Morocco is a country of variety. It’s possible to travel from snow capped mountains to huge orange sand dunes in a single day. From ancient architecture, donkeys & carts and crumbling medinas to shopping malls and luxury resorts on tree lined streets, I truly believe that Morocco has something for everyone. For us, we wanted to experience as much of Morocco as possible in 16 days whilst sticking to a budget of about £27 a day. We wanted to experience both new and old Morocco, to learn about modern Morocco as well as experience traditional berber culture. And of course see as many different natural landscapes as possible. We had just over 2 weeks in Morocco and after a lot of planning, this was our final itinerary:
Please note, at the time of writing, 10 Moroccan Dirhams (Dh) is equal to approx $1/ £0.80
1. Marrakech (3 nights)
As many people do, we flew into the city of Marrakech. It was dark and quite late when we arrived in the densely packed walled Medina, and its true when they say that Marrakech will awaken every sense in your body. A little hint of culture shock mixed with a little bit of chaos and the new sights and the new smells that immediately woke my mind up to remind me exactly why I love to travel.
Marrakech is also a city catered to the tourist, with plenty of luxury hotels if that takes your fancy, but we stayed in the lovely, quiet and traditional Riad Dar Othmane. Our room was very cheap at just £17/ 20 Euros a night for a huge double room with private bathroom and the price included a lovely and filling breakfast.
While in Marrakech, make sure you visit the ‘Jemaa el-Fnaa’. This is the main square of Marrakech and it comes alive once the sun goes down. During the day, there is plenty to do to keep you entertained for 2-3 days. We loved simply wandering around the Medina and seeing some of the beautiful architecture, such as the Ben Youssef Madrasa and The Koutoubia Mosque.
2. Imlil (2 nights)
The huge snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains blend into the clouds surrounding the city of Marrakech. These mountains seem a world away from the busy, bustling city but they are actually very accessible and easy to travel to independently.
The ‘Bab er Robb’ taxi station in Marrakech is the place where mini-buses and taxi’s shuttle people from the city to the mountains. There are no set times for the mini buses, instead they regularly leave when full. The whole journey in total took us less than 2 hours and cost 40 DH per person
Imlil is a popular base for trekking in the Atlas Mountains and particularly popular for those wanting to hike Mt Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. If you plan on hiking Mt Toubkal, you will need to add an extra day or two on to this itinerary. Instead, we went on a very enjoyable day hike, with a trekking guide which we arranged through our accommodation Riad Atlas Prestige. We felt that the guide for the day was good value for money; 577 DH (about 53 Euros) for both of us for the whole day including lunch.
Riad Atlas Prestige cost us just £17 a night for a private room including a huge breakfast. Dinner is an additional cost of 8 Euros per person, but it really was some of the best food we had in Morocco.
When leaving Imlil to head back to Marrakech, it is a little trickier as not as many minibuses or grand-taxi’s pass through here, so you can either wait for one to turn up and fill up (again, no time-table, so you could be waiting hours) or just get in a taxi (240 DH in total)
3. Ouarzazate (1 night)
Once back in Marrakech, it’s time to hop on the 3pm bus to Ouarzazate. Tickets can be purchased from the Supratours bus station, which is also where the bus departs from. A ticket to Ouarzazate will cost you 80 DH per person and takes 5 hours.
In Ouarzazate we stayed in Hotel Marmar. We thought this hotel was a great budget option, it is located just a 5-10 minute walk up the road from where the bus stops and it cost us 25 euros for a private double room including breakfast.
Ouarzazate is a city otherwise known as ‘the gateway to the Sahara Desert’, for us was simply a convenient stopping point en-route from Marrakech to The Sahara Desert, but if you have more time you may want to spend 2 nights in Ouarzazate, to allow time for a day trip to visit the famous Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah. If you have time for just 1 night like us, visit the Taourirt Kasbah in Ouarzazate in the morning, and then catch the 1pm Supratours bus from Ouarzazate towards Merzouga.
4. Hassilabied and The Sahara Desert (4 nights in total)
After about 8 hours on the bus we finally made it to Hassilabied! A village in the middle of the Sahara Desert, located one stop on the bus before Merzouga. We stayed at a hostel called Auberge la Source for night 1 and 4, where we had booked a really nice private room, including breakfast, for just £14.
Riding on a camel through rolling sand dunes, feeling complete isolation, and spending the night in the middle of the desert had been a dream of mine for a while, and fortunately, it is also possible to do quite cheaply!
Auberge la Source was a very good budget option for Desert excursions, at just $35 for a 1 night Sahara Desert tour, or $80 for a 2 day tour. We chose the 2 day option and loved it! You can read more about it in my post about our journey to The Sahara Desert. We particularly enjoyed day 2 where we got to visit a tradditional berber village in the desert.
5. Fes (2 nights)
There is 1 daily night bus that goes direct from Merzouga (stopping at Hassilabied) all the way to Fes. This bus cost 180 DH per person and departed Hassilabied just after 7pm and arrived at Fes at 4.15am.
In Fes we stayed in Riad dar Barrada. Which although there were a few complications on arrival, at just £16 per night for a double room, this Riad is a good budget option in Fes.
While in Fes, make sure you visit the Chaouwara tanneries, just pay 10 Dh to one of the leather store owners surrounding the tannery for a view from one of their terraces. The tanneries (although very smelly) were our favourite thing to see in Fes, it was fascinating that there has been such little change in the methods and natural process since medieval times.
6. Rabat (3 nights)
After nearly 2 weeks of travelling in Morocco we made it to Rabat, a city with a relaxed vibe that I instantly loved. Located on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast, Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and is a lot smaller than nearby city Casablanca. It’s elegant tree-lined streets give it a very European feel and it’s Medina kept us entertained for hours with some of the best shopping and some of the cheapest food we came across during our time in Morocco.
Rabat is located on Morocco’s very efficient railway line, travel to and from Rabat couldn’t have been any easier. It took us just over 3 hours to get to Rabat from Fes on the train and the ticket cost 85Dh per person (£6.80).
We felt like 3 days was plenty of time in Rabat, but it was nice to relax and take it slow after a busy few weeks travelling around the rest of the country. We also managed to fit in a day trip to Casablanca!
In Rabat we stayed in Hotel Lutece, which cost us £31 a night for a private room and despite costing double what most of our other rooms in Morocco cost, it was one of the cheapest we could find in Rabat and it was perfect for us.
7. Casablanca (0 nights)
We decided to use Rabat as a base and visit Casablanca as a day trip, mainly due to the high cost of accommodation in Casablanca, plus it is only 1 hour away on the train. It is definitely easy and cheap to do as a day trip, plus if you get up early enough it is possible to see all the main attractions in 1 day, we definitely recommend a visit to the huge Hassan II Mosque!
Trains run regularly all day from Rabat-Ville train station to Casablanca until about 10PM at night. Casablanca has 2 train stations and we went to/ from the station called ‘Casa Port’, the journey takes 1 hour and cost us 35 Dh per person.
8. Meknes (1 night)
We visited Meknes for 1 night on our way back towards Fes from Rabat, as we were flying from Fes back to the UK. However if you are flying out of Casablanca or Marrakech for example, you may want to visit Meknes on your way from Fes to Rabat instead.
Meknes is one of Morocco’s imperial cities, and we actually preferred it to Fes. To get to Meknes from Rabat, it takes just over 2 hours on the train and costs 69Dh (£5.50).
In Meknes we stayed in Ryad bab Berdaine which cost us just £15 a night for a private room, plus about £3 city tax. We highly recommend this Ryad, it was one of our favourites in Morocco and it had a really beautiful roof terrace.
From Meknes, it was then just 22 Dh on the train back to Fes, the journey takes just under an hour.
Top Tip: If you are going from Fes Train Station to Fes Saiss Airport like we were, here is how you can get there on local public transport without having to pay for a taxi:
As you leave the train station, walk to the main road ahead, then turn right and you will see the ‘grand taxi’ stand. A little further ahead is the stop for the airport bus, there is no actual ‘bus stop’ sign, so just stand under the advertising billboard. The bus cost just 4 Dh (0.32p!) and takes about 40 mins. ONLY use this option though if you have plenty of time, we waited an hour and 10 mins for the airport bus to arrive. But there were plenty of locals also at the stop who we could have split a taxi with if the bus took much longer to arrive. The taxi’s seemed to have a fixed price of 120 Dh from the station to the airport.
And that is my Ultimate Itinerary for 2 and a half weeks in Morocco! An exciting country that offered so much to see and is possible to do very cheaply. Any questions? Please ask away in the comments below!