Discover the most beautiful attractions of Morocco in 3 weeks with this itinerary that will help you prepare your next trip. Morocco dazzled us with its nature, culture, architecture and food. Morocco is also the only country of the African continent on our world tour.
The stunning places to visit in Morocco
On our way from Marrakech to Rabat, we had a quick break in Casablanca to enjoy the very impressive Hassan-II Mosque, with its 210-metre high minaret! It is among the largest mosques in the world, and it is partly built on the sea.
The medina (i.e. the ancient city) of Rabat has conquered us with its beauty, its atmosphere and the smells of its souk, sometimes reminded us of Turkey and sometimes of the Greek islands. The atmosphere and decor change drastically from morning to evening. We were dazzled by what surrounded us on every step and every turn of a street.
The Kasbah of the Udayas is an ancient 12th century Berber fortress. The view over the sea and beaches from its heights is magnificent. We enjoyed its narrow streets that have an air of Mykonos and Santorini.
The Mohammed-V mausoleum is a royal tomb that houses the tombs of King Mohammed V (grandfather of the current King of Morocco) and his sons, Prince Moulay Abdallah and King Hassan II. On the esplanade of the mausoleum is the Hassan Tower, which is the minaret of an unfinished 12th century mosque.
Heading towards of Tangier, we stopped in Assilah, also known as “the pearl of Morocco“. It is a small fortified town that borders the ocean and stands out for the immaculate whiteness of its houses. Yet it was not very touristy. We enjoyed getting lost in the medina while admiring the many works of art on the walls.
Tangier is located at the tip of Morocco, a few kilometres from Spain. It is the second largest economic city in the country and indeed. Once again, we decided to settle in the heart of the medina. People there address us in Spanish. We enjoyed sipping a mint tea in the Petit Socco’s square, while we watched life unfold around us. Fresh figs and oranges are a real treat! And cheap too!
When we were on the Greek island of Naxos, we visited the cave of Zeus. In Tangier, we visited the one of his son, Hercules (or Heracles for the Greeks). According to the legend, Hercules rested in this cave after his 11th work, which consisted in killing the 100-headed dragon in order to grab the apples that guaranteed immortality. The cave of Hercules, which is next to the summer palace of the King of Morocco, is located under Cape Spartel, which separates the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
In Tetouan, we explored the medina which, according to UNESCO experts, would be “one of the smallest of the Moroccan medinas, but unquestionably the most complete and it has been largely untouched by subsequent outside influences”. And without a doubt, I give them the benefit of a doubt!
Chefchaouen made me drool with the pictures I saw on the Internet long before the beginning of our trip, so much so that it was one of my Top 3 Wanderlust destinations that I was most eager to visit with Cappadocia (Turkey) and Santorini (Greece). And I can say once again that the destination has exceeded all my expectations!
Chefchaouen is a small tourist town perched on the Rif Mountains. Its particularity is that the houses of its medina are painted in all shades of blue, which is why it is called the “blue pearl of Morocco“. It is a paradise for photography lovers.
Volubilis and Moulay Idriss Zerhoun
Volubilis is an ancient city of Berber origin that was captured by the Romans. The architecture of its ruins is therefore characteristic of those found everywhere around the Mediterranean. Later in the 8th century, it was the seat of the idrisside dynasty, whose founder is Idriss I. The latter, who was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Prophet Mohammed and introduced Shiism to the region, is considered to be the founder of Morocco. His mausoleum is located in the beautiful town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, a few minutes away from Volubilis.
Meknes is one of the 4 imperial cities of Morocco, with Fez, Marrakech and Rabat. Its medina has survived the test of time and is immersed in traditions.
The history of Fez is closely linked to that of Morocco. Of the 4 imperial cities, it is the one that has carried the title for the longest time. Its nicknames can testify to this: Athens of Africa, the Queen of Maghreb and the Mecca of the West. There is the Al Quaraouiyine University, which is considered to be the world’s oldest university still in operation. The leather tanneries that can be found in the medina are particularly incredible.
The road to Merzouga from Fez is a real delight for the eyes and offers breathtaking landscapes with notably:
- The village of Ifran and its alpine style architecture;
- A cedar forest with Barbary monkeys;
- A gigantic water reservoir in the middle of the Atlas Mountains;
- Rissani and its fabulous souk which plunges us into a very remote era;
- Many picture-perfect oases, canyons and villages.
While at the same time, Europe was experiencing unprecedented temperature records due to a heat wave from Morocco, we decided to throw ourselves into the fire to see if it was burning. We have taken up residence at the gateway of the Sahara, at the foot of the gigantic sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, and more precisely in Merzouga. In the early summer, we had been bathed in extreme temperatures as high as 46 degrees. Picture this! As a result of the dry weather, our sweat was not noticeable and although we drank 4 Liters of water a day, we hardly urinated at all. My lips actually chapped and the boys in turn saw their noses pissing blood. Yeah, but it was so much fun!
Since the beginning of our great adventure, we have already experienced some amazing things in the middle of the desert, such as when we met the Bedouins in Jordan’s Wadi Rum, when we witnessed torrential rains on the sand dunes of Oman, or when we were attacked by swarms of flies in the Australian outback. But that occasion was very special. First of all, because the dunes, which could exceed 150 meters in height, were absolutely monumental! Then, because we reached our camp across the dunes, on camel back and under a magnificent sunset. And finally because we saw the most fabulous starry sky of our lives. To be honest, my camera was overheating because I couldn’t stop pressing the shutter release button!
The Todgha and Dades Gorges
Our super Moroccan road-trip continued through the beautiful winding roads of the High Atlas, renowned for its breathtaking scenery. Oasis, village, kasbahs: for nature lovers and road trips, it’s a sure hit!
The Gorges du Todgha are a series of canyons with imposing limestone walls, which can be as high as 400m!
Not far from there, among the most beautiful scenic roads in the world, the Dades Gorges offer a breathtaking view. We stopped on an extremely winding stretch of road to admire the most spectacular viewpoint.
We will also remember the “Monkey Fingers”, or these rocky formations that oddly resemble…monkey fingers.
In the outskirts of Ouarzazate, we would not have missed Ait Ben Haddou, a fortified Berber village built on a hillside that was compared to the Mont-Saint-Michel during the French protectorate. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is known for hosting the shooting stages of well-known films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Last Temptation of Christ, Gladiator, Babel and Game of Thrones’ Season 3.
In the Essaouira region there are argan trees as far as the eye can see. Goats enjoy the leaves and fruits of this tree, which the locals cultivate to produce argan oil. Morocco is the world’s main producer of argan oil.
On the Atlantic coast, a small quiet town called Essaouira already existed in the time of the Phoenicians. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, maybe Mogador speaks a little more! At the time of its great splendor during the Portuguese administration, Mogador was the diplomatic capital and the most important port of the country. Its imposing fortress and enormous port still bear witness to the glory of its past!
We enjoyed walking around its medina, which is now part of UNESCO’s heritage. In the morning, the boats return to the port to unload their catches. Its bustling port was then invaded by fish merchants and thousands of seagulls!
Marrakech is the most touristic place of Morocco, and we understand why! The ochre city has an exhilarating charm. Its medina (UNESCO heritage) and its souk are magnificent!
The world famous Jamma el-Fna square in Marrakech is very lively with its snake charmers, fire spitters, monkey shows, street vendors, storytellers, dancers and fortune tellers. Within it, all sensations are tenfold. The smells of spices, street food and horse droppings merge endlessly. The sounds of crowds, songs and cymbals rise in unity. As we walk through it, we feel the dozens of voracious looks on us. Each picture I take of a scene has become an opportunity for those who feel targeted by my lens to get a few dirhams from me. We are being approached from all sides to have a drink, a meal, a ride on a horse, to buy a trinket or to give a coin. With each step, I was thrown a “Ni Hao”, a “Japan”, a “Malaysia”, a “Thailand”, or a “Jackie Chan”. And in the evening, the excitement is at its height. In short, this Jamma el-Fna square is one of the most exotic places we have ever known!
For a better preparation
After landing at the airport of Marrakech, we immediately went on a road trip around the country, in our rental car. Our itinerary was defined as follows: Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Tetouan, Chefchaouen, Volubilis, Meknes, Fez, Merzouga, the Todgha and the Dades gorges, Ouarzazate, Ait-Ben-Haddou, Essaouira, Marrakech. At the end of our stay in Morocco, we visited 8 of the 9 Moroccan sites listed as UNESCO heritage sites.
Most of the time, we chose to stay in the medinas, in the heart of the city’s attractions, which are generally popular districts with easy access to shops. Hotel prices are generally very affordable on Booking.com.
In the medina of Chefchaouen, by pure chance, the staircase of our apartment which was rented for 2 nights led to the most Instagram worthy alley in the whole city, and perhaps even in Morocco! Imagine when we were leaving the apartment and several cameras were aimed at us. We felt like the Queen of England when she left her Buckingham Palace. All the same!
In Meknes, we spent two nights in a riad – a traditional house – with a sublime architecture and whose owner is extraordinarily kind! We strongly recommend Riad Hiba in Meknes!
In Fez, we indulged in a touch of luxury. We stayed in the 5-star Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace, where we were upgraded to a superb junior suite. A value of 250 USD per night, at a cost of 17500 Bonvoy points.
In Merzouga, we slept one night in a camp that can only be reached on camels or by Jeep. With a candlelit dinner, a campfire to the rhythm of Berber music and a magnificent starry sky to top it all off, it was an extraordinary experience. Have I also mentioned the sunrise! (photo below)
In Marrakech, we were upgraded to an Ambassador Suite at Le Méridien N’Fis Hotel, a category 2 Marriott hotel. A value of 330 USD per night, at a cost of 12500 points.
From Marrakech, we rented a small Fiat Panda to tour the country.
In the second part of our trip, for the travels in Marrakech and Essaouira, we opted for a Dacia Dokker.
Le Méridien N’Fis
Harira, tajine, rfissa, couscous… Moroccan cuisine is abundant and delicious. We became addicted to mint tea at the end of each meal, and also at any other time of the day!
In the souks throughout Morocco, the merchants frequently told us the words “It’s cheap!”. At the time, we didn’t believe them. It is only after leaving the country that I realize that they were right. Morocco is really cheap! The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:
- 21585 MAD (2248 USD);
- 981 MAD (102 USD) per day;
- 245 MAD (25.50 USD) per person and per day.
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Flight||2338 MAD (244 USD)|
|Accomodation||6547 MAD (682 USD)|
|Transport (including gas)||6790 MAD (707 USD)|
|Eating out||4010 MAD (418 USD)|
|Groceries||1565 MAD (163 USD)|
|Activities||335 MAD (35 USD)|
|Total||21585 MAD (2248 USD)|
In a nutshell
|Dates||2019-06-16 to 2019-07-08|
|Number of days||22|
|Cities we visited||Casablanca, Rabat, Asilah, Tangier, Tetouan, Chefchaouen, Meknes, Fes, Merzouga, Ouarzazate, Essaouira, Marrakech|
|Inbound||From France by plane|
|Outbound||To Italy by plane|
|Mode of transport||Rental car|
|Distance travelled (car, foot)||2936 km|
|Number of photos taken||7600 (345 per day)|
|Currency||The Moroccan Dirham (1 USD = 9.6 MAD)|
To be honest, we did not expect to experience so much greatness in the landscapes and diversity of climates in Morocco. This country has enchanted us far beyond our expectations. And it is with great pleasure that we recommend everyone to visit it!
And now it’s time for gelatos and espressos as we fly to… Italy!