I visited Morocco in mid-February with Luka. We took 7 full days to explore this African country and planned with excitement! You can see our travel plan below and use it as a guide to your trip to Morocco. We flew in to Marrakesh but then flew back from Fez because we wished to travel all across the country. We visited Fez, Marrakesh, and Essaouira, slept in the desert, and rode camels – all in 7 days!
Day 1: Marrakesh
After the first traditional Arab breakfast in riad (a traditional Moroccan hotel) we decided to first visit the streets of souq (traditional Arab market) towards the main square Jemaa al-Fnaa. The way to the main square was crazy: the streets were super narrow because of the market stands on both sides of the street, and filled with people, motorcycles, bicycles, donkeys, excited and talkative sellers, and boys that wanted to show us the way around the town for a couple of dirhams. At the end, we needed about 2 hours to walk 1 kilometer because the way was so wild.
We saw a leather tannery by the way, got disappointed looks because we didn’t buy everything that was offered to us or didn’t pay enough for the tour that we didn’t ask for.
This is something you should expect and get used to as soon as possible; Moroccans will never be satisfied with the money you offer them even when the price exceeds the actual price of the item or trip.
A leather tannery in Marrakesh
On Jemaa al-Fnaa square we first had to find an ATM – you will definitely need cash in Morocco, we couldn’t pay with our card once during the 7-day trip.
The square was full of locals and tourists, women were inviting us to draw henna on my hand, men were calling tourists to take photos with animals, including monkeys, snakes and even birds. Nearby the square, you can see the outside of the majestic Koutubia Mosque.
A women drawing henna on my hand "in hope for me and Luka to marry soon"
After walking around Jemaa al-Fnaa square, we returned to riad very tired. We rested for some time on the roof of our riad. In the afternoon, we decided to see Majorelle Gardens that are very close to the medina (old city center). The gardens were gorgeous and relaxing, we got some peace after the morning buzz on souq and the main square.
Day 2: Atlas Mountains, Aït Ben Haddou, Ourzazate
We booked a 3-day trip through the Atlas Mountains to the desert the first day in the city center of Marrakesh. There are numerous travel agencies in the city and all offer similar trips to Sahara desert. The true price of the trip is unknown and depends on your bargaining skills.
We started our trip at around 7 AM when they picked us up in front of our riad. We travelled with a van. The views from the road through the Atlas Mountains were breathtaking and we stopped a couple of times to take a few photos.
Our first real stop was in village Aït Ben Haddou, that’s under UNESCO protection. Many movies were filmed there, including scenes from The Gladiator, The Mummy, and the popular series Game of Thrones.
The village is unique and lovely, and offers beautiful views of the neighborhood and the roof terraces. Currently, 10 families live in the village without water and electricity, with the closest school in the nearby village across the bridge.
Aït Ben Haddou
Later that afternoon we stopped in Ourzazate village in front of Cinematography Museum that was first opened a few years ago. The village is commonly referred to as"The door of the desert" because the desert starts south of the village.
Museum of Cinematography in Ourzazate
In the evening we arrived to a riad in stone desert where we had the traditional Moroccan chicken tajine.
Day 3: Atlas Mountains, Todra Gorge Canyon, Merzouga
We started towards Merzouga right after breakfast. Merzouga is the best starting point for your trip to Sahara Desert.
We stopped on a giant plantation with a great irrigation system. Close by was an old Berber village. We peaked into a home of a local family that produces the traditional carpets not only from sheep wool but also from camel wool and – the softest of all – baby camel wool. While we listened to the head of the family talk about the long process of making the carpets (one carpet is finished in approximately 2 months), they offered us some typical sweet mint tea.
From there we continued toward Merzouga and stopped in Todra Gorge Canyon.
Todra Gorge Canyon
We finally arrived to Merzouga in the late afternoon where each of us got its own camel and then rode them to the camp in the desert where we spent the night. We arrived to the camp before sunset so we quickly climbed to the highest and closest dune for the best view of the setting sun.
Camel ride in the desert
Having fun on the dunes
In the evening, we gathered in the midst of our tent camp with other travelers and talked about our adventures in Morocco so far. Close to us, the guides were preparing dinner that was later served in a big tent. Surprise: it was chicken tajine!
After the meal, we came together by the fire and our guides played the African drums. This was a fun night and we stayed and sang and played on the drums around the bonfire until it got too cold and our heads to heavy and sleepy.
Hint: if you go to Sahara during wintertime like we did, you should bring warm clothes, such as sweaters, scarfs and jackets, because it can get below freezing in the morning.
Day 4: Merzouga, Monkey Fingers, Marrakesh
Before sunset, around 7 AM, we got back on the camels again and rode back to Merzouga for breakfast. We stopped on our way back to see the beautiful sunrise. Seeing the sun rise and set in the desert is something else: seeing the sun illuminate the endless landscape around you is unforgettable.
The last day of our trip to the desert was spent driving back to Marrakesh. We stopped in the Valley of Dades in the afternoon to take photos of the Monkey Fingers Mountains that were named after the shape of the mountain surface. We arrived to Marrakesh in the late evening.
Day 5: Essaouira
For the fifth day, we planned a bus trip to a coastal town Essaouira that is a 3-hour car drive from Marrakesh.
The beautiful rooftop of our riad in Essaouira
We walked the souqs of Essaouira to the main square filled with seafood restaurants. This is probably the best place in Essaouira to have a plate of fresh fish.
Only a short walk from the main square there is a long sandy beach that stretches along Essaouira. Although the fearless were already swimming in the sea (in February!!!) we just took our shoes off and walked along the gorgeous beach. I suggest you absolutely take a long and peaceful walk along the beach to free your mind and wander.
And don’t forget: the famous Game of Thrones series were filmed in the beautiful Essaouira, too!
Day 6: Essaouira, Fez
We boarded a train in the morning from Essaouira to Fez, where we arrived in the late afternoon.
Traveling by train is a good option in Morocco because the trains are clean and an opportunity to rest a little, see the surroundings and the landscape, and meet the locals. We met a friendly Algerian and a Moroccan that told us more about the Moroccan culture and traditions.
When we arrived to Fez, we first settled down in riad and then walked through the streets of souq to the famous Bab Boujloud doors to medina. We went to a restaurant nearby to dine with a beautiful view of the blue doors.
Before returning to riad we bought some delicious dates and strawberries from local vendors to enjoy the full taste of Morocco.
Fresh veggie and fruit souq in Fez
Day 7: Fez
The last day of our trip was saved for looking around Fez. We first visited the Bou Jeloud Gardens also known as Jardin Jnan Sbil. This is a beautiful green area in the middle of the city well worth the visit as you can relax in it. We enjoyed the warm sun and observed the lives of locals.
In the afternoon, we walked to the Royal Palace of Fez (Dar el Makhzen). The façade is breathtaking, don’t forget to take gorgeous pictures in front of it!
Royal Palace in Fez
We spent the afternoon looking for the biggest mosque in Fez that was, according to UNESCO, the first university on the world. The entrance is closed to non-Muslims, though.
For the perfect end to our trip, we had a dinner on a terrace in the city center with some mint tea and fresh smoothies – for our last dinner we picked an avocado and a banana smoothie!
I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip to Morocco! Even though especially Marrakesh and the first few days were a total cultural shock, I look back to this adventure with full heart.