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Morocco in December - Itinerary and activity suggestions needed

We are planning a trip to Morocco in December over Christmas. I would love some help reviewing our planned itinerary. We could techniclly add one more day to our itinerary if we needed to.

I'm also looking for recommendations for a company that can do a four day trip through the desert. We're also debating renting a car and driving ourselves. Thoughts?

We're also looking for hammams in Fez and Marrakech which can accommodate male and female at the same time, different spaces/separate rooms obviously, that are more set up for tourists but not the Western style spa hammam experience. We need to be guided through the experience, and I don't want to have to bring my own scrubbie and soap, but I don't need a $200 massage with hot rocks.

I'm also looking for a great cooking class in Fez and/or Marrakech.

Does anyone have any personal suggestions or things to avoid?

Day 1 - Fly into Rabat late
Day 2 - Rabat
Day 3 - Travel to Tangier, tour Tangier in the afternoon
Day 4 - Travel to Chefchaoen, tour the rest of the day
Day 5 - Travel to Fez
Day 6 - Tour Fez
Day 7 - Day trip to Volubilis
Day 8 - Fez
Day 9 - Desert tour, sleep in Errachidia
Day 10 - Drive to Merzouga and enjoy the desert
Day 11 - Dadres Gorge, sleep in Ourzazate
Day 12 - Arrive in Marrakech late
Day 13 - Marrakech
Day 14 - Marrakech
Day 15 - Day trip to Essaouira
Day 16 - Marrakech
Day 17 - Fly home early

Posted by
244 posts

A few suggestions:

  • There is no train from Tangier to Chefchaouen or from Chefchaouen to Fez. You can either take a bus, grand taxi, or a private driver. Another option is to spend another night in Tangier and do a day trip to Chefchaouen.
  • Café Clock in Fez does cooking and baking classes, as does the Ruined Garden. I did a baking class with Café Clock and enjoyed taking everything to the local oven.
  • Local hammams will typically cycle between male and female days, so it might be hard to do an "authentic" experience on the same day. There are definitely Moroccans who do hammam "tours" (my host mom in Rabat does them for a side income, for example). I've done a tourist hammam at Riad Laaroussa in Fez that was really nice, and they do coed in the same room. For a more typical local experience, just be aware that you will be doing some rolling around nude on the floor getting scrubbed within an inch of your life. I like it well enough, but feel kind of awkward doing it since I don't speak Darija well!
Posted by
42 posts

Thank you, Amy! Thanks for pointing out the bus v. train. I totally knew there was only bus (sadly it makes travel slow going) but managed to write train instead! It seems like a lot of Moroccans have "side-gigs" helping tourists, but how do you actually find them and book them? Does it mostly become ask at your riad and they know someone who knows someone?

Posted by
244 posts

I've never tried it, but I know you can book "experiences" on AirBnB, so that would be an option. Or yes, you can definitely just ask at your riad and they frequently know someone who can help. The first time I was in Morocco one of the staff at the riad just took us to the hammam in her neighborhood and told us how much to pay. Most recently I just went with my host mom.

Some riads may have a hammam kit to loan you so you'll have all your accessories (bucket, stool, etc.), while others will be more accustomed toward recommending a tourist location to you. It's inexpensive to go to a local hammam but costs more if you want someone to scrub you down (which I'm guessing you will). You'd be surprised how much skin comes right off! Maroc Mama is a great source of info for Morocco, including how to do a hammam!

Posted by
42 posts

So to get from Rabat to Chefchaoen, the bus stops in Tangier, so it seemed worthwhile to stop and see it, since we'd be stuck waiting for our bus connection anyway. If we immediately get on a bus to Chefchaoen, we'd then have two nights and a full day there, which many people have told us is too much time.

Posted by
244 posts

I've been to Chefchaouen once as a day trip and once as an overnight. I'd say both were fine, and ultimately I didn't feel a need for a lot more time than that. I have heard people recommend some hiking options outside of Chefchaouen, such as the Akchour Waterfalls. If that's of interest it could be a way to extend your time in Chefchaouen. Walking up to the Spanish mosque is also a little more time-consuming and gets you a nice view.

I think Tangier is interesting and enjoyed my time there. Many people here do not seem to agree. I could see wanting to break up that journey from Rabat to Chefchaouen, especially if you're doing the whole thing by bus. If you do make a stop in Tangier, you could also try the Al Boraq high speed train from the Rabat-Agdal station to vary things even more. It's not outrageously expensive ($15 - 25 is typical one way) and cuts out some of that travel time.

Posted by
3205 posts

We went in January 2019, started in Marrakech and ended there, too, with our round trip flight to/from the USA.

In Marrakech, Souk Cuisine takes you through a souk (market), led by Belgian Gemma, then has the participants select and buy the ingredients there with a shopping list, then head to Gemma’s large place to prepare lunch, taught by her Moroccan instructors.

We didn’t do a Hammam, but learned that in most places for the locals, there were separate men’s and women’s times, without concurrent times. Laces set up for tourists may be differ t, but again, I can’t tell you where they might be. Black soap is ubiquitous, though, sold everywhere for locals to take in a plastic bag to their hammam.

For our desert tour, we used Desert Majesty, based in Ouzarzate, but they picked us up in Marrakech and delivered us back there at the end. They can customize trips for length and itinerary, and start and end cities. It gets really cold in the dunes in January at night - I imagine December isn’t much different.