Who hasn’t dreamed at least once in a lifetime to have the chance of exploring the Moroccan desert while sleeping under the stars surrounded by the majestic sand dunes?
But Morocco is not just about the desert, there is so much more to see of this stunning country.
Morocco could have been tailored made for travellers and photographers: the medinas, the kasbahs, the rugged coastlines, the waterfalls and caves in forested hills, and of course the oh so mighty desert.
Are you ready to fall in love with this magnificent country? Here is our itinerary for ten days in magical Morocco.
Even though Morocco’s capital is the city of Rabat, Marrakech tends to be the first stop for most travellers.
The flight from London to Marrakech is only 4 hours long and there is no time difference. Getting from the airport to either the medina or the hivernage will only take you 14 minutes by car or 30 minutes by train.
Day 1: MARRAKECH
At whatever time you arrive in Marrakech we recommend you to take that first day off to relax and get ready for the exciting journey ahead.
We stayed at the beautiful riad BE MARRAKECH. For those who don’t know, a riad is a type of traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. They are generally small, personally run "boutique hotels" or B&B's with small staff who look after the guests.
DAY 2: MARRAKECH
Get up early and visit the famous “Jardin Majorelle” before breakfast. This iconic botanical garden is one of the most visited sites in Morocco; hence it tends to get pretty crowded as the day goes by.
Distance from the medina: 22 minute walk – 9 minutes by car
Enjoy a well-deserved mouth-watering breakfast at the riad. A Moroccan breakfast always includes bread, a daily staple in the nation’s diet. These are accompanied by a variety of jams, chutneys, olive oil or clarified butter and cheese.
Take the afternoon to explore the medina or look for a nice spot to enjoy the sunset later in day. Most rooftop restaurants have spots for customers to enjoy a great meal with a view.
Day 3: MARRAKECH
Another early call! This time, it’ll be to enjoy sunrise at the beautiful Koutoubia Mosque. This is the largest mosque in Marrakech. It’s not possible for a non-Muslim to visit the inside, but you will be able to enjoy its surroundings from the garden and benches.
Take the rest of the afternoon the get lost in the medina and less popular spots in Marrakech.
Day 4: AGAFAY DESERT (45 minutes outside Marrakech)
Most visitors to Morocco know about Sahara desert trips however it’s not always practical to make this journey. You will need two to three days to explore this desert plus two more just for travelling as getting there will take you at least ten hours by car.
If you don’t have the time or desire to make this big trip there are other desert tours from Marrakech.
Not a lot of people know about the nearby Agafay Desert just outside Marrakech. While you won’t find the golden, rolling sand dunes here (it’s a stone desert) you absolutely can have the secluded desert experience complete with a stunning view of the High Atlas Mountains. Plus, it’s close enough to easily be a day trip from Marrakech.
There are several Agafay Desert Camps to choose from. We personally recommend you to stay at the one and only SCARABEO CAMP.
Set against an elegant and simple backdrop, the natural materials, African woven matting and Berber rugs, interesting pieces brought back from travels abroad and atmospheric Moroccan lanterns, give the impression of being on an expedition from another time.
Click HERE to see accommodation details and the activities you can enjoy during your stay
Day 5: back to MARRAKECH
The perfect thing to do after spending some time in the desert will be to explore a different part of Marrakech: The Hivernage. This one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the city. A playground for the young, rich and famous, Hivernage is known for its high-class hotels, elegant restaurants, and sophisticated bars.
Check in to one of the most stunning hotels in the hivernage: ES SAADI MARRAKECH.
The Palace is the ultimate in relaxation, wellness and luxury, with the turquoise waters of one of the largest swimming pools in Marrakech at your doorstep.
Take the day to indulge and enjoy this unique resort.
Day 6: MARRAKECH
Take the day to immerse yourself into the true Moroccan culture and spend time exploring the souks. Everyone who visits Marrakech must experience shopping in the souks and exploring the Medina, where you can buy just about anything Moroccan made.
It can be overwhelming from time to time, but the best advice we can give is to always be polite to everyone, try not to chat too much with the market traders and always carry a smile with you, it does go a long way!
Day 7-8: SAHARA DESERT
Merzouga is a small village in southeastern of Morocco; it’s remote, and far far away from most of the big cities in the country.
However, spending a night in the Sahara is something that every spirited soul dreams about.
Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp was our home away from home while exploring the mysterious desert.
Situated within the tranquil and desolated Erg Chebbi – a large sea of dunes formed by wind-blown, this camp gave us an unforgettable nomadic experience.
Our journey to the camp took around nine to ten hours by Jeep; transport can be arranged by the same company at the time of your booking.
We know it sounds like a never-ending trip, but you'll soon find that half of the experience is getting there. You'll travel through some unreal landscape of mountain passes, lush valleys, rock formations and palm groves, through busy Marrakech and on to the desolated and peaceful, open desert.
Click HERE to see activities in detail
On the way back to Casablanca, make sure to stop at the iconic Quarzazate, sometimes know as the “Little Hollywood” in Morocco, as it’s has been the host to hundreds of films, including “Gladiator” and “Games of Thrones”.
Day 9-10: CASABLANCA
Casablanca is a city for travellers who like to feel like a local, rather than a tourist, and who want to experience the present as well as learn about the past. Casablanca is Morocco's most populous city, this means that visitors have to make an effort to discover its hidden gems. Once you get beneath the surface, you’ll see that Casablanca’s mix of grit and style feels a lot like any European city or even LA.
After spending the last three days in the Sahara and on the road, we thought staying and the spectacular Fours Seasons Casablanca was the best option to end our trip in the best possible way.
It is a great place to relax, it’s close to the beach and the mosque as well.
Places not to miss while in Casablanca:
HASSAN MOSQUE II
Completed in 1993 and located on a platform overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the iconic Hassan II Mosque is the second-largest mosque in the world, and one of few open to non-Muslims (through selected guided tour opportunities lasting around an hour each).
Located in the same region as Hassan II Mosque, La Corniche is a beachfront district offering an array of dining experiences as well as pools and beach access. On a hot day, the area can be found brimming with surfers, swimmers and sunbathers, offering a less traditional and a more holiday-escape side of Morocco.
Day 11: back to MARRAKECH to fly back to LONDON
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
There is no bad time to visit Morocco, but generally, it is recommended to avoid July and August, as temperatures can be unpleasantly hot. The best time to go is during April and May or September to November, the country's shoulder seasons, when the temperatures are mild.
map credit by Theresa Chiechi / @TripSavvy
WHERE TO STAY:
The Medina – Riad BE MARRAKECH
The Hivernage – ES SAADI MARRAKECH, The Palace
In The Agafay Desert – Scarabeo Camp
In The Sahara Desert – Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp
In Casablanca – Four Seasons Casablanca
FOOD NOT TO MISS:
Tagine - it’s a clay cooking pot with a conical lid with multiple types of dishes slow cooked inside.
Couscous – it’s Morocco’s national dish, typically served with meat or vegetable stew.
Zalouk - a common side dish and typically served with crusty bread. The spread is made with eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and spices.
Mint Tea - everyone has his or her own version of mint tea, which is the drink of choice in Morocco. It’s a green tea base with lots of mint leaves and sugar.
Baklava - a rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey.
1. You WON’T need a visa to enter the country, unless you are planning to stay longer than 90 days.
2. SIM card: grab a SIM before you leave the airport at the kiosk. You can get 10 to 20 gigs of data for approximately $10 to $20USD.
3. What to wear: go for lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Try always to cover your shoulders and knees, especially in places outside Marrakech that are more traditional.
4. Languages spoken: English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Berber.
5. We found Morocco extremely safe in general, for couples and male travellers it might be a bit easier to move around. For female travellers it could be a good idea to travel with a group, tour or guide, as some might feel a bit uneasy when visiting crowded places.