Morocco is one of the most visited countries of North Africa and Marrakech is surely the most touristic city of the country. In this Morocco travel itinerary we will detail our 10-day trip to Morocco, during which we combined visits to monuments and cities, such as Marrakech, to nature excursions, such as the trip to the desert or the High Atlas valley. Given the limited time we had, we only visited a small part of the country in the South.

Here is our travel itinerary in Morocco in December:


DISTANCETRAVEL TIME
Marrakech-Tiguidert (High Atlas)2 hours 30 min by car
Tiguidert-Ouarzazate1 hour 50 min by car
Ouarzazate-Merzouga5 hours by car
Merzouga-Agoulzi (Valley of roses)4 hours by car
Agoulzi-Marrakech5 hours by car
Marrakech-Casablanca3 hours by train

Day 1: Arrival in Morocco

Arrival: Marrakech airport Menara. We booked a taxi online to get to our Riad close to the city centre; price taxi airport-Marrakech for 2 people: 10€; travel time airport-Marrakech city: 15-20 minutes.

We stayed in a beautiful Riad, a typical Moroccan accommodation consisting of rooms overlooking a courtyard, which are decorated with colourful tiles in Moorish style. Here is where the first leg of our Morocco itinerary began.

Breakfast room in our Riad in Marrakech
View of the court of our Riad

Days 2-3: Marrakech

Marrakech is colours, scents and chaos. Its medina with narrow and windy little streets is a labyrinth of souks: from the Dyer's souk, to the one selling Berber food to the more common spice souks and much more. The rays of the warm December sun reflect on the city rose salmon walls and irradiate a warm light which brings out the vibrant colours of the city.

Women in Marrakech souk
Women shopping in the souk
Lamps in a souk of Marrakech
Little shops selling brass candle-holders and lamps
Wool fibers in Marrakech's dyers souk
Wool fibres hanging in the famous dyers’ souk

Marrakech's main square, Jamaa el Fna, reminds us of medieval markets with its steaming food stands, street vendors of all kinds, monkey trainers, snake charmers, drummers and many illusionists. It is a really unique place which brings visitors to another dimension.

Street vendor in Marrakech Jemaa el-Fnaa
Street vendor on the main square
Marrakech's Jemaa el Fnaa square at night
Vivacity of the main square at dinner time
Marrakech's Jemaa el Fnaa square
Market stands on the main square

Getting lost in Marrakech is surely the best way to explore the city, allowing you to come across splendid secret riads and discover the most hidden places of the city. Don't be shy and enjoy an afternoon in a century-old hammam with a total-body scrub performed by the expert hands of local masseurs.

Information
Price full-body scrub and access to the hammam: 150 dirhams (13.9€); duration full-body scrub in the hammam: 1 hour and a half.

Marrakech arch
View of a street in Marrakech

However, Marrakech also has its negative sides. It is one of the most, or perhaps THE most touristic city of Morocco. Hence, it’s important to know that if somebody offers to help you in the city, e.g. to find a particular street, they will surely ask you some money in exchange for their helpfulness, even if at the beginning they tell you otherwise. Refuse politely their help or if you need it, don't get scared if they ask you a high amount of money afterwards, just give them what you feel like giving and walk away.

View on a tannery in Marrakech at sunset
These kinds of tricks are often used in the Marrakech tannery

Day 4: High Atlas

On the 4th day of our trip to Morocco we went to the High Atlas, a big mountain range of Central Morocco, to go explore some Berber villages and find some peace after the chaos of Marrakech. With beautiful mountains in the background, we stopped to take a look at picturesque Berber villages, such as Assaka.

High Atlas village between mountains
Typical village of the High Atlas with a minaret and mountains in the background

We often saw the same scenario unravel in different villages: kids wearing colourful jumpers and big rucksacks that, laughing and chatting, walk to school; women carrying huge bundles of wood sticks; men and their mules climbing the steep and muddy village paths…Here time goes by slowly. The villages with earth-coloured houses blend with the colours of the surrounding mountains. The view is magnificent and shows us the rural side of authentic Morocco.

High Atlas canyons riverbed
Village au bord de l'ancien lit de la rivière
School in High Atlas
Kids in front of a school in the High Atlas
Assaka village in High Atlas canyons
The Assaka village in the High Atlas mountains

We slept close to Telouet, in a guest house lost in the middle of the mountains, where we were the only guests.

Day 5: Telouet Kasbah, Aït-Benhaddou, Ourzazate

Telouet Kasbah

Not far from where we overnighted, there is the famous Telouet Kasbah. It is an old earth-coloured building, rather crumbling, which however is home to two perfectly conserved nuptial rooms and an amazing view on the surrounding villages. As the saying goes: "Don't judge a book by its cover"!

Telouet kasbah
Ruins of the Telouet Kasbah
Nuptial rooms door in Telouet kasbah
One of the nuptial rooms inside the Telouet Kasbah
View of a village from a window of the Telouet kasbah
View of the Telouet village from the window of the nuptial room

Information
Price ticket Telouet Kasbah: 20 dirhams (1.85€) (50 dirhams or 4.60€ with a guide); duration visit Telouet Kasbah: roughly 30 minutes.

Aït-Benhaddou

Our next stop in our Morocco travel itinerary was the fortified city of Aït-Benhaddou, listed as UNESCO World heritage site, and definitely more touristic than the other cities in the area. The old city is made up of several Kasbahs, a mosque, old houses converted into souvenir shops and an old granary, dominating the site, once an important stop on the old caravan route.

Ait Benhaddou ksar with houses and kasbahs
The Aït-Benhaddou site and the ancient granary
View of Ait Benhaddou kasbah and palm grove
The Kasbahs in the Aït-Benhaddou site

Every building is made with the soil of the area; the ochre and burnt sienna colours with their warm nuances blend in perfectly with the valley and the old riverbed.

Ait Benhaddou old and new city separated by the river
View of the old and new cities divided by the riverbed

After the visit we enjoyed a delicious vegetarian tajine with a panoramic view on the site, accompanied by the melodious praying of the mu'adhin.

Information
Price ticket Aït-Benhaddou Ksar: free, tickets are necessary only to enter the Kasbahs (optional); duration visit Aït-Benhaddou Ksar: roughly 2 hours.

After lunch we wen onto visiting the city of Ouarzazate.

Ouarzazate

This city is renowned for its studios, where several, even internationally-renowned films are shot. If you are lucky enough, like we were, you might see some actual film shootings, without however being able to get too close. We didn't actually get in the studios, but we were able to spot some props from the outside. The city is rather modern and much quieter than Marrakech and people are, in general, friendlier. We overnighted in a Berber ecolodge, a bit far from the centre, where we spent the evening around a bonfire singing Berber chants.

Fireplace in our ecolodge in Ouarzazate
The Berber bonfire

The next morning, to start off the day properly, we looked at the sunrise on the lake next to the hotel.

Day 6: Merzouga and Sahara desert

Ouarzazate and Merzouga are connected by two panoramic roads forming a circle; on the way to Merzouga we decided to take the lower route (Agdz, Tazzarine…) flanking beautiful reddish mountains and canyons. We went through Rissani, the last city before the desert, full of road works at the time of our trip.

High Atlas loop from Ouarzazate to Merzouga
High Atlas loop from Ouarzazate to Merzouga

After having finally found our hotel in Merzouga, we took a small rucksack and we hopped on the camels to reach the heart of the desert.

Marianna riding a camel in Merzouga, Sahara desert
The Bedouin leads the camels during the walk
Merzouga dunes in Sahara desert
The Sahara desert
Sun and shade of Sahara desert dune
Desert dune in the sunset light

After an hour and a half we arrived at our camp: it is made of small rooms in iron tent-like structures, a slightly bigger dining room and the desert sandy ground is covered with beautiful carpets. We looked at the sunset, we had a nice dinner with the other guests and spent a joyful evening around a bonfire in a magical atmosphere in the middle of the dunes illuminated by the full moon.

Sahara desert camp
Our camp in the Merzouga desert
Berber singing and playing music around bonfire in Sahara desert
Evening around the bonfire singing Berber chants
Marianna in Sahara desert in winter
Protected from the cold and wind of the desert

Day 7: Todra gorges, Dades gorges and Valley of roses

Todra Gorges

On the way back to Ouarzazate, we took the higher road passing through Tinghir, which, according to locals, is more panoramic than the lower one. We went through the Todra gorges, magnificent and very narrow passageways through massive mountains where you can trek or climb.

Todra gorges
Passageway in the Todra gorges

Dades Gorges

We saw beautiful earth-coloured villages with minarets standing out against the low roofs of the houses. We spent many hours in the car, but the landscape was splendid and we often stopped to take pictures. We did a 30/40-minute detour to the Dades gorges, where we went up steep little mountain paths with the car between huge rocks (with rather phallic forms, we must say) plunged into the sunset light.

House in Dades gorges
House in the Dades gorges with typical rock formations
A rock of the Dades gorges that looks like a hand
Rock in the Dades gorges shaped like the palm of a hand

Valley of the roses

In the evening we arrived in the Valley of roses, where we spent the night. Since it was December at the time of our trip, there were unfortunately no roses, but the Valley in itself was amazing with its ochre mountains and the pink houses, and our hotel overlooked the whole valley, giving us a 360˚ breathtaking panorama. Moreover, we could taste a new version of the Moroccan tea… with roses!

Village and riverbed in the valley of the roses
View of the Valley of roses from our hotel
View from our room on the Valley of the roses
View of the Valley of roses from our room
Breakfast with homemade donuts and bread
A delicious homemade breakfast of our hotel in the valley of the roses

Day 8: Travelling to Marrakech

Passing through dusty villages of rural Morocco and enjoying the view of beautiful ochre houses perched on the mountains, we slowly made our way back to Marrakech, as we got towards the end of our travel itinerary in Morocco.

Sheperd resting in High Atlas
A shepherd resting on the grass
Random guy in High Atlas mountains
A man observing traffic from the top of a mountain

Chaos and noises increased as we got nearer the city. During the evening, at closing time, we visited the central souk of Marrakech. The closed souk has a certain charm: you can really admire the architecture, hidden during the day, and the beautiful wooden doors of the shops.

Day 9: Travelling to Casablanca

After the last shopping session in the Marrakech souk, we took the train to Casablanca. Casablanca wasn't actually part of our original plan, but return flights were cheaper from there. The city in itself is pretty disappointing, since it is not as picturesque as Marrakech and it looks like a huge construction site. But it is much more modern and practical than the other cities we visited. In the afternoon we explored the centre by foot, going through the souks and we saw the beautiful Hassan II mosque. Illuminated in the night fog, the mosque seems to come out of the sea waves. We admired it from outside and, since doors were open, we got an idea of the luxurious decorations inside.

Casablanca Hassan II mosque
The Hassan II mosque in the fog

Information
Price train ticket Marrakech-Casablanca (Casa Voyageur): 44.5 dirhams (4.10€); duration train ride Marrakech-Casablanca (Casa Voyageur): 3 hours.

Day 10: Going back home

Here we are at the end of our trip and our travel itinerary in Morocco. We hope to have given you some useful advice and tips on what to do and what to see in Morocco, even if we didn’t have a lot of time at our disposal.

Goodbye Morocco, see you soon!

You can reach the airport by train. Price train ticket airport-Casablanca: 43 dirhams (4€); duration train ride airport-Casablanca: roughly 45 minutes.

Tops and flops of Morocco

Top Morocco
Night in the Sahara desert and camel ride
The Valley of roses and our hotel
Experiencing the hammam, souks and colours of Marrakech
Aït-Benhaddou Ksar
Food and mint tea

Flop Morocco
Hassle and “kindness in exchange for money” in Marrakech
Scooters and pollution in the souks of Marrakech
New city of Casablanca

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