Morocco is a magical place for a family holiday. It might not be the first destination that springs to mind if you’re travelling with little ones, but this land of contrasts, with its spectacular scenery, bustling cities full of sights, sound and colours, deserts, hammams, mountains, beaches, snake charmers and - the kids’ favourite, it goes without saying - camel rides offers something for children of all ages, and is guaranteed to provide young visitors with indelible memories. And, as will become clear as soon as you set foot in the country, the famously hospitable Moroccans are deeply family-oriented, so travelling with kids means you’ll be given an even warmer welcome than usual. The country has some wonderful family-friendly hotels and accommodation and world-beating facilities suited to all budgets, as well as plenty of large out-of-town resorts offering gardens, swimming pools and activities to keep kids entertained.
Let's start by taking a look at Marrakesh. Packed with exciting things to see, it’s a great place for a family stay. Visit beautiful cultural heritage sites like the gorgeous Bahia Palace, take a horse-drawn carriage tour around the Old City, tour the displays in the Berber Museum, marvel at the incredible cacti in the Majorelle Garden or wander through the Jardin Secret, originally built by the Saadian Dynasty more than four hundred years ago. Kids will love visiting Marrakesh’s colourful markets, as well as world heritage site Jemaa el-Fna, the huge open square at the centre of the city which fills with dancers, magicians and food-stalls as night falls. And for fun days out of town, try adventure park Ludipark and the Paloozaland theme park with its robotic dinosaurs and rides.
Marrakesh is also ideally sited for day trips to some of Morocco’s most jaw-dropping attractions, like the Atlas Mountains and the Ouzoud falls, while animal lovers might want to visit the nearby Jarjeer mule and donkey refuge. And let’s not forget the camels! Camel rides are in fact available near the Menara Gardens and in the north-eastern part of town known as the ‘Palmeraie’.
There’s plenty of welcoming accommodation in the city, with Riad Smara offering a calm oasis only a short walk from the spice market, beautifully restored 18th century Riad & Spa Esprit du Maroc located right in the heart of the atmospheric Medina and luxurious spa hotel Les Borjs de la Kasbah offering a dose of Moorish charm. Those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life might prefer Le Relais de Marrakech, offering apartments and Berber tents set among seven acres of olive groves and palm trees, or one of the local resorts like Valeria Dar Atlas, an all-inclusive designed to resemble a traditional Moroccan village and equipped with multiple restaurants and bars, sports facilities, a fitness centre, spa, pools, a water park and a kids club.
There’s tons for kids to see and do in Morocco’s capital city Rabat too. Located on the Atlantic at the mouth of the Bou Regreg river, the city is best explored on foot, which makes it ideal for kids (although it is served by an efficient tram system for when little legs start feeing tired). Check out the city’s quiet medina, the Hassan Tower and the Oudaias National Craft Museum, the nearby Andalusian Gardens - a walled garden built during Morocco’s colonial period - and the historic Kasbah Les Oudaias with its white-washed streets. Kids will love the ferry ride over to Rabat’s sister-city Sale aboard one of the little blue boats that ply the Bou Regreg, taking in the views of both cities from the water. Pop into the Ludothèque Nature et Eveil, a ‘games library’ set in a walled villa with its own little garden that offers activities and events including art workshops - and if the kids need a break from walking, the CinéAtlas movie theatre shows a wide range of films, many of which in their original language. Rabat’s has a lovely zoo, with lemurs, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, zebras and adorable fennec foxes, while between Rabat and Sale is the intriguing Musée de l’Abeille Vivante bee museum. There are plenty of beaches like Bouznika, Harhoura, the Plage Des Nations and Skhirat within easy reach of the city, while the Nouzhat Hassan Garden offers a great place for kids to have a run around and burn off some of that surplus energy. And last but certainly not least from a kid’s perspective, there are orange juice stalls everywhere for when they get thirsty. Beat that!
As far as places to stay goes, Rabat too offers a wide range of accommodation options. Housed in a beautiful restored example of Arab-Andalusian architecture, Dar Kika Salam is situated within walking distance of the city centre, and its facilities include an outdoor pool, a terrace with a view over the city and a restaurant. Enjoying a convenient location in the heart of the medina, the charming Riad Dar Rabiaa features traditional decor and also offers a pool and roof terrace with stunning views, as does Riad El Maâti, which also boasts a spa and wellness centre with its own hammam.
A couple of hours' drive East of Rabat, Fès is Morocco's second largest city and is often spoken of as its spiritual and cultural heart, so it’s unsurprising that it’s packed with things to do. There’s the beautiful Medersa Bou Inania, one of the few religious buildings in the city that non-Muslims can visit, and the Batha Museum, home to a selection of traditional Moroccan craftsmanship but whose real centrepiece is its beautiful courtyard garden. Rabat's best known for Fes El Bali, its medieval walled medina, thought to be the largest intact surviving medina in the world, though kids will probably be more interested in taking a ride on one of the donkeys that trot up and down the narrow streets – perfect after a tiring day of sightseeing on foot! Just outside the medina walls are the Bou Jeloud Gardens, the ideal spot for a bit of fresh air, while a little further out in the suburbs is the Diamant Vert waterpark, where tired parents can unwind while the kids enjoy splashing about. The beautifully-kept Jnan Sbil gardens are another place offering respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, their 17 hectares of gardens and greenery offering plenty of space for young ones to run around.
There are plenty of places to stay, including the stunning Riad Palais Marjana, a stylish traditional guest house located in the Medina, while the Riad Haj Palace & Spa offers a perfect base for exploring the city, with a terrace and a lounge for guest enjoyment and relaxation. Ornate and traditional Riad Raouia, meanwhile, offers a calm oasis in the centre of town, and is equipped with a revitalising hammam.
And if you want to get away from city life altogether, why not head off to the coast? Morocco is rightly famous for its beaches, and in recent years has become a favourite with tourists. Overlooking the Atlantic ocean on the west shore of Morocco, Tamraght has grown from a small fisherman’s village into a haven for surfers without losing any of its small-town charm. It boasts beautiful beaches, and the area is packed with surf schools for any kids desperate to learn how to do a tube ride.
Tamraght House Banana, near the famous banana trees of Banana beach, offers all the comforts of a Moroccan home with its blend of traditional and contemporary architecture and terrace, while half an hour up the coast you’ll find the Apparthotel Eden Beach, set between the crystal clear waters of stunning Imi Ouaddar beach and the distant Anti-Atlas mountains and offering modern self-catering apartments together with an outdoor swimming pool.
As you can see, there's no need to worry about the kids getting bored in Morocco. In fact, the hardest part might be convincing them to go back home again! Learn more about this beautiful country with our guide to visiting Morocco and remember, whoever you're travelling with... just hoo it!