Morocco allures visitors with its stunning beaches, magnificent mountains and splendid imperial cities. The best time to go to Morocco depends on your destination and your priorities: in general, the peak time to visit inland cities like Marrakech is between December and April, when temperatures are high but not scorching, while the coastal resorts such as Agadir see most action in July and August, when the blazing heat is offset by a cooling sea breeze. The shoulder seasons (autumn and spring) are ideal, with fewer crowds, lower prices and plenty of sunshine.
As a general rule, average temperatures in Morocco rise the further inland you travel. In Agadir, Morocco’s most popular beach resort, temperatures are at their highest in July and August, but still hover around an acceptable 29°C thanks to the refreshing breeze from the Atlantic. Winter temperatures average 17°C, with January the coldest month at 15°C, and there is considerably more rainfall than the rest of the year. Despite this, you can still enjoy an average of 9 hours of sunshine between December and February, making Agadir an excellent option for a tranquil, winter break.
In Essaouira, the peak season runs from April to October, particularly July and August, which see the biggest crowds. Temperatures rarely rise above 26°C in summer, thanks to the seaside location, and average around 15°C in winter, when there is little rainfall and plenty of sunshine.
It’s a very different story inland: July and August temperatures in the desert city of Marrakech average 29°C in July and August but the thermometer will regularly register highs of up to 38°C. Thankfully, evenings provide respite from the heat, with temperatures of around 20°C. The peak season for visiting Marrakech is December to February, when the mercury hovers around 25°C to 28°C. There is almost no rainfall in Marrakech, and what little there is falls mainly in April and May, when the city is also subject to occasional sandstorms, blowing in from the Sahara.
Taroudant, often called ‘Little Marrakech’, has a similar climate: hot, hot summers and cool winters with more rain but plenty of sunshine. The weather is at its most inviting in spring (April and May) and in the autumn (September and October), when it remains warm, but the temperatures don’t reach the excessive heights of July and August.
Fez, another magnificent imperial city, sees most visitors between May and October. Average temperatures in July and August are a searing 38°C, although nights are refreshingly cool thanks to the proximity of the Atlas mountains. December and January are the wettest and coolest months, but still boast an average of 6 to 8 hours of sunshine.
Meknès, Morocco’s fourth imperial city, averages 32°C in July and August, with temperatures dropping to a pleasant 17°C at night. It sees most visitors during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September and October). In winter, average temperatures are around 16°C during the day, but can drop to just 3°C at night. Most rain falls between November and March, but the sun still shines for an average of 6 or 7 hours a day.
Best festivals and events in Morocco
There are scores of festivals and events held across Morocco throughout the year, many of which offer visitors a wonderful way of experiencing the unique local culture and customs. We have selected some of the best below. Note that major Islamic festivals like Ramadan and Eid may affect individual travellers, as they can impact on public transport schedules and other services.
The International Nomads Festival is celebrated in the small oasis town of M’Hamid El Ghizlane (a 7- to 8-hour drive from Marrakech) in March. The Marrakech Biennale, held in March or April every two years, is a major event on the city’s art calendar. May sees the highly regarded Festival of World Sacred Music in Fez, one of the country’s biggest cultural events. In Rabat, the Mawazine (Rhythms of the World) festival draws enormous crowds for its international artists and performers. The charming Rose Festival in El Kelaâ M’Gouna, in the Dadès Valley, celebrates the rose harvest with music, dancing and thousands of scented blooms. The Gnaoua World Music Festival is perhaps Morocco’s best known music festival, and takes over the pretty seaside town of Essaouira for 3 days in late June. The Moussem of Ben Aïssa, held in Meknès, is the country’s largest religious festival and is usually held in June (the date shifts annually). In July, the Timitar Music Festival in Agadir is an exciting celebration of African music, while the month-long International Cultural Festival in Asilah features exhibitions, music and dance performances and much more. Tafroute’s Summer Music Festival is an exuberant event held over three days and showcasing performers from across the country. Morocco’s preeminent jazz festival, TANjazz is held in Tangiers in September, and the recently established electronic music festival MOGA takes place in Essaouira. In Fez, the Sufi Music and Cultural Festival is an atmospheric cultural celebration held over eight action-packed days in October. There are celebrations across the country for Independence Day (18 November), and the Marrakesh International Film Festival, one of the most glittering events on the calendar, is held in December.