A Week-Long Trip to Morocco
Morocco is a fascinating destination for travelers seeking a mix of ancient history, exotic culture, and natural beauty. With a week-long trip, you can explore some of the country’s most famous cities, landscapes, and landmarks. From the bustling souks of Marrakech to the serene dunes of the Sahara, Morocco offers a myriad of experiences that will leave you enchanted and inspired.
To make the most of your week in Morocco, it’s best to plan your itinerary in advance and prioritize the places and activities that interest you the most. This article will suggest a sample itinerary that covers some of the must-see destinations in Morocco, along with tips on where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around.
Day 1: Exploring Marrakech
Marrakech is a vibrant city that embodies the essence of Morocco with its bustling medina, colorful souks, and iconic landmarks. Start your day early with a visit to the Koutoubia Mosque, one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in Morocco. Next, head to the Bahia Palace, a stunning 19th-century palace with intricate architecture and lush gardens.
Afterward, stroll through the labyrinthine souks of the medina, where you can shop for spices, textiles, ceramics, and other souvenirs. Don’t forget to bargain with the vendors to get the best deals. For lunch, try some street food like grilled meat skewers or savory pastries at one of the many food stalls in the Jemaa el-Fnaa square.
In the afternoon, visit the Saadian Tombs, a mausoleum complex that houses the remains of the Saadian dynasty rulers. Then, end your day at the Majorelle Garden, a botanical oasis with exotic plants, fountains, and a Berber Museum.
Day 2: A Day Trip to the Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains are a stunning range that offers breathtaking views, traditional Berber villages, and outdoor activities. Take a day trip from Marrakech to explore the High Atlas region and its highlights. You can either join a guided tour or hire a private driver.
Stop by the Ourika Valley, a scenic valley dotted with waterfalls, gardens, and cafes. Enjoy a hike or a mule ride to discover the beauty of the Atlas Mountains and the local culture. You can also visit the Ouzoud Waterfalls, the highest waterfalls in North Africa, and have a picnic lunch surrounded by nature.
Another option is to visit the Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famous for its mud-brick architecture and its role as a filming location for many Hollywood movies like "Gladiator" and "Game of Thrones". You can explore the Kasbah’s narrow alleys, climb to its rooftop for panoramic views, and learn about its history and legends from a local guide.
Day 3: Strolling Through the Blue City of Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen, also known as the Blue City, is a charming town in the Rif Mountains that is famous for its blue-painted houses, narrow streets, and relaxed atmosphere. It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the cities and enjoy a peaceful day in a picturesque setting.
Explore the medina’s colorful shops, cafes, and art galleries, and take plenty of photos of the blue walls and doors. Visit the Kasbah Museum, a former fortress that displays traditional Moroccan handicrafts and artworks. Hike to the Spanish Mosque, a hilltop viewpoint that offers stunning views of the town and the surrounding mountains.
For lunch, try some local dishes like tagine, couscous, or pastilla at one of the traditional restaurants or street vendors. Shop for souvenirs like woven blankets, leather bags, or handmade ceramics at the local markets.
Day 4: Discovering the Coastal City of Essaouira
Essaouira is a seaside town that combines history, art, and relaxation. It’s a popular destination for windsurfers, artists, and foodies who appreciate its laid-back vibe, its sandy beaches, and its delicious seafood.
Start your day by exploring the Skala de la Ville, a 18th-century fortification that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the port. Visit the Moulay Hassan Square, a lively plaza that hosts street performers, cafes, and shops. Walk along the beach and watch the fishermen bring their catch to the market.
For lunch, try some grilled fish, calamari, or shrimp at one of the many seafood restaurants in the medina. Visit the Essaouira Museum of Contemporary Art, a modern art museum that showcases the works of Moroccan and international artists.
In the afternoon, relax at the beach, go for a camel ride, or take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Moroccan dishes like harira soup or briouat pastries.
Day 5: Visiting the Roman Ruins of Volubilis
Volubilis is an ancient Roman city that dates back to the 3rd century BC and is located near the city of Meknes. It’s a fascinating site that showcases the architectural and cultural heritage of Morocco’s past civilizations.
Take a guided tour to explore the ruins of the forum, the basilica, the triumphal arch, and the houses of the wealthy merchants. Admire the mosaics, the sculptures, and the inscriptions that depict scenes of daily life, mythology, and history.
Afterward, visit the nearby city of Meknes, a former imperial capital that is famous for its grand monuments, such as the Bab Mansour gate, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, and the Royal Stables. Walk through its narrow streets, shop for souvenirs, and try some local sweets like chebakia or sellou.
Day 6: Trekking in the Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert is one of the most iconic and mesmerizing landscapes in the world. A trek in the desert will give you a unique opportunity to experience the vastness, the silence, and the beauty of this natural wonder.
Book a guided tour or a private excursion to the Erg Chebbi dunes, the largest dunes in Morocco. Choose between a camel trek, a 4×4 ride, or a hike to reach your desert camp. Watch the sunset over the dunes, enjoy a traditional dinner under the stars, and listen to the Berber music and stories.
Wake up early to catch the sunrise, and experience the magic of the desert in the early morning light. Have breakfast at your camp, and then head back to the nearest town, such as Merzouga or Rissani, where you can take a shower, rest, and have lunch.
Day 7: Relaxing in Casablanca
Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco and is known for its modernity, its architecture, and its nightlife. Spend your last day in Morocco relaxing and exploring the city’s highlights.
Visit the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world, that sits on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Admire its intricate decorations, its marble floors, and its glass floor that reveals the water below.
Next, head to the Corniche, a seaside promenade that offers stunning views of the ocean and the city skyline. Have lunch at one of the many seafood restaurants, or grab a snack at a street vendor.
In the afternoon, visit the Old Medina, a charming neighborhood that contrasts with the modernity of the city center. Walk through the narrow alleys, shop for traditional goods, and try some mint tea at a local cafe.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Morocco
Morocco offers a variety of accommodation options that cater to different budgets and preferences. You can choose between luxurious riads, cozy guesthouses, budget hotels, or camping sites depending on your needs.
Riads are traditional Moroccan houses that have been converted into boutique hotels with inner courtyards, fountains, and terraces. They offer a unique and authentic experience with personalized service and elegant decor. Some of the best riads in Morocco are located in Marrakech, Fez, and Essaouira.
Guesthouses are smaller and more affordable than riads, but still offer a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. They are often run by local families who provide home-cooked meals and local tips. Some of the best guesthouses in Morocco are located in Chefchaouen, Ouarzazate, and the Atlas Mountains.
Hotels range from budget to luxury and are available in most cities and tourist destinations. They offer standard amenities such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and breakfast, and vary in location and style.
Camping is a popular option for those who want to experience the Sahara Desert or the Atlas Mountains up close. There are several camping sites that provide tents, meals, and entertainment, and organize camel treks, hikes, or dune bashing.
Cuisine: What to Eat in Morocco
Moroccan cuisine is a fusion of Arab, Berber, and Mediterranean influences that offers a rich and flavorful gastronomy. Some of the must-try dishes and drinks in Morocco include:
- Tagine: a slow-cooked stew that can be made with meat, fish, or vegetables, and flavored with spices and herbs.
- Couscous: a staple dish made of semolina grains, vegetables, and meat or fish, and served with a spicy sauce.
- Pastilla: a savory pastry filled with shredded chicken, almonds, and spices, and topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
- Harira: a hearty soup made of lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, and spices, and served during Ramadan or special occasions.
- Mint tea: a sweet and refreshing tea that is a symbol of hospitality and friendship in Morocco.
Morocco also offers a variety of street food, snacks, and desserts that are worth trying, such as: