UNESCO Tour

Private Tour – dates to suit you

Morocco has nine UNESCO heritage sites (the most in Africa including Egypt).  These are made up of the imperial cities of Fez, Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat, the sites of Ait Ben Haddou and Volubilis as well as the coastal town of Essaouria. Also included are the less visited towns of El Jadida and Tetouan, both places of significant historical importance.

Although we are not part of the UNESCO committee, we have also decided to include on the tour the picturesque town of Chefchaouen, because it’s en route and will soon be a UNESCO heritage site in any case!

We recommend 14 days for the tour, given that the sites cover the length and breadth of the country. However, if you wish to extend the trip and travel at a more leisurely pace, or wish to include a night or two in the desert, or have less time and need to reduce the itinerary, then the tour can be amended.

The tour assumes you will be arriving in Marrakech and departing from Fez. However the tour can be adjusted in accordance with your entry and departure ports. Please note that for flights from Casablanca, the journey time to Marrakech is 2h30 and to Fez 3h.

Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech – possibly one of the busiest squares in Africa

Day 1:  Marrakech

Marrakech is Morocco´s 4th largest city, founded in 1062. The red walls of the city were constructed in 1122 and during the 12th century 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 possibly the busiest square in Africa.

Accommodation is in a stylish yet understated riad with exquisite bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace in the heart of the medina.  On your first evening in Marrakech, it is probably best to take a gentle stroll from your riad and eat either locally or in the riad itself.

Day 2:  Marrakech

A full day private walking city guide tour of the medina. Like all our private tours it 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.

Bahia Palace, Marrakech

Vibrant souks in Marrakech

Day 3:  Marrakech

Free day in Marrakech to 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 4:  Ait Ben Haddou

The trip is about 3 hours via the Tiz n’Tichka pass and via the awe inspiring Ounila Valley and the Glaoui inspired kasbah of Telouet , which showcases some refined tile and woodwork in the most unlikely of settings. There are endless photo opportunities on this route, especially of Berber Villages clinging precariously to the exposed mountains.

Ait Ben Haddou is the most well-known preserved kasbah in Morocco, set in a stunning location. It is an extraordinary ensemble of buildings offering a complete panorama of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques. It was also an important trading post on the commercial route linking ancient Sudan to Marrakesh by the Draa Valley and the Tiz n’Tichka pass. Given its authenticity, it has provided the film industry with the perfect location for the production of many epics including Lawrence of Arabia and Cleopatra. The kasbah is best visited in the evening, when lit up by the setting sun.

Overnight at a guest house near the kasbah. The guest house is both authentically Moroccan and decorated in a contemporary style.

The spectacular kasbah at Ait Ben Haddou

The ramparts at Taroudant

Day 5:  Taroudant

Rather than backtrack to Marrakech the trip takes an attractive circular route via the town of Taroudant. The journey time is about 4 hours via the Berber carpet making town of Taznacht (a good place to purchase a rug, although patience and a little prior knowledge about pricing helps) and Telouine, the centre of saffron production in Morocco.

Taroudant is regarded by many as the ¨grandmother of Marrakech¨ due to its ramparts. The city walls, constructed in the 16th century, are almost completely intact and provide an inspiring arrival experience with its impressive bastions and engraved city gates. It’s an authentically Moroccan town with two souks, which function almost entirely for the local population. Its definitely worth a visit in the early evening.

Accommodation in Taroudant is in a guest house with stunning manicured gardens and stylishly created rooms.

Day 6:  Essaouira

Depart after breakfast. The drive is about 4 hours, skirting Agadir and passing through the surfing centre of Taghazout. It’s an attractive drive, sometimes along the coast with sweeping views of the Atlantic and on other occasions through argan forests.

Essaouira is a tranquil coastal town, with a chilled out medina adjacent to the wild Atlantic ocean. En route you may encounter the spectacle of goats grazing high in the argan trees. There are also many argan oil cooperatives on this route, the oil being all the rage these days.

Accommodation is in what we consider to be the best guest house in Essaouira, with large bedrooms and a huge roof terrace with commanding views of the medina and ocean.

The harbour at Essaouira

The medina at Essaouira

Day 7:  Essaouira

Essaouira is a compact town, its atmosphere being more akin to Chefchaouen than Marrakech and Fez. The town is easy to explore on your own with the highlight being the city walls with their views of the Atlantic. The medina is wonderful for ambling around and is now gaining a reputation for being a gastro centre, with new (and tiny) restaurants opening regularly. The sea front is very attractive and a lovely place for long walks. If you are feeling active, you can also kite surf, quad bike or ride horses on the beach

Day 8:  El Jadida

The route from Essaouira follows the coastal road via the pottery making centre of Safi. The drive is about 4 hours.

El Jadida was established as a settlement by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. Its UNESCO heritage status is derived from its showcasing of the exchange of Moroccan and European cultures and influences. These include its citadel, ramparts, bastions and Catholic Church. The old town is compact and easy to explore in a half day tour in the afternoon with a guide.

Accommodation is in a guest house situated in an ancient and beautifully restored building adjacent to the ramparts. Food in the guest house is excellent or alternatively you can venture out to a fabulous seafood restaurant overlooking the beach.

El Jadida with its Portuguese influence

Lovely view of Rabat

Day 9:  Rabat

The trip from El Jadida is about 3 hours. We suggest, although this is simply an option, that en route you visit the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca.

Tourists generally keep away from Casablanca, but in our opinion it is definitely worth visiting. It is the commercial hub of Morocco and the visit helps put the rest of your trip to Morocco into context. Whilst the shining jewel of Casablanca is the Hassan II mosque, you can also (time permitting) do a short guided tour, which would also include the medina, which has a local and authentic feel about it.

Founded by the Almohad dynasty, the imperial and capital city of Rabat has a relaxed feel with a compact medina. The highlights are the Kasbah of Oudayas and the Hassan Tower. The city is easy to explore 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, particularly the exploits of its pirates. This, coupled with its un-touristy medina, lively Central Square and several historic monuments (to which only you and your guide have access), make the afternoon a wonderful experience.

Accommodation in Rabat is in a stylish guest with a delightfully understated restaurant.

Day 10: Chefchaouen

En route to Chefchaouen we visit Tetouan.  Very few tourists visit and they are missing out! Its medina was recognised as a World Heritage site in 1997, thanks to its magnificent walls and ramparts. It has an eclectic and well preserved mix of Andalucian and Islamic architecture. Tetouan still feels authentically Moroccan, a town for Moroccans rather than tourists.  We organise a half day guided tour in the afternoon. Driving time is about 4 hours to Tetouan and a further 1h15 to Chefchaouen

Situated in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is known as Morocco’s Blue City. It’s an exceptionally attractive town, akin to an Andalusian village in Southern Spain but adorned with eye-catching blue-washed buildings. Part of its attraction is that it is an antithesis to the other cities in Morocco- it’s wonderfully laid back. The town is compact and its shops full of interesting local wares.

There are many great accommodation options in Chefchaouen. Our favourite is a beautiful guest house, reached by climbing 138 steps! It is located on top of a hill providing fantastic views over the village which we feel is well worth the climb.

Unspoiled Tetouan

The blue city of Chefchaouen

Day 11:  Chefchaouen

Free day in Chefchaouen, a wonderful place to chill out for the day.

However, if you would like to do something more active, we recommend going for a walk to the Akchour Falls. The drive to the commencement of the hike is about 30 minutes, the walk being a highly attractive climb through the Rif Mountains to a delightfully tranquil waterfall.  The hike is a 3 hour round trip.

Day 12:  Fez

Today, we drive from Chefchaouen to Fez via the impressive Roman ruins at Volubilis and the imperial city of Meknes.

Volubilis was a 42 hectare Roman city with 20,000 inhabitants, full of palaces, large houses and public baths. It has a large number of well-preserved mosaics and is arguably Morocco´s best preserved archaeological find. Meknes, the capital city during the Alouite dynasty has many impressive buildings. In both locations we will organise a guide.

Our preferred accommodation in Fez is in our favourite riad in Morocco.  It is delightful in every way – huge rooms, all tastefully decorated and individually designed, great spa, private and elegant pool, terrace with 360 degree views of the medina and charming staff.  The restaurant is excellent and guests are even offered a complimentary cooking class.

The Roman ruins at Volubilis

The renovated 11th century Chouara Tannery

Day 13:  Fez

Fez is a jewel of a city. It feels medieval and you really will feel you have stepped back in time. We will organise a full day guided tour.

Fez is one of the oldest cities in world. Explore Fez’s ancient medina, getting lost in the maze of small alleyways many of which date back 1200 years. The full day private walking tour includes not only the most important and interesting sites, but 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.

Day 14:  To Airport

With a suitcase full of mementos and a head full of memories fly out of either Fez or Casablanca (a 2h30 drive from Fez).

Enquire now

Home sweet home!

Highlights include:

  • 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.
  • Marvel at the beautifully preserved Kasbah Ait Ben-Haddou and see how many of the classic films shot there you can recall.
  • Relax in Essaouira, eat some wonderful seafood, stroll on the beach and explore the peaceful medina, a World Heritage Site where there are beautiful arts and crafts to be found.
  • Visit Casablanca, the commercial hub of Morocco with its impressive Hassan II mosque before going on to Rabat.
  • Participate in our unique and fascinating guided tour of Sale which very few tourists will experience.
  • Bargain for Bedouin-made jewellery, spices and ceramics amongst the blue-washed buildings of Chefchaouen’s medina.
  • Visit Tetouan, a striking Hispano-Moorish whitewashed town sitting in the foothills of the Rif and sometimes known as the ‘sister of Fez’, ‘little Jerusalem’ or ‘the daughter of Granada’.
  • 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).
  • Explore the twisting medieval labyrinths connecting Fez‘s ancient souks, mosques and medina — the most complete medieval city in the Arab World.