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Morocco VS Turkey: Which Islamic Destination Should You Choose?


Samuel Bartlett •  Dec 15, 2017


[Updated: 8 April 2020] Morocco and Turkey offer travellers a feast of activities and adventures and stand testament to the greatness of Islamic civilisation. Throughout the centuries, they've remained centres of academic excellence and examples of the political might of successive Islamic empires. They're also both countries of connection, with Turkey linking Asia and Europe, while Morocco lies within a stone’s throw of the Spanish shores that were once the great Muslim empire of Andalusia. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that for a long time, Turkey and Morocco have both been seen as ideal destinations for travellers from both the Eastern and Western worlds. Credit: Giphy The greatest task facing a traveller may be deciding which of these two countries to visit. For those with the time and resources, the solution is simple: visit both! For those who must choose just one, though, this list aims to compare the best of what these two lands have to offer ?
1. Food
A great aspect of travelling in both Morocco and Turkey is that you will not have to worry about Halal food options. Not only is halal food everywhere, but you'll also have a hard time even choosing between the equally Moroccan and Turkish cuisines!
Moroccans are rightfully proud of their cuisine, which is renowned throughout the world for its distinct taste, having been largely influenced by its interactions and exchanges with other cultures over the centuries.
Credit: Andrew Nash on Flickr
Morocco’s Mediterranean climate allows it to grow a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, which when mixed with its huge range of spices forms the basis of well-known dishes such as tagine and couscous. These dishes are generally served with either meat or seafood, which is best found in Morocco’s coastal towns. #HHWT Tip: Local food in Morocco is irresistible everywhere you go, but to find the best quality dishes, head to the smaller and less touristy towns and villages where the produce is sourced!
Budget travellers will be happy to hear that Moroccan cuisine is not only incredibly rich in flavour but also incredibly cheap! Whether you eat in local spots or more touristy restaurants, you're unlikely to pay over $5 per person for a large meal. P.S. Is it your first time to Morocco? You'll definitely need our first-timer's guide to Morocco!
As with Morocco, Turkish cuisine has been enriched by various cultures and nations, especially Central Asian and Eastern European influences. Because of Turkey's cultural diversity, you'll find that local cuisine will vary depending upon the region you are visiting. Southeast Turkey (e.g. Urfa, Gaziantep, and Adana) is famous for its variety of kebabs and mezes, while the Mediterranean regions are rich in vegetables, herbs, and fish. Meat-based foods such as kebabs are a mainstay in Turkish cuisine and you would be hard pressed to find better Kebabs in the world than Turkey’s!
Credit: momo on Flickr Turkey is also world-renowned for its desserts, both more famous dishes such as baklava and Turkish delights, as well as less famous ones such as Helva, should not be missed for those with a sweet tooth.
Credit: LWYang on FlickrVerdict: Turkey This is the first of many tough calls that will be made in this article, with both nations offering halal food throughout their countries, as well as fresh produce and rich tastes. Turkey just edges this one, if only due to the diversity of dishes that can be found in the country. P.S. Heading to Turkey for a vacation? Check out our 6D5N itinerary to explore this beautiful country!
2. Shopping
Shopping in Morocco’s historic souks (local markets) is one of the defining aspects of a tourist's visit to the country. The ancient souks of cities such as Fes and Marrakesh are a feast for the senses. The wonderful smells of Morocco’s spice and perfume stores blend in with the visually stunning tapestry and clothes which fill the streets with vibrant colours.
The souks are chaotic places, especially for tourists who are often heckled by locals trying to attract them into their stores. Haggling is expected, and if done well, you will find that products are much, much cheaper than they will be when bought back home. However, know that local shop owners are masters of this art and if you are not careful you will end up paying much more than the product is worth!
That said, shopping is about much more than buying things in Morocco. It is in itself a truly unique experience that captures all your senses, which can leave you both inspired and exhausted at the same time! P.S. Looking to visit Morocco? We prepared the perfect 7D6N Morocco itinerary just for you!
Turkey is also known for unique and beautiful crafts that bless the country. Istanbul and Ankara host fantastic markets and souks, which, similar to Morocco’s, are much more about the experience itself than the products on offer.
Credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho on Flickr Street food stalls are a great aspect of Turkish markets, where local delicacies such as Turkish delights and local spices can be picked up in huge quantities for minute prices. One unique experience that should not be missed is to enter the quarter of Istanbul’s market selling books, which is a unique sight for many travellers.
Credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho on FlickrVerdict:Morocco While both these countries offer similar experiences with large immersive markets, Morocco’s are a cut above the rest. Major cities such as Fes and Marrakesh were built upon and remain dependent on the excellence of their local artisans whose products are truly unique.
3. Historical sights and Architecture
The cultural heritage of Morocco is incredibly well maintained as the nation's historic monuments, sites and objects of art and antiquity are legally protected and promoted. Many of these culturally significant sights continue to be used today. For example, UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the old city in Fes are living museums that take you back in time.
Credit: Raul De Castro on Flickr Morocco also boasts many of the world’s most stunning mosques, such as the Grand Mosques in Tangier and Casablanca, as well as the world’s oldest university Al-Qarouine; which is still in operation for those able to meet its rigorous entry standards.
Credit: Jonybraker on Flickr A particularly striking aspect of Moroccan architecture is the incredibly intricate interior of many buildings. In Morocco, the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” takes on a new meaning. One can pas­s by many buildings that may seem derelict on the outside, only to enter inside and feel like you're entering a lavish palace suite!
Credit: Just Booked A Trip on Flickr
Credit: Brian Suda on Flickr The number of historical places to visit in Turkey runs into the thousands, with the country sitting on the edge of ancient Mesopotamia, often referred to as the birthplace of civilization.
Credit: Fusion of Horizons on Flickr Turkey has long been the gateway between the Eastern and Western worlds and an extensive list of empires have shaped modern Turkey. Nowhere is this historical presence better felt than in the magnificent city of Istanbul, where in the Sultanahmet district. UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are some of those rare sights that can take your breath away!
Credit: David Spender on Flickr This is just a drop in the ocean of what Turkey has to offer and one could spend a lifetime trying to visit all its historical sights, it would certainly be a life well spent ? Verdict: Turkey While Morocco’s historical sights and architecture are truly unique and stunning, Turkey is arguably home to the world’s most awe-inspiring historical sights and architecture, meaning it takes this round. #HHWT Tip: Here is one of the thousands of online blogs on Turkey’s historical sites for those interested in doing more research on this subject!
4. Nature and Landscapes
Morocco is a country blessed with outstanding and diverse natural beauty, from the high Atlas Mountains to beautiful low-lying coasts and the Sahara Desert. These unique landscapes offer travellers the chance to experience adventures that are difficult to find anywhere else in the world.
Credit: jbdodane on Flickr One can head into the Atlas Mountains to trek amid some of the world’s highest mountains and then head into the world’s largest Desert, the Sahara; possibly in the same day! One personal recommendation would be to travel to the town of Merzouga, from where you can take a camel into the desert and spend a night camping under the starts. The country also spans across thousands of miles of coastline, meaning there are thousands of stunning small towns and cities to explore.
Credit: jbdodane on Flickr All this and much more awaits all those wanting to experience what Morocco’s unique landscape has to offer.
Turkey is a land at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, a meeting point for three different climatic zones and home to a tremendous variety of landscapes, animals and plants.
Credit: Jose Aleman Asensi on Flickr It is a huge country with a stunning coastline to explore, vast mountain ranges and hosts of other natural features. A personal tip would be to visit the hot springs at Pamukkale, where enormous white terraces of calcium pools are a unique and wonderful sight!
Credit: Ana Raquel S. Hernandes on Flickr All this means that Turkey boasts arguably the most diverse natural features of any country on earth, meaning it is a paradise for travellers and naturalists alike!
Verdict: Morocco This is a really difficult round to decide, as both countries offer so much stunning natural beauty. However, due to the scale and size of both its desert region and mountain ranges, Morocco takes this round. Trekking in the Atlas Mountains and exploring the Sahara are experiences that are difficult to find anywhere in the world, let alone in the same country!
5. Accommodation
Accommodation in Morocco is cheap, good value, and usually pretty easy to find (except when you're located in the middle of an old medina where Google Maps is not an option!). Apart from a variety of standards of hotels, Morocco is also known for its Riads, which technically is a house built around a normally stunning patio garden.
Credit: Riad Et Spa Esprit Du Maroc on Facebook You can find Riads all across the country and will often feel like a member of the family in the Riad you stay. This is a common feature of the more informal hotels you find across the country, where families often share food, tea and stories with you during your stay.
Credit: Najlaa on Flickr For those trekking or looking for alternative forms of accommodation, camping is a possibility throughout the country. There are also beach huts in some of the more remote parts of the coast like Taghazout, mountain huts in the Atlas Mountains and even desert camping in the Sahara desert!
Credit: ActiveSteve on Flickr
Turkey also offers a diverse range of accommodation to suit both budget and luxury travel. Hotels and hostels are common across the country and can generally be booked online for reasonable prices.
Credit: Cristian Bortes on Flickr Often the most pleasant places to stay are pansiyons (pensions), which are small guesthouses common in touristy areas. These usually have en-suite facilities, and many feature common gardens or terraces where breakfast (usually, but not always, included in the price) is served. There are also more interesting forms of accommodation such as trekkers’ lodges found in the foothills of the Kaçkar mountains, which offer a choice between communal sleeping or enclosed double to quadruple rooms. Camping is common in Turkey and there is also the chance to stay in “treehouses”, which can be found principally on the southwest coast between Antalya and Fethiye.
Credit: Jon Rawlinson on FlickrVerdict: Morocco Accommodation in Morocco and Turkey is similar in terms of value and quality, however, the elegance of many Riads, which offer the chance to become part of a Moroccan family during your stay means Morocco takes this final round! This has been a close contest, with both Morocco and Turkey being exemplary of how Islam can enrich society. Both countries are filled with stunning architecture, delicious food, awe-inspiring landscapes, warm people and a real appreciation for beauty. These are two countries that both live up to the Prophetic ideal, as our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful and he loves beauty” (Sahih Muslim)
Final Verdict: Morocco!
However, there can only be one winner and in this contest Morocco has just pipped Turkey to the crown, running out the winner by 3 rounds to 2. Morocco’s unique, chaotic and wonderful cities are matched by its dramatic landscape, with mountain ranges, deserts and stunning coastline all waiting to be discovered! P.S Still not convinced? Check out our top 7 reasons why you should visit Morocco!