The most recommended itinerary for first timers is:
Casablanca → Chefchaouen → Fes → Merzouga → Marrakech.
Include the following small destinations in between (depending on how long you’re staying):
- Casablanca→Chefchaouen: Rabat.
- Chefchaouen→Fes: Volubilis, MoulayIdriss, Meknes
- Fes→Merzouga: Ifrane, ZizValley, Midelt, Erfoud.
- Merzouga→Marrakech: Tinjedad, Tinghir, Todgha gorges, Dades, Ouarzazate, AibtBenHaddou.
- around Marrakech: Essaouira, Ourika.
What the rest of the article provides:
- An illustrated introduction to the main destinations.
- Should you go to the Sahara?
- Why is this itinerary the best for first timers.
- How to pick the small destinations in between.
- The mistakes usually made by travelers while drawing an itinerary and how to avoid them.
- Now that you know where you should go, what’s next?
Step1: The main destinations
First of all, let’s get familiar with Morocco’s geography:
With Casablanca being only a “landing” destination, the main ones remain:
- [popup_anything id=”15405″], the blue city.
- [popup_anything id=”15769″], the imperial city.
- [popup_anything id=”15806″], the gate to the Sahara.
- [popup_anything id=”15785″], the red city.
(you can click on each colored city for more photos).
Step2: Real Sahara or fake Sahara?
One of the most common mistakes we see travelers make is underestimate how big Morocco is.
Let’s say they picked our recommended itinerary: Casablanca → Chefchoauen → Fes → Merzouga→ Marrakech.
They think they can just visit Fes on Tuesday, Merzouga (the Sahara desert) on Wednesday, then go to Marrakech on Thursday… Wrong!
Morocco is the size of California, or Italy. So…
It takes 3 whole days to go to and leave Merzouga (the Sahara desert).
For some, 3 days is half of the duration they’re staying in Morocco, so it is important to know if visiting the Sahara is worth it or not.
Why 3 days? Let’ pretend it’s Tuesday, you’re in Fes and decide to go to Merzouga:
That gives us:
- One whole day to go from Fes to Merzouga
- One day in Merzouga
- One day to go from Merzouga to Marrakech
Oh no I didn’t know that! Maybe I don’t want to go to the Sahara anymore…
No. You should absolutely go to the Sahara.
Not only is it majestic, breathtaking, and as beautiful as advertised, but the way to and out of it is filled with gems. This is exactly why this itinerary is the best: The top main destinations + the top small ones combined.
Let’s discover the Fes-Merzouga-Marrakech part of the itinerary together:
(Don’t take notes or try to remember the names of the small destinations for now. At the end of the article you’ll find all of this again and more organized.)
Though we 100% recommend you to visit the Sahara – as it is a one in a lifetime experience, and a memory to cherish for the rest of your life – we understand that some travelers didn’t plan ahead and are restricted by time, while others can not sustain long rides even with the multiple breaks.
For those people, there is a way to have a “Sahara-like experience”.
Indeed, there are two spots near Marrakech (as Marrakech is probably going to be in your itinerary) that simulate a Sahara experience. These spots are:
- The Agafay stone desert.
- The palm grove.
We can not stress this enough: If you are able to visit the real Sahara, then definitely do it! The Sahara is seriously amazing. We are locals and it blows our minds every time, imagine what it would do to you. There is no way I could over sell this. I’ve seen the expressions on the faces of the travelers talking about the Sahara. Not many people can say they have been there. For the love of god, if you are able to go, don’t be lazy!
So which one will it be:
- Real Sahara? (Merzouga)
- Fake Sahara? (Agafay or palm grove)
Step 3: Choose a pace
Before we decide how many days your trip should last, we need to figure out what pace you want to travel to.
- Do you want to visit as many places as you possibly can? (fast pace)
- Do you want to prioritize relaxation but still visit some places? (slow pace)
- Do you want something in-between? (average pace)
So which one will it be:
- Slow pace?
- Average pace?
- Fast pace?
Step 4: Book a tour? Or travel independently?
- Traveling independently means taking care of everything, from booking accommodation and transportation, to planning the whole itinerary and logistics.
- Booking a tour means paying a tour company to take care of everything for you.
Here is a table summarizing the characteristics of both:
[table id=5 /]
For the private tours:
– Flights, insurance, tips, monument fees, & beverages not included.
– Some of the tours make it possible to add extra activities: cooking workshops, food tours, and destinations requests.
- Travelers who have traveled independently to Morocco admitted it was harder than expected (language barrier, cultural contrast).
- Travelers who have traveled with a tour thought it was definitely worth it and were glad they didn’t travel independently.
- Most travelers who have done both (different years) preferred traveling with a tour.
So which one will it be:
- Private tour?
- Or independent trip?
- Private tour? Or independent trip?
- Real Sahara? Or fake Sahara? Or none?
- Slow pace? Average pace? Or fast pace?
Start by deciding whether you want to travel independently or with a private tour. After you click on one of the choices below, use the knowledge you got from this article as filters for the table: