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.
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.
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.
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
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 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!*
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.