The 2-Week Ultimate Morocco Trip (2019) - Travel Expense Breakdown + Tips + Itinerary

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Morocco has always been on my bucket list ever since I’ve watched Leonardo Dalessandri’s Watchtower of Morocco on YouTube. The video somehow evoked a sense of wonder in me that when a seat sale came up from Oman Air late last year, I did not think twice. I booked round trip tickets for me and my friends. Thank God my friends are ready for this kind of ‘book now, think later’ moments. Lol.

PS. This post is quite long so please have patience as it loads. I hope you’ll agree it’s worth it.
Welcome to Morocco!
Two days ago, we arrived from a 2-week trip in Morocco. It was everything I imagined it to be, and more.

After about a month of planning our Morocco itinerary, we settled on a route which led us through some of the country’s highlights: from the port city of Casablanca to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Fes, to the otherworldly Sahara and Atlas Mountains to the famous Game of Thrones filming location, Essaouira. We were just blown away by the variety of sights and scenery on our trip. For any of you planning a trip to Morocco, I'm including our actual itinerary, expenses and tips in this post. Also, I have added two suggested itineraries that you can fine tune based on your interests. 

Visa-free Morocco
It seems like nothing can stop Filipino travelers to travel the world, except, of course, when there’s visa restrictions to consider. Thank the universe, the Philippine passport strength has again improved in terms of ranking, which means we now have visa-free access to 66 countries around the world. This includes Morocco! Philippine passport holders can stay in Morocco for a total of 90 days, visa-free. You just have to present a current Philippine passport, valid for at least 6 months beyond the expected date of departure from Morocco. That’s it!

Getting to Morocco
Morocco would have been an affordable destination for us Filipinos if not for the expensive airfare from Manila to Casablanca. There are no direct flights from Manila to Casablanca, though there are two main indirect routings, one via Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates, the other via Muscat in Oman. The cheapest flights I found after months of airfare hunting is from Oman Air, with the Casablanca route from Manila, stopping and changing in Muscat. Typical travel times are around 19 to 25 hours. Roundtrip tickets costs at least 500-800 USD or 25,000-45,000 pesos from Manila.
our lovely accommodation in Dades Valley
How much does accommodation in Morocco cost?
Staying at hotels are relatively cheaper compared to staying at hotels in Manila. Budget hostels and family-run guesthouses are aplenty in Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech and Essaouira. For the entire duration of our stay, I only paid 6,137 pesos for accommodation. Check out my Instagram stories to see what kind of fab accommodation you could find in Morocco. :)

Travel Tip: Make sure to stay in hostels with FREE breakfast so you could save some money. Also, you don't have to worry about where to eat early in the morning.

*When looking for accommodations in Morocco, I found it very easy to book via Agoda.com. Here are my chosen accommodation:

Odyssee Center Hotel
Address: Angle rue Kamal Mohamed et، Rue Mohamed Al Quori, Casablanca

Dar Hlimi
Address: 16, DERB TARIANA KEBIRA, Fes El Bali, Fes

Boho 27 Hostel
Address: Derb Cherkaoui N27،, Marrakech


Getting around Morocco
Morocco’s inexpensive and generally reliable trains are the country’s preferred form of public transport. A train ride here is a real treat – you can sit comfortably on a second-class or first-class compartment enjoying the incredible Moroccan landscapes, while the train slowly rattles down the track. You can check the prices and timetables of the national railway operator ONCF here.

Another cheap but reliable option is by bus. A lot of local bus companies ply the country’s roads, often with dozens competing on the most popular routes including Casablanca to Marrakech, transporting people at little cost to all but the remotest regions. Levels of comfort can vary widely between companies - some have fleets of air-conditioned buses with TV and on-board snacks, while others run beaten-up old buses with no air-conditioning and smoke belching exhausts.  For extra comfort, I would recommend CTM Company and Nejme Chamal.
One of Morocco's best dishes called Tagine Kefta
How much does food in Morocco cost? 
Just like the cost of transportation and accommodation, food is relatively cheap in Morocco. Just to give you an idea, the average price of a meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) is 50-150 dirhams (270-800 pesos or 5-15 USD). Take a look at the expense summary at the very end of this post and you will see that I only spent 9,008 pesos for the entire duration of the trip! Of course, it could be lesser or greater than that depending on your food preference and appetite.

Trip Overview:
Our Morocco itinerary took us on a loop of the most popular destinations throughout Central and Northern Morocco, starting and ending in Casablanca. I have used numerous sources to draft this itinerary including PS. I'm On My Way's Morocco post. In reality, this route was completed in 11 days but since we had a long journey to get to Morocco, this entire trip took 2 weeks. Of course, this itinerary can be reduced or extended depending on the time you have available.

Route Summary:
Day 1: Arrival in Casablanca
Day 2: Casablanca to Fes
Day 3: Fes
Day 4: Chefchaouen
Day 5-7: Sahara and Atlas Mountains
Day 8: Marrakech
Day 9: Marrakech to Essaouira
Day 10: Marrakech
Day 11: Marrakech to Casablanca

Day 1: Arrival at Casablanca Airport 
After 30 hours of travel (2 plane rides, 1 long layover in Muscat, Oman and 1 train ride), we finally made it to Casablanca. My friends and I initially planned to explore the city as soon as we checked in to our hotel, Odyssee Center Hotel, but jet lag kicked in. Travelling from the Philippines to Africa messed up our biological clock so instead of seeing Casablanca’s best attractions, we ended up sleeping in our comfortable and luxurious hotel bed.

Read my hotel review here.
Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca
Day 2: Casablanca to Fes
On day 2, my friends and I woke up early to explore Casablanca before we travel to our next destination, Fes. Most travellers skip the city but I would highly recommend to spend at least a day in the capital. The imposing Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Africa, is one of the reasons why you should definitely visit Casablanca. YouTuber Lost Le Blanc said in one of his vlogs that he did not find cool stuff to feature in Casablanca.  I had that same thought when we visited the city but maybe we just did not look close enough :)

Highlights:
  • Hassan II Mosque
  • Casablanca Medina
  • Place Mohamed V
  • Corniche
  • Rick’s Cafe 
The Largest Tannery in Fes
Day 3: Fes
I woke up early in our accommodation, Dar Hlimi located in the heart of the medina, to catch the sunrise. Fes, one of the imperial cities of Morocco, is probably the most authentic Moroccan city my friends and I visited on this trip. There were foreign tourists like us but the vibrant local culture was very evident. I think we got a good glimpse of ramadan in this city and I consider it as one of the highlights of our Moroccan adventure.

Highlights:
  • The Royal Palace (Dar el Makhzen)
  • The Blue Gate (Bab Bou Jeloud) 
  • Chouara Tannery
  • Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts Crafts
  • Al Quaraouiyine Mosque - the oldest university in the world est. 857 AD
  • Merenid Tombs
Day 4: Fes to Chefchaouen then back to Fes
On day 4, my friends and I rented a car to go to Chefchouen also known as the Blue City. I am pretty sure you’ve seen this place before on Instagram. We initially planned to take a local bus but unfortunately, tickets got sold out days before the trip. We decided to rent a private car with a driver so we can reach the city ASAP and so could stop whenever we wanted. Renting a car wasn’t that expensive for us since we were 5 in the group. that will split up the cost. Anyway, I will talk about Chefchaouen in detail on my next posts. Watch out for it!
at the Blue City of Chefchaouen
Day 5: Fes to Merzouga
On day 5, we were picked up in our accommodation in Fes by our friendly and helpful driver/tour guide, Ali from Mouhou Tours. Prior to this trip, I researched the best Sahara Desert tour provider in Morocco and found many online. I was overwhelmed by so many options that’s why I checked out TripAdvisor. One company that caught my eye was Mouhou Tours because they had no negative feedback as of this writing, and they seemed to provide one of the most promising Sahara Desert tours in Morocco. There were lots of cheaper alternative but I decided to book with them.  We availed the private tour which costs 2,200 Moroccan Dirhams or about 12,000 pesos per person (we were 5 in the group). Was it worth it? Definitely.

Read about our 3-day Fes to Marrakech Sahara Desert Tour here!

Highlights:
  • Ifrane City -  the Moroccan Switzerland
  • Wild Monkeys in Cedar Forest
  • Midelt Town
  • Middle Atlas Mountains
  • Ziz Valley
  • Camel terkking in Merzouga
  • Overnight in Sahara Desert
Ziz Valley
Day 6: Merzouga to Dades Valley
On day 6, I woke up to one of the best sunrises I have ever seen! It was just a glimpse of what we experienced that day as our group made our way to some of Morocco’s best destinations. In the late afternoon, we check in to my absolute favourite road in Morocco, Riad Dades. I loved it so much because of its amazing views of Dades Valley. My words are not enough to describe it.

Highlights:
  • Sunrise in Sahara Desert
  • Camel trekking back to Merzouga
  • Fossil Gallery in Rissani
  • Todra Valley
  • Todra Gorge
  • Dades Valley
  • Overnight in Dades Valley
The beautiful Sahara Desert
Day 7: Dades Valley to Marrakech
After breakfast, we drove along the Rose Valley to Ouarzazate (pronounced Wa-za-zat) past Skoura Oasis, which is famed for its date palm trees. Then we visited the Atlas Film Studios, which is considered to be the largest film studio in the world. The main star of this day was Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known as the Slave City of Yunkai in the Game of Thrones. Seriously. My heart could not contain the excitement when I saw its iconic gate where some of the scenes of Daenaerys Targeryen were shot. 


Highlights:
  • Sunrise in Dades Valley
  • Rose Valley 
  • Atlas Film Studios at Ouarzazate 
  • The Game of Thrones filming location Ait Benhaddou
  • Tizi n'Tichka Pass 
  • Marrakech
Our driver/tour guide Ali drove us to Marrakech before the day ended. My friends and I really had a great time with him and it felt like saying good bye to a friend. If you guys are planning to do a 3-day Sahara Desert Tour, you should definitely go with Mouhou Tours and specifically ask for Ali!
feeling Daenaerys Targaryen at Ait Ben Haddou
Day 8: Marrakech
Marrakech is probably the most famous destination for a foreign tourist in Morocco. It’s easy to understand though because it is home to a lot of interesting sights. Because there’s so much to see in this city, I decided to allot at least thee days for us to explore it. I will tell more about Marrakech in detail on my upcoming posts. 

Day 9: Essaouira
On day 9, my friends and I joined a day-trip tour with iGoMorroco, a travel company that offers daily trips out of Marrakech to various destinations in Morocco. I initially planned an overnight trip to Essaouira but because of time constraints and heavy luggage, I decided against it. The charming and laid-back city of Essaouira is definitely one of my absolute favourites on this trip. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will surely recognise its ramparts because it was where Daenerys Targeryen bought the unsullied.

Day 10: Marrakech

Day 11: Marrakech to Casablanca to Muscat
It was our last day in Morocco. Our flight to Muscat, Oman was scheduled at 8:50 in the morning so we had to leave really early from Marrakech. We decided to stay in the city on our last night instead of travelling back to Casablanca because we wanted to make the most out of our stay. We partied and got drunk in our hostel. It was very memorable. We availed a private airport transfer to get to Casablanca Airport because there were no public transportation available in the wee hours of the morning in Marrakech. 
Essaouira
So, how much did I spend on this trip?
My itinerary was pretty much extensive, don’t you think? :) If you’re curious how much I spent, you can check out my excel file right here. In total, I spent 64,060 pesos inclusive of everything - airfare, food, accommodation, tours, local transportation, shopping, etc. I would say it was a pretty reasonable amount for a 2-week trip in Morocco.

1-Week Morocco Suggested Itinerary
Day 1 (Arrival in Casablanca)
Check in hotel
Hassan II Mosque Guided Tour
Explore the Corniche
Shopping at Casablanca Medina
Place Mohammed V

Day 2 (Casablanca to Fes)
Check out hotel
Train from Casa Voyageurs to Fes
Check in hotel
Afternoon tour of Fes

Day 3 to 5 - 3-day Sahara Desert Tour from Fes to Marrakech
I really recommend taking this tour from Fes to Marrakech to maximize your time in Morocco. Lots of amazing places await you on this journey. Trust me.

Day 6 (Marrakech)
Jardin Majorelle
Yves Saint Laurent Museum
Koutoubia Mosque
Ben Youssef Madrasa
Jemaa el-Fnaa

Day 7 (Marrakech)
Bahia Palace
El Badi
Saadian Tombs
Flight back to Casablanca or land travel the next morning

As you can see, this 1-week itinerary is very packed. A week is too short for Morocco but since not everyone can visit longer, I hope this itinerary will be useful to you. You can add an extra day if you want to see Chefchouen (Blue City) or Essaouira. If you have 2 weeks to spare, then my actual itinerary will be perfect for you!

Morocco Packing List
  1. Pashmina shawl
  2. International power adapter plug - 220V, 50Hz
  3. Sunscreen and sunglasses
  4. Insect repellant
  5. Day pack for your overnight desert stay
So, there you have it! I spent a lot of time researching and planning for the perfect 2-week Morocco itinerary, so this post is here to help you save some time when creating your own trip. I hope you find it useful, and do feel free to add your own tips in the comments section. Do you have any questions? Suggestions? Let’s chat down below! :)

Pin it for future reference!

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