Exploring Northern Morocco
Enjoy a five day adventure in Northern Morocco, the gateway to Africa. Packed full of culture, top notch cuisine and beautiful scenery, this itinerary offers the chance to explore a less visited part of this fascinating country.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Soak up the sun and sea views from your boutique hotel in charismatic Tangier
- Capture the perfect Instagram shot while exploring the beautiful blue streets of Chefchaouen
- Get lost in the colourful chaos of Fez's bustling markets
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Day 1: Arrive
After arriving, pass through customs and find your driver waiting to transfer to your hotel in the heart of Tangier.
After settling into your new room, don your sunglasses and head out to explore. Tangier's slightly seedy reputation, which developed from the city's time as an international zone, has receded as the city reinvents itself to attract a new generation of hip and artistic types. We can recommend the best spots to take a leisurely lunch by the sea or the ideal place to pick up a scarf or trinket in one of the small independent boutiques.
Day 2: To Chefchaouen
This morning hit the road with your private guide and head to the charming city of Tetouan, which is around 90 minutes away.
When you arrive your guide will take you to visit the large medina, with its medieval Moorish-Andalusian architecture and the archaeological museum. Then, continue on to the Jewish Quarter which is still surrounded by walls and encloses various pretty plazas with ornate tiled fountains, colourful markets, and busy alleys filled with craftsmen - many of them making trinkets similar to those found in the Bab el Okla Museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts, where your tour ends.
After a brief sting back in the car, you'll arrive into Chefchaouen, where you can check into your hotel and then head out to get some lunch and explore with your private guide. Chefchaouen is a quaint and colourful town perched 2000ft above sea level between the two peaks that gave it its name. The city is famous for its shady valleys, medina (old town) and perhaps most of all, its azure blue painted houses.
The local souqs of Chefchaouen are animated with traditionally dressed locals and colourful shops with beautifully displayed local crafts, so amidst snapping some supremely Instagramable shots, take some time to simply soak up the atmosphere. Then, retire to your hotel for dinner and a good night's sleep.
- The stunning 240 square-mile Talassemtane National Park outside Chefchaouen boasts beautiful mountains, waterfalls and trekking trails. A particular highlight is a privately guided visit to the small unspoilt village of Akchour, from where you can walk to a lovely waterfall and also 'God's Bridge', a beautiful natural archway across the river gorge.
Day 3: To Fez
It's back on the road this morning as you make your way to Fez, roughly a three-and-a-half hour drive away. Again the drive is a very scenic one and you'll likely want to ask your driver to make several stops along the way, if only so you can snap some shots of the views.
When you do arrive in Fez we have arranged that your driver helps you with your bags as he might not be able to take you right to the hotel - the alleyways in the medina are so narrow that cars can't actually fit through them.
This afternoon we will send a guide to meet you at your hotel and take you on a half-day guided walking tour. The old city of Fez is said to be the most complete medieval city in the Arab world and has preserved its medieval aspects and way of life. This walking tour will stimulate all your senses as you go for a guided tour inside Fez el Bali (old Fez), passing food and spice stalls, handicraft quarters, auction squares and colourful shops.
You'll then be taken to visit the traditional carpentry and cabinet making museum and the famous leather tanneries (where you'll hopefully be handed a sprig of mint to waft under your nose to counter the powerful stench), and to meet the agave silk weavers and coppersmiths and dyers, to learn more about their traditional art. During the tour you'll also pass by the gates of al-Qarawiyyin mosque, which houses the oldest university and library in the world, founded in 857.
Now that you have your bearings in the city, say goodbye to your guide and then head out for dinner. We will offer recommendations of the best spots to find a tasty tagine or tangy tabbouleh.
Day 4: Meknes and Volubilis
This morning you'll be met by a private guide at your hotel for a full day excursion to the nearby sites of Meknes and Volubilis. You'll first drive across the Saiss plain for about an hour until you reach the medieval city of Meknes, which was rebuilt in the 17th century to become the King's capital and is now UNESCO protected.
Your guide will take you to see various monuments, including El Heri Souani, the King's complexly designed granary and stables; the mausoleum of Moulay Ismail with its harmonious Moorish design; and Bab El Mansour gate, the most beautiful in North Africa and an amazing example of tile work. At the end of your visit take a walk to El Hdim square and visit its food market and Dar Jamai Museum.
After lunch drive north towards the mountains of Zerhoun to visit Moulay Idriss, the holiest town for muslims in the country, where the first Moroccan king is buried. After that, start a walking visit of Volubilis, built over two thousand years ago when this part of the country was a Roman province. Discovering the Roman part of the Moroccan history, you will admire one of the most beautiful collections of mosaics which have never been moved from their original site since their discovery in the early 20th century.
Late in the afternoon drive back to Fez where, after all that culture, you can enjoy a much deserved relaxing dinner.
Day 5: Relaxing in Fez
Today is your last day of the holiday so we thought you might want to take it easy, especially after the busy last few days.
Start with a lie in and then a morning spent soaking in your hotel's hammam, with maybe even a treatment or two thrown in for good measure.
After lunch at the hotel head into the bustling markets to pick up any last minute gifts or items you've been thinking about. As the sun sets and the day begins to cool, stop for a mint tea before one last Moroccan dinner.
Isabel is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.