After many requests, I am sharing the exact route I planned for my first visit to Morocco. Now, one week in Morocco is nowhere near enough time to see the entire country, but this itinerary highlights some of the best things you can see and do in one week. My one week itinerary will give you plenty of time to explore and see different areas of Morocco without being rushed. If you have more than one week in Morocco, you can still use this itinerary to help plan a portion of your trip and continue on to other cities in Morocco.
- The Moroccan currency is the Dirham.
- Moroccans speak a mixture of Arabic, Berber, English, and French.
- Most mosques are off limits to non-Muslims
- Fridays are a holy day.
- Morocco uses the following: Voltage: 220 V, Frequency: 50 Hz, Power sockets: type C / E.
WHEN TO VISIT MOROCCO
Morocco’s climate is very diverse. The day times are warm and the evenings can get quite cool, especially in the winter.
Best Weather – March – May
Hot and Crowded – June – August
Cold – September – February
WHAT TO PACK
As it is a Muslim country, Morocco is more conservative than Western countries. Keep in mind that the level of conservativeness varies from city to city. For example, Marrakech is a fairly liberal city compared to much of the rest of the country. While I wouldn’t go baring it all, you also don’t have to wear a turtle long sleeved turtle neck, head scarf and long dress. Tourism in Morocco has been on the rise for a number of years now, so seeing tourists in ‘western’ clothes isn’t exactly a shock to the locals, but it is considered to be disrespectful to reveal too much skin.
Most hotels and riads in Marrakech cater for western tourists, so they don’t expect their guests to dress traditionally on their properties. When you’re by the poolside, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear regular swimwear, and within the hotel itself, sundresses and shorts are fine. Here is a list of some suggested items to pack:
- Maxi dresses
- Dresses that cover the knees and shoulders
- Sleeved shirts
- Comfortable walking shoes
MY ONE WEEK MOROCCO ITINERARY:
HERE’S A QUICK OVERVIEW OF THE PLACES I TRAVELED TO DURING MY TIME IN MOROCCO:
- Marrakech: 2 days
- Sahara Desert: 3 days
- Fez: 2 days
MARRAKECH – 2 DAYS
Marrakech is one of the most amazing places you will ever visit. Bursting with color, history, and welcoming locals, this eclectic city has something to offer to everyone. It’s perfect for any type of traveler; from the luxury traveler to the budget backpacker, to families and seniors.
WHERE TO STAY
When in Marrakech, you can stay in a riad or resort-style hotel. Both options are great and offer a completely different experience, so if possible, I recommend splitting your time between the two.
Riads have much more of a local and homey feel. They’re set in the heart of Marrakech, so are perfect for the days that you want to do less relaxing and more exploring. They also tend to be significantly cheaper than the luxurious hotels, but still have great guest services, food and staff. Here are some recommendations:
Riad BE – a hidden gem with a stunning indoor courtyard and the cutest rooftop terrace to escape the madness of Marrakech. The indoor courtyard is a dream and has so many cozy spots to relax. Classic Moroccan breakfast is served every morning, and trust me you don’t want to miss out on it.
The resort-style hotels are perfect for more relaxation and pampering, ideal for days that you’d like to spend less time in the medina and more time enjoying the decadent amenities. If you’re looking for that touch of luxe then this might be more your style. Here are my suggestions:
Royal Mansour – a luxury hotel with 80% being handcrafted. You will find top-notch restaurants, breathtaking gardens and a jaw dropping spa, it provides everything you could possibly desire. Designed to host heads of state and visiting royalty, the property is extravagant in the best way.
La Mamounia – a stunning Marrakech hotel offering beautiful gardens, four restaurants, and Moroccan style rooms, near the Medina and Jemaa El Fna square.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Plaza Jemaa El-Fnaa – Plaza Jemaa El-Fnaa is the main square in Marrakech. In the early evenings it transforms into one of the most hectic markets I’ve ever been too. Due to the square being such a tourist hub, we were pestered most of our time there as the locals tried to get us to come into their store and purchase something. I strongly recommend you say “La Shukran” (No, Thank you) and keep it moving. I believe watching the square come alive from a rooftop bar might be a little more enjoyable after you’ve made any necessary purchases.
Bahia Palace is a nineteenth century palace that was built for Si Moussa, vizir of the sultan at the time and showcases beautiful Arab and Islamic architectural styles. The Bahia Palace is vast and richly decorated and includes gardens, fruit trees and fountains. Take in all of the intricate ceilings, colorful tiles, and beautiful chandeliers.
Shop the Souks – Souks (also known as shops or markets) literally fill the entire streets of the Medina. Just north of the Jemaa El Fna, you will find a maze of alleyways filled with shops. You’ll find everything from everyday goods, to shoes, clothing, carpets, to souvenirs. Be prepared to do some serious bargaining! The souks of Marrakech are quite an experience. If you’re going to shop in Morocco, do it in Marrakech, there’s something for everyone. I’d recommend bringing an empty suitcase just to with items you purchase during your trip.
Indulge in a Hammam – Hammam, or public bathhouses, is a great way to experience the local culture and relax at the same time. It is a spa ritual, an experience, and above all a place to socialize. This archaic treatment involves being scrubbed with Moroccan black soap. You can choose to experience high-end hammams at a spa or a more authentic experience like at a riad or a public hammam. Experiencing a hammam is a MUST when in Morocco. If you decide to splurge, I highly recommend Royal Mansour.
La Mamounia Gardens – If staying at this swanky hotel is out of your budget, then just visit to admire it. The hotel is steeped in history, and the gardens are a big part of this history. Stroll through the gardens and the hotels grounds at your leisure. Follow with a refreshing cocktail on the terrace or inside listening to the live band. If you would like to enjoy more than the gardens and spend the entire day at La Mamounia, you can purchase a day pass for a spa treatment and lunch for 165 USD per person. I recommend booking this months in advance as they only offer several passes a day to non guests. Click here for more booking information.
Jardin Majorelle – A 12-acre botanical garden, where Yves Saint Laurent is buried. It’s filled with many types of cactus, gorgeous flowers and towering palm trees. It’s connected to the YSL Museum, a museum dedicated to all things Yves Saint Laurent. Arrive early or later in the day before closing to avoid the crowds.
Koutoubia Mosque – A beautiful mosque standing tall in the heart of the Medina, this muslim only mosque is the largest in Marrakech and worth viewing from the outside.
Ben Youssef Madrasa – Totally hidden in the narrow streets of the medina you will find this beautiful architectural building. A Madrasa is the Islamic version of a Sunday school for muslims to learn about Islamic scripture, and religious beliefs. The Ben Youssef Madrasa was once the largest quranic school in the North Africa. While it is no longer an active school, the beauty of the now restored building is open to visitors. I would recommend going at the very start of your day to catch it in absolute silence. The Ben Youseff Madrasa is currently closed for renovations until 2020.
WHERE TO EAT
At Your Riad – Eating at a riad is an experience in itself. Typically each riad has a chef or staff that cook traditional Moroccan dishes and most of the time they are better than any local restaurant! It’s so pleasant to arrive, settle into your room and stroll up to the roof terrace for practically a private dining experience. I highly suggest you have at least one meal at a riad, whether it’s your riad or a random one you find while getting lost in the many alleys of Marrakech. Keep in mind, if you intend to have dinner at your riad you need to order the night before. This gives the staff time to shop for fresh ingredients at the market to prepare your meal.
Nomad – located in the medina and known for its delicious modern take on Moroccan cuisine. The food portions are plentiful with a nice view. No alcohol served here. Make a reservation for dinner or you most likely won’t be able to eat here.
Le Jardin – A sister restaurant of Nomad, Le Jardin is known for amazing Moroccan infused bites in a huge lush courtyard. It’s quite hard to find and looks very unsuspecting from the outside, like most places in Morocco, but is delicious. Be sure to make reservations in advance and call to ask for directions.
Le Salama – located in the medina by the famous Jemaa EL Fna aSquare, offering classic dishes in the tradition of Moroccan cuisine. The décor and stunning view of the medina is worth a visit alone. This was my favorite restaurant and meal in Marrakech. Don’t forget to visit the skybar that overlooks the Atlas mountains and has happy hour.
SAHARA DESERT – 3 days
The Sahara Desert covers a huge extent of Northern Africa and spans more than 3.5 million square miles, which is the size of the United States! No trip to Morocco would be complete without a visit to the Sahara Desert. Although this experience was unforgettable, I will warn you that it is a lengthy journey — 10+ hours driving and traveling through all different terrains, but it was definitely worth it.
WHERE TO STAY
We booked a two-night luxury glamping adventure with Desert Luxury Camp. This entailed one night in the beautiful oasis of Skoura, one night at the luxury camp and private transportation with pickup in Marrakech and drop off in Fes. Our tour started in Marrakech and ended in Fez. The scenery and sites you will visit will make up for the long drive. Be aware, that there are many companies that offer “desert” day tours out of the major cities like Marrakech, but don’t actually travel all the way to the Sahara Desert. Traveling to the Sahara desert for an enjoyable experience requires several days.
There are many tour options and routes offered, however we chose the route from Marrakech to Fez. We wanted to visit Fez and figured since we were already paying for a tour including transportation we might as well get dropped off in a different city.
GETTING TO THE SAHARA DESERT
The trip took three days and covered over 900 miles. We crossed the Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti Atlas Mountains ranges. Our stops included:
Zaida in the Midelt province
WHAT TO EXPECT AT DESERT LUXURY CAMP
The beds were comfortable, and the tents have full bathrooms (warm showers), outlets, and blankets, so you won’t feel like you’re camping in the Sahara– but “glamping” instead!
Inside the beds were comfortable, each with an electric blanket to help with those cold desert nights and plenty of outlets for you to recharge your electronics.
There is no cellphone service, but you can at least charge your phone in your tent to have a functional phone for the drive back to Fez.
Want more detailed information on my exact glamping tour? Click here. I wrote all about my 3 day experience from Marrakech, through the Sahara desert and to Fez.
FEZ – 2 DAYS
Fes or Fez is the second largest city of Morocco. As you walk through the city of Fez, you walking through several 1,000+ years of Moroccan heritage. Its old town, or medina, is ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses the oldest university in the world. There is something about the bustle of narrow, winding medina passages that give Fez its charm. Today, the past mixes with the present making Fez a must-see destination.
WHERE TO STAY
Fez is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. Many traditional houses (riads and dars) are being restored as second homes in the Fez medina.
Riad Anata – If you are spending a short time in Fes, you should absolutely stay in the heart of the medina to give yourself close proximity to the main sights. I stayed at Riad Anata for two nights during my visit to Fez.
Riad Anata is an elegant, cozy, contemporary boutique hotel. It’s well located in the Medina, the food is amazing, the rooms are tastefully decorated and very comfortable. The terrace is incredible and charming providing the perfect ambiance to have a glass of wine, dinner and relax.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Wander through the Souks – A word to the wise: if you are not with a guide, you will likely lose your way. There’s nothing terrible about this, as Moroccans are friendly and will help you– but they might ask to be paid for it. Buy souvenirs to take home or just stroll and visually browse through the different stalls. Wondering what to buy? Pottery, lanterns, leather, rugs, slippers, argan oil and spices are all great choices.
Enjoy a cooking class -Discover the secrets of the best Moroccan cuisine recipes in a genuinely relaxed atmosphere. There is no better way to get to know a country, than to explore its cuisine. Food speaks volumes about culture and history. It feeds the stomach and the soul. Taking a cooking class in Fez turned out to be a great way to not only immerse ourselves in the souks, but also a complete immersion into the Moroccan culture. The cooking class at Riad Anata takes you out in to the medina shopping. Dishes are prepared while learning the cultural significance of food in Moroccan life with Chef Samira. Ultimately, you enjoy the fruits of your labor while overlooking the city from the terrace.
Bou Inania Medersa – The Bou Inania Medersa is a beautiful religious building in the city that can be entered by non-Muslim people. It was previously a school and now it can be visited for its amazing architecture and green colors. Visiting is 20 dirhams. If you visit around 4 PM you might have that chance that there are barely any tourist present. Click here for more information.
Visit the Royal Place – While the Palace isn’t open to visitors, it still serves as the official residence to the King of Morocco whenever he visits Fes, you can still enjoy the architectural masterpieces that are the front gates.
Visit the Tanneries – Visiting the Tanneries is one of the most popular things to see in Fes. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient process still runs today as they use natural dyes from flowers to dye the leather. The tanneries in Morocco are as rare as ‘rare’ experiences come. This is where you can watch animal hides be stripped and dyed. The stripping of their hair is done via natural ammonia (a.k.a pigeon poo) which leaves an interesting smell lingering in the warm air. This area is not for the faint of heart (or for vegans). It’s not the most pleasant smell, but you’ve probably smelled worse at some point in your life.
See The Blue Gate -Bab Boujeloud, commonly known as the “Blue Gate,” serves as the main entrance to the old Medina in Fez. It’s a good place to start your day as it’s the entrance to the souks and leads all the way to the tanneries. Its famous for its beautiful ornate blue mosaics and on the other side it is decorated green.
Visit a Ceramic Studio – Apprenticeship is still alive and well in the ceramic making studios of Fes. Young men come to train and gradually learn the art of designing ceramic tiles for pottery and mosaics. The amount of work that goes into making even a small piece requires hours of effort and years of training.
Get lost in the Fes Medina – The medina of Fes is the oldest and largest of North Africa. It’s unique that it still has much of its history and roots and that’s why it’s super easy to get lost. Make sure to know which signs you should follow before you leave your riad or hotel, because even Google Maps hasn’t exactly gotten the whole place figured out yet.
Day trip to Chefchaouen – You may have seen the blue city of Chefchaouen all over your Instagram and Facebook feed in the past year due to its increasing popularity. I unfortunately did not do this and highly regret it. I wish I would have stayed an extra day in Fez to take a day trip to the blue city. Be aware that the trip does take about 3.5 hours each way. If you’re making your way through other parts of Morocco you could just drive to Chefchauen and stay a night and then continue on to the next city.
WHERE TO EAT
Riad Rcif – one of the most famous old house in Fez Medina (Former Pasha’s Palace), located 3 minutes walk from the R’cif gate, accessible easily through the main door BAB JDID in the old medina. Riad Rcif in Fez also offers a selection of beers from Fez and Casablanca, wines from Meknes and French champagne.
Café Clock – Great place to have Moroccocan food in the heart of Fez’s ancient medina, just 200m down from Bab Boujloud gate. Immediately after the display of dissections in the butchers’ guzzar on Talaa Kabir. Try the camel burger if you dare. No alcohol served.
The Ruined Garden – A wonderful garden/courtyard where you sit under trees, surrounded by beautiful plants and old pots and a tortoise wandering around. Lovely relaxed atmosphere, great service, and traditional Moroccan food. No Alcohol Served.
Here are some useful tips & tricks that might help you along the way:
- Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. The first price any vendor in the medina will give you will be at least 3x higher than what the product is worth. When bartering with store owners, offer a price 1/3 of the original.
- Get used to saying “NO THANK YOU” constantly as the haggling WILL BE overwhelming
- Drink the fresh orange juice. You will see orange trees all over Marrakech and Moroccan oranges are famous all over the world. Better than Florida oranges!
- Before buying something at the first shop you see, have a look at a few others. You’ll see differences in both quality and prices
- Maps on iPhone don’t recognize many of the streets and alleys so expect to get lost. Download the app “Maps.Me”, which is more helpful.
- Before jumping in a taxi, agree to a price with the driver first
- Woman dress appropriately – Cover your shoulders and knees when in public
- Do not walk around as a woman at night. I’ve never personally done it, but I’ve heard from locals that it can be dangerous and should be avoided!
- Bring hand sanitizer
- Drink the mint tea! Whether it’s at your hotel or when entering a shop, there are plenty of places that will greet you with a glass of mint tea. Each place has their own recipe and can taste quite different.
- Do not accept help or guidance from a strange on the streets. They know you are a tourist and sometimes they will act like a friend, but in the end you will be charge for an outrageous amount of money.
- When tipping simply give what you feel appropriate or can afford. In general tipping a few Dirhams is standard. If you receive excellent service at a high-end restaurant, you can tip 10%.
- Only drink bottled water
- Have a stash of toilet paper with you at all times. Most places charge to use the restroom and you must purchase toilet paper too!
Well, there you have it! My 1 week Morocco itinerary! Morocco is a magical experience! With so many more cities to see and things to do during your visit, I hope this guide gives you some excitement for your upcoming trip or just some inspiration to one day visit! For anyone with a short window of opportunity, I would recommend using this itinerary as inspiration.
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