Speaking to my friends before Christmas, we we throwing around ideas of where to book a group trip. The Baltics? Too cold… The Balkans? Too expensive… The Canaries? Too touristy… I’d been desperate to visit Morocco after photos of Marrakesh and Chefchaouen had begun to fill my Instagram feed, so, a little hesitantly, I suggested it. We booked return flights to Marrakech later that day.
This was, of course, typical Abbi travelling style. Book now, plan later. Normally all goes smoothly, but in Morocco, I found myself wishing I had at least done a little planning before securing our flights.
Morocco is a huge country. Go look at it on a map. It’s massive. And therefore it takes bloody ages to travel around it!
My first tip to anyone planning a visit to Morocco is to book flights to one destination and return from a different destination. This way, you won’t spend ages on public transport in order to travel back to where you started, so that you can fly home.
As always, this itinerary is based on my own experience travelling in Morocco, but tweaked to make it even better for you guys.
Take an early flight to Marrakesh so you land in the morning/early afternoon; this way you can maximise your 10 days in Morocco.
Spend a couple of days seeing this vibrant city which is a real feast for your senses. Visit the beautiful Jardin Majorelle, see Jamaa El F’na Square, go to the Ben Yossef Madrasa Islamic College, and wander through the souqs!
There are heaps of places to stay in Marrakesh, from Riads to hotels, and there’s something for every budget. I recommend staying on the outskirts of the Medina so you are close to all the action but it’ll hopefully be a tad quieter! Use the deals finder below to browse properties.
You can do a number of day trips from Marrakech but be sure to check the travel times before you book. Spending half the day in the back of a minivan might not be quite what you want in the heat! Popular options from Marrakesh include the Ourika Valley, Ouarzazate, or even an overnight stay in the Sahara desert.
We chose to visit the Ourika Valley because it was only an hour’s drive from Marrakesh. There are many local guides you can choose to escort you to the Ourika valley; either arrange one with your accommodation or book one through Get Your Guide like we did.
Our driver collected us at 8am and took us to Ourika village where we visited an argan oil shop and learned how it’s made. We also stopped at a couple of viewpoints and a gift shop where my friend Jenni bought a tagine, only stopping to wonder how she would fit it in her hand luggage later!
Arriving in Ourika we met our guide and began the hike to the waterfall, which wove through the carpet shops and souvenir shops in the village, ascending some rocks beside the stream to a clearing where the waterfall stood proudly. The hike isn’t difficult but I would recommend being relatively fit and wearing trainers as some of the track is loose stones.
After many selfies were taken with the locals by the waterfall, we began the descent and finished up at a restaurant for a late lunch around 2pm. This meant we still had a few hours to enjoy in Marrakesh when we arrived back at our accommodation.
Take a bus early in the morning to Essaouria, a pleasant coastal town to the west of Marrakesh. It’s a 2.5 hour journey but the scenery is quite enjoyable.
Essaouria is very different to Marrakesh and was a welcome break for us from the hectic, busy feel of Marrakesh.
Spend some time exploring the medina – I found the shopping here to be better than in Marrakesh, more choice, more affordable, without such aggressive haggling. Visit the Skala du Port, which was used as a filing location in Game of Thrones, and of course, visit the beach!
Take the bus back to Marrakesh and spend the night there.
We stayed at Riad Le Grand Large and I would recommend it – clean rooms, a friendly owner, and breakfast on the roof terrace!
Early the next morning, take the train from Marrakesh to Casablanca; it’s about 2.5 hours journey so you’ll arrive in good time for lunch.
Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Casablanca; it didn’t feel as safe or as open to tourists as the other places we visited in Morocco, but nonetheless I think it’s worth visiting for you to decide yourself.
The enormous Hassan II Mosque is a must-see. It’s beautifully decorated, hugely popular with both tourists and locals… oh and did I mention it’s massive? The area surrounding the mosque is all pedestrianised and it’s a pleasant place to people-watch in the sun.
Take a walk along the coast and through the medina too. The medina here felt much more local to us, with a majority serving food; less carpets and bowls etc.
I won’t recommend the place we stayed at because it was laughably bad; instead, you can check highly rated properties in Casablanca on booking.com here.
Fès/Fez is a must if you visit Morocco; personally I much preferred it to Marrakesh. It has a certain charm about it and the local way of life is much more apparent; it doesn’t exist solely for tourists, rather, we saw many local people going to the same shops in the medina as us.
Take the train from Casablanca (it’s the same route as the one from Marrakesh and takes about 3.5 hours to reach Fes. Spend the afternoon wandering the medina; after visiting Casablanca’s medina I am sure you will welcome the feel of it! In the medina you may find the spectacular University of Al Quaraouiyine, bizarrely situated without any grandeur amongst the hundreds of stalls. It’s now a practicing mosque but visitors can enter the Library. In the evening, take a petit-taxi to the Merenid Tombs and watch the sun set over the city from the hill.
On your second day, visit the Royal Palace (Dar el Makhzen), the Jewish cemetery, and the Gate of Fes and the Medersa Bou Inania (the only religious building in Fes that non-Muslims can visit) I’m sure you’ll stumble upon the Gate of Fes too; as part of Fes is a walled city, it’s hard to miss it!
We stayed in the Hotel Fontaine Campini which I would recommend; it’s just outside of the medina and easily walkable.
In the morning, take a bus to the beautifully charming town of Chefchaouen. See this post on how to get from Fes to Chefchaouen. This little gem is a small town in the mountains, north of Fez, and is a bit of a pain to get to but SO worth the journey.
Leave early so you can arrive in the early afternoon and enjoy a spot of lunch in the square by the Kasbah. I highly recommend ditching the map and wandering around the Medina for a few hours – you’ll end up getting lost regardless and it’s much more fun to get your bearings naturally.
On your second day in Chefchaouen, climb up the Kasbah for a beautiful view of the town. Hike up to the viewpoint by Hotel Atlas (or take a cheap ride in a petit-taxi to save your energy), visit the Ethnographic Museum, or take a quick trip to the Ras el Maa waterfall.
Grab a taxi or bus to Tanger (2.5 hours) or Rabat (4.5 hours) ready to catch your flight home.
We stayed at Dar Antonio which is a lovely Riad; I would recommend it.
Thanks for reading and happy travels!
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