Discover Morocco from coast to desert on this well-rounded trip that starts and ends in ever-vibrant Marrakesh. After the souks of the Red City, head to Essaouira, where you can enjoy the sea breezes and laid-back atmosphere. Pass the beautiful beaches of Agadir to reach Taroudant, then set off into the Sahara, where you'll sleep under the stars and live like a nomad in the Erg Chigaga dunes, learn pottery-making in Zagora, and explore the enchanting villages of Ouarzazate and Aït Benhaddou.


  • Become overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of Marrakesh
  • Relax and soak up the sea air in Essaouira, Morocco's most laid-back city
  • Sleep under the stars in the stunning desert landscapes of Erg Chigaga 
  • Live the nomadic lifestyle as you spend the day with authentic Bedouin people

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Marrakesh Marrakesh
Day 2 Sights & Colors of Marrakesh Tour, Secret Gardens Tour Marrakesh
Day 3 Transfer to Essaouira Essaouira
Day 4 Enjoy the Beaches & Souks of Essaouira Essaouira
Day 5 Transfer to Taroudant Taroudant
Day 6 Explore Taroudant & Souss Massa National Park Taroudant
Day 7 Transfer to Erg Chigaga Desert Erg Chigaga Desert
Day 8 Erg Chigaga Desert Adventure Erg Chigaga Desert
Day 9 Visit the Pottery Village of Tamgroute, Transfer to Zagora  Zagora
Day 10 Transfer to Aït Benhaddou via Ouarzazate Aït Benhaddou
Day 11 Explore More of Aït Benhaddou, Transfer to Marrakesh Marrakesh
Day 12 Depart Marrakesh  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marrakesh

Jamaa el Fna Square
There's always something happening in Jemaa el-Fna Square

Welcome to Morocco! Upon your arrival at Marrakesh's Menara Airport, you'll be met by your driver and guide, who will transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Relax and get some rest ahead of your busy week, or head out for a short city tour to get acquainted with the city.

Venture out early in the evening when Jemaa el-Fna, the city's landmark main square, comes alive with musicians, performers, snake charmers, games, food stalls, and more. Explore the medina (old town) by wandering around the souks (markets), stalls, vendors, and performers, or enjoy it all from a distance. Get seated in a café surrounding the square while enjoying the show and having a delicious meal. 

Day 2: Sights & Colors of Marrakesh, Secret Gardens Tour

Koutoubia Mosque and Gardens
Discover the spice market

Marrakesh is Morocco's second-largest metropolis, known as the "Red City," thanks to the natural red pigment of its walls. Start today's tour at the Bahia Palace, where you'll explore its courtyard, gardens, and the building's interior with intricate woodwork and ornamented ceilings. Next, your guide will take you to the Koutoubia Mosque and Gardens, the city's largest mosque. Although non-Muslims can't enter, you can still admire the grounds and exterior, including its distinctive minaret. Pass through one of the medina's gates and meander through its twisting alleyways to the souks and hidden hotels.

Stroll to a few of the best souks from Jemaa el-Fna with your guide leading the way. You'll find the famed spice towers at Souk el Attarin and traditional Moroccan slippers at Souk Smata. Don't miss Souk des Teinturiers, where you can watch locals dyeing and hanging cloth and yarn. You'll also have the option of visiting Le Jardin Secret. Located in the heart of the medina, this sanctuary is a complex of palaces set within a magnificent garden. An outstanding example of Islamic art and architecture, the garden offers drinks and snacks and is a perfect spot to unwind after sightseeing.

If you'd prefer to relax today, there is an optional visit to a hammam (a traditional Moroccan spa). Enjoy the steam rooms, pamper yourself with an invigorating body scrub, unwind with an argan oil massage, and sip mint tea amid the tranquil setting. Later in the evening, discover the flavors of Marrakesh with an optional private food tour through the medina. Filled with picturesque alleyways and vibrant squares, bustling Marrakesh is the perfect city to get lost in as you follow your nose and taste buds from one snack to the next.

Day 3: Transfer to Essaouira

Head to the relaxed coastal town of Essaouira

You'll leave Marrakesh this morning, following the west coast over vast rolling plains and passing through an argan tree forest endemic to this part of the world. You may even see goats dining on the argan fruit high up in the branches. You'll have the choice of stopping en route at a female-run cooperative for a guided tour of the ethical production circuit of argan oil.

Arrive in the port city of laid-back Essaouira, a nice contrast to frenzied Marrakesh, and spend the rest of the day as you choose. Walk the Skala de la Kasbah (the 18th-century seafront ramparts) along the coast. Designed by European engineers, old brass cannons line the walls and offer beautiful views over the Atlantic. Explore the UNESCO-listed medina before making your way to the windswept beach. Walk back to Essaouira and enjoy a meal of fresh-caught seafood.

Day 4: Enjoy the Beaches & Souks of Essaouira

Sunset Along the Old City Walls and Ramparts
Explore Essaouira's colorful alleys and streets

Today is free to explore, so why not stroll a bit? Stop into various traditional shops for the perfect souvenirs. Visit the Spice Souk, the place to go for herbal medicine, Berber lipstick, exotic spices, and ghassoul (clay used in face masks). Chat with local artisans as you peruse ceramics, spices, art, leather goods, shoes, jewelry, rugs, wood crafts, and more. See the city's central Mulay el-Hassan Square, lined with restaurants, shops, and hotels.

If you'd like more action, there are some optional activities. You could learn how to kite surf, one of the city's most popular sports. The coast is ideal for surfing, thanks to the winds that never cease along its bay. If you'd prefer to stay dry, try sand surfing on the impressive dunes just a short drive from Essaouira. Or opt for a horseback ride along the beach, where you can go for a gentle trot amid ocean breezes and the smell of the sea.

Plan your trip to Morocco
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Transfer to Taroudant

Transfer to Taroudant
Take in the scenic coast from Essaouira to Taroudant

Your driver will be waiting to take you on a scenic coastal drive along the beaches of Essaouira and Agadir. During this five-hour drive, you'll stop at the village of Aourir, where you'll have a seafood lunch by the ocean before heading inland to Taroudant. This walled-market town is well off the beaten path, so you'll be able to enjoy its authenticity as you explore the city. Once checked in to your hotel, you'll have the remainder of the evening free. Before dinner, wander through its ochre-colored architecture, cobbled streets, and charming souks, and feel like you've traveled back in time.

Day 6: Explore Taroudant & Souss Massa National Park

Shop in the Souks (Markets) for Artisan Goods
Snow-capped peaks above Taroudant

You'll have today to explore friendly Taroudant's surrounding ramparts and historic medina, the town's highlight. Admire the old walls and gates like Bab Selsla, Bab Targont, and Bab Ouled Bounouna. Walk or bike around the perimeter of the walled town. Then head into the souks, and peruse the artisan shops. You'll also find tanneries similar to those in Fes and Marrakesh. Stop for a bite to eat at a restaurant or café, or sip mint tea in one of the hotel gardens. Outside of Taroudant, visit Agadir Tasguent. An easy hike takes you to an old fortress with exceptional views.

Later, head to the beautiful beaches, dunes, and forests of Souss Massa National Park, a scenic area just south of Agadir along Morocco's Atlantic coast. You'll explore all the park's highlights, including Youssef Bin Tachfine Reservoir, Massa Valley, and Sidi Rbat Beach. Keep an eye out for unique bird species. The area is home to pink flamingoes, Audouin's gulls, and the rare and endangered northern bald ibis. On your way back to Agadir, you'll stop to visit the market town of Tiznit. Enjoy some free time to peruse the shops or savor a delicious Moroccan lunch at a local restaurant.

Day 7: Transfer to Erg Chigaga Desert

Transfer from Taroudant to Erg Chegaga
Sleep under the stars in Erg Chigaga

Today you will pass a tableau of magnificent desert scenery little known to tourists. Discover authentic Morocco at the crossroads of the old caravans, which once brought sugar, cotton, and rice across Morocco. You'll venture to traditional and nomadic souks and have the chance to experience Morocco's wildest desert, Erg Chigaga. Take an off-road drive by Jeep through Lake Iriqui, a dried-up salt lake in the Iriqui National Park which becomes a swamp during rainy periods. You'll then reach the majestic dunes of Chigaga and spend the night in a luxury-tented camp under the starry sky of southern Morocco.

Day 8: Erg Chigaga Desert Adventure

Desert adventure
Desert adventure on a camel

In the heart of the wild regs (desert plateaus), you'll accompany nomads in their daily task of searching for grazing lands, water, and food preparation. You'll see how they spend the night beneath wooden tents in the middle of nowhere and get to feed the camels and other animals, learn how to weave a camel wool carpet, and cook using traditional utensils on a wood fire. Following your nomadic experience, you'll ride your camel again and return to your camp to take in the setting desert sun before dinner and an evening under the stars.

For those looking for more adventure, sandboarding is a thrilling way to discover the dunes of the Erg Chigaga. The larger the dune, the longer the ride down! Rent a sandboard and discover the dunes as you immerse yourself in the vastness of the Sahara Desert

Day 9: Visit the Pottery Village of Tamgroute, Transfer to Zagora 

Transfer to Zagora
Zagora views

It's time to hit the road again today as your guide takes you to the city of Zagora. Along the way, you'll stop to explore the desert village of Mhamid El Ghizlane and its surrounding oasis. Visit the small town of Tamegroute, a village located 9 miles (15 km) from Zagora in the south of Morocco, at the gateway to the desert. Discover their pottery, a significant craft activity of the Draa Valley made according to ancient techniques imported from Fes, where you can see how this unusual green pottery is made and manufactured. 

Afterward, head to the Dunes of Tinfou, two high dunes located 16 miles (25 km) south of Zagora, for a small taste of the desert as you continue your drive to reach Zagora by late afternoon. Upon arrival in the historic crossroads city and its surrounding oasis, you'll check in to your accommodation and have the evening free to relax.

Day 10: Transfer to Aït Benhaddou via Ouarzazate

Zagora to Ait Benhaddou via Ouarzazate
 The kasbah of Taourirt Ouarzazate

Enjoy a scenic transfer from Zagora to Aït Benhaddou. You'll start by leaving the verdant Draa Valley behind. As you cross the Tizi N'Tinifift Pass, witness the sweeping panoramic views over the valley, its lush palm trees, and majestic mountain ranges. Stop in the picturesque town of Ouarzazate, known as the "Gateway to the Sahara." Explore the town's 19th-century Taourirt Kasbah. From the top, you'll revel in the stunning surrounding landscape. On a clear day, your eye can see as far as Aït Benhaddou and the green Draa Valley.

The town gained popularity thanks to the film industry. Take a movie studio tour or visit the Musée du Cinema and learn about the films produced in the region by getting an up-close look at props and sets from hits such as "Black Hawk Down," "Prometheus," and" Game of Thrones." Ouarzazate also has an important Mellah (Jewish quarter) with an old synagogue and plenty of lively souks to peruse. After getting back on the road, you'll reach the medieval Aït Benhaddou Kasbah. Get settled in at your hotel, then explore the old town's empty alleys and passageways at your own pace.

Day 11: Explore More of Aït Benhaddou, Transfer to Marrakesh

Aït Benhaddou - Drive to Marrakech
Take the Tizi n'Tichka Pass to Marrakesh

This morning's tour introduces you to more of Aït Benhaddou, Morocco's most famous kasbah and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old ksar (a fortified village) dates back to the 11th century when it held an important position along the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, and the southern desert. It is now often used as a filming location for movies, including "The Mummy," "Gladiator," and "Kingdom of Heaven." For incredible views, climb up to the old granary to look out over the kasbah and historic camel caravan routes.

Get ready for a change of scenery as you head up and over the High Atlas. Marvel at Mount Toubkal, which stands at 13,671 feet (4,167 m). Enjoy a panorama of the mountain range at the top of the Tizi n'Tichka Pass as the road snakes down. Visit Taddert, and stop at an oil cooperative to learn how olives are processed for various uses. After a tasting, descend the mountains heading northwest into the plains, with river valleys carved into the hillside. After the tranquillity of the mountains and desert, return to Marrakesh. Check into your hotel and relax before bidding your farewells at Jemaa el-Fna.

Day 12: Depart Marrakesh

Depart Marrakech
Farewell Morocco!
It's time to say goodbye to Morrocco today. Take a private transfer from your Marrakesh accommodation to the airport to catch a flight home or to your next destination. Goodbye and ma'a salama! 

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Map of Morocco Coast to Desert Adventure - 12 Days
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