Journey Through Imperial Splendors: Exploring Morocco's Historic Cities

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  • Morocco

  • Marrakech

  • Arts & Culture

  • Solo Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Local Food

  • Local Culture

  • Sightseeing

Bright blue view of Morocco with mountains in the distance.
Fora’s Take

Morocco's imperial cities are like stepping into a time machine where history, culture and awesomeness collide. Marrakech, Fes, Rabat and Meknes are like the rockstars of the past, each with its own unique vibe. The souks, the palaces, the whole shebang – it's a treasure trove of cool stuff that makes you want to high-five the past. In general, it's special because it's like hanging out with the cool kids from way back when.

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Where to stay

Palais Amani

Family-run riad in the Medina, with a cooking school, hammam, and French-Moroccan eatery.

La Maison Arabe Marrakech

Where Moroccan elegance and Arabian hospitality harmonize, inviting guests into a world of timeless luxury and cultural richness.

La Sultana

Elegant 28-room riad in the heart of Old Marrakech, with a bonus pool and rooftop terrace.

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  • Breakfast daily.

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Day 1: Arrival in Casablanca

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Upon your arrival in Casablanca, ensure a seamless transition to Fes with a pre-arranged transfer. If times allows, you can begin your journey by exploring the cosmopolitan city of Casablanca. Start with the Hassan II Mosque – an architectural marvel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Following this, make your way to beautiful Fes, a city steeped in history. The scenic drive provides glimpses of Morocco's diverse landscapes. Upon reaching Fes, settle into your accommodation and unwind, preparing for the cultural odyssey that awaits in the coming days.

Day 2: Fes Cultural Odysseye

man on a horse in the street

After your breakfast, you will meet your guide for a full day exploration of Fes city, one of Morocco's oldest imperial cities.

Your Sightseeing Tour Will Include the Following

  • New Medina: The “nouvelle Ville” of Fez, or the new city, provides a startling contrast to Fez el Bali. Wide and elegant avenues are lined with numerous cafés and restaurants. The modern aspect of the new city highlights the economic differences between the suburbs and the city center.

  • The Medersa: This theological college, marked by its green tiled roof, is a prime example of Merinid architecture. It's the most beautiful of Kairouan University's residential colleges. Inside, elegant calligraphy graces the ceramic tile walls. The marble floors, sculpted cedar and carved stucco walls—made with a concoction of plaster and egg white—have held up since this masterpiece Medersa was built in 1350. Since it is still in use, non-Muslims must depart during prayer time.

  • Bab Boujloud: Constructed in 1913, this gate is about 1,000 years younger than the buildings behind it. It's proof that age doesn't matter—the relatively youthful structure is the most strikingly beautiful entry point into the old city. Painted flowers and calligraphy embellish its outer blue ceramic tiles. Depending on ones interpretation, the green mosaic interior either represents peace or the official color of Islam. Stop by at sunset for some excellent photo opportunities.

  • Splendid fountain at Place Nejjarine: The square, with its splendid and unusual fountain, takes its name from the Souk Nejjarine (Carpenter’s Souk). It is situated behind a wooden door in a narrow street below the square.

Exploring

  • The Mellah (The Jewish Quarter): The Jews lived here and received protection from the sultan. The main street is especially interesting with its balconies and Art Deco zellij mosaic. Most Jews in Fez (around 300) now live in the Ville Nouvelle. Visit the Ibn Danan Synagogue, a recently restored 17th-century synagogue.

  • Souks: The souks of Fez are located in the ancient city center, the medina. Merchants selling the same sort of products are generally grouped together in their own “souk”. The tiny alleyways are crowded with tiny boutiques on both sides. The henna and wood-working souks are located in the Nejjarine neighborhood, and the scent of cedar is everywhere. The main plaza is planted with trees and provides a shaded haven from the warm sun. Various natural products derived from henna are sold here. Nejjarine is also where the fabric dyers are located. You simply should not miss El Attarine, the spice souk. Without question, this souk is the most colorful in Fez.

TIPS

  • Early Bird Fes el-Bali Edition: Beat the crowds by exploring Fes el-Bali early in the morning. It's like having the whole place to yourself.

  • Leather-Loving at Chaouwara Tanneries: Bring a scarf or something for your nose at the tanneries. It's not roses, but it's part of the adventure!

  • Insta-Worthy Al Attarine Madrasa: Al Attarine Madrasa is a photographer's paradise. Capture the magic of architecture and feel like an influencer for a day.

Interact with locals, savor the local cuisine, and embrace the authenticity of Fes. Provide tips on respectful behavior in crowded areas and highlight the significance of preserving the cultural heritage.

Day 3: Fes to Rabat Expedition with a Stop at Moulay Idriss

brown concrete building under gray sky

Embark on a picturesque journey from Fes to Rabat, making a captivating stop at Moulay Idriss. This holy town, nestled amid rolling hills, is not only a visual delight but also holds deep cultural and religious significance. Explore the narrow lanes, absorb the spiritual ambiance and visit the historic Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss.

Continue your journey to Rabat, the political capital of Morocco. Upon arrival, delve into the city's historical treasures, such as the Kasbah of the Udayas and the Chellah Necropolis, blending modernity with rich heritage.

Overnight in Rabat

I advise you to respect the cultural and religious sites visited. We suggest reaching Rabat with enough time to explore its historical gems before the day finishes.

Day 4: Rabat to Marrakech - Evening Delights in Jemaa el-Fna

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Embark on a transfer from Rabat to Marrakech. Upon arrival, dive into the enchanting chaos of Marrakech's Jemaa el-Fna square. Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy, exploring the lively markets, street performances, and traditional eateries. As the sun sets, the square transforms into a magical realm.

Get back to a beautiful riad in the heart of the Medina for the overnight. One that provides an authentic Moroccan experience amid the ancient city walls.

Tips

  • Dinner in Jemaa el-Fna: Dive into the street food scene in Jemaa el-Fna. Tagines, Couscous, Pastilla, fresh juices—it's a foodie paradise.

  • Riad Realness: Enjoy the riad experience. It's not just a place to sleep; it's a Moroccan oasis.

  • Night Owl Alert: Jemaa el-Fna comes alive at night. Don't rush; take your time soaking in the nighttime spectacle.

Day 5: Marrakech Marvels - Full Day Exploration

lights and lamps

Today, after your breakfast, you will start your full day tour by visiting the historical wonders of the Bahia Palace. Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and intricate designs of the Saadian Tombs, followed by a visit to the iconic Koutoubia Mosque and its picturesque gardens. Wander through the lively souks, where the essence of Moroccan craftsmanship comes to life. Indulge in a cultural feast at the Jardin Majorelle, a botanical masterpiece blending art and nature. Conclude your day at the tranquil Menara Gardens, offering a serene escape amid the bustling city.

Take your time exploring each site, engage with local artisans in the souks, and capture the vibrant colors and details of Marrakech. We suggest trying traditional Moroccan tea or snacks during the day. We also advise on respecting local customs and etiquettes, especially in religious or historical sites.

Day 6: Catching Flights, Not Feelings

Street in Morocco

It's departure day! Time to say goodbye to Marrakech. Pack your bags, check out of your riad, and head to the airport. If time allows, grab a last-minute treat from a local café or do a quick Medina stroll and soak it all in. Marrakech will miss you, but hey, there's always a reason to come back. Board that flight with a heart full of memories and a suitcase full of souvenirs.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out Maria Teresa Carrasquero's guide, A Journey through Morocco: 10 Days of Cultural Exploration, Desert Adventures and Luxurious Escapes. This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Morocco.

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Morocco