Experience the evocative cities of north Morocco on this enjoyable and semi-independent 8-day small-group tour. After a day to explore and an overnight stay in the famous seaside city of Casablanca, set out on a fascinating journey around the cities, villages and sites of Fez, Moulay Idriss, Meknes, Chefchaouen, Volubilis, Tangier and the Moroccan capital of Rabat, before your adventure concludes in vibrant Marrakech. Along the way, enjoy the contrasts of traveling by daytime and sleeper train, private and public bus, and taxi.
Your tour includes six nights of accommodation in 2- to 3-star hotels, an overnight stay in a guesthouse and a night on a sleeper train. Breakfast is included on most days, and free time is built into the itinerary for you to enjoy other meals at local restaurants at your own expense. Also included in the tour is a mix of guided sightseeing tours, optional activities and plenty of free time for you to relax and explore at your leisure.
Day 1: CasablancaThe economic capital of Morocco with one of the largest ports in Africa, Casablanca is a bustling seaside city known for its Art Deco architecture from French colonial times. Spend your first day here as you please: wander the old medina and city walls, visit the Quartiers Habous, browse vibrant souks and gaze in wonder at Hassan II Mosque, a modern-day masterpiece. Finish the day with a sunset walk along Casablanca Corniche, watching the locals play beach football. Meet at your accommodation in the evening for a welcome meeting before enjoying the rest of the night at your leisure.
Overnight: Hotel Maamoura, or similar, in Casablanca
Day 2: Casablanca – Rabat – Moulay Idriss (B)After breakfast in your hotel, take an early morning, 1-hour train ride to Rabat, Morocco’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital city. Spend a few hours strolling Rabat’s old quarter, with its authentic medina and 12th-century Hassan II Mosque.
See evidence of Rabat’s long and fascinating history as you pass monuments from Phoenician, Roman, Almohad and Merenid times, and get a taste of modernization as you explore Rabat’s new town, one of Africa’s largest and most ambitious modern urbanization projects. Walk up to the Kasbah des Oudaias for a view over the Atlantic Ocean. Continue by train to Meknes, about three hours away. Then, transfer by taxi through the gorgeous countryside to Moulay Idriss, a sacred pilgrimage village spread over two hills at the base of Mt Zerhoun.
This holy town holds a special place in the hearts of the Moroccan people, as it was here that Idris I introduced the religion of Islam to Morocco, thus founding the Idrisid Dynasty. Walk through the medina and visit the 8th-century mausoleum, where people gather to pay homage to the beloved ruler. End your day by watching a sunset over the plains of Volubilis, and then head to your local guesthouse to rest overnight.
Overnight: Maison d'Hote Clombe Blanche, or similar, in Moulay Idriss
Day 3: Moulay Idriss – Volubilis – Meknes – Fez (B)Enjoy breakfast, and then head to the ancient city of Volubilis for a walking tour led by a local guide. One of the Roman Empire’s most remote bases, this excavated city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, revered as an exceptional example of a Roman colony.
Return to the Imperial city of Meknes, and make the most of a few hours at your leisure to explore the main sites. Sultan Moulay Ismail imagined the grandeur of Versailles when he set out to build Meknes, constructing walls, gates and more than 50 palaces with an unstoppable labor force with an estimated 25,000 slaves. Later in the afternoon, travel by train to Fez where your hotel awaits.
Overnight: Hotel Olympic, or similar, in Fez
Day 4: Fez (B)Relax over breakfast, and then step outside to discover the delights of Fez, a city often cited as one of the most impressive ancient cities in the Arab world. It exists suspended in time, as you’ll see on your guided walk through the labyrinth of alleyways of the famous Fes el Bali medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s said to be one of the world’s largest car-free urban areas.
Visit a traditional tannery and ceramic factory to see craftspeople working away, and then spend the afternoon at your leisure. Perhaps lose yourself in the maze of vibrant streets and alleys, pay a visit to the Royal Palace or venture to the nearby hills for incredible views.
Overnight: Hotel Olympic, or similar, in Fez
Days 5-6: Chefchaouen (B)After breakfast in your hotel, wave goodbye to Fez as you take a local bus to the stunning mountain town of Chefchaouen, surrounded by the beautiful Rif peaks. How you spend your time in the town for the rest of the day and the following day is up to you. Walk around the cobblestone medina, whose buildings are washed in striking shades of blue and topped with Andalucian-style red-tiled roofs, and let the town envelop you in its romantic and bohemian ambiance. Rest overnight in your hotel.
Overnights: Hotel Dar Chaouen, or similar, in Chefchaouen
Day 7: Chefchaouen – Tangier (B)Savor breakfast, and then take a 3-hour bus ride to the town of Tangier, placed on the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. Take a short walk through this historically rich city, an important international trading center and the convergence of many civilizations and cultures since the 5th century. Admire Tangier’s modern urban development on a walk along the promenade.
A range of optional activities can be organized while in Tangier. Speak to your guide about a Tangier walking tour; henna tattoo experience; or visits to the hammam (public baths),Tangier Kasbah, Tangier American Legation Museum, Dar-el-Makhzen (or Sultanate Palace) or the Caves of Hercules. In the evening, board an overnight sleeper train bound for Marrakech. Food is not served on the train, so make sure you eat before boarding.
Overnight: night train from Tangier to Marrakech
Day 8: MarrakechArrive early in Marrakech, drop your luggage at your hotel, and then make the most of a whole day at your leisure. This alluring city is a feast for the senses, with a seemingly endless mosaic of souks each devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. Visit monuments including Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian tombs, the ruins of El Badi Palace and Bahia Palace: superb examples of Muslim architecture.
Perhaps ask your guide to recommend a restaurant at famous Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech’s bustling main square where singers, dancers, jugglers, snake charmers and fortune-tellers all perform for nightly guests.
Overnight: Hotel Caspien, or similar, in Marrakech
Day 9: MarrakechThere are no activities planned for your last day; you are able to check out of your accommodation at any time.