Going to Morocco is one thing, but knowing what to do there is a whooooole other task. While I’m sure you could get by having an incredible time without set plans (we were talking to Louis and Raya recently about their very spontaneous trip to Morocco and how wonderfully it panned out, despite not having set plans) the reality is that you may not be a professional last minute traveler, and you may require some sort of itinerary to have a successful trip. Especially in a place like Morocco.
Our Morocco itinerary was absolutely magical (get ready, I think I use the word “magic” to describe Morocco 20+ times in this post), and not only that – it came from the expertise of a local rather than a google search. So as far as I’m concerned, this is itinerary gold and truly the best of the best of Morocco packed into a few days.
While this trip was with my friends at Revolve (just a small clothing site, ever heard of em?) our trip was entirely organized and orchestrated by the aforementioned local, who is actually an incredibly generous, kindhearted and beautiful Moroccan lifestyle and fashion blogger named Yasmina (and shoutout to her equally as awesome and beautiful sister, Sofia). Yasmina was born in Morocco and was the first big Moroccan lifestyle blogger, so let’s just say that if anyone knows Morocco, Yasmina does. And before you do anything else, if you’re thinking of taking a trip to Morocco you should absolutely follow Yasmina on Instagram – @fashionmintea – and give her profile a good stalk to get some real insight into Morocco’s hotspots.
Our trip would have been entirely different without these two amazing people guiding us, and while Morocco is a special place regardless, they truly made us feel that we were welcomed and taken care of and made our trip truly memorable.
We flew into Casablanca via a connection in Montreal, and arrived just in time for our first Moroccan sunrise. The drive from Casablanca to Marrakech takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. We stayed in Marrakech for four nights, and spent our final night in Casablanca so we had easy access to the airport for our early morning flight.
If you’re unsure of whether you should be staying in Marrakech or Casablanca, I can’t say I know much about Casablanca, but from what I understand from Yasmina and Sofia who both live in Casablanca, Marrakech is where most of that Moroccan history and magic is, whereas Casablanca is probably similar to your nearest major city at home and not quite the Moroccan vibe most people are after. From Marrakech, you can take day trips to any number of incredible locations, and this is definitley where most travelers will stay when visiting Morocco. If you were planning on living in Morocco however, you might consider Casablanca as it’s a tad more developed.
In Marrakech, we stayed at La Mamounia which is by far the most luxurious hotel I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking here, but staying here was a Moroccan dream. And you have definitley seen photos of this hotel on some of Instagram’s best travel accounts, so it’s almost become a Moroccan landmark in it’s own way. Some other perks to this hotel beside feeling like complete royalty 24/7 and being dazzled by every single inch of the insane architecture and style, La Mamounia is located about a 10 minute walk from the market square and an even shorter walk from the world famous landmark Koutoubia Mosque. If you have the means to stay here it will not disappoint.
And now, onto the itinerary!
Dinner at the Moroccan restaurant (Le Marocain)
Our first night in Morocco we ate dinner at one of the incredible restaurants at La Mamounia. It was our first taste of Moroccan food, and it was delicious and the atmosphere was simply divine (as most things are at La Mamounia).
Visit to the Majorelle Garden
The Majorelle Garden is a must-see in Marrakech. It’s an enchanting garden filled with local exotic plants, babbling brooks, sparkling fountains and stunning and architecture. It’s a beautifully maintained garden packed with history that you can wander through and fully immerse yourself in, everything from the smells to the sounds to the landscaping is truly magic.
Visit to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and lunch @ cafe Le Studio
And just next door to the garden is the newly opened YSL Museum, an exhibition devoted to the life and work of Yves Saint Laurent housed on a large site acquired by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980. The architecture here is very powerful and the whole exhibition is very enlightening and moving, particularly for anyone interested in Yves Saint Laurent’s work and impact on fashion as we know it, or anyone who’s a fan of the YSL brand. It’s a really memorable museum, not to mention the gift shop and bookstore as you exit have some great coffee table books and other very souvenir-worthy treasures.
Afterward we ate lunch at Le Studio, the YSL museum’s cafe. It’s a sunny, tranquil outdoor area shaded by trees and all around an amazing lunch cafe with Moroccan / French inspired dishes and refreshing juices and teas. If you’re going to the YSL museum, you can’t miss eating lunch here afterward.
Scarebo Camp in the Agafay Desert
In the afternoon after our morning at the garden and museum, we headed into the Agafay desert which is only 45 minutes from Marrakech. While we only visited Scarebo Camp for sunset followed by a candlelit dinner, this is actually a Moroccan desert glamping oasis, and potentially one of the most unique places to stay in Morocco. I can say with full certainty that when we visit Morocco again, we are staying here.
It’s a little oasis of tents and camels situated in the middle of the untouched Agafay desert boasting 360 views of the never-ending beautiful barren landscape, looking further beyond onto the snow-capped Atlas mountains. Staying in a tent here is like jumping into a real life pinterest board. The tents are filled with oriental home decor and everything from the rugs to mirrors to furniture is delightfully Moroccan. Oh, and did I mentioned there are camels wandering around outside? Yeah, you can ride them too. It’s an absolute desert paradise, and one sunset and candlelit dinner spent here is certainly not enough.
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Excursion
The following morning we peeled ourselves out of bed at approximately 4am. What followed was one hundred-million-zillion percent worth missing sleep for. Fast forward to approximately 7am, and were rising high above the Moroccan rural landscape in a hot air balloon, the sun rising with us. It was breathtaking to say the least, and though the balloon’s basket held about 10-12 of us, the entirety of the ride was abnormally quiet, and not because everyone was half asleep. We were all in complete awe. Despite having some nerves about the idea of being suspended in the air in a measly wicker basket attached to a canvas balloon only staying afloat by a flame, once in the air I felt a rush of calmness come over me and all that any of us really wanted to do was watch the world below us as we sailed smoothly over the miniature villages and farms scattered throughout the landscapes below.
To cut to the chase here, getting to fly over Morocco in a hot air balloon is a bucket list item that you should not pass up on if you happen to find yourself in Morocco. The company we flew with is called Ciel d’Afrique,
Brunch in the mountains at Kasbah Bab Ourika
After our early morning we headed up into the Atlas Mountains for brunch. After a long, winding drive we finally arrived at just about the most scenic location for a hotel imaginably possible. Perched at the apex of Ourika Valley is Kasbah Bab Ourika, which I hesitate to call a “hotel” as it’s more of a sanctuary than anything. They have some photos on their site that really do this place justice, so head to their site to really see what makes this place is so special.
We ate a picturesque brunch at the Villa Retreat at Kasbah Bab Ourika which is the villa that is sitting right at the edge of the view, so much so that you essentially feel you have front row seats to the edge of the rest of the world. I know I’ve been raving about a lot in this post so far, but this place is really something else. It’s so special that even Mick Jagger has stayed here, so yeah. It’s special. And not only were we enchanted by the views, the garden that grows all the food served here and the fact that it’s one of the most eco-friendly buildings in Morocco, we absolutely fell in love with the family who runs Kasbah Bab Ourika (special celeb shoutout to poppy the pug). Beatriz, who manages the property quickly became a friend to all of us and we could not have felt more welcomed.
If you’re looking for any sort of escape from the Western world and Morocco is included in your escape plans, this is your place. I know I’ll be back.
Dinner on the rooftop of riad El Fenn
That night we grabbed a horse and carriage, the same way you’d grab an uber in LA, and trotted through the streets of Marrakech until we arrived at El Fenn for dinner. Situated even closer to the center of town, El Fenn is yet another Moroccan-city retreat. Another great option if you’re looking for a place to stay that is walking distance from city of Marrakech’s town center, or just a romantic place to come for dinner. This hotel is as authentic Morrocco as it gets, and I think just about every last corner, courtyard, hallway, nook and cranny is an Instagram worthy moment waiting to happen.
We climbed up various levels until we found ourselves sitting just above the rooftops of the Marrakech for another delicious dinner.
Tour of the Souks
The next day was souks day, and I highly recommend you devote an entire day to the souks as well, if not two days if you really want to take advantage of the endless shopportunities. I may have dropped the ball a bit here, as it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the beyond-perfect pillows and blankets and rugs… and thus I found myself so awestruck by everything I suddenly needed to purchase that I walked away with almost nothing. Don’t do what I did, come in with a plan for what you want to buy and be prepared for some serious negotiating.
The Souks of Marrakech are the true energy of the city – a marketplace made up of a colorful web of alleyways and corridors filled with everything and anything you can imagine: spices, shoes, bags, authentic foods, carpets, oils, perfumes and so on. It’s a wonderful kind of chaos, with donkeys and motorbikes weaving through the narrow passageways and all sorts of locals buying and selling, children playing in the cobblestone streets and a vibrant, magical Moroccan energy that is really the heart of this ancient city.
We were incredibly lucky to tour the Souks with Yasmina and the help of some other locals, so as we wandered and stopped for photos, to shop and (attempt) to negotiate, we really had the upper-hand with such experienced tour guides chiming in for us in Arabic or French and leading us to the best the Souks had to offer. We were even welcomed into a fantastic authentic rug shop that hosted us for Moroccan tea on their rooftop overlooking the souks below, and all because we were with locals who were friends with the shop owners.
Having a private tour of the souks is incredible, but if you’re shopping alone it’s important to do some research beforehand so you know what you’re getting into, as there are thousands of souks and it can be a bit of a frenzy. You’ll find yourself wonderfully lost, but it’s important to have a plan for your day and have done some research on the best way to navigate and negotiate. You also need to consider covering up a bit more while you’re out in public, so we were sure to dress modestly with duster jackets on-hand so we could be completely covered and respectful.
Lunch at rooftop Nomad
The Souks can really wipe you out, and I highly recommend seeking refuge and refueling at this restaurant. Nomad is a converted old carpet store that is now a modern Moroccan rooftop restaurant with fresh, organic produce and options for everyone from the vegan to the carnivore.
Oriental Cabaret Dinner at Le Comptior Darna
For a lively fun dinner that is likely to lead to a night of dancing, this restaurant / patio / club is the perfect dinner spot. With live entertainment and a variety of food from American to Moroccan, this place comes alive at night and we had a blast eating our last feast in Marrakech here.
Late Night Dancing at Epicurien Marrakech
After such a lively dinner and despite the impending exhaustion, the group decided we couldn’t just go home and go to bed without at least seeing a bit of Morocco’s nightlife. And we definitley went out with a bang. Epicurien Marrakech is a late-night “restaurant” that is open until the wee hours of the morning, and as the night goes on the place transforms into a surreal party scene with plush characters dancing around and no shortage of fruity cocktails.
As I mentioned before, on our last full day we drove back to Casablanca and spent the night there in order to make it to our early flight the next morning. We stayed the the Four Seasons Casablanca which is located right on the shores of the sparkling North Atlantic Ocean. Even though we were only there for the night, we were so warmly welcomed and caught a glimpse of what is a very modern and sleek hotel close to such a bustling city that we wished we had more time to explore!
That just about concludes the itinerary. Major props if you read all the way to this point! No hard feelings if you just scrolled through to look at the photos. In conclusion, Morocco for us was a whirlwind of insane pinch-yourself moments… and while we hardly slept all week, we left feeling we’d really gotten a taste for the *magic* of this extraordinary ancient city and we truly had an unforgettable experience. Ginormous thank you to Revolve for inviting us, and to Yasima and Sofia for taking such great care of us. I hope by sharing these photos I can inspire you to consider Morocco for the next chance you get to travel.
To see my post on my Morocco outfits, click here
Morocco is a great place to visit. What a lovely tourist destination.
I think you have missed taking a belly dance lesson :-)
This is so helpful!! We went to Spain with our family years ago & our one regret is not taking the short flight/ferry to visit Morocco! B’s boyfriend has a bit of Moroccan heritage & we’ve always wanted to visit but never really knew where to start. So thank you for making it seem easy!!
Hi Helen! I love love love your blog so much. It’s inspiring me to plan my next big trip. Can I ask what lens you use to capture these photos? I realize editing these photos is a whole other ball game but I am currently conflicted with splurging a little bit on a 24-105 lens or if I should just get the mark iv and really go all out. Any/all insight into camera lenses is so appreciated.
I love this so much ! Morocco is one of my favorite places in the world. Jesse is Moroccan :) I used to go there every summer in my teen years to work at shelters and help kids in need. Casa Blanca is my fav <3
Great job!! The content is thorough but not too wordy, beautiful photos & gorgeous people <3 Love how much you smile! Keep up the good work, it looks amazing.
Marrakesh looks great on instagram but the reality is quite different. We hired a car and got robbed by he police twice. The first time we were trying to drive from our hotel (about 15 mins out of Marrakesh) to the Souk. I was trying to direct using GPRS as the £30 of data we bought didn’t seem to work when we needed it. I said to my hubby you need to go left down here. He flicked his indicator on for literally 2 seconds before cancelling it coz he saw it was a no entry road. A police man was stood 50 meters up the road and flagged us over. Long story short, he said we had to pay a £20 fine. Which was ridiculous as we didn’t do anything’s then as soon as he saw my husband’s UK driving licence the fine increased to £40. We argued but had to pay it. So we were pissed off and went back to the hotel. Next day we decided to drive the opposite direction into the Atlas Mountains. I think we passed the hotel you mention in the Ourika Valley. Firstly we were following a pick up truck full of dodgy men staring and pointing at us. I said ‘do you think they are trying to work out how to rob us? My husband was like ‘I was thinking the exact same’. So we spun the car round to go home and then encountered another police officer 1 mile down the road who’d set up a road block in the time we’d been passed that way. And guess what, they fined us another £40 – when we asked why they tried to make out their English wasn’t good enough to explain. So after that we didn’t leave the hotel! I kept convincing my husband to get a taxi to the Souk but everytime he’d say ‘okay, we’ll go in an hour’ another hotel guest would sit down beside us and tell us how awful it was! Stories were ‘made to pay £20 after a bloke put a monkey on my shoulder (despite asking him not too)’, ‘made to pay £15 for ‘directions’ when in reality i knew where I was going and the group of men just followed me’, ‘just too much hassle and very aggressive if you don’t go in their restaurant or buy something’. So don’t just go off the pretty insta pics! Most of Marrakesh isn’t so insta worthy! There’s a lot of scruffiness and poverty. It’s okay if you’ve got a Moroccan guide but unless your being paid to be there like Helen, why the hell should you have to pay someone to stop you getting robbed! Gypsy Lust gives a more balanced review of Morroco on her blog. I’m not saying this blog is biased, but it’s a different experience when you’ve got a local guide with you all the time who you don’t have to pay for. The hotel ‘trip guy’ wanted to
Charge £140 for 4 of us to go to the waterfalls (3 hr drive) and when I asked ‘are there lots of steps?’ He said ‘no’. We were told by another couple there are actually 1000 steps and they are very steep. I have a heart condition and wouldn’t manage those steps, which is why I asked! But he just wanted our money! Out to rob you at every turn is my experience of Marrakesh.
Appreciate your detailed comment so much. And beyond all else I’m so sorry you had such a negative experience in Morocco! That sounds quite traumatizing.
You’re right, of course my experience was completely catered and Zack and I were not only with a group, but we were fully in the hands of some wonderful locals.
Many travel bloggers these days will have travel experiences and accomodation that are provided to them in exchange for imagery and quality exposure (which is a dream job to a lot of people, but quite a lot of work in reality). The amazing Gypsy Lust who you mentioned was also likely traveling “for free” so to speak, or perhaps even receiving compensation for her work for the hotels. We were led through the Souks by 3+ locals who spoke both French and Arabic and knew the streets of the Souks like the back of their hands and many of the merchants personally. This completely transformed our experience, and I recommend that anyone who is exploring the Souks should do ample research beforehand in order to be fully prepared, as my itinerary in no way was meant to be a full account of all the dangers of Morocco.
This post is an account of everything we did and it is 100% accurate to my personal experience. I want to encourage people to visit this beautiful destination, because it really is just as wonderful as many of the photos you will see on Instagram. I hope that people can be inspired by the wonderful photos they see, but take the time to research the reality of traveling to Morocco before they go so that they can really experience the magic that we did.
Thanks again for reading my post and sharing your experience!
Awesome! Great jobe. Love this!❤
Always wanted start a blog , this is a great example of one with lots of nice pictures and information. Keep up the great work.
Love your new blog Helen! I had the chance to visit Morocco last spring, and camelbacking in the Sahara and waltzing through the Marrakech market is something I’ll never forget. :)
That sounds like a dream! I have to go back, 4 days there was just not enough!
Thanks so much for your comment, sending my love! x
Super jealous! You’ve been someone I’ve looked up to for probably two or three years now:) xx
Thank you Eleanor! Your support means the world to me! xx
And I highly recommend Morocco if you ever get the chance :)