- Wander the quiet, blue-washed streets of Chefchaouen
- Explore ruins of the Roman Empire's farthest African reach at Volubilis
- Discover souks, tanneries, and artisan workshops in medieval Fes
- Explore Jemaa el-Fna Square - the busiest square in Africa
- Hike through rural villages in the High Atlas foothills, spending the night with a local family
|Day 1||Arrive; Tangier and Chefchaouen||Chefchaouen|
|Day 2||Roman Ruins of Volubilis and the imperial cities of Meknes and Fes||Fes|
|Day 3||Fes: Exploring the Imperial City and medieval Medina||Fes|
|Day 4||Rabat and Casablanca||Casablanca|
|Day 5||Casablanca to Marrakech||Marrakech|
|Day 6||Marrakech: Exploring the Red City||Marrakech|
|Day 7||Amizmiz and the High Atlas mountains||Amizmiz|
|Day 8||Return to Marrakech||Marrakech|
Day 1: Tangier and the Blue City of Chefchaouen
Welcome to Tangier—the gateway between Europe and Africa! Located close to the south of Spain, visit the medina (old quarter), a café in the hip Zoco Chico square, or take a paseo to enjoy a stroll along the promenade. Or, travel straight on to the blue-hued city of Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains. Enjoy the scenic route, stopping along the way to hike to the Cascades d'Akchour (Waterfalls of Akchour). Chefchaoen offers endless winding narrow streets and picturesque buildings. Find Plaza Outa el Hammam for a restaurant or café and enjoy a meal as you people watch.
Though non-muslims are not permitted to enter, the Grand Mosque is still worth a visit. From there, explore the nearby kasbah (old fortification) and tour the garden, museum, and some of the old prison cells. Follow a path outside of the city walls to Hotel Atlas and climb to the rooftop to enjoy a panoramic view of the Blue City. For the slightly more athletic, follow the street east to pass over the Ras el Ma Spring and ascend the path (20-30 minutes) until you reach the abandoned white Spanish Mosque. Enjoy one last view over Chefchaouen as the sun sets behind the mountains.
Hike duration: 2-3 hours
Day 2: Roman Ruins of Volubilis and the imperial cities of Meknes and Fes
Rise early to snap photos of the people-less streets before leaving for Fes. Stop along the way at the UNESCO protected Volubilis ruins—the Roman's farthest reach in Africa. Wander the complex, exploring merchant homes with still-intact heating systems, temples, and many mosaics in situ. Continue on to the smaller, less busy version of Fes, Meknes, for an introduction to a historic imperial city. The two main points of interest are the Ville Impériale (Imperial City) and the medina. Be sure to visit the Bab al-Mansour gate, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, and the Royal Stables.
Continue on to your second imperial city, Fes. With its impressively large (and somewhat confusing) old medina, Fes is a city worth getting lost in. Before venturing into the medina, take the time to visit the Merenid Tombs located just north of the city and enjoy the all-encompassing view of historic Fes and the surrounding area. Descend the hill and return to your riad (a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden) for the evening.
Day 3: Fes: Exploring the Imperial City and medieval Medina
Fes is the oldest of the imperial cities in Morocco (Marrakech and Rabat are the other two) and perhaps the most interesting to explore. A UNESCO protected site, the city hasn't undergone much colonial development, leaving you to experience its medieval charm. Fes consists of two old medina quarters, Fes el Bali (and where you will spend most of your time) and Fes el Jdid (a slightly newer part of the city), and the early 20th-century French designed Ville Nouvelle. Meet your guide to help you navigate the narrow and maze-like ancient streets of the medinas, starting in Fes el Bali (789 CE).
Note the Spanish and Tunisian influenced architecture as you pass the variety of souks (markets) offering spices, leather goods, and pewter. Known for its tanneries and the acrid smell associated with them, visit the popular Chouara Tannery and climb to the roof of a nearby shop for a better view of the goings-on. Visit the 14th-century Al Attarine Madrasa and admire the zellij tilework before checking out one of the oldest, still operating universities in the world, Al-Qarawiyyin University (859 CE). Find the mellah (old Jewish quarter) in Fes el Jdid for another encompassing view of the city.
Day 4: Fes to Casablanca via Rabat
Venture west to the imperial city, and present-day capital, of Rabat. 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.
Continue south along the Atlantic coast until you reach Casablanca. 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 5: Casablanca to Marrakech
Casablanca is a modern, commercial capital of Morocco, and is home to the stunning Hassan II Mosque. It sits on an outcrop over the Atlantic and has a 690 feet (210 m) minaret—the tallest structure in Morocco and the tallest minaret in the world! It is estimated the courtyard can hold 80,000 worshipers, with room for 25,000 inside. What makes this mosque unique is that it is one of the few mosques in the country non-Muslims can enter. Join a morning tour and admire the exquisitely ornate artisanship: hand-carved stone and wood, intricate marble floor detailing, and gilded cedar ceilings.
Arrive in vibrant Marrakech in the mid to late afternoon and settle into your riad before exploring your surroundings. For a unique way to tour the medina, board a calèche (French for horse-drawn carriage) and begin to orient yourself. In the early evening, the main square, Jemaa el-Fna, comes alive with musicians, performers, snake charmers, games, and food stalls, a catch-all of entertainment. If you want to enjoy the spectacle from a distance, choose one of the many cafés surrounding the square and enjoy a cup of mint tea and a meal.
Day 6: Marrakech: Exploring the Red City
Nicknamed the "Red City" for its red sandstone walls and buildings, Marrakech was once an important trading capital for Atlas mountain tribes, and remains an exciting former imperial city. Begin exploring Marrakech's ancient medina, starting with the Koutoubia Mosque and Gardens. 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.
Indulge your senses as you explore the complicated labyrinth of souks, tucked behind ordinary restaurants and shops. 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 or the dyers’ souk to see how cloth and yarn are dyed using traditional methods. Next, admire the fine example of Moroccan Islamic architecture of the Ben Youssef Madrasa, a 16th-century Koranic school, and note the ornate detail of its interior: carved cedar ceilings, sculpted plaster, and zellij tiling.
Day 7: Amizmiz and the High Atlas mountains
Today you will venture south of Marrakech to the small town of Amizmiz in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains (about one hour away). Spend time exploring the modest market in the old town before joining your mountain guide to trek the narrow roads and mule paths in the surrounding hills. Hike between small Berber villages and observe the local farmers and shepherds as they tend to their animals and the landscape. You may even see children on their way to or from school, which are typically shared between a few nearby villages.
Stop and enjoy lunch with a local family and gain insight into their daily lives as you learn how to make homemade bread. Continue your hike into the afternoon before returning to another local Berber home where you will be welcomed for dinner and provided with a room to retire for the evening.
Day 8: Continue Hiking; Return to Marrakech
Have breakfast with your hosts before saying goodbye and heading out on the trail. Continue to explore the local scenery and other nearby towns before returning to Marrakech.
Upon arriving in Marrakech, explore the kasbah area south of Jemaa el-Fna and check out the Saadian Tombs and discover the 500-year old craftsmanship that went into its construction. Visit the sunken gardens of the 17th-century El Badi Palace as you work your way through the mellah (Jewish quarter) and to the 19th-century Bahia Palace. If there's time, you may wish to check out the 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 of carved cedar wood.
Day 9: Departure from Marrakech
Rise early and complete any last minute gift and souvenir shopping before finding the 12th-century Almoravid Koubba. The only surviving Almoravid monument, the Koubba was rediscovered in 1948. If time allows, visit the Marrakech Museum. Housed in the 19th-century Moorish Dar Mnebbi Palace, the museum offers a collection of modern and traditional art, including artifacts of Berber, Moroccan Jewish and Islamic cultures.