Want to visit Morocco but don’t have a lot of time? Follow in my footsteps and you’ll be amazed at how much you can see and do with just 1 week in Morocco!
Traveling through Morocco can be frustrating. If you don’t know French or Arabic, it can be difficult to communicate. The trains can be unreliable, very crowded and break down often. Taxis are expensive. It’s easy to get lost in the labyrinth of the medinas. However, independent travel in Morocco allows you to meet some amazing people and to feel a real sense of accomplishment when your trip is over. I would highly recommend it!
There is so much to see in Morocco and it’s pretty spread out, so if you only have a week in the country you’ll need to prioritize. If you’re looking for Morocco itineraries, consider following my trip. I will lay it all out for you and tell you what I would change if I could do it all over again.
Casablanca-Marrakech-Ouarzazate-Dades Gorge-Erg Chebbi (Sahara Desert)-Marrakech
Days 1-2: Casablanca
I’ll start out by saying, if I could do things over again, I would completely skip Casablanca and would fly into Marrakech instead. Casablanca does not have much to offer, in my opinion, especially compared to other cities in Morocco. The only real attraction is the Hassan II Mosque.
The Hassan II Mosque is famous for being the largest mosque in Morocco and the 7th largest mosque in Africa. Its minaret is the tallest in the world. It’s also situated right beside the ocean, so it’s quite picturesque. You can take a guided tour of the inside, but only during certain times of the day. Unfortunately, we missed the last tour of the day so we had to settle for taking pictures outside, which was still lovely.
Besides that, there was really nothing else of interest for me in Casablanca. We were there for 2 nights, which I think would be better spent somewhere like Essaouira (beach town with surfing, an easy trip from Marrakech) or Chefchaouen (an incredible looking city that’s all blue!)
Day 3: Marrakech
My Morocco itinerary took us from Casablanca to Marrakech by train in the morning of Day 3. The train ride took a little over 3 hours and we arrived in Marrakech in time for lunch.
You’ll likely stay in the medina, so have your taxi take you to the main square Jemaa el-Fna. Unless your hotel or guest house is right on the square, prepare to get completely lost. There are so many different alley ways and twists and turns and it’s really difficult to find where you’re staying unless you get lucky. But, there is a way around that. There are a lot of business-savvy children in Marrakech and they will lead you to your lodging-for a fee of course. It’s so worth it to have a local personally escort you to your destination. It will save you hours of frustration!
Spend the rest of your day getting your bearings and resting up for your next few days of the trip…
Days 4-6: Tour to the Sahara Desert, stopping at Ouarzazate, Dades Gorge, Draa Valley and Erg Chebbi sand dunes, then back to Marrakech
This was the reason I came to Morocco-to take the tour out to the Moroccan Sahara Desert! Pretty much every hotel, hostel or guest house will be able to book Sahara tours for you. There are a lot of different tours that go to many of the same places, with varying prices. Our tour was US $200 per person for 3 days, 2 nights with 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners, 2 nights accommodation (hotel the first night, Berber tented camp on the second), camel ride, several tours, and an English speaking driver. It was an exhausting 3 days but well worth the money.
All of the tours begin in the Jemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech and you will begin your trip by driving through the hairpin twists and turns of the Atlas Mountains. Frequent stops mean frequent photo ops!
Your first real stop will be just before lunch in the town of Ouarzazate, visiting the Ksar of Ait Benhadou. This location has been the backdrop to dozens of movies, including Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy and many more.
The tour then briefly stops at Valley of the Roses, which has some of the coolest rock formations I’ve ever seen! I felt like I was on Mars!
Just down the road is the hotel we stayed in for the night, at the bottom of the Dades Valley. Our room overlooked a rocky cliff and a stream. It was extremely peaceful!
The next day begins early, and the first stop was the Todra Gorge. It’s only a brief stop, as there’s not anything to do but take photos.
We went into the town and visited a carpet making shop. Factory isn’t really the right word as it’s just women sitting around making carpets on a loom. It was pretty impressive to see the huge carpets that are completely handmade. While drinking traditional Moroccan mint tea, you’ll sit around and listen to the guide talk about the carpets and life in the village. Then of course they will try to sell you carpets. They are pretty insistent but only buy if you really want one, they’re expensive. The quality is great though. If I had a way to get it home I would have purchased one!
Riding camels across the Sahara Desert is quite uncomfortable and your butt will be really sore when you finally reach the Berber camp, but the experience is so worth it. Getting to spend the night under the most incredible star filled sky was the highlight of my trip to Morocco and I think it will be yours too! That night I had one of my favorite travel experiences ever while talking to a nomadic Berber guide about his life.
The next day is long. There’s an early morning wake up call, a camel ride back to the van at dawn, and then a 14 hour drive back to Marrakech, arriving at night. While in Marrakech, make sure you eat dinner at one of the restaurants on Jemaa el-Fna. The night view is awesome. Our tour group had dinner together to toast our amazing trip.
Days 7-8: Marrakech
While you can absolutely spend more time in Marrakech before the Sahara tour, I’d recommend seeing it at the end as the Sahara tour is very tiring and you’ll want a couple days to recover before flying home.
Spend your days wandering the warrens of the old medina, taking in the sights and smells of spices, incense and leather.
I also bought some funky leather shoes with curly toes. Again, bargain!
If you’re burned out on shopping, consider going to the Ben Youssef Madrasa, a former Islamic school and now open to the public to tour its amazing grounds, or to the Jardin Majorelle gardens, once owned by Yves Saint Laurent.
Day 9: Head home
On Day 9, head to Marrakesh Menara Airport for your flight home.
- Morocco is a Muslim country, so dress modestly.
- If you’re a female traveler, prepare yourself for the attention you may receive walking around. We constantly had men coming up to us, talking to us and following us around.
- Trains in Morocco are notoriously unreliable. There’s a saying, “This is Africa”, and you must embrace this to not lose your mind when things go wrong. Give yourself a little wiggle room in your itinerary to allow for times when things might take a little longer than they should.
- When shopping in a souq, BARGAIN, BARGAIN, BARGAIN. Do not accept the first price they tell you!
- Public restrooms can be a bit dirty. Make sure you bring your own toilet paper just in case.