This popular itinerary combines the mysterious allure of Marrakech with the relaxed coastal vibe of Essaouira. Throw in a day visit to the valleys below the often snowcapped Western High Atlas, and you'll get more than enough out of your weeklong holiday.
Day 1: Arrive in Marrakech
Marrakech's weather can be energy-sapping hot or surprisingly cold, depending on the time of year. Either way, give yourself time today to get used to the temperature as well as the city's general hustle and bustle. An afternoon ride on the double-decker City Sightseeing bus is a perfect, hassle-free way to get your bearings and absorb the atmosphere, passing the city's iconic sights such as the Koutoubia Mosque and Jemaa el Fna. Later this afternoon, make your way to the incomparable cuisine and entertainment spectacle taking place on Jemaa el Fna.
Day 2: Discover the Medina
Today's the day to enter the fray and discover this city's heart and soul. Hire a guide for a morning walking tour, taking in one or two historical sights, a visit to a herboriste (herbalist) and some of the souks, and a stop along the way for a mint tea. You'll no doubt be led to a few shops along the way, so make the most of the situation by taking mental notes of each item's general price and quality, preparing yourself for a return visit should you be seriously interested in something. If you haven't already done so, be sure to head to Jemaa el Fna for the late afternoon and evening show. Perhaps treat yourself tonight with dinner at one of the medina's romantic and ambience-filled restaurants such as Cafe Arabe or Narwama, or try Al Fassia in Guéliz should you prefer to "go local." Those with children should venture out to Jaafary palmeraie for the dinner extravaganza at Chez Ali.
Day 3: Visit the Mountains
Head to the nearby Western High Atlas, only a 1- to 2-hour drive away from the sprawling metropolis of Marrakech (but up to 10°F/12°C cooler and with far less hassle and noise). Around the villages of Imlil, Ouirgane, and Oukaïmeden, you'll find some of the country's tallest mountain peaks, inhabited by overwhelmingly friendly Atlas Berbers, and places to have lunch or a mint tea that range from rustic local teahouses to five-star international restaurants.
Day 4: Essaouira
Three to 4 hours away from Marrakech is Essaouira, easily Morocco's most likeable seaside resort. After checking into one of the medina's many atmospheric maisons d'hôte, soak up the atmosphere with a wander along the city's pedestrian-only streets, including visits to the numerous souks such as the jewelers' Souk des Bijoutiers; Souk el Ghezel, known as the Spice Souk; and La Joutia, the town's flea market, complemented by a refreshing herbal tea in place du Marché aux Grains (the old corn market). Catch the sunset atop the ocean-facing ramparts, Skala de la Kasbah, followed by a dinner of fresh seafood at one of the port's relaxed fish grills.
Day 5: Sand, Shops & Seafood
Quality beach time -- usually best in the morning before the sea breeze cranks up -- and visits to a few of the medina's shops and galleries is best combined with a long, lazy lunch and a romantic dinner in any number of medina and beachside restaurants. Call in to see the El Asri family in the Souk des Bijoutiers (Jeweler's Souk), find a bargain in Abdellatif al Koujdaih's carpet shop, and discover the many benefits of argan oil in Arga d'Or. Take an extended lunch break at the Océan Vagabond beach shack, and finish the day with a sunset dinner at the legendary beachfront institution Le Chalet de la Plage.
Day 6: Back to Marrakech
Arrive back in Marrakech with enough time to complete any outstanding shopping, followed by a last visit to Jemaa el Fna. Perhaps spoil yourself with an overnight stay in one of the palmeraie's all-inclusive, luxurious villas, such as the regal Dar Ayniwen or chic Dar Zemora.
Day 7: Going Home
Most direct flights to the U.K., as well as those to Casablanca for connecting flights to elsewhere, depart from Marrakech in the morning.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.