Morocco Itinerary: What You Need to Know
April 19, 2020
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Traveling Morocco is an experience. It’s colorful, vibrant, and filled with the smells of spices wafting through the streets. You’ll find colorful buildings, patterned rugs hanging from walls, and the magical Atlas mountains — as well as the neverending deserts. It’s safe to say that I fell in love with Morocco. The following post will outline the best one week Morocco itinerary with which cities to visit, where to eat, and all of the best things to do in Morocco.
What to Expect When Visiting Morocco
Language: The official languages spoken in Morocco are Arabic and Berber. However, you’ll find that many locals also speak French, Spanish, and English.
Money: The currency in Morocco is called a dirham. 1 USD is equal to approximately 10 Moroccan dirhams (MAD).
Credit Cards and ATMs: While some shops and restaurants accept credit cards, I recommend always carrying cash in Morocco. There are ATMs available in major cities.
What to Pack: I’ll cover what clothing to pack for your Morocco itinerary below, but the most important is a pair of ear plugs and tummy medicine. Ear plugs are essential, especially if you are a light sleeper as the morning early prayers can be very loud. In Chefchaouen the prayers seemed to echo in the mountains. Additionally, the food can be a bit tough on the stomach. Do yourself a favor and pack some anti-diarrhea and tums just in case.
Visa: Citizens of approximately 70 countries are able to enter Morocco without a visa for up to 90 days. Here is a link to more visa information.
Getting Around: I found it super easy to get around the cities by foot, or by taxi for the further destinations. Definitely make sure to download the offline maps for each city ahead of time, either with Google maps or maps.me.
Alcohol: A lot of people wonder if they are allowed to buy and consume alcohol in Morocco. The answer is yes, alcohol is available in bars, restaurants, hotels and touristic resorts. However, it is not widely available. We drank only one glass of wine during our week in Morocco. Drinking in public is strictly forbidden.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Morocco?
Obviously your travel costs are going to differ depending on origin location, accomodations, and in-country transportation. My trip to Morocco cost $1,400, including flights from New York ($791 USD). This means that I only spend approximately $600 for my week in Morocco, not including two nights that I paid for using credit card points. This price also does not include any shopping, which totalled quite a bit more for me as I purchased a rug, two poufs, and a ridiculous amount of pottery. One way that I kept this number pretty low is that we stayed at hostels throughout most of our trip, that averaged $5 USD/night. Another way to find cheaper flights to Morocco from the United States is to consider a layover in Portugal or Spain.
Costs of Traveling in Morocco Itinerary – One Week
- Buses within City ~$70 USD
- Sahara desert tour – $150 USD+
- This is the cost for one of the pricier Sahara tours, however it was super high quality. This cost includes transportation, lodging, and food for 2 nights, 3 days in a small group tour. You can definitely get a cheaper tour through the hostels, however they are usually packed with a ton more people.
- Hostel Dorm Bed $4-6 USD/night
- Average Private Riad $30-100 USD/night
- Average Meals $10 USD/person
Where to Fly into in Morocco?
For this Morocco itinerary I recommend flying into either Marrakech, Casablanca, or Tangier. Either of these destinations will set you to be close to many of the top attractions. If possible, I’d recommend an open plane ticket that allows you fly into one destination and out of the other. Morocco is a huge country, and if you are limited on time you will want to avoid any backtracking when exploring the best things to do.
Often times, flights to Casablanca are also super cheap. Although Casablanca is not on this particular Morocco itinerary, it is possible to fly into Casablanca and take the bus or train or Marrakech or Tangier. Of course, if you have the time, feel free to stop and spend some time exploring Casablanca as well — be sure to visit Hassan II Mosque.
Is Morocco Safe for Female Travelers?
Like any other country, travelers should exercise caution when visiting Morocco. In my opinion, Morocco is safe and is a great travel destination for females, is appropriate levels of caution are exercised. You will get unwanted attention and stares, but overall we found the local to be inviting. One way to limit this is to make sure that you are dressing more conservatively, as is customary in Morocco. I will go into more detail on this later in this guide.
There may be people in the souks/medina who try to lead you places or help you get somewhere, but just be careful. Apparently some of these people lead you to quiet alleyways and get quite angry and demand money. I experienced a number of people, both in Marrakech and Fes, who tried to tell me that certain places or roads were closed, or that I was “going the wrong way,” despite not knowing where I was headed. Apparently this is so they can take you somewhere else and either demand money or make a commission of store owners.
Make sure to keep your composure, politely decline, and more on. As I mentioned earlier, definitely make sure to download the offline maps for each city ahead of time, either with Google maps or maps.me. This will ensure that you actually know where you are going.
Best Times to Visit Morocco
In my opinion, the best times to visit Morocco are in the Spring and Fall, when the cities are less crowded and the temperatures are ideal. The seasons in Morocco are similar to those in other countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
I visited during the end of of May, and the weather was perfect throughout the country. The mornings and evening were cooler, with the sun shining strong throughout the day.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Morocco?
How many days to spend in any country is always a difficult question for me to answer, but in my opinion, there is always more to see! I would recommend spending at least one week in Morocco if you want to visit multiple cities. This itinerary will breakdown how much time I recommend spending in each city in Morocco.
Getting Around Morocco
There are a number of ways to get around Morocco: you can go by plane, train, car, or bus. Unfortunately I cannot speak to the train experience in Morocco, because on arrival we were informed that there was some sort of maintenance being performed, and therefore no trains would be running for the week we were visiting. However, I have heard that it is a great, inexpensive way to get between the major cities.
Luckily, bus travel in Morocco is super simple and affordable. However, if you plan to travel exclusively by bus, you can expect some long journeys. I found buses are great for getting to some of the smaller cities, like Chefchaouen.
If you’re comfortable doing so, you can consider renting a car in Morocco and driving in Morocco.
You way also want to consider flying if your budget allows. Flights are relatively cheap between major cities.
Must-Haves on Your Morocco Itinerary
When I started planning my trip to Morocco, there were so many must-do items on my list. I have compiled a list of my favorite experiences, that I recommend adding to any Morocco itinerary.
- Visit the Sahara Desert — and explore the dunes by camel.
- Get lost in the Blue Pearl City of Chefchaouen.
- Buy Moroccan artisan goods, you’ll find the best handcrafted rugs, poufs, and pottery.
- Order a traditional tagine and couscous dish.
- Drink mint tea (you’ll find it everywhere).
- Experience an authentic hammam.
- Visit the local mosques and admire the intricate tile work.
Morocco Itinerary One Week
Day 1: Tangier (1 Night)
Days 2-3: Chefchaouen (2 Nights)
Day 4: Fes (1 Night)
Days 5-6: Sahara Desert Tour (2 Nights)
Days 7-8: Marrakech (2 Nights)
Where to Visit in Morocco?
There are tons of amazing cities to visit in Morocco. This Morocco itinerary will cover Marrakech, Fes (Fez), Chefchaouen, Tangier, and the Sahara Desert. This is definitely a super packed itinerary for only a week, so I would definitely recommend tacking on a few extra days if you have the time. I absolutely loved my time in Morocco and easily could have spent a few more weeks exploring.
Your trip will start in Tangier. This bustling city is located in the North of Morocco, not far from the Southern tip of Spain. It’s often referred to as Europe’s gateway to Africa.
What to Do in Tangier
If you only have one week in Morocco, then I would recommend only spending one day in Tangier before moving on. Spend the day exploring the Medina. In the afternoon, head to the top of the Kabash, for great views from Cafe Hafa.
How to Get from Tangier to Chefchaouen
Tangier to Chefchaouen is 82 kilometers (51 miles). You can reach Chefchaouen by bus from Tangier in approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. There is only daily direct bus. If you are driving in a private car, this drive is slightly shorter. If your budget allows, opt for a private taxi for a more flexible schedule and quicker drive. A private taxi costs approximately 100 euros.
How long to stay in Tangier: 1-2 days
Chefchaouen was easily my favorite city in Morocco. Commonly referred to as the Blue Pearl, or the blue city, the entire old city is painted blue. Every wall and building is a different shade of magnificent blue. I would give yourself at least one full day, if not a day and a half to soak up the magic of Chefchaouen.
What to Do in Chefchaouen
There aren’t a ton of activities to do or specific sights to see, so I recommend taking your time strolling the cobblestone streets. As you walk up and down the main street, you’ll notice some of the more “insta famous” photo spots along the way.
Hike up to the Spanish church at sunset for some incredible views of the city below.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen – Riad Baraka
Riad Baraka is small riad located in the walled city, and offers both shared and private rooms. The rooftop views are a definite highlight! A large breakfast is included in the price of the room.
Where to Eat in Chefchaouen – Bab Ssour
Bab Ssour is not only my favorite restaurant in Chefchaouen, but easily one of my favorite restaurants in Morocco. From the rooftop views, to the delicious, affordable dishes, you can’t go wrong with a meal here. Order the chickpeas, which are covered in a delicious sweet, cinnamon sauce. Make sure to ask for a seat with a view.
Getting from Chefchaouen to Fes
You can take a bus from Chefchaouen to Fes. The bus takes approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes, and there are a number of daily direct buses. The cost of this trip is approximately $7.50 USD.
How long to stay in Chefchaouen: 1-2 days
The hectic city of Fes can be a bit of a shock after the chill vibes of Chefchaouen, but the city has a charm of its own. You’ll find hanging rugs, on either side of the medina walls, and locals pedaling carts of food – everything from fresh fruit to live snails. Similar to Chefchaouen, there are cats everywhere!
What to do in Fes
Get lost in the Medina
The Medina is like a giant maze. No matter how hard I tried to orient myself, I was constantly lost within the Medina! It didn’t help the matter that locals will often lie about pathways being closed, or insisting that your destination is in the opposite direction. Be sure to stand your ground and trust your gut. While I truly loved my time in Fes and would definitely recommend visiting, I think it is important to note that the locals were not nearly as friendly to tourists here.
Visit the local leather tanneries
A visit to the local leather tanneries is definitely one of the best things to do in Morocco. You’ll find some of the most famous tanneries in Fes. I had no idea previous to my visit that they actually use pigeon poop in the production of leather!
Here are a few tips to make your visit more enjoyable:
- The smell isn’t the most pleasant, however it is definitely more manageable in the morning before the day is too hot. I recommend bring a piece of mint to hold up to your nose to mask the smell.
- In order to get the best views of the tannery you will need to visit one of the surrounding rooftops. The best views in Fes are from Shop 64. The guys here took us up to the rooftop free of charge, thoroughly explained the process to us, and didn’t push us to buy any of their leather products.
Explore Madrasa Bou Inania
Visiting Madrasa Bou Inania in Fes was one of my favorite things to do in Morocco. The madrasa once served as an educational facility and the congregational mosque is now open for public viewing. Despite Madrasa Bou Inania’s beautiful architecture and tile work, it is much less popular than the bigger mosques and palaces in Marrakech, so it is not super crowded. It costs 20 MAD ($2 USD) to enter. It closes at 6pm daily.
Visit a local hamman
My experience of visiting a local hammam is one that probably deserves an entire post of it’s own, but for now I’ll just tell you a little but about my experience. Rather than visiting one of the fancier spas, I had my hostel (Riad Verus) help me to arrange a more local experience. For 120 MAD (approximately $12 USD) I was picked up an escorted down a small alleyway and into the basement of an old building. Here I was introduced to the lady who would wash me. As this was considered to be a public bathhouse, you are expected to bring your own soap, bucket, scrub, etc. Since I booked with the hostel they provided everything for me (typical entrance fees cost closer to 2 MAD ($2 USD), however I was happy to pay the extra money for the convenience factor.
What you will find is a room full of naked local women laying on the floor of a tiled room washing themselves and each other. I obviously don’t have any of my own pictures to share, but I would equate the room to a large prison cell, with concrete walls and tile floors. I was expected to strip down (although you are free to leave your underwear on) and I was then instructed to lay on the floor while an equally naked local woman scrubbed me down. This experience definitely made me feel self conscious and out of place, as I was the only non-local, but it was by far one of the most unique travel experiences that I’ve ever had. I definitely recommend trying one out while in Morocco.
Buy ceramic goods
Fes is best place to buy pottery and ceramic goods. I left Fes with an embarrassing amount of bowls, but I love them all so much. Check out how great they looked in my kitchen in NYC!
Where to eat in Fes
This beautiful restaurant was definitely an all time favorite from my Morocco itinerary. The grounds of the restaurant are a quiet oasis in the midst of Fes’ madness. The place gets super busy, so be sure to book in advance. The food here is served tapas style, with many of the dishes costing as little as 20 MAD ($2 USD). We found that five dishes split between two people was more than enough!
This is actually a chain, but we only visited while in Fes – twice for that matter! My favorite is the falafel plate and assorted veggies.
Where to Stay in Fes – Riad Verus
Riad Verus is a great hostel located within the Medina walls of Fes. The decor is absolutely incredible, and the rates are unbeatable, with dorm beds starting at $4 USD. There are also private rooms available for those who prefer. The hostel is centrally located, making it easy to walk to all of the sights. The rates include a large breakfast with fresh squeezed orange juice, served in their beautiful common area, which is great for meeting fellow travelers. I definitely recommend giving this spot a try if you are looking to stay centrally while on a budget. A perfect jumping off point for all of the awesome things to do in Fes!
Getting from Fes to Marrakech
There are a number of ways to get from Fes to Marrakech, depending on your time and budget. You can take a train from Fes to Marrakech in approximately 7 hours. This train stops in a number of other larger cities, such as Casablanca and Meknes. You can get all of the details on pricing and ticket options at the ONCF website.
When I visited Morocco, the entire train system was on strike. Therefore I opted to travel by bus instead. A bus from Fes to Marrakech takes approximately 8 hours.
Lastly, there are also daily flights between the two cities. These flights are relatively cheap, but the most expensive transportation option.
How long to stay in Fes: 1-2 days
When I began planning my Morocco itinerary, of course riding a camel in the Sahara Desert was on the top of my bucket list. I understand that this is not for everyone, but for me it was a truly incredible experience. While there are opportunities for camel riding and camping right outside of Marrakech, if you want to fully experience the desert you will need to make the journey to Merzouga.
Imagine my shock was when I realized that Merzouga was located a full 9 hour drive outside of Marrakech (and 7 hours from Fes)! The good thing is that there are really so many amazing things to see on the drive to Merzouga. Some of the highlights include the Atlas Mountains, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou, and Dades Gorge.
Which Sahara Tour Company to Book?
My next struggle was deciding which of the many many tour companies to book with. I eventually decided to do my tour with a company called CamelTrekking.com. This was during the early days of my blogging career, and they offered to give me a bit of a discount after I reached out. However, the reason that I reached out in the first place was that I had a number of close friends use this company and they had all raved about it. It is definitely pricier than many of the tours offered by the hostels, however it was well worth it for the tour quality. There were only four people in our entire tour, rather than the tours that were traveling with a full bus-load of people. You can find my full review of my Sahara tour with CamelTrekking.com!
One important thing to figure out is where you want to start and end your trip. We did a 3 day tour that started and ended in Marrakech, because that was the only tour that lined up with our dates. However, if the dates work for you, then I’d recommend starting in Fes and ending in Marrakech, to avoid any unnecessary travel or backtracking.
Shortly after my visit to Morocco, I planned a one week Morocco itinerary for my mom and her friend. She ended up booking her Sahara tour with Morocco Excursions, and there were no tour dates with CamelTrekking.com that worked for her dates, and had an absolutely wonderful time.
Where to Eat in Marrakech
Zwin Zwin is the perfect dinner spot to catch some epic sunset views. Prices are pretty reasonable, averaging $7-8 USD for a meal. The is pretty good, but portions are a bit small. It is definitely worth it for the views though!
We visited BlackChich cafe based on a recommendation by one of the guys at our hostel. It was rather empty when we arrived, but the service and food were delicious. Make sure to head upstairs for a seat outside, especially if you’re dining during sunset.
As seems to be the trend with this list of Marrakech restaurant list, Atay Cafe is another great rooftop spot. The decor here was absolutely adorable, and makes for a great lunch meal.
This was probably the most delicious meal that we had in Marrakech. Not a rooftop for one, but the food at Le Jardin was absolutely delicious. Make sure to make a reservation ahead of time!
NOMAD was one of my favorite places to eat in Marrakech. The food is absolutely delicious and the rooftop views are incredible. Be sure to make a reservation online beforehand. Prices are a bit higher, with main courses averaging $10-15 USD.
Where to Stay in Marrakech
So when I planned our trip to Morocco, it was rather last minute. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that many of the riads book up months in advance since they can only accomodate a few guests. This meant that everywhere that I originally wanted to stay at was already booked. Below I’ll recommend the places that I did stay, which were still great, but I also included links to all of my dream riads before.
Here are all of the places at Marrakech that are on my bucket list:
Earth Hostel is a great place to stay in Marrakech for anyone on a budget. A bed in one of the dorms costs about $5 USD. The rooms are clean, the space is beautiful, and there is an awesome rooftop. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone traveling to Marrakech solo or on a budget.
We loved our time at Riad Imilchil, which had a great rooftop to soak up the sun, and an extensive breakfast to get the day started. However, it lacked the iconic pool that many of the riads have.
Okay, so I didn’t actually stay at La Mamounia, but visiting the famous pools was definitely on my bucket list. Before visiting I had read that you could enter the private pools with either a day pass for $60 USD or a spa appointment. Unfortunately both of those were completely booked up. But I was determined!
Turns you don’t actually need to have a booking to get in, you can just say that you want to have a look at the shops or that you have an appointment at the spa. And then I may have sweet talked the man guarding the pools to let me in for a quick pic (but you didn’t hear that from me).
What to do in Marrakech
Jardin Majorelle (and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum)
Jardin Majorelle is a great thing to add to your Marrakech itinerary. The garden was designed byJacques Majorelle, and later purchased by Yves Saint Laurent. It is recognizable by its striking bright blue walls and varieties of succulents. You will find the Yves Saint Laurent Museum next door.
Explore the souks
My absolute favorite thing to do in Marrakech was exploring the souks, or markets. I loved shopping for my new rug. I ended up purchasing a large white rug with black diamonds for about $175 USD. ($250 USD for the slightly larger size). It is important to break out your bargaining skills, to make sure you’re not getting ripped off. As a rule of thumb, try to pay no more than half of the first price you are told. Even better, get that price down to a third!
Many of the shops will accept credit cards, but you’ll often get a better rate if you can pay with cash. I actually loved my rug so much that when my mom returned to Morocco a few months later I had her pick me up another rug. It was so fun to be able to decorate my apartment with these beautiful Moroccan rugs.
While in Marrakech I also purchased some poufs, which add a lovely pop of color to my living room. The large poufs go for $40-50 USD, and come unstuffed. Once back in New York, I purchased pillow stuffing on Amazon.
I definitely recommend visiting Bahia Palace, a gorgeous 19th-century palace. It’s been said that the palace was originally built to be the greatest palace of its time.
You can’t visit Marrakech without paying a visit to Jemaa el Fnaa – the central square in the heart of the old town. The square truly comes to life at night, when it’s packed with tourists and locals alike. In the evenings you’ll find the square bustling with people, shops, and cafés. Please don’t take pictures with the snakes or monkeys. The square branches off into hundreds of little roads, where you can wander through the souks.
How long to stay in Marrakech: 2-3 days
Additional Cities to Visit in Morocco
If time allows, I would recommend adding Essaouira to you itinerary. Essaouira is a small, beachy town 3 hours from Marrakech.
What to Wear in Morocco
Morocco is a Muslim country, so you’ll want to make sure that you respect the local customs. I’d recommend to dress a bit more conservatively. Try to keep your shoulders and knees covered when possible, or at least one or the other. The best way to achieve this is to make light scarves/sarongs, maxi dresses and skirts. I’d also recommend bring a light or jean jacket, as the temperatures drop at night. Here is my full guide on what to pack for a Morocco itinerary, for ladies.
Packing for Morocco is going to depend on what time of year you visit. Summers can be super hot, while the winters are quite chilly. The temperatures drop during the mornings and evenings.
When packing you should avoid anything too revealing. I found that thicker tank tops (3 fingers thick for reference) were generally okay, however I always carried a sarong or jean jacket to throw over, especially when walking around in the cities. I often took the jacket or sarong off for pictures, and immediately put it back on. Having a few cuter t-shirts and long sleeve tops is always a good idea as well!
For pants, I packed a number of flowy pants, as well as maxi skirts and dresses.
Here are some other posts that might be helpful if you’re traveling in Morocco:
- Why You Need to Visit Chefchaouen
- Best Things to Do in Fes
- What to Pack for Morocco for Females
- The Best Camel Trekking Tour in Morocco
Like what you read on this Morocco itinerary? Be sure to leave a comment and pin it for later!