Marrakech – Rabat – Fez – Chefchaouen – Tangier – Asilah – Marrakech
Duration: 6 Nights, 7 Days
Our Hip Rif Mountains Adventure offers the opportunity to discover Morocco beyond Marrakech, not only exploring the Atlantic coastline and visiting coastal resorts, but also offering glimpses of the majestic Atlas Mountains, the historic Oasis towns and great imperial cities. This tour has been curated so that it will give you an all-encompassing insight into the country’s identity.
Travelling from the frenetic energy of Marrakech, you will explore the Hassan II Mosque of Casablanca; the imperial city of Rabat; the cultural delights of Fez; the photogenic Chefchaouen; the port of Tangier; the idylic Asilah and much more.
- Day 1:
Depart from Marrakech, visiting the Hassan II Mosque before continuing on to Rabat for your overnight stay.
Bright and early at 9.00am, our driver will meet you at a dedicated pick up point close to your accommodation in the heart of Marrakech. The Grand Tour begins with a pleasant journey to Casablanca to visit the majestic Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco and North Africa. Unlike the majority of Mosques, which are closed off to people who are not of the Islamic faith, the Hassan II Mosque differs in that it allows visitors of all faiths to come in and view the inside of the building; and how thankful and lucky we are! As designed by French Architect Michel Pinseau for Hassan II, the king of Morocco between 1961-1999, the Hassan II Mosque stands on a prominent piece of land, majestically rising out of the Atlantic sea. Inspired by a verse in the Qu’ran which states god’s throne should be built on water, sections of the mosque’s floor has a glass floor so worshippers can kneel over the water. The hour-long tour of the Hassan II Mosque not only offers the opportunity to see one of the great architectural structures of Modern Islam, but it is also an opportunity to learn more about the religion which is so significant to Moroccan culture and society.
From Casablanca, your tour continues on to Rabat, Morocco’s the capital of Morocco since 1956 and your home for the night. Rabat has not yet established itself as a world-renowned tourist destination, but visitors to the city will not be disappointed. Rabat has a long and rich history, and it showcases plenty of monuments from the Phoenician, Roman, Almohad and Merenid times. Set amongst the neat colonial architecture and well-kept palm-lined boulevards you will find many gems, such as the Oujada, a 12th cent. fortress at the mouth of the Bou Regrey river; the Hassan tower and Mausoleum of Mohammed V, both set in serene gardens; and the Chellah, Roman ruins set on the outskirts of Rabat which is now home to many interesting stalk nests.
Approx. 6hrs travel
- Day 2:
Depart from Rabat, visiting Meknes, Moulay Idriss, Volubliss, before continuing on to Fez for your overnight stay.
The second day of the tour begins with a trip to Meknes, which was once the capital city of Morocco during the rule of Moulay Ismail in the 17th and 18th cent. Today, it is possible to trace the architectural legacy of Sultan Moulay Ismail through out Meknes. This includes, Place el Hedim, a popular meeting place with fancy street lamps, food stalls and fountains; Bab Mansour, a grand gateway dominating the southern end of the Place el Hedim square; and Koubba el Khayaine, an ismail which is still used to receive foreign ambassadors.
Found a short distance from Meknes lie Moulay Idriss and Volubilis, your next stops on the tour, two locations are key to understanding Morocco’s long, varied history. Moulay Idriss holds a special place in the heart of Moroccans. It is here where Moulay Idriss I, the great grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, arrived in 789AD, bringing with him the religion of Islam and starting a new dynasty. Thanks to the religious significance of this town, the narrow streets of Moulay Idriss were once a no-go zone or non-Muslims until 2005. Today, however, this historic town has been opened up for all to explore.
Located a short 5km ride from Moulay Idriss is Volubilis, a partially excavated Roman city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in the 3rd cent. BC, Volubilis became an important outpost of the Roman Empire. Interestingly, however, the city’s distance from Rome meant that it never paid taxes, giving the city a reputation for opulence and extravagance. Today, thanks to its relative isolation in relation to Morocco’s main towns and cities, Volubilis has not been occupied in over 1000 years. Thanks to this, some of the opulence and extravagance has remained intact and can be still seen today: for example, the city is home to arguably some of the best-kept Roman mosaics in the world.
From Volubilis, you will continue on to Fez. After settling down in your accommodation for the night, you will have the opportunity to explore the city and all it has to offer. Fez is the intellectual and spiritual home of Morocco and houses pleasant souks, architecturally rich streets and a sprawling imperial district.
Approx. 6hrs travel
- Day 3:
Exploring Fez and surrounding area. An extra nights stay in Fez.
Fez definitely deserves an extra day of exploration, as there is so much to see and do. In the morning you will take a guided tour of the old medina, Fez el Bali, which is the largest medina in the Arab world. After lunch you will carry on exploring with a visit to University of al-Karaouine, one of the oldest universities in the world. For a chilled, relaxed evening, we also highly recommend you visit one of the city’s amazing restaurants offering delicious local cuisine (price not included).
- Day 4:
Depart from Fez, heading towards the Rif Mountains, visiting Ouezzanne and Chefchauen. Then continuing onto Tangier for your overnight stay.
After spending the night in Fez, you will drive northeast in the direction of the Riff Mountains. Situated on the edge of the Riff range is Ouezzane, your first stop of the day. The city of Ouezzane is considered holy by many: it is both the home of the pillars of Sufism, described as the ‘inner mystical dimension of Islam’, and the home of the tomb of several marabouts, saints prevalent within Morocco’s Jewish community. Interestingly, although Morocco’s main religion is Islam, it is thought to have the largest community in the Muslim world. The town of Ouezzane is an excellent introduction to this diverse history.
As you continue to ascend further up the Riff Mountains, you will notice how fertile and green the landscape is in comparison to the dusty, red Atlas range. This brings a welcome stillness to your surroundings, allowing for respite from the Moroccan sun. Hidden amongst the lush greens of the Rif range is the dazzling blue of Chefchauen. This blue-rinsed mountain village regularly makes it into the ‘things to see before you die’ and ‘top places to visit in the world’ lists, and it is easy to see why. To simply say, almost every building, every wall, and a lot of the floors are painted in a bright and brilliant ultramarine blue does not do Chefchauen justice. The town is very much a “you must see it to believe it” location, just look at the photos we have included to the right for a taste of what to expect. From Chefchauen, you will continue onto the Moroccan port city of Tangier, your home for the night.
Approx. 6hrs travel
- Day 5:
Exploring Tangier and surrounding area. An extra night stay in Tangier.
Situated on the Northern tip of Morocco, Tangier is often known as the ‘gateway to Africa’ as it has been a strategic gateway between Africa and Europe since Phoenician times. Since WW2, the city became an international zone, attracting artists, hippies and eccentric foreigners. More recently Tangier has developed as a coastal resort, with sandy beaches, hotels and a wealth of restaurants.
Of course, with such a vibrant and varied city you will need time to explore this city, and we have set day 5 aside for such a task. We highly recommend you visit the impressive ‘Grand Socco’, a plaza hinged between the old town and new town of Tangier, This is truly a postcard scene.
Day 5 also includes a trip to the caves of Hercules. The caves of Hercules, located just 14 km west of Tangier, are a place of stunning natural beauty. Partially man-made and partially natural, the mouths of the caves open up onto the Atlantic. When the tide comes in, water gushes up through these massive holes in the ground and hillside in an impressive fashion At low tide, the views inside caves looking out over the ocean are stunning, revealing the blue ocean and clear Moroccan sky.
- Day 6:
Day trip form Tangier to Asilah. Overnight stay in Tangier.
On your second to last day, you will visit Asilah a small coastal settlement situated on the northwestern tip of the Moroccan Atlantic Coast. Asilah once functioned as an old Portugese port, after having been invaded in the 15th Cent. Today, the town exists as a popular holiday destination for Moroccans and International tourists alike, offering quiet golden beaches and whitewashed Mediteranian-style house. Asilah is also home to a thriving art scene and hosts a festival dedicated to music and art every year in August. If you are not lucky enough to visit Asilah during the ‘International Cultural Festival’ then do not worry, you will not miss out. Part of the festival includes a mural painting competition, and the winners of this competition remain on the medina walls all year round – a definite must-see for any trip to the town.
- Day 7:
Travel from Tangier back to Marrakech.
Today, on the final day of the tour, you will travel back to Marrakech, following the Atlantic Coastline past Rabat and Casablanca, before heading inland to Marrakech. Although this is a fairly travel intensive day, there will be plenty of opportunities for breaks along the way: a final opportunity to take in the majestic Moroccan coastline.