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Thinking about a trip to Morocco? Do it. I traveled with one of my best girlfriends and we spent about 10 days total with stops in Marrakesh, Fes, Merzouga, and Draa Valley. I created this travel guide outlining how we got between cities, and the hotels, restaurants, activities we loved!
If you have any favorite places in Morocco, please write in the comments below so others can see where you love to eat, things you love to do, and where you love to stay in Morocco so we can grow and share the wealth of this Travel Guide.
Marrakesh (3 nights, 2.5 days + 1 night, 1 day)
Getting There: We officially started our trip in Spain for a few days and then made our way from Madrid to Marrakesh. Looking at flights from Chicago, there was usually a stop (or 2) so decided to make the most of the layover and extend our trip a few days. Side note: My friend lives in New York so I met her there to travel together which did add an extra stop. Here’s the breakdown of the journey:
Phase 1: Flight from ORD to JFK (2 hours)
Phase 2: Flight from JFK to Madrid (7 hrs 15 mins)
Phase 3: Flight from Madrid to Marrakesh Airport (RAK) (2 hours)
There were a couple non-stop flights per day to RAK so it was a very easy travel day. Our hotel offered a pickup service from the airport and that was definitely worth it. The city center is only about 15 minute drive from the airport.
Stay: Morocco is full of riads which is a traditional Moroccan interior garden or courtyard associated with palace architecture. It now is used to describe a hotel or guesthouse-style accommodation where there are shared common areas and private rooms/bathrooms. We had 2 total stops in Marrakesh so stayed in a Riad and a hotel.
Riad Goloboy: This was our longest stay (3 nights) and it was a great experience. The riad is located next to the Royal Palace and about a 15 minute walk to the Medina. The staff was so helpful, rooms were clean, and the property felt safe. The best part was enjoying a traditional Moroccan breakfast on the roof terrace every morning.
Villa des Orangers: We stayed here for our final night. It’s a beautiful hotel but has a similar layout to a traditional Riad. It’s in a similar location (maybe a 5 minute walk) and a great place to cap the trip.
La Pergola: stopped here for an afternoon snack and drink. Cute rooftop jazz bar!
La Mamounia: named “the best hotel in the world” and famous stop for Anna Delvey. You need a reservation for dinner or say you are coming for drinks to get onto the hotel property if you are not staying at the hotel. Came for drinks one night at Le Churchill and came back for dinner on our last night to Le Marocain. Everything was incredible.
Kremm Café: quaint little spot for coffee, in the courtyard of Palais Khum
68. Bar a Vin: adorable local wine bar with a great selection from Morocco and the world. Located in the newer part of the city, Gueliz neighborhood. Try the, vin gris (grey wine), an extremely light style of rosé.
Plus61: great spot for dinner – Australian owned, cute vibe, local farm to table menu
Cafe des Espies: rooftop restaurant in the middle of the Medina, great spot to grab a quick bite and rest from wandering the souks.
Kabana: touristy rooftop bar that fills up with reservations. Stopped for a quick glass of wine before our food tour
El Fenn: another rooftop stop for drinks and bites. great atmosphere and delicious cocktails
Jemaa el-Fnaa is a square and market place in Marrakesh’s medina quarter (old city). It really comes alive at sunset, but it’s just as lively during the day. Wander the narrow streets, taking in all the different market stalls (spices, ceramics, textiles, blacksmiths, etc.)
Le Secret Jardin: not exactly secret 😉 but a beautiful, tranquil spot in the middle of the bustling median
Cooking Class at La Maison Arabe: one of my favorite activities! we learned all about traditional Moroccan spices, the traditional mint tea, and got to make our own traditional Moroccan meal.
House of Augustine: of course found a boutique owned by an interior designer. shop is full of amazing items and they are opening a Riad that looks incredible!
Jardin Majorelle: botanical garden and artist’s landscape garden that was restored in the 1980’s by fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent. Plan your visit ahead of time and buy a ticket online
YSL museum: Right next to the garden. It’s a small museum and has some interesting fashion history but the real draw are the gardens.
Marrakech Food Tours: another fun way to immerse yourself in the culture of Marrakech. A guided tour through the market stopping for various traditional foods. Prepare to eat 🙂 This tour was featured in the travel show, Somebody Feeds Phil
Fes (2 nights, 1.5 days)
Getting There: Train from Marrakech (6 hours). This was a cool way to see more of the Morocco landscape and the train was very smooth. But it is a long ride.
Hotel Sahrai: super nice hotel located between the medina and new city. not located within walking distance of the main areas so will need to coordinate taxis to/from the city center.
Eat/Drink: We ended up in Fes at the start of Ramadan and there was a city wide ban on the sale of any alcohol for the duration of the holiday. The start of the holiday also changed a lot of business hours so our time here was not as originally planned. But still great. Based on the location of our hotel, we ate meals at the hotel.We bookmarked a bunch of places fromthis articlethat we will just have to try next time.
City & Medina Tour: Definitely recommend hiring a tour guide for the old medina. We only had 1 full day so to make the most of it, our hotel helped us organize a tour guide to show us the city highlights and walk us through the Medina. It is much harder to navigate than Marrakesh (despite being less chaotic because no cars or motorbikes are allowed within the Medina walls).
Tour Stops: King’s Palace, Old Fortress for Panaramic View, Art Naji (ceramic co-op), Chouara Tannery (largest of the 3 tanneries in Fes), Rug
Hammam: a traditional Moroccan spa experience that includes two parts; a scrub and a massage. You can also order these separate but if you are doing it, I say go for the traditional experience and get both. My skin has never felt so soft. We booked the experience at the hotel but there are lots of independent hammams throughout the city.
Marzouga & Draa Valley (2 nights, 3 days)
This part of the trip was all booked via a package with the Desert Luxury Camp. The camp concierge helps organize your itinerary based on your starting and final destination.
Getting There: a private driver picked us up at our Hotel in Fes and would drive us between each stop over the course of the three days. We covered a lot of ground and saw all the variety of the Morocco landscape, High Atlas Mountains, Volcanic Mountains, Desert Sand Dunes, and valley full of date palms, and almond, fig and olive trees.
Day 1: Fes – Ifrane – Midelt – Merzouga Sand Sea of Erg Chebbi (7-8 hr drive)
Day 2: Merzouga – Nekob – Draa Valley (3- 4 hr drive)
Day 3: Draa Valley – Agdz – Ouarzazate – Ait BenHaddou –Marrakech (4-5 hr drive)
Erg Chebbi Dunes Camp: a true glamping experience in the desert. Tents accommodated with full beds, A/C, full bathroom.
Dar Hnini: my favorite hotel of the entire trip. a true oasis with private villas, tons of greenery, refreshing pool, beautiful architecture and great service.
Eat/Drink: All meals were either included at the properties or designated stops on the road trip.
Do: Lots of R&R time at both properties, but some highlights of the road trip and accommodations
Walked the sand dunes
Campfire & Star Gazing (unbeatable night sky views)
Camel Ride through the dunes accompanied by a local camelteer
Other Random Notes
Cash: Get local currency at the airport from the ATM or exchange USD/EUR. We ran out of cash early and none of the bank ATMs throughout the city would accept our debit cards (wasn’t a bank issue).
Tipping: felt a little all over the board, but we read “while tipping isn’t mandatory in Morocco, rounding up the bill and leaving tips at restaurants and cafes is standard practice. If you’re happy with the service provided by waiters, drivers and other service workers, leaving a small tip is a good way to show your appreciation.”
Clothing: advised to cover from knee to above the elbow. Pack linen, silk, light weight items. From late summer through to late spring, bring a jacket/sweater as it got cooler in the evening.
Again, if you have any favorite places in Morocco, I’d love to hear them so please share in the comments below! And if you are feeling inspired to incorporate some travel memories into your home, I would love to chat.
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