If there’s one thing I learned from our trip to Merida last year, it’s that I can’t handle super-packed itineraries. I don’t get necessarily cranky about it, I just basically shut down to the experience and instead find myself merely showing up for the checkmark. So for visiting Morocco, I wanted to be sure we spent quality time in each city, watching the people and hanging out, rather than racing off to various tourist destinations. This meant not going out into the Sahara on camels or driving out of Chefchaouen to go see a waterfall. We missed seeing some things this way, but in return we experienced much more of the cities.
This itinerary is not for everyone. If your travel style is go-go-go, I guarantee you will hate this. But if you love to explore cities on foot and simply soak up the experience, try this itinerary out.
Riad: Dar Zambra
Visiting Chefchaouen first was a stroke of genius on my part. It’s Morocco on training wheels–if we went to Fez or Marrakesh first, it would’ve been a huge shock to the system. The city is a very manageable size, things are slower, and everything is just low pressure.
We spent four nights here so that we could get over jet lag without feeling the compulsion to achieve a lot. Plus the first day was heavy on travel: arrived in Tangier in the morning then got straight into a taxi for a 2.5 hour drive. Having the luxury of time to simply relax and enjoy a view was essential.
Our riad was completely lovely and affordable. We loved heading up to the terrace after a hot day in the medina. The views were incredible.
Riad: Les Oudayas
Fez was a great primer for Marrakesh. Stepping off the bus, we were completely overwhelmed. Finding our riad was another stressor. But once we did, we realized what a complete oasis it was.
Our stay here was short, with only one full day in the city. We walked around and around the medina and chased after rumors of alcohol in a hotel that overlooks the city.
Riad: Le Jardin d’Abdou, El Fenn
We took the train from Fez to Marrakesh, which is a 7 hour journey. We stayed at two different riads: the El Fenn, a splurge, and Jardin d’Abdou, an affordable riad that’s quite a bit further from the medina center. Given the chance to do it again, we would’ve spent all four nights at the El Fenn. The location was amazingly central, the service excellent, and the riad itself was jaw-dropping beautiful.
We stayed at Jardin d’Abdou first and that night we went out to La Mamounia for dinner, an absolutely palatial (in size and style) hotel. Utterly posh. One of Kirk’s coworkers was on our flight to Milan (where we transferred flights to Morocco), and we realized we’d both be in Marrakesh at the same time. So we met the coworker and his wife at La Mamounia, where they were staying on their unofficial honeymoon. Yes we crashed someone’s honeymoon.
The dinner was spectacular and such a welcome relief from days and days of tagine. We ate outside with views of the hotel’s gorgeous garden, had the most over-the-top mint tea service, and spent a ton of money. So worth it.
Marrakesh will get its own post soon, but if you have the opportunity to stay at the El Fenn, do it! Our hotel costs, when averaged out across the whole trip, were $125/night. I know that’s not completely budget-friendly, but so many of the in-country costs are low (cabs, food, and museum entries are all very inexpensive) that I think spending a bit extra on riads was worth it.
So that’s my low pressure guide to visiting Morocco. Enjoy!