This 7 – night itinerary includes the Imperial cities, Volubilis, a UNESCO Heritage Site, the town of Moulay Idriss and Ifrane National Park. This is a diverse itinerary for people who only have a week to visit Morocco.
Upon arrival in Casablanca, you will be met and will have a tour of the port city of Casablanca, Morocco’s largest metropolis and its industrial hub. Highlights include the old French quarter of Habous and the Hassan II Grand Mosque considered among the largest in the world. Continue to your hotel for the rest of the day.
After breakfast, depart for Rabat driving along the main highway which links these two major cities. Embark on a tour which highlights Rabat’s cultural influences and the superbly preserved relics of its Moorish past. Rabat’s most famous site is the 12th century Hassan Tower, an excellent example of the gorgeous Moroccan style. It is located alongside the mausoleum dedicated to Mohamed V, the grandfather of the current king. Visit the Oudaya Kasbah built on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Its gate is one of the most beautiful surviving in the Moorish world. Within its walls, you’ll explore a delightful Moroccan garden complete with melodious fountains and sweet smells of orange trees.
At the conclusion of your sightseeing, continue overland to Fez.
Take a step back in time to the Middle Ages when you visit one of the most Imperial, timeless and untouched cities in the world, Fez El Bali (Old Fez). This is the cultural heart of Morocco. Explore some of the 9000 narrow lanes, alleys and souks (open air markets) that make up the labyrinth of the city’s old quarter originally founded in the 8th century AD. The Imperial capital was a renowned center of medieval learning and its heart still remains at the Karaouine, one of the oldest, still functioning universities in the world. In the neighboring building is the Attarine Mederasa (Koranic college), a jewel of Hispano-Moorish architecture built in the 14th century.
The visit also includes Nejjarine Square with its beautiful fountain of elaborate tile work mosaics. The nearby Fondouq (Caravanserai) was converted to a museum of carpentry artifacts. Visit Fez El Jedid (New Fez) built by the Merinide Dynasty in the 13th century. Here you see the Royal Palace, mosques, madrasas (Koranic schools), souks and the city wall. Most notably, Fez El Jedid is home to the mellah (Jewish quarter), which provides an interesting insight into Jewish architecture. The wrought iron decorated windows and splendid carved wood balconies of the old mansions are particularly outstanding. The medieval Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, drive to the ancient Roman city of Volubilis to explore its stunning ruins. Impressive stone arches and columns, some tumbled down and others still standing tall against the vivid blue sky invite you to take a step back in time. Only about half of the 40 – hectare UNESCO site at Volubilis has been excavated. Here, floors of what were once family dwellings are still covered with decorative tile mosaics. So many of these tiles are still in place and their colors after centuries of exposure to the elements is astonishing.
Visit the whitewashed town of Moulay Idriss about 2 miles from Volubilis. It sits astride two green hills in a cradle of mountains where Morocco’s first Arab conquerors settled.
Then off to the Imperial city of Meknes, the one – time home of the Moroccan sultanate with its winding narrow streets in the medina and grand buildings that warrant it as an Imperial city. Remnants of three sets of fortifications ingeniously incorporated into the city’s road networks emphasize its past importance and glory. The king’s tomb sits at the heart of what remains of the original imperial city flanked by the magnificent Bab el-Mansour.
Drive back to Fez for overnight.
Today experience the natural and wilder landscapes beyond Fez. Drive to the high alpine region of Ifrane National Park which encompasses Azrou and several Berber villages. It is filled with cedar and oak forests and home to the world’s largest population of Barbary macaques, hundreds of animals and birds and the oldest tree in Morocco’s Middle Atlas, the 130-foot Gouraud’s Cedar. The largest cedar forest in the world is found in this park and several lakes or Dayats abound in the nearby areas. The Lion of Ifrane sits majestically in the city center and is certainly one of the most photographed sites of the region. Ifrane feels more like Switzerland relocated to the Middle Atlas than North Africa with its clean air, scrubbed streets and leafy outlook. The French built it in 1930 deliberately trying to recreate an alpine style resort. It is a popular summer day trip for picnickers and in the winter, the affluent flock here to ski. Stop for lunch in Rabat.
Continue to Marrakech via the highway for the evening.
Unearth the secrets of Marrakesh beginning in the medina, the old walled section of town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This thousand – year – old city was long a political, economic and cultural center. Marvel at its architectural jewels including the soaring Koutoubia minaret. Continue to the Bahia Palace, an exemplary specimen of privileged life in the 19th century.
Your next stop is at the Tiskiwin Museum (Maison Tiskiwin), which houses an impressive collection of North African arts and crafts. The museum, which was founded by a Dutch anthropologist, is organized into geographically themed exhibits with each room focusing on artifacts from different towns and regions along the ancient trade route from Marrakesh to Timbuktu. The works on display include exquisite hand – woven carpets and textiles, traditional Berber clothing and jewelry, intricate basketwork and tribal handicrafts.
Visit Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakesh’s main square, which is filled with orange juice stalls and vendors, along with fire eaters, mime artists, snake charmers and street musicians performing at every turn. Explore the city’s fabled, labyrinthine souks with their bustling alleyways brimming with all manner of wares.
Following your visit, return to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day is at leisure.
After breakfast, you will be assisted to the airport for your flight home.