When we visited Morocco last year for our anniversary getaway both my husband and I fell in love with the western Moroccan Kingdom of Marrakech. We loved our visit there so much so that it made the list of places we would revisit. This time we will embark on a 12-day family vacation to Morocco. This time we will fly into the Western port city of Casablanca, Morocco, which will allow us to visit other coastal destinations. Detailed below is our itinerary for our 12-day family vacation to Morocco that is packed with visits to historical sites for the 6-year-old’s sake, shopping for my mother-in-law and me, and of course, beautiful accommodations for us to relax and cool off by the pool.
Day 1: Casablanca – Rabat
We are flying Alitalia from New York to Casablanca, which is Morocco’s largest city and commercial capital, and Africa’s fourth largest port. There, we will visit the residential area of the Ana district, Ain Diab to stroll the famous Boulevard de la Corniche, Atlantic boardwalk that is lined with restaurants. We will continue with a visit to United Nations Place, Mohammed V Square, and visit the mosque of Hassan II. This is the largest religious monument in the Muslim world outside of Mecca. After our tour of Casablanca, we will head over to Rabat, Morocco’s capital where we will spend the night at Riad Zyo.
Day 2: Rabat – Chefchaouen
We will spend our morning touring Rabat, a pristine city with many gardens and monuments. Morocco is known for its well-preserved Kasbahs. We, in fact, enjoyed being able to tour them during our last trip, and we are happy we will be able to visit the Kasbah Chellah. The building of this Kasbah began in 1195, and the Hassan Tower was never completed. It is located near the Oudaya Gardens. We will also visit the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, and then take the 4 to 5-hour drive across the Riff Mountains to the stunning town of Chefchaouen, which is also known as the Blue City. Our accommodations in Chefchaouen will be Lina Ryad & Spa.
Day 3: Chefchaouen
You may not recognize it by name, but I am pretty sure you have seen pictures of this beautiful town with its distinctive pale blue and whitewashed buildings and winding alleyways. My husband and I missed visiting here during our previous visit to Morocco, and are happy that we are able to fit it into our schedule this time around. Chefchaouen is a charming place with strong Andalusian connections. It was here that many Jews and Moors fled during the Spanish Inquisition.
Our time in Chefchaouen will include a short hike to the ruin of the Spanish mosque that will give us a panoramic view of Chefchaouen. We will make a visit to the Ras el-Ma, where the city’s fresh water springs from the mountain; and a stroll through the wonderfully restored Kasbah and gardens. We will have most of this day to wander on our own through the medina to shop or dine at one many outdoor cafés.
Day 4: Chefchaouen –Volubilis – Meknes – Fez
After breakfast, we will make our way to the ruins of the former Roman outpost, Volubilis. It is a partially excavated Berber and Roman city situated near the city of Meknes. Once home to nearly 20,000 people during the Roman occupation, many of its structures and mosaics are still intact. After visiting Volubilis, we will then visit Meknes, which is an imperial city, and was the first capital of the Alouite Dynasty, under the bloody rule of Moulay Idriss Ismail.
Visiting Meknes was by my husband’s request since during our last visit to Morocco we had a wine from this region that we thoroughly enjoyed. The Meknes region is the center of the wine industry of Morocco, with nearly 9,000 acres of vines now producing a range of Moroccan wines. From there, we will make a 52-minute drive from Meknes to Fez, the oldest and second largest city in Morocco, and spend the night at Riad Tafilalet.
Day 5: Fez
I have wanted to go to Fez for the longest time. I am happy we will be able to do so this trip because I want to get some custom leather goods. Fez is home to leather tanneries.
Fez is the cultural capital of Morocco and is one of the most complete medieval Islamic cities in the world. We have heard that once we pass through the gates and enter the alleyways, we will be transported back in time. Apparently, the streets are just as they were when they were built in the 8th century, with high walls that protect the courtyards inside from the heat of the midday sun, and it will be hot in August. We will have the opportunity to visit the Place an-Nejjarine, where an ancient caravanserai (roadside inn) overlooks a fountain; wander outside the great Qayrawan mosque, passing 14th-century merchant’s shops. I will think about picking up my sister, who is a chef, spices from the souk al- Attarine.
Day 6: Fez – Ifrane – Midelt – Merzouga
Morocco has one of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes we have ever seen. It is honestly one of the reasons we loved visiting. From Fez, we will take a 7 to 8-hour drive through the Atlas mountains, where we will be able to take in Morocco’s rocky, sun baked plains, cedar – clad mountains and deep canyons as we head to Merzouga. We are told we will pass through the hills of Azrou where we may spot a troop of Barbary Apes, but I will be okay if we don’t see any at all. Then we slowly descend into the scenic Ziz Valley passing palm groves and green oasis.
Last year when we visited Merzouga, we camped at the Desert Luxury camp, but this time it will be too hot for us, so our accommodations will be Riad Madu – http://www.riadmadu.com/en.
Day 7: Merzouga- Todra Gorge – Skoura Oasis
After spending the night at Riad Madu in great “sand sea” of Merzouga, we will head up into the Atlas Mountains to the Todra Gorge, a spectacular gash in the hills that surround Tinerhir.
The region is dotted with deserted kasbahs, palmeries and mud- brick villages. The scenery does make for a great photo opp. Do not be surprised if one of the pictures makes a holiday card. From the Todra Gorge, we will take the road of One Thousand Kasbahs to head to one of our favorite places, Ksar El Kebbaba located in the Skoura Oasis.
Day 8: Ouarzazate- Ait Ben Haddou – Taznakht – Taliouin – Taroudant.
For the Game of Thrones fans, you may find it interesting that we will once again visit Ait Ben Haddou where Game of Thrones Yunkai and Astapor were filmed. Lawrence of Arabia, Jewel of Nile, the Hills Have Eyes were also filmed here. The dramatic walls of red earth, slit windows and crumbling tower was the perfect backdrop for these movies.
Then we will continue along the Anti Atlas Mountains passing the Berber town of Taznakht known for handmade carpets before making our way to Taliouline. Taliouline is a saffron capital, the most labor extensive spice in the world and most expensive. I bet you my sister is going to want me to pick her up some saffron from here. Don’t believe me? Just watch! After that, we will take the nearly two-hour drive to Taroudant where we will spend the night at Le Palais Oumensour.
Day 9: Taroudant – Agadir – Essaouira – ***MY BIRTHDAY***
The ninth day of our trip will bring us to the coast. Taroudant is only an hour and 30-minute drive away from our next stop, the metropolitan city of Agadir. There we will have lunch and stroll the boardwalk, which is lined with many cafes and restaurants. Then we will travel north along the coast allowing us to take in the spectacular views of the cliffs and ocean, and may possibly see the goats in the Argan trees as we head to Essaouira where we will spend the night at Riad Rayhane. Since this is the day of my birthday, I made plans to dine at Zahra’s Grill. Hopefully, my mother-in-law can babysit. .:hint hint:.
Day 10: Essaouira – Marrakech
Most of Day 10 will be spent in Essaouira, the coastal town with whitewashed and blue shuttered buildings that is known for its seafood. We will take a walk along the Old Portuguese barricades with views of the ocean and rocky offshore islands, as well as enjoy the UNESCO protected Medina where many crafts from the Thuy wood are sold. My Mini Me may want to visit the beach if we have time we may do that too. All of this before heading to Marrakech where we will spend the night at Riad Gallery 49.
Day 11: Marrakech
This will be our final day of touring Morocco before heading back to Casablanca for our flight back to Rome, and then to the states. We will spend a full day in Marrakech. I will admit that Marrakech is not for everyone, but my husband and I love it. It is busy, and it is great for people watching. We wanted to go back here because we want to bring our daughter and my mother-in-law to the YSL Jardin Majorelle. My mother-in-law loves gardens, and I am sure she will love how beautiful Majorelle is.
We will also visit the highly decorated tombs of the royal family of Saadian, the majestic ruins of the Baddi palace built by Ahmed El Mansour that used onyx, gold, and marble as building materials, and then to Bahia Palace. We will walk along the Jewish market, and then visit the outside of Koutoubia mosque the dominant mosque of Marrakech and its minaret that watches over Marrakech for over 800 years.
Day 12: Marrakech – Casablanca
We will say goodbye to Morocco and leave from Casablanca to head over to Rome where we will stay for one night before heading back to the states. If you have suggestions on things we should do while there, please comment below.
Our 12-day family vacation to Morocco was put together by Let’s Travel Morocco (read reviews here). It includes all vehicle transfers in 4×4 WD’s (or minibus) with fuel and driver, all accommodation as mentioned above, and some with both breakfast and dinner included. We will also have an English-speaking guide in Fez and Chefchaouen. We used this company for our previous trip and loved how accommodating our driver/tour guide was.
This will be a busy trip for sure! We may need a vacation from this vacation, but I have that covered. My husband and I will be visiting Barcelona in November.