If you’re looking for the world’s best road trip destination, Morocco is a top contender. Sweeping dunes, rugged canyons, and medieval medinas are only part of what makes this 10-day Morocco itinerary a trip to remember.
Morocco is an incredibly diverse country.
Vibrant cities contain medieval medinas where a frenetic clamour of life spills onto the streets. Landscapes of towering mountains, rugged canyons and sweeping dunes provide the ideal canvas for breathtaking hikes.
Yet, tucked into traditional villages and nestled into the foothills of spectacular mountains, the pace of life slows considerably. Here – in the heart of Morocco – the people are the friendliest and most helpful you could ever be charmed to meet.
This 10-day itinerary explores the south of the country from 3 days in Marrakech to the scenic Atlas Mountains. We visit imposing canyons, rural villages and iconic sand dunes. The itinerary finishes in the medieval labyrinth of Fez.
While it’s not always easy to explore Africa on your own, Morocco is one of the safest places to visit. With the area so underpopulated, driving and hiring a car is a breeze. It’s one of the best road trips we have ever done.
Here’s all the information you need to organise your own Morocco itinerary.
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To begin this 10 days in Morocco itinerary, fly into Marrakech Menara International Airport. Taxis can be hired from outside the airport, but if you are staying in a riad in the medina we suggest you book a collection from them. Riads – often located in narrow pedestrian-only alleyways – can be tricky to find. For $10 to $15 it’s worth arriving without the hassle.
DAY 1 – 2 / DISCOVERING THE SOUKS AND FONDOUKS OF MARRAKECH
As one of the most atmospheric places in South Morocco, spend the first two days getting lost in the maze of alleyways of the Marrakech medina. Narrow streets are lined with endless rows of stallholders selling slippers, lanterns and cloth. Markets are stacked high with fruit, nuts and spices. And secret laneways lead to workers beating leather, smiths forging metal and dyers staining cloth.
Mosques, tombs and palaces show Moroccan architectural flare with mosaic tiles, stucco plasterwork and inlaid cedar ceilings. In two days you can explore the best of the souks and fondouks, the majestic Moorish architecture and the sheer energy of life on the streets.
For all the information, follow days 1 and 2 of our 3-day Marrakech itinerary which includes our accommodation recommendations.
DAY 3 / DRIVE FROM MARRAKECH TO OUIRGANE AND HIKE THE 5 VILLAGES
Marrakech sits just north of the 4,000m high Atlas Mountains. On a clear day they form a beautiful backdrop to the city. But what makes these mountains special are the Berber villages that lie in the hills and valleys. Visiting them was a highlight on our Morocco itinerary. There is no better place to start than Ouirgane.
Early on day 3, pick up your hire car from Marrakech and drive to Ouirgane. It’s a glorious 1 hour and 30 minutes of road trip fun; twisting and turning up mountain roads.
When you arrive, organise a local guide and hike around the 5 Berber Villages that sit just above the town. Make sure your guide can organise lunch or tea with a local family. It’s both an experience you won’t forget, and a great way to support the local community.
Read more about our experience hiking the villages, plus everything else you can get up to in our guide to visiting Ouirgane.
A quick side note about driving in Morocco. As long as you avoid the large cities and the unpaved mountain roads then driving in Morocco is mostly a breeze. But to lay your mind at rest, read our driving in Morocco tips.
Travel / 1 hour 30 minutes taking the R203
DAY 4 / VISIT TIZI N’TICHKA & TELOUET KASBAH ON THE WAY TO AÏT BEN HADDOU
Driving through the Atlas Mountains is a joy in itself and the scenery today on the drive to Aït Ben Haddou is remarkable. Leave Ouirgane and head back to Tazhnaout, turn right onto the P2010 and – when you get to Aït Ourir – turn right again onto the N9.
The N9 at first rises gradually. But as you get higher and higher it gets more and more twisty. A series of hairpin turns delivers you to the 2,260m summit of the Tizi n’Tichka pass. The views from here over the rugged mountains and the road itself are breathtaking.
Dropping down the other side you could take the fast route to Aït Ben Haddou. But that would be madness. The Moroccans have recently paved the far more scenic and interesting P1506. So turn left and head into the valley that was once the main caravan route from Marrakech to Timbuktu.
First stop is Telouet Kasbah, the mighty fortified home of the Glaoui family. While the outside may look like its seen better days, the inside has some truly remarkable stucco plasterwork and inlaid cedar ceilings.
LUNCH / Just outside the Kasbah, Lion D’Or does a surprisingly good lunch. The menu is minimal (just the way we like it) and the cooking simple but effective.
Continue towards Aït Ben Haddou. On this part of the drive, the Ounila river meets the road and cuts magnificent canyons in the red rock. The bottom of which are punctuated with beautiful green oasis. There are plenty of great places to stop by the side of the road, explore and take photos.
Finally, aim to get to Aït Ben Haddou for sunset. Built on the side of a hill, this fortified town (ksar) sits majestically over the banks of the Ounila River. Its castellated red mud walls and dramatic location conjure images of biblical towns, long-lost villages, and battling armies. Hollywood has also taken notice. For years the movie studios have made the pilgrimage here to film such classics as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator and Jesus of Nazareth.
Travel / 4 hours 30-minute drive from Ouirgane to Aït Ben Haddou
DAY 5 / OUARZAZATE & FINT OASIS BEFORE DRIVING TO THE DADES VALLEY
Ouarzazate could have been a drive-through on this Morocco itinerary, but it’s well worth a stop. This morning take the short drive in from Aït Ben Haddou to visit the Atlas Studios, a working movie house that has churned out many Hollywood blockbusters. Next, go to the Cinema Museum for a quirky look at Ouarzazate’s movie heritage.
Drive 30 minutes south along a dirt track to Fint Oasis. Here you’ll find 4 villages of about 150 people living a very traditional life. It’s a beautiful spot and an interesting insight into a small community. If you have more time, there are a few other things to do in Ouarzazate.
Next, take the N10 past Skoura and through flat barren wastelands to the Dades Valley. The R704 twists and turns up the valley offering excellent views of red rock canyon and green oasis. But the highlight is the remarkable feature of Monkey Fingers. Here little streams of water have cut rivulets and slot canyons in the rock. Stop at Isabel Guesthouse café, grab a mint tea and admire the strange bulbous rock formations.
As the sun goes down head up to the top of the gorge, where a tight set of zig-zags twist and turn as the valley floor dramatically rises. Most people stop at Café Timzzillite before turning around, but we suggest you head a little further where for only a few minutes extra drive you get a fine view of the valley disappearing in front of you.
Once you get to your accommodation for the evening, organise a hike of Monkey Fingers for tomorrow morning.
Travel / 2 hour 45 minutes (add 1 hour for Fint Oasis)
DAY 6 / HIKING THE DADES VALLEY BEFORE DRIVE TO TODRA
Start today with a stunning 3-hour hike up the Monkey Fingers rock formation. It’s an exciting scramble through tight spaces and over rocky rubble. Along the route watch women working on the valley floor, explore Berber villages on the river-banks and stare at the majestic views.
In the afternoon drive along the N10, turning left on R703 to the Todra Gorge. The gorge is the most dramatic of canyons created by the rivers rushing down from the High Atlas Mountains. At almost 200m high and only 10m wide at its narrowest point, it’s superb Moroccan scenery.
But it’s not just the gorge that’s impressive. The Tinghir Oasis that lines the valley floor is stunning. This lush green vegetation follows the river for miles creating a swathe of green amongst the barren rock. There’s plenty of places to stop along the road and explore the oasis and canyon.
To enjoy a beautiful sunset in a remote upper section of the canyon, then Auberge le Festival is an excellent place to stay.
Travel / 1 hour 50 minutes driving
DAY 7 / HIKING THE TODRA GORGE AND THE ERG CHEBBI DUNES
This morning take a half-day hike around the Todra Gorge. The route takes you along the back of the canyon walls and past nomad settlements. It takes about 4 hours and the views are ever-changing and excellent. There is no need to hire a guide for this one – all the details can be found on our Todra Gorge hike article.
After the hike and lunch hop into the car and make your way to start a Merzouga desert tour. You can’t go any further because the dunes of the mighty Sahara Desert are right in front of you.
Locate Hotel Kasbah Mohayut and join a 1-night camel trip into the desert. The trips leave from the hotel in the late afternoon and are a great way to see the Erg Chebbi dunes – a fantastic sight in the Sahara Desert.
While the camels out to the erg aren’t that comfortable, seeing sand for miles will make enduring some butt-pain well worth it. The tour stops at a desert camp for the evening where you’ll enjoy some local food and experience the Bedouin lifestyle. If only for one night.
The tents are very comfortable with a communal bathroom and proper flushing toilets. As the sun sets you’ll sit beside a campfire, sing songs, swap stories and live the desert life.
Sahara Desert Camp Stay / Kasbah Mohayut (in the desert camp)- email them to book
Travel / 3 hours 10 minutes via R113, N12 and N13
DAY 8 / RELAXING IN THE DUNES
This morning, rouse yourself for dawn to watch the changing shapes and colours of the desert. The mesmerising views of the dunes and their shadows create beautiful patterns stretching to the horizon.
After breakfast, make your way back on those uncomfortable camels to the hotel. We spent the day relaxing by their pool, catching up on some reading and enjoying some well-earned rest. There are a number of other activities you can organise from the hotel, including quad biking in the desert, sandboarding down the dunes, jeep rides or you can just do as we did and sit by the pool all day.
Strolling out into the dunes at sunrise and sunset is a fantastic way to see the changing colours of the desert. If you are here during summer you can take part in a Moroccan ritual. As a treatment for rheumatism, Moroccans will allow themselves to be buried neck-deep in the sand for a few minutes at a time. What might be considered torture for some is a hopeful cure for others.
Sahara Desert Camp Stay / Good Value Kasbah Mohayut (in the kasbah)
Travel / Camel riding
DAY 9 – 10 / DRIVE TO FEZ TO MEANDER THE MEDIEVAL LABYRINTH OF THE MEDINA
Today, it’s a long 7 hours’ drive to Fez. There is not a lot to see on the way, so our advice is to just put the miles behind you as quickly as possible (without speeding).
You definitely don’t need a car in Fez, so if possible arrange to drop it at Fès-Saïs Airport and take a taxi (or pre-arranged transfer) to your riad.
The final day of this 10-day Morocco itinerary is spent in Fez Medina; the largest urban car-free zone in the world. While much of the modern city stretches out beyond the Medina walls, 70,000 people still live in the cramped, noisy medieval centre.
Their home is a maze of alleyways bursting with sensory overload. An exotic labyrinth where ancient traditions captivate modern tourists. Where the call to prayer floats over the clatter of metalworkers bashing pots, tanners beating leather, and donkeys trotting down cobbled lanes.
Follow our 1-day self-guided walking tour of Fez medina and it will be a fitting end to an excellent road trip.
WHAT TO BOOK BEFORE YOUR TRIP
Marrakech is a popular tourist destination however, queues for most of the tourist attractions are not particularly long. So there’s no need to organise museums or other site entrances in advance. Popular restaurants, particularly in Marrakech and Fez can get booked up early, so if you have your heart set on somewhere then book online or ring before you go.
Here are some other suggestions for things you might want to book in advance.
Restaurants – There are two restaurants in Marrakech worth booking in advance. Nomad is a trendy rooftop bar and restaurant, Le Foudouk is exceptional Moroccan cooking. In Fez, the top place for dinner in an esquisite riad is Dar Roumana, which is also a beautiful place to stay.
Riads – There are some great riads and hotels in Morocco. But the good ones get booked up. So we advise you to reserve all your accommodation in advance, especially if you have a popular riad in mind.
Hikes – There a number of hikes in this itinerary. You’ll have a much better experience organising guides on the Berber Village hike in Ouirgane and the Monkey Fingers hike in the Dades Valley. Email your accommodation to organise a half-day guide for these two. The Todra Gorge hike can easily be done without a guide – all our instructions are here.
Desert Camp – If you do the 1-night desert tour through Kasbah Mohayut then you can organise it here.
GETTING TO MOROCCO
Being part of the cheap European air travel network there are many good value flights to Morocco.
Arrival – To start your 10 days in Morocco itinerary, arrive at Marrakech Menara Airport. The airport is only a short and cheap taxi ride into town but since most riads can be tricky to find we suggest you get your riad to organise transport for you. It should set you back $10 to $15. Since cars cannot get into the centre of the medina do not be alarmed if you are dropped off a few hundred meters from your riad and handed off to a porter. He will put your bags in a wheelbarrow and lead you the rest of the way.
Departure – Some international flights leave from Fès-Saïs Airport to Western Europe including London, Madrid and Paris) but many travellers will need to get connecting flights in Marrakech or Casablanca.
GETTING AROUND MOROCCO
While we would not recommend hiring a car if you are travelling around Morocco’s northern cities, driving in the south is much easier than many think. With public transport sketchy and slow, hiring your own car is the only way to complete this 10-day Morocco itinerary. To ease any fears of driving here read our driving in Morocco post.
Morocco’s infrastructure is improving rapidly. All the roads on this 10-day Morocco itinerary are paved and can easily be navigated in a standard 2WD. Pick up your car from Marrakech Menara Airport at the beginning of Day 3 and drop it in Fez at the end of Day 9. Car hire per day is quite cheap and if you pick the right car company the drop off fee for returning to a different city is also minimal.
MAP / 10-DAY MOROCCO ITINERARY
Our Morocco Itinerary map has all the destinations we visited on this trip to help you plan your own adventure.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MOROCCO
Morocco can be painfully hot in summer reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius. The valleys and canyons around the Atlas Mountains are most beautiful in spring. At this time, the lush green crops contrast beautifully with the red rock. However, in winter and early spring, the passes over the mountains can still be covered in snow making them impassable.
So we suggest you plan your visit from late-March to early May. At this time, the roads should be open and the temperatures not too high.
After the summer temperatures drop, mid-September to mid-October can also be a good time to visit. However, the green valley floor will not be as vibrant as in spring.
While not essential it is also worth avoiding Ramadan. Morocco is a very religious country with strict adherence to fasting. This means that local cafes and services are often closed during the day.
In 2023 Ramadan will be from 22 March to 23 April. In 2024 it will be from 10 March to 9 April.
ADJUSTING THIS MOROCCO ITINERARY
We have been to Morocco three times and this is our pick of what to do in 10 days in Morocco. The result is an action-packed 10-day itinerary. There is not a lot of downtime but many truly remarkable experiences.
If you need to take a day out you can easily skip Day 3 in Ouirgane and go straight from Marrakech to Aït Ben Haddou. You could also spend just one day in the desert, but that would mean a 7-hour drive to Fez when you get back from the desert camp. Doable, but you may spend the last hour driving in the dark, which is not advisable.
What’s missed? In 10 days there is not enough time for Essaouira or for the ‘blue town’ Chefchaouen. Both would take at least another day or two to visit. We have also left off the Aït Bouguemez Valley and Ouzoud falls. Both are very attractive but we removed them in order to fit in the Erg Chebbi dunes and Fez.
MORE READING FOR MOROCCO
Although only a short flight from Europe, Morocco is a different world. Explore medieval medinas, bustling souks, and stunning scenery with more of our Morocco guides.
MOROCCO TRAVEL TIPS
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