- Discover the Hassan II Mosque and the world's tallest minaret in Casablanca
- Explore souks, tanneries, and artisan workshops in medieval Fes
- Wander Roman and Islamic ruins in Rabat's Chella Necropolis
- Experience lively Jemaa el-Fna Square - the busiest square in Africa
|Morning in Casablanca, afternoon in Fes
|Fes's Medina, Tanneries, Madrasas, and Souks
|Fes to Rabat
|Marrakech: Exploring the Red City of Marrakech
|Departure from Marrakech
Day 1: Morning in Casablanca, afternoon in Fes
Welcome to Morocco's west coast! Welcome to Casablanca. The largest city in Morocco, Casablanca is a modern city with major French influence. An architectural treat, visit the popular Hassan II Mosque and admire its exquisite craftsmanship. Sitting pretty on an outcrop over the Atlantic Ocean, the Hassan II Mosque is estimated to house 25,000 worshippers inside with additional room for 80,000 in its courtyard. Unique to Morocco, Hassan II is one of few mosques where non-Muslims are permitted to enter. Feast your eyes on the intricate marble work, wood and stone carving, and gilded cedar ceilings.
Continue on to Fes. With its impressively large (and somewhat confusing) old medina (old quarter), Fes is a city worth getting lost in. Before venturing into the medina on foot (the largest urban car-free zone on the planet), drive uphill to the ruins of the Merenid Tombs for an all-encompassing view of the medieval city. The best time to visit the tombs is around dusk. The muezzin's calls to worship can be heard through the valley as the city lights begin to glow on, adding to the atmosphere. Return to your traditional riad for a warm meal and settle in for the evening.
Day 2: Fes: Exploring the Imperial City and medieval Medina
Fes is the oldest of the four Imperial Cities (Rabat, Marrakech, and Meknes are the other three) in Morocco and perhaps the most interesting and exciting to explore. It has the most complete medina in the Arab world and is relatively untouched since it was founded over 1000 years ago. Often considered the country's cultural capital, it is made up of three parts, two medina quarters, Fes el Bali and Fes el Jdid, and the more modern, French colonial influenced, Ville Nouvelle. Meet your guide and spend a half day learning about the history and culture as you navigate the narrow streets of the medinas.
Start in Fes el Bali at the Bab Boujeloud gate and enter the main thoroughfare of Talâa Kebira. Notice the Spanish and Tunisian influenced architecture as you make your way past shops and souks (markets). Visit the Chouara Tannery and marvel at the many dye-filled stone pots and the men at work still using centuries-old techniques. Next, admire the intricate zellij tilework of the 14th-century Al Attarine Madrasa before heading over to the Mellah (old Jewish quarter and cemetery) in Fes el Jdid. If there's time, visit Ville Nouvelle to discover the dramatic change in architecture.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 3: Fes to Rabat
Take the morning to explore more of Fes. Perhaps visit a local Ceramics and Tilework Collective to watch the tile masters at work, fitting together small pieces of tile to form intricate mosaics. Head west to the imperial city and present-day capital of Rabat, a bustling city with several sights and a rich history.
Explore the medieval fortification of the Chellah Necropolis in the heart of Rabat and wander the Roman and Islamic ruins. Enter into Rabat's original city center through the grand door of the Kasbah des Oudaias. Quietly wander the peaceful white and blue-washed streets. From there, visit the 20th-century Andalusian Gardens and enjoy the serene space away from the crowds. Discover the Hassan Tower, a minaret of the incomplete mosque and Mausoleum of Mohamed V. A 12th-century project that was abandoned, where all that remains today is the red sandstone tower and about 200 columns.
Day 4: Explore the Red City of Marrakech
Nicknamed the "Red City" for its 1000-year old red sandstone city walls and buildings, Marrakech is a major economic center. Marrakech has Berber rather than Arab roots and was once an important trading capital for tribes of the Atlas mountains. Orient yourself around Marrakech's bustling Jemaa el-Fna Square: the souks are to the north, the Koutoubia Mosque and Gardens to the west and the kasbah (fort or fortification) area with the Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace, and El Badi Palace are to the south. In the Ville Nouvelle, you will find the Majorelle Gardens.
For a unique way to tour the medina, board a calèche (French for horse-drawn carriage) and begin to adjust to your surroundings. Notice the fondouks—medieval inns that provided merchants and travelers with shelter and supplies. Today some have been converted into residences or large shopping areas and workshops that you can explore. Find your way to the Koutoubia Mosque and take a respite from the heat in its gardens amid fountains and palms. Though the mosque cannot be entered by non-muslims, it's worth checking out its 12th-century foundations and minaret.
As the evening progresses, Jemaa el-Fna comes alive with musicians and storytellers, acrobats and dancers, and even snake charmers. Wander the many rows of food stalls serving anything from full meals to fruit drinks, dried dates, and small snacks. Grab a bite, or for a more relaxed experience, look for one of the many cafés that sit above the square to enjoy a meal while you watch the show below.
Day 5: Depart Marrakech
Complete any last minute gift and souvenir shopping. Or depending on your departure details, you may wish to check out Majorelle Gardens. Not far from the commotion of the medina, a visit to these lush and expansive gardens offers the perfect place to escape the afternoon heat and noise. Leave the quiet behind and bring with you your memories as you make your way home.