Imperial Tour

Private Tour – dates to suit you

This tour is of the 4 Imperial Moroccan cities – Fez, Meknes, Rabat and Marrakech.

The tour we have suggested is for 7 nights, but can be amended according to your wishes. You can also add other parts of Morocco to your imperial tour, including perhaps the desert or the coast.

The imperial cities are all unique in character – whilst they all have ancient medinas, each are quite distinctly different and have evolved and come to prominence at different times. In many ways, in order to fully appreciate the rich history of Morocco one needs to visit all the imperial cities, their history and rise and fall all being interlinked with the rise and fall of the dynasties. If an additional day is available, the little visited former Imperial city of Moulay Idriss can also be included with an overnight stay in or near Meknes.

The trip assumes starting in Fez and ending in Marrakech, but can of course be adapted to your arrival and departure ports.

The rooftops of medieval Fez

Day 1:  Fez

Fez is the religious and cultural centre of Morocco. Founded by Idriss II in about 800AD, it rose to prominence during the Almohad dynasty. Whilst Fez is packed with historical sites, its attraction lies in its intensity. It feels positively medieval, a bewildering maze of narrow streets, markets, smells, frenetic activity and mules. It is simply so different to any US or European city. But much of the attraction lies in the fact that after a full-on day sight-seeing, your riad offers complete peace, quiet, tranquillity and appropriate luxury in the midst of the apparent chaos! The riad is a complete delight.

On the first night we recommend that you dine in your riad. Depending on your arrival time we can organise a half day tour, or perhaps a cooking course. Or you can explore Fez on your own, with the help of a good sense of direction and a spirit of adventure.

Day 2:  Fez

We recommend having a full day guided tour of Fez. The city is split into 3 main sections, being Fez el-Bali (core of the medina), Fez el-Jdid (containing the mellah and Royal Palace) and Ville Nouvelle (new town). Your private tour focuses on the medina in the morning and the mellah in the afternoon, although you can choose to spend the entire day in the ancient medina.

The tour will therefore include the main sites of Medersa bou IInania, Medersa el-Atlarina, Al Quaraouiyine mosque, the tanneries and city gates. But just as importantly, it also focuses on local craftsmanship, hand-made work being one of the highlights of a trip to any medina in Morocco. In the evening listen to the melodious call to prayer echo off the ancient minarets and thick medina walls, while sipping Berber mint tea from one of the many café terraces overlooking the old city.

The walls and gate to old medina in Fez El Bali

The streets of Meknes

Day 3: Rabat (via Meknes and Volubilis)

Today we drive from Fez to Rabat, via the Roman ruins of Volubilis and Meknes. It’s a full day, so an early start is recommended. Accommodation in Rabat is in a stylish riad which houses a delightful restaurant.

Volubulis is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a must see destination, especially given its proximity to Fez and Meknes. Volubilis was a 42 hectare Roman city with 20,000 inhabitants, full of palaces, large houses and public baths. The site contains a large number of well-preserved mosaics and is arguably Morocco´s best preserved archaeological find.

Meknes nestles in attractive countryside peppered with shrines and springs. Whilst Meknes has an interesting medina, its real interest lies in the buildings constructed during the time of Moulay Ismail in the 17th century. During this period Meknes was the capital of Morocco. Moulay Ismail´s plans were highly ambitious and his legacy includes the impressive 25km city wall, a huge palace (which was never completed) and the granaries of Heri es-souai. Other places of interest include the Mausoleum and medersa of Moulay Ismail.

In both Meknes and Volubilis we will organise a private guide.

Day 4:  Rabat

We recommend doing a tour of Rabat in the morning and of the adjacent city of Sale in the afternoon.

Founded by the Almohad dynasty, the imperial and capital city of Rabat is a relaxed town with a compact medina. The highlights are the Kasbah of Oudayas (which has superb views), Hassan Tower and Mausoleum of Mohamed V. It’s easy to explore Rabat on your own, or with your driver. However, the real jewel is the afternoon guided tour of Sale. The guide here is one of the most engaging personalities you can meet. Sale is virtually untouched by tourism. It’s true Authentic Morocco. The history of Sale is extremely colourful, being for several centuries a city under the control of pirates (known as the Salé Rovers), who plied their trade plundering loot from European colonialists. This, coupled with its un-touristy medina, lively square and several historic monuments (to which only you and your guide have access), make the afternoon a wonderful experience.

Old medina walls in Rabat

Cathedral du Sacre Coeur, Casablanca

Day 5:  Marrakech

The drive from Rabat to Marrakech is just over 3 hours. We recommend stopping en route in Casablanca.

Casablanca, rather unfairly, has a poor reputation and few tourists visit. It is the commercial hub of Morocco and a visit helps provide an important insight into the country´s culture. Whilst the Hassan II mosque is the shining jewel of the city, a guided tour helps reveal many architectural gems. The city is simply a real, authentic place, full of spirit and energy whose economic pulse comes from commerce rather than tourism. Whilst there is a decayed grandeur about many of the buildings, close inspection reveals carved friezes, intricate tile work and ornate wrought iron balconies. It is also a very tolerant city with the Cathedral du Sacre Coeur being highly prominent in the centre of town. Casablanca is definitely worth a visit.

You will arrive in Marrakech in the early evening. Accommodation will be in a stylish and comfortable raid in the medina. We recommend that on the first night you take dinner at your riad, perhaps exploring the neighbourhood in the vicinity of your riad.

Day 6:  Marrakech

We recommend taking a full day´s private guided walking tour.

Marrakech is Morocco´s 4th largest city. It was founded in 1062. The red walls of the city were constructed in 1122 and during the 12C the ruling dynasty, the Almoravids, built many medersas (koranic schools) and mosques. In the 17th century the wealthy Saadian sultans constructed many sumptuous palaces, some of which are open to the public today. The main square, Djemaa el-Fna is a hive of activity and purported to be the busiest square in Africa.

Like all our private tours the guided walk is adapted to your wishes: – explore the maze of colourful souks, see the impressive Koutoubia Mosque with its imposing minaret, learn about Morocco’s history of education and scholars at the Ali ben Youssef Medersa, visit some of Marrakech’s most important kings at the Saadian Tombs and enjoy the opulence of the stunning Bahia Palace. Experience the excitement and energy of the street performers at Marrakech’s Djemaa el-Fna square – including Morocco’s legendary storytellers.

Vibrant Marrakech

The wonderful Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech

Day 7:  Marrakech

Your final day is a free day which is a fine way to conclude your vacation allowing you time to happily indulge in whatever interests you:- shop in the exotic souks, relax in a hammam, visit one of the gardens, or perhaps take a cooking course with our friend who owns a saffron farm in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Additional ideas and options are provided in the ´day trips´ section.

Day 8:  Transfer to airport

With a suitcase of souvenirs and a head full of memories!

Such is the diverse nature of this tour, your memory could be one of a million things. But we have no doubt that they will be good memories, of an adventure in a vibrant and diverse country and of people that are kind, happy, fun and generous.

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Menera gardens, Marrakech

Highlights include:

  • Explore the twisting medieval labyrinths connecting Fez‘s ancient souks, mosques and medina — the most complete medieval city in the Arab World.
  • Imagine different times in the fascinating Roman remains in Volubilis followed by a tour of Meknes, the imperial capital of Moulay Ismail, an effective but ruthless sultan who ruled Morocco for 55 years (1672-1727).
  • Discover the history of Rabat and participate in our unique and fascinating guided tour of Sale, a unique experience that few tourists experience.
  • Visit the impressive Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the commercial hub of Morocco, before proceeding to Marrakech.
  • Enjoy Marrakech and all it has to offer including it‘s wild, crazy and highly entertaining Djemaa el-Fna. By day acrobats, snake charmers, dancers and musicians wow the crowds and by night local restaurants have a cook off in a delightfully chaotic setting.