Prior to visiting Morocco, I usually planned my trips in great detail. Without a doubt, this habit was partly driven by my sincere passion for travel planning. Another motivation was my desire to not have to “waste time” trying to figure out my next activity while on my actual trip. I always dreamed of just landing somewhere and seeing where my adventures would take me. Morocco was the first time, although not entirely spontaneous, that I spent little time planning and booking things in advance and surrendered myself to spontaneity. This one week Morocco itinerary may come across as simple, but once you have the basics established I promise that all you need to do to have the trip of a lifetime is wing it.
ONE WEEK IN MOROCCO: HOW TO GET THERE
Using one of my favorite international flight hacks, I saved money by making several individual flight bookings through several airlines. Rather than one roundtrip Morocco flight, I booked four different flights in order to land the best deal. I booked one-way from Boston to London, London to Marrakech, Tangier to Barcelona, and Barcelona to Boston.
Also, I wanted more flexibility in my Morocco itinerary by flying out of a different Moroccan airport at the end of my trip. I could avoid spending an extra travel day trying to return to the original airport I landed in and trek “one-way” across Morocco.
HOW TO SPEND One Week IN Morocco: FULL Itinerary
DAY #1 • ARRIVE IN MARRAKECH
I landed in Marrakech, Morocco around 7:20pm. Given that it was nighttime, I definitely did not want to deal with trying to grab a taxi in an unfamiliar place. So, with the help of the owners of where I was staying, Riad Dar Tiflet, I pre-arranged for a car to pick me up from Marrakech airport. A driver met me with a sign, making it really easy and stress-free to get from the airport to my accommodations.
Upon arriving, I was invited to enjoy mint tea and share in conversations with the Riad owners. Many steps later, I was sitting on the rooftop overlooking Marrakech. As I sipped tea with my new friends in Northern Africa, I knew I was in for quite an adventure.
Sleep: Riad Dar Tiflet (Marrakech)
DAY #2 • EXPLORE MARRAKECH
After arriving late Saturday in Marrakech, I woke up tired but ready to explore the fourth largest city in Morocco. I stayed within the medina, the oldest part of the city with fortified walls mostly still intact. I spent the day winding through the maze of narrow alleyways and streets, only resorting to my GPS when absolutely necessary (which did happen a few times!).
Highlights of Marrakech included:
- Jemaa El Fna
- Bahia Palace
- Badi Palace
- Koutoubia Mosque
Sleep: Riad Dar Tiflet (Marrakech)
DAY #3 • Depart Marrakech on Sahara Desert Tour
In the spirit of spontaneity, I waited until I arrived in Marrakech to book my Sahara Desert Tour. If you are debating whether or not to squeeze the Desert into a one week Morocco itinerary, definitely go for it as it is such an incredible experience. Also, if you really want to book in advance, here is another tour company that will take you on a nearly identical journey.
With the help of Riad Dar Tiflet, I booked a 3-day, 2-night Sahara Desert Tour. At the time, I had to trust that my hosts, who make a commission by referring me, were putting me in good hands. All in all, the tour was a big success and absolutely a highlight of my trip.
The first day of the tour covered about 7 hours of driving, taking us through the High Atlas Mountains.
The small tour bus made several stops at major sights including:
- Kasbah Ait Benhaddou: a UNESCO world heritage site
- Ouarzazate: small town where we stopped for lunch
- Kasbah Amridil: a historic fortified kasbah in the oasis of Skoura, Morocco
Sleep: Bed & Breakfast (included in the tour) in the Dades Valley
Day #4 • Sahara Desert Tour
The first thing to note is that Sahara Desert Tours are not actually to the Sahara Desert unless you plan to do an extended multi-day trek that takes you far beyond where the shorter 2-3 day tours bring groups. The desert is actually Erg Chebbi near Merzouga. Regardless, pretty much everyone just says the Sahara Desert so I, too, will refer to it as such.
We rode camels to the Sahara Desert camp where we set up for the night. Some went sandboarding while others relaxed as the sun set. Later, after dinner, we sat on the dunes by an open fire as local nomads played drums and sang songs.
Sleep: Tent in the Sahara Desert (included in the tour)
DAY #5 • Sahara Desert to Fes
The next morning, we trekked across the desert again where we met a guide to drive us to the Moroccan city of Fes.
As we drove through the Middle Atlas Mountains, we stopped briefly to stretch our legs. It was then that we noticed Barbary apes hanging out in the forest! In the early evening, we arrived in Fes, said our goodbyes, and off I went through the medina maze to find the Riad I had booked.
Sleep: Dar Hafsa (Fes)
DAY #6 • EXPLORE FES & DEPART TO Chefchaeouen
Fes is the cultural capital of Morocco and an absolutely fascinating city to visit. Ideally two days would be spent in Fes, but with only one week in Morocco, one day will have to work. That said, make sure to get up extra early. Also, Fes is very easy to get lost in. A guide is the only way to get the most out of your visit so I highly recommend arranging one with your accommodation host. I booked my guide the previous evening with Dar Hafsa.
We managed to fit SO much into a single day, which is entirely due to a guide who knew exactly how to navigate such a complex city. Places we explored included:
- Madrasa Bou Inania: the largest Quaran school in Fes and architecturally stunning
- Chouara Tanneries: the oldest, most famous tannery in Fes
- Jnan Sbil Garden
- Gates of the Royal Palace
- Bab Bou Jeloud: the Blue Gat, one of the main entrances to the Fes medina
- Souks (markets) and more!
After a very adventurous, but exciting day, I took an evening bus from Fes to Chefchaouen – aka the famous Blue City.
Sleep: Airbnb (Chefchaouen)
DAY #7 • EXPLORE Chefchaouen & DEPART to Tangier
Chefchaouen is known as the Blue City due to painted walls throughout the town. Although tiny, Chefchaouen is beautiful. Without a plan, but fueled with espresso, I wandered aimlessly through the narrow streets and explored the cute, small shops.
In the late afternoon, I took a bus to Tangier and enjoyed dinner at Anna e Paolo, an Italian restaurant (because by this point I was admittedly pretty over eating Moroccan cuisine…).
Sleep: Hotel Maram (Tangier)
DAY #8 • Depart Tangier
With an early flight, I departed for the airport in a cab arranged for me by Hotel Maram.
ONE WEEK MOROCCO ITINERARY: WHERE TO STAY (RECAP)
WHERE TO STAY IN MARRAKECH
WHERE TO STAY IN THE SaHarA DESERT
- Book a multi-day Desert tour and stay in a tent!
WHERE TO STAY IN FES
WHERE TO STAY IN CHEFCHAEOUEN
- Airbnb – If you have never used Airbnb before, here is a link so you can save $50 off your first booking (which will save you even more money!). My link will also provide you with a $15 credit to try out Airbnb experiences.
WHERE TO STAY IN TANGIER
One Week Morocco ItinerARY: FINAL THOUGHTS
Morocco was completely different from any place I had previously visited. Would I go back? My honest feeling is that I probably would not put it near the top of my list of places to return to. Don’t get me wrong – I loved my trip. But, it feels like one of those trips you do just once. It was a LOT (emotionally) trying to navigate such a foreign place where, as a white woman with light hair, I felt a bit “exposed’. While I always felt relatively safe, I was consistently on high alert to make sure.
Despite my hesitance on a second trip, I would absolutely recommend that anyone who has not yet been to Morocco make a sincere effort to go; you will not regret it. From the ancient medinas to the “Sahara” Desert, Morocco is a bucket list trip unlike any other.
Looking for other bucket list travel destinations and itineraries? Check out my post on how to spend one day in Iceland in the winter!