Road trip to discover Morocco
Morocco, which borders the Atlantic Sea, harmonises with the Sahara and shelters the Atlas Mountains, awakens the adventurer hidden in each of our souls. Play modern nomads and hire a car for an unforgettable road trip. Road trips give you flexibility and autonomy that you will not find with guided tours. Follow the recommended routes for an authentic taste of the beauty of Morocco. This favourite spot for hikers is perfect for all budgets. Travel through mountainous paths and seas of sand and discover the countless treasures of Morocco.
In this article, we offer two alternative routes for your road trip.
Itinerary 1 - The Imperial Road
The first route takes the path of the imperial cities of Morocco. You will follow the Atlantic coast and breathe in the opulence of Moroccan cities with exciting detours that reveal hidden treasures.
- Andalusia → Tangier
- Tangier → Chefchaouen
- Chefchaouen → stop in Ouazzane→ Fes
- Fes → stop in Meknes → Rabat
- Rabat → Casablanca
- Casablanca → Marrakech → Ouzoud Waterfalls
- Marrakech → Agadir
Andalusia → Tangier
Before crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, take a few days to immerse yourself in the history of the Muslims of Andalusia. Places to discover include a huge fortress, a cathedral with many faces, masterpieces of Arabic architecture and charming cafes.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba, also known as the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba is a must-visit as it is one of the most impressive architectural masterpieces in the city. Throughout history it has been a Roman temple, becoming a Christian basilica, then a mosque (the largest of its kind in the world after Mecca) and finally a cathedral. This impressive monument testifies to the Muslim presence in Spain.
The city of Granada is the jewel of the region. Discover the iconic Alhambra Castle, the famous hilltop palace, the former royal residence and a superb example of Moorish architecture.
In Marbella, a sunny Costa del Sol city lapped by the Mediterranean Sea, visit the Alcazaba, one of the largest Arab fortresses in Andalusia.
Also walk through the botanical garden La Concepcion, one of the most beautiful gardens in Spain. It is a true oasis of calm that delights with more than 25,000 plants of 2,000 different species, fountains and waterfalls.
After a night at a halal-friendly hotel in Marbella, head straight to Algeciras to catch the ferry and change continents. We recommend the Alanda Hotel in Marbella and the Costa del Sol Hotel in Torremolinos.
The ferry connects Algeciras and Tangier in 1 hour 30 minutes. The port of Tanger-Med is located outside of the city and offers direct access to your next destination: Chefchaouen.
Tangier → Chefchaouen
Your adventure begins in Tangier, a city that was a cultural melting pot and the centre of a rivalry between the Spanish, Portuguese, French, English and Americans. Its international identity and less significant reputation as a tourist attraction than that of its royal counterparts offer a gentle immersion in Moroccan heritage. The main attractions in Tangier are the Kasbah and its Museum and Dar al-Makhzen, former residences of the sultans. Learn about Christian heritage by visiting the Anglican Church of St. Andrew with its Moorish style and English and Gibraltarian ties, as well as the Church of the Immaculate Conception, a Spanish church that accommodated the Christian population during the Mandate. For a contemporary touch, take a seat at Café Hafa, which overlooks the Bay of Tangier and has also hosted celebrities like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
Browse the Halalbooking site with choices for all budgets in Tangier.
After a two or three day stay in Tangier, take the road for about 2 hrs and 15 mins to Chefchaouen, the "blue pearl" of Morocco, an ocean of blue buildings. Built inside Morocco against the threat from the Portuguese during the Renaissance period, the city prides itself on its character shaped by the immigration of Jews and Moors during the Spanish reconquest. Enter the Medina of Chefchaouen, covered in blue paint to inspire spirituality and recognition of heaven and paradise. The Ethnographic Museum encompasses the crafts, traditions and popular art of Chefchaouen. In the centre of the medina is the Great Mosque which frames the Place Outa el Hammam. The Place El Haouta is less known, but a lovely, charming place of simple beauty.
Stay in the ocean of blue houses in Chefchaouen.
Chefchaouen → recommended stop in Ouezzane → Fes
After appreciating the brilliance of the blue pearl of Morocco, take the road towards Fes and drive for one and a half hours to arrive in Ouezzane. Ouezzane is a little-known town but the equivalent of Chefchaouen in green. With green walls embellished with various plants, the village is a spiritual sanctuary for Jews and Muslims.
Fes lies two and a half hours from Ouezzane. The city was once a centre of learning and intellectuality. The craft also blossomed with the immigration from different cultures. Visit the medersas (Muslim schools) Bou Inania Medersa, Madrasa el-Attarine and Madrasa as-Sahrij for a taste of the heyday of Morocco.
Fes is separated into three zones:
Fes el-Bali, the ancient city founded by the first king of Morocco, with almost 90 km of authentic alleys. Lose yourself in its medina, one of the oldest and largest in the world, with its honeycomb-shaped streets.
Fes el-Jadid, the Renaissance medina, whose imperial and tangible splendour amazes the visitor.
The New Town with its colonial origins links its modern history with its troubled past. Each district of Fes is a commemoration to the craftsmen and the brilliance of Moroccan culture.
Stay like royalty in the resplendent city of Fes.
Fes → recommended stop in Meknes → Rabat
After a few days in Fes, the imperial road will lead you to Rabat, less than a three hours drive. However, we recommend that you stop to discover the "Versailles of Morocco", Meknes, before arriving in Rabat.
Meknes is a romantic city that will enchant you with its spiritual and royal character: the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail is a site of artistic reverie and the Bab Berdieyinne Mosque highlights the restoration of its historic minaret. The opulence of Meknes is especially felt at the monumental gate, Bab Al-Mansour and in the cladding of the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail. A transcendent understanding of Meknes’s reputation is not complete without visiting the Roman ruins of Volubilis and the sacred city of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun.
Rabat, the modern capital of Morocco, with its calm atmosphere, is a perfect place to renew your spirits. Rest on the bays of Bouregreg Marina Salé and take a cruise to visit the ancient city and necropolis of Chellah, an ancient Roman colony where different Moroccan dynasties have succeeded and which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll around the Al-Hassan Mosque complex, whose minaret and royal tombs are a showcase in the history of Rabat.
Embark on an adventure in the centre of Rabat, in the Kasbah des Oudayas and the lush Andalusian Gardens, before visiting the Tower of Hassan, the symbol of Rabat, and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the ancestor of the current king.
Find your beautiful getaway in Rabat.
Rabat → recommended stop in Casablanca → Marrakech (Ouzoud Waterfalls)
An hour's drive from Rabat is Casablanca, Morocco's financial and port centre, as well as the eponymous city of the famous Hollywood film and a city that, as the name suggests, shines with white buildings. Visit the Hassan II Mosque and admire its size: the seventh largest mosque in the world. An interesting example of European influence is the Casablanca Cathedral in Art Deco style, designed by the French architect Paul Tournon.
Stay in a white house in Casablanca.
After a three hour drive from Casablanca, you will be overwhelmed by the excitement of Marrakech. Its heart, Jemaa el-Fna, beats tremendously with a multitude of cultural, religious and sensory attractions. Marrakech overflows with apparent wealth through its riads transformed into guest houses and its former royal residences such as the Bahia Palace, the Saadian tombs, the Musée des Confluences and the El Badi Palace.
Architectural features reflect models from nature such as honeycomb mukarnas (ornate archetypal form of Islamic architecture), pools reflect the buildings and secret, symmetrical gardens complete a fascinating landscape against the breathtaking backdrop of the Atlas Mountains.
Browse our large selection of riads in Marrakech.
The Ouzoud waterfalls are surrounded by olive trees, a regenerating escape after the bustling cities of Morocco. The water plunges from a height of 110 m and provides a restorative place for swimming, picnicking, hiking or a boat trip.
Marrakech → Agadir
Agadir is considered the best coastal destination in Morocco with languid waves and warm stretches of sand. This is the perfect site to collect your spirits before returning to everyday reality. Agadir is home to a plethora of resorts that you can book on HalalBooking.com like the Atlantica Agadir Park Lodge and the Atlantica Agadir Park Beach, two choices for all budgets.
Itinerary 2 - On a nomadic journey
The second route starts in Marrakech and leads through the diverse nature of Morocco and the fantastic, extraordinary landscapes that will take your breath away.
- Marrakech → Imlil → Toubkal
- Ouarzazate → recommended stop in Fint → Merzouga
- Merzouga → Tinghir → Dades Gorge
- Dades Gorge → Aït Benhaddou → Agadir
Marrakech → Imlil → Toubkal
Immerse yourself in the aromas and impressions of the captivating medina of Marrakech. The "ocher city" is the city of the Amazighs, Berber, Arab and African, which stands at the foot of the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara. Stroll through the pedestrian streets, pray in the Mansouria Mosque and the Koutoubia Mosque. Admire its many gardens such as the Secret Garden and the Majorelle Garden.
An unforgettable stay awaits you in Marrakech with Halalbooking.
Continue your adventure in Imlil, about 60 km from Marrakech, a picturesque Amazigh village leaning on the edge of the Atlas Mountains. Imlil is the perfect start for an authentic experience of rural Morocco life and a favourite with hikers. Book a guided tour that contributes to the local economy and follow the trail of pink streams and rocks that takes you to the Imlil Waterfall.
Start your climb to Mount Toubkal from Imlil or the village of Aroumd. Toubkal is the highest peak in all of North Africa. The extraordinary view from above offers a mixture of diverse landscapes of Morocco: urban, desert and mountainous valley. This ascending adventure is ideal for sportsmen and climbing enthusiasts. It is recommended to start climbing at night to reach the summit at dawn. The ascent can take three to five hours, so go slowly and steadily, and calculate the time for the descent back to the village.
Ouarzazate → recommended stop in Fint → Merzouga
After a well-deserved rest, you will begin the desert chapter of your nomadic journey. Ouarzazate, a five-hour drive from Toubkal, is an old trading centre and hub. The city is remarkably well preserved and is popular with film lovers: Lawrence of Arabia and The Mummy are some famous films shot in Ouarzazate. Visit the beautiful Kasbah of Tifoultoute and drink tea with the local Amazighs, surrounded by the prehistoric history of the Jbel Adad Petroglyphs, communicative and prehistoric art carved on rocks.
The oasis of Fint is half an hour from Ouarzazate. Fint is the perfect image of an oasis from the stories from the Thousand and One Nights, its symbolism of tranquillity and replenishment makes it perfect for a picnic or a nap.
Merzouga and the Erg Chebbi
Take the road back to the desert, and after a five hour drive you will find yourself in barren landscapes with the sunny beauty of ocher and gold. Merzouga is an abandoned Saharan village that borders Erg Chebbi, the gateway to the Saharan desert. Climb the remarkable burnt orange dunes, and admire the massive mass of golden sand suspended between sky and earth. Spend the night under a blanket of stars with the Sahrawi nomads.
HalalBooking offers you hotels in Merzouga, the gateway to the desert.
Merzouga → Tinghir → Dades Gorges
Tinghir, less than a three hour drive from Merzouga, is a spectacular oasis, surrounded by villages that merge with the natural landscape, making the land and the buildings feel as one. Let yourself go with the intoxicating atmosphere and set no time limit as you stroll through palm fields and find sheltered ponds. The best views are always up high, especially from the old Kasbah of the Senegalese and from the Kasbah of Glaoui.
The valley of the Dades Gorges takes you into oriental dreams. Its sensory allure is felt with the dizzying scents of rose bushes grown for rosewater, popular in Moroccan pastries. Once known as the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, it now cultivates fig, almond and date trees in an enchanting panorama of southern Morocco's beauty. The Dades river waters the valley and makes the land fertile.
Dades Gorge → Aït Benhaddou → Agadir
Aït BenHaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the old Ksar (fortified village) which dominates and unites with the landscape. Built on a hill, it is the filming site of many films and television series thanks to its historical authenticity. Built entirely of adobe, raw earth and clay, the village is an example of Moroccan craftsmanship and architecture that takes into account its natural context. One of the distinctive features of Moroccan culture is its unifying approach. The architecture and social aspects are adapted to blend in with the landscapes, evoking an instinctive appreciation of natural beauty.
Your last stop, Agadir, with the Atlantic Ocean and inviting beaches, is a gentle reintroduction into modern reality. This is the culmination of your nomadic journey, where you can absorb the energy of the sun and enjoy a peaceful rest, surrounded by soothing nature. The Souss-Massa National Park and the Bird Valley are points of interest for those who appreciate the conservation of unique birds.
HalalBooking offers the perfect choice for all budgets in Agadir.