Morocco is larger than it appears, so getting around took much longer than I had anticipated due to underdeveloped infrastructure and the sheer size of the country.
Here’s my 10-day itinerary for Morocco:
Day 1: Casablanca to Rabat
Our flight had us coming in and out of Casablanca. We took a transfer from the terminal to the city centre station, Casa Voyageurs, where we purchased a first class train ticket to Rabat.
We spent the afternoon roaming around Rabat, through the medina and then through ville nouvelle (new town). Rabat is smaller and quieter than Fes and Marrakech, so roaming the medina here was a good introduction to the old quarters of Morocco.
TIP: Don’t waste an overnight stay in Casablanca, especially at the beginning of your trip.
Day 2: Rabat to Fes
We took the train to Fes and arrived just in time to stroll around the outskirts of the medina to search for a good dinner spot.
TIP: Although we felt particularly safe, it’s believed to be dangerous for tourists to walk around the medina alone at night due to the risk of theft/muggings.
Day 3: Fes
Fes has one of the biggest, if not the biggest, medinas in the world. Spanning 540 acres, the medina has thousands of streets that are impossible to locate on a map, which makes for an exciting maze challenge. While we very seldom hire a guide and prefer to lose ourselves in a city, we booked one in Fes because we truly feared that we wouldn’t be able to find our way out of the medina if we got lost. After the medina, we wandered off to the Jewish quarter and then to the gardens in the afternoon, which was a refreshing change from the souks. In the evening, we tried a hammam (a traditional Moroccan bath), which was a very unique experience.
TIP: Save the hammam experience for a smaller city to avoid the inflated tourist prices – the experience is the same, and even more authentic in smaller cities.
Day 4: Fes to Midelt
In the morning, we started our desert excursion with a private driver that we pre-booked. The Merzouga desert (Erg Chebbi) is the most popular section of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, and is accessible by only one road from the north – that’s right, I said one! The journey to and from the desert is very long, so we broke it up with an overnight stay at the midpoints.
On our way to Midlet, we stopped in Ifrane, which is known as the “Little Switzerland” of Africa. Believe it or not, Ifrane is home to a nice ski resort because of it’s ideal location between the Atlas mountains, which yields a rather snowy climate in the winter months. We stopped enjoyed a quick lunch and stroll around the town.
We arrived in Midelt just in time for dinner at our Riad. There’s not much to do here, so we didn’t feel too bad about staying in our Riad for the evening.
Day 5: Midelt to Merzouga
As I explained in my review of Sahara Stars Desert Camp , there is absolutely nothing to do in Merzouga – it is the edge of the desert (literally). So, it is important to coordinate your arrival with the camp company, otherwise you will be sitting in your car at the edge of the desert and waiting.
We arrived in Merzouga during a sand storm, so we were temporarily housed in the camp owner’s home until it was safe to go outside. From here, our fabulous journey to camp began with our camel friends.
TIP: Stock up on items for camp before leaving Midelt. We packed a small bag of wine and chips, which came in handy around dinnertime at camp since they did not serve alcohol.
Day 6: Merzouga to Ouarzazate
On our way from Merzouga to Marrakech, we chose to break the journey with an overnight stop in Ouarzazate – a common choice for most tour groups and travellers alike. Ouarzazate is known for it’s close connection to Hollywood, and is home to a few studios that filmed many famous movies and TV shows like Gladiator and Game of Thrones.
We spent the evening having dinner in the main square behind Muhammed V. Avenue, which was a great spot to sit and people watch – something we didn’t really have a chance to do in the other cities.
TIP: Find accommodation as close to Muhammed V. Avenue as possible. We stayed outside of town, and it was too far to walk safely to the square at night. After spending so many days in the car, it would’ve been nice to be able to walk to the centre of town.
Day 7: Ouarzazate to Marrakech
In the morning, just before our departure from Ouarzazate, we made a stop at the Atlas Film Studio for a tour. We were a bit reluctant to go because it seemed a bit too touristy for our liking, however we were pleasantly surprised. After the one-hour tour, we hit the road for the last leg of our very long road trip. We arrived in Marrakech in the late afternoon and then bid farewell to our driver. We then attempted, with little success, to navigate the medina (with our new rug in tow) to locate our riad.
TIP: If you’re arriving by taxi in the medina, be prepared to be hassled when you get out. We had a man persistently follow us and insist that he show us the way. As a seasoned traveller, I was confident that I could shake him, but even I ended up getting duped! If this happens, be prepared to tip said “guide”.
For dinner, we ventured to the new town, where we stumbled upon some nice tapas bars and restaurants.
Day 8: Marrakech
Marrakech was the energy that we were looking for in Morocco. I don’t really know how to explain it, but there’s a certain charm about Marrakech that’s hard to resist. Although the sight of monkeys on chained leashes made me physically sick, wandering around Jemaa el-Fnaa Square gave me a true taste of Morocco.
Day 9: Marrakech to Casablanca
We arrived in Casablanca by train in the afternoon and were unfortunately met with some crummy weather and cooler temps. Nevertheless, we sauntered over to Hassan II Mosque and then journeyed back in time at Rick’s Cafe for a quick drink.
TIP: The kitchen at Rick’s Cafe closes at 4pm in order to set up for dinner, so don’t expect to have a late lunch here.
For dinner, we went to an ‘authentic’ Moroccan restaurant with a belly dancing show, which was a total tourist trap, but I didn’t mind at all – the energy in the restaurant was infectious and we had a great time!
Day 10: Casablanca
This was our travel day, so we didn’t do much except for leave Morocco!
TIP: If you don’t have an early morning flight, avoid coming to Casablanca the day before. Other than the Hassan II Mosque and Rick’s Cafe, there’s not much to do in Casablanca.
As you can see, we spent a great deal of the trip either in the car or on the train, so here are alternate routes depending on what you want to do:
1. With the Desert Camp: Arrive in Fes (2 nights) – Midelt – Merzouga Desert Camp – Ouarzazate – Marrakech (3 nights) – Casablanca to fly out.
2. Without Desert Camp + Spain: Arrive Seville (2 nights) – Seville to Tangier via Tarifa ferry (3 nights) – Chefchaouen – Fes (2 nights) – Marrakech (3 nights) and fly out.
Both of these itineraries require paying a little bit extra to fly in/out of different cities, but it’s totally worth it in my opinion. I would do it again this way if I could!