7 Days in Morocco | The Ultimate Itinerary
Morocco is a country in North Africa that is just full of colors, culture, beautiful architecture, warm and friendly people, and of course – great food. Morocco is a place that teeters the line between the new and old worlds, which makes it an intriguing place to visit. Moroccan culture is a unique mix of Arab, Beber, and European influences and features beautiful architecture in every city and warm hospitality wherever you go. Keep reading for a detailed 7 days in Morocco Itinerary, with tips to make your trip a truly great and unique experience.
Brief History | Morocco
Morocco has been inhabited by a number of different culture for millenia. Noted cultures in the past include the Aterian than the Iberomaurusian, followed by the Beaker culture. In the 6th century BC, the Phoenicians established trading colonies in Morocco, most notably Chella, Lixus, and Mogador. This colonization led to Morocco becoming part of the Carthaginian empire for a time.
Around 225 BC, an independent kingdom arose in Morocco – the Berber kingdom of Maurentania. This kingdom became a client kingdom of the Roman Empire in 33 BC. In the 3rd Century, the Berber kingdoms fought back and reconquered parts of Maurentaina. This reduced Roman rule to just a few coastal cities, like Septum, which is now known as Ceuta.
Like Spain, at the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Vandals devastated the area in 429 AD. The area then came to be ruled primarily by local Mauro-Roman kings. Things stayed more or less the same until the 600s, when the Umayyad Caliphate took hold of the region. This change bought the Muslim religion and the Arab language to the region. Morocco was governed by successive Arab dynasties, and after a period of fragmentation, it was reunited by the ‘Alawi sultanate in the 1600s.
From the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, Morocco fell under “protectorates” from Spain and France. This was an attempt by both countries to take precious resources from the country. Morocco finally won independence as the “Kingdom of Morocco” in 1956 when France and Spain both ended their protectorates in the spring of that year.
Today, Morocco features an economy that is largely based on tourism and agriculture. Morocco had 13 million tourists visit in 2019 – most of whom are from France. Those from this country make up 20% of annual visitors. The culture here is a lovely mix of Arabic and indigenous Berber, and quite distinct from nearby countries like Ghana. In terms of agriculture, 40% of the population is employed in this industry. In addition, Morocco is Europe’s supplier for a good deal of produce.
Know Before You Go
Lodging and Logistics:
Getting There: This itinerary begins in Marrakech, which is serviced by the Marrakech Manera Airport, one of the countries major international airports. You can find a direct flight here from many major cities in the world. This airport is relatively easy to navigate and pretty new.
Where to Stay: For an authentic experience, I highly recommend that you stay in a Riad. These are former private residences that have been opened up as small boutique hotels. Typically you’ll find wonderful hospitality, a restaurant, and a hammam inside – at least in most of them.
When in Marrakesh, we stayed in Les Jardins Mandaline, which is right in the middle of the old medina and most of the tourist attractions. The (free) breakfast we had here was perhaps my favorite of all. And this one had a heated pool, hammam, massage, and support for doing things in the city if needed. Hospitality here was wonderful – once I got lost at night, and the hosts came out to find us and bring us home!
While in Fez, I highly recommend Riad Al Makan. The hospitality there was incredible – and every meal was great too. And like the Riad above, breakfast is included in your meal. Amenities like the Hammam and help with coordinating activities in the city can be found here as well. For example, our hosts helped us with a guide to take us to the markets and negotiate good prices for our purchases.
Getting Around: While in the old medinas, the only way you’ll be able to get around is by foot. You’ll certainly get all your steps in as you navigate the narrow and windy roads found in each one. If not going by foot, you will likely take taxis. The taxi experience in Marrakesh, at least, is a little complex.
Know that as of 2022, most rides should cost about 300 Dirham, but you will have to negotiate hard with the drivers. Also, know that if you don’t have exact change, the drivers may suddenly change the price back or “not have change”.
Language Considerations: The language spoken in Morocco is a dialect of Maghrebi Arabic. It is also not hard to find speakers of French, English, and sometimes Spanish; particularly for those who work with a lot of tourists.
Money Situation: The money used in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham. At the time of writing this article, $1USD = 10.81 Dirham. Click here for the latest exchange rates.
Where to Eat: Keep reading for recommendations on where to eat in each city!
7 Days in Morocco Itinerary
Day 1 | Marrakesh
Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco, and is one of the country’s four Imperial cities. The city sits at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, and has the largest traditional market (souk), in Morocco. Marrakesh is often the most visited city by tourists and one of the most busy cities in all of Africa.
Given this city’s location to many other tourist destinations, I recommend you begin your vacation here. Here are a few sites you should visit when you first arrive:
Jardin Majorelle: This is probably one of the most famous garden sites in the city. These gardens were built by designer Yves Saint Laurent, and feature a 2 acre garden and a fashion and textile museum. If you visit here, I recommend buying tickets from the museum side, as the line is always shorter than the garden side.
Jemaa el-Fnaa Square: This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best known squares in the country. You will find all types of attractions here, such as snake charmers, magicians, musicians, and monkey trainers. Given how chaotic the square can be at times, I recommend you take it all in from one of the restaurants that offer rooftop views. This will allow you to avoid pick-pockets and the sometimes aggressive sales tactics of entertainers who want you to pay for pictures with them.
Souks: In the streets around the square, you’ll find the largest market (souk) in all of Morocco. If you are ready to haggle, you’ll be able to find local goods like Moroccan rugs, leather goods, lanterns, spices, and more.
Mellah of Marrakesh: This is the old Jewish Quarter that was originally founded in 1558. Initially, Jews could only own property in this area and it housed a large portion of the city’s jewelers, bankers, and tailors. In addition, it also had its own synagogues, souks, and gardens. It is easy to tell you are in Mellah, as the homes here have windows – something that is not seen in other homes in the medina. Today only about 250 Jews remain, and most of those living in the area are of Muslim origin.
Koutoubia Mosque: This mosque is one of the most famous in the city, particularly due to the tall 253ft Minaret that it features. This mosque was founded in 1147, and due to rebuilding in the past, also features remains of the original mosque outside. Like most mosques in Morocco, you are not able to enter unless you are muslim. But it is quite nice to take in from the outside.
Saadian Tombs: These tombs feature the remains of the royal family from the Saadian dynasty. This necropolis features beautiful rooms with colorful tiles and graves made of finely carved marble. As dynasties that followed did not care to preserve the memory of those that came before them, these tombs were forgotten and covered in earth until rediscovery in the early 1900s.
Bahia Palace: This palace is relatively new, as construction began under grand vizier Si Musa 1859. The palace changed hands from a few different rulers until 1912, when the French Protectorate converted it into the residence of the French resident-general. It was briefly used once again as a palace for King Mohammed V before being transferred into a tourist attraction under King Hassan II. I recommend you visit this palace with a tour guide, so you can get a sense of what life was like in the palace as a royal residence.
I know this seems like a lot to cover in one day, but it can be done! Particularly with the help of a travel guide. I’ll note that most of these sites are a short walk from each other. I recommend the Marrakesh: Half Day Historical Tour. The guide was very knowledgeable and really helped fill in gaps in information that we would not have received otherwise.
For a taste of the modern side of Marrakech, I recommend you spend your first night at Baromètre Marrakech, which is a speakeasy that offers delicious food and drinks.
Click Here to Book the Marrakesh Half Day Tour!
Day 2 | Marrakesh – Ait Ben Haddou – Tinghir
Now it’s time for your trip to the desert! I’ll note, it will be very difficult to take this journey without an experienced guide. I recommend this tour to take you on the journey: From Marrakech | 3-Day Desert Tour to Fes.
Start your second day in Morocco by heading out of the city to travel through the High Atlas Mountains. This is the highest part of the Atlas Mountain ranges in central Morocco. The highest mountain in the range is Jbel Toubkal, which rises 13,671 feet above sea level. The mountains do feature very windy roads, but if you can take it, the views are incredible!
Next head for a stop at the first destination: Aït Ben Haddou Kasbah, a city that is considered one of the best examples of Moroccan earthen clay architecture. It has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. The city has few remaining residents now, as it does not feature electricity or running water. Given its ancient architecture, it has been used on the big and small screen. Perhaps Game of Thrones, The Mummy, and Gladiator, most notably.
After stopping for lunch, go to Ouarzazte – here you can find some of the studios used by film companies that are shooting in the area. Morocco is often used for shots representative of the Middle East, as the culture is more lenient for those from the “west”.
Take time to rest and reset by spending your first night at Kasbah Amazigh.
Day 3 | Tinghir – Merzouga
Get an early start in your day at the Tinghir Oasis, where you will learn more about the local farming culture and spend some time sipping tea with local rug artisans. This is a great example of the berber villages in the area, and gives a bit of a different cultural feel than the major cities. Tinghir is an actively inhabited town, but is pretty quiet and chill compared to many of the more well-known cities.
After time at the Oasis, then drive down to the Dades Gorges. The gorges are essentially a little valley between enormous rock formations. Between the rocks, you’ll see running water streams, and many locals taking the time to relax with good company on the shores.
At the end of the day, travel to Erg Chebbi to catch your camel caravan through the Sahara Desert. The camel caravan is truly an experience, as you ride through the Erg Chebbi dunes, but I’ll note that you should be prepared for a bit of back pain after the camel ride. On my trip, we stayed in a luxury camp at the end, but you have the option to stay at a standard camp if you want to save some money. Both camps will provide you live entertainment options. We had a sandstorm in the evening, so could not party outside, but our hosts just took things into our meeting tent (as you can see in the video below).
Day 4 | Merzouga – Fez
It’s another early day, as you travel from the desert camp back to civilization. Driving to Fez, this will be primarily a travel day, but you’ll take time to stop in Midlet for lunch along the way.
Once you arrive in Fez, I recommend you take some time to relax with a Hammam experience and some nice dinner in your Riad.
Once again, I highly recommend taking a tour to get you to each of the destinations listed above. You will not regret it!
Click here to book your Tour! – From Marrakech: 3-Day Desert Tour to Fes
Day 5 | Fez
Today is your first full day in Fez (also spelled Fes). This city was founded in 789 AD, making it one of the oldest in the country. Today it is the second largest city in the country, with 1.1 million inhabitants. It also has the largest medina of any city in Morocco as well, which means it is quite easy to get lost in its narrow streets. Of the cities I’ve visited in the country, I think Fez was my favorite, as it was less touristy than Marrakesh, and with better weather. (More mediterranean-like). I think if I could only recommend one place to visit during a short trip to Morocco, this city would be my choice. It is the perfect place for first time visitors, as some find Marrakech as little overwhelming.
There are a few places you should certainly visit while in Fez:
Blue Gate: This gate appears to be old, but was actually built by the French while they were colonizing the country. It is known as Bab Boujeloud in the city, and was designed to emulate Moroccan architecture. It does serve as an iconic sign in the historic medina of Fez today.
Bou Inania Madrasa: This is a madrasa (school) that was built in 1350, and is the only one that also functioned as a congregational mosque. It is a beautiful building and is noted as an excellent example of historic Moroccan and Marinid architecture.
Tala’a Kebira: This is one of the longest and most important streets in the medina, and makes up the main souq (market) streets. If you’d like to shop from local artisans, this is definitely where you should stop. Souq el Henna is another market you may want to visit while in Fes.
Funduq al-Najjrin: This is a historic funduq (traditional inn) that now serves as a historical artisanal museum. As it is situated in the heart of the medina quarter, it was meant to offer a place to stay for the merchants and traders who brought goods to the city to sell.
Tannerie Chowara or Sidi Moussa: These are old leather tanneries that still make leather in the old traditional way. They have been in existence nearly as long as the city has, which means they are closing in on 900 years. This means if you are brave enough to venture out to where they process the leather, you’ll be greeted with a less than appealing smell. This is due to the very natural products used to make the leather, such as pigeon feces, cow urine, and quicklime. However, if you are in need of any type of leather goods and want something high-quality, you should consider making your purchase here.
Copper Square: A somewhat obvious name, this is where you can go to purchase hand crafted copper goods.
Al Andalous Mosque: This mosque was built in 860AD by residents of Andalusi background who had escaped from Cordoba following a rebellion. This mosque is not open to non-muslims, but is beautiful to behold, even from the outside.
If you are looking for an efficient way to see Fez sites, I recommend that you check out the Discover Fez’s Hidden Secrets tour. Local guide Zahi is wonderful and he will take care of you.
To close out your day, head to a cooking class. At the very minimum, you can go with the knowledge on how to make your own Tagine! Check out this cooking class – we were able to make a Tagine and Pastilla and both came out perfect. In addition it is hosted by Mohammad and his family who live in one of the traditional homes in the Medina. A very authentic cultural experience, and one of the best things we did in Morocco, in my opinion.
Day 6 | Chefchaouen / Fez
As your trip begins to wind down, I recommend heading out for a relaxing day trip to Chefchaouen, which is about a 3-4 hour drive from Fez. The name of this city means “look at the horns”, referring to the two mountains that overlook the area where it is located. Today the “blue city” is best known for its beautiful blue aesthetic. Blue is certainly a color that symbolizes peace and relaxation, and you will certainly catch that vibe from the locals here as well.
While in Chefchaouen, you should visit the old Medina and take a walk up to Ras Al-Maa, where there is a mountainous spring of water. There is not a whole lot to do here, but I think that is what makes this place special. It will be a true change of pace from the rest of your trip, and if you like nice photo ops, there are plenty here!
If you have not rented a car by this point of your trip, you can book a transfer with a tour from Fez to Chefchaouen. Click here to book!
Head back to Fez to spend your final evening in the city. For a nice dinner option in Fez, check out Cafe Clock. It’s a restaurant that serves regional food and has nice rooftop views.
Book your Chefchaouen Transfer Tour here!
Day 7 | Train back to Marrakech / Stop in Casablanca
On the last day of your trip, take an early train back to Marrakech from Fez. Given the trip’s duration I recommend you stop a little past halfway to take a Layover Tour of Casablanca. Casablanca is the largest city in Casablanca with ~4 million people and considered a Global Financial Center. I was surprised to learn that at number 54 on the Global Financial Centers Index, it actually outranks cities such as Istanbul, Rio, and Cape Town.
While in Casablanca, you should make a stop at the following sites:
- Hassan II Mosque: This Mosque is the 2nd largest mosque in the continent of Africa and the 7th largest in the world. It is also one of the few mosques in Morocco that non-muslims can actually visit. It is stunning on the inside and should be on the top of your list while in Casablanca.
- Rick’s Café: This restaurant was built after the movie Casablanca to serve as a replica of the one that is heavily featured in that movie.
- Old Medina of Casablanca: The medina (or old city) here is not nearly as big as the ones in Fez and Marrakech as the city is overall more modern, but certainly still worth a visit.
- The Corniche: Drive through the Anfa and Maarif neighboorhoods to see the homes of the wealthy and building styles that blend modern and Moorish styles.
- Ain Diab: Pass by the main public beach and stop for lunch in this area to view the nice oceanfront views.
- Cathedrale Sacre Coeur: This is a beautiful all white cathedral in the heart of the city. It is no longer used as a church, but as a cultural center.
- Mohammed V Square: This square is named in honor of the former king, Mohammed V. It is typically full of pigeons, so colloquially known as Pigeon’s Square.
- Notre Dame de Lourdes: This is a functioning church which has a grotto to Mary on the outside that is probably nothing like you’ve ever seen on church grounds before.
I’ll note that this may not be enough time, so if you do have another day or two, you may want to extend your time here.
Click here to book your Casablanca Layover Tour!
What to Do if You Have More Time
If you have more than a week in Morocco / a longer trip planned, I recommend that you also check out a few more of the cities there. A few ideas include:
- Tangier: This city is in the northwest of the country, and is the 2nd most important industrial center after Casablanca. There is a Medina like in the other cities mentioned, but also a very modern side to the city as well. It sits on the water and is a major port as well.
- Essaouira: This is another city that sits by the water, but in the western region of the country on the Atlantic Coast. The city was fortified in the 18th century and today those fortified walls give this city a different feel than many others in Morocco.
Final Tips | Morocco in 7 Days
That concludes this 7-Day Morocco Itinerary. To close us out, here are a few tips and things that you should know when planning your trip:
- Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. If you by anything in the Souqs or store (except for proper malls), you should negotiate everything. Know that vendors may feign displeasure when you lower the price, but it all part of the game. They expect it! Try cutting the price by 2/3rds and then working your way from there, as a general rule of thumb.
- Don’t accept “help” to navigate the Medina – particularly in Marrakesh. There is a mild scam that some run to “help” folks who appear lost. Someone will help you through the city, but then ask you to pay when you get to your destination. If you really need help, ask someone in a shop or a woman or older person.
- Rely on your Riad for support. Your Riads can help coordinate tours, provide you food, and generally provide a lot of great tips on things to do. Take some time to talk with your hosts and get to know them. Moroccan hospitality is a special thing.
- Dress modestly. You will see some tourists who ignore this rule, but as a sign of respect for the local culture, and to avoid unwanted attention, you should have your shoulders and knees covered.
- Drink mint tea. You will be offered this everywhere and it is delicious. Just be prepared that it is always very hot – even in the dead of the summer.