With everything that there is to see in Morocco, you might be wondering how you can possibly do it if you only have 1 week…

Well, let me come to your rescue with this 1 week in Morocco itinerary. And if you have 10 days to spend in Morocco, I’ll suggest how to extend it.

The following is a varied travel route giving you some of the best of Morocco. You’ll explore vibrant cities home to ancient medinas, discover unique natural landscapes, and immerse yourself in a millennia-old culture.

Whether you want to know how to get from A to B, or just how to get past those notorious touts and pushy salesmen at Morocco’s market, here’s exactly how to do it.

Itinerary at a glance

Days Destination Activity
1 – 2 Marrakech
Riad Jemaa El Fna & Spa
City tours, e.g. Monuments and Souks Tour, Street Food Tour, Historical & Cultural Tour
3 – 5 The Interior & Sahara 3-Day Safari Desert Tour
6 – 7 Essaouira
Villa Quieta
Shop, Swim, Lunch at the port, Visit the Mellah

How to Plan It Yourself

Firstly, I should say you don’t need to buy a packaged all-included Morocco tour to do this trip!

It’s cheaper and better to just do it yourself. Accommodation and local tours can be very easily booked online. This can easily reduce the cost of your trip by 50% over a package tour while adding flexibility.

Book your hotel with Booking.com or Expedia, then book a 3-day Sahara trip through a platform like GetYourGuide, and you can get a classic Morocco trip but with more freedom to explore each city.

Marrakech — Day 1 & 2

Arriving in Marrakech, you will be immediately amazed by the beautiful architecture, the pervasive reddish color, and the frenzied atmosphere.

But before diving into the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, you need to make it out of the airport and into your accommodation.

Buildings in the city of Marrakech, Morocco

Getting into Marrakech

The Menara airport is only 15 minutes from the city center.

Bus: Catch line 19 to Jeema el Fna square. The bus ride is 30 minutes long, and the ticket costs 30 MAD ($3).

Taxi: There are two types of taxis: petite taxis (“small taxis”) and grand taxis (“big taxis). The small ones only seat three people and charge you based on a metered price. Big taxis can seat up to eight people, and you pay a specific rate for your seat. The average fare range is around 50 MAD ($5) for petit taxis and 100 MAD ($10) for grand taxis.

The second thing you need to know about airport taxis is that some drivers try to cheat or scam foreigners by not starting the meter or overcharging.

Private transfer: You can avoid these problems and save time by booking private airport transport so you can skip the local taxis altogether.

Be prepared for Marrakech

Marrakech is amazing, but one thing can sometimes sour your first impressions of Morocco: the prevalence of scammers, touts, and pushy salesmen.

I just want to be upfront about this as a lot of sites don’t mention it, which can then only lead to frustration!

Souk market in Marrakech, Morocco packed with people

These annoyances aren’t an issue everywhere in Morocco but it plagues Marrakech in particular. Besides scams at the market, you will find lots of people offering services you haven’t requested, such as “helping” you find your accommodation or trying to sell you more and more items.

Luckily, there are a couple of tricks to lessen this unwanted attention. If you know in advance what to expect, then Marrakech becomes a lot more fun to explore.

Sometimes you just need to say, “No, thank you” and walk away. Other times, you need to repeat it several times to make the message clear. If that doesn’t work, tell them “La” which means “No” in Arab, and I assure you they will stop immediately. However, always use this word with a smile as you are likely in front of a person who is only trying to earn a living.

Just remember: dealing with the locals is an essential part of traveling, and experiencing these types of interactions — and getting past them — just comes with the territory. If it bothers you, keep in mind the next city (Essaouira) is way more laidback than Marrakech.

Don’t miss staying in a Riad

To take the “local experience” to another level, you should definitely stay in a traditional Riad. These are traditional Moroccan buildings with central courtyards, many of which have been converted into hotels.

An outdoor center with a pool, surrounded by plants and furniture, in a riad in Marrakech

Riads are unique buildings in Morocco: they have classic Moorish architecture with hand-carved wooden ceilings, mosaic tiling, and a central courtyard.

I recommend staying in Riad Jemaa El Fna & Spa, which is just steps away from the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square. This riad has a pool in the courtyard and features a spa offering the Hammam, traditional Moroccan treatments.

Want to check out more options for your Riad stay in Marrakech? We’ve selected the best boutique riads for every budget.

Essential stops in Marrakech

Marrakech is full of things to do and see — in fact, it can be a bit of a sensory overload. As soon as you set foot in the city, you will be surrounded by the chaos of vehicles and people!

But if you ask me, it is what renders Marrakech so fascinating. Arm yourself with a bit of patience and get ready to explore the “Red City”.

Start from its most iconic place, the Medina, which is the old central area with its countless windy streets. From the central Jamaa El-Fna square, you can get lost in the narrow streets and bargain your way through the Souks, the marketplaces where you will find all sorts of items.

An art street shop in Marrakech, Morocco

Pass by the Koutoubia, Marrakech’s largest mosque, and make sure to visit the stunning Le Jardin Secret, a 400-year-old Islamic Garden. Another must-visit is the Dar el Bacha Museum, a traditional palace turned into a museum with an extravagant coffee house.

Take a relaxing walk inside the iconic Majorelle Gardens, a luxury garden renovated by the designer Yves Saint-Laurent, and visit the Bahia Palace and the ruins of El Badi Palace for a great view over the city and the High Atlas Mountains.

Another great spot to see is the well-preserved Saadian Tombs, constructed in the mid-1500s to host the tombs of Saadi sultans.

Saadian Tombs in Marrakech, Morocco

Don’t leave Marrakech before dining with a traditional Tajine and getting lost again in the medina, which has a whole other vibe at night. For an extra twist, take a Marrakech street food tour by night, which lets you sample a wide variety of local delicacies, including some culinary discoveries you wouldn’t easily make on your own.

While all these places can be explored independently, you can do it as part of a day tour, for example, this Half-Day Historical and Cultural Tour. But honestly, I think most of the sites and monuments can be done by yourself, while the street food tour is more fun to do with a knowledgeable guide.

The Interior & Sahara — Day 3 – 5

There are incredible landscapes to see outside of Marrakech, including fortified cities, mountain canyons, and Sahara dunes.

Two camels resting in Sahara Desert in Morocco

This will be the most action-packed part of this 1-week itinerary. Plan at least 2 days discovering the fortified kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, the Todgha Gorge and Dades Valley canyons, and Erg Chebbi, one of the two Saharan ergs, the large dunes formed by windblown sand.

To visit all these places, you can either self-drive or take part in a tour. You can technically make the trip by public transfer, but it would not be practical. You would need to rely on buses that only come once or twice a day; the ride from one spot to the other will be consistently longer.

Option 1: Renting a car

Driving in Morocco is not quite as intimidating as some visitors assume. (In fact, lots of Spanish and French tourists take the ferry down to Morocco to go on road trips.)

A rental car will let you explore independently. I suggest pre-booking online to save time and energy and avoid any language barriers. Note that manual cars are far more common in Morocco, but you can still easily find automatic cars via online bookings.

I recommend using DiscoverCars to find a car rental in Marrakech. It compares all the rental companies (both local and big brands) to find the best prices.

Once you go to pick up the vehicle, make sure to take photos and videos to avoid any issues when returning it.

The driving conditions can be quite crazy in Marrakech, but the chaos will lessen considerably as soon as you leave the city. The roads in the country are generally in good condition.

Just be aware that things can be a bit more unpredictable in Morocco — for instance, you could encounter a stray goat on the road. Drive carefully and you’ll be able to have a great road trip in Morocco.

Option 2: Booking a tour

A tour may not be quite as adventurous as self-driving, but it’s the best way to tick a lot off the list with limited time. You’ll also get a reserved spot at a tent camp for a night inside the Sahara Desert.

Three people riding camels in a desert in Morocco

Your tour experience can be good or bad depending on the operator. On my first time in Morocco, I honestly booked this tour cheaply through a local agent in Marrakech and it honestly was very rushed with way too many people crammed in a minibus. I felt a bit like cattle being transported around, but I guess you get what you pay for!

For a better experience, I suggest this GetYourGuide tour as the perfect choice to experience the Sahara Desert and the other sights on the way there. It includes hotel pickup, an English-speaking guide, dinner and breakfast (with vegetarian and vegan options available), hotel accommodation for the first night, and a night at a Bedouin camp.

The trip will still involve quite a bit of driving and a lot of sightseeing. However, it’s capped off with an amazing stay in the quiet desert under a starry night sky, which will let you relax and take a breather.

Essaouira — Day 6 & 7

After the busy Marrakech and the days spent sightseeing in the interior, you will likely want to chill by the ocean. And there is no better place to do it than Essaouira.

People at the beach in Essaouira, Morocco

How to get to Essaouira

The best way to get to Essaouira from Marrakech is by bus. The main bus company offering the transfer is Supratours. The ride takes three hours. The ticket price is around $10 one-way, and you can purchase it online or directly at the Supratours bus station. The bus station is located right next to Marrakech’s train station.

The other bus company covering the route is CTM; however, the transfer runs only once a day and the CTM bus station in Essaouira isn’t as convenient as the Supratours.

Where to stay in Essaouira

The best spot to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of Essaouira is by booking a boutique hotel with sea views. The historic Villa Quieta is an excellent option, which features traditional architecture and a big swimming pool.

Spend your days in Essaouira by shopping in the streets of the Medina (which are far less hectic than in Marrakech!), relaxing at the beach, soaking up the Moroccan sun, and taking a refreshing swim in the ocean.

Blue boat in Essaouira

Walk around the port with the characteristic fishermen’s blue boats and the old Portuguese fortification walls. I suggest you go to lunch at the port: you can choose from the catch of the day, which is then usually cooked on grills.

Don’t miss visiting the mellah, the old Jewish quarter, and treat yourself to a couple of hours in a hammam.

10 Days in Morocco

How to extend your trip

Are you madly in love with Morocco and would like to stay longer? Let me suggest how you can extend the trip!

Cultural option: If you are drawn toward culture-centered spots, you cannot miss Fez. In this city, you can visit the Jewish quarter with the synagogues, the mosques, and the souks in the medina. The narrow streets are even more confusing than in Marrakech, but in a good way — it’s super fun to get lost on purpose.

Then head to Chefchaouen to admire the shining blue color of the city’s architecture. If you like spending time in nature, go for a hike to the Cascade d’Akchour waterfall.


Beach option: For a more relaxed end to your Moroccan adventure, go to Agadir, a popular beach destination. This resort town is renowned for its golf courses and beachfront restaurants, bars, and cafes. Leave Agadir for a while and head north to reach the surfing village of Taghazout and try yourself on the surfing board!

Whether you have 1 week or 10 days, Morocco is an incredible place with many diverse things to see, as I have hopefully shown you in this travel guide. So, book your flight ticket and get ready to explore this wonderful North African destination.

There is plenty to experience in Morocco for 2 to 3 weeks if you have the time. My first trip in Morocco lasted a whole month, so if you want the lowdown on how to travel far and wide, you can see my other Morocco itineraries.

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