Spending Ten Days in Morocco
Many travelers experience Morocco in a whirlwind week—add a few days to your itinerary to see more (and rush around less). How you structure your time is up to you: many first-time visitors try to see it all, visiting Morocco's highlights and adding on side trips from major cities. Others choose to spend less time in transit, focusing their time around an imperial city like Marrakech, which doubles as a gateway to the mountains and the desert.
The options are wide-ranging. Explore Morocco's north, wandering the streets in the blue city of Chefchaouen before hiking in the Rif mountains. Embark on a desert adventure, trekking through gorges and valleys, or ride an ATV or sandboard in the dunes. Discover the foothills of the High Atlas mountains, where you'll hike through small villages and spend a night with a local family. Or head to the coast to relax in Agadir and climb the ramparts of Essaouira, once a Phoenician stronghold.
Itinerary #1: Grand Tour of Morocco
It's called the Grand Tour for a reason: this popular itinerary takes you to the imperial cities, the desert, and the mountains. This itinerary offers a great balance of culture, history, and adventure—and makes the most of your time, as it starts in Casablanca and ends in Marrakech. (That said, the itinerary is easily adaptable if you need to return to Casablanca to catch a flight home. Read on for details of how to make this trip plan fit your schedule, or how to alter it to include more time for hiking or the beach.)
The trip begins in Casablanca, the commercial capital of Morocco. You'll be moving along relatively quickly, but you won't want to miss the striking Hassan II Mosque. Perched beside the sea and featuring the tallest minaret in the world (690 feet), it's one of the only mosques in the country that allows non-Muslims to enter. Then on to Rabat, where you'll have time to visit Roman and Islamic ruins, the 20th-century Andalusian Gardens, and Hassan Tower, a 12th-century minaret.
The itinerary continues in the picturesque blue city of Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains. Wander through the boldly-hued medina, which dates from the 15th century, and stop for a mint tea on Plaza Outa el-Hammam. As the sun goes down, walk up the path to the abandoned Spanish Mosque (a 20-30 minute stroll) to take in views of the city and the mountains.
After stopping at Volubilis—noted for the still-intact heating systems and colorful mosaics—and Meknes, head to Fes. By day, explore both medina quarters, Fes el Bali and Fes el Jdid with a guide. People-watch on the busy thoroughfare of Talâa Kebira, walk through the old souks (markets) and visit the Chouara Tannery and its many dye-filled stone pots, where the men at work use centuries-old techniques.
In Erfoud, known for fossil mining, you can stop to meet local artisans before continuing onto Erg Chebbi, an extensive complex of sand dunes that shift and travel depending on the changing wind. When you reach Merzouga, it's time for a camel ride through the dunes and camping under the stars before a day at Aït Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates from the 11th century.
From there, you'll descend into the final destination on the itinerary: the "Red City" of Marrakech. As the sun goes down, you'll want to be near the main square of Jemaa el-Fna as it comes alive with musicians, performers, snake charmers, and food vendors. The following day, pick up some spices, woodwork, or traditional Moroccan slippers in the old medina's souks before continuing to Ben Youssef Madrasa, a 16th-century Koranic school celebrated for its ornate interior.
On your last full day, day-trip into the foothills of the High Atlas mountains, hiking past Berber villages and stopping for lunch with a local family before returning to Marrakech. If you're especially interested in a homestay, this part of the trip could be extended to last two nights (you'd have to skip Chefchaouen, though). The same goes for the coast: if you'd like to add in an overnight stay in the beach town of Essaouira in lieu of a visit to Chefchaouen, it's an easy detour.
For more on what to see and do in Morocco's "Red City," where this itinerary ends, check out this ultimate guide to Marrakech.
Itinerary #2: Traveling Into Morocco's Past
This ten-day tour is similar to the Grand Tour, though you'll skip over the relatively modern cities of Casablanca and Rabat and spend more time delving into Morocco's most historic destinations. This itinerary is ideal for travelers arriving by ferry from Spain and departing by plane out of Marrakech.
If you're traveling by ferry from Spain, Tangier will be your point of entry. Enjoy a visit to the seaside medina, take a walk along the waterfront promenade, and have a mint tea in Zoco Chico square.
You'll be moving on quickly to the famous blue city of Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains. If you're not in a rush, opt for the scenic route. With a few extra hours, you can stop along the way for a refreshing hike to the Cascades d'Akchou (Waterfalls of Akchour). Once you reach Chefchaouen, allow yourself plenty of time to wander through the blue-washed streets and visit the Grand Mosque. If you're feeling energetic, take a short hike to the white Spanish mosque for glorious sunset views over the city and mountains.
Next, you'll visit the Roman ruins at Volubilis and the impressive imperial architecture in nearby Meknes on your way to Fes. After a day in the city, venture into the Middle Atlas mountains, passing apple orchards and palm tree clusters on your way to Erfoud, known for fossil mining. The sea of sand dunes known as Erg Chebbi is next. Outside of Merzouga, enjoy a sunset camel ride, star-gazing, and traditional Berber music around a campfire before sleeping in a traditional tent.
Spend the next day hiking the Todra Gorge, visiting Morocco's most famous kasbah, Aït Benhaddou, and visiting a rose collective in the Dades Valley. Continue on to Ouarzazate and take a studio tour to learn about how the region's landscapes have been used in films and TV series like Gladiator and Game of Thrones.
This itinerary continues on to Marrakech, but only for a day—enough time for some basic sightseeing and shopping in the souks, including a sunset visit to the busy square of Jemaa el-Fna. You'll side-trip to the beach for relaxation in the laid-back port city of Essaouira. Highlights include strolling along the Skala de la Kasbah (the 18th-century seafront ramparts), exploring the UNESCO-protected medina, dining on freshly caught seafood, and, of course, relaxing on the beach. The next day, you'll return to Marrakech to catch a flight out of Morocco.
This article offers a rundown of the country's top highlights and places to visit.
Itinerary #3: Hiking & Relaxing Around Marrakech
If you'd rather focus your time and energy in one region of Morocco instead of moving around the country, this is the itinerary for you. Starting and ending in Marrakech, this trip plan involves more time hiking and enjoying the outdoors—and less time in transit.
Before leaving Marrakech for the mountains, you might opt to take a half-day guided tour that covers many of the city's highlights in a short time, including Ben Youssef Madrasa school of Islam, the souks, and Dar Di Said Museum (also known as the Museum of Moroccan Arts) with its exhibitions of clothing, antiques, and jewelry.
Leave the city behind and head into the High Atlas mountains, where you might spot Mount Toubkal from the car window. You'll pass Berber villages and stop to visit a local argan oil cooperative before reaching the film location hot spot of Ouarzazate for a tour. The trip continues through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, Kela'a M'gouna, Todra Gorge, and the market town of Rissani before reaching the awe-inspiring sand dune sea of Erg Chebbi—a standout highlight for many travelers.
Wake up early for a desert sunrise before renting a sandboard or joining an ATV tour. You'll have the chance to visit the traditional Saharan village of Khemliya before continuing through the Draa Valley, known for growing dates. Pick up a box of dates for the trip—they're a great local snack.
After visiting Aït Benhaddou, circle back to Marrakech to get your fill of fine dining and sightseeing, if you so choose, before leaving the city again to venture into the foothills of the High Atlas mountains and the small town of Amizmiz. Enjoy a guided hike along quiet roads and mule paths, passing by traditional Berber villages. Your guide will arrange for lunch with a local —or an overnight with one, if you like.
You'll pass through Marrakech once more on your way to the historic beach town of Essaouira, where you can feast on seafood, hang out on the seafront ramparts, and shop in the souks of the old medina. It's an ideal place to wrap up ten days of outdoor adventures in Morocco. Return to Marrakech to catch a flight out.
Read this article for more ideas and inspiration on hiking and outdoor activities in Morocco.
Itinerary #4: Morocco's Cities & Cultural Highlights
If the desert's not your thing—or if you're visiting Morocco in summer, when temperatures soar—skip the Sahara and focus on urban areas and cultural attractions with this ten-day itinerary. Casablanca, Rabat, Chefchaouen, Fes, Marrakech: this trip plan has you covered if you're interested in urban exploration.
Explore Morocco's most interesting cities with this ten-day trip plan that starts and ends in Casablanca. Spend your first evening walking along the beach promenade known as Boulevard de la Corniche (Morocco's very own "Miami") to the famed Hassan II Mosque. Cinephiles won't want to miss a quick stop at Rick's Café, the bar and restaurant featured in the classic film Casablanca.
On day two, you'll head north to Rabat. Visit the medieval fortification at the Chellah Necropolis and explore the old city center, taking time to stop the lonely minaret at Hassan Tower, a mosque project that was abandoned back in the 12th century. On your way to Chefchaouen the next morning, stop for a hike and a swim at the Cascades d'Akchour. Then wander through the charming streets of the "blue city," stopping by the Grand Mosque and, at sunset, the white Spanish Mosque, where you can take in views over the city and the mountains.
You'll continue on the next day to the UNESCO-protected Roman ruins of Volubilis and the grand architecture of Meknes before heading to Fes, where you'll check in to a riad in the old medina. For the next two days, you'll explore Fes at a relaxed pace.
The last part of the itinerary takes you to Marrakech for several days of cultural sightseeing in the Red City. Stop by busy Jemaa el-Fna Square at sunset, shop in the souks, and visit the Koutoubia Mosque and Gardens before venturing out of the old city into the Ville Nouvelle and the lovely Majorelle Gardens, a favorite destination of painters and photographers.
On your last full day, climb aboard a calèche (French for horse-drawn carriage) to see the medina from a different angle. You'll have enough time to visit the Marrakech Museum, located inside a 19th-century palace, where you can view artifacts from Berber, Jewish, and Islamic Moroccan groups.
Note that this itinerary starts and ends in Casablanca, but you can save yourself travel time if you fly out of Marrakech instead.
Have an extra day to spend? Check out these ideas for the best day trips from Marrakech.