Discover Morocco's northern cities on this quick 4-day itinerary starting in Tangier. You'll explore medieval medinas of historic Meknes and Fes, roam blue-painted streets of picturesque Chefchaouen, and discover ancient ruins of the fallen Roman Empire in Volubilis.

Highlights

  • Wander the charming blue streets of Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains
  • Discover the well-preserved Roman ruins of Volubilis
  • Explore souks, tanneries, and artisan workshops in medieval Fes

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Tangier and the "blue city" of Chefchaouen Chefchaouen
Day 2 Roman Ruins of Volubilis and the imperial cities of Meknes and Fes Fes
Day 3 Exploring Fes's medina, souks, and artisan workshops Fes
Day 4 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Tangier and the Blue City of Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen, Morocco
Close up of a blue-painted street in charming 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-washed 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 at Volubilis and the imperial cities of Meknes and Fes

Volubilis, Morocco
Explore the lasting ruins of Volubilis

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 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

View of Fes from the Merenid Tombs, Morocco
A view over the tanneries in Fes

Fes is the oldest of the imperial cities in Morocco 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 tile work 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: Museums, Artisan Collectives & Departure

Al Attarine Madrasa, Fes, Morocco
Al Attarine Madrasa showcases intricate Moroccan and Islamic motifs

If there's time before your return flight, you may wish to visit the Batha Museum. Housed in a 19th-century palace, the Museum is home to a collection of traditional Moroccan arts and crafts, including carved wood, zellij, and local pottery (its highlight). Or tour a Ceramics and Tile Collective to learn how local artisans make wares, from shaping the clay to painting the designs. Watch them at work: fitting together small pieces of tile to form intricate mosaics. 

Map

Map of Northern Morocco: Tangier, Chefchaouen & Fes - 4 Days
Map of Northern Morocco: Tangier, Chefchaouen & Fes - 4 Days