Morocco is fast becoming one of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations. The country offers spectacular and, at times, almost otherworldly landscapes and, perhaps more importantly, a rich cultural heritage that fascinates and enriches all who experience it.
The best way to visit any country is to immerse yourself in it thoroughly, and there is no easier way to do that than by road-tripping. A road trip through Morocco offers a truly hands-on experience where you can decide your itinerary and timetable.
Morocco has a unique geographical setting that you can best experience by car, road tripping through Morocco is the best way to visit this spectacular country. Read on to learn all you need about road-tripping through Morocco and our recommendations for the best 10 to 15-day Moroccan road-tripping experience.
Why A Morocco Road Trip
Morocco, situated close to Europe on the North West tip of Africa, is increasingly famous as an African travel destination. Morocco is the perfect country to travel through by car, the roads are generally in good condition, and you will get to see a lot more of the country on your terms.
Many may feel that road-tripping in a foreign country could be scary, but let us assure you right now that this is not the case. Road-tripping offers travelers a lot more freedom than the ubiquitous package tour.
Package tours have to stick to strict timetables, so if you enjoy one place and wish for a more extended stay, you will unfortunately not have the choice to prolong your time. However, road-tripping offers all the flexibility and control you want.
Even with proper planning, you may stumble across an activity you would love to do, and if you are road-tripping, you can change your plans accordingly.
As Morocco is a relatively small country, traveling between 60 to 100 miles a day allows you to see everything you want. Let us take a look at how to go about creating the perfect Morocco road trip.
Getting to Morocco
The country is well-placed, and getting to Morocco is relatively easy. Travelers can fly in from Europe or travel across the sea by ferry. We recommend the flight route to Marrakech as this city is a great way to begin your journey.
You can take a short three-and-a-half-hour flight from London. Of course, travel always comes with irritating budget constraints, so if you can find reasonable fares from London, this is a plus.
Ryan Air is well known for great flight offers, and you can find flights to Marrakesh for as little as $35 one way or $70 both ways. EasyJet and British Airways also both offer flights into Marrakech.
Another option for getting to Morocco is a ferry. Ferries travel predominantly between Spain and Morocco, starting from Tarifa and landing in Tangier; the ferry takes about an hour and costs around $65.
Besides knowing how to get there, when is the best time to go? Morocco has good weather, with rare rain, even in the winter so you can be sure of a warm vacation.
That said, Morocco can get very hot, so we recommend planning your trip for the Spring and Autumn seasons, with the best weather being from March through to the end of May and then again from September through to the end of November.
Hiring A Rental Car In Morocco
Hiring a rental car company worldwide is commonly done with a fair amount of trepidation. Will you get the car you ordered? Is the vehicle in good condition? Here we can give you a few good pointers.
- Always opt for reputable car hire companies; you can feel safe with companies with car lots at the airport.
- Stick to your guns on your hire, and make sure they provide you with the vehicle you requested; if they can’t, do not accept the downgrade.
- Go through the paperwork with a fine-toothed comb; if there is anything you need clarification on, ensure you and the company understand before signing, as companies are known to blame errors on translation.
- Check for hidden costs, and some companies may tack on cleaning costs.
- When choosing a rental car, we recommend opting for a 4×4 model, as although the roads are good, many places you will want to see are off the beaten path.
- Do a full car check taking images of the vehicle interior and exterior before driving off.
Menara Airport in Marrakech has several car hire agencies. Still, we recommend doing your homework and bookings before arrival, and we found that Sixt, Bookings.com, and Rentalcars.com offer the best deals with all of the most legitimate car rental agencies in Morocco.
There have been many horror stories about car rentals in Morocco, but we have found that you should be fine if you do your checks beforehand and follow our list of pointers.
Driving In Morocco
Driving in a foreign country can be stressful, so getting acquainted with the rules is best before hitting the road. Morocco has a low tolerance for speeding; even going two miles an hour over the speed limit may land you a fine.
The minimum age limit for drivers in Morocco is 18 years, and drivers must drive with their licenses and passports available if stopped.
The wearing of a seat belt is a legal requirement, and you will be looking at a fine if you are on your mobile while driving. Drinking and driving are prohibited, so rather overnight if you are going to consume alcohol.
On the plus side, driving is done on the right side of the road, so it’s the same as in the US. Unfortunately, all the mileage signage is in kilometers; we have provided you with a handy conversion so that you will know the speed you can travel.
In urban areas, the speed limit will be 40 miles an hour, with some areas going down to 25 miles an hour; when you start getting to more open spaces, the speed limit may increase to 50 and 60 miles an hour; and finally, on highways, the speed limit is 75 miles an hour.
Be warned that the speed can increase and decrease on a stretch of the road depending on road works and other factors, so keep an eye out for road signage. Signage is mainly in Arabic and French, although most signs will also have an English section. We found the signage easy to understand, and the imagery is self-explanatory.
There are many traffic stops throughout the country, so keep to the speed limit as although the fines are not huge, they will add up, and as we have established, the Moroccans take speeding seriously.
Most of the main roads have a fair number of roadworks, so check your route before leaving and provide ample time to get to your destination. The best trips are well planned as this will save you stress and time.
Stay away from driving after dark and avoid the Medina; pedestrians can often walk across the road randomly, so avoiding crowded areas is best. There is also minimal night lighting, and many Moroccan drivers do not use their lights, so for safety’s sake, have your car parked by sundown.
Moroccan traffic is a bit haphazard, so be prepared for a lively drive; once you get out of the cities, things get much more relaxed, but always be on the lookout for pedestrians and animals.
There are many gas stations throughout the country, so you needn’t worry about running out of fuel. To keep on the safe side, however, we recommend that you fill up your tank whenever possible and try not to run below half a tank. Gas stations also have attendants who will do the refilling for you.
Restrooms are widely available at most gas stations and convenience stores, so when you are on longer sections of your journey, you can easily find a bathroom at the next gas station.
Always remember that you are on vacation and that driving is part of the experience; when you are stuck behind a lorry on a long narrow road with no chance of overtaking, take a deep breath and enjoy the spectacular views.
Now that we have covered how to drive in Morocco let us start this road trip!
10 To 15 Day Moroccan Road Trip itinerary
We have put together the perfect road trip itinerary to give you the ultimate Moroccan road-tripping experience that can last 10 to 12 days, depending on your wants and needs. The brilliance of road-tripping is that you can prolong or cut short your trip as you wish.
We will cover the main areas and sites worth a stopover and that can be visited within a 12-day car journey with ample stoppage and experiences in between.
Days 1 And 2: Marrakech
The start of a journey is essential and will help get you settled into your new experience and set you up for the rest of your trip. Marrakech makes the perfect journey’s beginning location, not just because that’s where the airport is.
Marrakech is the capital city of Morocco, and for a good reason, it is an active pulsing hub of life. It also makes a good point about cultural acclimatization.
We recommend spending your first two to three days in the city. Your first day can be about relaxation, recovery, and slowly getting into the Moroccan vibe. Marrakech may not have massive, high-rise modern buildings, but it is nonetheless very much a city, and it has much to offer by way of architectural beauty.
Your first few days can be spent wandering the city and enjoying Morocco’s sights, sounds, and smells. Here is our list of the top things to do in Marrakech:
- The Marrakech Medina is a famed attraction in the city and holds UNESCO world heritage site status. Visit the Medina, the heart of the town, and one can easily spend a day pleasurably lost in its maze. The Medina is home to many stalls that offer crafts, food, and music. It’s a sensory delight.
- End the day at a rooftop restaurant on the edge of the Medina.
- Go to the Koutoubia; this is the largest Mosque in Morocco and is worth a visit thanks to its spectacular decoration. Non-Muslims are welcome, and the Mosque offers tours; just be sure to wear modest clothing.
- Enjoy food from Djemaa el-Fna Square. This is one of the older sections of the Medina, and you can almost taste the history of the food on offer; you can also enjoy the spice souk in the area.
- Visit any or all local Palaces and gardens like Le Jardim Secret, Bahia Palace, and El Badi Palace. You can wander through beautiful gardens and marvel at the blend of Arab and Spanish architecture.
- Visit a hammam; the hammam is a traditional Moroccan bathhouse and is very popular amongst locals. It’s a great way to get a spa day into your vacation with the hammam offering steam rooms, pools, and local skin treatments.
A top tip is while traveling about the city, do not try driving in or near the Medina; instead, use taxis or walk.
Day 3: Aït Benhaddou (Travel Time 3 Hours 45 Minutes To 5 Hours)
The second place in our journey and the first portion of the road trip is traveling to Aït Benhaddou, another UNESCO world heritage site.
We advise an early start so that you can fully appreciate your surroundings on the drive and, of course, have sufficient time at your final destination.
Get started, ensure your vehicle is fueled, and set that GPS to help you out of the city as always; keep far from the Medina when driving.
Heading out of Marrakech, traffic becomes less intense and much more enjoyable. There are two available options to get to Aït Benhaddou.
The first will take you up and over the Tizi n’Tichka, mountain pass set in the Atlas Mountains. This route takes you to Ouarzazate, from which you can take a meander back towards Aït Benhaddou (Ait Ben Haddou).
The second route is a bit longer but is arguably more scenic, and you will be turning off before the pass and taking route P1506 through the Ounila valley.
Aït Benhaddou is magnificent and offers a look at wonderfully well-preserved 17th-century ruins built in the Southern Moroccan architectural style. The buildings of the town and Ksar are made entirely of earth, straw, and wood and are maintained as such, and there is not a speck of concrete to be seen anywhere.
The old fortress is home to locals, and you will find a variety of stalls selling traditional crafts and food. You may recognize the site from many Hollywood productions thanks to the unique red earthen buildings.
You can find guides who can give you a tour for a small fee; entry by the main gate does include a price; however, a smaller entrance on the side which is a sign posted does not charge admission.
We recommend staying in the area or Ouarzazate at any of several guest houses so you can spend your evening watching the sunset from the rooftop of one of the restaurants in the small town below. Most guest houses are well-appointed, cozy, and comfy.
Our top tip is to keep your mobile and camera fully charged, as you will need them for the next journey section.
Day 4: Ouarzazate & Dadés Gorge (Travel Time 2 Hours 35 Minutes)
Day 4 sees another early start and a short drive to Ouarzazate, or a bit more of a sleep-in if you stay there overnight. Ouarzazate is not a big town, but it does have the distinction of being the Hollywood of Morocco with some production studios. If the movie business interests you, you can tour one of the studios for as little as $16.
Ouarzazate is also one of your last stops for buying refreshments before heading towards the Sahara desert, so we recommend stopping at one of the grocery stores to get snacks and refreshments for a few hours on the road. This is also an excellent time to check your fuel and fill up if necessary.
This part of the road trip is one of the shorter drive sections; however, you may stop a lot along the way because the views are phenomenal. Dadés Gorge is spectacular, and several cafés and restaurants are en route.
The gorge, with its steep red rock walls, makes for a beautiful way to sit and relax over a long lunch; accommodation does vary, with most of the hotels and guesthouses being quite pleasant. If you enjoy hiking, spending an extra night may be worthwhile to get in a good hike.
The Auberge Chez Pierre is an excellent accommodation and restaurant option, it may be on the pricier side, but it offers everything you need in terms of comfort.
Day 5 And 6: Merzouga (Travel Time 3 Hours 45 Minutes)
Merzouga offers you the ultimate Moroccan desert experience. Sitting on the edge of the Sahara, Merzouga is one of the essential stops on the journey. It is quite a drive from Dadés Gorge, but it’s far from boring as the landscape is exquisite.
There are two routes to Merzouga, the first via Alnif and the second via Tinejad. You are looking at the desert tour same time in the car both ways. To travel through a second gorge, we suggest taking the Alnif route, as you will also enjoy the sights of the Todra Gorge.
This big wadi has massive rock walls, making it very popular amongst rock climbers, so if you are that inclined, it may be worth finding a place to stay in the area for an extra or one night just to get some top-class climbing in.
If you make an early start, you can stop at one of the Palmeraie on your way and look closely at traditional date farming methods. Local farmers are also very welcoming; you may even be invited for tea.
Once you reach Merzouga, you will start to understand what the hype is about. There are two accommodation options. One stays in a Riad (guest house) in Merzouga, while the other opts for desert camping in Erg Chebbi. Stopping a night in a desert camp is a truly amazing experience!
We recommend trying both options depending on how long you wish to stay in the desert. Merzouga accommodations are more guest house-like and offer more comfort, and you will also be located closer to the town and various amenities.
However, the Erg Chebbi option is a definite must, as this is the real desert experience where you can stay in a traditional Berber camp. The camps in Erg Chebbi generally have luxury options, which we recommend as this will provide you with your own ablution facilities.
With the Erg Chebbi option, you can park your vehicle in a secure location in Merzouga and then take a camel ride with your belongings to your camp in Erg Chebbi, which is set deep within the dunes. It is a must-do experience with a night under the stars, accompanied by traditional Berber cuisine and music.
For the adventurous, you can head out on a dune hike or a dune buggy tour. There is also ample sandboarding.
Day 7 And 8: Fes (Travel Time 8 Hours 30 Minutes)
The journey from Merzouga to Fes is the longest drive of the trip, you can opt to break it up, but we recommend just pushing through as the landscape changes as you drive, and there are excellent areas to stop for short breaks along the way.
This part of the drive gives you ample time to appreciate the Atlas Mountain range. We recommend making stops at the Ziz Valley, Midelt for lunch, and lastly, when you drive through the Azrou Cedar forest before making your way to Fes.
We suggest spending your first night in Fes at a guest house that offers rooftop views, as after a long day on the road sitting and enjoying the sunset over the city is unbeatable.
Fes offers many experiences, including its Medina, that date back to the 9th century. Another top experience is visiting one of the local traditional tanneries. Although quite an unpleasant experience for your olfactory organs, the tanneries are worth the visit, with the multi-colored dye pools and leathers being a remarkable sight.
The city is also home to several spectacular Madrassas decorated in quintessential Islamic-styled tiles; they are breathtaking. If you want to experience this ornamentation in your accommodation, we suggest the Riad Sidrat Fes, which has a palatial feel.
Day 9 And 10: Chefchaouen (Travel Time 4 Hours To 4 Hours 30 Minutes)
Chefchaouen is another must-visit Moroccan destination, and if you are road-tripping there from Fes, there are also more must-see spots to stop at on your way.
Your first major stop will be at Meknes, where you can explore the city, shop the souks, and grab lunch and some snacks before venturing through to the site of Volubilis, where you can explore the ancient Roman ruins.
Volubilis is a spectacular archaeological site, and its setting is equally beautiful. The ruins date back to 400 BCE and offer a fascinating glimpse into life over 2000 years ago.
You will then travel from Volubilis to Chefchaouen, Morocco’s blue city or blue pearl. The entire town is painted in various blue hues, contrasting sharply with bright flower pots fixed to the walls. Be prepared to want to take photos non-stop.
Long narrow walkways meander through the buildings giving the experience a fairytale-like quality. After a day of driving and site seeing, we recommend settling down for the night and perhaps taking an evening stroll through the town to enjoy the dusk light and supper at one of the many restaurants before turning in for a night of rest preparation for a day of exploring the city on foot.
Your day in Chefchaouen can be spent exploring, shopping, and savoring the delicious Berber cuisine, and we do recommend resting for the drive the next day.
Day 11 And 12: Rabat And Casablanca (Travel Time 4 Hours 55 Minutes)
The drive to Casablanca allows you to enjoy the Moroccan coastline on the Atlantic coast and stop off at a few more interesting sites on the way.
Rabat offers a good lunching stop with scenic strolls through French design gardens and views of the Bouregreg River, along which banks the city is built. Rabat is also home to magnificent Berber-era architecture and the famed Hassan Minaret, which dates back to the 12th-century.
It would be best to take in the Kasbah of the Udayas, another spectacular 12th-century site with UNESCO world heritage status.
From Rabat, it’s just over an hour’s drive to Casablanca, which you can explore in the afternoon and evening. Casablanca is a city that has melded the historic and modern in a beautiful way, blending different styles of architecture brilliantly. The Place Mohamed V is an example; Art Deco, Moroccan, Art Nouveau, and Mauresque elements are all visible.
We recommend an evening stroll along the Corniche to enjoy the Atlantic sea air and marvel at the Hassan II Mosque, which seems to jut into the ocean. The Hassan II Mosque boasts the tallest Minaret in the world, standing at over 650 feet.
And of course, there is the old Medina which is always worth a visit, we suggest finding accommodation outside the Medina, as this make sit just far enough away for driving safety, but close enough to explore the souks and stalls.
Day 13 And 14: Essaouira (Travel Time 4 Hours 30 Minutes)
There is no pleasanter way to end a road trip than a good day lounging on a beach; enter Essaouira; this coastal town is the Moroccan surf capital and boasts long white sandy beaches and great waves; the port is another UNESCO world heritage site and
On the way to Essaouira, you can enjoy more Atlantic Ocean views as you drive along the coast. We recommend heading straight through to Essaouira with a short stop for a snack, as the port city has a lot to offer through exciting attractions and some relaxing beach time.
Regarding accommodation in Essaouira, we recommend staying near the old port; the beach is an easy walk or car ride away. There are many highly rated Riads in Essaouira, with something for everyone, from bright and vibrant rooms to serene and calm surroundings. Many Riads have hammams for those who fancy another spa before they leave.
The biggest must-do in Essaouira is visiting the ramparts at the old port. These fortifications were built in the 18th century to defend the city; today, you can wander along the walls that still hold historic cannons. The ramparts surround the old Medina, offering another chance to get some shopping done.
Horse and camel beach rides are other fun experiences in Essaouira; with endless miles of beach, it’s a great way to start a day, followed but walking through the port area and watching the fishermen. We recommend selecting seafood dishes as you can be guaranteed a fresh catch.
Day 15: Marrakech (Travel Time 2 Hours 45 Minutes)
With an early start, you will head back to Marrakech, getting your last glimpse of the Moroccan landscape on your journey. If you have time to break up your road trip in morocco, we recommend stopping at the Le Domaine du Val d’Argan, a Moroccan winery; that makes fantastic lunches and offers a pool.
Morocco is the perfect location for road-tripping; there are lovely long stretches of road and steep winding paths, all set in the most magnificent landscapes. Traveling by car allows you to use your time to its full potential by seeing what you want to see when you want to see it.
FAQS on visiting Morocco by car
Is Morocco good for a road trip?
Morocco is an excellent destination for road trips, offering a diverse landscape of rolling hills, rugged mountains, High Atlas Mountains, and spectacular desert sand dunes. A Morocco road trip itinerary allows you to experience the country’s rich history, natural wonders, and fascinating culture at your own pace.
Is driving easy in Morocco?
Driving in Morocco can be challenging due to narrow streets, mountain roads, and variable road conditions. However, a cautious driver with experience in navigating various terrains should be able to manage. Google Maps and other navigation apps can be helpful when road tripping through Morocco.
How many days in Morocco is enough?
The ideal length for a Morocco road trip itinerary depends on your interests and the destinations you wish to cover. For a comprehensive experience that includes imperial cities, small villages, and natural attractions, plan for at least 10-14 days. If you have limited time, focus on the major highlights for a shorter road trip route on your Morocco itinerary.
Is it possible to drive to Morocco?
You can drive to visit Morocco from Europe by taking a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain. This allows you to bring your own car and explore the country at your leisure. Alternatively, you can fly into an international airport and rent a car from a reputable car rental company.
Is it safe to travel by car in Morocco?
Travelling by car in Morocco is generally safe, but it’s essential to be cautious and attentive, especially on mountain roads and less-travelled routes. Ensure you have a reliable vehicle, follow speed limits, and park in secure locations when visiting tourist attractions or staying overnight.
What side do you drive on in Morocco?
In Morocco, you drive on the right-hand side of the road, similar to many other countries in Europe and around the world.
Is driving in Morocco hard?
Driving in Morocco can be challenging due to variable road conditions, narrow streets, and unfamiliar traffic rules. However, with proper planning, research, and a spirit of adventure, driving in Morocco can be a rewarding and unforgettable experience as part of your road trip.