It’s Monday and that means it’s market day in Tetouan. Stalls cover the footpaths and shoppers jostle with motorbikes on the streets. It starts in the medina – the narrow labyrinth of alleyways – and flows out through the gates of the ancient wall to the newer parts of the city.
This medina is not the largest in Morocco – in fact, it’s pretty much the smallest. But it’s considered to be one of the most intact and authentic.
Tetouan is located on the northern coast of Morocco and was of key importance for the relationship with Andalusia from as early as the 8th century. The influences of this contact with Spain can be seen in some of the design and art here.
Very little has changed inside the medina’s walls over the centuries – in terms of the architecture, that is. On a market day like this, I wonder how much has changed culturally too.
This is how I think it would have been once upon a time: the fishmongers thrusting their scaly wares in your face, pens of live chickens waiting to be chosen for tonight’s dinner, bags of spices almost overflowing, piles of vegetables on sheets, and the stalls so full of odds and ends that you don’t even know where to start.
If you’re interested in discovering more about the local flavours, there’s a good local food tour of Tetouan.
Tetouan is built on a steep slope rising out of a valley that has mountains mirroring it on the other side. The market and the permanent shops all seem to be in the narrow streets at the bottom.
When I try to take the stairs further up, I get hopelessly lost. The winding paths constantly lead to just dead ends.
There must be some way to get between the alleyways without going back down to the bottom and starting up another… but it’s invisible to me.
Still, the upper areas of Tetouan’s medina are just full of houses. They’re interesting to look at, especially considering the significance of their architecture. But the real action is happening back amongst the jostling crowds and insistent shouts of the vendors in the market.
You can actually do a quick trip to Tetouan on the way to Chefchaouen with this tour from Tangier.
I’ll leave you with a few more photos of a busy Monday market day in Tetouan in Morocco.
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN TETOUAN
Although you will find a bigger range of accommodation in nearby Tangiers, there are some lovely options in Tetouan.
The cheapest hostel in town is usually Darna Hostel – and luckily it is also the best.
For great value right in the medina, I recommend Riad Las Mil y una Noches.
A more upscale riad in the medina, El Reducto has an incredible rooftop terrace.
And, while you won’t find five stars in Tetouan, Hotel Chams is a decent luxury hotel.
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more info click here. You can see all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited here.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT MOROCCO?
To help you plan your trip to Morocco:
- My tips on the best things to do in Marrakech
- Why it’s worth doing a side trip to this seaside city
- Visit an incredible World Heritage Site used for filming Game of Thrones
- My suggestions for the best things to see in the Medina of Fez
- What you’ll find when you explore the blue city of Chefchaouen
- The grand buildings of the old imperial city of Meknes
- Finding the new and the old in the capital city Rabat
- Visit the ancient Roman ruins that are now a World Heritage Site
- How to deal with touts in Morocco
- Details about all the World Heritage Sites in Morocco
Let someone else do the work for you:
You may also want to consider taking a Morocco tour, rather than organising everything on your own. It’s also a nice way to have company if you are travelling solo.
I am a ‘Wanderer’ with G Adventures and they have great tours in Morocco.
You could consider:
When I travel internationally, I always get insurance. It’s not worth the risk, in case there’s a medical emergency or another serious incident. I recommend you use World Nomads for your trip.