Oozing with culturally-rich destinations and breathtaking natural beauty, Morocco is a can’t-miss destination for any backpacker. I spent over a month backpacking through Morocco, visiting many of this North African country’s most iconic destinations as well as delving deep to find its hidden gems. With no shortage of unique destinations, budget-friendly prices, and diverse cultures, Morocco will have any traveler falling in love.
At the same time, Morocco can be challenging and chaotic. It can often be frustrating and overwhelming, but hey, that’s what adventure is all about. From mimicking Aladdin as you dodge street vendors in crowded souks, to the rare (but much-appreciated) patches of tranquility scattered throughout the country, Morocco is filled with contrasts. No two destinations in Morocco feel alike. No two days here will feel the same. For those up for a challenge, Morocco is an incredible country with tons of adventures waiting to be had. Here is your perfect one month travel itinerary to take on Morocco.
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Travel Insurance for Morocco
And of course, before you go, it’s always a good idea to have travel insurance handy. I use SafetyWing to keep me covered throughout my travels for as low as $45 a month, and their coverage includes Morocco among the 190+ countries that they cover. It’s handy to have travel insurance in Morocco, especially if you plan on hiking in remote areas, high altitudes, or taking to those crazy winding roads with even crazier drivers.
Tangier: 2 Nights
I’d recommend kicking off your adventures in Tangier. While it wasn’t my favorite city, Tangier is a great starting point for a number of reasons. It’s close to Europe, making it one of the cheaper and more convenient entry points. Aside from flying, one can also take a ferry from Spain. Because of its proximity to Europe, Tangier is one of the more international cities of Morocco. You’ll find a diverse mix of people from various backgrounds, a true melting pot of a destination.
Traveling in Morocco can be quite intense. Tangier allows you to dip your toes and ease yourself in without diving straight into the chaos. Its a laid-back coastal city that feels a lot smaller than it is, especially when staying in the old medina. Being a big city, Tangier is a convenient hub for transport, with trains and buses running to destinations all over the country. Take your time getting your feet set in Tangier, and be sure to take advantage of Tangier’s food and nightlife scene. Once you delve deeper into Morocco, you might miss international cuisine and sipping on a cold beer.
Where To Stay: Hostal Bayt Alice
Tangier to Tetouan: CTM Bus, 1 hour: $4 USD
Tetouan: 2 Nights
About an hour away from Tangier lies one of my favorite hidden gems of Morocco. Tetouan is a small city nestled in the mountains but a short and cheap taxi ride away from some of Morocco’s most stunning Mediterranean beaches. It’s the best of both worlds. Tetouan’s medina was one of my favorites in Morocco. Its smaller, more local feel meant that one can wander around without being hassled or scammed. The people here were friendly and genuinely welcoming. I felt more at home here than anywhere else in Morocco.
Aside from wandering around the medina and visiting the hilltop kasbah, take a day trip to the laid-back beach towns of M’diq and Martil. There, you’ll find turquoise waters and sandy beaches, as well as amazing seafood fresh from the Mediterranean. Hardly any international tourists venture to this part of Morocco, so if you’re looking for a true hidden gem, don’t miss these Mediterranean beach towns.
Where To Stay: Riad Soul of Tetouan
Tetouan to Chefchaouen: CTM Bus, 3 hours, $4 USD
Chefchaouen: 3 Nights
From Tetouan catch a bus to Morocco’s Blue Pearl, Chefchaouen. This might be Morocco’s most famous destination. Because of its notoriety, I fully expected Chefchaouen to be not much more than a tourist trap. Thankfully, I was wrong. Chefchaouen is as charming as I expected it to be, but on top of its aesthetically-pleasing blue-washed buildings, it is also a hiker’s haven. One can spend the days hiking in and around Chefchaouen, being back by the afternoon to smoke hash on a rooftop while watching the sunset.
Be sure to visit Akchour, a forested nature reserve nearby home to some gorgeous hikes. The trails run along a river and are highlighted by waterfalls and the famed God’s Bridge, a stunning geological formation resembling a bridge crossing the canyon.
Where To Stay: Riad Baraka
Chefchaouen to Fes: CTM Bus, 4 hours: $6 USD
Fes: 3 Nights
Without a doubt, Fes is the top cultural destination in Morocco. Wandering through its labyrinthine streets feels like walking through living history. It is cultural immersion at its finest, whether you like it or not. The noise, the smells, the chaos, the sensory overload, it can be a lot. Once you find your footing, though, it’s easy to find yourself enthralled by the mayhem of Fes.
It is such a unique destination and there is plenty to do to keep you busy. Take a walking tour to get your bearings of the city. Visit the tanneries and sprawling souks. Marvel at its millennia-old universities and mosques. Roaming through Fes’ medina, the largest in the world, truly makes you feel like you’ve been transported to another time period. If I could pick just one city in Morocco to recommend, it would be Fes. It is Morocco at its peak intensity.
Where To Stay: Medina Social Club
Fes to Meknes: Train, 30 minutes, $3 USD
Meknes: 1 Night
Just a short train ride from Fes lies the city of Meknes, another of Morocco’s former imperial cities. The medina of Meknes is smaller than that of Fes, but is much more local and authentic. However, it’s admittedly pretty boring, and one can knock out all of Meknes’ major sights in half a day. That’s why I’d recommend visiting the nearby village of Moulay Idriss and the Roman ruins of Volubilis as well.
Moulay Idriss is a small but sacred town. About a thirty minute walk from there, one can visit the ancient Roman city of Volubilis. It won’t take more than two hours to explore the old city, allowing you time to make it up to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking Moulay Idriss for sunset. Afterwards, one can return back to Meknes or spend the night in Moulay Idriss before continuing onwards to Rabat.
Meknes to Rabat: Train, 2 hours, $8 USD
Rabat: 3 Nights
I didn’t have many expectations for Rabat, as few travelers I encountered had thought it worth visiting. A single hostel showed up on Hostelworld, boasting just one seven-bed dorm. Despite being Morocco’s capital city, it did not seem like it would actually be worth the visit. Thankfully, I decided to go and see for myself, and ended up falling in love with Rabat.
It is a well-rounded city, both historic and modern. It boasts gorgeous monuments and tranquil beaches and peaceful parks. I spent a week in Rabat and could have easily spent several more. For travelers on a short-term trip, I can see why Rabat often gets overlooked. Rabat is more of a livable city than one that tourists would visit. The vibe is great and it was one of the few places in Morocco where I felt like I could settle into a routine and buckle down for a while.
Where To Stay: Hostel Kayezer
Rabat to Casablanca: Train, 1 hour, $4 USD
Casablanca: 1 Night
Despite being the largest city in Morocco, there isn’t much to do in Casablanca. It is most famous for the Hassan II Mosque, a magnificent structure both inside and out. It’s worth taking a day trip to Casablanca from Rabat just to see the mosque and walk along the corniche. Aside from that, there isn’t much that I’d consider must-see in Casablanca. Where Casablanca excels is in its food and nightlife scene.
By now, you might be missing alcohol and crave a little bit of clubbing. Casablanca is the city to do it. If nightlife isn’t a priority for you, a day trip to Casablanca should be enough. If you need a little boogie in your backpacking trip, hit up the Gauthier district and get your dancing shoes on. There are plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs in the area and it’s easy to have a good time.
Casablanca to Essaouira: CTM Bus, 6 hours, $20 USD
Essaouira: 3 Nights
Essaouira is a dream. Out of the many places I visited in Morocco, Essaouira might be my favorite. The historic medina is picturesque, with its blue and white buildings reminiscent of the Greek isles. The cramped souks lining the cobbled streets will quickly remind you that you’re in Morocco, though. Essaouira has a laid-back vibe, with its long strip of beach perfect for relaxing or swimming. It’s a great home base for digital nomads, long-term backpackers, and surfers. It is a must-visit for anyone traveling through Morocco.
Where To Stay: Essaouira Beach Hostel
Essaouira to Agadir: Car Rental, $30 USD per day
Morocco’s Coastal Surfing & Fishing Villages: 2 Nights
Morocco’s coastline was the biggest surprise of my trip to Morocco. When people think of the world’s top beach destinations, Morocco tends to be an afterthought. However, the stretch between Essaouira and Agadir is lined with stunning cliffs, pristine beaches, and numerous fishing villages and surf havens. It is what I imagined California’s famed Pacific Coast Highway to be like back in the 1970’s: gorgeous views and immaculate surf town vibes.
If possible, I’d recommend renting a car and just cruising down this stunning stretch of Africa’s coastline. Take your time visiting the small fishing villages and going for a surf on the many pristine beaches. From north to south, some villages to check out would be Sidi Kaouki, Tafedna, Imsouane, Taghazout, and Tamraght. Some are quite popular among travelers and surfers, especially Imsouane and Taghazout. However, there are plenty of hidden gems to discover along the way. The hardest part of your trip will be pulling yourself away from the lazy and laid-back coastal lifestyle.
Essaouira/Agadir to Marrakech: Bus, 3 hours, $15 USD
Marrakech: 3 Nights
Once you’ve wrapped up your time on the coast, it is time to head to the tourist hub of Morocco. Despite being Morocco’s most famous destination, Marrakech wasn’t exactly my favorite. However, I can understand why it is the biggest tourist hub of the country. From the bustling scenes of Djemaa Al Fna and the souks, to the stunning monumnets like the Koutoubia and Badi Palace, there is much to explore in Marrakech. It’s home to great restaurants, cozy cafes, and the best nightlife in Morocco. Although many tourists visit Marrakech, it’s still easy to immerse oneself in the authentic local culture while here.
Marrakech is also an excellent home base for taking day trips. Its popularity as a tourist destination and proximity to many of Morocco’s travel destinations makes it perfect for exploring the nearby attractions. There are countless tour offerings to keep you busy, including to Ouzoud, Imlil, and of course, the Sahara Desert.
Where To Stay: Riad Layla Rouge
Day Trip to Ouzoud: 1 Day
While in Marrakech, a day trip to Ouzoud Waterfalls is essential. It’s one of the most beautiful natural attractions in a country filled with stunning natural diversity and beauty. I’d recommend visiting as a day tour from Marrakech, as there isn’t much else to do in Ouzoud aside from the waterfalls. If you have a day to kill in Marrakech, this is the day trip that I’d recommend.
Sahara Desert Excursion: 3 Nights
No one’s time in Morocco is complete without spending a night camping in the Sahara Desert. Along with day trips from Marrakech, many hostels and tour agencies offer excursions to the Sahara Desert. The main options are a 2-day trip to Zagora or a 3-day trip to Merzouga. I’d recommend the 3-day trip. It is a long drive to the desert. A fast-paced trip in 2 days means that you’ll be spending the majority of your trip in the car.
With a three day trip, we were able to take our time getting to the desert. Although we only spent one night there, we stopped by several of Morocco’s other travel destinations. The historic village of Ait Benhaddou, the stunning natural beauty of Todhra Gorge and Dades Gorge, and a short stop in Ouarzazate were the biggest highlights.
Once you arrive in Merzouga, you’ll take a camel to your Bedouin camp where you’ll spend the night camping in the desert. You’ll have a traditional Bedouin dinner, followed by a bonfire and music underneath a starlit sky. It’s an incredible experience, and arguably the best thing to do in Morocco.
After the trip, you’ll end up back in Marrakech where you can take a night to relax or go straight to Imlil.
Imlil: 2 Nights
Imlil is a small mountain town about two hours’ drive from Marrakech. It’s most famous attraction is Mount Toubkal, the tallest mountain in North Africa. Reaching the summit requires a two-day hike, with one night spent camping at a refuge. The short length makes it a doable summit for hikers of all levels. It’s the perfect way to escape from the chaos of Marrakech, immersed in Morocco’s beautiful Atlas Mountains.
From Imlil, catch a bus back up to Marrakech. From Marrakech, it’s easy to get anywhere else within the country if you plan on continuing your Morocco adventures. Or, wrap up your time in Morocco and catch a flight to new destinations. Capping off your time in Imlil just goes to show how diverse Morocco truly is. From the sands of the Sahara to the waves of the Atlantic, the lush, green valleys of Akchour to the rugged Atlas Mountains, Morocco truly has it all.
Buy Me A Beer!
If this post helped you out, show some love and support for the blog and help keep my adventures going by buying me a beer! My adventures are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated, and allows me to keep writing helpful travel guides and creating travel content to help you all travel the world on a budget.
More on Morocco
The Backpacker’s Travel Guide to Marrakech
The Backpacker’s Travel Guide to Fes
The Backpacker’s Travel Guide to Essaouira
The Backpacker’s Travel Guide to Chefchaouen