Morocco has been on my bucket list for many years and I have always been somewhat intimidated. It was very outside of my comfort zone and I am thankful that I waited until I had a lot of travel experience. It is a very intense place but the beauty of the country outweighs any of the anxiety you may feel. The textiles, leather, architecture and bright colors are like nothing you have ever seen before.
Our first stop was Marrakesh and we were recommended to stay 4 days. I think 3 would be enough to visit all the sites, shop the souks and experience a hammam. We stayed at Riad Bindoo which was perfect for us. If you have no budget I would highly recommend staying at El Fenn. It is owned by Richard Branson’s sister and has a great boutique, rooftop pool and amazing rooftop restaurant.
Here are a few stops you should make in Marrakesh.
This is the square that transforms from a chill market by day to pure chaos and excitement at night so you will want to see it at both times of the day. You will do your shopping in the souks around the square. Do not make eye contact with anyone holding a monkey, snake or doing henna. They will come to you and try to get you to pay them.
Rugs/poufs/pottery etc.-The rule of thumb is to start bargaining at 50% of what they are asking for and go from there. You should not pay more than 75% of what they asked. We went with a guide which I would not recommend because they get a 15% kickback so you get less of a deal. People can get aggressive so know that when you start looking at something and be prepared to walk away.
I would highly recommend the food tour that we did. It is the perfect thing to do when you arrive to get comfortable with the square, learn about the culture and find out what food you like. We tried Moroccan coconut Macaroons, chicken & almond Pastilla, Briwate, Ghriyba, Harira soup, accompanied by dates and Chebbakiya, Babbouche (Moroccan snails), authentic mint tea & Msemmen, Fakya, olives, fresh Moroccan salad + main Tajine and Raïb.
An oasis outside of the busy souks, the Jardin Majorelle is one of the most visited sites in Morocco and I can see why. There is also a Yves Saint Laurent and Berber museum there. Enjoy mint tea and a light lunch at their cafe.
Medersa Ben Youssef
Hammam de la Rose
The hammam experience is a must do in Morocco. Your body will get scrubbed while in a warm meditative room. I would recommend the Royal Hammam: 60 minutes plus massage of your choice 60 minutes (Sublime Moroccan massage, Herbal massage, Relaxing Oriental massage).
Other sites: Koutoubia Mosque, Palacio da Bahia or Bahia Palace, Saadian Tombs, Bab Agnaou, El Badi Palace, Tagine Cooking Class, Argan Oil Class. Recommended dinner/drinks spots: The Lotus Club, Nomad, Bo Zin, Le grand cafe de la post, Al Fassia Gueliz, Belly Dancing Dinner: Comptour Darna
We knew when we planned to visit Morocco we really wanted to do the Sahara Desert. This is 3 FULL days so I would only recommend doing it if you have a lot of time. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We used Morocco Desert Sahara Company and I would highly recommend our guide, the luxury camp Chebbi and the service we received.
Day 1: Marrakech – Tizi -n-Tichka – Ait Ben Haddou – Ouarzazate – Dades Valley
This is a very long day in the car with many amazing views of the High Altas Mountains and a visit to an Argan oil cooperative. My favorite part of the day was Ait Benhaddou Ksar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where Game of Thrones and several movies have been filmed. We stayed in the spectacular Dades Valley.
Day 2 : Dades Gorges – Tinghir – Todra Gorges – Tinjdad – Erfoud – Merzouga ( Night in desert)
This is a full day of driving with beautiful views. Ending with a 2 hour sunset camel trek through the desert. We stayed at a luxury camp with fantastic food and entertainment.
Day 3: Merzouga – Erfoud – Ziz Valley – Midelt – Azrou _ Ifrane – Fes.
On our last day we trekked through the desert before driving back to Fes. The views on the way to Fes were incredible passing through the Middle Atlas mountains which had just snowed and everyone was out sledding.
Fes was similar to Marakesh but the Souks were even harder to navigate and the GPS did not work. HIRE A GUIDE! We stayed at Riad Myra which was stunning and had amazing staff and food. We could have stayed in the Riad all day and night. Some things you can do while in Fes: Choara Tannery, Royal Palace, walk through the medina, hike up mount zelag, picnic and merenid tombs at sunset, kings Palace, the tanneries, and potters, Jewish Synagogue, Ramparts of Fes, Potter’s Cooperative, Al-Qayrawan mosque, Medersa Bou Inania, Weavers Cooperative, Dyers Market, Najjarine Wood Museum, Museum Batha, ruined garden for tapas and a cool atmosphere and Sahrai for cocktails.
The blue city was incredible! You can honestly just walk around and explore. We found we got better deals here on better quality items. You only need 1 full day here.
Our last stop on the itinerary was Tangier which would have been a better place to visit in the summer. If we had more time we would have went to Casablanca, Rabat and Essaouira. If you are planning a trip to Morocco please reach out as I have a lot of tips to stay safe and have a great experience. Morocco is 95% Muslim so keep that in mind when thinking about the types of food you will eat and that most places do not serve alcohol. If you like to drink wine I would recommend checking that your Riad sells it or knowing where the safe bars are at.