Morocco with kids — easy DIY itinerary

Museum Boy and Museum Girl are sat on a mule and guided through stunning mountain scenery by local guide Mohammed

Thinking of visiting Morocco with kids? This north African country is a great destination for families yearning for a memorable, more adventurous holiday. Morocco is only four hours from the UK but feels a world away. With its historic walled cities, labyrinthine souks, vast deserts, stunning mountain scenery, and colourful coastal towns, the country almost has too much to offer!

When I started planning our DIY family holiday to Morocco I was overwhelmed by the sheer range of experiences we could have. We wanted to see as much of this fascinating country as possible. But we were travelling with our three children, including a toddler and a teenager. And we only had the 8 days of the October half term. Our itinerary couldn’t be so packed that we would need another holiday to recover!

I’m delighted to report that, after many hours of research, Morocco was one of our best family holidays. We had an unforgettable mountain trek, clambered through ancient palaces, got all shopped out (and a bit lost) in the souks – and still had plenty of pool and relaxation time.

Museum family stand in the centre of the pool at El Badi Palace

What’s in this Morocco with kids post?

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In this post I share our easy Morocco with kids 8 day itinerary, which includes lakeside relaxation, mountains and city, all with short transfers. Because your bunch may have different needs to mine, I explain my thoughts whilst making our travel plans. I then talk through each stop – where we stayed, and our highlights. Suggestions follow for how you could adapt the itinerary for 7, 6 or even 5 days. I finish by answering some questions about visiting Morocco with kids that I’ve been asked. Hopefully this post will help you to have an amazing Moroccan holiday with your family, just like we did.

View of Lac Lalla Takerkoust framed by palm trees at Le Petit Hotel de Flouka

Planning our Morocco with kids holiday – the considerations

  • Short transfers
    As our kids can’t cope with long car journeys, we needed to limit transits to an hour or so. I abandoned the idea of a Sahara camel safari as the almost day-long journey was untenable. Similarly, the seaside town of Essaouira was scrubbed off the list as even the 3.5 hour transfer seemed too long.
  • Budget: £1200 for accommodation
    As mentioned in this post we had saved on flights, but like most people we don’t have endless resources. We still expected a lot from our accommodation though, as detailed below.
  • Must comfortably sleep 5
    Please note the emphasis on comfortable! We have tried hotel rooms for 4 with an extra bed, and they just don’t work for our family. With a big age gap and a mixture of boys and girls, we all need some extra space. Anyone who has tried to find accommodation for slightly larger families will know how tricky this is. It really narrowed our options as a second room each time would double our accommodation costs.
  • Access to a swimming pool
    This was the teenager’s non-negotiable! At least one of our stays had to have access to a swimming pool.
  • High quality accommodation
    Luxury places were out of our budget, but we still should feel happy and comfortable in our accommodation. We wanted them to be clean, offer great customer service, have personality and be tasteful. As we would spend our downtime there, we needed lovely places that we would look forward to coming back to.

The mosque in the Kasbah Marrakech

Our 8 day Morocco with kids itinerary

Our final itinerary had three stops: a relatively luxury two night stay to rest and recover from the journey; a three night visit to the Atlas Mountains to explore the stunning landscape; and a three nights to explore the pink city. Here’s where we stayed and what we did on our Moroccan family holiday.

1. Lac Lalla Takerkoust, 2 nights

Highlights: Pool and terrace, scenery, skimming stones on the lake at sunset
Transfer time: 45 minutes
Stayed: In a two bedroom riad for five people at the lakeside Le Petit hôtel du Flouka

Interior of main bedroom in 2 bedroom private riad at Le Petit Hotel de Flouka in Lac Lalla Takerkoust

Museum Boy and Museum Girl stand next to the residents swimming pool in Le Petit hotel de la Flouka, ready to jump in.

View of the verdant dining terrace at Le Petit Hotel de Flouka, with views over Lac Lalla Takerkoust

Museum Girl watches the stone she has just thrown into Lac Lalla Takerkoust. The Atlas Mountains are visible in the distance.

I planned for a bit of luxe after our journey from the UK. During the short drive from Menara airport, the city gave way to vast expanses of sand. Lac Lalla Takerkoust is an oasis in this barren land. Built in the 1920s to create electricity and irrigation, it is now a haven for relaxation and fun. The place we chose has two swimming pools, one just for guests. Le Petit Hôtel de Flouka is French run, which makes for an excellent imported wine list. We loved dining and relaxing on the shady terrace, with its beautiful planting and stunning views over the lake and distant Atlas Mountains. We ate the best meal of our holiday there, a delicately flavoured tagine with the most tender lamb and green beans. The swimming pool was our main port of call, which we had practically to ourselves. With easy access from the terrace to the lake shore, we visited twice to skim stones whilst the sun set, the mountains a watermark in the sky. It was blissful.

2. Imlil, 3 nights

Highlights: Mountain trek, panoramic terrace, mountain drive, meeting locals
Transfer time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Stayed: In two adjacent rooms in Riad Jnane Imlil

The ornate ceiling, decorated in a traditional Berber style, at guesthouse Riad Jnane Imlil

Museum Girl sits atop a mule in the Atlas Mountains, as Mohamed our guide leads her down the rocky descent. Museum Boy and Museum Teen are in the background.

The Museum Kids colour happily on the terrace at Riad Jnane Imlil, surrounded by a stunning panoramic view of the Atlas Mountains.

The spectacular mountain drive from Lac Lalla Takerkoust to Imlil was a highlight of the holiday. It got a little hairy in places, but it was was worth it for the for unforgettable views as we snaked through the foothills.

Imlil is a bustling village, and the starting point for treks to Mount Toubkhal, North Africa’s highest mountain. It was harvest season when we visited, and the trees were decorated with ripe apples. We stayed at Riad Jnane Imlil, a friendly guesthouse just outside the centre. They sent a man with a mule to carry our luggage from the car down the narrow dirt track. We loved being surrounded by local people, and their animals. One neighbour noticed Museum Girl’s fascination with her fowl and much to her delight, handed her a chicken to hold. Some boys played a harmless prank on us, offering us a cake box full of rocks to hold, which had us laughing along with them. Museum Girl was fascinated by the call to prayer, rushing one evening to the nearby mosque to watch everyone going inside to ‘play’, as she insisted the right word was!

Our two rooms were simply but beautifully decorated in a traditional style. Simple tagine dinners were served in a cozy room, the fire warming the tiled interior.

The guesthouse organised the best outing, not only of our holiday but possibly we’ve ever had. A local guide and his mule took us up into the mountains to see the Berber villages. The older children took turns to rest on the animal from the rather challenging ascent. The guide Mohamed spoke little English but radiated an incredible warmth. His skill was apparent, navigating a mule carrying our children down a sharp, scree covered slope. Our hearts were in our mouths at this point! We had a freshly made lunch waiting for us at a nearby waterfall. Museum Girl was struck silent with delight. She didn’t say a word throughout the 4 hour trek, but her eyes were wide with wonder as she sat atop of the mule.

Back at the hotel, the rooftop terrace was the perfect place to relax. Surrounded by panoramic mountain views we sipped hot sweet mint tea, always poured from a height.

3. Marrakesh, 3 nights

Highlights: Souks, Palace El Badi, Jardin Majorelle
Transfer time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Accommodation: We loved our stay at Riad Medinamood via AirBnB. It’s a modern stylish and spotlessly clean riad in the Kasbah area. We particularly valued having the whole place to ourselves, dining on the roof terrace and cooling down in the plunge pool. The owners were exceptionally helpful when our car had battery problems so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. *Use this link to get £25 in travel credit when you sign up (and I’ll get £15 in travel credit once you complete a trip. Only for new Airbnb guests!*

A stylish seating area in our private AirBnB riad Medinamood

Marrakech is hot, noisy, bustling, colourful, vibrant, and a joy to explore. The streets are full of life and just walking them is a huge adventure in itself, especially for children. We saw bright piles of spices precariously stacked higher than my head, and drank pomegranate juice freshly squeezed by a roadside peddler. The city was even more lively at night. The main road from our riad toward the centre thronged with taxi drivers and food stalls in the evenings. We were able to push our buggy around the at times narrow pavements. We stayed in the Kasbah area as we wanted somewhere within the historic walls but easier to navigate than the maze-like Medina. For breakfast, we bought freshly made Moroccan flatbreads and French pastries from a nearby cafe to eat on the roof terrace. Our other highlights include:

El Badi Palace

These magnificent ruins are all that is left of of a 16th century palace, named ‘the incomparable’. The no-expense spared construction was funded by a large ransom at the end of the Battle of the Three Kings. Over 25 years, more than 250 opulent rooms lavishly used imported Italian marble and copious amounts of gold (since stolen). The best bit for us was the vast main central courtyard. The kids loved clambering into the sunken levels, chasing stray cats, and watching the resident storks launch into flight. Much to my relief, they successfully navigated the narrow walkways above the pool without falling in to the rather murky water. With ramparts to climb, underground chambers, summertime residence and four pavilions there is plenty for busy children to run around and explore.

Museum Boy and Museum Girl rest on the side of a sunken terrace at El Badi Palace

A view into a sunken fruit grove at Palace El Badi, through an arch doorway

Day in the souks

Museum Teen loves to shop, so a day in the Marrakech souks, or markets, was a must do. They are not one market but rather a series of intertwined markets organised by speciality, such as carpentry or leather. But as we wandered the rabbit warren we often had little idea of where we were. The shops sold everything, from Made in China tat to traditional leather, silver and pottery items. Whilst we were frequently asked to ‘take a look’, a polite no thank you was swiftly accepted. Some of the shops were veritable Aladdin’s caves, every surface covered with colourful, shiny handicrafts. Museum Teen bought traditional souvenirs to take home, quickly mastering the art of bartering. Although we were travelling hand luggage only, I couldn’t resist a super soft hammam towel. The manufacturing parts of the souks were often smelly, smoky and dirty, but gave fascinating glimpses of traditional artisans in their workshops. The only thing we disliked was the noisy motorbikes which would whizz past a hair’s breadth away, and the resulting fumes which hung in the air. We held our children’s hands tightly.

Inside of a shop, its shelves bursting with necklaces and carved stoneware

Colourful bowls decorated in a traditional Moroccan style. Photographed in Marrakech medina.

Jardin Majorelle and the Yves Saint Laurent museum

The Marrakech outpost of the Yves Saint Laurent had just opened when we visited. Its small, but even Museum Boy was entranced by its designer dresses. The display on French painter Majorelle was the perfect warm up for our next stop – his gardens. The signature blue Majorelle uses on his buildings really made my heart zing. Despite being the most popular visitor attraction in Marrakech, we still managed to find quiet moments on the shaded paths. Underneath the giant palms and cacti, our children loved spotting fish and turtles in the water.

View of bright Majorelle blue building, surrounded by tall palms and cactus in Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech

Museum Teen rests outside the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech. Behind her are catci, and she wears a t-shirt with cacti on it too.

The only part of Marrakech we didn’t like was Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square. We visited day and night time but found it overwhelming. The snakes scared the youngest, whilst I found the restaurant touts aggressive. We decided not to stay too long.

Adapting our Morocco with kids itinerary

Our 8 day Morocco itinerary was for us the perfect balance between exploring and relaxing. I would completely recommend this route, especially for those of you with young children. We had plenty of time to relax and soak up the atmosphere in each place and the short transfers were easy. However due to its slower pace, you could easily adapt this itinerary for a shorter trip.

  • 7 days Morocco with kids itinerary
    Stay one less night in Imill. You will still have enough time to take a family trek with a mule, enjoy the roof terrace at sunset, and have a couple of cosy meals in the dining room.
  • 6 days Morocco with kids itinerary
    Stay one less night in Imlil and decide whether you want one less night in either Marrakesh or Lalla Takkerkoust. It really comes down to whether you’d like more time around the pool or in the city!
  • 5 nights Morocco with kids itinerary
    Either take one night off each stop, or consider visiting only two of these destinations. We loved the mule mountain trek so much I would definitely make this part of your trip, but at a push you can day trip to Imlil from Marrakech and still fit in a short trek. Riad Jnane Imlil will happily arrange this for you, including transfers if required.

The Museum family trekking in the Atlas Mountains with Mohamed and mule.

Tips for visiting Morocco with kids

  • Best time to visit
    We visited Morocco in October half term. It was still hot – a scorching 38 degrees celsius in Marrakech, a little cooler in the mountains. But with plenty of bottled water, light layers and sunscreen we coped fine. I can’t imagine going in the summer when it would be hotter still! So I suggest visiting Morocco in October or February half term, or during the Easter holidays.
  • Book ahead
    To make sure you get exactly what you want, I recommend booking ahead especially if you’re going during the popular school holidays or have a larger family like mine. For our October holiday we booked our flights in January and reserved our accommodation in February.
  • Car hire or transfers?
    We hired a 4×4 car with Hertz Morocco (who I do not recommend for reasons given below). Driving in Morocco is pretty straightforward for a confident driver, due to the generally well surfaced and clearly marked roads. The drive from Lac Lalla Takkerkoust to Imlil was more adventurous, with mountain passes and creek crossings that might not be manageable in a small car. This car journey with its incredible scenery became a highlight of the holiday. Driving at our own pace and stopping at will was brilliant. However in Marrakech the car became a liability. Parking is very different than in Europe, we tipped a street attendant to watch our car. On return to the airport, in the early hours, no one was there to check our car. This had not been made clear to us. With no warning we had £1800 charged on our credit card for ‘damage’ which we had difficultly disputing back in London. Whilst the final bill was less, the poor service and lack of communication means we would never use Hertz Morocco again. Arranging cars transfers would be an easy alternative. Our hotels in Lalla Takkerkoust and Imlil both offered to arrange pick ups for us. In future, if we did hire a car, we would return it whilst staying in Marrakech.
  • Clothing
    Whilst it was scorching in the day, temperature would dip in the evenings, down to about 16 degrees celsius in Imlil. I suggest light layers and some longer sleeved tops. It is a Muslim country so out of respect myself and Museum Teen covered our shoulders with either a light scarf or top, when not in our hotels.
  • Bring your own sanitary products
    We spent hours trying to find sanitary pads. Even in Marrakesh they are hard to find. They are not stocked in supermarkets as in the UK. Pharmacies do have them but many were shut the afternoon we were looking. They are not on open display and very few people speak English. I have no idea how I managed to communicate what I was looking for, as I can’t speak Arabic or French. They were also eye-wateringly expensive, I paid the equivalent of £10 for 2 small packs. Ouch. So do bring your own!

Architectural detail from Jardin Majorelle Marrakech

Your questions answered

Here are my thoughts on some of the questions about Morocco my readers have asked me.

  • Is Morocco safe to visit with young kids?
    We found Morocco to be very safe to visit with youngsters. Our children were greeted with genuine interest and affection almost everywhere we went. After seeing her interest, a local handed Museum Girl a chicken to hold, whilst our mountain guide Mohamed exuded great warmth and care towards all of our children. In Marrakech petrol scooters zoom through the narrow derbs and souks, so always keep your child on the inside.
  • Are female travellers safe in Morocco?
    The Lonely Planet has some great advice for female travellers in Morocco. Personally I did not experience any hassle from Moroccan men. That could be because I travel as part of a family group, with a man. But I think it beats India and Mexico, where I frequently experienced unwanted attention – whilst travelling with men! Obviously I’m older now, but Museum Teen had only one such moment, when she was asked for her telephone number and instagram name by a young man in the Medina. We sent him packing, sharpish.
  • Is the food and water safe to consume in Morocco?
    We followed the advice of sticking to bottled water. We avoided ice, and only ate hot food, or salad where we knew it had been washed with bottled water. Tagines are usually a safe choice as they have been cooked for a very long time. We bought food and drinks from street stalls, including pastries and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. We had the tastiest spicy fish sandwich from a shack in a narrow smoky lane in the medina. None of us got ill, and although I did have a slightly upset stomach after the sandwich I think that was because I had stupidly forgotten to sanitise my hands! I noticed one of the juice sellers rinsed his glass in a very dirty looking bowl of water, so after that we paid extra for disposable cups, just to be on the safe side.

Do you have more questions or tips about visiting Morocco with kids? Comment below, or come find me on social media.

Disclaimer: I’ve only recommended things we tried and enjoyed. Whilst our flights were free thanks to National Express and their #catchthepigeon campaign, we paid for all of our accommodation, food and experiences. We visited in October 2017 when our children were 15, 5 and 3.

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26 Comments

  1. Catherine
    November 5, 2018 / 6:32 am

    What an incredible adventure for you all, you recreated the sights and sounds of your trip. Beautifully written Museum Mum.

    • museummum
      Author
      November 5, 2018 / 3:15 pm

      Thanks Catherine, that’s so lovely to hear. It was a great adventure and if I’ve managed to convey even some of it I’m pleased l.

  2. bavariansojourn
    November 5, 2018 / 10:10 am

    You have no idea how jealous this post makes me. What a fabulous family adventure. My Mum travels a lot on her own and has been on many an adventure, and I think Morocco has to be one of her most favourite recently! I love the sound of the Riad you stayed in too, will be saving for when we eventually make it there ourselves! Thanks for joining in with #CulturedKids 🙂

    • museummum
      Author
      November 5, 2018 / 11:45 am

      Sorry! Great to hear your mum enjoyed Morocco too. Hope you get a holiday there too one day. All the places we stayed were lovely, but the Airbnb in Marrakech went above and beyond when we had car problems. The owner drove over and spent time calling places and speaking in Arabic and French. It really helped alleviate the stress.

  3. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    November 5, 2018 / 3:29 pm

    Now this is a family adventure! I think you planned it so well: lots of variety and a luxurious stay to begin the holiday.
    #culturedkids

    • museummum
      Author
      November 5, 2018 / 5:25 pm

      It definitely was an adventure, but a completely manageable one, even with young kids. The luxurious stay definitely set us up for more exploring so I would definitely consider starting adventure holidays like that in future.

  4. November 6, 2018 / 3:43 pm

    I loved Morocco when visiting with friends years ago but need to go back with the kiddies. Your itinerary was so beautiful and so easy to follow – thank you for the inspiration! I also have on my list also Essaouira – hopefully April next year. Thanks so much for linking in with #CulturedKids!

    • museummum
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 5:34 pm

      You’re very welcome and thanks for the kind words! I do hope you get to Essaouira – it looks amazing but the journey was just a little far with the little ones. Hopefully I can visit it vicariously through your blog!

  5. liz Jack
    November 6, 2018 / 5:31 pm

    Great write up and detail, thank you! Would you say this was a planned trip? How did you budget for the accommodation and spends? Was it expensive when out there?

    • museummum
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 5:43 pm

      You’re very welcome Liz! This was planned, the flights were booked in January and it took about a month for me to research the country and find suitable accommodation. (I was working full time at the same time!) Accommodation for 5 of us came to £1200, this included breakfast and dinner at Lac Lalla Takerkoust and Imlil. We had two rooms in Imlil for that price too. Car hire was less than £200. Other spends were minimal, it was £1 per adult to get into Palace El Badi but more for Jardin Majorelle. We mostly bought food from supermarkets or street stalls. I would have to check my records but estimate apart from accommodation and car hire we spent on average less than £50 a day.

  6. November 6, 2018 / 6:36 pm

    What an absolutely fantastic guide! I’ve been several times but never as a mother. I am desperate to go back and see Villa Majorelle (can’t get over that lapiz colour).

    • museummum
      Author
      November 7, 2018 / 11:51 pm

      Thank you, that’s lovely to hear. That blue is so beautiful, isn’t it. I could spend much more time in that garden.

  7. Janice Sheehan
    November 7, 2018 / 10:19 am

    This is a great guide. Admittedly I repeatedly got endlessly lost within Marrakesh’s walls, and people wanted money before they’d give directions. They’d approach me knowing I was lost! It put me off taking kids there, so I think I’d definitely need a guide as I’d love to return. Apart from having no navigational skills it was a great trip.

    • museummum
      Author
      November 7, 2018 / 11:23 pm

      Thanks for the kind words! I hear you get treated better with children and I think that could well be true. We had one hairy moment when we were completely lost and we were unsure if some teens were being a help or a hindrance. But we managed to work it out! I have heard people recommend guides for the medina but we enjoyed going at our own pace. Glad you enjoyed your trip apart from that.

  8. Janice Sheehan
    November 7, 2018 / 10:19 am

    #culturedkids

  9. November 7, 2018 / 3:56 pm

    what an amazing trip! love all the colours! your accommodation looks nice too #culturedkids

    • museummum
      Author
      November 7, 2018 / 11:24 pm

      Thank you, it’s such a photogenic place and the accommodation was all really lovely, I would recommend all three.

  10. pigeonpairandme
    November 8, 2018 / 2:17 pm

    What a fantastic post!! I’ve been looking forward to reading it, as I visited Morocco before kids, and am curious about what to expect when I go back with the family (which I inevitably will). It looks as though you had the right balance of sightseeing in different places, and downtime. Thinking back, I can’t remember what precautions I took about cleanliness of food and drink. I think my stomach must have been hardier than those of the kids – it’s something that would concern me now. And it’s good to know not to expect the hassle I received as a female traveller back then! 🙂 #CulturedKids

  11. November 11, 2018 / 7:54 pm

    Loved this, I really want to visit Morocco but had thought it was one to save until the teens have flown. Hmmm recon considering now. #CulturedKids

  12. November 13, 2018 / 12:50 pm

    We love Morocco! Have taken the boys to Marrakech and Essaouira, but looking to explore more next year. We only did a day trip to Imlil, but I’d love to stay longer next time. #MondayEscapes

    • museummum
      Author
      November 14, 2018 / 8:10 am

      Ooh, must look at your blog to read more about Essaouira, I would definitely like to go there one day. Imlil is lovely, I was so pleased we had a few days there. Hope you get there for a bit longer next time.

  13. November 13, 2018 / 3:58 pm

    This sounds like such a great experience for the kids. We did a similar itinerary pre-kids with car hire up to Imlil, that drive is stunning although I’m sorry to hear you had trouble afterwards. Car hire can be a right pain in any country and with any provider, I think the problem lies with the tiny salary the staff are paid. Morocco is a brilliant destination for an adventure despite being relatively close to the UK. It feels like a million miles away! #Mondayescapes

    • museummum
      Author
      November 14, 2018 / 8:08 am

      It was such a great holiday, and the drives were definitely highlights! I completely agree, Morocco is close enough to take young kids for just a week, but feels very different.

  14. November 13, 2018 / 10:47 pm

    Vyki, I love this post! So inspiring and so helpful. As I already told you I love Morocco and have also visited Imlil…with very fond memories. I’d never considered going back as a family! But why not? I’d love to look into visiting with the kids next year..and i’ll be looking to you for some tips! #MondayEscapes

    • museummum
      Author
      November 14, 2018 / 8:12 am

      Thanks Zoe, that’s so nice to hear. I think you’d have a great time in Morocco with the kids – and of course, always happy to give advice.

  15. November 15, 2018 / 10:13 am

    It looks like your careful research and planning certainly paid off and you had a perfect holiday! We too have three kids and share your struggles with finding accommodation that works for us. We tend to go for larger self catering properties too, as oppose to hotels. It looks like you found some wonderful properties. I love all of your pictures – you captured Morocco so well!
    Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

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