Spice-scented souks, vibrant textiles and an air of old world charm are all inescapable in Morocco, a wanderlust-inspiring gem in North Africa. A heady mix of old and new are creating a cultural melting pot where tradition meets modernity. Follow this Morocco Itinerary if you’re in search of culture and adventure. Close your eyes for a moment and take everything in.
Traditions are woven through the very fabric of the Moroccan way of life. Berber and Arab populations give rise to several languages including Arabic and French.
The cities and their ancient medinas are contrasted by sweeping deserts and rugged mountain ranges.
Flavours are bold and permeate through the streets into the windows of lofty riads. Bartering is considered common practise here.
An exploration of Morocco opens your eyes to a vibrant and eclectic way of life. This 8 day North Moroccan itinerary should give you a taste of some of the most iconic customs and locales.
From the modern north-west coast of Casablanca, to the tangle of ancient streets and tanneries in Fez and quiet oasis-like riads in Marrakech.
RELATED: Morocco also featured on our list of top places to backpack on a budget for 2019!
Morocco Itinerary part 1 – Casablanca: 1 day
One of Morocco’s more modern cities, there is a thriving business hub in Casablanca. The city also has a sizeable international airport which serves as an easy entry point for any Morocco itinerary.
It’s here that Moorish architecture is best on display in the downtown district.
The city was famed by 1942 movie of the same name. Hollywood heartthrob of the time, Humphrey Bogart, starred alongside Ingrid Bergman. Fans of the film can live out their own Hollywood moment at Rick’s Café Casablanca, which was designed to recreate the film’s location.
If you’re looking to tap into something a little more cultural, then the Hassan II Mosque shouldn’t be missed. Set bedside the coast the mosque’s tower stands as one of Casablanca’s most identifiable landmarks. Hand carved wood and stone are set against beautiful marble floors.
It’s worth noting there are only a few tours offered in a variety of languages throughout the day. To enter, you must ensure you are modestly dressed to respect the local culture.
Although don’t spend too long here. There’s so much more to explore in the North African gem.
Tangier: 1 day
Often described as the gateway to Africa, Tangier can be seen from the Spanish coast on a clear day and can easily be reached by ferry from Europe.
An eclectic history that blends a variety of cultures and influences. Tangier feels a little different than the rest of the country. Here you can explore the city’s medina and kasbahs that define the old town.
Set within the walls of a 15th century Portguese fortress, many of the buildings held within are much newer. Spend time understanding the cultural influences that have shaped Tangier throughout history at the Kasbah Museum of Mediterranean Cultures which is housed in the former sultan’s palace of Dar El Makhzen.
Exhibits are listed in French and Arabic only, but it is still worth exploring the artefacts within the museums.
Weave through the streets lined by market merchants selling fresh produce, rugs and ceramics before heading beyond the fortress walls.
Overlooking the sea and the European mainland, stop by one of the cafes to enjoy a Moroccan mint tea. This is a pastime you should quickly come to enjoy in Morocco.
Moving south, make your way into the Rif Mountains to the colourful town of Chefchaouen.
Chefchaouen: 1-2 days
You’ve likely seen images of the picturesque settlement of Chefchaouen grace your instagram feed in recent years. Considered one of the most beautiful towns in Morocco, the mountain village is awash with blue. It’s an absolute must of this north Morocco itinerary.
Set within the walls of the old medina is an enchanting blend of Moroccan and Andalusian influence that has seen a rise in tourism. Red-tiled roofs and baby blue walls are mounted upon each other to form a patchwork of buildings smattered against the green hills of the Rif Mountains.
Chefchaouen feels like an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of other medinas. Narrow lanes give way to doorways filled with charming local handicrafts. Everything from leather goods and woven textiles, to ceramics and hand stitched slippers.
A tangle of intertwined blue streets reveal intricately painted doors and arches, filled with the sound of laughing children. Chefchaouen is truly a sanctuary tucked away from the craziness that often overcomes visitors in Morocco. This is the ultimate place to relax on your North Morocco itinerary.
If you fancy breaking up the zen with something a little more active, make your way up the hillside to a small Spanish mosque. Pass prickly pears and agave cacti as you hike the dusty trail above the village.
You might even find yourself crossing paths with a few local goats that wander the hills. In the summer, the walk can become quite hot in the midday heat. It’s for that reasons that it’s a wonderful place to enjoy sunset as the cool evening air moves in.
Fez: 2 days
Once the home of philosophers, scholars, astronomers and theologians, Fez was a mecca in its zenith.
The largest car-free urban space in the world, medieval charm is still ingrained in the labyrinth laneways of the ancient medina. Where old-world merchants once sold goods from the silk road now stands modern vendors. Though they still operate in antique pockets of the city.
Some 9,000 streets complete the warren of uniform ochre-coloured buildings that are seemingly piled one on top of another as the medina sprawls out. But you don’t have to worry about getting lost here, you can’t visit the Fez medina without a guide. All of which know the streets like the back of their hand.
There are a few not-to-be-missed sights in Fez, starting with the Palais Royale. Huge brass doors and mosaic clad walls stand between the 80 hectare palace grounds and the public.
While you cannot enter the grounds, the facade is worth a visit alone as you stand beneath the towering palace gates. Make your way to Medersa Bou Inania, the finest of the city’s theological or religious schools.
Constructed in the 14th century, lattice carved cedar doors and geometric mosaic tilework dress the colourful interior of this religious school.
Perhaps one of the most iconic sights in Fez though is the Chaouwara tanneries. World-class leather goods are produced here using tanning processes that have seldom changed since medieval times.
Prepare your senses for the overpowering smell of leather and dye as you overlook the kaleidoscopic pits from the balconies above. If you plan on investing in some genuine and quality leather products, this is the place to make your purchase.
Marrakech: 2-3 days
Wrap up your North Morocco itinerary in the countries capital, Marrakech. After a rather lengthy drive through desert and mountains, you’ll reach the pink city from Fez in around 8-10 hours.
Settle into the city with a stay at a traditional riad. Many of which feature shallow pools centred among lofty palms, beautiful mosaics and secluded rooftops.
Don’t get too comfortable though, the action is happening beyond your riad walls within the winding streets of Marrakech’s medina.
Not as large as Fez medina, Marrakech still has a plethora of laneways lined with merchants offers everything from Moroccan rugs and leather bags to silver teapots and pashmina scarves.
What to do in Marrakech?
Spend a morning at Ali Ben Youssef Medersa, once the largest learning centre in North Africa. Carved cedar rests on the second story above peach-coloured stonework and a geometric maze of tilework. Some six centuries old, the detail and craftsmanship is ever-present. The inscription above the door captures the essence of this former religious college so well, ‘You who enter my door, may your highest hopes be exceeded’.
Continue on to Saadian Tombs for some of the most extravagant tombs, with no expense wasted on muqarnas (decorative plasterwork) which features pure gold for a truly grandiose mausoleum.
If the hive of activity in the medina becomes too much, make your way to the new town to Jardin Majorelle. A gift to Marrakech from French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, the gardens are a breath of fresh air.
The iconic blue villa set among cacti gardens is a true standout. Here you can visit the Musée Berbère held within the art deco studio, one of the countries most beautifully curated galleries. The shade of the palms is an ideal way to escape the blazing afternoon sun.
Return to the old town for sunset, heading up to a rooftop restaurant or bar to watch the sunset over the buzz of the main square, Djemaa El Fna, below. The smell of street food wafts as the plaza teems with life and street performers put on a display from snake charmers to musicians.
Let yourself be wrapped up in the atmosphere of the plaza before wandering back to your riad, only to do it all again the next day.
What’s the best way to move between cities on your Morocco Itinerary?
There are a few methods of transportation in Morocco depending on your start and finish locations, as well as budget.
There are a few train and bus/coach routes between major cities in Morocco, but the services are infrequent and trains are generally not of the same quality as those in much of Europe.
Another option is to hire a car, albeit a more expensive one. It is worth noting road rules, especially those related to tourists if you choose this option, however it will provide you with more freedom than relying on public transport.
The final option is to consider a group tour. These are great for solo travellers and anyone who wants to leave the organising in the hands of someone else so they can kick back and enjoy themselves.
So, are you feeling inspired to dive headfirst into the sensory overload that is Morocco?
Enjoy reading this North Morocco itinerary and want to read more from Bronwyn? Check out the Ultimate New Zealand South Island Itinerary.
Bronwyn is an Australian-born freelance photographer and writer based in London. She enjoys spending time outdoors, whether hiking alpine mountains or swimming in the sea, her camera will always be nearby. She drinks bucket loads of tea, eats far too much peanut butter for one person and if she isn’t exploring new places, she’s planning her next adventure. See the latest from Bronwyn via her blog.