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Morocco - Casablanca and Marrakech

Hello-

I will be in Morocco from March 17-25 with my husband. We will have 3 nights in Casablanca and 4 nights in Marrakech and we are looking for travel tips/advice.
1. Suggestion for a day trip to Fez from Casablanca- should we hire a guide, get a tour, or travel on our own?
2. Suggestion for car service from Casablanca to Marrakech. We are not going to take the train as we only have a limited time and we want to maximize our time while there.
3. Visiting the Yves St Laurent museum - any suggestions on tours>? is this something that we could take a cab to and from?
4. Any other tips or suggestions
5. We are both active men, we will be staying in hotels in both cities- already booked these- opted out of the Riad stay as we did not want to make the owners uncomfortable if they had issues with gay men.

Thank you

Posted by
5635 posts

Take days away from Casablanca and add them to Marakesh or Fez. The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is very impressive and the only one you can enter in Morocco. However, the city is rather run down.

Posted by
3203 posts

We visited Morocco in January 2019, and didn’t go to Casablanca, but started and ended in Marrakech. We did stay at the wonderful Dar Kawa riad, in the old Medina, a place designed by Belgian designer Valerie Barkowski. There wasn’t a reason for the subject to ever come up during our stays, and I might be wrong, but my sense is she/they wouldn’t have any issue with gay male guests.

Anyway, they arranged for our guided tours of the city, and on one, our guide accompanied us to the YSL complex in the “new” part of the city. He hailed a cab, and the 3 of us headed there. We didn’t venture inside the museum, but had lunch at the restaurant at the gardens, and strolled the exotic gardens afterwards. Guides don’t join their tourist clients for lunch - they eat on their own, in a separate place, often among other guides - we asked if he’d join us and that’s just how it’s done.

You could easily take a taxi there, or even walk, if you’re staying nearby.

We flew between Marrakech and Fes - Irish Ryanair operates flights! Maybe that’s an option, although cars and trains operate, too. Graham Nash’s Marrakech Express song was written after he took the train between Casablanca and Marrakech, and bored with sitting with blue-haired American women in 1st Class in the 1960’s he wandered down to the crowded lower-fare car and found it more intriguing.

Before we headed to a desert tour with a separate company, which provided car transfer service as part of the overall tour, in Marrakech we did a cooking class with Souk Cuisine, which included a market (souk) tour led by Belgian Gemma, who then turned over the cooking instruction to her Moroccan experts. What a lunch we all made!

Posted by
244 posts

I would agree that Casablanca may not be an exciting destination for three nights. The mosque is very cool, but outside of that the touristic sites are limited. Is it still an option to spend some of those nights in Fez? Regardless of what you choose, it's easy to take the train, and only a bit longer than with a private driver, which for that length of trip I'm thinking would have to be 250 euros or more easily. However, both of those options make for a very long day trip. If you do make it to Fez, I can think of a few pleasant restaurant recommendations: Café Clock is kind of a must (highly recommend being on the terrace during a call to prayer since you have an excellent minaret view there), the Ruined Garden, and Fez Café were all places I have enjoyed.

If staying in Casablanca is a must, you might consider some closer day trips. Rabat is close and has a few pleasant sites, and the TGV can also get you to Tangier easily.

I didn't find a tour to be necessary for the Yves St Laurent museum, though it was a beautiful setting. I recommend going there first and getting a combo ticket with the Jardin Majorelle so you can maximize your time and minimize standing in the garden line. You can easily take a cab; what you pay is harder to predict - assume anywhere from $1-2 with the meter to $5ish without. Of course none of those are excessive when you consider prices in other places for a cab.

I'm not as "up" on Marrakech recommendations, but did eat well at Naranj and Un Déjeuner à Marrakech.

Posted by
13930 posts

Google maps says it's a 4.5 hour drive from Casablanca to Fez. So much for a day trip. There's little to see in Casablanca. Rabat has more and is only an hour's drive. Both feel much like modern cities. OTOH Fez is more interesting even than Marrakech, with many local artisans in the huge, beautiful bazaar, where you can see them at work. There are flights to/from Fez. Go to the wiki page for Fez airport and you'll find a chart with all the airlines and destinations. Spending at least 2 nights in Fez. You won't regret it.

Posted by
991 posts

I see you've posted that you already booked your hotels. If possible, cancel one of those nights in Casablanca and spend the time in Fes. It's a wonderful experience!

I'd definitely look into a local guide in Fes. Yes, you can do it on your own, but you'll have a much better appreciation of the history and culture - especially in the Medina - if you go with a guide.

Posted by
4128 posts

The only thing worth seeing in Casablanca is the huge new mosque. I say skip Casablanca.
Rabat was interesting. Also, Agadar in the south.
Marrakech and Fez should be your focus.

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you all for the travel tips/advice. I will surely look into either staying less in Casablanca or nixing it.

Posted by
16765 posts

Skip Casablanca entirely if you can. The time will be much more valuable elsewhere (don't choose Tangier, though).

Posted by
1 posts

Hi acraven! Why do you say not to choose Tangier as an alternative to Casablanca? Planning on spending some time there at the end of a tour before jumping over to Spain in October.

Thanks!

Posted by
16765 posts

It's a port city that was full of rapacious hustlers way back in the 1980s. Based on reports from more recent visitors, the situation hasn't improved. If you have time to get to the wonderful inland cities like Fes and Marrakech, there is absolutely no reason to visit Tangier. You have only 7 nights; there are so many nicer places to go (Meknes, Ourzazate, Taroudant, Meknes and more). Fes certainly deserves multiple nights, and it would be better to spend all seven nights in Fes and Marrakech than to take one of those nights and go to Tangier.

Posted by
244 posts

Tangier is fine, although very polarizing on this forum. It has a unique atmosphere from the cultural mix and it's a good jumping-off point for day trips to places like Asilah (which I absolutely love) and Chefchaouen. I think a lot of people are seeing it on day trips from Spain, which probably involves a gauntlet of taxi drivers and guides once you're off the ferry. I was set to find it disastrous based off of people's comments, and then ended up really enjoying it.

I agree that for OP's itinerary, it makes more sense to just stick to Fez and Marrakech. Regarding the previous comment from another user, if it makes sense for you to spend some time in Tangier before crossing to Spain, don't necessarily write it off. Highly, highly recommend La Tangerina as a place to stay.