What shouldn't I miss with 2 weeks in Morocco?

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Jun 1st, 2007, 07:39 PM
  #1
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What shouldn't I miss with 2 weeks in Morocco?

Hi everybody,

I'd like to visit Morocco for two weeks next year, so I have a few questions:

1. What places shouldn't I miss?
2. What's the best bookguide of Morocco?
3. What's the best time of the year to visit it?

Thanks.
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Jun 1st, 2007, 07:50 PM
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Dar Seffarine in Fes...fabulous riad.
Driving from Marrakech to Fes via the Atlas and the Sahara.
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Jun 1st, 2007, 11:49 PM
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1. Places to visit: Marrakech, Fes, Rabat, the Sahara (Merzouga or Mhamid), Chefchaouen, Essaouira, Jebel Toubkal. It would take you more than two weeks to see all this, so a lot depends on your interests.

2. Lonely Planet is the most popular guidebook, but the Eyewitness and Footprint guides are also good. TripAdvisor is also an excellent resource.

3. Spring. Hands down. Summer is roasting and winter is cool and rainy in the north. March thru May is the best time.
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Jun 2nd, 2007, 02:53 AM
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Another vote for a visit to the Sahara.
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Jun 2nd, 2007, 08:13 AM
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The Cadogan Guide written by Barnaby Rogers is excellent. Filled with history and background information as well as locations, sites not to miss, etc.
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Jun 3rd, 2007, 05:27 PM
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Hi again and thanks for all the suggestions,

So far Casablanca, Essaouira, Marrakesh and Fes are the places I don't want to miss.

How long should I stay in each city?
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Jun 4th, 2007, 12:29 AM
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Sorry, but why Casablanca? What a hell hole! My recommendation is definitely to skip it.

Allow 3 days for Fes, 3-5 for Marrakech, 2 for Essaouira...These are minimums.
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Jun 4th, 2007, 01:39 AM
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Hi again,

I thought Casablanca would be interesting because of the Hassan II Mosque. Besides, I have to go through Casablanca anyway to enter and leave Morocco.

Thanks.
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Jun 4th, 2007, 01:46 AM
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Since that's the case, do go see the mosque (it is beautiful and worth a visit), but I'd minimise the time spent in Casa. There's little to do there and it just feels like a big dirty city...its a shame that Casa is often the first and/or last impression visitors have of Morocco.
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Jun 4th, 2007, 03:02 PM
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Jenmaroc is correct. Casablanca is a big noisy city. The mosque is beautiful and well worth a visit but that's it for Casa. Get on the road to a more interesting city.

I went last year and after we landed we visited the mosque then drove about 90 minutes to Rabat, which is a very attractive city.

Check the guidebooks. I don't remember reading any that recommended spending much time in Casablanca.
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Jun 5th, 2007, 05:33 AM
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Don't miss the Sahara and night in the desert! I would go with Les Nomades if you want quality.

Spring is the time to go, but March can be cold and May can start getting hot. April is high season for a reason.We were there then and did not find it too busy, but do book early.

Dar Seffarine and Fes is a must see, I would skip Casablanca and spend less time in Marakech. ( 1 or 2 days is plenty).

The best of Morocco is the desert and high atlas and Fes. Be prepared for third world like you have never seen it.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 08:07 AM
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Hi again,

Is September a good time of the year to visit Morocco?

Can anybody recommend me where to stay in Casablanca, Fes, Marrakesh and Essaouira?

Thanks.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 08:12 AM
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We had three days in Marrakech (4 nights) and two would have been enough. It depends, however, if you want to relax as part of your vacation. We tend to go, go, go when we travel doing all the sightseeing we can. Therefore three days would be nice if you want to take it at a slower pace.
We stayed in a hotel in Merzouga and took the camel ride out into the dunes to watch the sunset (about 2 hours).
That was a great way for us as sleeping out there didn't appeal to us (must be getting old!!).
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Jun 6th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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I was in Morocco last September and it was very hot, especially in the desert. I don't know if that is typical, but the Moroccans I met said spring is the best time to go -- end of March & April. If you can't do that October or November might be okay too.

The hotels I stayed in were okay, but I think I would like the riads that I've read about here on Fodors better. I prefer smaller to large, touristy hotels. I hope you get some good recommendations.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 08:56 AM
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Hmmm... I don't know whether I'm acting impulsively but I suddenly have the opportunity to travel to Morocco this year's September.

This seems to be my final itinerary:

1 night in Casablanca.
3 nights in Fes.
3 nights in Marrakesh.
3 nights in Essaouira.
2 nights in Casablanca.

My favorite thing when I travel is wandering through cities, visit markets, trying the typical food, spending time on the beach, etc. I'm not into museums at all.

Is the 2nd and 3rd week of September a good time of the year to do this itinerary?

Any ideas on where to stay? My budget is no more than 70 Euros (100 US dollars) for a double room with breakfast.

Does this itinerary sound rushed or doable?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and give me your always valuable opinions.
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Jun 8th, 2007, 07:22 AM
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I would give up the time in Casablanca and maybe one night in Marrakech and Essouria and go for the desert.

You really must see the Sahara dunes there even if you do not want to take a camel trek. Do a quad ride..it is great fun!!

One of our favorite places was near Oarzarte ( sp) we stayed at riad ellouze and I could have stayed a week there...very nice and near a world heritage site.


Don't miss the high atlas and desert!! Moroccan cities are overwhelming ( not relaxing except in your riad and you may not be in a very nice one at those prices).
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Jun 9th, 2007, 04:11 AM
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Haha, I thought I'd answered the question already since I recognized your user name. But it was the one you posted on the Europe board about Romania that was phrased almost the same way that I answered.

So, having just been in Morocco in April (and happened to meet WTNow along the way):

I liked Essaouira. A lot of people day trip it, but we liked the laid back atmosphere. Yes, it is a lite version of the country due to lots of Euro influence, but was great as a place to start our trip and dip the toes in. We flew into Casablanca, decided we didn't want to stay and took the next train/bus combo (you can buy as one ticket) to Essaouira. No regrets.

We liked Fez over Marrakech, quite frankly. Fez is exactly what I had envisioned Marrakech would be, minus the pink colors and snow capped Atlas views. But inside the medina, Fez is amazing and total immersion, while Marrakech seems to follow you everywhere, trying to sell you a carpet. Marrakech was a first-site "wow" and the first day or two was fun, but I really started to long for being able to observe and not be the center of attention. The first night we went to the el Fna, both our eyes were wide and mouths open. By the third night, the idea of having to walk through the square again wasn't appealing to either of us. You gotta do Marrakech, but...

Fez, on the other hand - especially without the loud, exhaust belching motorbikes of Marrakech, just sucked us right in at the Bab Rcif. Really, I thought it felt like a couple of steps and you'd just time warped into the little warren of streets and sounds. And Dar Seffarine is amazing...

We liked Chefchaouen too. A small town, also used to laid back tourists like Essaouira is. This times mountains instead of coastal, a bit of minor pot smoking instead of windsurfing. We got asked a couple of times, nothing major, just said "no" and all that. Anyway, Chaoen is very pretty in white and blue, the medina winding up the hillside. The upper west side of the town is away from the shops catering to tourists and we had a great time in conversations with people up there. Not a huge amount to do, but the town itself is an attraction and it's just enjoyable to be there.

We also enjoyed the market and stay at a town called Azrou. Nothing to recommend it as a tourist site, which I think is why we enjoyed it so much. But it was an authentic market and nice people up in the middle Atlas there. And if you're wanting to buy crafts and whatnot, prices are dirt cheap before bargaining (a skill you *will* find useful in Morocco, and that's a major understatement). We bought a beautiful, fairly large, locally-made rug in Azrou, such as we'd seen in the cities, for 200 dirham. Most definitely not machine made. Saw and discussed prices for similar rugs at 10 times as much or more in Marrakech.

When we were approached later in the trip by carpet guys, we mentioned we didn't need any more carpets, that we'd bought one in Azrou. They can be very persistant, saying they could give you a good price. But more than once they said "oh, you've been to Azrou?" and actually stopped trying to sell and walked away. lol

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Jun 9th, 2007, 04:37 AM
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Oh, and I do have to agree on the desert. I just read your latest itinerary and realized that you hadn't included it. It really wasn't our favorite part at all, not even 2nd place, but no way I would want to have missed it. I wouldn't recommend 3 days total to Casablanca and skipping the Sahara.

We didn't end up tent sleeping on our trip either. We'd planned to, but because we chose a small hotel at the edge of the dunes, we decided we didn't really want to trek out for the night and sit in a circle with other tourists. We really just wanted to star gaze, so we took our flashlight we'd brought and went up over a dune at twilight, away from nearby lights and laid on a dune until we were ready to come back to a bed. They had a group playing music in a back room at the hotel, pretty much the same tagines they'd have had on the trek and a sandy terrace to sit and be outside. The next morning, we took a two hour sunrise camel ride out and back and climbed a dune to see the sun come up. It was nice without feeling too organized, if that makes sense. Still got to do all we wanted in the desert.

And if you're really thinking of missing the Sahara, I have a couple of pictures I took to share with you to try to convince you otherwise:

http://www.treklens.com/gallery/Afri...hoto287978.htm

http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Afr...hoto664815.htm
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Jun 9th, 2007, 06:58 AM
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Clifton,

WOW. What fabulous photos.

Your post is great too, I'm copying for my file. I agree with you about Marrakech, two days was enough for me, and Fez is fascinating. Thanks for the info on Azrou. Is it on the road to Merzouga? Where did you stay there?

I'm planning to return in the spring and visit different places than on my first visit. Returning to the desert wasn't on my agenda, but after seeing your photos ... It was rainy when I was there, no sunrise or sunset and I think I missed something special.
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Jun 10th, 2007, 05:42 AM
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Thanks Luisah, very nice of you to say.

Actually, I don't know if what exactly to encourage about the desert, to be honest. We know we wouldn't want to miss it. At the same time, even with the nice views (both those pics were taken from the terrace at the little auberge next to seasonal Yasmina Lake), I don't think we'd go back out there ourselves. We did what we wanted to. But we wouldn't want to always wonder what we missed if we didn't go. The first couple of hours were a major wow looking at the dunes. Then again, seeing the stars in full glory. But I'm glad we didn't say on extra nights and moved on. Other people's wow kept going a lot longer though, from what I've read. So.... hard to say what to recommend to people. I like a lot of human interaction though, something not involving hotel staff, eating, other sort of financially backed encounters. That's why I liked spending time more around Azrou, Chaouen and such. We seemed to end up seeing the wonders, but then staying where we could come in contact with more people.

On Azrou - yes, it's just off the main road between Fez and Merzouga. Only about an hour to 1.5 hours south of Fez, so I think a lot of people don't see it as a stopover. Too early to stop after leaving Fez on their way to the desert, or too soon to stop the other way, if you're almost to Fez anyway.

And actually, we almost didn't stay either. The town was kind of Euro in styling. Nothing at all like the non-Moroccan style of Ifrane (condos anyone?). But still, not the classic medina either. We nearly left but didn't have a reservation anywhere in Fez yet, so we stuck around. so glad we did. Proved to be a good base for a drive around the rim of the valley, where Azrou sits in the Middle Atlas. Mild but pretty scenery with cedar forests. There's a large troop of monkeys near the little village of Tagounite above Azrou. Much wilder than the ones at the parking lot mentioned in LP that tourists feed. Really pretty drive up there too which leads to a town that LP refers to as a Berber town. I can' find my dang LP to remember the name of that town.

Also can't remember the name of the hotel in Azrou, but it's in the Lonely Planet. Was actually a fancy looking Victorian house, but the rooms are a little antiseptic. Fine though... clean, a little view over the town. It was the one right in town though, a few blocks above the main plaza/circle, then off the main street a block, at a dead end/cul de sac. We got a discount down to about 200 dirham as t

There's a bunch of street/small cafe stalls along the main circle and everyone wants to get you to sit down for a tagine. Very nicely though, no Marrakech tactics. And if you notice, they do the same charm and sell to the locals passing by. Carpet shops along near this stretch actually have people sitting in them, *waiting* for customers like a regular shop keeper, and not coming out to drag you in. Kind of like Essaouira in being laid back, maybe more so.

But the best deals were at the market, which is on Tuesday mornings. It's just a normal, but big, market. Livestock being auctioned, lots of blanks on the ground selling fruit and veggies, shoes, CDs and housewares. And rugs. When we walked up the road where everyone's josting for parallel parking along the road, the first thing we saw was a man in a jelaba tying a live sheep to the top of a marked, lime-green Fiat Uno petite taxi. I love everyday stuff that reminds me I'm not at home anymore!

Too long post, sorry about that. Hope your next trip to Morocco goes great!
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