Longing for exotic locales and eclectic cultures might be how Morocco landed on your bucket list, but you will likely get more than you bargained for. Morocco is romanticised for being the playground of celebrities such as the musical Jimi Hendrix or more recently, the likes of Jessica Alba and Shailene Woodley. Coveted destination aside, you may be thinking: why should I spend one week in Morocco?
Admittedly, travelling through Morocco is no glamorous affair. It’s hot, sometimes extreme, with summer temperatures averaging in the high twenties and peaking around 37 degrees celsius. Needless to say you will be sweaty, weighed down by your water bottle and uncomfortable. But, if you can see past the lack of aircon and beating sun, you will be rewarded with the adventure of a lifetime.
We asked Africa travel expert and touring guru, Michelle, from African Overland Tours, to give us an insight into how she would spend one week in Morocco; the ‘place the sun sets in the west’.
Why travel to Morocco?
I mean, we all love golden hour sunsets and intricately decorated architectural backdrops. Yet Morocco’s greatest allure may be it’s diverse landscapes.
- There are few travel destinations where you can explore vibrant multicultural, imperial cities, hike mountain sides steeped in ancient farming heritage before hopping on a camel and venturing deep into the desert, then finally hitting coastlines fit for world class surfers on a road trip.
- It’s the perfect blend of old meets new. Get lost in the history of Volubilis Roman ruins, medieval times in Fes or art deco extravagance in Casablanca. Morocco’s obvious contrasts are both fascinating and enticing.
- As the sun goes down in Marrakech, you may be fooled into thinking you’ve stepped into another world. Think Alice in wonderland-like scenes complete with snake charmers, buskers and dancers. Be lured by fortune tellers and henna tattoos, shiny lanterns and swaying silks.
Wow, with so much to explore, you might be thinking: How can I travel Morocco in one week? Well, if you are ready to hit the ground running and have the added advantage of an experienced guide showing you the way, you could easily be in and out in 9 days!
So if you’re up for it and prefer to travel to this amazing country on a budget while really experiencing its highlights and remote gems, then grab your backpack. Here’s the ultimate one week in Morocco itinerary that will blow your mind, not your budget.
One week in Morocco itinerary
- Day 1 Casablanca
- Day 2 Rabat & Moulay Idriss
- Day 3 Volubilis to Fes
- Day 4 Fes
- Days 5-6 Chefchouen
- Day 7 Tangier
- Bonus: Days 8 – 9 Marrakech
Casablanca – 1 day
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into Marseille in France instead of this North African mecca. The coastal city of Casablanca was once a French colony and its influence is prevalent in both the language and the architecture.
Take some time to soak it all in by visiting the Hassan II Mosque, perched over the Atlantic Ocean and featuring a 210m minaret. As the largest Mosque in Africa, this architectural masterpiece is a must-see. Feel humbled by its size and amazed by the intricate details of its interior. A guided tour is highly recommended and will set you back MAD130, but worth every penny.
Next head off to the old medina within the cities walls. Try not to get lost as you meander through the narrow winding roads as they lead you from one delight to the next. Think spices, rose water, Argan oils and jewelry. Practice your haggling skills as you land one bargain after another before taking a break to indulge in the delicious local fare while drinking mint tea.
If you are keen for more shopping, drop your bags and head over to the new medina, Quartier Habous on Boulevard Victor Hugo. Or, if you’re all spent by day one, you can enjoy the Villa des Arts. This contemporary art deco villa doubles as a museum and gallery, offering free entrance and a great way to spend an hour in Casablanca.
With time to spare, take a relaxing stroll along the Corniche at sunset and pull up a chair at one of the cafes while admiring the views as you breath in the sweat seabreeze.
Rabat & Moulay Idriss – 1 day
Take a one hour train ride from Casablanca to the capital city of Morocco. Rabat is treasure with Islamic landmarks alongside French-inspired gardens.
Walk through the old quarter with captivating views over the Atlantic Ocean where exploring Kasbah des Oudaias. Gaze down it’s cliffs to the Bou Regreg River below and take a moment to appreciate the Gnawa musicians traditional music. Don’t forget to explore the Kasbah’s Andalusian Gardens and take a photo at its ancient gates and the view over the city below.
Next, hop on a train for a 3 hour journey to the regal city of Meknes before taking a 45 min taxi trip to the sacred pilgrimage of Moulay Idriss. Previously forbidden to non-Muslims, this ancient town is now accessible to all and offers an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in traditional Moroccan life. As the great-grandson of Mohammed, Moulay Idriss I was revered as the one who brought the Islam religion to Morocco. Today, his tomb is frequented by faithful local and travelers as they pay homage.
Take this unique opportunity to spend the night in a local’s home sharing in Moroccan hospitality and learning about local culture.
Volubilis & Fes – 2 days
Head off before the crowds and make your way to the archaeological site of Volubilis. This once provincial Roman Capital is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Stand in these Roman ruins and imagine the thriving empire that once stood here.
Picture the Basilica in all its former glory before the Roman rule collapsed in 285 AD. Once economically dependent on the export of olives and wheat to Rome, with about 20 000 residents calling it home, Volubilis was a hub of elite grand mansions.
These ruins are the result of pillaging in the 17th century along with a devastating earthquake in 1755. We would recommend a guide in order to maximise your time at this Morcoccan highlight. Quick tip: with no shade in sight, Volubilis may get you hot under the collar so be sure to come prepared with sunblock, sunhat and cold water!
When it’s time to bring yourself back to the present day, make your way back to Meknes. Now is as good a time as any to relax at a charming cafe in the medina while sinking your teeth into a camel burger.
Later in the afternoon make your way via train to the alluring city of Fes. One hour from Meknes, you will be thrown into a sensory overload. Fes is world renown for being the cultural capital of Morocco. This city, in all its medieval glory, has an authenticity like no other.
Enter the old medina through the Blue Gate (Bab Boujloud) and you will immediately see why this car free zone is a labyrinth of charm. Finding your way through the narrow streets of Fes lined with mosques, souks and donkeys piled high with treasures is a whirlwind adventure.
Wake up with the chants of prayer and enjoy a full day of exploring Fes. Allow a guide to show you the ropes by visiting the spectacular architecture of Medersa Bou Inania and Al Attarine, both Islamic colleges with intricate details and mosaic designs. Then venture to the souk and marvel at the craftsmanship of traditional tapestries in the making and artisans moulding leather into beautiful shoes and bags.
Make sure to pay a visit to the famous 11th century Chaouara Tannery, at N10 leather shop you can gain entrance to arguably the best view in the city. Expect a whiff of ammonia and rawhide which may be unbearable to some. Smelly scenes aside, this tannery uses age old techniques to cure the skins with natural dyes and witnessing this in action is worth the effort.
With time to spare, head to the Jewish Quarter (Mellah) which is distinctly characterised by its white enclosed tombstones or make sure to try out a traditional hammam (bathhouse) where you can enjoy a good scrubbing and massage.
In the evening you will be spoilt for choice with Moroccan cuisine. Wander the streets sampling brochettes (kebabs) or chicken-stuffed pastilla (meat pie) with the obvious side of couscous.
Chefchaouen – 2 days
No trip to Morocco would be complete without a visit to the quintessential city of Chefchaouen, also known as the blue city of Morocco. Nestled between the Rif Mountains, this city dishes charm in bucketloads.
Explore its streets lined with blue and white houses and spend hours searching for the ultimate stairway shot! Oozing with Spanish flair, Chefchaouen was once a refuge for Andalusians escaping the Reconquista. Nowadays it offers curious travellers a base from which to explore by hiking the surrounding mountain gorges and panoramic peaks.
There is plenty to experience in 2 days and you will be grateful for the laidback interlude to your exhilarating Moroccan adventure. Choose to take a tour of the medina and feast on famous goat’s cheese at a cafe in the Plaza Uta el-Hammam or muse over the architecture of the Grand Mosque. Unfortunately non-muslins are not permitted entrance but the exterior is worth a meander and you can hop next door to the Kasbah museum. The museum is a treasure trove of Moroccoan history and if you head up its tower, you will be treated to spectacular views of the sky blue city.
If you are feeling energetic, take a hike and enjoy a picnic in the neighbouring hills alongside a small waterfall, especially beautiful in the months of April to June. Reward yourself with an indulgent dinner of slow cooked tagine, rich with a blend of fragrant spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and paprika. Finish it off with some sweet mint tea while you watch the sunset and call it a day.
Tangier – 1 day
Hit the road again for 3 hours as you travel to Tangier. If travelling in a group you will likely get a private minibus to take along the N2 toward the serene coastal town of Tangier. Once a playground for artists and secret agents, Tangier sits on the Strait of Gibraltar, bridging the divide between Europe and Africa.
While in Tangier, explore its highlights of the Place de a France in the Ville Nouvelle (new town) littered with cafes and patisseries. Head off to the Amercan Legation Museum (MAD20 entrance) in the southwest corner of the medina, documenting the diplomatic mission of 1821. Marvel at artworks by Eugene Delacroix and Yves Saint Laurent.
If its city views you’re after, then make your way to the Kasbah up on a hill with sweeping vistas over the city below. Seek out the old Sultan’s palace (Dar el-Makhzen) dating back to the 17th century and displaying mesmerising Moroccan art.
As dusk falls, explore the beach promenade and treat yourself to a fresh seafood dinner at the port. The best use of your time would be to take an overnight sleeper train this evening to Marrakech, which will afford you the chance to maximise your time in Marrakech.
Marrakech – 2 days
With an early arrival in the city, you will have the full day to explore Marrakech’s magic. Get sucked into the vibrant city and its exotic fragrance. This quintessentially Moroccan destination will have you hooked in no time.
Make sure to leave space in your travel budget to make the most of what Marrakech has to offer as here your money will be well spent. Choose to take a cooking class learning the art of the Tagine (costing around MAD640) and make sure to buy your own handcrafted Tagine to continue the mouthwatering experiments at home. If cycling is your thing you can head off on a cycling tour either through the city or to the Palmery (around MAD350).
If you have exhausted all your energy but are still keen to see the city in all its wonder than make sure you take a hot air balloon ride over the city with views of the middle Atlas Mountains in the distance (at a cost of MAD 2050).
The medina is a treasure trove of highlights too, so make sure to visit Palais Bahia (or Bahia Palace) offering Muslim architecture at it’s best. Charging MAD70 entrance, you will not be disappointed by its incredible design details from floor to ceiling. Made sure to visit early or late in the day as around noon it is humming with tourists. Also head over to Palais Badi (MAD70 entrance) and explore its remarkably high walls. These ruins are home to sunken orange trees and glassy pools so get lost in the citrus fragrance of its gardens. Meander through the recently revealed Saadian tombs nearby (also MAD70 to explore).
Tonight you will be lured by the famous Djemaa el Fna which lights up at night with street food galore and entertainment on every corner. Storytellers, performers and snake charmers will grab your attention as you pass by the outdoor fantasy show. As one of the world’s biggest public spaces, you will only scratch the surface of this nighttime wonderland.
With a second day in this city you can explore its landmarks too. A great place to start is the 12th century minaret of Koutoubia Mosque which marks Marrakech’s skyline. While here, admire the architecture said to have heavily influenced buildings in Spain and Rabat and if you time it right, you will hear the building come alive with calls to prayer.
Next, head over to the Jardin Majorelle who’s exotic garden boast over 300 species of plants carefully positioned alongside tranquil water features. Once home to the French painter Jacquesd Majorelle, it’s now owned by Yves Saint-Laurent which adds an extra dose of international allure. Entrance to this highlight is MAD70.
Be sure not to skip Ben Youssef Medersa when the daylight reflects it’s mesmerising design details from the water in its great courtyard. This was once the largest Medersa in North Africa, built in the 14th century, it has truly stood the test of time and retains its undeniable glory. An entrance fee of MAD40 is a small price to pay for seeing this remarkable building.
You might also want to hit the famous hammams – one of the best things to do in Marrakech – before you call it a day, this traditional renewal of the body, mind and soul will set you back MAD250 for the basic public baths or MAD750 if you prefer to treat yourself to the luxury version. If going the public bath route, bring your toiletries, plastic mat for the floor, scrubbing mitt and towel along with a change of clothes.
You will be surely tempted to visit the Djemaa el Fna again for a second time at night to indulge in the sights, sounds and smells of Morocco for one last time. This time you could even book a food tour, to have a handy guide to the experience, before heading back to your riad.
Got more than one week in Morocco – Add these to your itinerary
Perhaps you’ve got a bit more time in the Western Kingdom? You can extend your Morocco trip with some of these fantastic add-ons:
Stretching across a large portion of Africa, the Sahara Desert lies in the south and east of Morocco. You will be sad to miss the undulating golden sands of the Sahara Desert. Hop on the back of a camel and journey deep into its endless rolling dunes.
Highlights of the desert include a visit to Erg Chigaga dunes near the tiny village of Merzouga. Spend a night sleeping under the stars gazing up at the pollution-free expanse above. Explore the Sahara desert by taking a 2 or 3 day trip travelling east from Marrakech. You can also take a tour from Fes and travel south to the Sahara Desert if you prefer to include this earlier in your travels of Morocco.
This Unesco-protected site is a day trip (4 hours) away from Marrakech and totally worth the trip while on a Sahara Desert tour or as a day trip. It’s mudbrick construction is so unique and has been the set of numbers movies and series. Think Game of Thrones, Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia, yet its twisted past was not too different from these storylines.
Once an oasis for merchants transporting silver, gold and slaves across the desert, today it stands as a testament to Moroccan clay architecture. Side note: there is no entrance fee to explore the Kasbah so be sure not to be convinced otherwise by the local scamsters.
As North Africa’s highest mountain range, the Atlas mountains stretch from the west coast to the border of Algeria and beyond. The Atlas mountains are made up of three ranges namely the High Atlas, Middle Atlas and Anti Atlas.
Hike the passes of this rugged region as many have done before you. Discover the local Berber tribes and be fascinated by how their traditions and way of life have remained unchanged for centuries. Also taste their whiskey and mint tea while enjoying their open hospitality. Either travel to the Atlas Mountains as a day trip from Marrakech to Imlil or Oureka where you can spend a night in the Kasbah.
This port city features palm lined avenues, quaint art galleries and a distinct “fishing town” vibe, with a much cooler temperature than the bustling cities of Morocco. Although be warned, the wind can blow hard at times so Essaouria is not the ideal beach holiday town. Also a day trip away from Marrakech (3 hour drive), Essaouira is sought out for its laid back mood.
The medina’s walls are distinctively high with its ramparts built into the cliffs, and walking these ramparts will give you the opportunity to capture the best views of the town and coastline. Enjoy a seafood catch of the day at a local restaurant along the harbor or at the Moulay el Hassan on the edge of the port.
The Todgha Gorges are a series of limestone river canyons, or wadi, in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, near the town of Tinerhir. Both the Todgha and neighbouring Dades Rivers are responsible for carving out these deep cliff-sided canyons, on their final 40 kilometres through the mountains. These freestanding, bright orange canyons are definitely worth a day trip from Marrakech.
Booking your Morocco itinerary can be a little tricky. We’d personally recommend, African Overland Tours; a great travel agency experienced in camping and accommodated adventures in Africa, and will be able to help find the most suitable Morocco Tour to suit your travel style and budget.
You can travel Morocco independently, however navigating it’s public transport and language barriers (if you not fluent in French) can be challenging. That coupled with the labyrinth of alleys and constant hustling by the locals for a chance to get in on the tourist action can be frustrating and often a waste of time. So I would highly recommend you book your tour of Morocco through a group tour company.
There are so many advantages to this travel style, in Morocco especially, such as the assurance of your guide throughout your trip guiding the way. Your guide will take care of the nitty gritty such as transport, accommodation and activities so you don’t have to waste valuable time in energy figuring it all out by yourself. Group travel also offers the added perk of exploring Morocco with other like minded travellers to share the adventures with.
Have you missed anything off this one week Morocco travel guide? Have any Morocco travel tips for us? Let us know in the comments or get in touch with us here!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is one week in Morocco enough?
There is of course so much to see in Morocco that one week really can only give you the highlights reel. That said, this 7 day guide to your perfect Morocco holidays is more than sufficient.
How much does one week in Morocco cost?
As with most things in life, costs vary. So, what’s your one week in Morocco budget? Well, it depends.
If you’re trying to backpack Morocco, you’re looking at about 40-60 USD / 30-47 GBP per day, while a mid-range traveller is spending 120-130 USD / 93-100 GBP. Luxury price ranges from 350 USD / 270 GBP upwards
Of the best value-for-money ways to explore Morocco is to book a one week tour. African Overland Tours offers a 7-8 day tour, currently priced at around 530 USD / 410 GBP per person.
What should I pack for one week in Morocco?
A Morocco one week packing list shouldn’t look too different to your usual wardrobe although you might want to consider covering up your shoulders and legs – Morocco is a conservative country although dress codes aren’t enforced. That said, there are a few key essentials to keep in mind:
- Sandals – you’ll definitely want comfy sandals for strolling the streets
- Sneakers or Trainers – there will be a few more long distance treks, so sneakers will come in handy
- Loose-fitting, light coloured clothing is definitely preferred due to the heat
- Warmer clothing like a fleece and socks since it can get cold at night
- Scarf – can be used in a multitude of ways!
- A small across-body bag – Morocco does have a few pickpockets in larger cities
- Sun protection including sun lotion, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
- Any technology like international adapter
- Hand sanitizer, imodium and tissues
Is Morocco safe to travel?
In short, yes. You most probably won’t be a victim of serious crime as a tourist in Morocco and it’s a very safe place to travel. However, be wary of petty crime like pickpockets, particularly in larger cities.
About the Author
Michelle describes herself as the ultimate travel buddy with a “When in Rome” kind of attitude to travel. She thrives on seeking out insider local hotspots and favors immersive experiences over tourist traps. Her undeniable love for Africa only slightly outweighs her global wanderlust.
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