Visit all of Morocco’s majestic imperial cities. Journey to Casablanca, Rabat and Fez, visiting Todra Gorge, camel trekking in the Sahara desert then Ait Benhaddou and its famous Kasbah, before finishing the action-packed tour in the bustling imperial city of Marrakech.
- Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca
- Fez medieval medina
- Marrakech Bahia Palace
Welcome to Morocco!
Today your flight arrives into Casablanca. After clearing customs and immigration procedures, you will be met by your representative and transferred to your hotel.
Casablanca, whose name evokes good living, romance and adventure in a tropical setting, is an image that the 1943 Humphrey Bogart film conveyed to cinema-goers in the drab years of WW II. Originally settled by Berbers in the 7th century, Casablanca’s fairly recent growth has made it the bustling, French-influenced business center of Morocco it is today.
Casablanca – Fez (4H00 - 293km)
This morning’s sightseeing begins with an excursion around the port city of Casablanca, Morocco’s largest metropolis and its industrial hub. During your tour you will visit the Hassan II Grand Mosque. The mosque is amongst the largest in the world and can house as many as 25,000 worshipers. The mosque’s minaret is the tallest religious structure in the world.
Built on reclaimed land, almost half of the surface of the mosque lies over the Atlantic water. This was inspired by the verse of the Qur'an that states "the throne of God was built on the water". Part of floor of this facility is glass so worshippers can kneel directly over the sea; above, lasers shine at night from the top of the minaret toward Mecca.
Today you take a step back in time to the Middle Ages when you visit one of the most imperial, timeless and untouched cities in the world - Fez El Bali (Old Fez) – the cultural heart of Morocco. You will explore some of the 9000 narrow lanes, alleys and souks that make-up the labyrinth of the city’s old quarter, originally founded in the 8th Century AD by Moulay Idriss I.
The Imperial capital was a renowned center of medieval learning and at its heart still remains the Karaouine, one of the oldest, still functioning universities in the world. In the neighboring building is the Attarine Medersa (Koranic college), a jewel of Hispano-Moorish architecture, built in the 14th Century.
Your walking tour includes a visit to Bab Boujloud, the former home of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides, the Talaa el-Kabira and Nejjarine Square, with its beautiful fountain with elaborate tile-work mosaics. The nearby Fondouq (Caravanserai) has been converted to a museum of carpentry artifacts.
You also visit Fez El Jedid (New Fez), built by the Merinid Dynasty in the 13th Century. Here you will see the Royal Palace, mosques, medersas, souks and the city wall. Most notably, Fez El Jedid is home to the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter, which provides an interesting insight into Jewish architecture.
The wrought iron decorated windows and splendid carved wood balconies of the old mansions are particularly outstanding. The medieval Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Absorb a panoramic view of the Royal Palace, continuing to the Museum of Moroccan Arts, which houses historical and artistic wood carvings, embroidery, tribal carpets and ceramics.
Fez – Rabat via Meknes & Volubilis
Fes – Rabat (3hours – 196 km)
After breakfast, you depart overland to Meknes (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), one of the Imperial Cities of Morocco. Your drive will take approximately 3 hours. In Meknes, the impressive monuments recall the splendor of a city, first built in the 17th Century by the powerful sultan Moulay Ismail, to rival the court of his contemporary Louis XIV of France.
During your visit to Meknes you will see the monumental Bab Mansour gateway - considered one of the finest of the great gates of Morocco, the Granaries and the Royal Stables, which were built to accommodate some 12,000 horses. You will also see Moulay Ismail’s Mausoleum, one of the few shrines in Morocco that can be visited by non-Muslims.
From here it is on to Volubilis (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), home to the largest and most well preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. With its Triumphal Arches, Basilicas and Capitols, the Volubilis skyline is peppered with examples of Roman architecture.
However, the greatest treasures of Volubilis are the superb mosaic floors, which have been excellently preserved and left in situ. Three outstanding examples include: Orpheus charming animals with his lyre, nine dolphins signifying good luck, and a portrait of Amphitrite in a chariot drawn by a seahorse.
Rabat – Marrakech
This morning, you embark on a city tour which highlights Rabat’s cultural influences and the superbly preserved relics of its Moorish past.
Rabat’s most famous site is the 12th Century Hassan Tower (an excellent example of the gorgeous Mauresque style), the incomplete minaret of the great mosque built by Yacoub al-Mansour. Located alongside is the mausoleum dedicated to Mohamed V, the founder of modern Morocco and grandfather of the current king.
You will also pay a visit to the Oudaya Kasbah, which is built on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Its gate is one of the most beautiful surviving in the Moorish world, and within its walls you'll explore a delightful craft museum (housed in a former palace) and Andalusian garden, complete with melodious fountain and sweet smelling orange trees. Beyond the city walls are the remains of the ancient city of Sala, also known as Chella.
Your journey then continues overland to Marrakech the “Pearl of the South” (also known as the “red city” because of the distinctive hue of its many brick buildings).
This morning, you set out to discover the secrets of Marrakech, the most famous city in Morocco. Most of the city’s architectural attractions are inside the Medina, the old walled section of the town. Today’s highlights include the Bahia Palace, Dar Si Said, the Koutoubia minaret and Djemaa El Fna.
The Bahia Palace is a masterpiece of domestic architecture which provides a good insight into how the privileged lived in the Imperial city in 19th Century. The use of marble, stucco and mosaics predominates in the apartments, opening on to courtyards filled with fountains and plant life.
Dar Si Said, one of the most beautiful palaces, is now home to the museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts. Inside are stunning collections of traditional woven carpets and Berber silver jewelry.
Built in the 12th Century, the Koutoubia minaret is the most perfect Islamic religious structure in North Africa. This famous landmark dominates the local skyline and can easily be spotted from all of Marrakech.
You also explore Djemaa El Fna, the city’s main square, and famous for its orange juice stalls. No one can really be certain how it came into being, but over the years the square has become the beating heart of Marrakech, where fire-eaters, mime artists, snake-charmers and street musicians perform at every turn.
Here you will have the opportunity to explore the souks of Marrakech.
This morning is at your leisure, a perfect opportunity for some last-minute shopping or sightseeing at your own pace.
In the afternoon, you will be spent sightseeing via horse-drawn carriage and visiting the beautiful gardens which are dotted around the city.
You begin with a visit to the Menara gardens, which date back to the 12th century and are set amongst extensive orchards and olive groves. At the center is a rectangular pool with a fabulous view of the Atlas Mountains.
From here it’s on to visit the Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Gardens), originally designed in 1924 by French artist Jacques Majorelle. After taking up residence in Marrakech, Majorelle transformed the property’s existing garden into a tropical paradise, surrounded by vivid cobalt blue buildings with verdant exotic groves, lily-covered pools, and enormous sculptural cactuses.
After Majorelle’s death, the property was purchased by the famous Couture fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent who established a trust to protect the future existence of the gardens.
These peaceful garden settings offer a variety of exotic plants such as bamboo, cacti, bougainvillea and palms. Streams and fish filled pools also flow through the tranquil gardens.
Today you bid farewell to Morocco as you depart for the airport where your international departure flight awaits.