What’s the biggest mistake travelers make when planning a trip to Morocco? Packing too much into too little time. From the vast Sahara desert to to shorelines of the Atlantic, Morocco stretches over 274,461 square miles. For comparison sake, that’s almost twice the size of California.
A 10 day Morocco itinerary incorporates all of the highlights of this multi-dimensional country. Anything less than 10 days, you’ll likely have to skip the Sahara desert or some of the other unique Moroccan cities. You also have to factor in that you’ll loose at least two days while traveling in Morocco.
It is entirely possible to DIY your entire trip to Morocco. However, joining a reputable group tour will definitely help you navigate the terrain and culture of this country. I visited Morocco on a 10 day yoga retreat with Traverse Journeys, which incorporated Marrakesh, the Sahara, Fes, Chefchouen, and much more.
The Ultimate 10 Day Morocco Itinerary
- The Ultimate 10 Day Morocco Itinerary
- Day 0: arrival in Marrakech
- Day 1: Ait Ben Haddou
- Day 2: Rug Co-Opt En Route to the Sahara
- Day 3: Exploring the Sahara
- Day 4: Overnight in the Oasis
- Day 5 & 6: Exploring Marrakech
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Day 0: arrival in Marrakech
We stayed at Le Bled De Gre, just outside the Marrakech airport. This was ideal so we could relax in the lush gardens, swim in the pool, and have a delicious meal before beginning our journey in the morning. We even got to play with the owner’s three dogs!
If you wanted a little extra time in Marrakech, you could book something closer to the city center. I would avoid going into the Medina (old city) until you come back and have more time.
You can book a transfer from the airport in advance, usually with your accommodation. Also, after leaving the international terminal you can get money out of the airport ATM. I would recommend this instead of coming with money to exchange.
You can book transfer to and from Marrakech airport here.
Day 1: Ait Ben Haddou
As you make your way to the Sahara, stopping at the legendary Ait Ben Haddou along the way is practically a right of passage. (It takes about 4 hours from Marrakech to get here.) This UNESCO-world heritage site is a fortified village (ksar) perched along the Caravan route. Dating back to the 11th century, these Kasabahs are made out of earthen clay from the High Atlas Mountains.
Today the terracotta-colored town is barely inhabited. However, this site is referred to as the “Hollywood of the Sahara”. Game of Thrones, Gladiator, The Mummy, The Last Temptation of Christ, and many other productions have been filmed here.
After a long day of exploring, we slept over in the nearby village of Ouarzazate. We stayed at Dar Kamar, a 3-star hotel with a gorgeous rooftop where we did yoga under the moonlight.
You can check out other accommodation in this village here.
Day 2: Rug Co-Opt En Route to the Sahara
Day 2 begins with continuing the journey into the Sahara desert. In case you didn’t already know, you CAN’T take a day trip into the Sahara. It takes about 8 hours to get into the desert from Marrakesh, so you need an entire day of driving. So, you’ll have to book a Sahara 3 day tour.
Along the way you have the option to stop at many of the indigenous Amazigh villages where you can buy “berber” rugs. Keep in mind that “berber” is considered offensive to some Moroccans, because of its colonialist roots. The proper term for indigenous people of Morocco is Amazigh.
Our tour stopped at a women’s co-op in a small village on the way to the Sahara.
- Here we learned how these women weave rugs and textiles from yarn naturally dyed from flowers and spices.
- They’ve kept this tradition alive for generations, and this work financially supports the entire village.
- Each of the women take 95% of the profits from each rug, and the other 5% goes towards the community.
I bought a small area rug for $70, which was a bit on the expensive side. However, it was worth it to see the look of pure joy on the woman’s face when I finally decided to buy it. She invited me into her home and even offered me a bag of oranges for the road.
The journey into the Sahara is also half of the fun. It gets to a point where you no longer have cell service or signal, and the dirt roads just turn into sand dunes. This is why it’s important to go to the Sahara with a guide who knows the lay of the land!
You’ll likely reach your camp in the Sahara just in time for dinner and sunset.
Day 3: Exploring the Sahara
Day 3 of this 10 day Morocco itinerary is all about exploring the Sahara. Take this time to unplug and adventure around the camp. Enjoy the digital detox!
Not only will most camps provide for your meals (may or may not be included), they may also provide additional activities. Additional activities in the Sahara include:
- Camel riding at sunset (extra cost)
- Visit to a nearby oasis (extra cost)
- Exploring the sand dunes independently
- Star gazing
- Drum circles at night
- Rest and relaxation
Before going into the Sahara, know that most camps consist of glamping, permanent tent structures with bathrooms, electricity, and a dining tent. You should know that most camps don’t have outlets, so you’ll have to bring a portable charger.
For everything you need to know before you visit the Sahara desert, read this guide here.
Day 4: Overnight in the Oasis
There’s no way around it: the journey out of the Sahara desert is a stretch. That’s why you’ll also need to stop somewhere for a night on the way back into Marrakesh. You’ll likely have to drive a minimum of 2-3 hours to get out of the Sahara. Tours stop a couple of times along the way for bathroom breaks, snacks, and usually for lunch in one of the smaller villages.
Our tour stopped in Agdz in the Zagora region, which had some of the most memorable landscapes I saw in Morocco. This region consists of the Zagora mountain and the Daa river, weaving through the desert terrain. This region is home to some of the best dates in all of Morocco.
I loved our accommodation at Lodge Hara Oasis just as much as the region itself. The property grounds are filled with rooftops overlooking the valley, cozy garden spaces, and traditional décor from the North African region. The rooms are cozy and well-decorated and the entire lodge runs on solar energy.
As much as I did enjoy the Sahara desert, I think I would definitely come back to this region and unplug here for a couple days. There was several times I thought to myself, “now THIS feels like Africa”.
Day 5 & 6: Exploring Marrakech
The next morning you’ll still have to drive five hours to get back to Marrakech. You have the option of stopping along the way through the Atlas Mountains. There are several where you’ll find fresh juice or coffee overlooking a picturesque look-out point.
Ideally you should look for accommodation in Marrakech that’s just outside the Medina. Why? The Medina is incredible hard to navigate, and you won’t want to be lugging your suitcases through the narrow streets. Cars can only go up to a certain point.
During the afternoon you may wish to relax at a hammam. I would recommend opting for a private hammam, where you can have a luxurious spa treatment. Hammams typical offer a treatment that involved scrubbing the dead skin off of your entire body and then applying special soaps and oils. Your skin might need it after coming out of the dry desert!
You can read more about hammams in Marrakech here.
The evening you may choose to get dinner somewhere near your hotel/riad, or explore the area. I wouldn’t recommend going too far into the Medina for the first time at night, as it is really easy to get lost.
Souks of Marrakech
For your second day in Marrakech, you’ll definitely want to spend it exploring the Medina and souks (markets). While many walk through the Medinas without a guide, you do have to know where you are going. You also have to anticipate that along the way some may offer to give you a tour, or try to give you directions (and then ask for money).You can always take a tour of the Medina in Marrakesh to get comfortable with it and then go back and do some shopping on your own. Keep in mind that bargaining is part of the culture here. You should never pay full price, or feel pressured to pay immediately.
Day 7 & 8: Relax in Fes
The journey from Marrakech to Fes takes about 7 hours by train. If you leave early enough in the morning you can still get to Fes by 4 p.m. or so, just in time for dinner. Fes is home to some of the most gorgeous riads, so if you’re looking to splurge on accommodation somewhere, it would definitely be here. Just take a look at all these gorgeous riads in Fes!
I would recommend booking a hotel with a rooftop and restaurant so that you can relax after a long journey of traveling. Otherwise you can check out some of the best restaurants in Fes here.
Old town of Fes
For your second day in Fes, I recommend starting off with a tour of the Fes Medina. Fes’s Medina is extremely intricate and narrow, much more so than Marrakesh. The Medina dates back to the 9th century, and today is considered a UNESCO world heritage site.
One of the most notable attractions in Fes are the tanneries, claimed to be the largest tannieres in the world. You can usually ask your tour guides to take you to the tanneries, or you can wander out later and find them yourself.
They are usually very hard to find, as you enter a door through a small building to the leather shop that overlooks the tanneries themselves. This is the leather shop and tannery we visited. It had a large selection of leather goods and accessories in just about every color you can imagine.
In the evening you may wish to walk around Fes again on your own, or check out some of the local restaurants. I would caution against walking around Fes at night, as it is so easy to get lost. It’s best to hang out in the evenings within your riad.
Day 9: Hues Chefchaouen
Portrait photos by Josh Telles
Also known as the blue pearl, you’ve likely seen Chefchaouen on Instagram or Pinterest at some point. This town is located in the mountains and is completely blue. It takes about 3 and a half hours to get here by car. This town is definitely worth it: people are just as inviting as the vibrant streets.
The indigo-colored houses dates back to 1492, when Jews took refuge in this town during the Spanish inquisition. The community decided to paint the town a traditional blue color. The blue color mirrors the sky and reminded them of God.
Today these iconic hues are well preserved within the walled city. It’s a popular destination for photography, and our group was lucky enough to have a celebrity photographer along on our group tour. Even if you’re not a professional, you’ll be sure to get some great shots here!
The town also has plenty of shops, restaurants, and little cafes. When walking around, you might have someone offer you “hash”. Hash is popular throughout Morocco, but especially in Chefchaouen, due to the nearby Cannabis fields. I wouldn’t recommend buying this from some random person you meet on the street!
You really should stay the night in Chefchaouen to get the full experience. There are several boutique hotels within the Old Town. We stayed in this adorable boutique hotel, with a gorgeous blue rooftop overlooking the city. The staff was so hospitable and really made us feel like at home.
Day 10: Coast of Tangier
Coast nearby Tangier. Photo via Flickr.
I planned to explore this region (on my own, after our group tour ended), but had to skip this due to covid-19.
For the last leg of your 10 day Morocco Itinerary, you’ll head to the port town of Tangier. This will take about two hours from Chefchaouen. Depending on what time you leave in the morning, you can still have some time to explore the city. Tangier is known as the bridge between North Africa and Europe, located on the bay of the Gibraltar Strait.
Tangier is filled with both colonial and Moroccan history. Some of the most popular attractions include the Dar el Makhzen (royal palace), Park Rmilat, American Legation Museum, and more. If you have time, the Hercules Cave in the Cape Spartel cliffside region has some of the best seaside views.
Otherwise, you can chill out at some of Tangier’s beaches or nicest hotels. There are plenty that have a breathtaking view over the Strait of Gibraltar.
You should plan to depart from Tangier airport, or you can also take the ferry across to Spain. The other closest airports will be Rabat, 3 hours away, and Casablanca, 2 hours away.
If you choose to add onto your itinerary for 12-14 days (or longer!) you could make your way along the coast exploring Rabat, Casablanca, and Essaouira. Keep in mind that many travelers say there isn’t much to see in Casablanca, other than the Hassan II Mosque perched on the ocean!
You can book transport to the airports here.
Morocco itinerary modifications
There are numerous ways you can tailor this itinerary, depending on your interests and allotted time. Unless you only plan on spending time in 1-2 cities, it’s hard to do Morocco in less than 7 days. Again, keep in mind travel time between cities.
Here are some modification options:
Skip the Sahara desert
Although the Sahara is magical, it does take a lot of time and effort to get here. As I previously mentioned, you can’t take a day trip to the Sahara from Marrakech, so you really need at least 3 days. If you’re not a fan of the desert scenery, you could add on more time in Marrakech, Fes, or any of the other cities instead.
Surf along the coast
Whether you would like to extend your 10 day Morocco itinerary, or replace the Sahara desert portion with something else, you may want to consider heading to the coast of Morocco. The town of Essaouira sits on the Atlantic Coast, known for great surfing and home to a large expat and international community.
You can read more about exploring Essaouira here.
Morocco Yoga retreat
Photo by Josh Telles
If you loved this itinerary, but hate the idea of planning it all, consider joining Traverse Journeys on this small group tour and yoga retreat in Morocco. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to see all that I did without them and our local guide’s in-depth knowledge.
Plus, I found that daily yoga flows were extremely restorative and grounding between all the travel around Morocco. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or just a beginner, our group catered to all experience levels, and really enhanced our trip. Some of my favorite memories during our trip were:
- Sunset yoga in the Sahara
- Sunrise yoga in Agdez
- Rooftop yoga sessions in Marrakech
To learn more about up-coming dates in 2021, click here to learn more.
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*Disclaimer: I was a guest of Traverse Journeys on this Morocco yoga retreat. All opinions are authentic and my own.