From Madrid to Marrakech, visit Spain, Portugal and Morocco

Travel to Spain, Portugal and Morocco on a journey from Madrid to Marrakech, taking the long route for maximum adventure. Marvel at artistic masterpieces and architectural wonders in Spain, taste the rich history of Portugal in its delightful cities and cuisine, and be enchanted by the magic of mysterious Morocco. Revel in chaotic markets, relax in coastal retreats and be warmed by local hospitality. This is an unforgettable odyssey through changing landscapes and incredible cultures - be spellbound by the colours and charisma of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

Start
Madrid, Spain
Finish
Marrakech, Morocco
Countries
Morocco,
Portugal,
Spain
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSQC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
342kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • - The Art Walk in Madrid is every art lover's dream. In one small stretch you can browse the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Reina Sofia and the Prado, one of the world's most celebrated galleries
  • - Wander around Salamanca's Plaza Mayor at night, lit up to reveal its intricate architecture
  • - Sample the culinary delights and contrasts of Spain, Portugal and Morocco - three countries that are celebrated around the world for their cuisine
  • - The Algarve in Portugal is the perfect middle point of the trip. Soak up the sun on the coast's gorgeous beaches, walk across rocky cliff tops, explore remote coves and enjoy a sunset over the Atlantic Ocean
  • - Relive a glorious medieval past in Fes city. While many tourists get lost in the labyrinthine streets of the medina, you'll have a local guide to show you the way
  • - Where else would you find drummers, dancers, snake charmers, fortune tellers, jugglers and old medicine men in one place? Marrakech is the perfect place to share a final group meal and stock up on treasures in the city's colourful souqs
  • - Scale the High Atlas Mountains and trek through scenic Berber villages, spending a night in a traditional Berber homestay. Discover the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time
  • - Negotiate your way through the winding alleys of Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, a superb example of Moroccan architecture rich in history and mystery
  • - Moroccan cuisine is interpreted throughout the world in different ways. While in Ait Benhaddou, master the way traditional way of preparing Moroccan couscous and tagines
  • - Travel through the Sahara desert in a camel convoy, sleep under the North African stars and enjoy an evening beside the campfire listening to Bedouin tales
  • - Put your feet up and relax in the laid-back coastal town of Essaouira. This is a good chance to recharge before heading for the colourful chaos of Marrakech
  • - Scale the High Atlas Mountains and trek through scenic Berber villages, spending a night in a traditional Berber homestay. Discover the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time
  • - Negotiate your way through the winding alleys of Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, a superb example of Moroccan architecture rich in history and mystery
  • - Moroccan cuisine is interpreted throughout the world in different ways. While in Ait Benhaddou, master the way traditional way of preparing Moroccan couscous and tagines
  • - Travel through the Sahara desert in a camel convoy, sleep under the North African stars and enjoy an evening beside the campfire listening to Bedouin tales
  • - Put your feet up and relax in the laid-back coastal town of Essaouira. This is a good chance to recharge before heading for the colourful chaos of Marrakech

Itinerary

Welcome to Madrid, Spain. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 7 pm. Please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive into Madrid early, while away the hours on the Paseo del Arte (Art Walk) for a panoramic perspective of western art history.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). As there's limited time for sightseeing in Madrid on this trip, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the sights. Madrid offers a remarkable blend of sights, sounds and experiences. Soak up the culture, be wowed by the architecture and swoon over the exceptional food. If you're an art buff, don't miss the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk. Start with 12th-19th century European art at the Museo del Prado, discover modern Spanish masters including Picasso and Dali in the Museo Reina Sofia and finish with the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Take a break in the 18th-century oasis of the Real Jardin Botanico.
Say farewell to Madrid this morning and head north-west by bus to the historical university town of Salamanca (approximately 3.5 hours).

Situated amongst beautiful pastures and rolling green hills on Spain's northern plateau, the rose-hued medieval town of Salamanca is great to explore on foot. Your leader will take you on an orientation walk on arrival, where you can explore the central Plaza Mayor and discover the historic stone buildings that the city is known for. Plaza Mayor is a true centre of local life. Not only is it architecturally unique, but it thrives with activity as locals meet and take coffee, tapas or cocktails on the square.

The rest of your afternoon and evening is then free to do as you wish.
Head further west by bus today and cross the border into Portugal to the laidback city of Coimbra, which should take around five hours. Coimbra will be our base for next two nights.

On arrival, your leader will escort you on a walk to help you orientate yourself in the maze of alleyways of this riverfront city, that used to be Portugal’s capital back in time. Half the fun of Coimbra is wandering and exploring, so use your free time getting to know the city. Coimbra features typical white stone with several excellent examples of colourful azulejos tiling. Some of the historical buildings were originally built in the 12th century (cathedral Sé Velha), and you can find some of the Portugal's best examples of Romanesque churches and elegant museums here. Famous baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina, and its 18th-century bell tower are highlights.
Enjoy a free day of exploration in Coimbra today, before witnessing a traditional Fado performance in the splendour of a lovely old chapel (held daily in the centre of the old town). Commonly regarded as a form of song that can really be about anything, but must follow a certain structure, Fado is in popular belief a song mixed from mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor.

In your free time, perhaps head out into the countryside in search of ancient Roman ruins, which takes around 30 minutes by bus. The ruins of Conimbriga are rich in mosaics and a great insight into ancient Roman life. There are several options to return, including a three kilometre walk through the countryside to the unspoiled rural town of Condeixa (optional). If you have time, you can take a short boat tour to take in the view of Coimbra from a different angle.
Today, jump on a train for around three and a half hours through the countryside of central Portugal to Lisbon. As one of Europe's most pleasant and affordable capital cities, Lisbon combines the best elements of Portuguese life, offering fantastic architecture, a multicultural population, delicious seafood and non-stop nightlife.

On arrival to the city, head out on an orientation walk of Lisbon to find your feet. Your afternoon and evening is then free, so perhaps head to the grand Naval Museum for an insight into the history of Portuguese navigation or just simply enjoy yourself sitting back in one of many outdoors restaurants and cafes. Watching the life go by is certainly a good way to relax in Lisbon.
Today we explore the treasures of Lisbon, located on the banks of the Tagus (Tejo) River and truly one of Europe’s great cities. Much of Lisbon’s character and charm lies in its beautiful renovated buildings, grand boulevards and impressive castles and churches. Head out this morning on an included visit to the medieval citadel in the city centre of Lisbon. The city swarms with endless angular white houses and buildings with distinct red terracotta rooftops. From the citadel, this makes a contrasting panorama when viewed against the deep blue of the sky and ocean.

In your free time, perhaps take a day trip into the mountainous region of Sintra, just 45 mins away by train. This area offers great walking, stunning cliff-top palaces and unique Moorish architecture.
Take a long bus journey of around five hours today to the southern coastline of Portugal, the Algarve. Known for its fertile plains, rich with orange and olive groves, fig trees, almonds and maize fields, this region is perfect to explore on foot. Our base is Olhao, the Algarve’s biggest fishing port, with an active waterfront and bustling lanes in its old quarters.

Check in to your accommodation on arrival and then use your free time getting to know the area's long, picturesque beaches. In the evening, perhaps try Olhao’s famous fish restaurants.
This morning, venture out on an included beach excursion with the rest of the group. Sandy beach islands can be reached by boats used by local people on daily basis to provide goods for those who live away from the coastline. While on the excursion, visit some of the Algarve's lesser known areas with great walking paths and golden sandy beaches. Soak up the laid back atmosphere before getting back to Olhao. With a historical old town and ideal location for stunning sunsets, the town offers a more relaxed pace of life. Perhaps use your free time in the evening trying some true Portuguese fare.
Leave Portugal for the hills of Andalucia today, travelling by bus to the traditional and historic town of Jerez de la Frontera (approximately seven hours). With its ancient Alcazar (Moorish fortress), eclectic cathedral and huge selection of high quality tapas bars, Jerez is an undiscovered jewel in the heart of Andalucia. The name ‘Jerez’ is derived from Arabic and has now become synonymous with the English word ‘sherry’, the city’s most famous export. Jerez is equally famous for its fine horses as well as Flamenco music and dance.

Once settled into your accommodation, enjoy a bodega tour and sample some of the sherries on offer. The rest of your evening is then free to do as you wish.
Today will be a long day of travel, as you leave Spain behind and head to Morocco. Travel by bus to the port town of Algeciras, which should take around three hours. Here you'll find spectacular views of the Rock of Gibraltar, before boarding a ferry to cross the straits to the city of Tangier (approximately 1.5 hours). After leaving the ferry jump on a bus for around three hours to Chefchaouen, which is in the centre of a mountainous agricultural region. There won't be too much time to explore Chefchaouen today, so perhaps settle into your hotel and relax before your walking tour tomorrow.
Meet your local guide early in the day to explore the maze of streets in the beautiful blue and whitewashed Chefchaouen.

Chefchaouen, or otherwise a ‘blue city’ is arguably one of the prettiest places in Morocco. Set against a wide valley and surrounded by the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquistia, so you might feel like you're still in the hills of Spain while exploring its streets. Learn about general life in a small Moroccan community, visit a communal bakery, watch local women do their laundry and walk up to a former church for a great view over the town that's nestled between two mountain peaks. As a popular shopping destination for handicrafts, carpets, blankets or woolen garments, you may also see the artisans at work. Possibly relax after your walking tour in a traditional Moroccan hammam.
.
Say farewell to Chefchaouen today and take a public bus for around five hours to Fes.

Your day is free once you arrive, so perhaps get your bearings of the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. The adventurous may want to try a camel burger for dinner at a local restaurant in the medina. In the evening why not head off to enjoy a dinner of Moroccan specialities like harira (chickpea soup) and chicken-stuffed pastilla with couscous. You may also head to the Palais Jamai for a drink. Watching the sunset over the Medina while a dozen prayer calls vie for attention is an experience you'll likely remember for a long time.
Today take a guided walk around Fes. Discover the labyrinth of the Medina, known locally as Fes el Bali, a living monument to an ancient past and still very much alive with craftsmen, markets, tanneries and mosques. Medieval Fes was one of the world's great centres of education and culture: both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and its libraries are legendary. Its mosques are of great renown. And it was to Fes that many of the Muslims (and Jews) expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella came in 1492. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings which has recently been restored and is now open to tourists. You'll also visit the famous tannery, known for the iconic view overlooking its dye pits, and a ceramic factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way. After the tour, the afternoon is free to get lost in the city's maze of streets and alleys, take a photo outside the Royal Palace or visit the nearby hills for incredible views.

Please note that today’s experience will include shopping in carefully selected places. As the receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Moroccan tourism industry, Intrepid has established a centralised system of receiving and distributing payments from these recommended suppliers. For more information, please refer to ‘Important Notes’ section or talk to your Tour leader on the ground.
Travel by train this morning to Marrakech, which will take around eight hours. Be enticed by the alluring scents and brilliant colours of the spice markets, the sounds of the musicians, the rich folds of carpets, delectable foods, acrobats and perfumed gardens.On arrival, head out on an included tour to see the Koutoubia Mosque and its minaret - famous throughout the world as one of the greatest minarets and the 'sister' to the Giralda in Seville. Please note it is impossible for non-Muslims to enter the minaret, and we will only visit its beautiful surroundings. If you have time, explore the ruins of Palais Badi and comb the spectacular Djemaa el-Fna bazaar.
Today is free for you to enjoy as you please. Set out to discover Marrakech in more detail; mingle with the performers and fortune-tellers at Djemaa el-Fna or sample Moroccan fares alfresco at the night stalls. Later, relax while sipping mint tea with locals and pick up last-minute supplies for the South Morocco adventure.

As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Today, take a short drive up the towering High Atlas Mountains to the village of Imlil (approximately two hours). On arrival here, store your main luggage and load daypacks onto pack mules before taking the one hour walk up to the peaceful village of Aroumd. If you feel like the walk is too strenuous then there's the option of riding the mule.

Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional Berber culture. You'll spend the night in a family run mountain home (gite), which is situated on a footstep of a hill, with great views of Mount Toubkal. The accommodation is on a multi-share basis and the bathroom facilities are also shared.

Use the rest of the day exploring the village and the surrounding farmlands. If the group are up for it, there will be a chance to hike of around eight kilometres to the pilgrimage shrine of Sidi Chamharouch (approximately four hours return trip). Regardless of fitness levels, the gentle pace of Aroumd makes it a special place to explore beyond the reach of the modern world.
This morning journey along mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, Tizi n'Tichka (2,260 m), to Ait Benhaddou on the edges of the Sahara (approximately six hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic site. It was once an important stop for caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today its grand kasbah has been listed as a World Heritage site, with its fortified village being a fine example of clay architecture.

Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains. In the evening, why not join a simple cooking demonstration of Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine. The locals will explain the secrets and subtleties of these traditional meals, as the ladies of the kitchen prepare a feast.
This morning you'll journey south towards the Sahara, stopping in the regularly used film location of Ouarzazate along the way (approximately five hours in total).

While here, make a short visit to Horizon Association for People with Disabilities. This is an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. They also operate an artisan workshop, which trains local people in trades such as pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. Since their establishment in 1994, the Horizon Association has served over 3,000 people.

Continue to travel through the Draa Valley to Zagora, and take a stroll through the palm groves, explore the ksars and wander around the surrounding countryside.
Continue along the rugged and desolate Jbel Tadrart ranges and through seas of sand to the township of Tamegroute. Visit an intriguing library filled with ancient scripts of science, literature, the Koran and stories of the prophet Mohammed (subject to unregulated opening times). Join a local guide to uncover the underground Kasbah and its unique ceramic pottery industry. Leave Tamegroute behind and carry on driving to the end of the road at the frontier town of M'Hamid (approximately one hour). From here take a short camel ride through the dunes, where you’ll jump into 4WD vehicles.

The rough track runs parallel to the Algerian border, across stony Hamada desert whose only populace is small scatterings of nomadic people and their camels. The group will reach the massive Erg Chigaga dunes in the late afternoon. Your camp for the night is fairly basic with bedding, mattresses and toilet facilities provided. During the winter months of November to March it can get very cold at night, so it’s a good idea to bring base layers and a warm sleeping bag.

Notes: Due to passenger feedback, all departures in the summer months of June, July and August use a slightly altered itinerary in the Sahara. We'll take a 4WD safari to the remote Erg Chigaga dunes, but instead of camping in the dunes you’ll stay at a fixed camp in Ouled Idriss. This camp is better suited for high summer temperatures.
Today rejoin the minivan and venture towards Taroudannt, which should take around six hours in total. This drive goes through desert scenery and along a route that's a reserve for the indigenous argan trees. In Morocco, argan oil, produced from the kernels of the argan tree, has been used in medicine, food and cosmetics for centuries and is certainly a trade mark of Morocco in the world. If you're lucky, the group might come across the famous image of goats climbing these trees in search of nuts.

Please note that this is a long travel day and you won't arrive at tonight's accommodation until late afternoon/early evening. The riad (house) tonight is 45 kilometres outside of Taroudannt and offers the chance to relax by the pool or take a steamed bath.
In the morning, explore the vibrant souqs of Taroudannt’s medina. Afterwards, leave the valleys of the High Atlas Mountains behind and head west to the coastal town of Essaouira (approximately five hours). The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. Its charm is undeniable - within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries and wood workshops. This laidback artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations. The town faces a group of rocky islands - called the Mogador - and is surrounded by an expanse of sandy beaches and dunes.

It's still a busy fishing port and its pretty harbour is filled with tiny colourful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. More recently, filmmaker Ridley Scott chose the ramparts as an important location for his film, Kingdom of Heaven.

As you’ll arrive in the early evening, there won’t be much time to look around today. In the evening perhaps have some dinner with the group, as the local seafood is as fresh as it gets.
Today, join a local guide for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). Afterwards, use your free time to get under the skin of the town. Everything in the small centre is within walking distance and the beach is clean. Wander the harbour and its adjacent fish markets where you can witness the daily auction. A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood - delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops, which are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly coloured wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant. If you’d prefer to relax, don't miss the opportunity to go to a hammam or local-style bath.
Use the morning to see the last of Essaouira, as you’ll catch a bus back to Marrakech. the balance of the day is free. Use this time to hunt for more souvenirs to take back home. In the evening, head out into the centre of Marrakech with the group for one final night together and perhaps enjoy dinner (at your own cost) together.
Your 'Spain, Portugal & Morocco' adventure ends after breakfast. Check out time is usually around 12.00 pm, but you’re free to leave any time before. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech (subject to availability).
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
16 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
Transport
4x4, Bus, Ferry, Metro, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Accommodation
Camp site (1 night), Gite (1 night), Hotel (16 nights), Pension (2 nights), Riad (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Orientation walk
  • Fado performance
  • Orientation Walk
  • Citadel
  • Algarve beach excursion
  • Bodega tour and sherry tasting
  • Walking tour with local guide
  • Guided walking tour Fes
  • Koutoubia Mosque and minaret
  • Guided trek in the High Atlas Mountains
  • Horizon Association for People With Disabilities visit
  • Ancient library
  • Camel ride
  • Guided walking tour

Dates

There are currently no departures for this trip.

{{departure_day.departure_date | date:'EEE d MMMM yyyy'}} {{departure_day.arrival_date | date:'EEE d MMMM yyyy'}}

Style: {{departure.style}}

Boat/Ship: {{departure.vehicle_name}}
On sale Hot deal Departure guaranteed On request
{{product.currency_code}} {{room.base_price | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}
{{product.currency_code}} {{room.discount_price | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}
Fully booked Bookings closed

Total price per person {{room.room_type | lowercase}}
Includes {{departure.kitty_currency_code}} {{departure.kitty | noFractionCurrency:departure.kitty_currency_symbol}} kitty
Includes {{extra.extras_code}} {{extra.extras_symbol}}{{extra.extras_value}} in local payments Single supplement available from {{product.currency_code}} {{departure.single_supp | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}

Contact us to arrange an alternative departure for you

Book {{departure.places_left}} spaces left! space left!


Important notes

1. There is an altered summer itinerary (June, July & August). See Trip Notes for further details.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Spain, Portugal & Morocco trips score an average of 4.5 out of 5 based on 8 reviews in the last year.

Spain, Portugal & Morocco , September 2015

Spain, Portugal & Morocco , August 2015

Was this page helpful?