Morocco in December – What to See and Where to Go

Morocco in December – What to See and Where to Go

Morocco in December – What to See and Where to Go

December is a great month for a Moroccan adventure if you prefer the comfort of cooler weather and fewer crowds. The northern coastline boasts a Mediterranean climate, so it tends to be pleasant throughout winter, but never too hot. For winter sun seekers, there’ll be plenty of sunshine hours during the day. And whilst conditions aren’t ideal for sunbathing on the beach, it’s the perfect time for exploring Morocco’s magical cities, bustling markets, and traditional Berber villages.

Essaouira

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Morocco in December. Including what to see, where to go, and what to pack in your suitcase.

Weather

Morocco is a land of extremities, so expect a contrast in climate during the winter months. This is when you can expect the peaks of the Atlas Mountains to be blanketed in snow, yet still relatively warm at other altitudes. The contrasting weather means that mountain expeditions may not be suitable for everyone at this time of year. For experienced outdoor enthusiasts though, snow trekking can be a challenging, rewarding activity with some of the most spectacular views.

Despite being in December, the Mediterranean coast will be lovely and warm during the daytime (though it can turn chilly at night). The climate in the Sahara is at its most extreme; hot and dry in the day and close to freezing after sundown. If you’re moving around or going on a Moroccan tour, average temperatures and rainfall can vary somewhat from city to city. So be sure to check the weather forecast for each destination.

Here are some of the averages you can expect, although it can change from year to year.

Marrakech

Low – 8°C

High – 20°C

Rainfall – 6.5 days

Fez

Low – 6°C

High – 17°C

Rainfall – 9 days

Casablanca

Low – 10°C

High – 19°C

Rainfall – 7 days

Essaouira

Low – 13°C

High – 20°C

Rainfall – 4 days 

What to Do

There are so many things you can do in Morocco in the month of December, and the cooler weather makes it easier to travel around. It’s true that rainfall is higher, but still very low compared to winter in other countries, and the pay-off is that you’ll miss the tourist rush. So this is the perfect time to be out and about. Here are a few ideas to inspire your next trip.

Trekking in the Sahara

Winter is a great time of year to go trekking in the Sahara Desert, with December being a favourite amongst travellers. Whilst it can still get hot during the day, it’s much cooler than the summer months. Making it much more comfortable for young children, and anyone who is particularly sensitive to the heat or prone to heatstroke. You can also arrange camel tours at sunrise or sunset, So don’t forget to pack your camera to capture those beautiful hues.

SAHARA

Atlas Hiking

Ait Bougmez Valley in the High Atlas Mountains is wonderful in the summer, proving to be a nice respite away from the heat of the cities. In winter, it can get a little chilly with temps swinging from 3°C to about 15°C. But it’s still a great destination if you’re interested in exploring the great outdoor space in Morocco. Trekkers refer to this area as “The Happy Valley” and this is due to the friendly local people, who are always welcoming of tourists. A guided hiking tour is recommended if you want to get the most out of your time here, and if you want an English speaking host to give you all the insider tips.

City Tours

December is without a doubt one of the top months to go sightseeing. With cooler temperatures and smaller tourist crowds in winter, there’s no better time to explore the imperial cities on foot. From the Art Deco buildings of Casablanca to the colourful tanneries in Fez, every city has its own unique charm.

fez morocco

Stay in a Traditional Riad

Riads are as authentic as it gets in Morocco. These traditional houses or palaces feature stunning architecture with intricate designs, and all have an interior garden or courtyard for guests to use. Book before Christmas and New Year and you’ll be privy to the best off-season discounts too. This is a great idea for a romantic break, or for a relaxing spa weekend.

Go Skiing

One of Morocco’s best-kept secrets is its ski resorts. An unlikely destination for the skiing crowd, you shouldn’t expect the glamour or the high-end facilities of somewhere like Val d’Isère. But instead, a charming place that relies completely on natural conditions. There is no artificial snow production, so the weather controls the seasons each year. Moroccan resort times such as Ifrane, Oukaimeden and Tazaghart are determined by snowfall, so the later in the year you go, the better chance of snow coverage. But generally speaking, the season starts in December and ends in March or early April.

snow morocco

Where to Go

The beaches in December are usually quiet. If you enjoy beach walks with no-one else around, you might find the coastal resorts to be bliss. But most people like to visit the cities during the winter season. With the intense summer heat out the way, this is the perfect time for urban exploration. Here are some of the places to go.

Marrakech

There are fewer places for more exciting than Morocco’s capital. Loud, bustling, and bursting with atmosphere, it’s a fun place for all ages. Go shopping at the markets surrounding Jemaa el-Fnaa, and head back there in the evening for some tasty street food. Visit the spectacular Majorelle Garden, see the Koutoubia Mosque, and go sightseeing at the Saadian Tombs. At night, there are number of restaurants to try, as well as unbeatable nightlife. From the city, it’s possible to book guided tours of the Atlas Mountains too.

Casablanca

Make sure you spend plenty of time on foot when in Casablanca. The beautiful Art Deco buildings are better seen when you’re walking, and this way you won’t miss all the lovely pavement cafes. Be sure to see the 1930s Cathedrale Sacre-Coeur, the Hassan II Mosque, Palace Mohamed V, and the charming medina district. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to boutique hotels, riads, spas and Hammams too, making it a great city for relaxation.

CASABLANCA

Fez

The former capital of Morocco is a must if you’ve never been before. It’s the oldest of the imperial cities, and it remains as the spiritual and cultural heart of the nation. Discover its intricate maze of tiny streets, hidden souks, striking monuments and the old tanneries. Be sure to spend at least a day exploring Fes el Bali, the old medina, and also home to palaces and mosques. Head to Art Naji to watch the making of the region’s distinctive blue pottery, take a walk around Medersa Bou Inania, and soak up the sights at Rue des Mérinides.

Chefchaouen

Any time of year is good to visit this city in the Rif Mountains. But December is best if you’re looking to escape the tourist crowds. It gets quiet here in winter as temperatures drop. But you can still expect highs of around 16°C, which is nice and comfortable for sightseeing. Book a guided tour to learn more about the blue-washed buildings, explore the Old City and go shopping at the traditional souks, or take the Cascades d’Akchour trail for some stunning natural scenery.

Chefchaouen

Taroudant

Get lost in the High Atlas region and spend a week exploring Taroudant. Famed for its pretty pink houses, fortified walls and winding streets, it’s one of the most unique cities in Morocco. Known as the “Grandmother of Marrakesh” for its similarities to the capital, it’s an exhilarating alternative if you’ve already seen all you want to see below. And more traditional than Marrakech, this is one of the rare places you can get a taste of unspoilt Berber life. There’s a bustling Berber market every Thursday and Saturday, and there’s a very relaxed atmosphere here. The pace is much slower and the locals are extremely friendly.

Tangier

The city of Tangier is the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination, and the weather is excellent in winter. Although it can rain in December, temperature highs can be 18°C or higher and the sun is always out. Tangier is relaxed, laid-back and slightly hipster, popular with some of the most renowned writers and artists throughout modern history. It’s an ideal place to stay if you like your cities to have a bit of edge. Don’t miss the Caves of Hercules, the Dar el Makhzen museum, or the breath-taking views from Cap Spartel.

tangier

Essaouira

With its gorgeous coastline, wide sandy beaches and pleasant winter weather, Essaouira is a great destination for December travel. It can get a bit windy for beach sunbathing, but kite flying is a hugely popular activity. The great thing is beaches and resorts are generally quiet around this time of year, so you won’t have to deal with huge tourist traffic and you’ll never struggle to get a table. The port town is excellent for restaurants, so foodies will enjoy discovering new flavours here. The vibe here is laid-back and sleepy, so if you’re looking to wind things down, Essaouira is ideal.

Festivals & Events

Another reason to travel to Morocco in December is because there is always something going on. With it being a Muslim country, Christmas isn’t celebrated in many places but there are plenty of other events to pique your interest. Including a film festival and some fun things to do for New Year’s Eve. Here are some of the events taking place each year in December.

Tan Tan Moussem

The Tan Tan Moussem is an annual gathering of over thirty different tribes from Morocco’s southern region. Taking place in the city of Tan Tan every December, this event is a celebration of traditional Berber culture. The main draw for the tribes is camel trading, but there are also other exciting things taking place throughout the festival. Including weddings, inter-tribal competitions and games, traditional Berber re-enactments, and plenty of music and dancing.

camels

Marrakesh International Film Festival

This international film festival takes place in Marrakech every year and is one of the biggest events in the country. It makes way for film stars and Hollywood actors/actresses, and features a competition and awards for new talent. Created in 2001 by His Majesty King Mohammed VI to promote the arts in Morocco, this festival is now one of the best in the world. Tickets are open to film professionals, press as well as members of the public.

New Year’s Eve

Another great event not to miss in Morocco is New Year’s Eve. Whilst Christmas isn’t widely celebrated, Morocco is a popular destination during the festive period. So expect it to get a little busier later in the month. By New Year’s Eve, some cities could become crowded again. Here, it’s tradition to see in a brand new year sitting under the stars in the desert. So if you’re interested in exploring the sights of the Sahara, December could be the perfect time. Or if you prefer to stay in the cities, you’ll find plenty of rooftop spots to celebrate and enjoy a delicious meal.

What to Wear

December weather is still wonderful in Morocco, with most of its cities and port towns experiencing warm daytime temperatures and hours of glorious sunshine. But it can get cold in the evening, so it’s recommended that you pack light jackets and layers. Rainfall is also at its highest in the winter season, so bringing a lightweight waterproof and an umbrella could also be wise.

A good thing to remember is that the weather can get unpredictably hot some years, so your summer/beach wardrobe will still be useful. Even when it’s not hot, the sun can still be strong so UV protective clothing, sunglasses, hats and sun cream are a must.

For anyone going on a desert adventure, remember that it can be close to freezing at night time. For desert treks or overnight camping, you will need to bring a warm coat and thermal layers.

If you’re planning on visiting Morocco and would like expert advice then please email us or give us a call on +44 (0)208 150 6131. Alternatively, fill out our booking form here

 

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