As a first-timer to Morocco, I found it incredibly overwhelming to plan out the itinerary. I wanted to spend two weeks in Morocco to ensure that most of the main destinations could be seen, like Marrakech, the Sahara Desert, and the north of Morocco.
After two weeks in the wonderful country, there were plenty of lessons learned and many great memories made. There’s not too much I would have changed about the itinerary, except for bringing an extra book or two to read in the car. For the first-timer to Morocco, check out this itinerary.
The First-Timer’s Itinerary to Morocco
What to Know Before Visiting Morocco
- English is widely spoken, with Arabic and French being the main languages.
- Cash is always needed — there are ATM machines readily available throughout cities.
- A local SIM can be purchased at tobacco shops (noted with three white circles on a blue sign). Pick Maroc Telecom (orange packaging) and have the shop owner help you top up. It’s incredibly cheap and best way to have access to data for less than 30 USD.
- Friday is considered a Holy day, most shops will not be open during the day.
- The left hand is considered “unclean”, be sure to eat and direct with your right hand. The bottom of your feet are also considered “unclean” so never show the bottom of your feet.
- Haggling is completely acceptable and never pay the asking price!
- When taking photos, some will ask for a few dirham, it is not welcomed by others, and a few will be happy to jump in the photo with you! Be sure to ask before taking anyone’s photo.
- Be mindful of how you dress (especially women), covering up with long skirts/dress and t-shirts is both respectful and minimizes verbal harassment. Read: What to Wear in Morocco as a Female Traveler
- Always carry toilet paper, as public restrooms often don’t have it.
- I’d personally recommend traveling with a friend here, and not walking solo at night. I never felt unsafe, but indeed felt more comfortable with another traveler. Read: The Truth About Traveling in Morocco as a Woman.
- If someone comes up to you and offers “help” you will need to give a few dirham if you accept. Be mindful of “guides” who will offer a tour and then ask to be paid.
14 NIGHTS: MARRAKECH – SAHARA DESERT – ESSAOUIRA – CHEFCHAOUEN – FES
Day 1: Land in Marrakech
If one thing is true, the journey to Morocco is no easy task. Most flights from the US will land in the mid-morning. Have your riad arrange your airport transfer, and make the short 20-minute drive into town. The first day is a good opportunity to get oriented, maybe venture out for a meal or just spend the day poolside.
Read: The First-Timer’s Guide to Marrakech
Stay: Riad Yasmine
Day 2: Marrakech
Get ready to hit the ground running and get lost in the circling medina. I loved hopping into the different souks, and gave a go at haggling for a rug. The late afternoon was perfect for a fresh juice at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the medina.
Read: How to Buy a Traditional Moroccan Rug in Marrakech
Day 3: Marrakech
Marrakech has plenty of experiences when it comes to accommodations which is why I loved trying two different styles. Head to La Mamounia for a luxe experience, and be sure to reserve a treatment at the spa.
Read: 10 Things I didn’t Expect About Morocco
Stay: La Mamounia
Day 4: Marrakech
The final day in Marrakech is a perfect time to do any last minute shopping or visit sights not seen. There is plenty to do in Marrakech, making four nights a good amount of time to see the city.
Day 5: Head to the Sahara
If you’re in it to see the Sahara, strap your seatbelt on and make the windy road through the Atlas Mountains. What may seem for hours, eventually you pass through the Sahara Gate. Your first night under the open, starry skies will make the hours in the car completely worth it.
Read: Luxury Glamping Adventure in the Sahara Desert
Stay: Desert Luxury Camp
Day 6: Sahara
Be sure to wake up for sunrise and don’t ride a camel in the heat of the day. If you can, schedule everything for the early morning, which you will have plenty of time to do. The afternoons and evenings are for hanging around camp and enjoying the stillness of the desert.
Day 7: Head to Skoura Oasis
On your way back to Essaouira, most desert tours include one night in the Skoura Oasis. You get to stop at the Todra Gorge and see the incredible kasbahs throughout the valley. It’s a great way to break up the drive and see more of the countryside.
Stay: L’Ma Lodge
Day 8: Head to Essaouira
The final leg of the drive includes passing through Marrakech to make it to the coastal city of Essaouira. Chances are you’ll arrive just before sunset, just in time to head to the rooftop to see the coast.
Read: 48 Hours in Essaouira
Stay: Villa Maroc
Day 9: Essaouira
An easily walkable place, Essaouira is a traditional port town with fresh fish arriving daily and plenty of souks to explore.
Day 10: Overnight train to Tangier
One experience definitely worth having and a great way to save time on the road is the night train to Tangier! Making the journey to Chefchaouen is long, and the best way is via the train to Tangier from Marrakech. Be sure to reserve a week or so in advance in first class for a sleep cabin shared often with 4 PAX total (no co-ed unless couple). It’s easy to get a good night’s sleep and wake up in the north of Morocco.
Day 11: Taxi to Chefchaouen
After taking the night train, head out of the station and flag down a taxi to Chefchaouen. It should cost around $60 USD and take about 2-2.5 hrs. Get settled in town, and start exploring by foot to see the blue pearl of Morocco!
Read: The Nutshell Guide to Chefchaouen
Stay: Dar Baibou
Day 12: Chefchaouen
You can spend most of the day getting lost in the blue streets, stopping to take photos and chatting with locals. It is indeed one of the friendliest places in Morocco. Other options include guided hiking in the mountains or tours to nearby towns.
Day 13: Head to Fes
In the morning, have your hotel arrange a transfer to Fes. It is a long transfer at around 4 hours in the car. We arrived early afternoon and had enough time to hop out and see the tanneries and a mosque or two.
Read: 24 Hours in Fes
Stay: Dar Seffarine
Day 14: Fes
This would be an additional night to my itinerary. Another night in Fes could be easily spent if there was more you wanted to see. At this point, we took the high speed train to Casablanca late in the day to spend one night in Casablanca before catching early morning flights the next day.
Day 15: Return to departing city
Time to head home! Trains are readily available to departure cities of Casablanca or Marrakech.