Perfect for travelers who want to learn about the history, cuisine, and culture of Morocco in one quick trip, this 5-day itinerary is focused on the busy city of Marrakech with quick trips to the Altas Mountains and the seaside city of Essaouira. You'll sample the dynamic flavors of Moroccan tagine, browse aisles of spices and textiles in markets, tour historic Medinas, and pamper yourself with a traditional spa experience in a hammam.

Highlights

  • Take a historic walking tour of Marrakech's Medina
  • See a panoramic view of the Atlas Mountains on Tizi N'Tichka pass
  • Stay overnight in UNESCO World Heritage Site Aït Benhaddou
  • Explore the seaside city of Essaouira
  • Enjoy a relaxing day at a traditional Moroccan spa

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Marrakech - Walking Tour Marrakech
Day 2 Tour of Aït Benhaddou Aït Benhaddou
Day 3 Spa Day in Marrakech Marrakech
Day 4 Day-Trip to Essaouira Marrakech
Day 5 Depart Marrakech  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marrakech - Walking Tour

Jemaa el-Fna Square
Jemaa el-Fna Square

Welcome to Morocco! Your adventure begins when you land at Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK), where a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel. Nicknamed the "Red City" after the natural pigment in the sandstone used to build its walls and buildings, Marrakech is the fourth-largest city in Morocco.

After you check-in and get settled, a guide will meet you for your afternoon tour of the city. You will discover the wonders of life in the old quarter known as the Medina and wander around the souks (markets) filled with vibrant activity at all hours. Continue on to the famed Jemaa el-Fna square that comes alive at night as acrobats, storytellers, dancers, and musicians set up in one section, and a series of open-air food stalls set up in another where you can taste the authentic flavors of Morocco.

After your tour ends, you will have the rest of the evening to enjoy the square, wander around the city, or relax at your hotel.

Day 2: Marrakech to Aït Benhaddou

Ait Benhaddou
View of Aït Benhaddou

Today, a guide will pick you up after breakfast and take you 113 miles (183 km) east to Aït Benhaddou—an 11th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site comprised of ancient earthen buildings. On your way there, you'll travel along the scenic mountain pass of Tizi n'Tichka, which is the highest in Morocco at 7,414 feet (2,260 meters). 

Once you arrive, you can begin touring the fort. Aït Benhaddou is primarily made up of residential dwellings that are surrounded by defensive walls, angled towers, and an armored gate. You can also learn about pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques and the city's important history. 

Aït Benhaddou has also been a sought-after shooting location for films and television shows like The Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, and Game of Thrones. You'll spend the night in the old town, and you'll have time to wander the empty alleys after the crowds have left. If you'd like, you can pay a small fee to enter a few of the kasbahs and climb up to the rooftop for pretty views of the surrounding ksours (individual kasbahs) and the Ouarzazate Valley.

Day 3: Spa Day in Marrakech

Traditional Hammam in Marrakech
Inside a hammam in Marrakech

After breakfast this morning, a driver will pick you up and transfer you back to Marrakech. Your 113-mile (183-km) journey will take you through the Atlas Mountains, passing back through Tizi N'Tichka and many Berber villages. 

Once you arrive at your hotel in Marrakech, you can check-in and get ready for a day of relaxation and Moroccan spa treatments. You will head to a traditional hammam (bathhouse) for the full experience, which has many specific steps and is a ritual in itself. The treatments will begin with time in heat and steam rooms before an attendant glazes your body with a mixture of water and ghassoul, a natural clay extracted from the Atlas Mountains which clears the skin of impurities. Then, savon beldi—a black soap made with olive oil and eucalyptus leaves—will be applied to soften your skin before your body is scrubbed clean with a kessah loofah. 

After your treatment, you can opt for a massage or simply rest and enjoy some mint tea. You'll have the rest of the evening free to continue exploring the city or to relax at your hotel.

Day 4: Day-Trip to Essaouira

Essaouira
Overlooking the ancient town of Essaouira

Today, you'll take a day-trip from Marrakech to ancient Essaouira, which was formerly known as Mogador. A driver will pick you up at your hotel and drive you 118 miles (191 km) to the 18th-century town on the coast that is surrounded by medieval battlements.

When you arrive, you will tour Essaouira's medina, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site made up of whitewashed buildings with blue shutters and colonnades. You can also explore its busy fishing harbor and take a stroll along the Skala de la Kasbah along the coast. Enjoy a day of relaxing, shopping, and tasting authentic Moroccan seafood before your driver returns you to your hotel in Marrakech for the evening.

Day 5: Depart Marrakech

Marrakech's souk
Inside Marrakech's souk

It's time to say goodbye to Morocco! After a final morning wandering the streets and picking up some last-minute souvenirs in the souk, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your flight home.

Map

Map of A Taste of Morocco: Marrakech, Aït Benhaddou, & Essaouira - 5 Days
Map of A Taste of Morocco: Marrakech, Aït Benhaddou, & Essaouira - 5 Days