Traveling to Morocco for the first time can certainly be daunting. The country has so much to offer, and having just 10 days or two weeks may not be enough to see them all. Furthermore, there is etiquette to understand and some phrases to learn.
Kent, a Trippy user, needed advice when he was planning a 10-day trip to Morocco. Kent asked:
Advice for First Time Adventurers in Morocco
A friend and I are traveling to Morocco for 10 days flying into Marrakech. We’re both into experiencing the culture, food, and surf scenes while there. We’re both adventurous souls having met in the jungle of Peru. Any advice on experiences off the beaten path that would give us a taste of Morocco in 10 days?
Need a helping hand to plan your trip just like Kent? The following tips from Trippy users will help your first trip to Morocco go as smoothly as possible:
Where to go and what to see
Note for first-time visitors to Morocco from Nomade, a Trippy user:
And if it’s your first time visiting Morocco, I do not recommend to hire a car, you may find it a bit difficult to drive here, especially in the crowded Marrakech. You’d better go with a Moroccan travel agency. A travel agency can design a beautiful itinerary for you that fit your budget.
It’s best to start your trip from Marrakech or Casablanca since most flights from the US and Europe fly into both cities. Alexa from New York City usually travels independently, but when in Marrakech, she hired a tour guide. She shared:
My husband and I have traveled extensively and always independently but decided to book a desert tour during our honeymoon. We started our tour in Marrakech and Ended it in Marrakech. The things we saw were amazing too.
Jemaa el-Fnaa – this lively square caught us. It’s a mix of smells, sounds & images that you cant get bored. We tried several food stalls, and our favorite is number 26, in a corner near the stalls selling snails.
Jardin de Majorelle, this garden is an oasis to escape from the buzz of the Medina.
Medersa Ben Youssef, this Islamic college, has amazing carvings! Musee De Marrakesh just beside Madrasa, also really beautiful. ( buy the combined ticket, it’s cheaper)
Desert – There are several tours departing from Marrakech, your Hotel/Riad can arrange it. I suggest getting a private tour with a guide.
Alexa went on a desert tour while in Marrakech. She wrote:
The snow-covered High Atlas and Middle Atlas mountains, we visited several Kasbahs such as Kasbah Taourirt\ Kasbah Amridil the best being Aït Benhaddou and Oasis, and some impressive valleys like Dadès Valley where we spent our first night in a beautiful hotel as well as Todgha Gorge & Draa River, Guelmim-Es Semara, Morocco. The highlight of the trip was a camel trek out into the Sahara with a Berber camel guide to sleep in a Berber camp. Riding a camel is a bit of an adventure, but you need to do it! The camp is very basic and authentic, drum players came to our camp to sing and entertain – and sunrise was awesome.
We would recommend Marvelous Morocco Tours to anybody thinking of arranging a tour in Morocco. From the initial tentative communications by email to arranging the detail of the tour to the actual tour itself, everything has been faultless. All correspondence has been prompt, informative, and clear, and the physical tour was of a high standard, exceeding our expectations. We often didn’t notice we were on tour, we just felt like we were trekking independently with some new friends who didn’t mind carrying bags, setting up camp, cooking, cleaning and having a chat – That was priceless to us.
Marrakech is an important economic hub in Morocco. It’s a former imperial city founded almost 1,000 years ago with maze-like alleys and crowded souks selling leather goods, pottery, jewelry, traditional clothing, and delicious snacks. Brahim, a native of Marrakech, suggests at least a week stay in his hometown and here’s the Marrakech itinerary he shared:
Marrakech has so many things to do but the best way to spend one week in Marrakech is as follow:
Day 1: arrive and relax
Day 2: Full day visit of Marrakech with a local certified tour guide
Day 3: Hot Air balloon and a visit to Ourika Day
4: A day excursion to Essaouria Day
5: A day Excursion to the UNESCO world heritage site, Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou Day
6: Relax and do some shopping and just enjoy Marrakech
Robson suggested Essaouria:
This small village has a really laidback atmosphere. Camels & kitesurfers share space on the beach. Around Essaouira, you will find several surf spots! The old city was used as the set for Game of Thrones!
If you prefer an off the beaten track location by the sea, Trippy user Tony from Seattle recommended Oualidia, located north of Essaouria. He wrote:
Check out Oualidia. It’s north of Essaouira(the medieval part of it and Fez were our favorite spots in Morocco!). Oualidia has a protected lagoon, which makes for easy swimming (it’s a popular little beach destination for the royals, but it’s plenty laid back). In the fall/spring, there are tons of pink flamingos. If you’re interested, it’s a fabulous place to learn to surf (the lagoon has areas that are very beginner-friendly).
Fez was a renowned center of medieval learning beginning in the eighth century. Founded by Moulay Idriss I, this imperial city was a renowned medieval learning center, and the old town, Fez el-Bali was and still is the cultural hub of Morocco. It’s not easy to navigate through the 9,000 narrow alleys, lanes, and souks, so make sure you hire a guide before entering Old Fez.
Join a walking tour that takes you to Madrasa Bou Inania (medieval Marinid architecture), Chouara Tannery, University of al-Qarawiyyin (oldest continuously operational higher learning institution), Nejjarine Square, and Batha Palace.
Meknes is the most underrated city in Morocco. It’s one of the four imperial cities of Morocco. The Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site with many architectural marvels. And the best camel burgers in Morocco.
A short 40-minute drive away is Volubilis, home to some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in North Africa. Besides seeing arches, Roman architecture, and bathhouse, the mosaic floors are the fascinating pieces of art at Volubilis.
Most tours to Meknes include an overnight stay or a visit to Moulay Idriss. Moulay Idriss is a hilly town and an important religious center. The Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss, the great-grandson of Prophet Mohammad, is an important pilgrimage site for Moroccans. Non-Muslims were not permitted to stay overnight in Moulay Idriss up until 2005.
If the desert goes to Merzouga, the dunes are more spectacular than in Zagora and M’hamid.
Merzouga is the gateway to Erg Chebbi, one of Morocco’s ergs (dunes). You’ll have an opportunity to stay in a desert camp and go on camel rides to see the sunset and sunset at the fiery orange dunes.
Chefchaouen, a small city located in northwest Morocco, is the most Instagrammable place in Morocco. It is a little out of the way from Fez, Marrakech, and Merzouga, but it’s worth a trip like photography and Vit from Marrakech jokingly said:
Chefchaouen is really nice, and if you make small track over the city to the mountains, you can take a selfie with marijuana fields all over you.
Almost every wall, sloping and narrow alley and door are painted in shades of blue in the Medina. Many stories explain why the city is blue. You have to get there to find out more. I like the version where the locals said the color blue would repel mosquitoes.
Where to stay
Trippy user liked Riad Meriem, a calm retreat in the medina. He shared:
Riad Meriem in Marrakech is still there! Definitely look into this place, it was so beautifully re-created-centrally located, and run by wonderful people. Look into the Red Room. Enjoy breakfast on the roof-top patio, and also spend some time soaking up some sun up there in the afternoons. If they still offer you the option to dine in-house, take them up on the offer at least once. It was a lovely meal.
If you are looking for something cheaper, Brahim suggested Riad la Perle de Marrakech.
When in Fez, Philippe suggested:
Riad Anata is our “home away from home” when we are in Fez. Very nice people, clean, beautifully renovated and the food is just very good. We have been there +10 times and highly recommended.
Scott loved Riad Laaroussa, a 17th-century palace in the heart of the medina. He wrote:
We absolutely loved our stay at Riad Laaroussa in Fes. Great experience and fantastic views from the rooftop. My wife and I were also staying there when Andrew Zimmern was filming an episode of Bizzare Foods, so that certainly enhanced the experience. In any event, we really enjoyed that Riad. Hope that helps and enjoy Morocco!
Stay at Sahara Sky Luxury Camp and Luxury Camp Berber Experience if you’re looking for a luxury experience. For more affordable options, check out Auberge Kasbah Des Dunes and Berber Camp.
We recommend Dar Meziana and Casa El Haouta for your stay in Chefchaouen. Dar Meziana offers a rooftop terrace with views of Rif Mountains, and rates are less than $100 per night for two.
Stay at the La Colombe Blanche in Moulay Idriss – a private home with stunning views of the town.
Best time to visit
The scorching hot summer season is from June to August, with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 70 degrees at night. It won’t be comfortable visiting Marrakech, Fez, Meknes, Chechaouen, and Merzouga during the summer months. The Atlas Mountains is suitable year-round, but the best time is in spring and fall.
Fall, winter, and spring are ideal times to visit Morocco. If you want to avoid the crowd, have cheaper hotel rates (than peak period) and relatively pleasant weather, go during the shoulder season – April, May, September, and October.
What to eat
Check out 10 dishes you must try in Morocco.