Imperial cities, chaotic medinas, desert fortresses, azure blue beaches, mountainous landscape—Morocco is so unbelievably diverse everyone simply have to visit it at least once in their lifetime.
Easily on the Top 5 best countries I’ve visited, Morocco is also the longest I ever spent in just one country—excluding Singapore and Indonesia where I’ve lived. Morocco is definitely worth an extended visit as there are very, very few duds.
To help you plan your visit to Morocco, I will comment briefly on each destinations I visited and assign them a rating of 1-3 hearts (the more hearts, the more I love them).
Day 1: Casablanca – Rabat
My journey began in Casablanca (♥), where business booms but the only site of tourism interest is the Hassan II Mosque. Hence, I moved quickly to Rabat (♥♥) which I thought would be another Casablanca but it surprised me with an incredible beach and the beautiful Oudaias Kasbah. I especially LOVE how slow-paced and in-the-moment the Rabat people are.
Day 2: Rabat – Assila – Tangier
The fortified town of Assila (♥♥) has a Greece-like charm with a view of the Atlantic Coast, which is well worth a stopover while on the way to Tangier (♥♥), which received undeserved bad rep. Sure, big buildings have sprouted in place of the “old Morocco” charm but I personally thought it enhanced the coastline. Besides, it’s still worth visiting if only for Cape of Hercules alone.
Day 3: Tangier – Chefchaouen
[Image Credit: Steffan Jensen]
Next morning, I briefly passed through Tetouan and the Spanish seaside town of Ssabta before reaching Chefchaouen (♥♥), which is supposed to be the #1 highlight but over-tourism has “spoiled” the residents here just a bit, who’d pester you into giving them dirhams for ridiculous reasons. It’s still undeniably beautiful though.
Day 4: Chefchaouen – Volubilis – Moulay Idriss – Meknes – Fes
Volubilis (♥) feels like any other Roman ruins, though well-preserved mosaic floors set it slightly apart. Meknes (♥) has its own charm, but nowhere more outstanding than the other three Morocco imperial cities.
The real gem of the day, though, was an impromptu visit to the holy city of Moulay Idriss (♥♥♥) with its colorful pastel walls and very genuine atmosphere—everything I wanted to find in Chefchaouen but didn’t, I found it in Moulay Idriss.
Day 5: Fes
[Image Credit: yeowatzup]
Fes (♥♥) is chaotic, but that’s exactly its appeal. Fes is raw beauty, with unforgettable sights and smells of its medina labyrinth and tanneries. Not to mention it has some of the most impeccable artisan arts I have ever seen. Fes is basically Morocco’s cultural, artistic and spiritual heart.
Day 6: Fes – Ifrane – Ziz Valley – Merzouga
I passed through Immouzer (popular for the monkey habitats), Ifrane (♥) with its mini-Switzerland charm, Azrou (decent viewpoint), Midelt (meh) before a stopover at Ziz Valley (♥♥♥), which is literally a river of palm trees springing out of nowhere in the middle of a desert.
The journey continued through Errachidia (nice pastel colors), Erfoud (known for fossils and minerals) before I reached Merzouga (♥♥) for sunset by the edge of Sahara desert.
Day 7: Merzouga – Erg Chebbi/Sahara
[Image Credit: chiaoyinanita]
That morning, I had a 4WD ride to Khamlia for the entertaining Gnawa music, greeted a local Berber nomad at their dwelling, and stopped by an ex-mining site.
And then I rode a camel to the middle of Sahara (♥♥♥) for a once-in-a-lifetime sand dune overnight. The moon was unbelievably HUGE that night (this is why I didn’t even bother with the November 2016 Supermoon hype because I’ve practically seen it).
Day 8: Erg Chebbi/Sahara – Merzouga – Todra – Dades – Kalaat M’Gona – Ouarzazate
That morning, I passed through Rissani (meh), Tinjdad (forgettable), Tineghir (very beautiful pink city) before stopping for a quick walk at Todra (♥♥) with its towering gorge.
The journey continued to Dades (♥) with its nice city panorama and then Kalaat M’Gona (♥), known for being Rose Valley but it was the wrong season when I visited, and Skoura (meh).
Finally, the day ended at Ouarzazate (♥♥), which I really like for I’m not sure why. There’s just something very special about breathing the air and sight of a mid-sized city with lots of palm trees after a few days in the rugged desert.
Day 9: Ouarzazate – Ait Ben Haddou – Taroudant
I made a morning excursion to Ait Ben Haddou (♥♥), which shows that even simple clay architecture can be super-gorgeous. No wonder many films have been shot here.
The long journey continued through Taznakht (known for the carpets) and Taliouine (known for the Safran co-operative, but it has nice mountainous scenery) before reaching Taroudant (♥), which honestly bored me because there’s nothing much here.
Day 10: Taroudant – Agadir – Taghazout – Essaouira
This is quite an unforgettable day as I saw tree-climbing goats and long, long crossing of like hundreds camels. I passed through Agadir (♥) with its beautiful viewpoint, Taghazout (♥♥) which is a beautiful small coastal village which recalls me of Italy’s Cinque Terre, and Sidi Kaouki (huge waves ideal for surfing, but not for me).
Day 11: Essaouira
[Image Credit: Julia Maudlin]
Essaouira (♥♥♥) is everything. There’s something about walking through the port watching boatmen going by their daily lives, seagulls trying to steal fishes with a faint smell of fuel in the air. And it also has the absolute best sunset I’ve ever seen.
It’s easily my #1 favorite place in Morocco (yes, even more than Sahara)—I can write an entire thesis on Essaouira and there’s no doubt it’ll eventually get featured on Destination of the Month sooner or later.
Day 12: Essaouira – Marrakech
En route through Chechawa (meh) before getting to Marrakech.
Day 13: Marrakech
I have a love-hate relationship with Marrakech (♥♥). It ranges from brilliant (Majorelle Gardens) to tacky-but-undeniably-captivating (Jemma El Fna) to pure disaster (that time when I was robbed).
Day 14: Marrakech – Ouzoud Waterfall – Marrakech
I love Ouzoud (♥♥♥) with its silky streams of water falling to a beautiful valley down below. I could spend an entire day just rejuvenating myself here.
Day 15: Marrakech – Ourika Valley – Marrakech
Ourika (♥) is alright, but I have simply seen better waterfalls at Ouzoud, better pastel villages at Tineghir, and better river hike at Todra.
Day 16: Marrakech – Casablanca
Home sweet home!
Alternative Itinerary: 11 Days Morocco Highlights
Having done the full loop on Morocco, I personally think the full 16-day itinerary is very strong (I’d probably only drop Taroudant and Ourika). However, if you’re short of time and can only afford the creamiest of the crop, then this is how it can be shortened:
Day 1: Fly to Tangier. Make a brief visit to Cape of Hercules then move to Chefchaouen for overnight.
Day 2: Spend quite some time in Chefchaouen before transferring to Fes on late afternoon. Or you can also spend full day in Chefchaouen, then en route to Moulay Idriss on your way to Fes the next day.
Day 3: Day trip to Moulay Idriss. You can also visit either Meknes or Volubilis (choose one).
Day 4-7: Same as Day 5-8 on the complete 16-day itinerary above.
Day 8: Visit a few attractions in Ouarzazate, move to Ait Ben Haddou and then to Marrakech for overnight.
Day 9: Visit Essaouira and stay overnight there.
Day 10: Morning in Essaouira before returning to Marrakech (2 hours drive). Spend the afternoon and evening in Marrakech.
Day 11: Full day in Marrakech. Catch late night flight back home.
Is 6 Days in Morocco or shorter possible?
For those super-pressed in time, there’s a relatively popular circuit which is basically 1 day in Marrakech + 3-day side trip to Sahara (via Marrakech-Ouarzazate-M’Hamid-Marrakech) + 2 days for arrival and departure flights.
Thus, 6 days is the shortest possible itinerary. But I personally think you’ll be missing out on a lot of highlights, so it’s better to reschedule to have longer time in Morocco.
Where I Stayed
- Rabat: Darna
- Tangier: Riad Dar Kasbah
- Chefchaouen: Dar Chaouen
- Fez: Riad Kenza & Riad Al Makan
- Merzouga: Auberge Les Roches
- Sahara: Nomad Camp
- Ouarzazate: Les Jardins Ouarzazate
- Taroudant: Riad El Aissi
- Essaouira: Mais Du Sud
- Marrakech: Riad Marana
For those interested to replicate my experience, I did this trip with Morocco Excursions. Nice people, check them out.
Which places in Morocco would you like to visit the most?