Africa,  Around the world,  Country Guides,  During the World Tour,  Essaouira,  Marrakech,  Morocco,  TDM,  Tips

12 days of Road trip in Morocco (Marrakech, Essaouira, Agadir, Sahara desert): Itinerary, Budget, Practical Travel Guide, Advices

We just spent 2.5 months and loved Morocco. Even though I know that many people don’t have that much time to visit Morocco, I have concocted a 12-day program for you, inspired by our roadtrip with our friend Aurélien last Christmas.

This duration is ideal for those who plan to spend the holiday season in Morocco.

To view all our articles on Morocco, click here

Itinerary: for independent travelers

  • Day 1: Arrival in Marrakech. Visit of the secret garden, the Jemaa el Fna square and the souk. Dinner on the Jemaa el Fna square. Night in Marrakech.
  • Day 2: Take the bus at 7:30 am to Ouarzazate. Ask the driver to drop you off on the way, then take a cab to Ait Ben Haddou (more info here)
  • Days 3 & 4: Take a cab to Ouarzazate . Rent a car for 2 days: Skoura, the Rose Valley, the Dades Gorge (more info here)
  • Day 5: Return to Ouarzazate, explore the film studios in Ouarzazate . Return the car and take a bus at 4pm to M’hamid
  • Day 6: Departure for Erg Chigaga, night in Erg Chigaga in bivouac with an agency (more info here, we opted for two nights but I think one night is enough)
  • Day 7: Transportation day from M’hamid to Marrakech. Night in Marrakech
  • Day 8: Rent a car for 3 days. Departure from Marrakech to go down to Agadir. Visit of the souk. Night in Agadir.
  • Day 9: Visit the Valley of Paradise, the Honey Road, Taghazout, Isoumane. Night in Isoumane (more info here)
  • Day 10: Visit of Sadi Kaouki, Essaouira, the fish market in Essaouira. Lunch with seafood. Stroll on the beach. Return the car to Essaouira.
  • Day 11: Morning rest. Take the bus at 12:30 to return to Marrakech. Shopping in the souk.
  • Day 12: Visit the Badii palace, Bahia palace (more info) and the Koutoubia mosque (just outside). Return to France

Estimated cost for this program: 860€/person, double room (with nights in hotels around 50-60€/night) OFF plane

For more details on the budget (day by day), consult the “Practical Tips” section of our “roadtrip” articles: #1, #2, #3, #4

Itinerary with a travel agency

This program above is for those who visit Morocco as a backpacker / freelancer. If you go through a travel agency, we recommend the following program in 8 days (so you don’t have to retrace your steps)

  • Visit of Marrakech and surroundings (2 days)
  • Visit of Essaouira in one day
  • Marrakech – Merzouga (the desert) – Fez by 4×4 and camel (5 days)

Some pictures

Dades Gorge
Secret Garden in Marrakech
Ait Ben Haddou
Sahara Desert

Itinerary FAQs

Why not rent a car in Marrakech and drop it off in Ouarzazate?

Because the journey from Marrakech to Ouarzazate is a bit dangerous with a lot of curves, a passage at the pass with very reckless Moroccan drivers. I thought it was safer to do this part of the trip with a bus. And get the car only in Ouarzazate to visit the surroundings (there is never anybody on these roads).

There are agencies to go from Marrakech directly to M’hamid. Why did you opt for a mix of bus – car – bus – organized tour?

The trip from Marrakech to M’hamid with a night in a bivouac is very expensive (750€/person) and the hotels and restaurants chosen on the way aren’t necessarily the best. By doing a part by yourself, you will see the same things, while choosing your own hotels and restaurants and being able to enjoy more (more days), while paying 100€ less per person.

Why did you choose M’hamid and not Merzouga?

Erg Chigaga

Because the dunes of Erg Chigaga near M’hamid are more beautiful, bigger than in Merzouga. And there are less people here than in Merzouga. We don’t want to find ourselves with a hundred tourists between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. There were only 5 of us the first day and about twenty the next day.

Practical information


Estimated cost for this program: 860€/person, double room (with nights in hotels around 50-60€/night) OFF plane

  • Hotel : from 20€. But for a very nice, comfortable hotel, with an irreproachable service, count rather in the 50€/double room
  • 1.5L bottle of water: 7dh in grocery stores, 20dh in restaurants
  • Small bottle of water: 3dh in grocery stores, 10dh at the restaurant
  • Can of Coke: 2.5dh in grocery stores, 5dh to 10dh in restaurants
  • Massage: count between 300 and 400dh/hour
  • Hammam
    • Local Hammam: between 60dh and 100dh with scrubbing
    • Tourist Hammam: private cabin, not very effective scrub, count 150dh (45 minutes with scrub)
  • At the restaurant
    • Flat: the correct price is between 35dh and 50dh. But it will be more expensive in tourist restaurants (80dh to 100dh)
    • Tipping isn’t mandatory, but you can tip between 10dh and 20dh, it’s already very good
  • Car rental
    • Through local agencies: from 20€/day for small and 40€/day for large cars (SUV, 4×4) without insurance
    • Via Hertz: we paid 110€ for a 4×4 with insurance
    • Gasoline : I don’t know if our cars consume little gas or gas is cheap, but we spent about 5€/day for gas
  • Shopping: I have detailed the prices of argan oil, saffron etc. on this article
  • Tour 2, 5 days in the desert from M’hamid, including 2 nights in bivouac: 139€/person full board, all included. We recommend the Sahara Services agency. Our tour is called “La Vie des Nomades”. The food isn’t their strong point, but the service was excellent and the tents very comfortable

For more details on the budget (day by day), consult the “Practical Tips” section of our “roadtrip” articles: #1, #2, #3, #4


  • The exchange rates used make you lose about 6% compared to the real rates. So take a tour of the agencies to compare rates and choose the most interesting one.
  • Withdrawal is limited between 2000 and 3000dh at a time, with fixed fees between 20 and 23dh depending on the bank => so you lose about 1% by withdrawing money here (+ the commissions of your French bank if you don’t have the international option or Revolut/N26 cards like us)
  • Few restaurants/hotels accept payment by credit card, so please bring cash
  • At the airport, you can only pay in dirhams for Moroccan products (overpriced there) and food.Do not keep your dirhams until the last moment for duty free, you can only pay duty free in foreign currencies (euros, dollars …)

Shopping: what to buy/bring back from Morocco?

There are a lot of interesting, organic and efficient cosmetic products (I made a dedicated article here).

The spices are excellent too, remember to bring some saffron (if you are sure of its authenticity).

Craft products (carpets, crockery, decoration) are also very interesting. If you wish to redecorate your house, this is the ideal place. Just bring a large suitcase 🙂 and be ready to negotiate.


If there is one thing not to worry about, it is the transport in Morocco.


There are two tourism companies: Supratour and CTM.

The CTM buses leave from their own bus station, always a little out of the center. You can consult the schedules of these buses on their official website.

Supratour buses leave from the bus station. The Supratour website is a bit broken, we can’t manage to consult the timetables

If ever the CTM buses are full (it’s very rare but it happens), go directly to the bus station, you will find local buses just as comfortable. Prices are cheaper than CTM. The disadvantage is that these local buses never stop for a pee break and people eat a lot of smelly things on the bus 🙂


It’s not the TGV either, but for the Casablanca/Meknes/Fes part, why not opt for the train. Personally, I haven’t tested it but I’ve been told a lot of good things about it.


There are two types of cabs: small cabs and large cabs. Small cabs (4 seats) are only allowed to take you in the city center and in the suburbs close to a city. Large cabs (7 seats) can make long distances.

You always have to negotiate, negotiate well.

Cabs are all collective, i.e. if there is room left, the driver will stop to pick someone up on the road (if that person is going in the same direction as you). There are several meters.

On the other hand, if you opt for a long distance, in general you will privatize the cab and it will not dare to take other travelers.

Car Rental

No need to book in advance if you want to go through local agencies. So you can see everything on the spot. For short trips, we went through an agency recommended by our landlord in Essaouira. We didn’t pay any extra insurance, but I advise you to do so because drivers here are very careless.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *