This itinerary offers the best of Morocco in 3 weeks. Start off your North African wanders in Marrakech, one of four Imperial cities in Morocco with its vibrant main square, Djema el Fna. Trade in city vibes for coastal breezes in Essaouira, formerly the country’s main port. From there, head east to the Atlas Mountains and enter the Sahara Desert on camel. Set up camp with Berber guides and sleep under the stars. Continue on to Fes, the “Athens of Africa,” home of the world’s oldest university and 11th century tanneries. Enjoy the working town of Meknes with a nearby day trip to Moulay Idriss. Escape to the magical town of Chefchaouen, known for its iconic shades of blue. And finally, end your tour in Tangier, the Moroccan port city that’s been a melting pot of foreign influences for many years. Enjoy your wanders in Morocco!
Marrakech: 4 days + 1 travel day
Essaouira: 2 days + 1 travel day
Sahara Desert: 2 days + 1 travel day
Fes: 2 days + 1 travel day
Meknes: 1 day + day trip to Moulay Idriss
Chefchaouen: 1 day + 1 travel day
Tangier: 3 days
Days 1-5: Marrakech
Marrakech is an excellent way to get immersed in the magic of North African culture. Stay at a riad, a traditional Moroccan house in the Kasbah (old city), to get the full experience. The Djema el Fna, the city’s main square, is the best place to experience the vibrancy of Marrakech life from morning to night. Wander the narrow streets of the medina. Visit the sprawling 19th century palace and exquisite gardens of Bahia Palace. Stroll the hallways of the historic site, Ben Youssef Madrasa, a former Islamic theological college. When you’ve had your fill of persistent street vendors, find refuge on the palm tree lined Place des Ferblantiers or Yves Saint Laurent’s former property, Jardin Majorelle. For more details, visit our post on Marrakech, Morocco.
Days 6-8: Essaouira
From Marrakech, take a four-hour bus ride to Essaouira, a laidback fishing village. While influenced by the Brittany region of France, “The Windy City” is unmistakably Moroccan. Stroll down the old town’s main thoroughfare, Avenue de l’Istiqlal and take in everyday life. From the main square, Place Moulay Hassan, head to the city’s lively port area. Pass through the majestic Marine Gate and enter the fascinating old harbor where hundreds of fishing boats are docked. On the expansive beach, watch locals play football (soccer). Don’t miss the panoramic views from the Essaouira Ramparts, which once served as a military storage area. For more details, visit our post on Essaouira, Morocco.
Days 9-11: Sahara Desert
From Marrakech, book a three-day tour of the Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert. Unless you request a private tour, you’ll be joined by other travelers in a shared van (typically no more than 10 people.) Itineraries differ but usually include a stop at UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ouarzazate, home to the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou. Our tour also included the palm oasis of Tinehir, a small village set in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. From there, it’s another two hours to reach the Sahara Desert where a sunset camel trek led by Berber guides await. Spending the night under the stars in the Sahara Desert is an unforgettable experience. For more details, visit our post on the Sahara Desert, Morocco.
Days 12-14: Fes
From the Sahara Desert, it takes about 10 or so hours by local bus to get to Fes. The medieval city with its walled medina and vibrants souks feels out of another time. Take in the sights on Rue Talaa Kebira (“The Great Slope/Climb”), one of the city’s longest and most important streets. From Bab Bou Jeloud, the city’s ornate main entry gate, walk to former theological college, Madrasa Bou Inania, then visit the Cherabliyine neighborhood famous for its Moroccan slippers. No trip to Fes would be complete without visiting the infamous tanneries – our advice: hire a guide (if only to prevent the constant barrage of other would-be guides). For more details, visit our post on the Fes, Morocco.
Days 15-16: Meknes
In lieu of the typical bus travel in Morocco, take a 45-minute train from Fes to reach Meknes, the “Versailles of Morocco.” Wander the fascinating Medina (“Old City”) and saunter through the souqs, visiting the Okchen Market (known for embroidery) and Quissariat ad-Dahab (known for jewelry). Near the iconic Bab Mansour Gate is the vast square, Place el Hedim where locals come to gather, shop and socialize. Make sure to take a day trip to nearby Moulay Idriss, one of Morocco’s most important pilgrimage sites. For more details, visit our post on the Meknes, Morocco.
Days 17-18: Chefchaouen
From Meknes, take a four-hour bus ride to arrive at the magical mountain town, Chefchaouen. It’s easy to see how the Blue Pearl of Morocco, nestled in the Rif mountains, got its name. Literally, everything is blue. This is the perfect destination for wandering. Take a break to enjoy a mint tea at one of the many outdoor cafes on the main square, Plaza Uta el-Hammam. For a change of scenery, check out the expansive plaza in New Town. Or venture further afield to the eastern gate of the medina with the charming Ras El-Maa “waterfall.” For more details, visit our post on the Chefchaouen, Morocco.
Days 19-21: Tangier
Finish your Moroccan travels in Tangier, Europe’s gateway to Africa. From Chefchaouen, it typically takes three hours to reach Tangier (unless your bus breaks down.) Once there, start your wanders at the Grand Socco, which separates the Old Town (Medina) from New Town. Visit the American Legation Museum, the only U.S. national historic site in a foreign country. From outside the ramparts, take in the incredible views of the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea connects with the Atlantic Ocean. For more details, visit our post on the Tangier, Morocco.