DISCOVER MY 15 DAY ITINERARY
In February 2020, I went on an Intrepid tour of Morocco with my friend Carly. And after, I did a bit of solo travel on the coast. Here's my itinerary with my recommendations:
Day 1 - Casablanca
Fly to Casablanca
Carly and I flew into Madrid from JFK, spent one night, then turned around and took a small flight to Casablanca for the start of our trip. We chose the Essential Morocco trip for 18-29 year olds with Intrepid Travel—and I’m so glad we did! We hit all the hot spots in Morocco while also discovering the little villages that you can’t really do without a tour guide.
Our guide was named Mouna and she was simply the best!
Morocco is a very conservative muslim country, so the
concept of women being tour leaders is not widely accepted.
Mouna opened up to us about the harassment and sexist
issues she faces and how supportive Intrepid is of women in
leadership roles and girls’ education in northern Africa. Not
only did we have a great time, but it’s great knowing that
we’re supporting a company that uses its resources to give
Recommendation: Go for it!
Check into Moroccan House Hotel
After paying a taxi 250 dirhams ($25 USD) we arrived at our hotel in Casablanca. It was a fine hotel in a not so desirable neighborhood—although… there doesn’t seem to be many desirable neighborhoods in Casablanca. Casablanca is a giant city, but there isn’t much to do tourism-wise. I would suggest flying into Casablanca and then making your way onto your next destination in the north of Morocco. Recommendation: Skip it. If I were to come back to Casablanca in need of a hotel, I would look for a less sketchy neighborhood.
Lunch at Etoile Centrale
After checking into the hotel, we got a recommendation to go to this spot for lunch. It was adorable! Like most places in Morocco, the decor was too cute and the food was delicious. Carly got the chicken cous cous and I got a spicy chicken Pastilla (kind of like shredded chicken in a crunchwrap supreme). It was A LOT of food. I would consider sharing with someone… this was a lesson we learned many times over. Recommendation: Go for it! This was right by our hotel and it was perfect.
We met up with Mouna and our tour group for the first time! We went over so many things including go over a giant map of all the places we were going to visit. Lots of questions were asked and it was a very informative meeting!
Dinner at Restaurant La Fleur
After the Welcome Meeting, we all went to a nearby restaurant together. I ordered a Mango juice—and it was amazing. Fresh squeezed juice is very common in Morocco and not expensive at all. I’m going to miss that part of Morocco a lot! I ordered the cous cous and was given a mountain… haha. Luckily, no food goes to waste in Morocco, so don’t feel bad about not eating all your food.
Recommendation: Go for it! If you’re in the area, this was a great spot. Still thinking about that mango juice.
Day 2 - Casablanca to Moulay Idriss
Every day we ate breakfast at the hotel, they were all very simple and very similar: hard-boiled eggs and bread. Nothing too interesting, so I’m going to skip this every day because there’s not much to write about… it was simple and a bit boring and there ya go.
Our only stop in Casablanca was at the Hassan II Mosque. It’s the only mosque in Morocco that non-muslims can visit—and it’s outstanding! It’s the 3rd largest mosque in the world… like the world. And it was built in 6 years! There were so many cool design features of this mosque that it was so worth getting the guided tour. In total it cost around $13 USD (less if you’re a student) and I enjoyed it more than other mosques I’ve visited.
Recommendation: Go for it! It’s a beautiful building with so many cool modern architectural features. If you’re in Casablanca, check it out!
Hassan II Mosque
Welcome tea at the Guesthouse
We arrived at the tiny town that is Moulay Idriss and checked into our Guesthouse. We were quick to learn that basically anywhere you go in Morocco (specifically hotels) you will always be offered mint tea with lots of sugar. The guesthouse we stayed in is similar to a B&B or a family run inn. It was delightful! We had the best view from the rooftop terrace (and also incredible wifi). Muhammad was a wonderful host and his home is lovely. If you want to stay there, it was called La Colombe Blanche.
Recommendation: Go for it! I’m not sure where to go about booking it, but a google search will surely help you. It was my favorite place we stayed the whole trip.
Walking Tour of Moulay Idriss
After we settled in (and took a lot of pictures of the pet turtles) we had a walking tour guided by Mijad. Moulay Idriss is a beautiful white-washed town that has some small Santorini vibes because of its situation on a mountain. We walked too many stairs to count, but it was so nice to hear about this town’s history. It’s a popular site for pilgrimage because of the tomb of the city founder—Moulay Idriss; he is a descendent of the prophet, Muhammed. It’s only been open to tourists since 2005, and boy does it feel like it. Morocco is a conservative Muslim country, and it was very jarring for me to walk around the main square of the town and only see men eating and hanging out. It affected me more than I expected and it was probably most obvious here in Moulay Idriss. No matter how I felt, it was a fascinating glimpse into the average Moroccan life.
Recommendation: Go for it! Mijad loved to tell Dad jokes and he was lovely guide. We also got to see the public baker and try some of his bread, which was probably a highlight. Haha.
At the end of our tour, we made up to this amazing view point overlooking the town. It’s such a beautiful place… all the stairs were worth it. =)
Recommendation: Go for it. Gotta get that photo op.
Tea Making Demonstration
Once we returned from our tour, Muhammed our host, gave us a tea making demonstration. Making tea is very important in Morocco and they have a very specific way to do it We also learned a lot about Morocco’s affection for sugar. I usually never take sugar in my tea… but boy did I get used to it and probably a little addicted. Haha. Sugar is so important to Moroccan culture, do as the people do! Take your tea with sugar. Historically, when a man wants to marry a woman, he’ll bring over a large cone of sugar. She then will prepare the tea… he will know her answer by tasting it. If there’s sugar in the tea, she says yes. If it’s bitter… he has his answer. Haha. The entire demonstration was so wonderful to watch and learn about, and we all horribly tried to pour the tea as they do. Twas funny.
Recommendation: Go for it. I’m not sure if this is something Muhammed regularly offers… but I would ask about if you stay here.
Dinner at the Guesthouse
After tea, we ate dinner at the guest house. We had the traditional tagine as well as lamb meatballs with egg. I particularly enjoyed the harissa olives—which are basically just really spicy olives. =) Not the best meal I had on my trip… but that’s mostly because I’m picky and don’t like meatballs. Haha.
Recommendation: Eh, depends on what you like!
We all went to the grocery store the night before to buy some picnic food for lunch on the train to Meknes. I actually love this kind of lunch—you buy a baguette, meat, and cheese, bag of chips. Delicious! The train was only an hour and a half long, and we hopped into cabs right after to get to Moulay Idriss. Everything was organized of course, I think it’s just the easiest way to get there without private bus (which we used later in our trip).
Recommendation: Go for it!
Day 3 - Volubilis & Meknes
Tour of Volubilis
We left Moulay Idriss and took a short cab ride to the ruins of Volubilis—an ancient roman city. We met our guide Mijad again and he showed us around. We even got to see some original olive oil presses and a “vomitorium” which is weirdly exactly what you think it is. Volubilis was beautiful, surrounded by nature, and engulfed in the strong Moroccan sun. Recommendation: Go for it! We had too much fun with our pictures.
Walking Tour of Meknes
After our tour, we drove to the city of Meknes—which is one of the four imperial cities of Morocco. As a tourist, I don’t think Meknes has much to offer but it was good to stop by for a few hours and check it out. The large pool was lovely and people actually swim in it during the summer! Crazy. Recommendation: Eh, if you have time.
Berber Craft Exhibition
We stopped by a Berber Craft Exhibition in town—Meknes is known for their tin pottery and linen embroidery. We got to see how every thing gets made and check out all the cool crafts.
Recommendation: Go for it! Just in case you didn’t know, the Berber (or Amazigh) are the indigenous people of Northern Africa—they are not arabs; they even have their own flag.
We walked through the medina, tried a few treats and I found a puppy! The owner let me hold it, and it was the best part of my day. Other than that, the Medina was okay… quite smelly, not as picturesque as some of the other we will visit. Recommendation: Eh, if you have time.
Lunch at a House for Camel Burgers
Our last stop in Meknes was for lunch. We ate at a local man’s home where he served camel burgers. Carly and myself were kind against the idea of eating an animal I was about to ride in the desert… (you wouldn’t eat a horse, right?) So, we opted for the vegetarian plate which was quite good.
Recommendation: Go for it! Everyone else said that camel tasted like chicken… I guess we didn’t miss out on much.
Train to Fez
We got back in the Meknes train station and we were off to Fez! It’s only 45 minutes away, so a very easy train.
Check into Hotel de la Paix
We arrived in Fez and checked into our hotel. This was probably the worst hotel we stayed in… The hot water was iffy, the water pressure was eh, and the wifi was just dismal. BUT, there was a bar. With cheap beer. So you know… pick your battles.
Recommendation: Skip it. Find anywhere else to stay. lol. After checking in, we all met down at the bar and played card games and hung out. This is where our affinity for B.S. started and would continue throughout the trip. We were also introduced to Flag Special the cheap beer of choice in Morocco. It was 22 dirhams (around $2.20 USD) and pretty good.
Dinner at Le Gout de Fes
We all met up for dinner near the hotel, nothing fancy. I got a kebab (or gyro) which was fine… it was really cheap and all the food kinda tasted like it. Truthfully. Recommendation: Skip it. Definitely go somewhere else.
Day 4 - Fez
We met up with our tour guide for the day, Laila, at the oldest royal palace in Fez (there are four). This one dates back to the 14th century, and the doors are just beautiful. We took lots of pictures, and learned a bit about muslim influence in the design of these grand palaces.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. It’s a beautiful area but nothing worth carving out of your day until it’s on the way.
We then walked through the Jewish quarter known at Mellah; you can tell it’s the Jewish quarter of a moroccan city if there are balconies. Muslim tradition didn’t allow women to be seen, so there are no windows to the homes facing the outside.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. This was right by the royal palace so we walked through it to get back to our bus.
Panoramic View of Fez
We took our vehicle up to this panoramic view for pictures and more explanations of the city. You can see where the Medina is and the palaces, etc. It’s very beautiful.
Recommendation: Go for it!
Pottery Co-Operation of Fes
Fez is known for their ceramics, so we visited the pottery co-op of Fes. We saw how they created each piece, no electric wheels around—they literally spun it with their feet. Then we watched them paint so delicately with camel hair brushes—fascinating. Lastly, we watched them carve the ceramic pieces with small tools and place them by hand for tables and other larger ceramic pieces. We then got to shop and haggle a bit. One of the best parts was that they wrapped everything in foam and duct tape… so you know it’s definitely not going to break.
Recommendation: Go for it! I took quite a few pieces home with me.
Next we ditched the bus, and headed into the busy Medina. It’s actually much more neat and beautiful than I expected, perhaps because it’s one of the most famous in the world. However, one of the first sights we saw when we walked in was camel heads and sheep heads… Not to be gross, but the camel heads were kind of cool probably because it was such a bizarre sight. Sheep heads… could've done without. Haha. But there’s so much to see in the Medina—everything I’m about to mention is all inside in the Medina. Laila and Mouna were very cautious so that we didn’t get lost and we stayed together as a group.
Recommendation: Go for it! I was expecting it to be chaotic and busy, but it was surprisingly calm and peaceful.
Our next stop was at the leather tannery. They literally do everything on sight. Everything. So, when we arrived… it did not smell so great. But they gave us all sprigs of mint to smell and it worked really well--shockingly well. We learned all about the tannery and had some cool views and then tried stuff on!
Recommendation: Go for it! Nice leather, much better prices than you’ll find back home.
We stopped by this plaza quickly to see the oldest library in the oldest university in the entire world. The entire world! Just that thought alone, was so cool. This plaza is filled with copper beaters who beat away at large copper bowls, teapots, etc.
Recommendation: Go for it! It’s a fascinating area with a beautiful large tree at the center.
Lunch at Le Patio Bleu
We stopped for lunch at Le Patio Bleu in the Medina. The space itself was beautiful and there is an amazing rooftop terrace… but. It was kinda… eh. No one was obsessed. I regret not ordering the pastilla which is a Fez specialty. I had a bite of my friend’s and it was delicious.
Recommendation: Eh, maybe find a better place. It just seemed a little overpriced to be that boring.
Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss II
After lunch, we popped by the mausoleum of the founder of the city of Fez who was a descendent of the prophet Mohammed. We weren’t allowed in, so it mostly just a big group of people trying to take pictures from a couple doors.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time.
After that, we went into the Madrasa Attarine, which is not the qaranic school like so many think, but it was actually the dorm for the qaranic school. The prayer hall in the middle of the dorms is so spectacular; the details and delicacies of the tile work is breathtaking. We took a lot of pictures. Haha. The dorms itself are simple and so tiny, they almost looks like prison cells… which starkly contrasts the magnificent prayer hall beneath them.
Recommendation: Go for it! It’s beautiful and secluded. Too pretty to pass up.
Next we had a stop at the colorful textile haven that was the weaving demonstration. We learned how all the beautiful scarves are made and how to properly wear them in the desert. It was a fun experience.
Recommendation: Go for it!
Our last stop in the Medina was at a metal demonstration… but unfortunately everyone was so tired from the long day I barely paid attention… But… this wasn’t that interesting. Haha.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time.
Dinner at the Godfather
After a bit of relaxing at the hotel and playing games and drinking beer… Carly and I met up with my friend Katie who lives in Fez. She brought a group of her friends and took us to The Godfather which is an “italian style” restaurant where all the waiters wear suspenders. It was nice to see a different side of Fez. We ordered a pizza that surprisingly wasn’t terrible, but I think some people ordered pasta and it looked really good.
Recommendation: Go for it! If you want a break from Moroccan food and want to get out of the Medina, we were in the Atlas neighborhood and it was a fun atmosphere. Live music. Good food. A great way to end our time in Fez.
Day 5 - Midelt
Coffee at La Paix in Ifrane
On our drive from Fez to Midelt, we stopped for coffee in the second cleanest town in the world—not Morocco, world! It was beautiful; it’s also known as the coldest place in Morocco, people come from all over to ski and do other winter sports. It was not snowy when we were there, but I think February 2020 was an unusually warm month around the world. Or perhaps the new normal… This coffee was totally delicious and this town was adorable.
Recommendation: Go for it!
Stopping for Monkeys
Along our drive right outside Ifrane, we stopped to see the indigenous monkeys of Morocco! They were SO cute. Boy did they love eating those bananas. And oh my gosh, there was a baby… I nearly died. If you know anything about me, monkeys are my jam, and this was such a fun, unexpected activity.
Recommendation: Go for it! I could’ve watched them eat all day.
Before lunch, we stopped by the perhaps coolest (scariest) liquor store I’ve ever seen. Inside was totally normal, all sorts of beer, wine, and liquor, but the outside looked so abandoned. It’s hilarious. Since Morocco is a muslim country, not many places have their liquor license and its respectful not to advertise. Every time we bought a case of beer, they wrapped the whole thing like a birthday present so people wouldn’t see what we bought. It’s kinda fun, and a hilarious cultural norm.
Recommendation: Go for it! We bought it a couple days in advance of our Sahara Desert trip. The desert guys are super cool (and they were all drinking too) so it was a lot of fun to crack open a beer around the fire, but more on that later.
In the morning, we stopped at a nice grocery store to gather food for a picnic lunch, and we stopped in the mountains by a stream… it was perfect. I got my sandwich and my strawberries and my chips. Perfect picnic.
Recommendation: Go for it. We had the option to stop for barbecue, but everyone wanted the picnic.
Check into Hotel - Ksar Timnay
We arrived in Midelt and checked into our hotel. It was beautiful and had a pool and all of our rooms were nice and spacious. You could see the snowy mountains in the distance, and in the evening the sunset was unreal.
Recommendation: There aren’t a ton of options in this part of the country, so I think this hotel is probably the best option.
Trek through the Canyon
After checking in, we went on a nice walk around the canyons and mountains of this area. It’s so beautiful, kinda like Arizona but not exactly.
Recommendation: Go for it!
Visit with a Family
We walked to this tiny village looking over the river called Berrem Village. We stopped to have tea and hang out with one of the local families. Girls’ education in Morocco is still a huge problem; many people don’t want to send their daughters to school after age 11 or some are too poor to bus their children to a nearby school that teaches secondary school for girls. This visit was discouraging and uplifting all at once. As a group we always tip our hosts for letting us visit, and Mouna picks this family in particular because they allow their girls to go to school. It was quite a life changing moment to be able to go around the room and tell these little girls what we all do for a living. I hope they were inspired by all of our different careers and continue going to school. I know this visit inspired me to do more research into how I can help these girls who want to go to school. Education for All Morocco does a lot for various villages and creates boarding houses; you can also volunteer your time as well as donate to sponsor a girl.
Recommendation: Go for it. This was one of
the highlights of my trip. Obviously I’m
familiar with Malala and her fight for girls’
education, but I have never seen it up close
before. It’s a horrible out-dated problem
that as westerners we don’t think about,
but we should. Every child deserves to go to
school, no matter their gender.