- Visit the Hassan II Mosque and the world's tallest minaret in Casablanca
- Wander the quiet, blue-hued streets of Chefchaouen
- Discover souks, tanneries, and artisan workshops in medieval Fes
- Explore Jemaa el-Fna Square—the busiest square in Africa
|Arrive; Evening in Casablanca
|Morning in Casablanca, afternoon in Rabat
|The Blue City of Chefchaouen
|Roman Ruins at Volubilis and imperial cities of Meknes and Fes
|Fes: Exploring the Imperial City and medieval Medina
|Fes to Marrakech
|Marrakech: Exploring the Red City
|Return to Casablanca; depart
Day 1: Evening in Casablanca
Welcome to the western coast of Morocco! Arrive in Casablanca and transfer to your hotel. Take a stroll along the Boulevard de la Corniche, the beach promenade that follows the Atlantic (often referred to as Morocco's Miami) to the Hassan II Mosque. Though tours of the interior are only offered in the morning, take advantage of the timing and watch the sunset behind the architectural marvel. Grab a bite in Rick's Café, a restaurant, bar, and café recreated to reflect the bar in the movie classic, Casablanca.
Day 2: Casablanca to Rabat
If you only visit one place in Casablanca—the commercial capital of Morocco—make it the Hassan II Mosque. Sitting in a picturesque location on the ocean, its 690 feet (210 m) minaret is the tallest structure in Morocco and the tallest minaret in the world. While the exterior and surrounding area are impressive, what makes this mosque even more unique is it is one of the few mosques in the country where non-Muslims are permitted to enter. Join a morning tour of the mosque and marvel at the fine artisanship: hand-carved stone and wood, intricate marble floor detailing, and gilded ceilings.
Venture north to the imperial city, and present-day capital, of Rabat (Meknes, Fes, and Marrakech are the others). Explore the medieval fortification of the Chellah Necropolis and wander the Roman and Islamic ruins. Enter through the grand door of the Kasbah des Oudaias into Rabat's old city center. 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 tower and about 200 columns.
Day 3: Blue City of Chefchaouen
This morning head north to the striking blue city of Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains. Just before you reach Chefchaouen, stop to hike (2-3 hours) through lush vegetation and small pools to enjoy the Cascades d'Akchour (Waterfalls of Akchour)—a hidden gem. From there, arrive in charming Chefchaouen. Mostly untouched since the 15th century, Chefchaouen offers a relaxed atmosphere with some of the friendliest people in the country and is known for its blue-washed buildings in its historic medina (old quarter). Explore its narrow streets and alleyways which cling to the northern hillside of the mountains.
Discover Plaza Outa el-Hammam, the main square named for the number of hammams (public baths) which used to encircle it. Find a restaurant or café for a bite to eat, before browsing the many shops offering traditional wares. Visit the Grand Mosque and kasbah (old fortress or fortification) and tour the kasbah's garden, museum, and even some of its old prison cells. As the evening approaches, ascend the path leading to the white Spanish Mosque (20 to 30 minutes) to enjoy one last view over Chefchaouen as the sun sets behind the mountains.
Day 4: Roman ruins at Volubilis and imperial cities of Meknes and Fes
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Rise early to wander the quiet streets for your best chance to snap unobstructed photos, before joining your driver and continuing on towards Fes. Along the way stop and stretch your legs to explore the UNESCO protected Roman ruins of Volubilis. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Volubilis is a sprawling complex worth wandering. Founded in the 3rd century BCE it was abandoned in the 11th century and remains incredibly well-preserved. Marvel at the merchant homes and their visible heating systems underneath, the temples, and the nearly intact colorful mosaics in situ, including the Labors of Hercules.
Stop in Meknes on your way to Fes. A smaller version of Fes, Meknes offers a calmer medina and shopkeepers are not as pushy to make a sale. While Meknes is quite large, the two main areas of interest are the Ville Impériale (Imperial City) and the manageable medina. Continue on to Fes and navigate its impressively large and complicated medina that stretches down the hill. Before venturing in, take a moment and visit the ruins of the Merenid Tombs and enjoy a panoramic view of the old city. Stay overnight in a beautiful riad in the medina (with an interior courtyard garden).
Day 5: Fes
Fes is the oldest of the imperial cities in Morocco and perhaps the most interesting to explore. Its medina is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as one of the world's largest urban car-free areas, it remains relatively untouched since it was founded over 1000 years ago. Often considered the country's cultural capital, it is made up of two old medina quarters, Fes el Bali and Fes el Jdid, and the modern Ville Nouvelle, constructed during the French colonial era (1912-1956). Meet your guide and spend a half day learning about the history and culture as you navigate the maze-like streets of the medinas.
Start in Fes el Bali (789 ACE) at the well-known Bab Boujeloud gate, and enter the main thoroughfare of Talâa Kebira. Discover how Spanish and Tunisian refugees influenced the medina's architecture as you make your way past shops and souks (markets) scanning local goods for gifts and souvenirs, watching the artisans at work. Visit the Chouara Tannery and find a nearby leather shop for an encompassing view of the many stone wells filled with dye and men at work (a technique and process that is little changed over the centuries). Next, admire the intricate zellij tilework of the 14th-century Al Attarine Madrasa.
Day 6: Fes
Visit the Batha Museum. Housed in a 19th-century palace, the Batha Museum is home to a collection of traditional Moroccan arts and crafts, including carved wood, zellij, and local pottery (its highlight). Spend time in the Andalusian-style gardens before walking to the mellah (old Jewish quarter and cemetery). Take advantage of its location for a stunning panoramic photo of the city. Continue south to Ville Nouvelle and discover the dramatic change in architecture.
Tour a Ceramics and Tile Collective to learn how local artisans make wares, from shaping the clay to painting the designs. As well as watch the tile masters at work: fitting together small pieces of tile to form intricate mosaics. Return toward Fes el Bali, stopping along the way in Jnan Sbil (Bou Jeloud Gardens)—a halfway point between the mellah and Bab Bou Jeloud. Spend some time relaxing in the gardens' grandeur and cool off in the central fountains or beside the lake.
Day 7: Fes to Marrakech
Today you will make your way south to the Red City of Marrakech. As the trip is about five to six hours, there will be the option to stop in Meknes, Rabat, or Casablanca along the way. Arrive in vibrant Marrakech in the mid to late afternoon and settle into your riad before exploring your surroundings.
Nicknamed the "Red City" (for its 1000-year old red sandstone city walls and buildings), Marrakech is a major economic center and home to a thriving medina. Unlike Fes, 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 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.
Find your way to the Koutoubia Mosque and stroll through its flood-lit gardens. 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 8: Marrakech
Meet your guide for a half-day tour and begin your day revisiting the Koutoubia Mosque and Gardens in the daylight. Though the mosque cannot be entered by non-muslims, it's worth checking out its 12th-century foundations and 253 feet (77 m) minaret. Visit the fountains and pools in the adjoining garden to take a respite from the heat and crowds. Next, discover the exquisite detail of the Ben Youssef Madrasa school of Islam for a taste of 16th-century architecture. Marvel at the arabesques, Islamic calligraphy, and colorful zellij.
Spend time exploring Dar Di Said Museum (also known as the Museum of Moroccan Arts) to see exhibits of clothing, antiques, jewelry, and beautifully carved Hispano-Moorish decorations. Afterwards, indulge your senses as you explore the complicated labyrinth of souks, tucked behind ordinary restaurants and shops. Indulge your senses and check out Souk el Attarin, Souk Chouari, and Souk Smata for a selection of spices, woodwork, and babouche (traditional Moroccan slippers). Visit Souk des Teinturiers (the dyers’ souk) to see firsthand how leather hides and cloth are dyed.
Day 9: Marrakech
Change the pace and board a calèche (French for horse-drawn carriage) that offers a unique way to tour the medina. Notice the fondouks or caravanserai—medieval traveler inns that provided merchants with shelter and supplies. Today some have been converted into residential properties or large shopping areas and workshops that you can explore.
Discover the only surviving Almoravid monument, the 12th-century Almoravid Koubba, before spending some time in the Marrakech Museum. Housed in the 19th-century Dar Mnebbi Palace, the museum is home to a large exhibit of both modern and traditional art and includes artifacts of Berber and Moroccan Jewish and Islamic cultures. From there, travel south of Jemaa el-Fna and explore the 500-year old Saadian Tombs, the extensive courtyard and sunken gardens of the 17th-century El Badi Palace, and the intricate woodwork and painted ceilings of the 19th-century Bahia Palace.
Day 10: Return to Casablanca
If time allows, complete any last minute gift and souvenir shopping or 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 heat and noise, before you transfer back to Casablanca for your return flight.