Morocco stole my heart. This was one of the few places I have ever visited where I cried on the way home. I was not ready to leave the country and I especially was not ready to leave our Sahara Desert driver, Hicham. He truly made our trip very special and became what I would consider a lifelong friend. I traveled through Morocco with two of my girl friends. We visited Chefchaouen, Fez, a 3 day Sahara Desert Tour (many stops/sites), and ended our trip in Marrakech.
The Perfect Moroccan Itinerary
JFK – Casablanca – Tangier
Since we arrived late into Tangier, we only spent a few hours here before traveling via CTM Bus to Chefchaouen. Tangier seemed like your typical beach town, I wish we had more time to explore here but unfortunately we did not.
The CTM Bus was about a 3 hour ride from Tangier to Chefchaouen. TIP: If you get car sick make sure to take something before getting on the bus. The bus is very nice with assigned seats, AC and we had one stop in a small town to pick up more passengers. Once you arrive in the city of blue, you can take a petite taxi to your Riad. Make sure you know the name, address and phone number of your Riad. We had our Riad pulled up on Google Maps so we could easily find it once the petite taxi dropped us off at the top of the hill.
Once settled into you Riad, start to explore the magical blue city. Two nights in Chefchaouen is perfect, we were able to explore the entire city easily in just two days.
- Old City and Medina
- Get lost in the Blue City
- Grand Mosque
- Cascades d’Akchour (depending on the time of year you go the falls could be dried up so check before hiking)
- Hike to the Spanish Mosque for best view of the city – I recommend during Sunset
- Go to the top of the fortress in main square for a good view, price of 10dh
- Auberge Dardara Restaurant – it is about a 20 min drive by taxi. HIGHLY recommend. Make sure you check meal times before going.
- Restaurant Assaada
- Bab Ssour – Order the Brown Bean Soup
- The food in Chefchaouen was my favorite – if you can DO NOT ORDER OR EAT COUSCOUS. I promise you – YOU WILL EAT SO MUCH COUSCOUS YOU WILL NEVER WANT TO EAT IT AGAIN!!!!
- Riad Fes Baraka
- There are millions of beautiful Riads in Fes. We wanted one with a pool since we were going during a warmer month.
- Book a Hammam and massage. We booked ours at through the Riad. It was quite the experience but my skin has never felt softer.
- A Hammam is a traditional Moroccan Bath. For most Moroccans, the hammam is more than a day at the spa; it is a social event that happens regularly, rooted in the tradition of Islamic cleansing ablutions. It is worth experiences during your travels through Morocco.
Definitely get a tour guide for Fes!! Fes is made up of 9,000 small streets and it is EXTREMELY easy to get lost. Our Riad set up an “outer” city tour and an “inner” city tour. I recommend doing both. My favorite part of the outer city tour was the Ceramic / Tile shop. You actually see them make the ceramic from start to finish. Do not feel pressured to buy anything during the tour, the guide will most likely bring you to a lot of shops. Beware of the Silver Shops, some of the silver we purchased was fake. Below is a list of places we wanted to see before we decided to do the private tour, we saw A LOT more on the tour and it would have been impossible for us to see everything without a guide.
- The Tannery (Chouara Tannery)
- Golden Gates at the Royal Palace
- Mellah or Jewish Quarter
- Attarine Madrasa
- Medersa Bou Inania. This is one of the only religious buildings in the city that non-Muslims can enter.
- Bou Jeloud Gardens
- Souk Medina
- University of al-Qarawiyyin
- Hike: Mount Zalagh
- Cafe Clock
- The Ruined Garden
- Fes Et Gestes
3 Day Tour from Fes to Marrakesh
The tour from Fes to Marrakech was probably the highlight of my trip, full of incredible stops along the way. We booked our tour with Morocco Happiness Tours. Our driver Hicham picked us up early in the morning from Fes and we started our journey through the Atlas Mountains. Stopping to feed monkeys, over look palm groves, seeing Berber villages all while listening to music and chatting up our driver. We ended the first day of driving in Merzouga, Erg Chebbi, were we slept in a traditional nomadic tents and enjoyed a night full of Berber music, food and dancing.
We woke early in the morning and watched the sunrise over the dunes, saddled up the camels and rode back to Merzouga. After breakfast we hit the road again and headed to the Dades Gorge and the Todra Gorges. Hicham took us to lunch at his friends shop were they made us feel more than at home with traditional cumin and mint tea. After lunch the daughters dressed us up in traditional Berber outfits and gave us Henna tattoos. Waving goodbye we drove to the stunning Dades Gorge.
The final leg of the journey consisted of driving through Ouarzazate. We went to caves, saw nomadic settlers, stopped in the Valley of Roses, saw the Hollywood of Africa and lastly stopped at our Drivers Family home. They were the sweetest, most welcoming people (I did not post pictures of them out of respect) but they greeted us with food and love. The little kids even gave us a tour of the house. Leaving the warmth of the family, Hicham dropped us off at our Riad in Marrakech and we said our tearful goodbyes.
By the time we arrived Marrakech we were ready to lay by the pool and enjoy roof top bars. Therefore, we did not do much except for the places listed below. Lounging by the pool and drinking atop the roof was a perfect way to end our trip.
- Musee Marrakech
- Souk Medina
- Spice Souk Medina
- Bahia Palance
- Mustapha Blaoui Store
- Jardin Majorelle
- If you have time a day trip to Ouzoud Falls (we did not have time)
- Nomad Restaurant
- Dar Moha
- Le Salama for Drinks (there are a lot of cool roof top bars in Marrakech)
- Cafe Arabe Italian (we ate here two nights in a row because we were SO over Couscous and Moroccan food. Very delicious food and a fabulous view)
Getting Around Morocco
CTM Bus – The bus was very clean, on time, AC and easy. I recommend buying your tickets in advance at the CTM station as they do fill up quickly. We were not able to purchase tickets online. We took the CMT bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen and from Chef to Fes.
Taxi’s – ALWAYS ask the price prior to getting in the taxi and BARGAIN the price down.
Petite Taxi – These are cheaper than the regular taxis and best for going short distances, and again bargain!
Private Driver – If you are not a budget traveler or do not want to take a bus everywhere it is VERY easy to get a private driver in Morocco to take you from city to city. We used Mozio through booking.com, a car service, to get from the Tangier Airport to our Hotel. You can easily ask your Riad to set up a driver for you, they are usually very helpful and reasonably priced.
Bargain – Bargain every price down when shopping/taking a taxi – I always cut mine in half then would start to walk away and immediately the price will go down.
Traveling as a Woman in Morocco
Whenever I would tell people I was traveling to Morocco I would get one of two responses:
“Oh my gosh – you are going to LOVE IT!!”
“Eh, is it safe? You are going with JUST GIRLS???”
Even though I did my research, I am not going to lie I was nervous traveling to Morocco as a woman. I packed shawls and conservative attire that mainly covered my ankles and shoulders. Yes, I am glad I brought conservative clothes but honestly it was not necessary. I never once felt scared or threatened. Moroccans knew we were tourists and did not expect us to dress conservatively. We did get the occasional cat call; “beautiful girls!” “Where are you from?” “I would buy you a million camels” but nothing where I personally felt too uncomfortable. The only place that was a little overwhelming was in the Medina in Marrakech, but that was not because we were women, it was because we were tourists. Hundreds of vendors, people yelling and coming up to you trying to get you to eat at their restaurant or go into their shops.
My advice would be to dress moderately, bring a shawl just in case and always be aware of your surroundings, know where you are going (Google Maps), act confident, and ignore the cat calls. I felt safer in Morocco than I do in some major cities in the United States.
Must Haves to Travel to Morocco
- Toilet Paper – lots of places didn’t have any or made you pay
- Wet Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Antibiotics, Imodium, Tums (I recommend going to Passport Health). We unfortunately all got sick (poo), which is bound to happen so be prepared!
- Stall Mates are my favorite when traveling! Nice to freshen up down there after long travel days or if you do get to poo sick.
- Depending on the time of year you travel to Morocco, bring warm clothes for the desert tour.
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Mel loves to hear and connect with other travelers across the globe, feel free to contact her with any questions or travel tips!