, two of the country’s most modern and best developed.

A Young Woman Holding Her Hat As She Gazes At The Tangier Cityscape, In Morocco, North Africa

Morocco As A Nature Getaway

Traveling away from the urban centers, tourists will soon learn that reducing Morocco to its arid landscapes, namely the Sahara Desert, is a gross mistake.

It offers so much more variety than just camel rides into the sunset: encompassing an important section of the Atlas mountain range, including Toubkal, its highest peak; Morocco also has alpine meadows and snow-capped mountains.

hiker looking at mountain

Extending for an impressive 2,500 km from the rugged Atlantic coast to the Westernmost section of the Mediterranean, where it meets the Strait of Gibraltar, with numerous marine parks and sandy crescents in between, the Moroccan coastline is yet another overlooked natural attraction in a criminally underrated continent.

Whether it’s the up-and-coming resort scene in Agadir or Tangier and their high affordability or the quaintness of traditional coastal settlements yet to be spoiled by mass tourism, such as Essaouira and Taghazout, you just can’t help falling in love with the Moroccan seaside.

Morocco Is Incredibly Affordable

traveler looking at market

With nightly rates for a single room in a riad in the Old Medina starting at just USD$ 40 in June, the charming port city of Essaouira is one of your best bets for an affordable early summer getaway.

Overall, Morocco is incredibly affordable for Westerners. According to LivingCost, which compared prices across 22 destinations in the country, locals spend on average USD $586 in the local currency, the Moroccan dirham, every month.

Tourist prices may be higher, but the low cost of living and the depreciated currency, significantly weaker than the euro or the dollar, still spell good news for budget travelers.

The Fortified Coastal City Of Essaouira, On The Atlantic Coast Of Morocco, North Africa

Low-cost flights into Morocco are available from numerous European hubs for as cheap as USD$21 on budget carrier Ryanair.

Royal Air Maroc also operates flights to Mohammed V International, serving the city of Casablanca, from New York-JFK and Washington-Dulles in the States, and Montreal-Trudeau in Canada.

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