A 7-Day Moroccan Travel Itinerary
As the gateway to Africa, Morocco is a veritable melting pot of cultures, cuisines and customs. You can immerse yourself in bustling markets awash with activity, marvel at stunning architecture and become utterly charmed by the inimitable hospitality of the locals. If you’re short on time but want to experience the best of Morocco in just seven days, here’s a suggested travel itinerary which is sure to leave you dreaming of your return to this most magical of lands.
As the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities, Fes has plenty to offer history buffs and culture vultures alike. Dive headfirst into the city’s medieval past with a meandering stroll through its sprawling Fes el Bali medina, navigating its labyrinthine streets and soaking up the sights, sounds and smells en route.
Head up to the charming rooftop terrace of Riad Rcif for a mouth-watering traditional Moroccan lunch, accompanied by a bird’s eye view of the city, before visiting the famous Chouara Tannery to witness how leather is dried, tanned and dyed for sale. Next, stop by the nearby Al Attrine Madrasa to admire the stunning intricacy of the Islamic architecture, before heading back to the atmospheric boutique hotel in the heart of Fes, the Riad Fes for a delicious dinner in its cosy dining room and a sumptuous night’s sleep.
Just an hour’s drive west of the city is another impressive imperial city and former capital in the shape of Meknes. On the way, you’ll pass by field after field of vineyards, producing excellent wine that is often exported to France. Upon arrival in Meknes, it’s a good idea to check out the Place el-Hedim, the main square in the medina, as well as the mausoleum of one-time ruler Moulay Ismail and the Rouah, his stable which once housed 12,000 horses.
Riad Ma Boheme is an excellent place to sample local delicacies and spend a luxuriously long lunch, just off the main square, before it’s back on the road and onto Volubilis. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a partly-excavated Roman stronghold, Volubilis is an archaeologist’s paradise and a place of exceptional beauty even for the casual traveller. After all that antiquity, it’s back to Fes to luxury boutique hotel Hotel Sahrai, where another delicious banquet and an incredibly comfortable bed awaits.
After touching down in Marrakech and checking into French-style boutique hotel Riad de Tarabel, you’ll want to wander around the souks and streets of the medina. That’s a task that’s easier said than done, however, and don’t be scared to lose yourself completely in the city’s winding alleys and pathways.
Once you’ve got your bearings, indulge in an extraordinary lunch at the Riad Jemaa el Fna, overlooking the bustling square of the same name, before heading south for a visit to the Bahia Palace, an eight-hectare marvel of 19th-century architecture. After all that pavement pounding, you’ll surely deserve some rest and relaxation, so treat yourself to a massage at Le Jardin Secret, before another impeccable evening meal back at your lodgings.
Rise with the birds and make a beeline for the world-famous Atlas Mountains, passing through the Three Valleys during your excursion. Here, you’ll have a chance to really get to grips with Moroccan culture by visiting a Berber family, sampling a traditionally-cooked tagine for lunch, hiking to stunning waterfalls, learning about the process of making argan oil and even riding a camel! Expect spectacular vistas and breath-taking scenery, as well as great hospitality from your local hosts. After an exhausting round trip back to Marrakech, recharge your batteries with a relaxed evening meal at Riad el Mezouar, an authentic luxury riad, where you’ll spend a restorative final night in Marrakech.
After all the excitement of the day before, a more peaceful programme is in order. Escape the frenzied activity of the city’s souks and marketplaces by dropping by the world-famous Jardin Majorelle, an oasis of calm and natural charisma just to the north of the medina. Created over 40 years by French painter and amateur botanist Jacques Majorelle (and later bought by fashion icon Yves Saint Lauren), the garden offers visitors bubbling fountains, exotic plant life and a tranquil atmosphere unlike anywhere else in the city.
Fill up with a hearty lunch at the nearby Pause Gourmande restaurant, before taking a private transfer to the last stop on your itinerary, the coastal city of Essaouira. Check in to the five-star luxury hotel Heure Bleue Palais and unwind on the hotel’s rooftop pool, before sampling some of its sophisticated local cuisine at the in-house restaurant.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll around Essaouira’s old town, taking in the centuries of culture embedded in the ancient city walls and the quaint simplicity of its fishing port. Grab an affordable but appetising lunch at the fish market, offering the freshest and tastiest fruits of the sea, or better yet combine all of the above in an enjoyable culinary walking tour.
In just three hours, you can venture off the beaten tourist trail and visit the oldest pastry shop in the city, sample some of the city’s favourite delicacies and get the inside scoop on which stall offers the finest produce at the seaside souk. Round off the day with a visit to the Galerie la Kasbah to view the cream of Moroccan art, before another evening meal of national specialities at Salut Maroc, a brightly-coloured and supremely-comfortable boutique hotel, the last of your trip.
Essaouira is famous above all for its splendid stretch of pristine white sand, so give your tan a final top-up before you leave by heading to the nearby beach. Surf enthusiasts can catch some of the best waves on the African coast, while there’s ample room on the shore to simply lay back and relax on the sand for those less actively minded.
If you still have the time (and the energy!), the Essaouira medina is a far more laid-back and languid animal than those in Fes or Marrakech, making it a great place to grab some last-minute souvenirs and a tasty last supper, before waving goodbye to the vibrancy and verve of Morocco until next time. Bon voyage!