So you decided to explore Morocco? Well, that’s a really good decision, so get ready for the best holiday of your life! This beautiful country is not only safe for tourists, it has so much to offer in terms of history, food, culture and scenery. Oh, and in kindness and hospitality! The people here are some of the sweetest we’ve met along our way. So read on and see where to go, what to do in your ultimate 2-week Morocco holiday!
We chose to do an 18-day trek through the country, but you can easily adapt this to 2 weeks. We explored much more than most would see, and this was all thanks to Eco Desert Morocco. This young company, run by 3 brothers, wants to encourage visitors to see a different side of Morocco. Sure, they showed us the usual “things to do and see” on the tourist trail, but we got to experience things that we never would’ve seen had we chosen to travel the country on our own. From eating at all the best local eateries, including many meals with their families, to visiting various cooperatives and having tea with nomadic tribes, Eco Desert Morocco took care of everything for us.
Get comfy because you’re about to go through our 18-day itinerary. Grab a cup of mint tea with some fresh mint sprigs (like the one you’ll be drinking in Morocco) and enjoy the ride. If you’re not heading to Morocco for this amount of time, fret not, there are easy ways to tailor this to the length of trip you are looking to take. We’ve made some recommendations for you at the end. Don’t miss out on our Moroccan travel tips here.
Day 1: Tangier
We chose to come in through Tangier, as we were already in Spain. There are 2 ports that you can get to: Tangier Med or Tarifa. If you want to arrive close to the city proper, you will want to choose Tarifa as your arrival point. Know that the ferry ride is about 2h30, and it will probably leave late. This means a later arrival in your hotel so take it easy and just walk around the medina. The old city is probably the best place to stay in this part town. If you are up for it, and if it’s not too late, you can also head to the beach.
Day 2: Tangier to Chefchaouen
Today will be filled with travel and exploration. Start out early if you want to check out the must-see sites in Tangier. If not, just start making your way to Chefchaouen. The journey should take you about 2-3 hours by car. You can also take a bus or grand taxi from Tangier to Chefchaouen that should take between 3-4 hours. You will be crossing the beautiful Rif mountains so get ready for some winding roads and awesome views.
On your way out of Tangier, be sure to check out Cap Spartel, where the Mediterranean and Atlantic seas meet. Apart from being able to see the physical difference of the two massive bodies of water, you will also find the next point.
Hercules cave was discovered in the 19th century. This cave is part man-made by Phoenicians, and part natural. Our favourite part of the cave is the opening to the sea from inside the cave. If you were to look into the cave from the sea, the opening looks like a map of Africa.
Next on the list of “things to do” is to stop at the Akchour Falls, on the route to Chefchaouen. Be sure to take a break here if you can (something traveling by bus wouldn’t have allowed us to do, yay Eco Desert Morocco!). You can bring your bathing suit and jump in. For the ladies, know that this spot has mainly men swimming, so if you aren’t comfortable being in your bikini in this modest country, wear a full bathing suit. You can also take some time here, there are plenty of souvenirs and doughnuts being sold on the side of the road. For those who are more adventurous, you can hike up to the big falls. This will take you about 2-3 hours return.
After this stop, you will arrive in Chefchaouen in the afternoon, so unwind at your riad or take some time to explore the medina. Again, the heart of the old city is the best place to stay. Be sure to pick a riad that has a rooftop terrasse because the sunrises and sunsets here are epic.
Also, know that Google maps doesn’t really work here, so if you need help finding something, ask a local. But to be honest, if you aren’t a worrier, just get lost, and find your way back by asking some locals.
Day 3: A day in Chefchaouen
Today is your day to explore our favourite city in Morocco. They call it the Blue Pearl of Morocco, and you will quickly understand why. They say there are many reasons for the blue houses. Some say it is to keep the flies away, others that it was the Jews who made the walls blue when they took refuge from Hitler in the 1930’s. One thing is for sure though, it’s blue everywhere and it’s beautiful!
If you’re looking for a few things to do, here’s what we recommend. We’re not really morning people, but we highly advise you to wake up for the sunrise. If you’re like us, you can just go back to bed after. A sunrise tip though, is the sun rises from the East (crazy, I know…) and there are mountains right to your East, so the sun crests the top of the mountains quite later than what Google will tell you is sunrise time.
If you want to set out early to go get some shopping done, don’t! Most shops and restaurants don’t open until later, this is a common thread throughout Morocco.
The best thing to do in Chefchaouen is walk the streets, getting lost and marveling at the beauty of the city. The streets are lined with vendors if you are looking for things to buy or eat and they stay open quite late.
Other things you can do are visit the Kasbah museum in the centre of the medina, check out Plaza Uta el-Hammam, or our favourite, go eat some traditional Moroccan food, like tajine or couscous, and hope you are lucky enough to be visited by the wandering musicians the medina has to offer. If you eat near the plaza, you are sure to encounter them. And as a side note, this really grinds my gears… If you take pictures, or a video of musicians performing their hard practiced craft, give them a tip. If you are too cheap for that, keep your phone in your pocket. Thank you!
Make sure you also take some time to chill in the blue city. The pace here is a lot slower… and it may or may not be due to the fact that they grow and smoke a lot of hashish here. In fact, they are the world’s biggest producer of this “medicinal” plant. We don’t encourage you smoke it though. It’s still illegal in Morocco, but highly tolerated in the north of the country.
If you have time to spare, or if you want to move at a slower pace, stick around for an extra day here. Chefchaouen was one of our favourite cities, but also a fan favourite amongst Moroccans.
Day 4: Chefchaouen to Fes
Today, you will head to Fes. You will still be in the mountains for the first part but you will eventually get to the fields where they grow sunflowers, olives and most of their fruits and veggies. You might even get lucky and see some goats and sheep on the way!
On your way, you’ll pass through Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, which is one of the important religious site in Morocco. It is the site that Moulay Idriss I, regarded as the founder of Morocco, arrived in the year 789 and brought with him the religion of Islam.
Then, continue on to Volubilis, an 3rd century BC archaeological site, featuring the best preserved Roman ruins in northern Africa. Take a good hour touring the site, then head on to Meknes where you can visit the famous gates Bab el-Mansourand Bab el Khamis. In the late afternoon, you will arrive in Fes.
We highly recommend staying at Yamanda Fes Riad. Not only is it situated in the heart of the Medina, it’s also beautifully decorated and has an amazing rooftop where you can watch the sun rise and set. The food was amazing, even offering vegetarian options, which is tough to find in Morocco. The rooms were beautiful, probably the nicest rooms we have laid our heads down in, period. They also boast a huge rooftop terrace with breathtaking views of Fes.
Day 5: A day in Fes
This day is especially dedicated to Fes, one of the oldest imperial cities. Fes was Morocco’s capital for more than 400 years and is still considered the religious and cultural centre of the country.
First, discover the extraordinary medina el Bali, a labyrinth of streets lined with shops selling goods and food galore. The streets were built like a maze in order to disorient any attacking armies. Today, it only serves to get tourists lost! You can literally spend days walking these streets. They are so full of life.
Other highlights include the Merenid tombs, the Royal Palace, the Medersa Bou Inania or Al-Attarine Madrasa, place Nejjarine with its splendid mosaic fountain and the Jewish quarter, called Mellah.
Also be sure to visit the many cooperatives around the city. The Art de poterie ASH is a great place to buy mosaics that are true works of art and help support local artisans. Chouara Tannery is also must, they have been using the same process and vats to produce their leather since the 14th century. They use only natural ingredients like saffron, mint and indigo to colour their skins. The smell isn’t great at times, but they will give you mint to help mask the odour.
After touring the medina for most of the day, you can head back to your riad to watch the sunset and chill out. We set out for the desert on the next day, but if Fes is your scene, take an extra day here. We wish we would have!
Day 6: Fes to Merzouga
Today, you will be making your way to the Sahara Desert! It’s a long journey, over 8 hours, so brace yourselves. On your way, enjoy the beautiful views of the Mid-Atlas Mountains as you are passing through them on breathtaking winding roads. You will drive through cedar forests and the gorgeous towns of Ifrane and Azrou.
On your way to Merzouga, you’ll also cross the High Atlas mountains and drive through the gorges of the Ziz. The highlight of the drive is the impressive Oasis of Eit Chakir. Words cannot describe, and we certainly never expected to see a grove of palm trees sprouting out of the desert.
The best, and only way to experience the Sahara Desert, is to stay for 1 night at the Sahara Luxury Camp. Once you arrive at the famous dunes of Merzouga, known as Erg Chebbi, you will have two options to get to the Sahara Luxury Camp. You can ride a camel there or continue by car. Derek chose to ride on a camel for a good hour and 15 minutes while I went in the car. I always struggle when it comes to riding animals. I wasn’t feeling it at this place so skipped it.
Tonight, you will be sleeping in the desert. The camp setup is 2 rows of tents, but to really take your experience to the next level we suggest asking to have your bed taken out, so you can sleep amongst the stars! Although the tents are beautiful, most of them very spacious and equipped with bathrooms and showers, they do get quite hot.
Later, you will enjoy delicious berber food as well as a music show by the fire. Then cuddle with your love under the stars. Make sure to get up for sunrise, it’s epic as you see the sun come out over the dunes.
Day 7: A day in Erg Chebbi
This next day was very special, and only possible thanks to Eco Desert Morocco. They arranged for us to visit a nomadic tribe in the desert. The family we met is lead by a husband and his 3 wives. Although we do not necessarily promote this kind of lifestyle, we can understand its benefits when living in this environment.
In this scenario, everyone has their role, whether tending to the herd of sheep and goats, taking care of the many children or baking and cooking. It was fascinating to see how this family lives in tents in the middle of the desert, with a handmade shower and kitchen (basically mud huts).
After, you can make a quick pit stop in Mephis, the abandoned city of the bears, to get a great view and see the quartz mine.
Then, you will make your way to a Gnaoua village, known locally as the ‘village of the blacks’. The Gnaoua were originally slaves from Sudan, Mali and Nigeria. In the village, you can listen to a group of Gnaoua men play their music and perform their dance. There were even 2 little kids playing along, cute as hell! Although it is free to do so, we encourage you to leave a tip for them. Don’t be that guy…
For lunch, we highly recommend you stop at Restaurant Zafa where you can have a traditional berber pizza. This was Derek’s favourite meal in Morocco.
Because it gets scorching hot in the afternoon, like 50 degrees Celcius, we recommend you stop after lunch and head to nicest hotel in the desert, Nomad Palace. A true oasis in the middle of the desert, Nomad Palace will let you get out of the scorching heat with not one, but two pools. True to it’s name, it really is a palace in the desert.
Day 8: Merzouga to Boumalen Dadès
The road out of the Sahara desert is a long one. Many people choose to go directly to Marrakech from here but we took our time to get there. The direct road would be about 10 hours of driving. Not only is it long, but it’s winding and gruelling as you’ll be driving through the Tishka hills. Instead of taking the long road, we decided to stop in Boumalen Dadès.
If you choose this route, you will have the chance to stop at the beautiful gorges of the Todra. Be sure to bring your bathing suit and your wallet because this place has it all. On one side of the gorge, there is a river where you can cool down from the desert heat, where there are tons of locals and nomads playing in the water, chilling and playing music. It’s really a gem. On the other side of the gorge, there is a small market setup where people sell all sorts of goods, from jewellery to rugs and clothes.
Once you’ve had enough, you can head to your accommodations in Boumalen Dadès. We loved our stay at the Kasbah Tifawen. It boast the best view of the surrounding city and Oasis of Boumalen Dadès. You will be plenty comfortable with air-conditioned rooms and plush beds. The rooms even have a balcony where you can sit back, relax and take in views of the city. They also have a restaurant for breakfast and dinner, so they really do have everything you need to unwind from your long drive.
Day 9: Boumalen Dadès to Ouarzazate
If you are touring with Eco Desert Morocco, before leaving Dadès, you will have the privilege of visiting nomadic tribes that live in caves in the mountains. You will probably meet with the mother of the family of 11, her 18 year-old daughter as well as her 6 year-old son. Her other children will either be out tending to the herd of sheep and goats, or working construction in the city.
You’ll be able to sit with the mom in the living room as she weaves a rug, or clothes, made of sheep wool. This was one of the coolest experiences we’ve had and again, it would not have been possible without the guys at Eco Desert Morocco. Seeing how a nomadic family lives in the mountains is a memory we won’t soon forget. A real highlight of our trip.
After this, or first thing in the morning, you’ll head to the Valley of the Roses, specifically the village of Hdida. Legend has it that the roses were brought here centuries ago by a Berber merchant from Damascus. If you come during April-May, you will see them in full bloom.
After visiting this village, continue your journey to Ouarzazate. Close to town, you will be able to visit the famous monument Taourirt Kasbah (one of the most attractive and beautiful sites in southern Morocco). There is also the opportunity to visit the movie studios of Ouarzazate, known as Moroccan Hollywood. This is where they shot many of the famous movies like The Mummy, Ali Baba and the 40 thieves (Derek’s Moroccan moniker), Babel, Passion of the Christ, Gladiator, and many, many more.
Day 10: Ouarzazate to Marrakech
Today, you continue your journey to the beautiful city of Marrakech, one of the four imperial cities in Morroco. On your way way there, be sure to stop at Aït Ben Haddou, an old Kasbah and UNESCO world heritage site. This is where they shot parts of the movie blockbuster Gladiator, and our personal favourite show, Game of Thrones.
Once you’ve had your fill, continue towards Marrakech. The road is long and winding. You will pass through the highest road pass in North Africa, at over 2,220 metres. The view from here is simply insane.
You should be getting to the city sometime around 5-6 pm, a perfect time to unwind at your riad and head out toward Djemaa el Fna square when it comes to life around sundown. For your riad, be sure to stay in the medina as most sights will be just a short walk away.
The square is full of food merchants, and various stalls selling all sorts of souvenirs. Just beware of your belongings as it is quite crowded. And please don’t encourage any of the merchants with animals, like the snake charmers or monkey handlers. This is an evil form of animal cruelty. But like all the medinas we visited, just stroll through it and in the words of the great Eminem, just lose yourself!
Day 11: A day in Marrakech
Marrakech is such an interesting and vibrant city. It was one of our favourites, so much, that we could have spent a whole extra day here. Be sure to explore the city’s many sights and highlights including Koutoubia mosque, Saadian tombs, El Bahia Palace, Jardins Majorelle. Take the time to walk through and get lost in the huge souk as well.
Vendors selling 1,000 different things, this is truly what Ali Baba must have felt like in the cave of wonders. The souk is where you see every day life in full HD. The bargaining, the warm heartfelt greetings, the alleys busy with motorbikes whizzing through, donkeys drawing carriages and a ton of people everywhere.
If you can afford the time, we recommend spending an extra day here. It will allow you to truly immerse yourself in the beauty and bustle of the city.
Day 12: Marrakech to Taroudant
Today, you will leave Marrakech and make your way towards Taroudant, also known as Little Marrakech. You can stop along the way to take in some beautiful panoramic views and see the berber villages. You will arrive to your destination in the mid-afternoon.
Taroudant is a beautiful city within a fortress wall. This wall is one of the largest in the world. It is a formidable 6 kms long with 9 gates to get in and out of the city. Also, it’s impressive for the fact that it has 3 layers of walls before you make it into the old medina.
It felt like one of the busiest cities we’ve seen with its streets full of cars, bikes, motorbikes, pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages. It seems that the horses are the encouraged way to visit the town, but considering the roads are paved and so busy with cars, we would advise you to just walk. This is too stressful of an environment for the horses, with many cities worldwide reconsidering their stances on having horse drawn carriages.
For your riad, we highly recommend Riad Taroudant. It’s located in a great spot within the walls and it has a wonderful pool to help you cool off in the sweltering heat. It’s also beautifully decorated and the caretakers are the sweetest guys ever, always attentive and kind. They also serve a wonderful homemade breakfast on their splendid rooftop.
Day 13: Taroudant to Tafraout
You will then make your way over the Anti-Atlas mountain range to Tafraout. This traditional Berber village is usually not on the tourist route, but well worth the visit. The area is known for its argan and almond oil, and production of traditional Moroccan leather slippers. If you need any of these things, be sure to stop and stock up on your way.
Once you arrive in the city, there aren’t tons of things to do. You can relax for a bit, but be sure to check out the various rock formations like the famous Lion head, Napoleon’s hat, and our favourite, the painted rocks or Blue Rocks. They will make you feel like you’re on a different planet. If you can, make your way there at sunset, the light is gorgeous and the view is indescribable. Even the route to get there is gorgeous so take your time and take in the views.
Day 14: Tafraout to Mirleft
Today will be a shorter day, this way you can take full advantage of the beach. If you want to move around less, you can actually make your way to Essaouira directly, but we found the beaches in Mirleft to be one of the best in Morocco.
Mirleft is one of the most relaxed cities in the south of the Atlantic coast, with its European vibe. Spend your afternoon at the beach, relax on the fine sand and have some of the tajine they have cooking on the side. A little tip to save you from hanger – make sure you order your tajine in advance as it takes a good hour for it to be ready. We learnt that hard way, and one of us may have gotten a tad bit hangry…
Day 15: Mirleft to Essaouira
This day will be a little long, almost 8 hours depending the stops. You will continue toward Essaouira. It’s also known as the windy city, and true to its name, it is freakin’ windy, which makes it ideal for fishing, windsurfing and kite surfing. The harbour is a delightful diversion, filled with colourful boats that have been carefully decorated by local fishermen.
Essaouira also had a decidedly European vibe, with restaurants and shops more akin to the streets of Spain and Italy, than to those of Morocco. The medina is also a great place to wander with tons of stores selling everything and anything moroccan. If you’re missing any souvenirs, this is the place to get them.
Day 16: Essaouira to Assilah
This will be your last full day in Morocco (also where you begin to sob uncontrollably). You’ll be heading back towards Tangier, with a final beach town stop on the way. Brace yourself because this is the longest day of travel you’ll have.
The first stop on your way is Casablanca. This will take you between 4 and 5 hours. Then, you’ll head to Assilah, which will be another 4 to 5 hours. If this is too long for you, you may want to include a night in Casablanca or Rabat.
Although there is not much to see in Casablanca in terms of tourism, all you Humphrey Bogart/Casablanca fans can get ready to stop in the famous Rick’s Café. Just beware as the opening hours are peculiar.
The piece de resistance though, is without doubt, the Hassan II Mosque. This mosque is the 2nd largest one in Africa outside of Mecca (5th largest in the world) and one of the few you can actually visit as a non-Muslim in Morocco. Hassan II blew our minds, it is probably the most beautiful single building we have ever stepped foot in. Yeah.. so don’t skip this… please. Also, it’s free to visit the mosque from the outside, but you must pay to go inside. Make sure to check tour hours before getting there. We may or may not have gotten there late, but were still able to get in.
Finally, once you’re done, head to Assilah, where you can enjoy a night in the medina. If you still have juice left in you, you can go all the way back to Tangier, depending on when your flight leaves.
Do it your way
If you want to cut down the number of days on this trip, we recommend skipping the night in Tangier and making your way directly to Chefchaouen on the first day. You can also skip the nights in Ourzazate and Tafraout by driving a little longer on those days.
Another option is to arrive in one city and leave from another. Fes, Marrakech and Casablanca are great options with international flights from all over the world. By doing this, you can spend a few more days in each city, or see more cities without circling back.
If we did it again
Although we loved seeing all the cities on this route, if we were to do this again, we would spend less time in the car and more time in the cities. We could have easily spent 2 full days each either chilling in Chefchaouen, exploring the medinas in Fes and Marrakech, or lounging by the beach in Mirleft. By leaving from different cities, this would have been much more enjoyable. But like they say, “you live, you learn”
There you have it folks, our amazing itinerary from Morocco. It was a whirlwind 3 weeks, but we loved every single moment of our trip. The food was amazing, the people were kind and the landscape was beyond anything we expected. The country is safe to visit and it quickly became one of our favourites. But can you blame us? We had an amazing time here.
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