21 Best Riads in Marrakech: Curated Guide to Where to Stay [New Picks for 2024]

Planning a trip to Morocco involves a lot of components, but easily, one of the most fun parts is sifting through all the picture-perfect Marrakech riads and dreaming about which one you want to wake up in.

Riads are an indispensable part of a Marrakech trip: these historic family-run Moroccan guesthouses located in the old medinas are quite literally reason enough to travel to Morocco.

Dinner table in a marrakech riad with colorful plates set up and ready for a meal to be served

It can be utterly overwhelming to pick where to stay in Marrakech, so I’ve written this guide [and fully revamped it for 2024, picking new properties that have arisen since I last wrote the post].

My goal with this post is to show you all the best riads in Marrakech for all budgets (skipping over bigger luxury hotels) — this way, you can spend more time planning other parts of your Morocco trip, like taking a trip to the Sahara desert or deciding what to wear.

What is Staying in a Riad Like?

a charming pool in a riad in marrakech with a seating area and mosaic tilework

Morocco is a country that is largely hard to access for tourists, where culture dictates a big divide between not only men and women, but also locals and visitors.

Most riads are quite small and intimate, with a central floor plan based around an open central courtyard with plenty of lounge spaces to access, as well as a roof terrace.

Meanwhile, up above on the floors surrounding the courtyard, there are private rooms with their own en-suite bathrooms.

Since you are being hosted by a local family, often the same family who has owned the house for generations, these Marrakech riads are a special liminal ‘third space’ where you are hosted and thus get a small glimpse into the lives of locals.

Riads can range from small and humble (Shakira, Shakira) to much more luxurious, with spa and pool amenities.

Why Stay in a Riad?

Colorful palm fronds and a pool with sun loungers on a riad rooftop

So, you might wonder, aren’t there any hotels in Marrakech? Well, yes, but a riad is a much better choice.

Partly, it’s because Marrakech riads are insanely photogenic, but that’s not the real draw of staying in one (for me, anyway). It’s all about the host. Your riad hosts can make a huge difference in your stay – recommending guides, drivers, and off the beaten path spots where you won’t get ripped off as a tourist.

Unfortunately Marrakech is a bit of a viper’s den: scams are rampant and it’s a rite of passage to get taken advantage of in some way, shape, or form during your time there.

Gorgeous pink toned interior of a traditional marrakech riad with plunge pool for relaxing

But your riad host is almost like a ‘fixer’ – solving cultural and logistical problems, negotiating fair deals (though of course, not just out of good will — they’ll also get a small cut), and just generally helping you navigate the more difficult aspects of Moroccan culture for outsiders.

Since they typically only has a handful of guests at one time, as a riad is much, much smaller than your traditional hotel, they can offer you that 1:1 attention that Marrakech, quite frankly, demands.

How Much Does Staying in a Riad Cost?

Colorful interior of a riad courtyard with all sorts of stripes, patterns and bright colors

I’ve picked gorgeous and stylish Moroccan riads in each budget category for a wide selection of the top riads in Marrakech.

For the purposes of this article, I’ve generally defined budget as being generally under $100 USD a night, mid-range as $100-200 USD a night, and luxury as $200+ USD per night.

However, keep in mind that prices do fluctuate depending on room type/size available, time of year, and other variables, so use the budget categories as a guide rather than as gospel.

You may see some hotels in the luxury category for as little as $100 a night in certain low seasons (mid-summer and the dead of winter, generally), so these are really loose guidelines, but they should be helpful in getting started.

My Top 3 Picks for Marrakech Riads

This post can admittedly be a bit overwhelming, with a whopping 21 options!

If that’s overwhelming, I’ll give my top pick for each budget category below, so you can more quickly navigate this post.


Photo of one of the common areas in the beautiful riad in Marrkaech


✔️ Pool, spa, courtyard, and rooftop terrace
✔️Colorful Moroccan decor


pool with trees around it

Riad Les Ammonites

✔️ Small plunge pool in garden
✔️ Spa and hammam


Interior courtyard of the riad with a small plunge pool with green tile

Riad of the Moon
✔️ Beautiful courtyard
✔️ Small pool

Top Picks for Luxury Riads in Marrakech

Angsana Riads Collection – $$$ – Book Now

Photo of one of the common areas in the beautiful riad in Marrkaech
Angsana Riads Collection | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

The amount of beautiful public spaces Angsana has is hard to comprehend.

You’ll really feel like you’re a guest in someone’s mansion, between the courtyard, the rooftop terrace, lounge with reading nooks and fireplace, outdoor pool, hammam and indoor pool, tea and breakfast rooms, etc.

You could play one epic game of hide-and-seek in this riad, that’s for sure.

The attention to detail here is what sets this riad apart.

From the daily fresh flowers in their fountains to the beauty of their free continental breakfast spreads to the gorgeous pots they serve their rave-reviewed tagines in, everything is beautiful here.

Their rooms are also quite beautiful, with genuine Moroccan furnishings and beautiful artwork that complements the rooms perfectly. Some rooms have a bathroom with their own tub, whereas others have showers. 

Every room in this riad is a little different (and that’s what makes it special) so be sure to sort through the room photos before you pick your room.

Check Rates on Booking || Check Rates on Hotels.com

Riad El Hara – $$$ – Book Now

Beautifully lit hotel pool on the top of a rooftop, lots of blue color and some foliage to make it feel like a garden, with some sun chairs
Riad Al Hara | Image Credit: Hotels.com

If we’re purely talking aesthetic value, Riad El Hara is one of the most Instagrammable riads in Marrakech. Every corner, from its jade and mint colored courtyard to its ornate arches with gauzy curtains to its beautiful cerulean-tiled rooftop pool, begs you to photograph it.

But a luxury riad isn’t just about looking nice in pictures, of course: it has to have the service and amenities to back it up.

Besides the standard spa and restaurant, this riad also offers a library, free airport pickup, and even in-room childcare (at an additional cost, of course, but this is really useful for families who want some 1:1 couple time).

The shared properties are really lovely, but to be honest, they often are in riads of all budgets.

What really sets apart a luxury riad from a more modest one is what the private rooms are like: and here is where Riad El Hara excels. 

Their rooms are soundproofed (something you’ll appreciate when that before-sunrise call to prayer warbles on), with large sitting areas separated from the bed area.

Many of the rooms have fireplaces, and the bathrooms are so gorgeous they look like they’re straight out of an interior design magazine.

The beds are very comfortable, with memory foam beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, and down duvets (great if visiting in the cooler months of the year). And if you’re visiting in the hotter months, of course, the hotel has A/C. 

Check Rates on Booking || Check Rates on Hotels.com

Riad Almisk – $$$ – Book Now

Interior courtyard with palm leaves in the lovely Riad Almisk
Riad Almisk | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

Another gorgeous luxury riad option, Riad Almask has one of the most beautiful roof terraces in Marrakech, all the better for their generous daily breakfast spread.

With sun loungers, arches, and plenty of interesting architectural elements, this sets it apart from more standard riad roof terraces.

Their courtyard is lovely too, with a floor with a beautiful rainbow mosaic of tiles, a fountain overflowing with freshly picked flowers, and tons of lounging areas in little nooks and crannies.

And don’t forget that beautiful hammam!

The rooms are some of the most spectacular and unique of all the Marrakech riads listed here. I particularly love how detailed and intricate the painted ceilings are: it’s like laying in bed and looking up at a piece of art. 

The seating areas are also quite spacious so you have a lot of room to spread out and not feel cramped in your bedroom, something I really appreciate as a messy traveler.

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Riad Dar Anika – $$$ – Book Now

The interior of the riad at night with beautiful lights and the pool all lit up
Riad Dar Anika | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

Some riads opt for a more minimalist style; Riad Dar Anika is all about maximalism and expression.

With an ornate dining room that looks straight out of a Moorish palace, there’s simply a feeling of elegance in much of the riad, perfect for those who really want to feel pampered.

Compared to the maximalist style of the rest of the riad, the rooms are a little simpler, which makes them feel more spacious.

You’ll find all the typical Moroccan design elements you want but in an uncluttered atmosphere.

Other amenities include a roof terrace, a covered plunge pool in the courtyard, on-site spa offering massages and treatments, and on-site babysitting for an additional charge.

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Riad Noir d’Ivoire- $$$ – Book Now

Fountain full of flower petals with blue plunge pool in a courtyard and green foliage from trees
Riad Noir d’Ivoire | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

After a while of looking through luxury riads, they can blur together a bit.

They all offer beautiful Moroccan design, pools, roof terraces, and ample courtyard space for lounging.

So what sets Riad Noir d’Ivoire apart? Its premium rooms, especially its two-story honeymoon suite complete with an in-room hot tub.

And I promise I won’t tell if you book the suite for yourself even if it’s not your honeymoon.

But don’t worry, even its standard double rooms are absolutely beautiful.

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Riad Les Yeux Bleus- $$$ – Book Now

Small plunge pool lit by sun with several white lounge chairs
Riad Les Yeux Bleus | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

There’s a lot to love about Riad Les Yeux Bleus (Riad Blue Eyes in English) but let’s start with that gorgeous pool and courtyard!

Another thing I think is quite special about it is how colorful its rooms are, with options ranging from canary yellow to brilliant blue, all with fun pops of color.

Besides its beautiful rooms and courtyard, it also has a lovely rooftop courtyard, an on-site café and a bar/lounge. However, note that it doesn’t have an on-site spa!

You can ask the concierge to arrange you a spa day, but it’s worth noting there’s no on-site hammam.

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Riad Monceau – $$$ – Book Now

Night view of the riad with pool all lit up and outdoor seating for nighttime dinner and louging
Riad Monceau | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

This luxury riad has one of the best locations in Marrakech: just a one-minute walk from Jemaa El Fna Square (and a few minutes more to the souks for shopping).

The rooftop views of Koutoubia Mosque and the medina are hard to beat, too!

Besides its great location, there’s also all the perks you’d get with a typical riad of this caliber: a wonderful courtyard with a pool, an on-site spa and hammam with hot tub, and in-room breakfast.

The rooms are lovely and charming, very typical of Morocco with some unique art, and some even have a spa bath or a fireplace.

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Top Picks for Mid-Range Riads in Marrakech

Riad Les Ammonites – $$ – Book Here

Lots of greenery and cacti and a plunge pool and two tables set out in the sun at a Marrakech riad
Riad Les Ammonites | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

With a garden straight out of Eden and a nautilus-shaped small plunge pool that would make Fibonacci proud, the courtyard of Riad Les Ammonites is everything you look for in a Marrakech riad.

The room types are varied and unique, each with their own distinct personality evoking the beauty of the medina (without any of the chaos of it)

Despite being a budget-friendly property, it’s also an all-in-one destination. There’s an on-site spa with a Turkish bath (hammam) where you can also request massages and other treatments.

There’s also a delicious restaurant in-house serving homestyle Moroccan cooking.

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Riad Le Rihani – $$ – Book Here

the beautiful pool courtyard area of Riad Rihani with orang trees and a large dipping pool and a palm tree and sun terrace with chairs and lounge furniture
Riad Le Rihani | Photo Credit: Riad Le Rihani

With a lovely aesthetic, the eco-friendly Riad Le Rihani is one of the most stylish and Instagrammable riads in Marrakech on this list — you’ve probably already seen photos of that pool before ever reading this post.

From the moment you arrive and are welcomed with traditional Moroccan pastries and mint tea, you’ll feel at home.

Centered around an outdoor pool, there’s also a rooftop terrace where you can relax in a canopy bed, a hotel library, a fireplace area, and a hammam offering a handful of different massage treatments.

Each room has its own individual personality, stylishly decorated with a luxe yet relaxed Moroccan aesthetic.

an interior of the riad with a yellow bed, faux fireplace, seating area, work desk, and more
Photo Credit: Riad Le Rihani

In terms of rooms, there are everything from double rooms to suites to larger 4-person family suites if you want or need more space.

Since many riads in Marrakech can be a little on the cramped side, the spaciousness of Riad Le Rihani is a huge plus, especially for couples or for families.

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Riad Yamina 52 – $$ – Book Here

The beautiful hotel pool of Riad Yamina with tile around it
Riad Yamina 52 | Photo Credit: Riad Yamina 52

The courtyard at Riad Yamina 52 is basically a garden which the entire riad is built around, complete with a dip pool in the middle of everything so you can fresh after a hot day out exploring the medina.

There’s also a gorgeous cradle of trees above it, shielding the pool (and your skin!) from the sun. 

interior of a marrakech riad in red carpet, wooden chairs, etc.
Image Credit: Riad Yamina 52

There’s also a rooftop terrace to enjoy a shady mid-day break from exploring Marrakech when you want some peace and quiet.

The rooms are pretty much a Morocco-inspired Pinterest board come to life: beautiful rugs, traditional lanterns, wooden furniture, colorful textiles. 

There are a variety of rooms at a range of price points, from surprisingly affordable doubles to more luxurious suites.

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Riad Charme d’Orient – $$ – Book Here

Riad Charme d’Orient | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

This captivating courtyard’s aesthetic is almost reason enough to book this charming riad. The fact that it scores a 9.7/10 on Booking, a near perfect score, almost helps seal the deal.

Similarly, there’s an on-site spa and hammam with massage services as well as a restaurant serving up Moroccan food cooked from the heart.

The big difference from other Marrakech riads? This is an adults-only property, making it perfect for a romantic, childfree escape.

The style inside the rooms may be traditional, but the rooms are quietly, modernly luxe: Tempur-pedic mattresses and Egyptian cotton sheets for all. 

Now that’s a recipe for a good night’s sleep. And with how delicious breakfast the next morning looks… you just might wake up drooling.

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Casa Lalla – $$ – Book Now

A peaceful courtyard in a riad
Casa Lalla | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

This peaceful riad offers a great value with all the perks you’d want.

We’re talking spa, a rooftop terrace with an Atlas Mountains view, a plunge pool, and a beautiful breakfast room in the courtyard.

The rooms are a little on the basic end but they’re quite comfortable and spacious regardless.

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Ryad Dyor – $$ – Book Here

Sunny day in the courtyard of a Marrakech riad with pool and orange trees
Ryad Dyor | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

The design of this riad is understated beauty at its finest: white walls broken up with pops of color, beautiful tilework, plants, and a touch of intricate, local detail.

This central Marrakech riad has a plunge pool and hammam on site — and at night, the courtyard gets an even more magical look with lanterns and candles surrounding the pool area.

From beautifully embroidered pillows on a bench inviting you to relax, traditional leather poufs to sit on, wood elements, intricate Moroccan tilework, this Marrakech riad screams tasteful luxury, whereas some other riads can be a little over-the-top in their design.

The rooms are large, extremely spacious, and a beautiful mix between modern and traditional Moroccan elements, with soaringly high ceilings and tasteful decoration. Some even have spa baths!

The riad is slightly larger than others, as it’s a combination of two family-owned riads which have been blended together; the original property dates back centuries and the walls are over 300 years old!

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BCK Art Riad – $$ – Book Now

Detail from the top of the riad looking down onto the pool
BCK Art Riad | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

From the gorgeous pool to the plush Berber rugs to its colorful aesthetic, BCK Art Riad stands out in every way. 

There are so many nooks and crannies of this designer riad to relax in, and there’s colorful art on the walls to add vibrancy and a modern touch to the more traditional Moroccan elements.

The rooms are decorated in a more modern style, with quirky wall art, white linens, and exposed wood elements, perfect for someone who prefers a little more of a streamlined look rather than over-the-top glamor. 

One thing to note — this riad is a little more away from Djemaa El Fna than others – about 1 kilometer away – but this means it’s a little extra tucked away from the noise.

Top Picks for Budget Riads in Marrakech

Riad Marraplace – $ – Book Now

Detail of the riad with arches and courtyard
Riad Marraplace | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

If you don’t mind foregoing a courtyard pool, this is a great riad in Marrakech!

You can still enjoy all the beautiful aesthetics of a top-quality stay without the triple digit price tag.

The rooms are still beautiful — think lots of wood detailing, stained glass windows that stream in light beautifully, and all sorts of ornate carvings original to the design.

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Riad Eloise – $ – Book Now

The pool and interior of the courtyard at a riad
Riad Eloise | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

If you want to save on your stay in Marrakech but still enjoy riad amenities like a pool, Riad Eloise is a great choice. 

So what’s the catch? It’s a 15-minute from the main square, but personally, I find that a blessing, not a curse!

Other than that, it’s a great stay, with a rooftop terrace, pool, and in-house restaurant. Note that there is no spa, so you’ll have to make reservations elsewhere if you want pampering.

The rooms aren’t the most updated, but for the price, you have to make a sacrifice or two.

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Riad of the Moon – $ – Book Now

Interior courtyard of the riad with a small plunge pool with green tile
Riad of the Moon | Photo Credits: Hotels.com

This affordable guesthouse is a great option for those looking to save a little while still having the full Marrakech riad experience. 

It does a plunge pool, albeit a very small one, but still great for photos and for cooling off!

The rooms are rather basic which is where you get the savings from, but if you want to enjoy the common spaces more, this is a great choice. 

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Riad Villa Sidi Baba – $ – Book Now

View of one of the bedrooms in the riad
Riad Villa Sidi Baba | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

Another great riad except for the small fact that this one has no pool to enjoy in the courtyard.

Aside from that though, it’s incredibly beautiful — I especially love the detailing on the doors, which are very photogenic.

The rooms are a little small but comfortable, but this property is more about its shared spaces (like many riads, let’s be honest).

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Riad Chayma – $ – Book Here

Courtyard and covered plunge pool
Riad Chayma | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

The courtyard of this Marrakech riad is a little unique in that the plunge pool is covered and set aside rather than being underneath the hot sun.

This is great for summertime swimmers who don’t want to burn! It has a really lovely atmosphere, too, and the courtyard is a great place to enjoy your daily breakfast.

The rooms of the riad are quite beautiful, integrating traditional wooden Moroccan furnishings with eclectic textiles for a place that truly feels personal and distinctly Marrakech.

This property is also adults-only, making it great for couples looking for some quiet R&R time without the noise of kids. There’s also a spa, as well as a rooftop terrace to enjoy mint tea and mocktails on.

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Riad Al Nour – $ – Book Here

The interior courtyard of a Marrakech courtyard with brightly colored tableclothes and chairs, no pool, but a small fountain
Riad Al Nour | Image Credit: Hotels.com

One of the big reasons to pick a Marrakech riad comes down to how much you like the courtyard. Unlike traditional hotels, where you spend more time in your personal room, Marrakech riad courtyards are the main public space you’ll enjoy.

While this particular budget riad doesn’t have its own plunge pool, th e courtyard makes up for it with a dense grove of orange trees, a colorful sitting area, and rooftop terrace if you want to change it up and relax with a view.

The hotel utilizes a lot of color in its design, with vibrant monochromatic rooms with lots of Moroccan detailing and decor, including en-suite bathrooms inspired by hammams.

I also love the attention to detail all throughout the riad, like how the upper floor’s walkways that overlook the courtyard are lined with beautiful blue tilework that reminds me of Turkey’s famous Iznik ceramics.

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Riad Samsli – $ – Book Now

Red and pink toned courtyard in the riad with flowers in the fountain and seating areas
Riad Samsli | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

This lovely budget-friendly riad is still quite aesthetic!

It has its own plunge pool and a really beautiful red and pink tiled courtyard, complete with some trees for greenery. No spa, though, so take note of that.

The rooms aren’t extremely modern but that’s part of the charm. They have some original detailing from the riad, like wood-carved ceilings and stained glass windows in the rooms.

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3 Days in Marrakech: Itinerary for a Perfect Introduction to Morocco

Marrakech is a shock to every sense you have. It can be, quite frankly, cacophonous.

From the loud warblings of the call to prayer and the persistent beckonings of the men who run shops in the souks constantly strike your ears, to the pungent smell of incenses cover up a lingering smell of leather bags and the donkeys who dutifully pull carts through the medina day and night.

But then it’s also incredibly beautifully. Think of artfully stacked olives that almost beg you to take one away and destroy the whole pile. Leather that looks so soft you can’t help but reach out and touch it.

man wearing a white hat in a shop selling colorful ceramic plates in marrakech medina

Marrakech is, to put it lightly, a place you experience with every one of your senses, and this Marrakech itinerary will walk you through the best way to do so without the overwhelm.

It’s a city that will confuse you, frustrate you, and delight you… maybe even reel you in and get you to fall in love with it. It’s a city of highs and lows, and I think 3 days in Marrakech is perfect to get a sense of its energy, see what you need to see…. and get out before the chaos consumes you.

Don’t let the pretty, girl-twirling-in-dress photos on Instagram lie to you – Morocco is intense, and Marrakech is especially so as it is the touristic capital of Morocco with the most flights.

view of a riad in marrakech in pink tones

While Marrakech is safe enough in terms of physical safety, traveling there requires being “on” all the time, your attention being pulled in several directions at once.

I found Marrakech tiring but ultimately worth all the memories; however, it’s certainly not all floaty dresses and ornate walls like the Instagram girls would have you believe!

I’ll also note that I was traveling mostly solo in Marrakech as a young female traveler, so my experiences may differ from people traveling as couples or families.

Sahara desert in Morocco

This Marrakech itinerary covers quite a bit in a short amount of time and is meant to be a standalone post for if you’re planning a long weekend in Marrakech.

If you just have 3 days in Morocco, I’d advise spending them all in Marrakech with one or two half-day outings to tick off a bucket list item — whether that’s a hot air balloon or a camel ride through the desert at sunset.

If you have a longer time allocated for Morocco, I’d recommend doing a 3-day Sahara Tour (read this post for details on planning one!) or spending timeat a desert camp in the Sahara, and then continuing onto Fes and Chefchaouen, or wherever else is on your Morocco itinerary.

If you have more time planned in Morocco, you can continue onward to this 10-day Morocco itinerary.

This post was first written in 2019. It was updated twice in 2022 and last updated on April 17, 2024 to reflect changes to attractions, etc.

My Top 3 Marrakech Experiences

I go into quite a bit of detail in this guide and lay out every activity, day by day.

If you’re just in a hurry to plan your trip, here are the top activities I recommend planning your Marrakech itinerary around!


Palmaraie Sunset Camel Ride
✔️ 1 hour camel ride in palm oasis, the second half at sunset
✔️ Stop at a Berber house for tea and snacks

↳ Book it


view of hot air balloons over the marrakech agafay desert

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
✔️ 1 hour hot air balloon flight covering 10+ miles
✔️ Local village visit for mint tea and home-baked bread

↳ Book it


view of one of the palaces of marrakech with beautiful landscape

Marrakech Palaces Tour
✔️ Guided tour of Bahia & Badi Palaces & the Saadian Tombs
✔️ Skip all lines with local tour guide

↳ Book it

3 Days in Marrakech Itinerary: Day One

large minaret in marrakech and palm fronds


  • Check into your riad
  • Visit the Koutoubia Mosque area
  • Walk around and admire Jemma El-Fna
  • Shop in the Marrakech Souks
  • Finish your evening with a sunset camel ride
🚖 Morocco Travel Tip: Book a Transfer Service
(4.5/5 stars with 2,900+ reviews)

Morocco is notorious for scams and nowhere are scams more ubiquitous than at the Marrakech airport.

One of my top Marrakech tips is that I highly recommend pre-booking a private transfer from the airport — it’s less than $20 and it’ll save you a lot of headache.

Plus, they will help you find your riad, which is easier said than done given that Google Maps is virtually useless in the medinas of Marrakech (following my blue dot led me into a brick wall seemingly infinite times).

Pre-book your Marrakech transfer here!

Check into your riad.

One of the best things about visiting Marrakech is that the price to quality ratio is in your favor.

A nice but not fancy riad will cost a mere $20 or $25 a night, great for travelers on a budget (as I was at the time of my visit)!

However, if you’re visiting Marrakech with a bit more money to spend, you’ll be spoiled for choice after beautiful choice.

A few of the most Instagram-famous riads are extremely pricy, such as Riad Yasmine and La Mamounia. However, you really don’t need to pay that much to have a beautiful stay.

Here are my riad recommendations broken down by budget. I’ll list my three top picks for a short stay in Marrakech, but I also have a full guide to Marrakech riads here.

For reference, I view budget as under $50 per night for a private room, mid-range as $50-100 per night, and luxury as $200+ per night.

Prices generally follow these lines but may go up or down due on time of year, availability, etc.

rooftop canopy of a hotel in marrakech with a shady place to enjoy the marrakech skyline

Budget: Nondescript on the outside, Riad Dar Maria is gorgeous and cozy on the inside.

Updated design makes the indoor courtyard a lovely place to relax, and comfortable private rooms with AC offer excellent value for the price. The riad is family-run and treats you like one of their own.

It comes highly recommended by fellow travelers with a 9.5 average rating on Booking.com.

Click here to see lowest prices and current availability.

the rooftop courtyard of a cute and chic marrakech riad

Mid-range: The lovely Riad Enchanté lives up to its name – it will truly delight and enchant you.

With stunning tilework, a rooftop terrace (with jacuzzi!), large rooms with AC, and amazing attention to detail (check out those lovely wooden doors), it’s hard to find a better spot for the price.

You’ll probably never want to leave this homey, delightful riad in Marrakech!

Click here to see lowest prices and current availability.

pool in a marrakech riad courtyard with a pretty sofa

Luxury: For five-star comfort at not insanely outrageous prices you can’t do much better than Villa Lavande!

This is a traditional riad with a comfortable in-house hammam, a gorgeous pool, air conditioning (a must if you travel in summer), and helpful staff.

Cooking lessons are available on-site in case you fancy learning how to make your own tajine… or you can simply eat at the in-house restaurant beloved by guests. It’s located in the medina but away from the hustle and bustle, the best of both worlds.

Click here to see lowest prices and current availability.

Not enough? I have 21 more suggestions for riads in Marrakech for all budgets here.

Meander over to Koutoubia Mosque.

Unfortunately, unlike in other Muslim-majority countries I’ve been to like Turkey, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Albania, and Kosovo, non-Muslims are not permitted to enter mosques in Morocco.

And honestly, given the way that Instagram has kind of ruined Morocco, I don’t really blame them for excluding non-Muslims from the mosques.

(Instagrammers twirling around in revealing dresses inside holy sites isn’t exactly halal, and judging by the way tourists treat the rest of the country, I get it.)

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t admire the gorgeous mosque from the outside!

Built at the height of the Islamic Golden Age, the wonderfully ornate Koutoubia Mosque is an architectural achievement, especially considering its age (nearly a millennium old).

Originally, there was a different mosque in its place that preceded the current one, but it was leveled because it was found that it wasn’t properly aligned with Mecca.

After Koutoubia Mosque was built, hundreds of booksellers gathered around its base – giving the mosque its name as “koutoubia” means booksellers in Arabic.

The height of the minaret, 69 meters high, is quite an achievement as well, making it the tallest building in Marrakech.

Due to an ancient law that nothing can be taller than a palm tree, the Koutoubia Mosque continues to stick out as an exception to the rule, an important monument… and a much-needed point of reference in the winding alleyways of the medina.

Gawk in awe at Jemaa el-Fnaa… from a distance.

lots of people visiting jemma el fna, the main marketplace in marrakech

Jemaa el-Fnaa is where you’ll find the best and worst of Marrakech. And as such, it’s a must on any Marrakech itinerary… with some caveats.

It’s a must-visit as it’s been hailed as a Masterpiece of World Heritage by UNESCO since 2001, and the folks at UNESCO are rarely wrong.

You’ll find the freshest, most delicious orange juice at a mere 50 cents (5 dirhams) a cup, the lively sizzle of grilling meat…

… And you’ll also find snake charmers who have abusively de-fanged their cobras, monkeys who have been snatched from the wild in order to pay tricks, and women grabbing your hand to try to give you a henna tattoo at an exorbitant price.

To save yourself a headache, do not take any photos of the snake charmers, henna artists, etc. and do not allow anyone to hand you their monkey or put any henna on you as you undoubtedly will be hounded to pay. Just ignore or say no to people and move on (welcome to Morocco).

I don’t mean to dissuade you from visiting Jemaa el-Fnaa; I just want you to know what to expect. It’s the center of the medina, so it really is the perfect place to start exploring the wonderful yet utterly chaotic city that is Marrakech.

Its many food stalls and grills constantly operate and offer freshly grilled kebabs – follow my rule of thumb to look for locals queuing up, as I’ve always found that the best food to be had is right where you can see the locals eating.

On the busy streets leading up to Jemaa el-Fnaa, you can find horse-drawn carriages who are happy to take you around for a short ride around Marrakech. Be sure to bargain to get a fair price as they will certainly inflate the rates.

While I don’t suggest shopping in Jemaa el-Fna proper, and saving your shopping for the souks just beyond it, you can’t deny the chaotic main square has an ambiance like no other.

At this point on the Marrakech itinerary, you’ll be visiting by day, I highly recommend also coming back at night to see the square in an entirely new light (literally).

Shop in the souks.

Let’s be real: if you didn’t come to Morocco to shop, why did you even come at all?

I had mixed feelings about my 3 days in Marrakech but there is one thing I cannot deny: the shopping is unreal.

Unfortunately I visited Morocco when I was still living nomadically (I’ve since settled down and have a proper home base) so I wasn’t able to buy much.

However, if you’re visiting Marrakech and then returning home after… seriously, bring a spare suitcase because the shopping here is amazing.

So, what exactly are the souks? Put simply, souks are North African marketplaces and bazaars that sell a variety of good.

In the case of Marrakech, the souks are entire streets built like mazes that stretch in every direction and are filled with shops of all types and sizes, primarily selling leather accessories, clothing, jewelry, and home decor goods.

Due to the nature of the souks, prices vary wildly and you are expected to haggle (you’ll be considered a fool if you don’t).

Luckily, no matter where you shop, generally the goods are at least of decent quality and they are often handmade in nearby factories and shops rather than being sent in from China as in much of the world.

Be aware that accepting tea in a shop will likely embolden the vendor to demand you make a purchase (unlike the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul where accepting a cup of tea is much less fraught).

Always remember that you are under no obligation to pay for an item if you do not like the price, and feel free to walk away. In fact, walking away will often get you the best price you can get.

Don’t show too much enthusiasm (but don’t be rude) and mention that you are shopping around if you want to get the best price.

All vendors speak English as well as a variety of other languages very fluently so language barriers, for better or worse, are not an excuse to not buy!

A few things I recommend buying, if you’re interested: leather bags, leather shoes, leather poofs (they come un-filled so they are easy to transport), plates, bowls, tajines, and lamps.

The clothing is rather gimmicky and doesn’t actually appear to be traditional, so it’s not my style.

If you’re a frequent traveler like I am with little space in your bag, I’d settle on just spices and the delicious, delicious olives that can be had for about two dollars per kilo so you can consume them before you leave!

End the day with a sunset camel ride.

The ethics of using animals in tourism is something that concerns me a lot, as an animal lover and as someone who tries to be a responsible traveler.

It’s complicated, and I’ve covered in detail on certain posts of mine, such as my posts on dog sledding and reindeer sledding in Arctic Norway.

Riding elephants is never okay (mostly due to the horrors they endure to become domesticated enough to tolerate a human on its back) yet riding horses is fine.

So where exactly does riding a camel fall into that?

I rode camels through the Sahara Desert in 2016 and loved my experience without really thinking much of it.

However, as I wrote this post in 2018 and updated it in 2022, the landscape of ethical animal tourism has changed. Thankfully, we are paying much more attention to animal welfare these days.

Look for happy faces like this guy’s

Before I could decided whether or not you should do a camel ride, I looked into it and did some research specifically on the ethics and history of camel riding.

Basically, the same rules apply to horses and donkeys as camels. Camels require adequate food, water, shelter, access to medical care when necessary, and freedom from abuse or overwork.

If an operator can provide all that, there is nothing unethical about riding camels (this article has great insight into camel riding in Morocco specifically, and mentions an important note that you should always pay a fair price for your camel ride as not paying enough may lead to camels not being fed or cared for properly).

up close photo of a camels face in morocco

I did some research into reputable companies and while I can’t find any sort of animal welfare certification system in Morocco, this sunset camel tour has excellent ratings with several reviewers remarking that the camels seemed well-looked after.

Additionally, the price is fair enough to ensure the animal’s welfare is being taken care of, without being outrageous for the consumer. If you use them, please comment back with your feedback so we can know how it was!

🐪 Camel Tour Suggestion: Palmeraie Sunset Camel Ride
(4.8/5 stars, 140+ reviews)

This camel tour from Marrakech includes transfers to and from your hotel, and includes a 30-minute ride to a Berber dwelling in the Palmeraie, where you’ll enjoy a snack and traditional Moroccan mint tea.

After tea, you’ll head back to your transport — as the sun sets while you’re on camelback!

Check availability and prices for this Palmeraie sunset camel ride!

Tip: Please be aware that with 3 days in Marrakech, you can’t actually get out to the proper Sahara sand dunes (those are about a two days’ drive west to the Sahara) but rather the Palm Grove, which is an oasis outside of Marrakech.

If you do have enough time for a Sahara desert tour because you’re planning to continue your trip beyond Marrakech, please read my review of my Sahara desert tour as I had a really unpleasant experience with my guides I don’t want anyone to experience.

The TL;DR of it is that I woke up with my guide in my face about 10 seconds away from groping me so do your research to find a reputable tour company before you book.

3 Days in Marrakech Itinerary: Day Two


  • Start with the Ben Youssef Madrassa
  • Visit the ruins of the El Badi Palace
  • Marvel at the ornate Bahia Palace
  • Check out the Jewish Cemetery
  • Admire the Saadian Tombs
  • Do an evening souk and food tour

Visit the newly-renovated Ben Youssef Madrasa.

the ornate tilework at the ben youssef madrasa a must on a marrakech itinerary

Since mosques are closed to non-Muslims, madrasas (Islamic schools) and palaces are the only places you can really see Islamic tilework in their full glory.

And nowhere else in Marrakech can you find tilework quite as impressive as at the Ben Youssef Madrasa!

For that reason, the Ben Youssef Madrasa is an absolute must-visit on this Marrakech itinerary.

The madrasa’s work is finally finished after being shut down for a few years for renovation work, so the mosaic tilework should be even more spectacular now.

As of the last update on June 3rd, 2022, the madrassa is reopened to the public!

Entrance costs 20 dirhams or about $5.50 USD.

Marvel at the history of El Badi Palace.

people walking around the grounds and reflecting pools of the el badi palace

El Badi Palace literally translates to “the incomparable palace.”

Perhaps that was true at the time, but a lot has happened in the nearly five centuries since its construction!

It’s a bit worse for wear, but at the same time, you can see spots of the former beauty of this ruined palace.

It took 15 years to build, demonstrating the best craftsmanship of the Saadian era. At the height of its grandeur, the palace had 360 rooms, decorated to the nines with handcrafted furniture, as well as a courtyard complex with a pool. 

Rich with gold, onyx, Italian marble, and exquisite tilework, the Palace was an ostentatious display of the Saadians wealth.

While much of the original palace is in a state of disrepair, there are still several gorgeously preserved parts of the palace with excellent tile mosaics, ornate stained glass windows, and beautiful courtyards.

There is still plenty to photograph and visit, all while you imagine the former beauty of it in its heyday.

Continue your sightseeing at Bahia Palace.

Whereas the El Badi Palace is a bit worse for wear after centuries of disuse, Bahia Palace is in remarkable condition!

Built in the second half of the 19th century, Bahia Palace is arguably the most well-preserved historic monument in Marrakech, and its simple color scheme of white, wood and understated tilework is gorgeous.

It’s a glorious palace, one that was built over the course of 14 years, across an area of two acres, sporting around 150 rooms.

To say that it’s beautiful would be doing it an injustice: it’s mindblowing.

Its many ornaments, lavishly-decorated doors, breathtaking fireplaces, floors and ceilings of the finest wood: every single detail adds up together to achieve something that is truly spectacular.

Visiting Bahia Palace is an unforgettable experience for any visitor and a must-do whether you have 24 hours or three days in Marrakech.

🕌 Tour Suggestion: Bahia & El Badi Palace Tour
(4.6/5 stars, 150+ reviews)

While you can visit each site individually, you may get more enjoyment seeing it as part of a guided tour and understanding the context and history behind these beautiful buildings.

This guided tour lasts 3 hours and includes El Badi Palace, the Bahia Palace, and the Saadian Tombs (optional).

Note that this tour only includes a guide — entry fees are not included. However, you will get skip-the-line entry with your guide.

Book this tour of Marrakesh’s palaces here!

Explore the Saadian Tombs.

colorful tilework on the tombs that mark the saadian tombs

The Saadian dynasty was an important part of Moroccan history, when Morocco flourished and grew as an important power: hence, their presence in much of the architecture and monuments of modern-day Marrakech.

The tombs of the Saadian dynasty, built by Sultan Al Mansour in the 16th century, contain marvelous tombs and mausoleums built to commemorate his family.

His successors have since walled off the Saadian Tombs, but they’re still accessible by a small passage through the Kasbah mosque.

The Sultan’s own tomb is quite intricate and ornate, and it’s surrounded by the tombs of his favorite counselors and princes.

Still, even the Sultan’s resting grounds is overshadowed by his mother’s mausoleum!

It’s a resting place made for maximum splendor, truly fit for a queen, with many plaques and carvings offering poetic blessings.

Visit the Jewish Cemetery.

graves at the jewish cemetery in marrakech
The Jewish cemetery in central Marrakech

While today, Morocco is synonymous with its majority Muslim population, it has historically been an important site for Jews for centuries.

You can see that history at the Jewish Cemetery nearby Bahia Palace, but its simplicity and bareness will be quite a contrast to the ornateness of Bahia Palace.

The Jewish Cemetery in Marrakech is the largest of its kind in Morocco and has been in continual use since the 16th century.

Today, the Jewish population of Marrakech is quite small – a mere 200 or so Jews – as much of Morocco’s Jewish population moved after the founding of Israel.

In fact, Moroccan Jews make up the second largest Jewish community, numbering about 500,000 in a country of around 9 million.

Despite the mass exodus of Moroccan Jews since the founding of Israel, the area around Marrakech is still important to Jewish history, with several important Jewish pilgrimage sites located in the outskirts.

While Morocco’s population is 99% Muslim, the country has done an excellent job of protecting its Jewish citizens and Jewish history.

After the Jews were expelled from Spain, many Sephardic Jews fled to nearby Morocco by crossing the straight of Gibraltar, and subsequently, they became integrated into Moroccan society.

During World War II, King Mohammed V protected the Moroccan Jews from being shipped to Europe to be exterminated in the Holocaust, defying Hitler’s orders by saying “in Morocco we don’t have Jews, we only have Moroccan citizens.”

This is emblematic of the religious tolerance that Morocco has exhibited for centuries, proudly 99% Muslim yet allowing Christian, Jewish, and to a lesser extent Baha’i communities to maintain places of worship.

End the night with a food and souk tour.

jemma el fna all lit up at night after the sun has set

Walking through Marrakech’s souks can be a bit stressful for first-timers to Morocco and the socially anxious amongst us – at least it was for me.

Taking a guided tour of the souks is definitely a way to reduce the stress factor.

It’s something I learned by the time I got to Fes and it made my time there so much more rewarding.

🥘 Food Tour Suggestion: Jemma El Fnaa Food Tour with Dinner
(4.7/5 stars, 280+ reviews)

The souks can be overwhelming – but not if you explore with an expert local guide.

They’ll help you tour the market and point out different local snacks to try to whet your appetite before you sit down for a Moroccan feast for dinner!

Check availability for the Dinner & Souk Food Tour here!

Alternate Ideas for your Day Two in Marrakech Itinerary

If hopping from palace to palace is too on the tourist trail for you, there are ways to get a bit more local.

You could start the morning with a tagine cooking class, learning hands-on how to make Morocco’s most famous dish with the assistance of a local!

Afterwards, you could check out the excellent photography museum, Maison de la Photographie, to see some work from Moroccan artists, or relax in the not-so-secret Le Jardin Secret.

Cap off your evening with either an evening food tour or visit the hip, artsy Café Clock for a meal and drinks (note that there is no alcohol available — read here to learn about the complicated status of alcohol in Morocco) with the locals.

3 Days in Marrakech Itinerary: Day Three

For here, we have two options: A hot air balloon followed by a wander through a colorful garden, some last-minute shopping, and a hammam treatment before you leave.

If you prefer to get out and explore more of Morocco, I suggest taking a day trip out into the Atlas Mountains and the Agafay Desert.

Overview Option One:

  • Take a hot air balloon ride over the desert
  • Explore the beautiful colors of the Jardin Marjorelle
  • Finish any last-minute shopping in the souks
  • Relax in a hammam

Overview Option Two:

Atlas mountains in Morocco
The beautiful Atlas Mountains on the way to the desert.

Take a full-day day trip to the Atlas Mountains and Agafay Desert, which includes the following:

  • Photo stop at Tahnaout
  • Visit to an argan oil factory
  • Explore the charming towns of Asni, Imlil (a great spot for a short hike), and Tamatert
  • Have lunch with a Berber family in Ait Souka
  • Stop at two beautiful viewpoints
  • Have a camel ride and tea in the Agafay Desert.

Book your day tour of the Atlas Mountains, Imlil Valley, and Agafay Desert here!

Wake up early for a hot air balloon ride over the desert

Worth the alarm at an ungodly hour

If you have the time and the funds for a hot air balloon ride in Morocco, I think it’s the best way to cap off three days in Marrakech.

I wasn’t able to afford it when I visited Morocco many years ago, fresh off of quitting my job to start this blog.

However, I rode a hot air balloon in Cappadocia in Turkey and just. wow. It’s one of the most magical experiences I can remember.

As when I went with Voyager Balloons in Cappadocia, it’s always crucial to pick a reputable hot air balloon company with pilots with thousands of hours of flight time under their belt.

🌅 Hot Air Balloon Recommendation: C’iel d’Africa Shared Balloon Tour
(4.7/5 stars, 575+ reviews)

This is the top-rated hot air balloon ride in Marrakech, so you can rest assured you’re in experienced, safe hands.

They offer a combined tour of a sunrise hot air balloon plus camel ride in case you didn’t do a camel tour before.

Check availability and rates for this hot air balloon tour here!

Admire the colorful grounds of Jardin Marjorelle.

After a hot air balloon ride, you’ll probably be a bit beat from the early morning wake-up and excitement.

And what better way to relax than in one of Marrakech’s most gorgeous gardens?

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Marrakech lies the gorgeous Jardin Majorelle.

It’s a quiet and calm reprieve that’s surrounded by a chaotic and active lifestyle, so this garden is truly an oasis in the desert.

It was originally created by Art Deco painter Jacques Majorelle – who ended being more known for the garden rather than his paintings – around 1920, and it was later bought and renovated by fashion designer Yves St. Laurent.

While the garden itself is lovely, with cacti and gorgeous blossoming flowers, it’s most famous for the hue of its walls, an intensely vibrant cobalt blue that’s now called Majorelle blue.

Today, Jardin Majorelle open every day of the year, and it’s remained a visitor favorite for quite a long time. It’s one of those places where you can sit back, relax, and just enjoy the scenery.

Enjoy a hammam experience.

The traditional black soap used for Moroccan hammam experience

Hammams are common throughout North Africa and the Middle East, a tradition dating back from when private bathrooms with running water weren’t that common.

Over the years, hammams became more about relaxation and socializing than getting clean.

You can’t miss trying a traditional scrub in Morocco – you’ll literally feel brand new after, as they’ll slough off roughly half a human’s worth of a dead skin.

There are several kinds of hammam experiences you can have, from ultra local to ultra luxurious. I recommend going somewhere in the middle.

My friend I was with in Morocco went to the spa at Riad Laârouss and found it to be a great experience, as they gave her tea when she got in and explained the whole procedure to her!

Meanwhile, I went to some random hole-in-the-wall because I was trying to save money and stumbled (naked, I should add) through the whole experience with my very rudimentary French.

The way a Moroccan scrub works is that first they use a eucalyptus-scented black soap, applying it to your whole body while you are fully nude. Don’t worry, if you’re a woman, you’ll have a female attendant!

I’ve been told by male visitors that they were still attended on by women, but they were asked to keep their shorts on (for obvious reasons!).

After they’ll apply argan oil and then scrub – hard – using a rough glove to exfoliate off the dead skin. You can just get a steam and scrub or finish up with a lovely massage afterwards.

Learn from my mistakes: don’t cheap out and run into a random hammam.

I recommend booking with a tour company that caters to English-speaking clientele (I use GetYourGuide for all my travels) and allows you to pre-book online to avoid communication issues as I had!

This tour has generally positive reviews and is inexpensive.

If You Have More than 3 Days in Marrakech…

Have more time in Morocco? I suggest getting out of Marrakech!

Next up, I highly recommend doing a Sahara desert tour – just be sure to read my guide beforehand, as there’s a lot you should know before booking.

If you’re planning a day trip outside of Marrakech, there are a few options. Essaouira is a coastal city that has starred in Game of Thrones.

It’s an excellent day trip from Marrakech if you want to squeeze in some time at the sea on your trip.

Check day trip itineraries to Essaouira here!

Want to freshen up in some waterfalls?

Spend a day chasing waterfalls in the nearby oasis of Ouzoud Waterfalls in the middle of the stunning Atlas Mountains.

Check day trips to the Ouzoud waterfalls here!

Want to get active?

Check out this small group trek through remote Berber villages, combining nature and culture on a hiking trip.

Check out this 3 village hiking tour here!

3 Top-Rated Marrakech Experiences

What to Pack for a Weekend in Marrakech Itinerary

I have a full Morocco packing list here — here’s the quick version of it, with a few essential things highlighted you shouldn’t miss!

Appropriate clothing: Morocco is a conservative country, and it’s both the most respectful and the most comfortable thing for you to do to blend in in terms of dress when you visit. For all genders, this means shoulders and knees covered; however, women who don’t adhere to clothing norms will attract more attention than men. As a woman visiting in the summer, this meant loose, linen-blend T-shirts and long skirts with sandals.

Some earplugs or good noise-canceling headphones: If you’ve never visited a Muslim country before, you’re in for a treat the first time you hear your pre-dawn call to prayer! I personally love hearing the call to prayer… at all times except that first one in the morning, before the sun even rises. I love Hearos — they’re the best ear plugs I’ve used.

Adapter: Morocco uses C and E plugs, the same as most of Europe (save the UK and Malta). Pack an adapter if you need it!

Travel medications: I keep a medicine kit on me at all times — there’s nothing worse then feeling sick on the road and knowing you have to stumble through a pharmacy interaction. I carry Pepto-Bismol for standard stomach troubles, Imodium as a nuclear option, some sort of painkiller like ibuprofen for headaches and minor pains, and some sort of motion sickness tablets. Plus any prescription medications you may have as well!

Travel insurance: In this day and age, you can’t be too careful. I always protect my trips with trip insurance, in case of illness, accident, cancellations, or delays. I personally use and recommend World Nomads!

More Morocco Travel Resources

I’ve written quite a bit to help you plan the perfect trip to Morocco! First, start with my Morocco travel planning checklist – it walks you through every step of the planning process.

Next, check out my Morocco packing list with specific advice for what women should wear in Morocco.

If you need more advice on where to stay in Morocco, I have a guide to the best riads in Marrakech on any budget, as well as a guide to riads in Fes!

Did I leave anything out? What else would you recommend to see in Marrakech in 3 days?

15 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Sahara Desert Tour

a view of the s

Taking a Sahara Desert tour and riding camels into the orange-hued sand dunes, illuminated by the setting sun was a big bucket list item of mine. 

Perhaps it’s because I watched Aladdin far too many times as a kid (sorry Mom).

Or maybe because after riding horses and going dog-sledding in several places around the world, riding a camel in a Moroccan desert seemed like the logical next step?

Or perhaps it was the solitude of the desert and the immensity of the dunes that compelled me.

Either way, I was sold: I’d absolutely be taking a Sahara desert tour from Marrakech on my trip to Morocco.

Whatever the reason, when I was in Morocco I spent nearly two days of my trip traveling by minivan from Marrakech to the Sahara Desert (and then back to Fes afterwards).

Was it worth it to go through all that effort to ride camels in the Sahara Desert? Yes, but… it’s complicated.

Photo of shadows in the sand dunes in the Sahara Desert in Morocco. A line of camels is walking in the desert on a sand ridge.
Seeing camels in the Sahara Desert? No words.

Like with much of my Moroccan experience, there were some serious highs and lows. This is par for the course for my time there.

Even though I read several blog posts about Sahara desert tours before I went, I wish I was more prepared for what an overnight Sahara tour would actually entail — which is exactly why I’ve written this post for you.

As a rule of thumb, I found that managing my expectations and not romanticizing things in an unrealistic way was key to enjoying my time in Morocco. I suspect it will be the same for you.

So, is a Sahara tour worth it? I personally think so, but I’ll let you decide after reading this post.

If you’re wondering if a Sahara Desert tour is worth the money, I can’t answer that for you directly, but I can share all the good, the bad, and the truly WTF experiences I had along the way so you can make the right call.

Without further ado, here are the top 15 things I wish somebody told me before my Morocco desert tour… and what I’d do differently next time!

Ripples of sand and sand dunes in a beautiful orange color in the Sahara Desert in Morocco
Is taking a Sahara tour worth it? I’ll let you decide.

My Top 3 Picks: Sahara Desert Tours from Marrakech

Fair warning… I have a lot of thoughts about my Sahara desert experience.

If you don’t have time to read the entire post, fair play — I’ve made it easy for you by listing my top 3 most-recommended tours. The clusterf*** of a tour that I took is, obviously, not included.

I’ve done extensive research on them to make sure I am recommending tours way better than the disaster of a tour I took, which I am not listing because it was a truly awful experience.


a person with a hat on throwing sand in the sahara desert

3 Day Sahara Desert Small Group Tour
✔️ Best bang for your buck
✔️ Includes all accommodations & meals (except lunch)

↳ Book it


camels winding their way through a path in the dunes in the sahara desert

3 Day Private Sahara Desert Tour
✔️ Entirely private tour, just you and your group
✔️ Customize the itinerary more to your liking

↳ Book it


sahara desert sky in the beautiful desert landscape

3 Day Marrakech to Fes Desert Camping Tour
✔️ Provides transfer to Fes instead of returning to Marrakech
✔️ Hotel, camping, breakfast, and dinner included

↳ Book it

Morocco Desert Tour FAQs

How do you get to the Sahara Desert in Morocco?

Man sitting atop a shaggy camel on the sand dunes in the Sahara desert at sunset, with orange dunes and pink and purple clouds in the sky above.
Sunsets in the Sahara are like nowhere else on the planet — the way the sand glows is otherworldly.

The best way to get to the Sahara Desert is typically by guided tour from one of Morocco’s main tourist hubs, usually Marrakech. 

You can also take a bus or drive a rental car to Merzouga and then book your desert activities separately, like staying in a luxury desert camp and organizing your activities via them. 

Alternately, if you really want to avoid the drive, you can fly to Errachadia Airport.

However, it’s still 2 hours away by car from Merzouga, and you won’t be saving that much time.

How do I get to the desert from Marrakech?

4x4 white jeep-like car cruising through the orange rolling dunes of the sahara desert with beautiful, dramatic shadows and landscapes
Only the most rugged of cars can handle the Sahara’s dunes

Visiting the Sahara Desert from Marrakech is the most common way to access it. But it’s not close!

It’s typically about 12 hours to the desert (one way), spread across two days of transit on the way there, going via the breathtaking Atlas Mountains.

On the way back, you don’t make any stops except to eat and use the bathroom, so it just takes one full day on the way back to Marrakech.

Alternately, some tours will bring you onwards to Fes if you are traveling north after Morocco, like if you’re following my 10-day Morocco itinerary which includes Fes, Chefchaouen, and Tangier.

In my opinion, a guided tour is the best and easiest option. However, it only allows for limited time in the desert itself: most of the time is getting to the Sahara.

Other more adventurous options include booking a bus to Merzouga, renting a car and driving to the Sahara, and flying to Errachadia and then booking a taxi to get you to Merzouga.

What are the best desert tours in Morocco?

The rooftops of Marrakech with the tall minaret of the mosque and Atlas Mountains in the distance on a sunny day
View of Marrakech, where most desert tours leave from

I’ve done a ton of research on what the best tour companies are after my subpar experience (which you can read about more below). 

But here are my quick picks based on where you want to start and end, and if you want a group tour vs. a private desert tour.

  • Marrakech Group Tour: If you’re coming from Marrakech and want to return there, I suggest this tour.
  • Marrakech Private Tour: If you’re coming from Marrakech and want a fully private tour with just your group, I suggest this tour.
  • Marrakech to Fes Group Tour*: If you’re coming from Marrakech and want to end in Fes, I suggest this tour. *This is what I did
  • Fes or Fes to Marrakech Group Tour: If you’re coming from Fes, and want to return to Fes or head onwards to Marrakech, I suggest this tour.

If you are coming from Essaouira, Rabat, or Casablanca, it’s a lot further to the desert.

To streamline things, I suggest making a waypoint at Marrakech first.

What sand dunes will I see in the Merzouga Desert?

A caravan of camels following a desert tour guide in the orange sands of the Sahara desert on a sunny day
Heading towards the Erg Chebbi dunes in the Sahara outskirts

Since most desert tours from Marrakech go as fast as possible, you will likely see the Erg Chebbi dunes, which are the closest to Merzouga.

Note that on a 3-day tour to the Sahara, you will not see Erg Chigaga, the largest dune in the Sahara.

This would require different planning than your standard Sahara desert tour and it’s simply not offered by most mainstream desert tours as it’s not located near Merzouga at all.

If you really want to see Erg Chigaga, you’ll have to plan for that specifically as it’s further south.

This tour includes visiting the area around Erg Chigaga and staying the night in a luxury desert camp near the dune.

However, you’d have to get yourself to M’Hamid first for this tour, which is rather far from Merzouga and not the easiest to travel to, as this tour does not include transport to M’Hamid.

What are the best things to do in the Sahara Desert?

Person wearing a hat, sweater, pants going down a sandboard in the Sahara Desert, with a desert camp visible in the background
Definitely don’t miss the opportunity to sandboard in the Sahara!

There are all sorts of activities you can do in the Moroccan desert — from camel trekking to desert glamping to sandboarding to ATV riding and more. 

While it sounds like a lot of time, a 3-day tour actually gives you fairly limited time in the Sahara Desert.

Once you get to the desert, you will do a sunset camel trek, have a desert camp meal, stargaze, sleep in a tent and be able to watch the sunrise before leaving again — that’s about it.

If you want more time in the Sahara Desert, I suggest taking the bus to Merzouga and planning an independent trip there rather than taking one of the Marrakech tours.

You can stay at one of the desert luxury camps for however long you like and organize desert exploration activities directly with them.

How do I visit the Sahara Desert independently?

Eco tents in a glampsite in Morocco with views of the dunes and some desert shrubbery on a hazy day.
The luxury camps in the Sahara are far nicer than the ones you’ll stay at on a basic tour

If you don’t want to do a tour, you can visit the Sahara Desert (fairly) independently by getting yourself to Merzouga, either by bus or rental car, and then renting accommodations in the desert.

There are all levels of budget and luxury for desert camps available.

Since picking out unique accommodations around the globe is one of my main passions I’ve cultivated over my near-decade of travel blogging, I’m here to help!

I’ve written a guide curating the 9 best desert camps in the Sahara Desert here to help you narrow down the immense options.

Red moroccan style carpets and sitting areas at a luxury desert camp out in the Sahara desert
Yes, you can even find red carpet glamor, Sahara-style, in these desert camps!

There are some great luxury glamping options such as the Sahara Desert Luxury Camp and the Desert Bivouac Merzouga which offer improved amenities such as private bathrooms and beautifully designed rooms.

There are also more bare-bones accommodation options like Desert Berber Fire Camp and Dune Merzouga Camp.

Expert Tip: When pricing out your trip and making decisions, don’t just look at the base price, but also look for what’s included in each property and make an assessment based on that.

You may have to pay for transit, meals, etc. which could eat into your “savings” compared to a higher-priced but more all-inclusive experience.

Value in Morocco can be hard to suss out until you really get into what’s included and excluded on each option, so check the tour or camp’s inclusions before deciding.

15 Things to Know Before Your Morocco Sahara Desert Tour

You cannot do a Sahara desert trip on a day trip from Marrakech.

Sunrise at the beautiful desert camp in Sahara Desert, Morocco, with lamps and sitting areas and tents visible in the distance
The best part of not being able to do it as a day trip? You get to see sunrise and sunset!

Merzouga, the gateway to the Sahara, is 350 miles or around 560 kilometers of winding mountain passes and dizzying curves away from Marrakech. 

As a result, you shouldn’t expect to be able to reach the Sahara in a day from Marrakech!

At a bare minimum, you need 3 days to visit the Sahara Desert from Marrakech, all of which will entail serious amounts of driving. 

It’s about 12 hours of driving in a van each way between Marrakech and Merzouga (not including stops), so expect to spend a good portion of your 3 day Sahara desert tour on the road.

If you only have time to do a day trip from Marrakech, you will simply not be able to see true sand dunes like you can see in Merzouga and Erg Chebbi, full stop. Adjust your expectations so you won’t be disappointed! 

Cushions set up around tables to enjoy tea in the rock desert outside of Marrakech
A desert camp in Agafay Desert outside of Marrakech

If you only have one day for a desert trip from Marrakech, you can do a camel ride through the rocky Agafay desert and palm grove outside of the city.

It’s not as impressive as the dunes in the Sahara, that’s for sure, but you will get that quintessential desert vibe.

Prices are quite reasonable – you can check prices for one-day tours here.

With two days, you’re a little better off – you can get to the Zagora Desert and do a sunset camel ride, sleep in a desert overnight, and have a sunrise camel ride the next day. 

Tours to Zagora are a little pricier than just a day trip, obviously, since it includes accommodations and more meals, but it’s still a good value – learn more about two-day tours here.

As a bonus in their favor compared to day trips, trips to Zagora also include a visit to Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO site that is also a Game of Thrones filming spot.

While Zagora isn’t quite as impressive as Merzouga (and I’d say that is true by a good margin), it’s still a worthwhile option to compare.

Not sure what to pick? I wrote quite a bit more on how to decide between the two in this post on choosing between Merzouga vs. Zagora for your Morocco desert trip.

Desert camp at Tinfou sand dunes, Zagora, Morocco on a sunny day, with some rudimentary tents
A desert camp in Zagora, Morocco — lovely, but it doesn’t compare to the Sahara

If you can spare the time and the money, then I highly recommend picking the Sahara Desert as your final destination (the three day tour option).

 In my opinion, the rock desert and palm oasis outside of Marrakech is nowhere close to how spectacular the Sahara Desert is.

As a result, the palm desert should only be booked if you have extremely limited time or funds, but you still have a camel ride and desert experience on your Morocco bucket list. 

The Zagora Desert is closer to what you would want from a Sahara Desert tour, but it’s still a ton of driving plus an overnight.

At that point, unless time is an absolute deal-breaker, I’d urge you to just go for the full three day Sahara tour instead. 

It’s not much more money (about $30 more than the Zagora tour), and absolutely nothing in my life compares to the beauty of seeing the sun rise and set in the Sahara Desert for myself with my own eyes.

Book your 3 day Sahara desert tour here!

The Sahara Desert is even more magical than you expect.

People in the Sahara Desert on a camel trek through the sand dunes led by Berber guides
Winding through the dunes of the Sahara is still a top 10 travel experience!

In my now 70+ countries of travel, I’ve still never seen anything quite as beautiful as the Sahara Desert.

That’s true even to this day, and even despite some rather negative experiences I had there (more on that in just a bit).

There is something otherworldly about the contrast between the orange sand and the blue sky, and the way the sand ripples in perfect formations that look as if they could only drawn by an artist’s hand.

As sunset fell, I almost wanted to pinch myself to confirm that it was real. But if it was a dream, I didn’t want to risk waking up.

The softness of the orange sand, the seeming infiniteness of the rolling dunes, the way that footsteps looked as they left magical trails in the sand, the inky blackness of the sky punctured by a million tiny stars at night… there’s simply no comparison to the Sahara.

Getting to the Sahara Desert from Marrakech is a royal pain, and yet somehow it is completely and utterly worth it.

Book your Sahara tour in advance so you can read reviews.

berber guides leading a small group of four people through the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert
A small group of Berber guides leading guests to their desert stay

The worst piece of advice that I read (and unfortunately followed) about taking a tour to the Sahara desert is that you shouldn’t book it in advance.

Their bad advice was that you should try to get a better deal by waiting for a tout in the souks to offer you a better price than what you can book online.

Here’s the thing I’ve discovered about trying to cut cost and corners in a place like Morocco: you can likely get a cheaper price, but you will not get a better deal.

What do I mean by that? You will make up for that price difference somewhere, either with poor quality service, bad guides, or through scams and upsells along the trip. 

I went on one of the cheapest tours I could find, and I don’t recall the company name as I booked it from a random tout in the souk (as I was told to do by bloggers who I won’t name).

One of the worst parts of my tour experience getting told that the A/C in the van is “broken” on a 115 degree Fahrenheit day so they could save money on gas. 

They put on the fan and insisted the A/C wouldn’t work, and they only put it on after I insisted many, many times… upon which, the A/C magically worked perfectly.

If I hadn’t insisted and begged for them to do so, I would have roasted in the car for hours all based on believing a lie.

I was constantly up-charged on everything, from lunch to the made-in-China scarves that they insisted was mandatory for the desert.

A variety of colorful cotton scarves for sale in the Sahara desert
One of many attempted upsells on a Sahara desert tour

At this point, two days into being scammed and disrespected, I was so stubborn that I spitefully tied a shirt around my head at this point — just to prove a point.

Oh, and I also got scammed by a rug vendor in a Berber village we visited… but more on that later.

Instead, I highly recommend booking your Sahara desert tour in advance with a company with a good reputation and a strong online presence. 

Quite frankly, it’s not because of any merits of the company itself or the uniqueness of the tour.

View at night of a desert camp in the Sahara with beautiful stars overhead and a fire near the tents
Nighttime in the Sahara is unreal: no matter what camp you choose, it’s all the same stars!

All tours follow a similar route (typically included are the High Atlas Mountains, Aït Benhaddou Kasbah, the Dades Valley & Dades Gorge, Todra Gorge, Ouarzazate, etc.)

It’s just because a company that has put in work to establish a solid online presence has a ton more to lose.

Compare the level of service they have to provide with the hundred or so indistinguishable tour companies who make their profit off of selling to tourists on the street, for whom reputation and word of mouth means little. 

A desert tour with good reviews and a large digital footprint will be more scrupulous and careful as to protect their reputation and their livelihood, and that’s a good thing for the consumer.

A pair of dromedary camels with seats on them in the Sahara dsert, resting and waiting for travelers
A reputable tour company will also take better care of their camels, an important matter for advocates of responsible tourism

After carefully researching dozens Sahara Desert tour offerings and comparing them to my own experience, this tour is the one I’d recommend for travelers on a budget who want a good group tour experience.

With an average of 4.5 stars out of nearly 4,500 verified reviews, including several positive reviews from solo women, this company is tried and tested in a way that I’m comfortable with recommending despite not having tried this exact tour for myself. 

You can check tour specifics, itinerary details, and prices here on Get Your Guide, which protects your purchase and provides free cancellation if your plans change. 

A sunset happening in the Sahara desert with an orange-toned sky.
The beautiful sunset in the Sahara

In the sake of fairness, it’s important to note there are some bad reviews, mostly from people who said that there’s too much driving — unfortunately, this is true no matter what company you go with. 

Be aware no matter what you choose that the Sahara desert is huge, as it’s the largest desert in Africa (and the largest hot desert, period, after the Antarctic and Arctic deserts). 

Morocco’s section of the Sahara Desert is basically on the border of Algeria, and you have to cross through the High Atlas Mountains, so there is simply no avoiding the drive. 

Any shorter tour will not take you to the Sahara, but instead to far less impressive rocky deserts closer to Marrakech.

If you want to go onward to Fes after your trip instead of returning to Marrakech (a common choice to avoid backtracking, and one that I made), they also run a tour from Marrakech to the Sahara ending in Fes, which you can find here.

Be cautious and do your research if you are a solo female traveler.

The sun setting over the Sahara Desert with brilliant pink and dark clouds
Staying overnight in the Sahara is safe, but if you’re a solo female, keep your wits about you.

I’m telling you this because I, in my eternally stupid penny-pinching ways, did exactly the opposite and paid the price. 

I don’t remember what the exact name of the tour company I went with: something incredibly generic, literally like Sahara Tour Morocco.

I should note that I did this tour before becoming a more diligent note-taker as a blogger.

I followed the (bad) advice of others and just went wandering through Marrakech and booked it in-person from one of the men in the medina selling tours.

Again, this is what I was told was the best (read: cheapest) way to book a Sahara desert tour by other backpackers. 

While sure, it was cheaper (I paid about the equivalent of $100 USD for a 3-day trip in July, after some haggling), I ended up having a pretty horrible experience. 

They lied about many things: the inclusions, the air conditioning, how I’d get to Fes after my tour finished.

Shadows cast by camels in the desert , seen from above while sitting on a camel

But on the tour, I was sexually harassed by my guides, and even worse, I was nearly groped while I was sleeping in the desert.

It all started innocently enough, in my mind. I was sitting after dinner, chatting with a guide trying to learn more about Berber culture. 

Without victim-blaming myself (as a person or two have done in the comments…), I must say that I need to remind myself that North American (and specifically Californian) friendliness is not always the smartest move.

Especially with men from more conservative cultures, they can mistake courteous talkativeness as an invitation for something physical.

After a while, this guide got progressively creepier and creepier as the night got darker, continuing to move closer to me as we talked.

I felt paralyzed with the knowledge of what was happening yet also frozen and powerless to stop it. 

Then he asked me if I wanted to go somewhere alone with him to see the stars better (um, they’re plainly overhead, but k).

Despite my repeated insistence that I just wanted to sit and enjoy by myself, he continued to ask.

Eventually, I had to tell him quite directly that he was bothering me, that I was upset, and he needed to leave me alone. He went away.

Stars overhead in the desert, with some stars and camps and tents visible

It may sound simple enough, but for a nonconfrontational girl like me who hates conflict, it was difficult. 

After he left, I enjoyed the next few hours a lot, chatting with my fellow travelers and admiring the vastness of the sky and the hints of the Milky Way overhead.

Later that night, since it was July, virtually all of the travelers chose to sleep outside where there was a breeze instead of the stuffy tent .

It was impossible to breathe in tents and there was a nice breeze outside. Meanwhile, a different guide set up his sleeping site about five feet from me. 

He placed a large pillow as a buffer between us, which I took comfort in, and I fell asleep.

I honestly remember feeling glad that I had a benevolent guardian to keep me away from the creep who was hitting on me earlier.

Dark night sky in the Sahara desert with a few stars overhead and tent faraway visible lit up faintly

I woke up maybe an hour later to him staring at me, saying “shhhhh,” just a few inches away from my face, the pillow he had placed between us nowhere to be seen.

It was, in a word, terrifying. 

He tried to tell me to go back to sleep, but you better believe my a** was up and in my hot stuffy tent as quickly as I could manage in my sleep-drunk state.

I didn’t sleep much the rest of the night, obviously.

Since I didn’t book online, had no plans to return to Marrakech (I ended my tour in Fes), or have any papers confirming who I went with, I didn’t really have a way to review the tour.

I also didn’t feel comfortable going to the police for a variety of reasons (namely, the language barrier and gender norms with a culture of victim blaming, etc). 

If I had booked it online, I could have read reviews from other female travelers if they had a similar experience.

Had I been more smart about how I booked the tour, it would have been much easier to report the bad behavior I experienced on this tour.

This way, I could hopefully help ensure it wouldn’t happen to other female travelers down the line. 

I still feel sort of sick to my stomach when I think about not being able to report this. I hate the fact that this behavior will likely continue to other women.

This is why I recommend booking in advance with a reputable company so strongly and emphatically.

Ripples in the sand in the Sahara Desert beautiful orange sand
Despite the near attack, I still enjoyed many aspects of visiting the Sahara

For solo female travelers, I recommend booking online.

As I said above, I suggest this tour if you want to go onward to Fes, or this tour if you want to go back to Marrakech at the end of your trip.

Sadly, this kind of behavior is not that uncommon for Morocco.

Other women have had similar experiences with their guides in the desert (read Lauren of Never Ending Footsteps’ experience here

I’ve also, of course, heard positive stories as well, though these usually come from men or people who traveled as a couple. 

As a solo female traveler, I can tell you though that it’s better to spend the extra money and book a tour in advance so you can read all the reviews.

That won’t completely shield you from an assault or harassment, but it’s one small (but important) layer of protection.

A lot of fuss is made about dressing properly in Morocco.

I will say that I was covered up almost all the time and not particularly provocative in any way, shape, or form, and I was harassed frequently.

Allison wearing a dress that comes down to her knees and a white light linen jacket
A typical outfit I wore while en route to the Sahara Desert, outside of Dades Gorge (my skirt didn’t show my knees, it just blew up a little in the wind as I took the photo)

When writing this post, since I didn’t have a personal tour recommendation, I vetted the companies and pored through the reviews pretty thoroughly. 

The tour I recommend above looks to be the best, safest option for solo female travelers, and still looked to be a good option as of this update (January 2024).

If reading this in the future, and you’re a solo woman, I’d do my due diligence and check the reviews from the most recent few months, just in case there is a new guide who is causing trouble.

Read what is included carefully.

Camel shadow on the sand dune in Sahara Desert, Merzouga, Morocco
Shadows of camels on the desert, a magical sight!

My Sahara desert tour included round-trip transportation to and from Marrakech and the Sahara Desert. This included pick up and drop off at your riad.

When booking my tour with one of the tour operators in the medina, I told them I wanted to go onwards to Fes, a common thing tourists do to avoid backtracking. 

The tour operators said that all the transportation (including to Fes) was included in the price they gave me, but I never got that in writing.

Surprise surprise, when it came time to get a shared taxi towards Fes, we ended up having to fork out about $30 USD or so per person to get there. 

I can say that the price was pretty fair, but the method of being duped, stuck in the desert with no other options, is a principle I can’t stand by.

But at this point, after nearly being groped by one of the guides, I was ready to get out of there — no matter what the cost.

Tip: If you want to go onward to Fes like I did and avoid backtracking, be sure it is included on your tour! I suggest this Marrakech to Merzourga to Fes desert tour.

Tour guides in the Sahara desert with their camels
Bedouins and camels in the desert

The shuttle bus was comfortable enough, but they kept insisting that the A/C was broken after the first day.

This was extremely was annoying, as I was overheating and feeling incredibly nauseous with only the fan on, since we couldn’t open the windows in the back. 

After enough of the minibus complained, they turned it on again and voila: it was magically working. Strange.

The tour included two nights accommodation, one in a hotel on the way to the desert and one in the desert camp itself.

The accommodations at both were of decent quality, actually, they were better than I expected for the price, to be fair. The tour cost included the camel ride as well.

a dish of meatballs served with bread in a tagine
You’ll find much better meals in Marrakech and Fes

Here are a few things most tours do not include: no lunch on any of the days, so you’ll have to either BYO food or add on another $10 USD or so for each meal. 

No matter what tour you go on, you can be guaranteed that you’ll be forced to eat at expensive, mediocre restaurants — likely wherever your tour guides get the best kickback, unfortunately! 

Most tours don’t include any beverages, water, etc. either so keep that in mind and bring plenty of cash for the tour.

Keep your expectations in line with reality.

rugs surrounding a campfire and some makeshift tents in the Sahara
If you’re taking a budget your… your camp will not look like this.

The price range of Sahara Desert tours varies wildly based on the level of luxury. 

One blog post I read said their (comped, I might add) tour cost $700 USD per person for a 3-day tour, which is expensive for many — and definitely an outlier for Morocco, at about 5x the cost of the tour I recommend.

However, it would absolutely be worth it for a special occasion like a honeymoon when you won’t want to be crammed in a van with 15-odd other travelers. 

Meanwhile, on the low end, you can spend about $120 USD for a 3 day, 2 night tour.

You won’t be staying at the luxury desert camps you’ve seen the Instagram girls enjoying, but rather bare-bones tents with an outhouse and very few creature comforts. 

But who needs showers when you can bathe in the gorgeous light of a million tiny stars in the clearest night sky you’ll ever get a chance to see?

Most tours cost somewhere in the ballpark of $100-200 USD for a 3 day, 2 night Sahara tour, and that’s a fair price.

The tour that I recommend shakes out to about $40 per day, which I think is fair given all the inclusions and its good reviews. 

Check out the ratings & reviews of this Sahara Desert tour

Riding a camel is not at all like riding a horse.

A group of camels near the dusk hour sitting on the sand
Riding a camel… not as enjoyable as it looks!

If you’ve romanticized a camel ride in the desert, let me demystify that for you. This is no pleasant horse ride through a meadow. 

Riding a camel is among the least comfortable things I’ve done, and I’m amazed that people actually even trained camels to be ridden after feeling how freaking uncomfortable it can be!

While camel trekking, my thighs were sore by the end of the first hour. I could barely feel my butt when I got off the camel. 

The camel slid in the sand quite a bit, leaving me lurching and clutching on for dear life (camels are even taller than they look).

Anyway, the next day, I was given the option to ride on the roof of their ATV or go back the same way doing a camel trek – you better believe I chose the roof (though to be honest, that choice was mostly to avoid the creepy guide).

Despite my complaining about the discomfort, however, I’d do it again – the views are simply that magical, and the camel ride — as uncomfortable as it is — is a huge part of the desert experience.

Just be prepared! As I mentioned at the outset of this post, managing expectations is the key to enjoying your Sahara desert trip.

Going in the summer isn’t the worst idea ever.

view of Erg Chebbi Dunes in the Sahara Desert - at sunrise, in Morocco
The Sahara Desert can be visited in the summer… but it’ll be scorching!

I did my Sahara Desert tour in July… aka the stupidest time in the world to go to Morocco. 

It was 115° F (46° C) in the desert the day we arrived… so that may have had something to do with why the price I negotiated was so low.  

The car was hot and stuffy, but that was because my driver purposely shut off the A/C, something that won’t happen on a reputable tour.

Still, I’ll say that 115° F in Morocco isn’t nearly as bad as 90° F and humid in NYC.

I’m a Californian who grew up in a particularly hot and dry part of the state, and I will fight to the death that dry heat is 100x better than wet heat.

To me, the desert heat wasn’t a deal-breaker, especially since we arrived at the desert at sunset when the night breeze was already coming in nice and cool.

And at night, it cooled down to a nice 75° F (24° C) or so, and it was downright pleasant and beautiful with a light wind.

However, the tents were still like an oven that would have been impossible to sleep in, but outside underneath the stars downright pleasant (minus the gropey guide…)

On the other hand, it will be freezing in the winter.

Man wearing winter clothes standing in the Sahara dunes
Desert in the winter? Colder than you’d think!

Many people approach the Sahara Desert with the misconception that it’s hot year-round, but this is patently false. 

The desert is home to wild temperature swings – even in the summer, a 115° F day dropped to a 75° F night, a 40° F temperature variation. This is standard. 

This is true even in the winter. In the peak winter months such as January, the desert will be around 65° F / 18° C in the day and hovering around 32° F / 0° C at night.

And yes, it even snows sometimes in the Sahara!

If you visit the Sahara Desert in winter, you’ll want to bring some thermal tops (I like these from 32 Degrees) as well as a thin down jacket to keep you warm.

Be prepared for long days of driving and some dull stops.

Atlas mountains in Morocco with a road below it at a mountain pass on a sunny day
The beautiful Atlas Mountains on the way to the desert.

It’s about two long days in a van from Marrakech just to get to the Sahara desert (not including the 12 hour drive on the way back). 

If you have 2 or 3 weeks in Morocco, that’s fine – but if you have a really limited amount of time for your trip, it’s a lot of time in a car.

The views are simply beautiful, particularly the Atlas Mountains and the Dades Gorge, so keep your camera at the ready to snap some shots.

You’ll pull over a few times at scenic overlooks throughout the trip, which helps to break up the drive.

However, besides stopping at the UNESCO site of Ait Ben Haddou and a pretty gorge, most of the stops are pretty uninteresting. 

Many stops were aimed at getting as much money out of you as possible as opposed to being interesting for sightseeing.

This is common with group tours, even small group tours, but it was cumbersome nonetheless.

I will say that they did give us a lot of bathroom stops, which as someone with a clinically small bladder, I really appreciated!

Bring some anti-nausea pills.

Allison, the author of the article, standing with a dress with matching seasickness bands and shoes
When your motion sickness bracelets match your shoes, that’s fashion.

There are so many twists and turns on the road to the Sahara Desert because you have to pass through the Atlas Mountains, the Dades Gorge, and the Tizi n’Tichka mountain pass — all of which involve countless hairpin turns!

I get motion sickness quite easily, so I lulled myself into a state of near-constant semi-slumber for the two days with the help of my Sea Bands

They worked okay at keeping me from barfing, but I would have preferred actual Dramamine.

Personally, I’d choose the normal version over the non-drowsy that I usually opt for, to better help me sleep off all those hours in the van.

I’d also bring some stomach medicine like Pepto Bismol tablets just in case.

Morocco has some issues with food safety and undrinkable tap water that can end up messing with some travelers’ stomachs. 

I was fine during my two weeks in Morocco, but I know several people who got food poisoning while they were there, so better safe than sorry. 

Bring plenty of cash (about $100 USD worth).

A wallet on a table with 20 50 100 and 200 dirham notes
Moroccan currency is so colorful!

There are plenty of little add-ons throughout the Sahara Desert tour that end up driving up the price quite a bit. 

Figure about $1 per bottle of water, $2 per soda, money for tips for various people you encounter along the way, and extra for souvenirs and strongly “recommended” purchases along the way.

Your guides will also take you to expensive and uninspiring restaurants for lunch, though since I wasn’t a big fan of Moroccan food to begin with, that wasn’t a huge loss in terms of flavor. 

The cost of lunch while on your Sahara desert tour is usually about $10 USD per meal, which is about 3 times the price of a meal elsewhere in Morocco.

This is pretty standard for every tour and is part of the reason why the price of your Sahara Desert tour is so low.

Virtually all tour guides are getting a kickback for bringing people to the restaurant, guides, and shopping stops, so they make up the money there.

Be aware that most stops are designed for the guides to make more money

Clothing for sale at a stall near the Sahara desert
Stop #2983 for souvenirs

Pretty much every stop we made along the way to the desert was rushed and not that interesting. 

All of these stops seemed designed for us to spend extra money, rather than to enjoy a particularly beautiful location.

For example, the stop at the rug store, the gift shops at Ait Ben Haddou, and the completely unnecessary stops to encourage us to buy specific scarves to wrap around our heads for the desert tour.

I understand this is how they make up for their slim margins, but I just wish the tour cost a bit more.

I’d rather pay more so that we didn’t spend so much time making a million souvenir stops.

Instead, I’ve had preferred to spend more time at the few stops that are interesting, like Ait Ben Haddou and Ouarzazate and the Draa Valley and the Dades Gorge. 

But that’s just how guided tours in Morocco go, I guess, unless you opt for a private tour and can tell them you’re not interested in these stops.

Buy a rug with caution.

A man pouring mint tea at a rug shop

In a moment of weakness, I splurged on (what appeared to be) a gorgeous hand-woven Berber rug at the village near Tinghir, paying about $40 USD for a very tiny lambswool rug. 

Mind you, when I took this Sahara desert tour, I didn’t even have a home — so why I needed a rug was beyond me… but alas, FOMO got me yet again.

Anyway, when I unwrapped it a few days later, I discovered they had swapped it out for another one entirely!

Despite not having touched the rug until I opened it, I opened it to find it completely and totally falling apart at the edges.

I ended up trashing it rather than lugging around a fraying rug for the rest of my trip. Fool me once…

Consider the pros and cons carefully.

A hazy sunrise in the Sahara desert
Sunrise in the Sahara: ultimately worth all the hassle.

While I had a mixed bag of experiences, in my opinion, it was still absolutely worth taking a Sahara Desert tour, as it was a huge bucket list item. 

However, if I could do it again, I would have researched what tour I took, and not have just gone with the cheapest desert tour option that a tout offered me on the streets of Marrakesh.

My safety and overall enjoyment is worth more than a few dollars, and so is yours.

I don’t want to scare you from taking a Sahara desert tour: thousands of solo female travelers take them, and take them safely.

But in the spirit of full transparency, I want to share my experience with you so you can be prepared should any shadiness occur in the Sahara. 

(And judging by the fact that my story is not unique, that is a possibility).

I will readily admit that traveling Morocco can be frustrating as a woman.

Adjust yourself accordingly: be courteous, but distant; not rude, but not friendly, and you’ll likely have a more positive experience than I did.

I’m of the belief that you shouldn’t let fear dictate what you do or take away from your dreams. 

Even though I had a bad experience on my Sahara desert tour, there are a few things I could have done differently. 

Guide leading a traveler on a camel through orange sand dunes
Despite my negative experiences, I’m still glad I went.

I could made friends with and stuck with other female travelers rather than chatting with the guides. 

I could have vetted the tours more carefully and picked one with better online reviews rather than trying to seek out the lowest price.

To be clear, this is not to victim blame myself, nor to victim blame anyone who has had something similar happen to them. (Though a few people in the comments have chosen to go that route…)

It is solely upon the predator to not be a predator, and not on the victim to prevent harassment or an attack.

However, just like there are measures to can take to avoid theft, there are a few things you can do to make yourself slightly safer against harassment from men. 

I hate that I have to write this here, but my experience is so not out of the ordinary that I feel compelled to share these tips.

Sadly, these are just facts of life for traveling alone in a country as unfriendly to solo women as Morocco is.

View in the desert in the morning in the Sahara

If you don’t like the idea of a Sahara desert tour, you could take the badass alternative and rent a car and driving out to the Sahara Desert, like the bloggers at Along Dusty Roads did. 

But again, if you’re solo, this may not be the best course of action – road trips are always best enjoyed with a travel buddy.

Ultimately, you’ll have to make the call, but in my gut and despite what happened to me, I say go for it – the Sahara desert is something that must be seen to be believed. 

Even with all the crap I dealt with on my 3 day Sahara tour — I wouldn’t take it back. I’d just go with another company, obviously.

What to Bring on a Sahara Desert Tour

Person tossing sand while wearing a scarf around their head sitting in the orange sand of the Sahara Desert

Motion sickness pills: Don’t underestimate how winding the roads will be leading out to the desert! You will cross all sorts of high mountain passes between Marrakech and the Sahara Desert. Motion sickness pills will be your friend. I had motion sickness bands and they helped (but not quite enough). I wish I had Dramamine!

Snacks: I didn’t enjoy the food at the lunches we stopped at along the way and I wish I had packed enough snacks to skip a lunch or two. Snacks can also be a nice pick-me-up when you need a little sugar rush after countless hours of driving. I like packing Larabars for a pick-me-up.

A camera and tripod (for night photography): You’ll want a camera with a zoom lens and the ability to use manual settings to capture the best of the desert in all its beauty. A smartphone won’t quite do it, especially for night photos!

This is the camera I used in the Sahara desert. I also suggest a tripod if you want to photograph the Milky Way and do some astrophotography — you’ll likely never find darker skies!

Tents for camping in the Sahara Desert at night, lit up by a fire or lantern, with the Milky Way overhead

Long sleeve shirt and pants: Even if it’s hot, you’ll want to have your arms and legs covered for multiple reasons during your desert tour. For one, it’ll protect you from the hot Moroccan sun… but for another, it’ll shield you (a tiny bit) from prying eyes.

A scarf: It can occasionally get windy in the Sahara Desert. Your guides will insist that you have a scarf they can wrap around you like a turban to protect your face from the sand, and they will make a stop in Erfoud or somewhere nearby the desert to buy overpriced scarves. Just bring your own scarf because the scarves you can buy there are not good quality and are basically single-use.

Layers (in winter): If you’re visiting the Sahara in the winter, you’ll want to bring warm layers as the desert can drop down to freezing in the nighttime (not kidding!). Bring a thermal top/leggings (I like these from 32 Degrees) as well as a thin down jacket to keep you warm.

10 Days in Morocco: Itinerary You Should Steal For Your Trip

If you’re planning a trip to Morocco, you’re likely a bit overwhelmed with the options.

Marrakech, the Sahara, Fes, Chefchaouen, Essaouira, Casablanca, Rabat — what to choose and what to skip?

This Morocco itinerary assumes that you’ll have 10 days in Morocco to spend how you wish.

photo of the dunes of the sahara while camel trekking

However, there are way more destinations worth visiting in Morocco than a 10 day Morocco itinerary can possibly cover, so you’re going to have to make some tough choices.

To create a flexible Morocco itinerary that doesn’t rush you, yet allows you to make changes to add or subtract destinations as you see fit for your travel style and Morocco bucket list, I’ve chosen three main legs of this Morocco itinerary: Marrakech, the Sahara Desert, and Fes.

Both Marrakech and Fes have optional add-on day trips you can to add on to customize your Morocco itinerary to best match what you want to see.

Other Ways to Spend 10 Days in Morocco

game of thrones filming locations

Of course, this isn’t the only way you could spend 10 days in Morocco!

You could do a coastal route, starting in Agadir, visiting Taghazout, Essaouira, and Casablanca before flying out of Rabat.

Alternately, you could combine coast and inland and do Casablanca, Essaouira, Marrakech, and the Atlas Mountains.

It depends on what you’re most interested in, but in my opinion, this itinerary for Morocco covers the most-coveted places to visit in Morocco in the quickest yet most laid-back way possible.

But feel free to deviate from it however it makes sense!

This post was first written in 2019. It was updated on twice in 2022 and last on March 29, 2023 to reflect changing entry requirements, attractions that have reopened, and more.

Your Ultimate Morocco Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marrakech

This Morocco itinerary has you arriving in Marrakech as it’s typically one of the cheapest airports to fly into.

Marrakech is also at the top of most people’s Morocco bucket lists, enticed by beautiful images of Instagram of luxe riads, ornate doors, and sumptuous spice markets.

Marrakech is perhaps Morocco’s most touristic cities, which means that unfortunately, touts latch onto tourists here with perhaps a little more relish than in other parts of Morocco.

Be firm with your refusals, make less eye contact than you’re used to, and always walk with purpose: these three things will make your time in Marrakech a little less hectic.

NOTE: I’ve written a more in-depth three days in Marrakech itinerary which you can read here (it’ll open in a new tab), but I’ll summarize it below. If you want more detail, read the original Marrakech itinerary.

Quick Tip: It helps if you have a transfer to your hotel pre-booked so you don’t have to deal with Marrakech taxi drivers – who drive a notoriously hard bargain – upon arrival to the airport. This inexpensive transfer service will take all the stress out of arrival. Prebook your Marrakech arrival transfer here.

Check into your riad

Marrakech is known for its exquisite riads, and staying in one is undoubtedly one of the highlights of any Morocco itinerary. I’ve created an entire post on the best and most photogenic riads in Marrakech, but you can also skim below for my top 3 recommendations, one for each budget category.

Budget: For a gorgeous budget riad in Marrakech, I recommend Riad Matham. The building is historic, dating back to the 16th century when it belonged to a rich Berber family.

With a plunge pool right in the heart of its quiet courtyard, blooming bougainvilleas and lush olive and palm trees, an in-house hammam, traditional Moroccan home decor and soaring high ceilings (nearly 5 meters high!), and gorgeous architecture, you’ll be surprised by how affordable a touch of luxury can be in Morocco.

There’s a shady rooftop terrace for you to enjoy a view of the medina from your own quiet oasis.

Just 8 minutes’ walk away from Djemaa El Fna, and 3 minutes away from museums such as the Photography Museum and Ben Youssef Madrassa, the riad is perfectly positioned in the medina so that everything is easily accessible on foot.

The riad is quite intimate, with two rooms and four suites, all attended by kind hosts who make you feel like family. There is a hammam with a steam room that you can use, and massages can be booked at the riad for an affordable price.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and photos here

Boutique: For a gorgeous luxury riad in Marrakech without a crazy price tag, I strongly recommend the beautiful Les Sources Berbères Riad & Spa.

Welcoming you with the scent of jasmine when you arrive, this quiet Marrakech riad feels like a hidden gem away from the hectic medina.

With a pool to dip in on hot days, and a rooftop terrace with a hot tub for cooler nights, plenty of seating areas in the courtyard, and a communal lounge, it’s a wonderful and spacious feeling riad where you can feel like you’re having your own private moments, or chatting with fellow guests should you feel more social.

Every room at Les Sources Berbères has A/C and traditional yet understated Moroccan decor, with a seating area to spread out and relax in and a private bathroom designed with traditional tiling in each room.

There’s a hammam on site with a traditional Turkish steam bath and massages available for an additional charge. A delicious and free breakfast is included in your stay, with homemade jams and bread that guests rave about!

Check prices, availability, reviews, and photos here

Luxury: With a private pool at the heart of its courtyard, gorgeous white walls with rich wood detailing, plenty of archways, greenery, and nooks to relax in, Riad Melhoun & Spa is a gorgeous and luxurious place to get away from the bustle of Marrakech and enjoy a traditional riad.

It has all the luxury riad spoilings: a lovely sun terrace to relax on, a pool to take a dip in, and a hammam/spa to unwind in.

Each room has a different name and a different vibe or personality – from a traditional four-poster bed with canopy to a more playful flower-print bed with bright pink pillows.

Every room has unique photography on the walls that showcases the beauty of Marrakech. It’s located a 3-minute walk away from both Bahia Palace and El Badi Palace, so it’s in one of the best areas to stay in Marrakech.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and photos here

Start out at Koutoubia Mosque

Unfortunately, unlike in other Muslim-majority countries, non-Muslims are not permitted to enter mosques in Morocco.

And honestly, given the way that Instagrammers treat Morocco as a backdrop for their fashion shows, I don’t necessarily blame them.

However, you should still visit the outside of Koutoubia Mosque, nearly a thousand years old at the highest point in Marrakech due to a law that no building can exceed the height of Koutoubia’s minaret.

Koutoubia also is a wonderful point of reference in the medina, with its labyrinthine network alleyways and unmarked streets, so

Shop the souks and hone your haggling skills

Does anyone come to Morocco without the intention of doing some serious shopping?

The souks of Morocco are legendary, full of hand-crafted artisan gems, sumptuous leatherwork, aromatic and colorful spices, and gorgeously hand-painted ceramics… to name just a few.

It’s difficult to find your way in the medina (and even more difficult due to the fact that basically any sign pointing you to Jemaa el-Fna / ‘The Big Square” should be disregarded as a blatant lie).

So I suggest not even trying and allowing yourself to be swallowed up by it, dedicating several hours to perusing its wares.

Haggling is the name of the game in the souks, and it’s a game the shopkeepers are bound to play better than you. My personal strategy is twofold.

First, I like to walk around the souks and lightly haggle on some items I may be interested in buying with some of the shopkeepers, intent on the idea that I won’t be buying, just to get an idea of what the prices actually should be.

Second, I have a firm price in mind of what I think the item is worth spending to me. If I have to go above that, that depends on how much I want the item, but I don’t worry about possibly being able to get it for less, since I already found it worth it at that price to me.

This reduces the buyers’ remorse I feel while shopping and streamlines the haggling process for me, which I find a bit overwhelming.

There are any number of amazing Moroccan souvenirs you could bring home with you!

Afew of my favorite items are: olives, spices, ceramic plates, decorative mirrors with a Moroccan door motif, leather poufs, leather bags and shoes, and lamps.

But of course, you’ll know what speaks to you better than I do!

If you want a little guidance in the souks, which can be a bit overwhelming, you can take this guided souk walking tour.

Travel comfortably and book your souk tour here!

Pro Tip: One word of warning, though, is that if people see you’re on a guided tour they tend to adjust the prices upwards.

This is great for getting a handle of the souks, the lay of the land, and how haggling works, but you may want to come back later to actually buy.

Have a delicious late lunch at Café des Épices

After all that shopping, you’ll likely have worked up an appetite: so now it’s time to find your first lunch in Marrakech.

If you don’t have any idea of where to eat, my suggestion would be Café des Épices. It’s where I ended up on my first day in Marrakech.

I loved the intimate atmosphere that feels a world away from the souks — even though you’re nestled in the heart of the busy medina shopping district.

I ordered a tasty meatball tagine — (this is at the stage of the trip where you will love every tagine set in front of you; I warn you that after 10 days in Morocco, you may never want to see a tagine or couscous again!) with fluffy bread and can definitely recommend this as a great introduction to Morocco’s food scene!

Address: 75 Derb Rahba Lakdima, Marrakesh Medina 40000, Morocco

Do some more shopping

Refueled by lunch, you’re at your prime to re-enter the lion’s den – I mean the souks – and drive a harder bargain.

Now you have a better idea of the souvenirs you want to bring home and the rough prices you’re comfortable paying, so shop confidently!

Marvel at Jemma el-Fnaa from a distance – preferably a rooftop restaurant

I have mixed feelings about Jemaa el-Fnaa. For one, it’s the heart of Marrakech, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site for its centuries of importance.

Here, you’ll find the freshest, most delicious orange juice at a mere 50 cents (5 dirhams) a cup, the lively sizzle of grilling meat…

… And you’ll also find snake charmers who have abusively de-fanged their cobras, monkeys who have been snatched from the wild in order to pay tricks, and ladies grabbing your hand to try to give you a henna tattoo at an exorbitant price.

To save yourself a headache, do not take any photos of the snake charmers, henna ladies, etc. and do not allow anyone to hand you their monkey or put any henna on you as you undoubtedly will be hounded to pay. Just ignore or say no to people and move on.

I don’t mean to dissuade you from visiting Jemaa el-Fnaa; I just want you to know what to expect.

A less hectic way to enjoy the chaos of Jemaa el-Fnaa is to people-watch from the birds-eye view of a rooftop café. The location means that it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but for me, I’m more than willing to pay a bit extra to enjoy the shenanigans of Jemaa el-Fnaa from a distance.

If you’re looking to keep to a budget, I’d look elsewhere, but I’d suggest Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier or Café de France as a good place to sit, have a sugary mint tea, and enjoy the madness.

I suggest arriving about 30-45 minutes before sunset to get a seat before the tourists come streaming in.

Then, you can relax and enjoy for about an hour, watching as the lights come on and Jemaa el-Fnaa gets its nocturnal energy.

However, unless you’re starving at this point, there are much better places to eat, so I’ll suggest moving on after you have a tea and a gander to our next stop on this Morocco itinerary.

Enjoy your first dinner in Marrakech

By now, you’ve probably worked up quite an appetite. If you managed to restrain yourself at our previous stop, I’ll now suggest you make your way to one of the following worthwhile restaurants in Marrakech.

For a budget-friendly, chilled out atmosphere, I strongly suggest Café Clock. (Address: Derb Chtouka, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco).

It feels a world away from the busy vibe of Marrakech’s medina, and the prices will delight you at around $5-7 for a starter and $7-10 USD for a main dish (including their famous camel burger!)

It’s not the cheapest you can eat in Marrakech, but it’s great value for money and the food safety is very high (as opposed to street food, which can definitely trigger sensitive stomachs if you don’t pick wisely).

A more touristy — but admittedly rather fun — option is to have a decadent dinner and a show. There are several options, but Lotus Club is easily the best, though it is rather pricy.

This option includes hotel transfers, several hours of live music and dancing, and a 3-course meal complete with a half-bottle of wine [wine is a resource you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in Marrakech, as many restaurants in the medina — and all of Morocco, honestly — are dry].

Intrigued? Reserve your spot for dinner here.

Day 2: More of Marrakech

For the next day of your Morocco itinerary, I suggest diving deep into all the culture that Marrakech has to offer.

Visit the El Badi Palace

El Badi Palace literally translates to “the incomparable palace.” Perhaps that was true at the time, but time has made it a bit worse for wear. However, you can still see many vestiges of its former beauty, so it’s still well-worth a visit.

This palace complex took a decade and a half to build and it shows the peak of the craftsmanship of the Saadian age.

At the height of its time, the palace had 360 rooms, decorated ornately with handcrafted furniture, as well as a courtyard complex with a pool. Rich with gold, onyx, Italian marble, and exquisite tilework, the Palace was an ostentatious display of Saadian wealth.

While much of the original palace is in a state of disrepair, there are still several gorgeously preserved parts of the palace with excellent tile mosaics, ornate stained glass windows, and beautiful courtyards – so there is still plenty to photograph and visit, all while you imagine the former beauty of it in its heyday.

Marvel at Bahia Palace

Whereas the El Badi Palace is a bit worse for wear after centuries of disuse, Bahia Palace is in remarkable condition.

Built during the second half of the 19th century, Bahia Palace is one of the most well-preserved historic monuments in Marrakech. Its simple color scheme of white, wood and understated tilework accents, primarily of turquoise, yellow, and deep blue, is gorgeous.

Built over 14 years, the palace has about 150 rooms and takes up nearly two acres. To say that it’s beautiful would be doing it an injustice: it’s mindblowing.

Its many ornaments, lavishly-decorated doors, breathtaking fireplaces, floors and ceilings of the finest wood: every single detail adds up together to achieve something that is truly spectacular.

Visiting Bahia Palace is an unforgettable experience for any visitor and a must-do if you’re in Marrakech.

Visit the Jewish Cemetery

While today, Morocco is known as having a majority Muslim population, the country has been an important part of Jewish history for centuries.

You can see that history at the Jewish Cemetery near the Bahia Palace, but its simplicity and bareness will be quite a contrast to the ornateness of Bahia Palace.

The Jewish Cemetery in Marrakech is the largest of its kind in Morocco and has been in continual use since the 16th century. Today, the Jewish population of Marrakech is quite small – a mere 200 or so Jews – as much of Morocco’s Jewish population moved after the founding of Israel.

Despite the mass exodus of Moroccan Jews, the area around Marrakech is still important to Jewish history, with several important Jewish pilgrimage sites located on the outskirts of the city.

While Morocco’s population is 99% Muslim, the country has done an excellent job of protecting its Jewish citizens and Jewish history.

Stop for lunch and tea by the Saadian Tombs

At this point, you’ve done quite a bit of sightseeing and have definitely earned a nice, sit-down meal.

I suggest Kasbah Café, which has a gorgeous view of the Moulay el Yazid Mosque from its terrace restaurant. It has fair prices, good food, and it’s not out of the way for the rest of the day’s sightseeing.

Explore the Saadian Tombs

The Saadian dynasty played an important role in Moroccan history. Under their rule, Morocco grew greatly as an important power.

As a result, you can still see their presence in much of the architecture and monuments of modern-day Marrakech.

The tombs of the Saadian dynasty, built by Sultan Al Mansour in the 16th century, contain marvelous tombs and mausoleums built to commemorate the Saadian family, including the Sultan’s own tomb, just as ornate as you’d imagine.

Please keep in mind when photographing that this site that this is a burial site and all photography should be respectful, just as you’d be at a graveyard.

Day 3: Day Trip to Essaouira or More of Marrakech

At this point, here’s one of the first points of divergence on this Morocco itinerary!

You can either opt to spend another day in Marrakech, soaking up all the fantastic sights it has to offer.

Alternately, you can go on a day trip to the lovely coastal city of Essaouira, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Game of Thrones filming location (double the bang for your buck!).

It’s a bit of a long day trip from Marrakech – about three hours each way – so it may not be the best use of your time unless you really want to see Essaouira.

Also, this Morocco itinerary has you starting your journey into the Sahara Desert tomorrow, which means a long day of driving.

For that reason, you may want to either switch days 2 and 3, so you don’t have so many long car days in a row, or you may want to skip over the day trip entirely.

Whatever you choose, it’s up to you!

A day trip to Essaouira is inexpensive and a wonderful way to spend one of your days in Morocco – especially since this itinerary is otherwise entirely inland and has very little time in Morocco’s coastal cities, which have a unique vibe all on their own.

For that reason, I’m inclined to recommend spending a day in Essaouira.

This is the Essaouira day trip I recommend – at about 20 bucks for a day trip, it’s a fantastic deal and has overwhelmingly positive reviews.

The tour includes transport, visiting Essaouira’s Moulay El Hassan Square and its souks (markets) and medina, a fish lunch (extra charge), an argan oil cooperative stop, the jeweler’s quarter, and some reviewers even talked about making a stop to see the famous ‘goats in a tree’!

Book your Essaouira day trip in advance here!

However, there’s also a case to be made for spending more time in Marrakech!

While I won’t go into huge detail here, as you can simply peruse my full Marrakech itinerary here, here are a few ideas on how you could spend your third day in Marrakech.

  • Visiting some of Marrakech’s excellent museums. The Marrakech House of Photography is phenomenal and my personal recommendation. If you’re interested in Moroccan textiles and rugs, I suggest Musee Boucharouite. If you’re keen to learn more about Marrakech’s history, the Musée de Marrakech is interesting if you can read French (there is no English signage, so it’s skippable if not). For interesting art, check out The Orientalist Museum of Marrakech or The Heritage Museum.
The stunning interior of the House of Photography
  • Indulging more in Marrakech’s food scene. I’ve listed a few of my recommendations for where to eat in Marrakech, but a food tour will take you even deeper. I suggest this 3.5-hour food tour + dinner, which will show you around the medina to some of the best food spots in Marrakech and introduce you (safely!) to local street food. It’s run by Urban Adventures – one of my favorite tour companies, as I’ve gone on several of their tours in Europe and always been impressed. You can pre-book the tour here.
  • Learning how to cook Moroccan food for yourself. Especially if you plan on buying a tagine as a Morocco souvenir, it helps to know what to do with it. One of my favorite ‘souvenirs’ for myself is some recipes I can make when I get back home and the food cravings hit! If you really want to dig deeper into Morocco’s tasty food culture, discover the art of making tagine from a local, where you can learn the recipe and technique for making Morocco’s famous tagine in this hands-on cooking class. Book your cooking class here.
  • Have some hammam time. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point in your trip and just want to relax for a bit, I recommend a spa day! I love experiencing spa culture in different countries, and having a traditional hammam in Marrakech is a really unique experience – from the black soap to the scrubbing with the kess, it’s unlike anywhere else. You can arrange for a hammam with your riad or pre-book this hammam and massage package here.

Day 4: Embark on your Sahara desert journey

Now, it’s time for one of the biggest items on most people’s Morocco bucket lists: a trip to the Sahara desert!

One tip I have for maximizing your Morocco itinerary is that the Sahara Desert is far from everything – so make the most of it as a transit opportunity to get you from point A to B.

The Sahara Desert is roughly equidistant between Marrakech and Fes, so use your Sahara Desert tour to take you to the next place on your Marrakech itinerary, Fes.

This makes more sense than reverting back to Marrakech for no reason only to move onwards from there!

But first, a word of warning. I highly suggest you do not just go with a random tout who promotes their tour to you in a medina.

While you will likely get a better price because you can haggle, you also may get an extremely unpleasant tour (as I did)… which over the course of 3 days can really take a toll on your trip and your mental health.

I had a really bad experience, which I wrote about here, involving sexual harassment and nearly getting groped in my sleep by a guide.

This was a time I valued my budget over all else, and it really bit me in the ass. It’s not a mistake I’d make again, in Morocco or anywhere, frankly.

Instead, I recommend booking with a vetted travel company who offers online reviews, so you can match up others’ experiences with your expectations.

You can also rent a car or hire a driver to bring you to the Sahara Desert and stay in a luxury desert camp (highly recommended if your budget allows!)

If you prefer a guided tour, I recommend this private Sahara desert tour if you have the money for it (about 200-250 euro per person for a 3-day trip, depending on group size).

It has the best reviews of all and avoids many of the trappings of a group tour such as too many shopping stops, being rushed, or being stuck with annoying group members.

Book your private 3 day Sahara desert tour today!

However, I totally get that may be a bit expensive for some people who are trying to do Morocco on a budget.

In that case, I’d suggest a shared tour such as this one. It doesn’t have a ton of reviews, but I don’t see any red flags, and I like GetYourGuide’s customer service and know that if I had a bad experience, they would rectify the situation immediately.

Book your small group Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech and onwards to Fes here!

Anyway, regardless of which tour you pick, I’ll briefly go over the stops (as all Sahara Desert tours generally follow a similar itinerary) so you know what to expect.

Keep in mind that it’s nearly 600 kilometers of driving distance between Marrakech and the Sahara, including winding mountain roads, so the trip is broken up into two days heading to the Sahara and one day going onward to Fes.

Atlas Mountains

One of the first places you’ll stop on your Sahara Desert tour is a few different photo spots in the Atlas Mountains.

You won’t have time for a hike or any major sightseeing of the lovely Berber mountain villages you’ll find here, but you will love the views as you drive (just be sure to bring some motion sickness tablets as this part of the trip can be quite winding!)

Ait Ben Haddou

This UNESCO site is also another Game of Thrones filming location, where it stood in as Yunkai, one of the cities of Slaver’s Bay.

Usually, you can hire a guide for an optional fee (though depending on the tour and the persistence of your guide, it may not feel optional), who will give you a little more information about Ait Ben Haddou.

Alternately, you can visit the kasbah by yourself, which means you’ll have more individual photography time but less context. It’s up to you what you prioritize – I chose to skip the guided tour and walk around independently.


Also known as Moroccan Hollywood, Ouarzazate is perhaps best known for its incredible film studio, Atlas Film Studio, but it’s also a lovely place to stop and sightsee for a bit (you’ll want to stretch your legs after so much time on the road!).

It’s the largest city you’ll see between Marrakech and Merzouga, so it’s interesting to see how life is in this small Moroccan city.

Its Taourirt Kasbah is extremely impressive to see (and you’ll probably recognize it from a movie or two).

You won’t have much time here if you’re making just a short stop on your way to Merzouga, but it’s still a worthwhile pause from the driving!

Dades Gorge

This spectacular canyon is one of the last stops you’ll make for the day and it’s absolutely stunning.

The red rock looks like something out of the American Southwest and the series of switchbacks you’ll take snaking your way through the gorge are breathtaking in more ways than one (again, motion sickness pills).


Most desert tours end the first day in Tinghir, where there are plentiful accommodations, although depending on the exact tour you choose, where you stay overnight may vary (my tour stayed near the Dades Gorge, personally).

You won’t get to see much of it, since you’ll likely arrive after dark depending on the time of year and your exact tour, but it has nicer accommodations than other smaller cities so it’s a good place to lay your head down for the night.

Day 5: Continue into the Desert

The beginning of this day will mostly be driving (though many include a stop at the beautiful Todgha Gorge, pictured above).

You’ll continue from your hotel onwards towards Merzouga, where you’ll arrive a few hours before sunset to prepare for your camel ride into your desert camp!

I won’t go into too much detail about this day because it really depends on the tour. My day had me going to a small Berber village and visiting a rug maker (who scammed me and replaced the rug I wanted with one that was falling apart at the seams, but that’s a story for another day) and making a few other stops at natural wonders along the way.

But to be honest, this day mostly is a blur of being in a car until finally arriving in Merzouga!

Once you arrive in Merzouga, you’ll get up on your camel (which is terrifyingly high up, I might add, especially if you for some reason thought a camel ride would be similar to a horse ride like myself…) and embark into the desert just as the sun is setting.

It’s an absolutely magical experience… except for the camel’s saddle jamming into your private parts with every step. That part I could leave.

Once you arrive at your desert camp, you’ll settle in around the fire while your guides make dinner.

Depending on your tour, again, this could be delicious — or it could make you come down with food poisoning, as happened to my less-fortunate friends (yet another reason why I suggest going with a guide with an online presence – a reputation to maintain = more care with food safety).

And trust me, you probably don’t want food poisoning on the long road to Fes tomorrow….

Finally, most nights end with some drumming and stories around the fire in the middle of the desert.

Even during the summer, the desert can get surprisingly cold at night, so bring some layers to stay comfortable.

For perspective, it was 115 F (46 C) during the day in the desert in July… and around 75 F at night (24 C). Don’t assume that because it’s the desert it’ll be hot all the time!

If you go in fall, winter, or spring, you’ll actually likely want a small down jacket to keep you warm, because it can get quite cold in the late fall, winter, and early spring… and sometimes even snow!

Day 6: Desert Sunrise & The Long Road to Fes

After waking up for a desert sunrise, you’re in for a long day ahead! Most of the day you’ll be heading into Fes, which is an epic journey that takes most of the day.

Again, this will depend on your tour. I went with a crappy company who just organized a taxi driver (and told me the transfer was included when I booked but then charged me again upon leaving) so we just drove all day with the exception of a break for lunch.

A proper tour will include several stops between Merzouga and Fes.

For exact stops, check the itinerary of a Marrakech-Merzouga-Fes tour like this one.

Once you arrive in Fes, you’ll want to check into your riad and get settled. I recommend opting for something extra comfortable after your tour through the desert.

You’ll be quite exhausted at this point, so you’ll really crave some comfort. Plus, you get better value in Fes than Marrakech, so your money will stretch further here.

I’ve written about all the best Fes riads here, but like I did for Marrakech, I’ll summarize them briefly, broken down by budget category, below.

Budget: The lovely Riad Ibn Khaldoun is a fantastic choice in Fes. This is one of the most colorful riads you will see! The riad has stained glass windows, patterned floor tiles, painted walls, intricately carved wooden furniture and so on. It doesn’t just end in the common areas – even the rooms are like that! 

There are beds with sheer canopies and very luxurious bed covers with designs. It just feels like every corner of this riad is fully decorated, so that every corner is perfect for the ‘gram – all you need to do is work on finding your perfect angle when you take your photos!

Breakfast is served daily, and it is included with your stay. Guests loved the food and many even said that the food was the best they tried in the city. You should try the tasty tagine they cook for dinner, aside from the other à la carte Moroccan dishes they offer. 

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Boutique: The stylish Riad Fes Authentic Palace & Spa offers 13 guest rooms with the usual riad layout. Aside from being close to the Blue Gate, it is nearby to a car-accessible road which makes it really convenient.

This riad is practically made for Instagrammers, with countless beautiful spots in the riad to snap photos. Personally, it’s hard to pick the best spot to take photos here, but the roof terrace, the pool area, and the courtyard are all contenders!

Most of the rooms have a balcony with a view of the pool or nearby mountains. They are also fully equipped with all the things you need like a fridge, coffee machine, and A/C that also has heating capabilities in case you’re visiting in winter.

The furniture — such as beds, tables, and chairs — are done in the typical Moroccan style with beautiful carvings. The mattress and pillows are covered with embroidered bed covers (sheets are available for an extra cost). If you are planning to book two rooms, you can ask for interconnecting rooms — great for families and groups of friends.

The spa services are next level, as to be expected from a riad with spa in the name! There are full beauty services, such as manicures and pedicures, hair styling and treatments, waxing, as well as other wellness services like massage, body scrubs and wraps, facials, etc. There’s also a hammam for Moroccan style bathing — a must-do for any spa enthusiast.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and photos here!

Luxury: The charming Riad Palais Bahia has a beautiful courtyard without the usual bright colors, offering a more refined and elegant aesthetic in shades of black and white.

A panoramic view of the houses, lighting up at the medina (amidst the mountain background) awaits you on their rooftop terrace during sunset – just like a postcard! 

The menu at their restaurant has delicious Moroccan, Spanish, and Italian dishes. You can also order wine to pair with your meals — not always an easy task in the often-dry Morocco!

The restaurant is open from 6:30 AM until 11 PM and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The poolside bar, aside from being very photogenic, is a nice place for some drinks and to cool off at the pool at the same time. 

There’s never a dull moment in this riad because there is a library with a collection of nice books (you might just learn something new or, better yet, find a lovely trashy pool read to relax by the water with).

The service desk can also help you book tickets, guides, and day tours. When you need to relax, you can also take a dip in the pool or optionally unwind in the steam room and get a deep tissue massage for the ultimate in relaxation!

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Day 7: Get Oriented in Fes with a Medina Tour

After resting up and enjoying a leisurely breakfast in your Fes riad, it’s time to get acquainted with the city.

Fes is a bit of an overwhelming city. Its medina is the largest pedestrian-only space in the world… meaning there are countless alleyways to get lost in.

Fes also has a bit of a grittier feel than Marrakech, and I felt much more comfortable there with a local guide than I did walking around by myself.

Start with a tour of the medina

I suggest doing a medina tour to get oriented with the city. This one is highly regarded and well-rated, and it’s inexpensive to boot!

On this tour, you’ll visit the souks, the exterior of two mosques (as non-Muslims are not allowed inside), the Nejjarine Fountain, the 13th-century Islamic madrassa, and the Batha Palace.

It also includes the Chouara Tannery (which can be overwhelming to visit on your own, especially since the leather factory salespeople can be quite pushy).

Personally, I hired a guide for Fes, finally sick of prioritizing budget over comfort, and it was the best money I spent in Morocco.

Fes especially is a place that can quickly become overwhelming without a guide, so it’s worth booking a tour.

Book your Fes medina tour today!

Have lunch at one of Fes’s restaurants

I have two recommendations for where to eat in Fes: Made in M and Le Tarbouche.

I recommend picking one for lunch, based on where you end your medina tour, and saving the other for dinner (or eating in your riad, because riads often have some of the tastiest food you’ll find)

Relax at your riad

At this point in your Morocco itinerary, you likely need a bit of a down day.

Don’t feel guilty taking some time off of sightseeing to enjoy your riad – after all, experiencing riad culture is an essential part of a Morocco trip!

Lounge on the rooftop terrace with a book, take a dip in the pool, or if you’re staying at a riad with a hammam, spend some time in the steam room or even treat yourself to a massage.

Day 8: Visit Meknes and the Ancient City of Volubilis OR Sightsee in Fes

One of the reasons I suggest Fes as a base for your final block of time in Morocco is because it’s so close to several amazing day trips!

The first one I’ll recommend is a combined trip to Meknes and Volubilis: two very different, but equally interesting, sights.

You can do this two ways: either as a guided tour (I suggest this one) or by hiring a private driver for the day, which you can arrange via your riad.

A private driver will usually be cheaper, but there’s no guarantee the driver speaks English and is knowledgeable about the sights you’ll see.

A guide is better if the history is important to you; a private driver is better if freedom is more important. I usually prefer a guide, but your mileage may vary.

Whatever you end up deciding, make sure you visit both Meknes and Volubilis!

Volubilis is exquisite: ancient ruins of a Roman city (yes, the Roman Empire stretched all the way to Morocco — pretty incredible right?).

The Berbers shook off the Roman Empire in the third century AD and it was never recaptured by Rome due to how far on the edge of the empire it was.

It was inhabited for centuries after, first by Christians, later by Muslims, before being abandoned in the 11th century when Fes became an important nexus of power and Volubilis became less relevant.

Meknes is one of the four imperial cities of Morocco (the others are Rabat, Marrakech, and Fes – so following this itinerary for Morocco, you’ll see 3/4 of them!) and it has a huge amount of history in a small area.

From the exquisitely photogenic Bou Inania Madrasa to the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, there are several beautiful sights in Meknes worth seeing if you dedicate about half a day to it.

Alternately, you could just spend the day relaxing in Fes and checking out more of its sights. Here are a few more points of interest you may want to check out.

  • The Royal Palace with its gorgeous golden doors. Note that it’s not open to the public, but the facade is beautiful enough to make it a must-see in Fes, with its Wes Andersonian symmetry.
  • Bab Bou Jeloud, aka the Blue Gate, with its picturesque arches, which functions as a gateway to the Medina.
  • The Mellah (Jewish district) and Synagogue, which isn’t always covered on medina tours but is a sight well-worth seeing inside the medina
  • More shopping! I always suggest shopping without the presence of a guide if you want the best deals. Go with a guide to get a handle of the streets and the wares on offer, return independently, savvier and ready to bargain your heart out.

Day 9: Spend a Day in the Blue City of Chefchaouen

I wasn’t expecting to like Chefchaouen as much as I did, but it was the true highlight of my Morocco itinerary!

I strongly recommend giving yourself at least a day in Chefchaouen. If you have an extra day that you’re not sure how to spend, or if Meknes and Volubilis don’t speak to you, then I’d opt to spend the extra day in Chefchaouen.

You can visit Chefchaouen from Fes via CTM bus independently or opt for a tour to avoid having to figure out public transit in Morocco.

I recommend this affordable tour – both small group and private tours are offered.

Frankly, it’s really easy to wander around Chefchaouen independently, as it’s quite small and it’s more about the scenery of the Rif mountains juxtaposed against the gorgeous blue backdrop of the city.

A guide isn’t strictly necessary, so this is one place where you could skip the guide to save money, but if the idea of navigating the transit system stresses you out and you’d rather opt for a transfer, you can join a small group for under 40 euros for the entire day trip, excluding meals.

Book this easy Chefchaouen day trip here!

If you go independently, here are a few sights you shouldn’t miss in Chefchaouen.

  • The Smurf-blue medina…. but that’s hard to miss!
  • Place Uta el-Hammam
  • The Kasbah Museum
  • The Grand Mosque
  • The Ethnographic Museum

Day 10: Final Shopping & Prepare For Your Flight

On your final day in Morocco, I recommend having one last leisurely Moroccan breakfast, spending any last dirhams you have in the souks (as it’s actually illegal to take dirhams out of Morocco!), and maaaaybe springing for one last massage or hammam if time permits.

Your one last thing is to get yourself to the airport!

Your hotel can help you arrange it for a fee, or you can book your transfer from Fes to the airport here so you don’t have to worry about it later!

3 Top-Rated Morocco Experiences


And there you are… a complete 10 day Morocco itinerary that’s customizable to your preferences!

A few other alterations you could make: skip the day in Meknes and give yourself one more day in Marrakech, swap the Sahara for Essaouira and Casablanca on the coast before making your way inland into Fes, or adding a day trip to the Atlas Mountains and its picturesque Berber villages to your time in Marrakech.

Really, there’s no wrong way to spend 10 days in Morocco – so feel free to adjust this itinerary to your liking!

Top Tips for Solo Female Travel in Morocco

Sahara desert in Morocco

I spent a whirlwind 11 days in Morocco, traveling partly solo.

By this, I mean that I arrived in Morocco with a friend, but since we have wildly different ideas about budgets, we ended up staying in different places and exploring much of Morocco alone.

So my experience was about 50% solo female travel, 50% with another female friend.

We started in Marrakech, made our way through the Atlas Mountains towards the Sahara desert, ended up in Fes, then Chefchaouen, then Tangier.

It was too much, too fast: the theme of my first month of this traveling life. That said, I suffer from serious FOMO, so I’m glad I got to experience as much of Morocco as I did – even if there were some negative parts.

Since I think nothing ruins a trip like misguided expectations, I’m going to share with you the highs and lows of my 11 days traveling through Morocco as a semi-solo female traveler.

Read more

Morocco Desert Camping: 9 Luxury Sahara Desert Camps You’ll Love

a desert camp at sunset in morocco

If you’re planning a trip to Morocco’s Sahara Desert, there is an overwhelming amount of potential places you can go glamping in Morocco!

From luxury desert camps to more minimalist but still comfortable desert camps, there’s a place to stay in the Sahara Desert for your budget.

I’ve chosen Sahara desert camps that offer many of the amenities you’d want from while Morocco desert camping: a blend of comfort and stripped-down nature.

Everything listed features en-suite private bathrooms, free breakfasts, bookable day trips and excursions, and free nightly activities like bonfires and music included with glamping in the Sahara Desert.

While each of the desert camps I’ve chosen share that as their baseline, there are also some that have more luxury camp offers, like air conditioning and heating (which may be very necessary during particular times of the year), on-site massages, etc.

Before I detail my curated list of Sahara Desert glamping options, I’ll quickly go into the different between taking a Sahara Desert tour from Marrakech or Fes vs. going glamping independently at a Sahara Desert luxury camp.

I’ll also give you a quick run-down of what to expect at your Sahara Desert luxury camp, so you can be prepared.

Taking a Sahara Desert Tour vs. Glamping at a Sahara Desert Camp

Sahara desert in Morocco
The Sahara Desert is beautiful – but you get to enjoy it at a slower pace if you stay at a luxury camp vs. going on a tour from Marrakech or Fes

No matter how you experience the Sahara Desert, it’s a must on any Morocco itinerary.

Many people — myself included — opt to do a desert tour as an add-on to Marrakech itinerary or a stay in Fes.

While you can take a Sahara Desert tour from Marrakech or Fes, I would say it’s not the best way to experience the desert, if you have the time to do it at your own pace.

While these tours are undoubtedly convenient and affordably-priced, they don’t leave much time for enjoying the actual Sahara Desert experience.

When I did my 3-day, 2-night small group tour from Marrakech, it took us two of those days to reach the desert itself.

We didn’t arrive in Merzouga until just before sunset on the second night. We took a camel ride to our bare-bones desert camp, and then we slept underneath the stars — which was the most magical part of the whole travel experience by far.

Then we woke up for sunrise to return by camel or Jeep to our van back to either Marrakech or onwards to Fes (also written Fez).

All in all, we had just over 12 hours in the Sahara Desert, some of which we slept sleeping (we were Morocco desert camping, after all!) — which is a little wild when you consider it took us about 36 hours in transit to get there, including an overnight stop along the way.

Another option is taking a 2-day, 1-night tour to the Zagora Desert from Marrakech, but I don’t recommend this compared to visiting the actual Sahara Desert — it doesn’t come close in terms of beauty.

Since you’re aiming for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I say get all the way out to the Sahara Desert — you won’t regret it.

However, if you find all the transportation and everything intimidating and you just want the simplicity of booking a tour, I get it (I mean, that’s what I did after all!).

Note that these desert camps will typically be quite bare-bones (i.e., expect a communal use bathroom, not private ones in your room) and no heat or air conditioning.

I recommend this highly-rated tour from Marrakech or this one from Fes if you choose a tour vs. glamping in Morocco at a luxury desert camp.

How to Road Trip to the Sahara Desert

Atlas mountains in Morocco
The beautiful Atlas Mountains on the way to the desert.

If you’re going to the Sahara Desert independently and not on a tour, I suggest hiring a private driver (or renting a car) and creating your own itinerary.

Not sure where to rent a car from? I always use Discover Cars when renting a car abroad. They search from over 500 different car search engines to find you the best price on your rental! Check prices renting a car from Marrakech airport here!

Driving straight from Marrakesh to Merzouga takes approximately 9 hours. You may choose to break up the trip with an overnight somewhere along the way.

A few of the sights worth seeing on the bay between Marrakech and the Sahara Desert town of Merzouga include the Atlas Mountains, Ait Ben Haddou (a historic kasbah), the Dades Gorge (Tinghir) and Ouarzazate (aka “Moroccan Hollywood”).

Of those places, Ouarzazate and Tinghir have the most accommodation options and will likely be the most comfortable place to spend the night.

Once you arrive in Merzouga, you can arrange with your luxury camp where to leave your car and they will help you with a transfer into the desert, since you’ll need to go by Jeep or camel trekking…

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!

How to Fly to the Sahara Desert

roads near errachidia near merzouga towards the eastern border of morocco

If your time is limited and you don’t feel like taking a long road trip to get out to the Sahara Desert, flying is an option.

The nearest airport to Merzouga is in Errachidia, which is about a 2-hour drive to Merzouga and its desert camps.

Most of these luxury Sahara Desert camping destinations will happily arrange a transfer for you from the airport so you can arrive without any stress.

If you are flying, the most convenient place to fly from is Casablanca, where the flight is only one hour and costs typically less than $50 each way.

If you fly from Marrakech, you will have a stopover in Casablanca, and tickets are closer to $200 each way! I don’t recommend flying from Marrakech for that reason.

What to Expect from a Sahara Desert Camp

sunset at a sahara desert camp with smaller glamping sites separated from the restaurant and main tent area

When staying at a Sahara Desert Camp — even a luxury one! — it’s important to be mindful that you are staying out in the middle of nowhere.

Your hosts will do everything to make you comfortable, but there are some things that are simply out of their control, such as the strength of the WiFi.

Keep in mind that very few of the hotels listed have air conditioning (I’ve listed two that do), which can be a big detractor in the summer when Morocco desert camping.

This is because electricity is hard to come by out in the Sahara Desert, since everything is powered by solar and generators, and A/C is rather resource-intensive to run.

If you are visiting in the summer (which I did), note that your room may get quite hot if you don’t have A/C! I suggest leaving the doors open whenever possible to allow cool air to circulate. I ended up sleeping outside because my tent was too hot to sleep in!

On the flip side, the Sahara Desert can get freezing cold — literally! — in the winter. If you are staying in the winter months, you’ll want to make sure your hotel provides warming options, whether that be electric blankets or radiators. I’ve noted the ones that do on this list.

In terms of inclusions, each Sahara Desert glamping destination is different. Some are nearly all-inclusive in the sense that breakfast and dinner are provided each day, and some amenities like sandboards are provided for free, and other activities are an additional charge.

Others provide breakfast but not dinner, and they may charge extra for pickups/dropoffs. Additionally, certain experiences that are included in others (such as a complimentary camel ride) may not be included in others.

When deciding which Merzouga luxury desert camp is best for your budget, also consider the cost of inclusions, especially if you are traveling with a larger group where the fees may add up!

A more expensive hotel in terms of nightly rate that has more inclusions may end up being the more affordable alternative.

Best Luxury Sahara Desert Camps

Best for Bucket List Uniqueness: Sunrise Sahara Camp

Is it on your bucket list to stay in one of those ‘glass igloos’? Well, you can in the Sahara Desert, at Sunrise Sahara Camp.

Instead of canvas tents like many of these desert luxury camps offer, the accommodations are geodesic dome-type tents that resemble the glass igloos you may have seen in places like Finland.

It’ll truly be an unforgettable experience you’re not likely to be able to replicate anywhere else in the world. It’s the only place in Morocco to offer this style of accommodation.

They are a little different than true ‘glass igloos’ (the roofs are covered — otherwise it would be far too unpleasantly hot!) but they keep the overall look, which makes it a great place to go if you want some epic Instagram photos that are different from the rest!

The domes are huge and spacious, and they’re exquisitely designed. Every single inch of these domes are Instagrammable, inside and out!

They all have really nice Moroccan design touches, such as wooden vanities with typical Moroccan mirrors, elegant bedding, leather poofs, and a wood-wall that separates the en-suite bathroom with a toilet and shower.

The domes are all located quite far apart from each other so you have a ton of privacy.

Stargazers, rejoice: each dome has their own deck so you can sit out and stargaze beneath the pitch-black night sky.

You can also enjoy the sunset or sunrise from the comfort of your own little slice of the desert!

You can arrive by car or take a complimentary camel ride to the desert camp (many other Morocco desert camp accommodations make you pay extra for this!).

Guests also loved the tasty Moroccan food which is offered at this hotel, saying it exceeded their expectations!

Check amenities and reviews of Sunrise Sahara Camp here!

Most Luxurious: Itran Royal Camp

With a nearly perfect 10-star review, Itran Royal Camp is one of the top luxury options in the Sahara Desert.

First of all, it has air conditioning! I cannot emphasize enough how essential this is in the summer! (It also has heat in winter as well).

The tents also have beautiful windows so you can view the dunes at sunrise without ever needing to get out of bed — pretty amazing.

The en-suite bathrooms are also a lot more private than many of the other camp offerings here, with a full sliding door that separates the bathroom (many are just partitioned off).

This is also the only Sahara Desert luxury camp I could find that also has some spa offerings, such as massages on-site.

People also raved about the tasty meals, the nightly bonfire and music, and overall vibe of their stay, which perfectly combined 5-star luxury with a nature getaway.

Check amenities and reviews of Itran Royal Camp here!

Best Overall Experience: Tassili Luxury Desert Camp

Set amongst the undulating orange sand dunes, these luxury tents are one of the highest-rated options for glamping in the Sahara Desert.

What sets Tassili Luxury Desert Camp apart from other glamping experiences is the beautiful Moroccan decor elements that are a step above other glamp sites.

Tassili would be a beautiful place to stay whether you are in the middle of the desert or in a riad in the middle of Marrakech. That’s a rare trait to find when glamping!

The large canvas tents look like real bedrooms you’d find in a Moroccan riad, complete with king-sized beds in some of the rooms, and other configurations that are perfect for families.

There are family rooms that can sleep five (one king bed and three single beds), double rooms for couples (which can also be configured as two single beds for friends traveling together who don’t want to share a bed), and tents with three or four single beds (great for groups).

Each room has a private bathroom with running water, as well as a toilet (and bidet!) and a shower with all needed toiletries, which pretty amazing for being in the middle of the desert in Morocco!

Also, the hotel has free WiFi — yes, WiFi in the middle of the desert! Though if you chose to eschew connection in favor of stargazing and admiring the views of the Milky Way, I could hardly blame you — that’s partly why you go all the way out to the desrt!

This hotel offers dinner and breakfast included with each night of stay, plus a mint tea welcome (which they cheekily call ‘Berber whiskey’). They also host a nightly bivouac (campfire) with Berber music and singing.

There are sandboards available to borrow for free at the hotel, and you can also pay a small extra fee for classic desert experiences like a sunset camel ride!

Check amenities and reviews of Tassili Luxury Desert Camp here!

Best for Activities: Sahara Dream Luxury Camp

One of the best places to stay in the Sahara Desert if you are activity-focused is the lovely Sahara Dream Luxury Camp.

This stunning luxury camp has a ton of fantastic amenities that you wouldn’t expect in the middle of the desert, including excellent WiFi and privates bathrooms with toilets, bidets, and showers.

If you visit in the winter when it’s cool at night, they even provide electric blankets to keep you warm (I know it seems crazy that it gets cold while camping in the desert of Morocco, but it does – it even snows there on occasion!).

You can speak with the staff to arrange all sorts of day tours and activities like camel trekking, quad biking through the sand dunes, sandboarding, and Jeep tours of the desert where you get to visit Erg Chebbi dunes (the largest in the area).

Check amenities and reviews of Sahara Dream Luxury Camp here!

Best for Instagram: Beldi Camp

If you’re looking for a truly pleasing design hotel experience while glamping in the Sahara Desert, Beldi Camp blends the best of both worlds!

With only 8 rooms, each is beautifully curated with gorgeously decor elements. We’re talking ornate four-poster beds with Beni Ourain rugs, comfortable seating areas, and lovely art decorating the tents.

Each room is rather unique, so you won’t have a cookie-cutter experience when you stay at Beldi Camp: every room guarantees a unique experience.

There are also all sorts of lovely photo spots besides the tents themselves, such as canopies with a rug and poofs to sit on, a bed out in the middle of the desert lit by lanterns, a fire pit area, and candles lit in the shape of hearts all over the place.

It’s great for a Morocco desert camping romantic getaway, with private en-suite bathrooms with a solar-powered shower providing hot water (a true luxury while desert glamping!)

And of course, all sorts of activities are available, such as camel riding, quad bike driving, desert hiking with or without a guide, sandboarding, paragliding, visiting other Berber settlements, going date picking on the nearby date farms, or going for shopping excursion with a guide.

Yoga classes in the desert are also offered by a certified yoga teacher, so it’s great for a wellness escape combined with a desert camping experience!

Check amenities and reviews of Beldi Camp here!

Best for Luxury on a Budget: Sirocco Luxury Camp

One of the best-rated and longest-established luxury desert camps in the Sahara, Sirocco Luxury Camp is a fantastic choice with relatively affordable price tags compared to other desert camps.

One downside is that the design inside the tents is a little dated compared to some of the more modern, Instagram-friendly offerings I’ve curated on this list.

However, the design is quite traditional Moroccan, so if that’s what you’re looking for, it won’t disappoint. There are en-suite bathrooms in each room, as well, all with hot water!

The desert camp is really intimate, with only six tents available and one large communal tent for meals, making it a great large for an incredible experience that is personalized to your exact liking.

You can also arrange day trips and activities at the camp, such as camel treks and hikes to nearby places like dunes of Erg Chebbi for epic sunset watching.

Check amenities and reviews of Sirocco Luxury Camp here!

Best for Families: Erg Chebbi Camp

One of the best options for family travelers to the Sahara is Erg Chebbi Camp. It’s one of the few luxury camp that offers that has a children’s playground for kids to enjoy!

Older kids will enjoy the experiences of sandboarding and going camel trekking in the desert.

The rooms are beautiful and comfortably appointed with en-suite private bathrooms. There are only six private tents, as well as six little canopies for each family to enjoy during the day.

They also provide heaters during the colder months (necessary as the desert gets freezing cold during the winter months!)

They also offer a nightly campfire with singing and traditional music. Guests raved about the top-notch hospitality of the staff, high quality service, and the private camp experience.

Check amenities and reviews of Erg Chebbi Camp here!

Best for Winter & Summer Visits: Golden Camp & Oasis

For a highly-reviewed, long-established desert camp in Merzouga, Golden Camp & Oasis is a one of the best choices for a Sahara Desert camp in Morocco.

It’s not the newest or trendiest desert camp, but it’s got several hundred reviews with an average rating of 9.4 — pretty great considering its remote location in the desert!

Guests raved about the kindness of the staff, the attention to detail in the rooms, and the tasty food at the on-site restaurant. Dinner is included in the price, too!

Golden Camp & Oasis is a rare all-season comfort camp in that they offer both air conditioning and heating.

If visiting in winter or the cooler months of shoulder season, they also provide radiators that will keep you nice and warm in your tent.

Of course, they can also organize all the amazing experiences in the desert that you want, from trips to Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga to camel trekking.

Check amenities and reviews of Golden Camp & Oasis here!

11 Incredible Riads in Fes Worth Staying At: A Curated Guide

Fes is a historic city with an immense, labyrinthine medina: the largest car-free urban area in the world.

Wandering the medina is equal parts fascinating and frustrating. You can — and will — get lost over and over again.

But each time you get lost, it can be an opportunity to discover new routes, beautiful doors and buildings, and hidden madrassas tucked away down alleyways, stacks of goods and sacks of spices, and all the shopping one’s heart could desire.

And of course — traveling around Fes can also get tiring. Each time you step outside, you’ll be passing by touts trying to bring you to the tanneries, vendors trying to get you to buy their wares, and guides offering their services.

That’s why you need the perfect place to stay to get away from it all — as well as to help you organize guides, tours, and make sense of the befuddling madness that is traveling Fes (and frankly, Morocco as a whole).

The best oasis from the chaos of staying in a medina is by picking an excellent riad in Fes to escape from it all!

While normally, I tend to think of hotels as just a place to lay my head at night, in Fes, riads are an essential part of the experience.

Fes riads are at the heart of your travel experience — which is why I think it’s essential to pick the best riad in Fes possible for your budget.

Your riad owner generally works three important jobs — your host, your travel agent, and your chef.

They help with everything from obtaining souk guides to bus tickets to guided tours and providing delicious homecooked breakfasts and often dinners upon request.

While I generally recommend staying in a riad in Fes, you may want to stay outside the chaos of the medina.

In that case, I would suggest picking one of the beautiful luxury hotels on the outskirts in Fes, which are located outside the medina.

What to Know Before Staying in a Riad

a charming plunge pool in a riad in fes with a couch at the end where people can lounge and relax at the end of a day exploring morocco

There are a few key things to know before you stay in a riad in Morocco, since it’s a little different than anywhere else.

The name ‘riad’ comes from the Arab word ‘ryad’, which means garden. Every riad has a central courtyard or garden area which is a communal public space for all guests to enjoy.

That public space can range from quite basic — a few comfortable seats in a lovely setting — or quite fancy, with a plunge pool, library, or even an in-hous hammam!

Riads tend to be older, traditional houses that have been converted into small, boutique guesthouses, so while most are renovated beautifully, be aware that there might be some antique quirks!

Riads are also quite private places, so there’s not a lot of windows out to the streets, but rather inward, towards the central courtyard area.

As a result, riad rooms may be a little darker than the traditional hotel room you may expect, but there is often beautiful ambient lighting to correct for that.

Riads also tend to not look like much from the outside. Sometimes, frustratingly, they won’t even have a sign!

But often, once you open the door to the riad, it’s like entering a beautiful portal to another world — a world far away from the hecticness that surrounds it.

Riads are also typically quite small — they are converted houses, after all, so there typically aren’t a ton of rooms. As a result, the riad owners will get to know you well.

For me, I find this wonderful, especially as I was alone when I was staying in a riad in Fes. My riad owners took care of me and made me feel looked after.

However, if you’re looking for an anonymous hotel experience — a Moroccan riad just ain’t it.

Best Riads in Fes for Budget Travelers (Under $75/Night)

Riad Razane

This beautiful Fes riad is located just a brief walk from the medina, and it has a history that dates back to the 14th century.

Despite its low price tag, Riad Razane is a 4-star accommodation straight out of an Instagrammer’s dreams!

At its heart is an intricately painted and detailed courtyard, where you can lounge and sip on some Moroccan mint tea and escape from it all.

There is a small fountain in the middle, and some indoor potted plants are also strategically arranged to refresh the senses after a day walking around Fes.

This is a really nice place to take photos, as the already-beautiful surroundings are made even more more luxurious due to the ornate chandelier!

This small boutique riad in Fes has a total of 7 rooms, so you’re guaranteed an intimate experience with plenty of individualized attention.

The economy rooms are more sparse and modern, whereas the triple and quadruple rooms have nice wooden furniture with detailed paintings.

Each room has different styles and materials used, but the overarching theme is the colorful tiles with different patterns and designs which scream Moroccan decor.

All rooms have a private bathroom with free toiletries, an A/C (an absolute must if staying in Fes in summer — I suffered when I stayed with only a fan) and free WiFi. 

They serve a free traditional breakfast which past guests have loved. Just in case you wish to try something else, you can ask their staff, and they can give you a map with some nearby restaurants.

If you are adventurous, you can try the different local street food which you can find near the hotel.

While there isn’t a proper hammam at the riad, you can request to get some nice massages on-site; just ask their front desk. 

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Dar Mehdi

Dar Mehdi is not your typical Fes riad, as it doesn’t have a courtyard…. but it’s still a wonderful place to stay!

Dar Mehdi is one of the oldest houses in Fes, and you can still see a lot of old intricate mosaic tilework.

The painted wooden roof terrace serves as a sort of communal space like many courtyards in riads do.

The rooftop terrace has lots of comfortable seating plus plenty of pillows, and it’s is a nice place to relax since it has stunning views of the town. You can also have your breakfast here!

The rooms are simple and clean, and there are some Arabic words framed or painted on the walls as a motif.

Past guests have noted that the mattress was a little firm: not something for people used to really soft ones, but great if that’s your preference.

All rooms have a private bathroom and a balcony where you can view the medina views.

The private bathrooms are quite stunning because of the designed tiles; even the sinks look like lovely ceramic bowls!

If you want an affordable, clean place to stay — and don’t mind sacrificing the inner courtyard area — this is a fantastic choice.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Riad Ibn Khaldoun


This is one of the most colorful riads in Fes you will ever see!

You will see stained glass windows, patterned floor tiles, painted walls, intricately carved wooden furniture and so on.

It doesn’t just end in the common areas – even the rooms are like that! 

The beds will make you feel like you’re sleeping like a queen, with sheer canopies and very luxurious bed covers with designs.

It is quite difficult to describe how well-decorated this riad is. Every corner is perfect for the ‘gram – all you need to do is work on finding your perfect angle when you take your photos!

Breakfast is served daily, and it is included with your stay. Guests loved the food and many even said that the food was the best they tried in the city!

You can also order and try the tasty tagine they cook for dinner, aside from the other à la carte Moroccan dishes they offer. 

There is an ATM on-site, as well as a currency exchange center. The guests loved how helpful and friendly the staff was on this property!

You can directly ask them to help you with transfers, guides, and other necessities, so you get fair prices and avoid any hassle.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

The Best Mid-Range Riads in Fes ($75-150 Per Night)

Riad El Amine Fes


If you were to choose one word for this Fes riad, it would have to be majestic.

You won’t even believe how beautiful and surreal it is once you are here! It is so photogenic that it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo here.

The best spot to take a photo would be the pool area! It’s the perfect area to relax in the beautiful, fresh water — great for a dip after a day walking around the medina.

You can also relax here and they have some themed restaurant nights, where you can listen to some traditional music — or even get a henna tattoo in the comfort of your own riad.

They have rooms and suites, which are stylish, fully-furnished and spacious. They have extra-long beds with bold and vibrant colored sheets.

Some have headboards with intricate paintings and carvings that you pretty much want to steal and take back home with you (or at least I do!).

All rooms have an A/C, heating, washing machine, safety deposit box, ironing facilities, and a minibar.

The ensuite bathroom has golden sinks and faucets, golden mirrors plus the typical Zellige Moroccan tiles carefully decorated to create beautiful patterns.

Toiletries are included, but towels and extra sheets are available for a small extra fee. There are also balconies in all rooms, and you can see the garden from here. 

The free breakfast is delicious and you can choose from eggs, breads, and pastries which you can pair with hot milk, coffee, orange juice, or tea.

The price range is a little high compared to local restaurants, but guests found it was well worth it when it comes to taste. 

You can also check their on-site restaurants, Essâadia and El Bahia, which serve authentic Moroccan dishes like tagines, pastillas and salads. 

There is also an on-site spa that offers different kinds of treatments with local ingredients like black clay, Ghassoul, and essential oils — plus all treatments end with a yummy cup of Moroccan mint tea! 

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Riad Fes Authentic Palace & Spa


Riad Fes Authentic Palace & Spa offers 13 guest rooms with the usual riad layout.

Aside from being close to the Blue Gate, it is nearby to a car-accessible road which makes it really convenient compared to many of the other best riads in Fes on this list.

Many of these riads would require you to walk 10-15 minutes before you can reach it, which can be a hassle. This will also make it easy for tour shuttles to find you!

This riad is practically made for Instagrammers, with countless beautiful spots in the riad to snap photos.

Personally, it’s hard to pick the best spot to take photos here, but the roof terrace, the pool area, and the courtyard are all contenders!

Most of the rooms have a balcony with a view of the pool or nearby mountains.

They are also fully equipped with all the things you need like a fridge, coffee machine, and A/C that also has heating capabilities in case you’re visiting in winter (yes, Morocco can actually get quite chilly in winter!).

The furniture — such as beds, tables, and chairs — are done in the typical Moroccan style with beautiful carvings. The mattress and pillows are covered with embroidered bed covers with a local flair.

If you are planning to book two rooms, you can ask for interconnecting rooms — great for families and groups of friends.

The private bathroom has rain-style showerheads and colorful tiles – and some even have tubs, a great way to relax after a long day of sightseeing. You will also be provided toiletries at no extra cost.

Closet spaces and cabinets are also available, so you can also store your personal toiletries if in case you brought some.

The riad is quite family friendly. Parents can leave their kids with a sitter and safety gates for infants are available upon request. The TVs also have children’s networks they can watch, plus there are some toys and books they can read.

The spa services are next level, as to be expected from a riad with spa in the name!

There are full beauty services, such as manicures and pedicures, hair styling and treatments, waxing, as well as other wellness services like massage, body scrubs and wraps, facials, etc.

There’s also a hammam for Moroccan style bathing — a must-do for any spa enthusiast!

What guests loved the most is the hospitality of the staff. They will even escort you the moment you arrive at the riad.

You are definitely treated like royalty in this palace-like accommodation!

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Riad Kettani


This French-owned pet-friendly riad will surprise you once you enter and see the spectacular architecture and style.

The typical horseshoe-shaped arches and mosaic tiles are in pristine condition, and the riad is decorated with intricately carved furniture made out of wood and metal.

The mosaic tiles on the floors and walls do not make use of bold colors – most are dark blue and help in creating a more toned-down look perfect for people who prefer a calm and elegant atmosphere.

The best spot to take photos here would be the courtyard, the rooms, and the charming terrace on the rooftop. 

They have different room types to choose from (doubles and suites) and housekeeping performs daily maintenance.

Note that the double beds are just two single beds placed together, which can be annoying for couples, so keep that in mind.

There are no elevators on the property and the stairs can be a bit steep, so it may not be suitable for elderly guests or those with mobility needs.

Guests appreciated the 24-hour service desk which is on call to attend to their needs like booking activities and tours, exchanging currency, storing luggage, and reserving car rentals. 

The restaurant Nezha serves Moroccan dishes daily, and you can get a 3-course meal for Є18 (around $20 USD) — plus you will dine in the beautiful main hall. Special menus and something for kids is also available!

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Best Luxury Riads in Fes ($150 USD+ Per Night)

Riad Alkantara


This riad tones down the patterns and prints by keeping it simple and elegant.

The rooms are all suites and laid out on the floors are gorgeous Moroccan rugs (it’ll make it hard to leave without one!)

You will also notice traditional Moroccan details in the bedrooms, from the octagonal side tables to the canopy-framed beds to the ornately embroidered pillows and covers.

Private bathrooms are complete with lovely-smelling L’Occitane bath and body products.

The outdoor pool is surrounded by a garden with palm trees and ivy-covered walls, and it looks simply picture perfect.

There are also loungers where you can just lay back and feel the warmth of the sun. You can also listen to the birds as they sing a sweet melody for you — you truly won’t feel like you’re in the city at all in this oasis of a riad!

The shaded terrace is where you can find the lounge bar. There is also a restaurant with an international gastronomic selection, as well as the all-time Moroccan favorite dishes such as tagine.

If you want to buy some souvenirs, you can get them at their gift shop. You can see here some clothes and small hand-made precious items. It is also an exhibition area where they display Moroccan artistry!

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Riad Palais Bahia Fes


Riad Palais Bahia has a beautiful courtyard without the usual bold colors, offering a more refined and elegant aesthetic.

A panoramic view of the houses, lighting up at the medina (amidst the mountain background) awaits you on their rooftop terrace during sunset – just like a postcard! 

The menu at their restaurant has delicious Moroccan, Spanish, and Italian dishes. You can also order wine to pair with your meals — not always an easy task in the often-dry Morocco!

The restaurant is open from 6:30 AM until 11 PM and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The poolside bar, aside from being very photogenic, is a nice place for some drinks and to cool off at the pool at the same time. 

There’s never a dull moment in this riad because there is a library with a collection of nice books (you might just learn something new or, better yet, find a lovely trashy pool read to relax by the water with).

The service desk can also help you book tickets, guides, and day tours. Pets are also allowed, though there might be extra fees charged.

It is also very convenient for travelers because an on-site currency exchange center is available so you won’t have to go out of the alleyways in search of an ATM!

You can also dip in the pool or optionally unwind in the steam room or get a deep tissue massage for the ultimate in relaxation!

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Palais d’Hotes Suites & Spa Fes


This riad was once a small palace that was restored in 1944 and transformed into a guest house that accepts guests from all over the world!

The rooms have different styles, and the double rooms make use of French country furniture — an unexpected twist with the exterior Moroccan decor.

The junior and deluxe suite options both have a patio or a terrace with a view of the pool or the city. 

The grandest of all rooms is the premier suite, and it does look like a sultan’s room! It has huge windows that have heavy decorated curtains that drape down to the floor.

Luxurious Moroccan carpets cover the floor, and you’ll also find design elements like a comfortable sofa and candelabra that make you feel even more elegant.

All of the rooms feature a bathtub (rare in a Fes riad!) in their private bathrooms. 

The only thing that guests found a bit off about the location of the property is that there is a long alleyway that you need to walk through before you reach it.

This is quite common in Fes; however, it can be a bit of a hassle if you want to book a taxi, but a brief walk is not always a bad thing!

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Luxury Hotels in Fes ($150+ USD Per Night)

Hotel Sahrai


Hotel Sahrai is not a riad, but it’s still a great place for where to stay in Fes. This is an extremely luxurious 5-star hotel that has modern features executed in a very Moroccan manner.

It doesn’t have a traditional courtyard, but it has a similarly styled lounge area that has really high decorated ceilings and beautiful origami-like lamps which exude an opaque romantic glow at night. 

The modern soundproof rooms and suites have a little touch of Andalusian artistry. The walls are either adorned with a Beni Ourain rug or exposed brick, and it helps complete a more sophisticated look.

The private bathroom has glass walls, but there are curtains too in case you want a bit more privacy.

For ultra luxury, opt for the Sahrai Suite. It has a terrace which has a huge glass door that you can open to allow fresh air. There’s also a sun lounger and a table with some chairs where you can have an al fresco breakfast. 

Speaking of breakfast, it is optional and you can get it for $21 USD. This is quite pricy for Morocco, but it may be worth it if you don’t want to venture outside the hotel bright and early in search of breakfast.

Guests loved the relaxing vibe of the Relais de Paris Restaurant, which serves a Parisian brasserie menu. If you are up for some local dishes, then you have to try Amaraz Restaurant.

There are two bars; for a party you and your friends can’t forget, there’s the Jungle Bar, but if you want something more laid-back, then Arcades Bar is for you.

The 24-hour service desk and concierge can help you rent cars and other activities. Free parking is also available in the hotel.

The Givenchy Spa is everything you want a luxurious spa could have! It offers treatments and services all using the designer label products to complete that 5* experience.

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

Palais Ommeyad Suites & Spa


Palais Ommeyad Suits & Spa is a 5-star hotel that has a modern twist to make you feel like royalty.

This 18th-century building is located on the far edge of the medina and offers 32 rooms complete with hot tubs. Yes, hot tubs!

There’s still a lot of Moroccan vibes and spots where you can get really nice photos here. A lot of windows have stained glass cathedral-like glow when the lights hit them – no filter necessary!

The hypoallergenic rooms are spacious, luxurious, and elegantly furnished. The rooms feature long beds with the Palais Ommeyad signature engraved on its headboard. The bedding is comfortable, and you can really tell you get what you pay for.

The chandeliers are of different styles and lighting is a little dim but romantic. They used Moroccan mosaic tiles on the walls to create a unique aesthetic.

There are also dual sink basins aside from the Jacuzzi in the private bathroom. It does feel great to soak after a long tiring day!

Breakfast is served from 6 AM until 11 AM, and there is a wide variety of food in the buffet.

There’s also a restaurant inside that serves international dishes, and they have special menus for kids and for those who need to meet dietary requirements. 

If you’re not going around the nearby attractions and have nothing left to do, you can optionally check the offers of the wonderful in-house spa!

They offer anti-stress and energizing massages and rejuvenating treatments. There’s also a hammam and heated pool where you can soak all your worries away!

Check prices, availability, reviews, and more photos here!

13 Unique Things to Do in Marrakech

If you’re planning a trip to Morocco, Marrakech likely figures highly on your itinerary.

There are so many unique things to do in Marrakech that it’s hard to narrow it down — and after reading this post, get ready for your Marrakech wish list to get even longer!

Here are the coolest and most interesting things to do in Marrakech!

Visit the desert & ride a camel (or a quad bike!)

You can frolic along the desert and palm trees or better yet, ride a camel! I would recommend this half-day tour (check here for rates and availability) so you can fashionably ride a dromedary (AKA, a one-humped camel) while wearing nomadic attire should you choose!

You will also get a chance to visit a remote Berber village and sip local Moroccan tea in the afternoon. What’s extra convenient about getting this tour is that you will be picked up and dropped off from your hotel or accommodation.

If you are more adventurous and feel the need for speed then you can ride a quad bike as you go along the Palmeraie of Marrakech.

The best view of this oasis is at sunset, so if you choose you can also take a camel ride at sunset for a romantic experience. A lot of luxury hotels and resorts are also here should you choose to have a longer stay outside of the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.

Someone who wants to experience all of this and want to end the day with a relaxing massage plus a hammam bath can check this tour!

Check out the otherworldy and lovely gardens

The Anima Garden is one of the most unique gems you will find in Morocco. An Austrian artist named André Heller is responsible for the creation of this one-of-a-kind botanic garden. It took him 6 years to finish this masterpiece of installation art.

As you stroll along the different pavilions and paths, you will experience different smells and sights that will spark your imagination – a perfect way to get some inspiration or just to destress.

It is around 26km from the southern part of Marrakech, and there are free shuttle services at the Koutoubia car park (behind the Koutoubia Mosque) that can take you to the location. You can also get this ticket so you can skip the line and enjoy the gardens for three hours, which is plenty of time to marvel at the garden.

Food and drinks aren’t included, but you will be glad to know that you can buy one inside. The café serves snacks and dishes, mostly sourced from the garden itself! Someone who is traveling around July and August should be aware that shuttle services are limited during this time of the year.

Another garden is the Menara Gardens, which is a beautiful botanical sight to see near the Atlas Mountains that has olive trees surrounding it and an artificial pond (with lively big fish!). It is said that the pond was used to hold the water from the Atlas Mountains to keep moisture for the olive plantation.

The pavilion inside has a green roof and it is elevated above the ground (this is why it is called a menara). There isn’t much explanation or signage in the garden so it is best to get a local licensed tour guide, such as this one, here.

The best part about this tour is that it combines two famous Marrakech gardens in one and it includes transit to both. You will be picked up from your riad or hotel, and you also get to check the famous property once owned by the acclaimed fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, the Majorelle Garden.

The garden showcases a rich blue-colored mansion inspired by Moroccan architecture. There are also a collection of cacti, and unknown to many, the ashes of the late Yves Saint Laurent were actually scattered in this garden. The tour ends with getting a glimpse inside the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque!

Take a cooking class in Marrakech

No one should miss tasting the traditional tagine (pronounced as Ta-zheen) while visiting Marrakech. It is a stew that has vegetables and meat that’s extremely tender (vegetarians rejoice — veggie tagines are very common as well).

To their tagines, Moroccans usually add a lot of spices, herbs, fruits, and nuts. The meat used can vary (mostly chicken and beef, though never pork) and there’s a Berber tribe that makes use of lamb and beautifully arranges the vegetables around it.

Do not confuse yourself, because tagine can also refer to the inverted funnel-shaped cooking pot they use, as well as the stew itself. You can actually experience how to cook with one by attending this class which is taught by an expert chef.

The first thing you do on this tour would be to shop at a local souk for some ingredients (you could pick up your very own tagine in the souks later!) while your guide explains what spices are needed and how they are used.

The class itself will take about 3 hours to prepare your tasty tagine creations, and of course, eat them! After the class, a recipe will be provided to you so you won’t have a hard time thinking about what to buy after the class.

Alternatively, you can also prepare a 4-course meal al fresco — Moroccan style. While your main meal is being cooked in small clay ovens, you will be taught to prepare sides and salads. Once your slow-cooked meal is done, enjoy it with a tasty glass of Moroccan wine, plus a yummy dessert after!

Cooking courses can also be tailored to what you want, but most recipes depend on the availability of ingredients seasonally. They also offer an additional optional tour at a Moroccan bazaar. The day’s cooking class will end with a nice warm tea plus some snacks. If you like the experience, feel free to tip!

Have a traditional Moroccan hammam bath

Relaxation and cleansing are an important part of Moroccan social life, which is why the hammam is still an integral part of Moroccan culture!

While Morocco is a conservative country, bathing naked (segregated by sex, of course) is totally normal and par for the course. Though of course, if you’re uncomfortable, you could generally bathe in your underwear or swimwear, although local rules for each hammam may differ.

Relaxing amongst locals chatting and bathing at a local hammam is one of the most unique things to do in Marrakech. Curious how it works?

Each gender has its own separate bath area. Once you enter, you will notice a bucket of a gooey-looking black soap (which is made from olives) and the scratchy kessa gloves (which are used for exfoliation).  Some people are surprised by the gunk that shows up being exfoliated by the gloves – it is actually your dead skin! People love the feeling after every bath because you feel squeaky clean and buttery soft from head to toe.

While you can visit a hammam on your own if you’re brave, going with a guided tour can be a little less intimidating as there are sure to be no language barriers. I suggested this a cost-efficient and hassle-free hammam experience including round-trip transfers, which you can book here.

This hammam experience includes a relaxing 50-minute massage with oils from the endemic Argan trees (also known as liquid gold due to its vast properties!). No need to bring towels or bathrobes, as these are provided, but make sure not to forget to bring extra underwear.

The perfect way to end this ritual is to sip some mint tea (aside from the snacks in between treatments) which also helps soothe your throat. It is indeed a total relaxation package!

Taste an explosion of flavors

Marrakeshi food is not just about tagines or the famous couscous, there’s actually so much more!

The key to Marrakech cuisine is the unique and authentic spices and ingredients. You can try some of their nuts, dried fruits and local favorite dishes like the chermoula, brochettes and maakouda.

Chermoula is a tangy herby and lemony sauce, usually served in a tagine or served on top of fried or grilled fish. Brochettes are like Moroccan kebabs (grilled meat in skewers), whereas maakouda is a tasty fried snack made from potatoes, eggs, and spices. 

Jemaa El Fnaa is a place where you can find most of these food shops. It is also declared as an Intangible Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

You may find tour guides as you enter the square, but beware of fake ones or ones who claim to give a ‘free’ tour. They will end up asking you to pay them a hefty cost!

It is best to get a trusted 3-and-a-half-hour tour that’s complete with a guide that will take you to a Moroccan food escape. After a tour of the square, you will be taken to the spice market where you can smell different aromas of turmeric, saffron, dried fruits and so on.

See the sights above the desert on a hot air balloon

Aside from riding camels in the beautiful Palmeraie (Palm Grove), you can also hop in a hot air balloon to get a breathtaking view of the beautiful oasis, the countryside, and the mountains.

But that’s not the main highlight, once you get higher and higher you will see the clouds as the sun creates majestic silhouettes over them – it is so surreal!

The easiest way to get to the location would be through a shuttle service when you get this hot air balloon package tour. Travel will take you around 45 minutes from Marrakech and they will pick you up and return you to your riad.

While watching how they prepare to inflate the balloon, professional hot air balloon pilots will also guide you and give you a quick briefing on what not to do while on-board, since other people are also sharing the ride. The experience will last for an hour or so. Once you land, you can optionally add on a camel ride or just relax and enjoy the scenery.

The final activity of the morning would be tea at a Berber village – you just can’t get enough of that yummy mint tea! Once you arrive at the village, Berber people will warmly welcome you with their tasty tea and traditional hospitality.

Stroll around at night when the medina springs to life

One of the most popular places in the medina is the Jemaa El Fnaa, which I wrote about in my guide here for a 3-day itinerary in Morocco. In the post, I mentioned what things you need to know when going to this chaotic square, as it can be quite an assault on the senses and there are quite a few scams which can occur to unsuspecting visitors, especially at night!

It does help to get a night tour to avoid any hassle because your local guide will be there to assist you. You won’t just enjoy the night music at the square, but also a nice free drink at a rooftop bar overlooking the chaotic beauty of the square. Time will also be given for you to admire the gorgeous architecture of the Koutoubia Mosque from the outside at night (unfortunately, not the inside, since non-Muslims aren’t allowed to enter).

Since you have a local guide, you will be taken off the beaten paths where you can unlock some secrets unknown to many tourists. Get to taste tanjia (it is different from tagine, although both are cooked and given a name based on the pot in which it is cooked), a tasty Moroccan dish with lots of meat and a bit of vegetables. Other local snacks are included on the tour for free as you stroll around.

Attend a leather working class

The Chouhara Tannery in Fez has been famous for producing quality soft leather in the traditional way since the 11th century. It is considered as one of the most iconic sources of leather in the world because all tanning procedures and operations have been preserved in the traditional way — including the step where they cure it in pigeon poop!

They turn the hides into beautiful pieces of belts, jackets, bags and shoes while adding a lot of stylish Moroccan influences. Another thing that adds up to its uniqueness, is the use of natural dyes coming from sources like spices, pomegranates, and flowers.

However, if you don’t have time to visit Fez on your trip to Morocco, you can still learn about the craft’s long history in Marrakech. Just be careful and avoid the prevalent Marrakech tannery scams by instead booking a guided experience.

Someone who is curious about the craft of leatherwork need not go far from Marrakech to attend a leather-making workshop, which you can book online.

Expert craftsman Youseff and Oumaima will take you on a journey about how they make leather and how they prepare it. You will make your very own babouche slipper (it is a heelless slip-on shoe that looks like the Instagram-famous Gucci Princetown mules) from scratch!

There are snacks and tea served if you get hungry while working on your masterpiece. The best part about it is bringing it home!

Memories are also easily kept as you will get a souvenir photo that will be sent digitally through your email.

Learn to speak the language

Learning a language can be quite difficult, but Moroccans are quite talented linguists. Some Moroccans even know more than four languages, but you won’t encounter everyone like this. When traveling, you should at least try to pick up a few basic words, as it will be easier for you to interact with local people as well as to bargain in the souks.

A 90-minute Arabic language class (it’s that easy and quick to learn the basics!) will surely help you communicate and understand body language and insider tips on what you should and should not do. Moroccan teachers will also be provided to ensure you are learning from the best.

The class will begin with a quick tea ritual and a guide on how to make the famous and extremely yummy mint tea. Booklets are also provided for free so that if in case you forget some words outside, then you have a quick cheat sheet.

After the quick intro class, you will feel more comfortable and engaged in communicating with locals. The next time someone blocks your way and sells or asks you for something, you will know now how to better deal with them without being thought of as rude.

See a wonderful performance at the Lotus Club

A tasty dinner with a nice dance show is a date-night Marrakech can’t-miss at The Lotus Club’s restaurant and bar.

It is located in the Hivernage District, outside of the chaotic medina, so you can have a sweet and fun escape from the hecticness of the medina and see a different side of modern Marrakech.

The place will surely give you a luxurious ambiance, plus you can listen to the best mixes of their DJs for a fun night out. You can choose from three different menus which range from local to international cuisine, with a lot of fusion recipes in case you don’t want to pick just one cuisine! There are also drinks like colorful cocktails and mocktails you can’t find elsewhere, plus a good selection of beers and wines.

The experience is superb as you watch the dancers (beautiful and glamorous Marrakeshi women) perform live on stage (just like Vegas!). They are called the Artistic Revue OhLaLa. Once a month, they also invite international artists to perform.

You can actually book a 3-course meal for two here for a cheaper price. Just make sure to bring your passport or ID because those 18 and under are not allowed to go inside. Drinks are not included in the voucher, but you will not regret the nice music and performance they showcase!

Wander around the colorful souks and meet the artisans

The souks are not just an open marketplace but also a spectacular loop of alleyways where you can get lost. Items are stacked up to the heavens, making the place look like a forest of products being sold.

If you love shopping or planning to get unique finds at the souks, then it is best to have a local private English-speaking tour guide to help you find hidden treasures and keep you on track (Google Maps is just terrible in the medina).

The licensed guides are very informative and will ask you if you already have a shopping list with you so that he can personalize the tour. The adventure usually starts at Mellah, a walled Jewish quarter that means “salt marsh.” You will also get to know the sellers and the unique finds they offer from colorful tiles, home décor, carpets, fabrics, jewelry and so on.

The best part of the journey will be at Al Kawtar Women’s cooperative, where every purchase you make will give back to the local community. It is a boutique that sells handmade embroidered clothes, scarves, bags and children’s wear that help empower disabled Moroccan women.

Before you head back to Jemaa El Fnaa, you will have some tea and a quick snack with your tour guide, where you can ask him for any last-minute tips and tricks and shopping recommendations. The entire tour will take around 3 hours.

Capture special moments with a talented Marrakeshi photographer

Memories are perfectly stored in the photographs we take every time we travel. While it’s easy enough to snap selfies as you travel along Marrakech, if you’re commemorating a special moment or this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I suggest hiring a professional to shoot your photos in some of the most beautiful and photogenic places Marrakech – it’s more affordable than you may think!

You can have different options on how many photos (from 15, 30, 45 and 75 photos) you would like to be taken, and it doesn’t matter if you are a couple, group, family, or just a solo traveler!

You can customize the locations of your photos or ask for their local insight. There are usually 2 or 3 locations allowed, depending on the package you wish to get. If you still don’t know where to have your photos taken, then they can give you the best recommendations.

After 5 days, you can download the professionally edited photos in their online gallery for free. Just note that travel expenses are not included in the package, so it is best to choose locations that are nearby to each other or factor in cab fare.

Planning a Trip to Morocco: Your 11-Step Travel Checklist

If you’re planning a trip to Morocco, I’m sure you’ve daydreamed of its many colorful walls, ornate doors, aromatic spices, and busy markets chock-full of dreamy décor.

You probably have bookmarked a few Instagrammable spots you want to check out, and maybe you’ve gone so far as to sketch out your desired itinerary.

But there’s a lot more that goes into planning a vacation to Morocco than meets the eye at first glance, and I’m here to help you plan the trip of a lifetime with minimal effort using this simple Morocco trip planner checklist!

AKA, I’m helping you learn from my mistakes so you have a much better time than I did.

Morocco is not a country you want to show up unprepared to. It’s not a destination for travelers who still have their training wheels on.

Harassment is constant, whether it’s sexual in nature or simply vendors/guides trying to get you to make a purchase.

In the medinas, you can’t really take much at face value; directions are often wrong and signs often lie, trying to lure you into a specific shop.

Basically, you need to adjust your expectations and prepare yourself mentally that Morocco is not a relaxing destination.

But, with preparation, you can reduce a lot of stresses and end up enjoying your trip due to your advance planning.

So, without further ado, here’s how to plan a trip to Morocco without the stress or hassle.

Planning a Trip to Morocco in 11 Simple Steps

Step 1: Check visa requirements

Morocco has a pretty permissive visa policy. At present, here are the nationalities that do not require a visa for stays less than 90 days (but please confirm with your country’s embassy to Morocco before going forward as policies sometimes change).

All EU citizens, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Gabon, Hong Kong (30 days), Iceland, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore (30 days), South Korea, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, U.A.E., U.S.A.

Citizens of the Republic of Congo, Guinea, and Mali must receive an electronic travel authorization but do not need a proper visa. Citizens from all other countries not mentioned here require an official visa from a Moroccan embassy, so if you are from a country that is not visa-exempt, check your country’s Moroccan embassy website to see requirements.

Also, be 100% sure that your passport has at least 6 months validity in it. If it does not, there is a huge likelihood that your plane will refuse to allow you to board, and even if you do get to Morocco, they may refuse to let you in if your passport is due to expire within the next 6 months.

Step 2: Book your tickets!

How much is a flight to Morocco? When planning a Morocco vacation, a large part of the cost will depend on where you are coming from, obviously, as well as where you fly into.

The main airports in Morocco are Marrakech (RAK), Rabat (RBA), Casablanca (CMN), and Fes (FEZ). If you are flexible with where you arrive, you may find better deals.

I generally use Skyscanner in order to take advantage of their powerful search engine which allows you to search multiple dates as well as multiple airports.

If you’re coming from the U.S. or Asia, expect to pay at least $500 USD roundtrip unless you get a major deal. If you are flying from Europe, though, you are in luck — flights to Morocco can often be less than $10 USD each way when you encounter a promotion!

If you are trying to save money on a flight, you may want to compare what it would cost to fly into Europe to a country that has cheap flights to Morocco and see if then taking a budget airline flight from there is cheaper. There are typically good deals to Morocco from major French, German, and British cities.

Step 3: Plan your Morocco itinerary

I’m in the process of creating a Morocco itinerary you can easily replicate, but you can start with my 3 day Marrakech itinerary.

If you have a short trip to Morocco, I’d recommend spending it in Marrakech as it has the most things that are of interest to tourists and generally is one of the cheaper airports to fly into, especially from Europe.

If you have more time, I’d recommend adding on a trip to the desert (read my guide here).

That adds another 3 days to your itinerary. So if you only have one week in Morocco, I’d just do 4 days in Marrakech (allowing one day for a day trip) plus 3 days on a desert tour which includes return transfers from Marrakech.

If you have more time, I’d opt for a desert tour that ends in Fes (like this one) so you can spend about 2 days in Fes (optional), then another 2-3 days in Chefchaeouen, my personal favorite place in Morocco. You can spend a few days exploring the photogenic blue medina and spend a day hiking in Akchour.

From there, it’s easiest to depart via Tangier as it’s only a 2.5 hour bus ride, or you could also go back to Rabat (the capital) or Casablanca (one of Morocco’s most beloved cities). That’s enough to easily fill in another week or so.

If you had more time still, you could continue down the coastline to Essaouira and Taghazout before circling back to Marrakech and flying out. For that itinerary, I’d recommend about 3 weeks.

There are also multi-day tours you can take if you’d like to take some of the stress out of planning a vacation to Morocco.

This 7-day whirlwind tour incorporates Marrakech, Ait Ben-Haddou, Ourzazete, the Sahara, Fes, Meknes, Casablanca, and Rabat, before returning to Marrakech. If you have limited time and you really want to see all of Morocco, this is the best tour, but it’s very fast-paced.

Learn more about the itinerary and inclusions here!

A shorter but slower-paced trip would be this 4-day tour which encompasses Fes, Meknes, Rabat, and Marrakech, but skips the desert.

Step 4: Budget your trip

Before you can get booking tours/activities and accommodations, I think it’s helpful to have your budget in mind for your trip so you can create an appropriate Morocco travel plan.

So, how much does a trip to Morocco cost? Really, almost whatever you want it to.

You can really spend a wide range in Morocco. If you are planning a trip to Morocco on a budget, it’s quite possible to see the country for about $30 a day, but this means you will be limited in terms of shopping, activities, and accommodation options.

Honestly, after having done it, I don’t recommend visiting Morocco as a backpacker as I think it’s much better experienced as a mid-range traveler.

There are so many great activities and day trips that will not quite do the trick on a backpacker budget.

For example, transportation between cities can be quite pricy, and the experience of staying in a riad is simply a Morocco must-do (I wouldn’t want to go to Morocco and stay in a hostel, not when there are beautiful riads to stay in all over the country!).

Mid-range travelers, family travelers in Morocco, and luxury travelers will have a much better time in Morocco.

A beautiful riad can be had for about $50-70 USD per night for a couple or family traveling Morocco with kids, which gives you plenty of wiggle room to spend on shopping, activities, and meals.

A budget of $100 per day per person in Morocco will give you a pretty luxurious experience, staying in gorgeous riads, eating as much as you want, enjoying massages at hammams, going on day trips and activities, etc.

Meanwhile, if you really want to spend, the sky is your limit as there are lots of gorgeous luxury properties like La Mamounia and Riad Yasmin which can easily go for upwards of $500 per night.

I recommend deciding in advance what you want to spend in total, breaking that into a per-day, per-person cost.

Allocate about 1/3 of that for accommodations, 1/3 for activities, and 1/3 for incidentals and extras like shopping, transportation between cities, and meals.

That should give you a good benchmark for how to budget for Morocco.

Step 5: Plan Your Activities

This advice may be a bit controversial as some people say you should wait until you get to Morocco to book activities as you can often haggle a better price in person.

This is what I did when I was in Morocco and it bit me in the ass, as I ended up paying for a cheaper desert tour that cut a lot of corners (I wrote about the experience here so you can avoid it!)

I’m talking no A/C on the bus on 115 F degree days, assuring me the transfer onwards to Fes was included when in fact it wasn’t, taking me to a scammy rug shop where they replaced the rug I purchased with something that was falling apart at the seams…

Oh, and I woke up with my desert guide in my face presumably moments away from groping me in my sleep.

So, after that, I highly recommend booking all your Morocco activities in advance so that you can be sure of their safety and reputation, as there’s not exactly much transparency when it comes to dealing with tour vendors in the souks, who will tend to promise you the world and wait until you are far, far away before you realize they weren’t exactly truthful.

While Morocco is safe, scams involving tourists abound, so do your research ahead of time to avoid being disappointed.

You may pay a little more, but you are much less likely to be disappointed or tricked, and honestly, that’s worth paying for to me.

If you’re comfortable taking a gamble in pursuit of a bargain, you can wait to book until you’re in Marrakech, but as someone who did just that – I don’t recommend it.

For me, I enjoy a blend of independent travel and structured activities. I recommend touring Morocco on your own, and combining it with classes, activities, and day trips with locals to enrich your experience.

I’ll briefly list a few of the activities I think would be crucial to enjoying a Morocco trip and you can piece it together to create the perfect trip for yourself – just click the link to read more about each activity.

Suggested Marrakech Activities

Suggested Desert Trip

Suggested Fes Activities

Suggested Chefchaouen Activities

Suggested Tangier Activities

Suggested Casablanca Activities

Step 6: Book your accommodations

Of course, you can’t go to Morocco and not stay in a riad! So, what exactly is a riad?

Basically, a riad is a Moroccan traditional home that has been converted into guesthouse, with a gorgeous inner courtyard that is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of hectic Moroccan cities.

I have full guides to the best riads in Marrakech and the best riads in Fes, but below are my quick-and-easy Marrakech recs.

Budget: Nondescript on the outside, Riad Dar Maria is gorgeous and cozy on the inside. Its updated design makes the indoor courtyard a lovely place to relax, and comfortable private rooms with A/C offer excellent value for the price. The riad is family-run and they treat you like one of their own. Highly recommended by fellow travelers with a 9.5 average rating on Booking.com. Click here to see lowest prices and current availability.

Mid-range: The lovely Riad Enchanté lives up to its name – it will truly delight and enchant you. With stunning tilework, a rooftop terrace (with jacuzzi!), large rooms with A/C, and amazing attention to detail (check out those lovely wooden doors), you’ll probably never want to leave this homey, delightful riad. Click here to see lowest prices and current availability.

Luxury: For five-star comfort at not insanely outrageous prices you can’t do much better than Villa Lavande, a traditional riad with a comfortable in-house hammam, a gorgeous pool, air conditioning (a must if you travel in summer), and helpful staff. Cooking lessons are available on-site in case you fancy learning how to make your own tajine… or you can simply eat at the in-house restaurant beloved by guests. It’s located in the medina but away from the hustle and bustle, the best of both worlds. Click here to see lowest prices and current availability.

Also, if you’re planning to spend time glamping in the Sahara desert, read my guide to the best luxury campsites in the Sahara Desert here — it’ll help you narrow down your choices from the huge field of options!

Step 7: Research any vaccinations you may need & prepare a travel medicine kit

The CDC is my guideline when checking travel vaccinations for different countries. They recommend checking that you’re up-to-date in terms of boosters for the following common vaccinations: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), tetanus, chickenpox, and polio. They also strongly recommend Hepatitis A and typhoid, both of which can be gotten from contaminated food or water.

Other potential vaccines you may want to consider are Hepatitis B and rabies. Rabies is possible in Morocco, and a tourist recently died of rabies after being bitten by a cat. Keep in mind that even if you get the rabies vaccine, you still need to get post-exposure shots after a potential encounter with a rabid animal.

If you get bitten or scratched by an animal while in Morocco, whether you’ve been previously vaccinated or not, you need to seek immediate medical attention and doctors can assess whether or not to give the post-exposure series of shots. Rabies is nearly 100% fatal, but the vaccine is 100% effective if given in time after exposure, so please don’t take any chances.

I had to do a series of rabies post-exposure shots after a cat bite in Ukraine and while it was annoying, especially since I had to coordinate the shots over 3 different countries, I am glad I took the precaution.

In terms of travel medicine kit, I always recommend having the following items in your mini first-aid kit: stomach tablets like Pepto Bismol, anti-diarrheal like Imodium, motion sickness pills like Dramamine, and painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin. Be sure to also bring sunscreen and a strong mosquito repellent, preferably with DEET, as well as some after-care for the inevitable bites. A topical antibiotic and bandaids are also great for any bumps or scrapes. More on this in my Morocco packing list section!

Step 8: Learn a few common Arabic words and phrases

While French is widely spoken in Morocco, and it can come in handy if you already speak French, if you are going to learn a few phrases I recommend learning the Moroccan Arabic (Darija) phrases which tend to be more widely understood. In the North, Spanish is widely spoken – I found it useful in both Chefchaouen and Tangier.

Moroccans are quite talented linguists, and on one occasion I had a conversation with a taxi driver in no less than 4 languages (Arabic, Spanish, French, and English!). It’s not uncommon to meet Moroccans who speak 4+ languages – especially shopkeepers, who love to impress you with a litany of greetings in a variety of languages hoping they’ll land on your language!

Generally, most people who work in service or tourism will have at least a functional understanding of English, and younger people in cities tend to have a fairly high level of English. However, you may not get very detailed answers to your questions unless you hire a qualified English-language tour guide.

Regardless of the language abilities, I still recommend you learn a few Darija phrases to show respect to the country you’re visiting!

Hello – As-salaam alaykum
Thank you – Shukrun
Please – Afak
Excuse me – Smahli (add -ya if speaking to a woman)
Yes – Iyah
No – La
No, thanks – La, shukrun (trust me, you’ll want this one)

It’s a small gesture, but it shows respect to the country you are visiting, so I highly recommend learning at least a few words: at minimum, hello and thank you.

Step 9: Pack your bags!

If you’re not sure what to pack for Morocco, I’ve got your back – I’ve written a Morocco packing list here. It’s geared towards female travelers, as that’s my experience, but men may find some of the recommendations useful as well and can just substitute out their own clothing and toiletry recommendations. I include all the recommended dress for women there so please refer to it as this article is already quite long already!

I recommend bringing a backpack and not a suitcase to Morocco if you can. The medinas are quite annoying to roll a suitcase through and you have a lot more agility with a backpack. I use and love this Tortuga backpack for travel as it’s carry-on friendly yet can fit all I need for 3+ weeks of travel.

Keep in mind that pickpocketing is pretty common in crowded areas of Morocco, especially the Marrakech souks. I recommend this backpack with locking zippers which is made by PacSafe. It has a ton of security features – metal mesh that makes it slash-proof, locking zippers that can then be threaded into a hard-to-open clasp, and RFID blockers. It’s also very subtle and doesn’t look like a tempting, expensive bag. But just as importantly, it actually is quite cute and you won’t mind being seen or photographed with it!

Step 10: Prepare for your arrival

There are a few things you should do prior to arriving to make your life easier.

1) Download Google Maps for the city you’re arriving in. It’s not always the most helpful for the Moroccan medinas, which have too many alleyways that aren’t represented on the maps, but it’s a good start for getting oriented, so have it anyway.

2) Book a shuttle to get you to your hotel. Your hotel may offer you this service, or you can book a transfer online from a reputable company here for about $15 USD. Don’t get a taxi at the airport or you’ll likely get ripped off.

3) Figure out either if you’re going to use a roaming plan on your phone or if you can purchase a local SIM card or WiFi device. Doing this research in advance can save you a fortune!

4) Have some cash in USD or euros on hand in case you have any issues with withdrawing money from the ATM. You get a better rate withdrawing from the ATM than exchanging money, so I recommend using an ATM as much as possible and only exchanging your cash in an emergency.

Step 11: Don’t forget travel insurance!

I put this last so it’s fresh on your mind: travel insurance is a good idea for Morocco and for travel in general! I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for years. It’s nice to have the peace of mind it gives me in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.

While Morocco is safe to travel around, there’s always risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The last thing you want is for an illness, crime, or accident to ruin your trip – so it’s better to be prepared.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

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Planning a trip to Morocco? This post will help you with planning your itinerary, picking the most beautiful places to visit in Morocco, choosing the best things to do in Morocco, basic Morocco travel tips & customs, and beyond. Covering Marrakech, Casablanca, Fes, Chefchaouen, the Sahara Desert, & more, this guide to Morocco’s landscapes and cities will help you plan everything from what to wear in Morocco to what to pack to culture tips, market tips, and beyond.
Planning a trip to Morocco? This post will help you with planning your itinerary, picking the most beautiful places to visit in Morocco, choosing the best things to do in Morocco, basic Morocco travel tips & customs, and beyond. Covering Marrakech, Casablanca, Fes, Chefchaouen, the Sahara Desert, & more, this guide to Morocco’s landscapes and cities will help you plan everything from what to wear in Morocco to what to pack to culture tips, market tips, and beyond.