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1 Week in Morocco

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!

moroccomap

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.

casablanca

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

jemaa

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!

atlas

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.

Ouarzazate

A picture of the set of Gladiator

A picture of the set of Gladiator

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!

Color not altered at all!

Color not altered at all!

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 view from our room

The view from our room

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.

dadesgorge

We stopped at Draa Valley for a tour of the area and a carpet making demonstration. draa

draa2The valley is amazing-it’s so gorgeous to walk through all of the lush green vegetation in the middle of the desert.

carpet

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!

camelsThen, finally, we made it to the Sahara Desert! This was the experience I came to Morocco to have-riding camels through the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi as the sun sets. It’s quite an adventure!

camel2P.S.- Don’t wear sandals. Your feet will get filthy and the desert is freezing at night and in the morning.

ridingRiding 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.

night

Jemaa el-Fna at night

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.

spicesRemember to never buy anything without bargaining. I spent almost 30 minutes bargaining with a lamp seller, but walked away with a decent deal in the end and two awesome lamps.marrakech

shoes

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.

Travel Tips

  • 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.

12 comments

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  1. Bethany Dickey

    I LOVED this post Katrina! I’m going to Morocco for a whole month and I couldn’t be more excited, this made me even more so 🙂
    Bethany Dickey recently posted…Eight Reasons You Should TravelMy Profile

    1. Katrina H.

      Thanks Bethany! I’m glad it inspired you! Morocco is really cool and you’ll be able to see a lot more than I did with a month. Definitely visit Chefchaouen and post lots of pictures of it, that place looks absolutely amazing. Can’t wait to read about your trip!

  2. Rosie S

    Great blog!

    Did you wait until you got to Marrakech to book your desert tour or did you book it with your hotel before you left? Do you know what compnay you did it with? Planning our trip to Morrocco at the moment – keen to visit Essaouira, Marrakech and a desert tour 🙂

    1. Katrina H.

      Hey Rosie! I booked my Sahara tour at my guest house. There are so many tour companies and I think if you book online you’ll probably end up paying a lot more.

  3. Madeleine

    Hey, great post!

    We are going to morrocco for a week too and planning on basing in marrakech for the whole week but booking excersions to the desert when we arrive. Would you recommend booking the hostel in marrakech for the whole week even though we wont be there for the whole time, as until we are in morrocco, we wont have an idea of when the excersions will leave. (Not sure how much that makes sense!) but we basically want to be flexible when we are there to be able to go to the sahara on the best deal we can get.
    What would you recommend?
    Thanks, your blog has been really helpful!

    1. Katrina H.

      Hi Madeleine!

      I did not book our hostel for the whole week. We left our stuff at the hostel and just paid a small fee for them to store what we didn’t need while we were in the Sahara. I left things at 2 hostels while in Morocco, and both were more than happy to hold onto our things for a few dollars 🙂 Glad this has been helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great time!

  4. Shannon Kircher

    Love the suggestions here! We’re toying with the idea of heading to Morocco for a week next year and are trying to prioritize with so many gorgeous places to see!
    Shannon Kircher recently posted…Exploring Lake Atitlán by BoatMy Profile

    1. Katrina H.

      There is so much to see! If I could do it again I would definitely have made time for Chefchaouen (the blue city). Just make sure to do a Sahara tour, that was certainly the highlight!

  5. Arjuhn

    Hi, looks amazing could you just tell me an estimate of what you spent in that week without flights but hotel, food and all those tours.
    thank you

    1. Katrina H.

      Hi Arjuhn, I can’t remember the exact amount that we spent, but i was definitely under $1,000 US for the week.

  6. Arjun

    Ok thank you 🙂 and did you go in summer or in Easter time ?

    1. Katrina H.

      I went in the first half of October 🙂

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