From the bustling, hive of activity that is the central Medina in Marrakesh to the relaxed, cool surf scene that is Essaouira, Morocco is perfect for backpackers. The cities are full to the brim with culture, delicious food and interesting architecture and surround them are pristine deserts and rugged mountain ranges ready to be explored. There is something for everyone in this North African jewel of a country. I recommend keeping it simple on a 10 day trip, you want to see a lot but get a feel for the places you visit. So here is my 10 day backpacking itinerary for Morocco with a few extra stops which you can add if you are lucky enough to have a little longer to explore.
Morocco has a turbulent history. Constantly being invaded by different countries, each has left behind various influences. You will find a unique blend of Mediterranean, African, Berber, Arab, Jewish and French traditions and people speaking Arabic, Berber, French and Spanish! English is also widely understood and the friendly Moroccan hospitality means you’re unlikely to feel out of your depth. However, the cities are an assault on the senses, bartering is expected and if you’re blonde you will attract some unwanted attention. It took me a few days to get used to but once I had, I was able to enjoy everything Morocco has to offer!
SIMPLE 10 DAY BACKPACKING ITINERARY FOR MOROCCO!
BASE 1 – MARRAKESH
Marrakesh – this backpacking itinerary for Morocco starts in Marrakesh, where I started my trip. Most international flights, certainly the cheapest when coming from the UK, land in Marrakesh Menara Airport so it makes sense to explore the capital first. I recommend finding a beautiful traditional Riad in the centre of the city near the Medina so that everything is in walking distance. It also means you’ll have an easily accessible escape from the intensity of this city.
Ouzoud Waterfalls – the Atlas mountains are definitely worth exploring. From your base in Marrakesh you can visit the Ouzoud Waterfalls as a day trip. I organised mine through my Riad. The trip, which included transport both ways, a guide for the day and lunch, cost £20. You could go without a guide but in this instance I’d recommend one unless there is a particular hike you want to do. We stopped multiple times to swim in the rivers, paddled out under the huge waterfalls and saw plenty of beautiful views over the mountains.
Essaouira – especially important for Game of Thrones fans and surfers, you have to include Essaouira in your backpacking itinerary for Morocco! I visited the little port town as a day trip from Marrakesh as I didn’t have any surfing planned. However, you could spend longer here and get a later bus back to Marrakesh or further up the coast depending on your plans. It was very beautiful and the fresh Atlantic air was amazing after the stifling heat of the city.
BASE 2 – TANGIER
Tangier – from Marrakesh you catch the overnight train to Tangier. Compartments contain four beds (two bunks) so if there are four of you it is ideal. The trains are really reliable, cheap and very fun. In Tangier, finding a traditional Riad is a little harder so here you either stay in a hostel or hotel depending on your budget. There is a lot to do and see in Tangier to keep you busy.
Chefchaouen – this is a must do day trip from Tangier and any backpacking itinerary for Morocco. If you have time, it is worth an over night stay so you can hike to Akchour Waterfalls. The town is located in the Rif Mountains of Northern Morocco and is famously, painted entirely blue. In the centre is a small Kasbah which is surrounded by winding streets, souks and locals weavers on Berber looms.
Asilah – a day spent in Asilah is the perfect, most relaxing way to end the trip. It was built by colonial Portuguese and the Medina is entirely fortified, surrounded by 15th century, white wash walls. Here you can enjoy much cleaner beaches than in Tangier. There were also lots of camels cooling off in the sea and locals riding horses along the endless stretches of sand. It is a haven for art lovers as well. Artists from across the globe flock in to paint their murals on the towns walls.
OPTIONAL EXTRA STOPS
The Sahara Desert can be visited as a 2-3 night tour from Marrakesh. Most tours include staying in a Berber village, riding camels and all food. The overnight train from Marrakesh to Tangier travels along the Atlantic coast which means stopping in the famous town of Casablanca is very easy. Rabat is another easy stop on the overnight train. Generally people seem to think there is more to do in Rabat than Casablanca.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Transport – travelling by train is by far the easiest option and a likelihood in any backpacking itinerary for Morocco. The over night train I took cost 250 Dirhams which is about £50. I felt completely safe. There are women only carriages if you prefer or you can buy all four beds in a carriage! I was travelling with three friends so it worked out really well. Travelling by bus is cheaper but would have taken too long from Marrakesh to Tangier. However, the day trips I did from both bases were all done via bus. You can book them through Riads, hotels or hostels.
Clothing – Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country so it is best to cover your shoulders to be respectful especially when entering mosques. I went in September and it was sweltering so I covered up to stop getting burnt too.
Catcalling – As I mentioned before, it took me a few days to get used to all the unwanted attention I received from men during my time in Morocco. They were pretty relentless but you get used to brushing them off. Because I am blonde I also found people were quite interested in my hair but again I got used to it. Overall the catcalling was pretty harmless. Check out my post on dealing with unwanted attention if you are worried.
– How to Deal With Unwanted Attention – Advice for Solo Female Travellers
Morocco is a great place to backpack. In fact this was my first ever backpacking trip which I took with three school friends before starting university. It is well travelled and an exciting country to explore. I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time, whatever route you take!