Last April I spent 7 days in Morocco – here is how I organised my journey, along with few tips to get your trips planned as easily as possible.
I will share the trip with my timings and from my own point of view then you pick and choose info and tips to create your own perfect adventure.
I had 7 full days – excluding 2 days for travelling so I originally decided to spend 3 days in Marrakech, 1 in Essaouira and 3 days for a road trip, with final stop the desert of Merzouga.
Then things changed slightly due to some last minute “problems”.
🍃 Day 1 – Travelling from Tenerife to Marrakech
– It all started with a flight from Tenerife at 18:00 with a stop at Casablanca at arrival in Marrakech at 23:40
I decided not to visit Casablanca given the limited time I had. Having the luxury of time, I would have visited every single corner of Morocco – but I didn’t. So based on what I researched online I decided not to stop there for my trip. The airport in Casablanca was quite small and spartan, luckily it was only a short stop.
Arrived at the airport of Marrakech I took a taxi until the Medina (the city centre).
The medina is not accessible by car and is a true labyrinth to navigate, especially if it’s your first visit.
Our first stop was the Riad Chi Chi and we organised with the hotel for someone to come and pick me and Gianni up at the main square to guide us up to the hotel.
I am quite confident with my skills as traveller so I was really tempted to find the way myself with google maps. Just so glad I did rely on the Riad in the end as I would have probably get lost 3-4 times!
Arrived at the Riad I enjoyed the peace and the silence before heading to bed. Such a huge contrast with the loudy streets of la Medina.
🍃 Day 2 – First day in Marrakech
Woke up in Marrakech we enjoyed breakfast at the riad with heart-shaped pancakes, fresh orange juice and some tagines.
We then headed to:
- Jemaa el Fna, the main square and market in Marrakech, this place is open and vibrant with people all 24 hours.
We headed here to get a local sim car with internet data to walk around independently.
I would strongly suggest this to be fully autonomous and avoid at all costs to ask for directions (as you might have read online already, there are people everywhere stopping you trying to give you wrong directions. This happened to me at all times, so avoid asking for directions while in the streets).
From here you can also walk by the:
- Koutoubia Mosque, or Kutubiyya Mosque. The largest mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco. The mosque is also known by several other names, such as Jami’ al-Kutubiyah, Kotoubia
Mosque, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers. Only Muslims can access it.
With the power granted by Google Maps I could finally start properly my exploration of the city. This is what I then visited on day 1.
- La Medina
As I already mentioned this is a real labyrinth, full of markets, restaurants, coffee shops and riads. It’s an amazing place to explore, as long as you don’t get lost for real!
It’s a dreamy place, but always keep your eyes open as it’s a place ready to bring back to reality a traveller walking on clouds.
- Ben Youssef Medersa:
Islamic school attached to the Ben Youssef Mosque, is home to some of the most beautiful art and architecture in Marrakesh.
Nearby you will also find another important building of the town:
- Almoravid Koubba:
Also called Koubba Ba’adiyn, is the oldest building in Marrakesh and the only Almoravid building remaining in Morocco.
This didn’t really take much of my time, since it can only be seen from the outside since it has been closed for renovations for a while!
- We then stopped at the Café Restaurant Jad Jamal for a snack.
This place was super central and had a terrace with an incredible view over the main attractions of Marrakech, just opposite the Ben Youssef. I was surprised that it was almost empty since it had good prices, good quality and had positive reviews also on Tripadvisor.
Here I had the “brilliant idea” to have a cup of fresh fruit that is probably what caused me food poisoning that impacted on my plans.
- After our snack break we headed back to the Riad and here we went to enjoy a classic Hammam experience. I wrote more about this experience here.
Once back at the hotel I started feeling very bad with my stomach and unfortunately, I have been K.O. for almost 24 hours.
🍃 Day 3 – Second day in Marrakech
After two nights at the Riad Chi Chi we moved to another Riad, the Riad Karmela Princesse
This is the most amazing riad we visited with the most appealing architecture and design.
The management of the Riad come to pick up us to guide us to our new destination.
I really struggled to walk even for 10 minutes as my stomach really hurt, so I had to force myself to rest for almost the entire day to recover and unfortunately I didn’t manage to see much of Marrakech that day.
Just in the late afternoon we went exploring the Medina again and also went to:
- Le Jardin Secret:
This is one of the largest and most ancient Riads of the medina of Marrakech now open as a public garden for tourists. I would suggest going here if you have a spare hour in Marrakech. If you have limited time and are looking to visit only one of the gardens, go for the Jardine Majorelle, that is far more impressive in my opinion.
🍃 Day 4 – Third day in Marrakech
The third day we walked from the Medina to the:
- Jardin Majorelle.
Your Riad or hotel will probably suggest you to take a cab, since walking will take approx. 30 minutes, but went for a walk and it’s an amazing chance to see some of the less touristic spots of the city.
This artistic, dreamy garden is one of the places I liked the most of Marrakech. It’s also famous as the gardens were loved and restored by Yves Saint Laurent.
After spending few hours in the garden, we took a cab to head to the south of the city and visit:
- El Badi Palace, a ruined palace that used to host lavish parties and royal gatherings. Here you can also visit the old underground prisons.
- and Palais de la Bahia, a 19th century palace with a set of gardens.
🍃 Day 5-6-7 – Desert Trip
After three days in Marrakech we started our road trip around Morocco.
Itinerary for day 1 of the trip:
Marrakech – Atlas Mountains – Ait Benhaddou – Ouarzazate – Roses Valley – Dades
I have been on this trip with Gray Line and I would strongly recommend this tour operator.
Gray Line picked us up from our riad to start the journey from Marrakech to Dades Gorges across the Atlas mountains – here you will enjoy amazing views of the mountains and they will stop on the way to see the traditional Berber villages.
We then stopped at Ait Benhaddou, that is a UNESCO world heritage place but it’s also known as Game of Thrones filmed some scenes here, the city is, in fact, Yunkai in the GOT world and if you are a fan of the show it will be easily recognizable.
Final stop with the tour were the film studios in Ouarzazate,had lunch there and then we stopped at Ouarzazate for the night, having time to visit the city ourselves.
I went to visit the Kasbah Taourirt, then strolled around for a while. The city is quite small and far far less touristic than Marrakech.
Itinerary for day 2 of the road trip:
Roses Valley – Dades Gorges – Todra Gorges – Underground River – Merzouga (Camel ride & Night in desert)
After breakfast we continued our journey through the roses valley (that we admired mainly from the car), aimed to Dades Gorges.
The Dades valley in between two rivers seems to belong to a different planet. This was one of the highlights of the journey for me and going back to Morocco I would definitely spend more time there.
We also visited the Todra Gorges plus some Berber villages scattered along the way. Then had another stop to visit the tent of a beduin and the underground tunnel that he had been digging himself that in the past had been an underground river.
Gianni also had a splits competition with him before leaving – classic.
We then arrived to Merzouga. In theory we should have left our luggage at the hotel, prepare a small bad with the necessary for the night in the desert and ride the camels on an adventure crossing the Erg Chebbi sand dunes, to camp in the desert.
Still, this is not what the Sahara had in mind for us, so due to a strong sad storm we had to stop at the hotel where we spent the night. Since the hotel was on the very border of the desert we did adventure ourselves for a walk but the wind was way too strong to fully enjoy it.
Road Trip Day 3: Merzouga – Alnif – N’kob -Draa Valley – Atlas mountains – Back to Marrakech
The last day we woke up super early in the morning for a camel ride in the desert.
The tour really tried their best for us to have this experience, but there is no much you can do when there is a huge sand storm happening so our camel ride was short but sweet.
We then started our looong journey back to Marrakech, doing in one day the distance that we divided into 2.
We had few stops along the way through some Berber villages and a different spot of the Dades Valley. The journey back is very long and very challenging, once arrived in the riad in the late evening we were walking dead. We also changed riad once again and stayed for the last 2 nights at the riad Yamina.
🍃 Day 8 – Cancelled trip to Essaouira – Fourth day in Marrakech
The day after the desert trip we were supposed to take another trip with Gray Line to visit Essaouira. Still we decided to cancel this as I was feeling quite bad again with my stomach. The 10 hours journey back to Marrakech kind of killed me and I was not really feeling to take another road trip. One more reason to go back to Morocco, despite all the issues I had I still had plenty of fun and enjoyed this country a lot.
On the last day we have gone to visit the:
- Saadian Tombs, final resting place of the Sultan Ahmed el Mansour and his entire family.
This place, in the south of Marrakech, is very close to El Badi Palace and the Palais de la Bahiaa that we did visit before our road trip.
If you are struggling with time and can only see one or two of the two places in the south, I would suggest skipping the tombs.
We then headed to the:
- Menara Gardens: These gardens did seem to be very popular among locals and it was nice to walk through the olives garden to get to the centre of the garden where you can find the big pool. It’s a nice place to take pictures, but once again, if you are struggling with time, I would leave this place out of your list.
At last we went back to la Medina for a final walk in the labyrinthic streets and then we did head back to the Riad Yamina, to enjoy a bit of the peacefulness of the riad.
🍃 Day 9 – Return to Tenerife
Last day we took a cab to the airport to catch our flight at 10:20 from Marrakech airport. Stop in Casablanca and then landed in Tenerife at 17:00 – home, food, sweet dreams.