Journey to Morocco’s four imperial cities—Rabat, Meknes, Fez, and Marrakech, experiencing the country’s rich culture, stunning geographical diversity, and six World Heritage sites as you travel from the Atlantic coast to the Sahara desert and through the High Atlas mountains.  

Starting at: $6,479 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Sand dunes of Morocco
 Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca
 Ait ben Haddou
 Colorful architecture in Rabat
 Traditional spices in a Moroccan bazaar
 Traditional tile decoration in Morocco
 Roman ruins of Volubilis
 Roman mosaics at Volubilis
 Traditional architectural design in Fez
 Entrance to the Royal Palace, Fez
 Smithsonian travelers relax on the sand dunes. Credit: Amy Kotkin
 Berber village in the Atlas Mountains
 Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech
 Djemaa El Fna at dusk, Marrakech

Splendors of Morocco

From Imperial Cities to the Sahara

14 days from $6,479 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

Journey to Morocco’s four imperial cities—Rabat, Meknes, Fez, and Marrakech, experiencing the country’s rich culture, stunning geographical diversity, and six World Heritage sites as you travel from the Atlantic coast to the Sahara desert and through the High Atlas mountains.  

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

This was an amazing trip to an exotic land. The Sahara alone is worth the trip, but to see Fez and the mountains on the same trip, in the same country is amazing. Truly a sublime experience that I will always treasure. 

- Melanie P.

HiOur trip wasn't a "trip" rather, it was an experience! Every logistical detail was attended to with complete professionalism. The quality of our accommodation, travel, and restaurants as well as entertainment and education was unrivaled. I have told all my friends how impressed I was with this experience! 

- Kristina P.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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SPECIAL VALUE

This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.

Overview

Morocco is a land of dramatic contrasts—desert dunes and snowcapped mountains, Roman ruins and sacred mosques, ancient adobe fortresses and spirited souks. Trace the influence of Phoenicians, Romans, Berbers, Jews, Arabs, and the Portuguese and French as you explore four imperial cities from Rabat to Marrakech. Encounter incomparable Moroccan artistry in palaces and madrassas covered in intricate mosaics and stucco work. Step back in time in the enchanting alleyways of Fez’s medieval medina, where artisans ply their age-old crafts. Between your city stays, venture to red-rock gorges, fortified kasbahs, and oasis towns, and watch the sunset over the Saharan dunes.

Highlights Include

  • Imperial Capitals of Rabat, Meknes, and Fez: Explore Morocco’as ancient imperial capitals, each now a World Heritage site. Venture into the whitewashed Kasbah of the Oudaias in Rabat and enjoy lunch in a family home and dinner in the heart of the medina.  In Meknes, visit the Bab el Mansour gateway and the imperial stables, then admire stunning mosaics at the nearby Roman ruins of Volubilis. Spend two days in medieval Fez, exploring the artisans’ quarters and madrassas (religious schools) of the timeless medina. Then visit a 17th-century synagogue and the home of 12th-century Jewish scholar Maimonides in the old Jewish quarter.
  • High Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert: Travel through the lush cedar forests of the High Atlas mountains and into the arid steppe at the edge of the desert in a single day. Ride a camel in the Sahara to watch the sunset on the dunes and stay in a kasbah-style desert hotel. Witness everyday life in Berber villages and palm oases as you make your way along the “Route of a Thousand Kasbahs,” and explore the dramatic Todra Gorge and the World Heritage site of Ait ben-Haddou along the way.
  • Marrakech and Casablanca: In the imperial city of Marrakech, see architectural gems such as Koutoubia Mosque and El Bahia Palace, and stroll through the lively square of Djemaa el-Fna, watching snake charmers, acrobats, and merchants vie for attention. Tour the Majorelle Garden and its excellent Berber Museum, and enjoy a free afternoon to explore on your own. Cap of the journey in Casablanca with a city tour featuring the magnificent Hassan II Mosque.
  • Cultural Experiences: Meet a family for dinner in their riad in Fez, and enjoy a discussion on the Muslim faith with an imam in Marrakech. Watch artisans craft pottery, and attend a concert of enchanting Moroccan music.

This was an amazing trip to an exotic land. The Sahara alone is worth the trip, but to see Fez and the mountains on the same trip, in the same country is amazing. Truly a sublime experience that I will always treasure. 

- Melanie P.

HiOur trip wasn't a "trip" rather, it was an experience! Every logistical detail was attended to with complete professionalism. The quality of our accommodation, travel, and restaurants as well as entertainment and education was unrivaled. I have told all my friends how impressed I was with this experience! 

- Kristina P.

Itinerary

Day 1 - 2 — Depart the U.S. for Casablanca, Morocco/Rabat

After an overnight flight, arrive in Casablanca, Morocco’s commercial center, and travel south to the capital city of Rabat. Check in to your hotel near famed Hassan Tower, the 12th-century minaret of a mosque that was never finished. Tonight, gather for a welcome dinner at the hotel. (D)

Day 3 — Rabat

One of Morocco’s four imperial cities, Rabat was designated a World Heritage site for the harmonious blend of its French-influenced new city and its walled old city. Meander among the whitewashed houses of the fortified Kasbah of the Oudaias; take a walk in the serene Andalusian Gardens; and visit the necropolis of Chellah, built on ancient Roman ruins. Cross the river to the walled city of Salé for lunch in a private home. Then browse the collection at the new Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and a walk through Rabat’s medina (old city). After time to relax at the hotel, enjoy dinner together at Dinarjat, an acclaimed restaurant in the medina. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Meknes, Volubilis, and Fez

Travel east this morning to three World Heritage sites. Your first stop is Meknes, Morocco’s youngest imperial city, where you’ll see the intricate Bab el Mansour gateway and venture into a maze of archways at the 18th-century imperial stables.  After lunch in a local restaurant, continue to the ancient Roman city of Volubilis, once a center of the olive oil trade and now home to impressive mosaics and a well-preserved triumphal arch.  Arrive in in Fez this afternoon and check into your elegant hotel adjacent to the medieval medina. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Fez

Delve into Morocco’s oldest imperial city on a walking tour of Fez’s enchanting medina. See the mosaic-covered Blue Gate and the medieval Bouinania Madrassa, and venture into the market lanes where locals come to purchase produce. Enjoy lunch in a hidden spot in the medina, then visit the quarter where Morocco’s renowned ceramics are made and watch artisans at work.  (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Fez

This morning, return to the medina to discover more of its treasures. Visit the artisans’ quarters, where craftspeople produce traditional arts as they have for centuries. Admire the exquisite stucco-work and architecture of 14th-century Koranic schools and Al Karaouine, a medieval theological university. Enjoy a concert of enchanting Moroccan music late this afternoon before dining together at an intimate, family-run riad, or guesthouse. (B,D)

Day 7 — Midelt and Erfoud

Cross the fertile plains to the High Atlas mountain range, where thick forests of cedar and cork cover the slopes. Descend onto the arid steppe and stop for lunch in Midelt. Cross the Ziz River, passing date palm oases and fortified adobe villages as you approach the edge of the Sahara. Settle into your kasbah-style hotel in Erfoud late in the day . (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Erfoud, Rissani, and Merzouga

On a morning visit to the market town of Rissani, explore a 18th-century ksar, a virtually impenetrable warren of alleys. After lunch, set out in 4x4s toward the rippling desert landscape of Merzouga. Go for a camel ride and soak up the silent mystique of the Sahara as you watch the sun set over endless dunes. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Tinehir, Todra Gorge, and Ouarzazate

Journey along the edge of the Middle Atlas range today, making stops along the way to visit the village of Tinehir, set among palm groves, and walk through the spectacular 984-foot Todra Gorge, home to rare bird and plant species. After lunch, visit El Kelaa des MGouna in the fertile Valley of the Roses, where thousands of roses bloom in the spring. Then set out on the fabled “Route of a Thousand Kasbahs,” an ancient caravan route that weaves between oasis towns and adobe fortresses. Spend the evening in the town of Ouarzazate, where numerous blockbuster movies, such as Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator  were filmed. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Ait ben-Haddou and Marrakech

Begin the day at the World Heritage site of Ait ben-Haddou, a fortified hilltop village packed with kasbahs. Ascend into the High Atlas, enjoying dramatic mountain scenery and views of typical Amazigh, or Berber, villages. Arrive in Marrakech in the late afternoon, enjoy time to relax before dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Marrakech

Set out to discover enchanting Marrakech today, riding a horse-drawn carriage from Menara Park to Majorelle Garden. This botanical garden, once the private home of Yves St. Laurent, boasts rare flora from across the world, as well as bird species native to North Africa. Meander amid the leafy lanes, then step inside the stunning cobalt blue home, now the Berber Museum, to see a small but wonderful collection of art, jewelry, and clothing reflecting Morocco’s indigenous cultures. After lunch, venture into the medina with a guide, discovering its hidden treasures. Ending at the World Heritage-listed Djemaa el Fna Square, the heart of Marrakech, crowded with acrobats, snake charmers, storytellers, musicians, and sellers of fruits and spices. (B, L)

Day 12 — Marrakech

Take a guided tour of the city’s historic sites this morning, viewing the Koutoubia Mosque and its distinctive 282-foot minaret, the ruins of the 16th-century Palais El Badii, and the beautiful Andalusian-style El Bahia Palace. Return to the hotel for a buffet lunch and afternoon at leisure. This evening, you’re invited into the home of a local imam for an insightful discussion on the beliefs and tradtions of Islam. Dinner tonight is on your own. (B,L)

Day 13 — Casablanca

Travel north to Casablanca and take a city tour in the afternoon, visiting the seaside Corniche, the city hall and tribunal, and the magnificent Hassan II Mosque—one of the few mosques open to non-Muslims. Tonight, celebrate your Moroccan adventure during a festive farewell dinner at lively restaurant. (B,D)

Day 14 — Casablanca and the U.S.

Depart Casablanca for the U.S. on individual flights. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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