Spending One Week in Morocco
Morocco isn't a large country, but there's plenty to see. It's home to dozens of intriguing ancient cities and a wide variety of landscapes, including dramatic mountain ranges, sweeping areas of desert, and long coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
If you have just a week to spend in Morocco, you'll want to focus on a few interest areas. Outdoor adventurers can hike through gorges and get up close to the highest peak in north Africa. Photographers and painters often opt for the "blue cities" tour of Morocco. Can't decide? You can't go wrong with the grand tour. Read on for three recommended itineraries for a week in Morocco.
Itinerary #1: Highlights of Morocco in 7 Days
If you only have one week in Morocco, a classic option is the grand tour. This itinerary takes you to imperial cities, Roman ruins, the Atlas Mountains, and the desert, all in seven days.
|1||Arrival & Casablanca||Casablanca|
|2||Meknes, Roman Ruins at Volubilis, Fes||Fes|
|3||Exploring Fes' Medieval Medina||Fes|
|4||Over the Middle Atlas mountains and into the Sahara||Sahara Desert|
|5||Desert towns, lush oases, and film worthy landscapes||Ouarzazate|
|6||Aït Benhaddou Kasbah, Tizi n'Tichka Pass over the Atlas||Marrakech|
|7||Discover the Red City of Marrakech; Departure|
Begin in the seaside city of Casablanca with a guided tour of Hassan II Mosque, featuring the tallest minaret in the world. Cinephiles won't want to miss a stop at Rick’s Café, immortalized in Casablanca. The 1942 film, starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, remains a love letter to the city.
From Casablanca, it's a three-hour drive to the imperial city of Meknes, with a small but interesting medina to explore, and nearby Volubilis, a UNESCO world heritage site that's home to the best-preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. Take an hour or two to stroll through this ancient complex dotted with temples, shops, and houses. Many of the site's original mosaics are still in place—and in surprisingly good condition.
Next, it's onto the magical city of Fes and its medieval medina. Take a tour or attempt to navigate the old city with a map, but half the fun is getting lost in the labyrinth of winding side streets and busy souks. Don't miss a colorful photo op at the world-famous Tanneries Chouara, where visitors witness a tannery tradition that's been perfected over hundreds of years.
The grand tour continues in the Middle Atlas mountains—keep your eyes open for Barbary monkeys during the ride—and into the Sahara Desert. Before the sun sets, you'll board a camel near Merzouga for an adventure along the sand dunes. At night, you'll camp in the desert, enjoying incredible views of the starry night sky overhead. You'll dine outside while listening to traditional Berber music around the campfire.
The next day, continue exploring the Sahara: take a tour of Erg Shibi (massive sand dunes shaped by wind). Spend some time sandboarding, hiking, or riding an ATV over the dunes before continuing to the market town of Rissani. Farmers from all over the region come here to sell and buy: don't miss the "donkey parking lot" and the livestock auction.
Need a break from the heat of the desert? Take a splash in the river and go for a walk beneath the tall red cliffs of the Todra Gorge, which is also a great destination for rock-climbers.
Continue along the journey, marveling at the slow pace of life in the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs as you pass through it. The main attraction here is Aït Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most famous Kasbah in Morocco. Dating from the 11th century, it's served as the setting for many films and television shows, including Gladiator and Game of Thrones. You'll get the best view of the area if you walk up to the hilltop granary for a panoramic overlook.
The tour comes to a close as you travel over the High Atlas mountains to Marrakech. The so-called "red city," so named for the red ochre pigment in the walls, is a lively place to finish the week. Don't miss the snake charmers in Jemaa el Fna Square, the magnificent Saadian Tombs, and Bahia Palace, and in the Ville Nouvelle, the Majorelle Garden. This botanical garden and villa was the passion project of the French artist Jacques Majorelle, and it was later purchased and restored by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Today, the villa is home to the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech, the Berber Museum, and the Musee Yves Saint Laurent.
Itinerary #2: Blue Cities of the North
Why does Morocco have so blue buildings? Some say it's because blue—representing the sky and the heavens in Jewish tradition—was important to the early Jewish inhabitants who lived in Moroccan cities like Chefchaouen. Others say the color was a reflection of the Mediterranean Sea. From a practical perspective, the blue paint also helps keep buildings cool. Whatever the reason, Morocco's blue cities are beautiful.
|1||Arrival & Casablanca||Casablanca|
|2||Rabat, Asilah, and Tangier||Tangier|
|3||To Tangier and Chefchaouen||Chefchaouen|
|4||Roman Ruins at Volubilis, Meknes, Fes||Fes|
|5||Exploring the Medieval Medina of Fes||Fes|
|6||Morning in Fes, back to Casablanca||Casablanca|
|7||Departure from Casablanca|
The journey begins in Casablanca, but you'll quickly move onto Rabat and Asilah. Though these cities aren't particularly known for their blue buildings, the journey there takes you along the coast, where the contrast between water and sky sets the tone for the rest of the trip. Take a break along the way for a quick tour of the city of Larache. You'll end the day in Tangier, stopping by Spartel Cap—the place where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea.
The next day's drive through the Rif Mountains transports you to the famed city of Chefchaouen. Make sure your camera has a full battery charge as you stroll through the medina—it's one of the prettiest destinations in Morocco. But Chefchaouen isn't only about blue streets and buildings: also worthwhile are the historic Kasbah and the Spanish Mosque, where you can take in lovely views at sunset.
Next up, you'll visit Meknes, stopping for lunch at the glittering Palais M’nebhi, then spend the afternoon exploring the Roman ruins at Volubilis.
Before circling back to Casablanca, you'll stop in Fez for a full day of sightseeing in the medieval medina. There's plenty of blue—and every other color of the rainbow—as you wander through souks and the city's famous tanneries, past the Nejjarine fountain and the Karaouine Mosque. Sleep in a traditional riad before returning to Casablanca.
Looking for things to do in Casablanca? Check out this guide.
Itinerary #3: Marrakech & the Great Outdoors
Choose this diverse itinerary if you'd like to experience a mix of cultural education and outdoor adventure in Morocco.
|1||Marrakech: Exploring the Red City||Marrakech|
|2||Marrakech to Ouarzazate & Boulmane Dades||Dades Valley|
|3||Todra Gorge, Rissania, and the Sahara Desert||Sahara Desert|
|4||Merzouga to Ait Benhaddou (via Alnif)||Ait Benhaddou|
|5||Tizi-n-Tichka Pass over the High Atlas, Marrakech||Marrakech|
|6||Hiking the High Atlas around Amizmiz; Overnight in Berber Home||Amizmiz|
|7||Amizmiz back to Marrakech; Departure|
The trip begins in Marrakech, where must-see attractions include Jemaa el Fna Square, the city's famous souks, the Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace, and outside the medina, the lovely Majorelle Gardens.
On day two, you'll leave the city and head into the High Atlas mountains. On a clear day, you'll see Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. You'll also pass by traditional Berber villages filled with mud-brick homes and you'll have the opportunity to stop at an argan oil co-op. Later in the day, you'll see the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs and fragrant Dades Valley, where roses grow abundantly. If you're interested, you could stop by a rose collective to see how the flowers are harvested and turned into rose water and rose oil.
Continuing along the journey, you'll have the chance to take an easy hike in the Todra Gorge before attending a craft workshop in Erfoud. The area is known for its rocks and fossils: in the workshop, you'll see how they're taken out of the ground and turned into practical objects like plates and bowls.
The following day, explore the Sahara desert. Adventurous travels might try a sand-boarding adventure in the dunes or take a tour of Erg Shibi. Stop in Ouarzazate, then venture out into the surrounding areas that have served as film sets for Game of Thrones, Lawrence of Arabia, and American Sniper.
Stop at Aït Benhaddou, the most famous Kasbah in Morocco, before heading back to Marrakech. You'll spend the night in the city before leaving it again in the morning. Just an hour outside the city, traditional Berber villages like Amizmiz welcome overnight visitors. Staying with a local family is an unforgettable cultural experience—and a great way to round out a week in Morocco.
Have a look at this article for advice on the best time of year to visit Morocco.