This is a continuation of Part One: head over here first!
Also, an FYI: Most of the photos in this post (aka all the good ones) are from my friend Alex, who I met in Tangier and travelled throughout Morocco with. Check out his Instagram, @amilesphoto – he’s got a talent!
TODRA GORGE (2 nights)
This was a really surprising part of the trip, and holds some of my most wonderful and calm memories of Morocco: dancing and singing late into the night, the only guests in our hostel (Camping Le Poisson Sacree), and continuing the trend of camping we started in the Sahara desert.
Hiking up the gorge is great, and I’d recommend going either really early or just before sunset: at least when we were there, it was empty of vendors and other tourists. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try some rock climbing.
OUARZAZATE (1 night)
Ouarzazate, despite the fact that it is practically impossible to pronounce, is the perfect stopover between the desert (or the Todra Gorge) and Marrakech. Its main claim to fame is that a nearby kasbah (basically just a historic town) has been used as a filming location for things like Gladiator and Game of Thrones. I will go anywhere for a Game of Thrones location, plus the fact that movies are shot here means that Ait Benhaddou, as the kasbah is known, is insanely well-preserved.
I have a whole post here about our stay in Ouarzazate and what we saw there; one night is sufficient to enjoy the main square and see the nearby sights. When you’re done, head off to Marrakech – we got our driver to continue on, since it was more affordable for 5 of us to split the grand taxi, but as always the bus is a good option.
MARRAKECH (3 nights)
Marrakech is often the only place travellers will see in Morocco: it’s the most convenient place for a weekend trip from Europe and I agree that it offers a really great first glimpse into Morocco. However, it was by far the most touristy place I saw in Morocco and certainly not my favourite city.
With that said, it’s definitely somewhere you have to see. The main square (D’jemaa el-Fnaa) is one of the most overwhelming sensory experiences you’ll ever have, and historic buildings here are a dime a dozen.
We meant to take the bus to Essaouira, but ended up bargaining for a cheaper grand taxi. A lot of people do Essaouira as a day trip, but I’d recommend going there for longer:
ESSAOUIRA (5 nights)
This chilled-out little beach town was far and away my favorite place in Morocco. We rolled up to the cheapest hostel in town and I actually ended up staying there for almost a week working. I wrote a little bit about the experience in my Stories from Morocco post. It was not the greatest – I was kind of scared of the hostel owner – but I am glad I stayed in Essaouira for a while.
If you’re travelling Morocco for a month, you’re going to get exhausted. It’s gritty if you’re doing it backpacker-style, and you will be dirty, tired, and probably overwhelmed. Essaouira is the perfect place to chill out, get yourself together, and enjoy the beachy vibes. Lots more to say about this place, but make sure you get it on your itinerary.
From Essaouira, I knew I wanted to see Casablanca and Rabat – annoyingly, you have to go back through Marrakech. I bussed to Marrakech and took the train to Casablanca.
CASABLANCA (3 nights)
In Casablanca, I spent three days being the absolute worst tourist ever. The guys had all left from Essaouira, so I was alone and honestly kind of frightened. I stayed at the Hostelling International place here, and it was fine – easy to get to from the train station and very safe.
Casablanca is the biggest city in Morocco and it’s SO different from anywhere else. There are trams, modern malls filled with luxury stores, Starbucks everywhere, etc…so, I spent a lot of time hanging out in air conditioning.
Definitely make time to see the Hassan II mosque. It’s on the waterfront and absolutely breathtaking. The waves crash almost right on to the mosque, the tilework is indescribably intricate, and nobody would dare hassle you at a mosque. I spent almost three hours sitting in the shade nearby, chatting to women waiting for their husbands and smiling at their children.
Otherwise…I guess just take advantage of the air conditioning?
RABAT (2 nights)
Rabat is the capital of Morocco, and basically on nobody’s itinerary. I had an amazing time here, almost solely because of the Mawazine Festival. This year it’s from May 12-20. I was there totally by chance, and you should try to do the same.
At the festival, huge international stars perform outdoors, for free. I saw Avicci with some brand new Moroccan friends and it was such a crazy thing to do – see an EDM concert in Morocco.
When you’re done in Rabat, hop on the train back to Marrakech – the perfect place to catch your flight out of the country.
MARRAKECH (2 nights)
This is the one part of my trip I would have changed. I wanted to climb Jebel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa. It’s easy to do this from Marrakech on a tour, and I 100%, completely forgot. I landed in Milan and thought, “Hm, I feel like I forgot something.” Oh yeah, just a mountain.
So…next time? Anyway, you’ll probably end up in Marrakech at the end of your trip – try to remember the mountain. Otherwise, just soak up the last little bit of Moroccan exoticism and the onslaught of any medina you find yourself in.