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Donaill Aug 14th, 2007 07:05 PM

How long in Casablanca, Essaouira, Marrakech and Fez?
Good evening,

Would anybody tell me how long I should spend in these four cities? My LonelyPlanet bookguide doesn't list many landmarks in each city (specially in Fez and Essaouira), so I'm kind of confused concerning how many days I should spend in each taking into account that gardens and museums aren't my thing. I like markets and religious buildings, but, as a non-muslim, I know I won't be allowed to any mosque.

Thank you.

jgg Aug 14th, 2007 08:46 PM

We have not been to Essaouria and only flew out of Casablanca so can't help you there. I would say two full days for Fez and three full days for Marakkech, one day being a daytrip to the High Atlas Mtns. Of course, you could spend more time in each, (particularly if you are interested in devoting a day just to bargaining/shopping) but assuming you do not have unlimited amount of time, I think you could see the majority of sites in that amount of time.

You did not mention going to the desert. It was the highlight of our trip (and many others here on this board). It is a long drive out there and best broken up in two days from Marakkech to Merzouga (desert). However, if you have the time, I would strongly recommend this.

LisaG Aug 14th, 2007 09:31 PM


Not knowing anything else (your budget, activity level desired, total length of trip, time of year, etc.), I'll give this as a ballpark estimate:

Casablanca: 0 days
Essaouira: 1-2 days
Marrakech: 3 days
Fez: 4 days

The medina (market) in Fez could keep you busy for many days alone! It's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. The surrounding area has Roman ruins (Volubulis) that warrant a one-day trip.

And I'll strongly agree with jgg regarding the Atlas mountains and the Sahara. I think it's worth staying in one of the kasbahs or even in the desert. The High Atlas mountains are incredible.

Hope that helps narrow things down for you! Please post more questions as they come up for you....there are quite a few posters on this board who have been to Morocco and/or live in Morocco.

Happy travels,


Donaill Aug 15th, 2007 10:13 AM

Hi and thank for your replies.

I'll be in Morocco for 11 nights and I've already chosen the riads where I'll stay. I'd thought of 1 for Casablanca, 3 for Essaouira, 3 for Marrakech and 4 for Fez. How does it sound?

Thanks again.

jenmaroc Aug 15th, 2007 10:51 AM

I agree with previous posters - I'd skip Casablanca and limit Essaouira to one or two nights. Three there is a bit much - its a very small, quiet town. Not much in the way there of markets or religious buildings...or even interesting architecture.

Why not add a day in Rabat - its so much nicer than Casa? The Kasbah Oudaya, the Chellah, and the Tour Hassan are all worth a visit.

LisaG Aug 15th, 2007 07:01 PM


What is your interest in being in Casablanca? Is it because you'll be arriving on a late plane and need to stay there overnight? If so, then that's a pretty good reason. I agree with Jenmaroc that there's not much other reason to be there compared to all the rest that Morocco has to offer!

I also agree with Jenmaroc that 3 nights in Essaouira is probably overkill. It would make sense if what you seek is tranquility and peace for that amount of time.

If you are not interested in going to other cities to stay (I'm assuming that from your responses but I could be reading you incorrectly), then I would recommend that you extend your stay in both Fes and Marrakech. Do day-trips from each city. There are some amazing things to do that require a full day and you can still come back to your riad.

Those are the only changes I would recommend. And so my new list would be:

Casablanca: 0 nights
Essaouira: 2 nights
Marrakech: 4 nights (1 or 2 day trips)
Fes: 5 nights (2 day trips)

By the way, even though you say you don't like gardens (not my usual cup of tea either), I'd recommend that you see the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech. An amazing display of plants gathered by a single-minded gardener over a lifetime from around the world. The colors are a feast for the eyes, and a quiet visual interlude from all the intricate architecture in Morocco.

Happy Travels,


jgg Aug 15th, 2007 07:42 PM

I completely agree with LisaG about the Marjorelle Gardens. I am not really into gardens either but really enjoyed our visit there. Even our kids (ages 11 and 14) liked it there. There is also a small museum inside with Islamic antiquities. It costs just a few dirham more, very small but quite interesting.

deeboy Aug 16th, 2007 10:45 AM

I disagree with the other posters who dismiss Casablanca. We found it an amazing place to visit for the following reasons:

* one of the four biggest metropolises in Africa - the flavour and buzz of a big African city comes in complete contrast to somewhere like Marrakech and is the modern other face of Morocco.

* the rather Cote d'Azur, quite sophisticated feel of the Corniche which is essentially the upmarket beach suburb of the city - good fun with a wide and surprisingly cosmopolitan choice of bars, restaurants and even some rather fun clubs where you can get to know the very friendly younger, more liberal Moroccans - and of course a great and truly African darkish-sand rolling-waves Atlantic beach.

*the Hassan II mosque - the second largest in the world I think and a feat of modern architecture/ construction. One of the few non-Muslims can enter, and a great guided tour. A highlight of our visit to Morocco.

*the feeling of faded grandeur and Humphrey Bogart in the architecture and streets of the city centre

While we loved Marrakech, the contrast of three or four days in Casablanca enabled us to see the other side of Morocco and get a tan by the beach too - so I'd say you should definitely make it an integral part of any 11 day tour.

In terms of accommodation, I'd strongly recommend a Riad (traditional Moroccan private in) in the old town of Marrakech. Google Riad and Marrakech and you'll find plenty of options. And I can highly recommend the modern beachside Riad Salam and Thalassopy centre in Casablanca - great location, huge rooms and superb breakfasts!

Hope this helps.


Donaill Aug 16th, 2007 06:07 PM

Hi and thanks again everybody for your opinions.

what I want to do is to get a feeling of the cities and visit the markets.

When I began travelling, I used to do the whole landmark after landmark kind of trip, but, at the end, I felt dissapointed because it seemed as if I had visited a book rather than a country.

I know 11 nights is rather short, but all I want is to wander and experience the places rather than visiting this or that landmark. If I run into them while I'm walking the city, fine, but I don't want to feel like I'm spending my time looking for them.

I wish I could stay more time, but I don't have the money for a longer vacation. I usually try to do modest trips so that I can travel every year.

I went to Italy last year and loved it. I'd sure would like to go to India next year, but it's still too early to know.

Frank_Francorum Oct 2nd, 2012 11:21 AM

I'm going to be in Morocco from December 15th to January 3rd backpacking alone. I have almost 3 weeks and planned on bypassing Casablanca and Tangiers an spending my time between Fez, Marrakesh, and the oasis in the desert. Has anybody planned a similar trip that would like to recommend a loose itenerary to follow? I'm going off the LP book now but want to get off the beaten track and (if possible or safe) do a bit of hitch-hiking. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

thursdaysd Oct 6th, 2012 06:40 AM

Welcome to Fodors. You are more likely to get useful answers if you start a new thread rather than reviving an old one. And hitch hiking isn't exactly common among Fodors' posters, you might get more input on that on Lonely Planet's thorntree.

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