Hidden Gems of Spain & Morocco Itinerary

A 15 day trip to Morocco & Spain 
5
5 out of 5 stars
20 reviews

Handcrafted for the inquisitive soul, this unique tour uncovers the next generation of travel destinations. Rather than countries, you’ll discover inimitable regions, and each will be a contrast to the last, including: Catalonia, Basque and Galicia, then Western Sahara, Souss-Massa, and Marrakesh-Safi. There’s art, wine, dunes, camels, walled cities, cobbled squares, hidden coastlines and heritage villages. And as your senses discover an authenticity, you’ll want to keep the destinations a secret.

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Designed for Discerning Travelers.; Expert Advice. Personalized Service.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Barcelona, Barrio Gothic, Tarragona, Penedes, Catalonia, Basque Country, Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum, Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Galicia, Casablanca, Hassan II Mosque, Dakhla, Western Sahara, Taroudant, Marrakesh, Djemaa El-Fna, Atlas Mountains, Ait Bouguemez

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Barcelona – Stroll the Gothic Quarter and Introduction to Catalonia

Catalan flags fly from the townhouses in Barcelona while locals greet you in Catalan language and the chatter you hear on al fresco terraces is not Spanish. The architecture is also novel as the works of Antonio Gaudi and Lluis Domenech i Montaner add curves and mosaics and chimneys to the streets. When you look a little closer, you’ll see that this architecture is not art nouveau, it is proudly Catalan modernism. While Barcelona is one of the world’s most popular tourist cities, the stories within the city can be quick to take you off the beaten track, as this is a city that emphasizes the difference. You’ll touch down in the city and spend a day with a local guide, discussing the history and admiring the quintessentially Catalan attractions.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Barcelona – Wine Estates of Catalonia and Coastal Tarragona

Rural Catalonia is even more traditional, where crumbling stone villages are strung beneath rugged mountains. After a relaxed morning in the city, you stop at one of these villages for a lunch of hearty Catalan food complemented by wine tasting. When you travel further south, you’ll be surrounded by the vineyards of Penedes where you try delicate whites and rounded reds along with the iconic sparkling Cava. Next, it’s onto the coastal city of Tarragona. The ornamental buildings and flamboyant colors line streets that twist down to a golden beach and fragrant cafes. A Roman amphitheater hangs over the Mediterranean, alleyways look and feel medieval, and the haunting necropolis is intimate in its details. This is a full-day trip, and you return at dusk, just as the Barcelona streets are becoming lively.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Bilbao – Pintxos and Poignant Expressions

The next day, you’ll take a short flight to a new autonomous community. Language, food, and flags will be some of the obvious differences. Subtler details can be seen in the region’s interpretation of baroque design, the layout of streets in the old town, and fragrances found along the river. Bilbao showcases three different eras of Basque soul and your guided afternoon tour will transcend the centuries. Start with the 19th century, as the grand boulevards and ornamental architecture are dissimilar to Catalan from the same period. Then, continue into the future with the Guggenheim Museum, which is just one of the ethereal buildings along the river. Finally, you’ll journey deep into the past, as Bilbao’s cobbled medieval center exuding a village-life feel.

Spend the evening hopping between bars and trying out pintxos, which will be a uniquely Basque experience. Some may say these small bites are like tapas but anyone who has been on a pintxo crawl will know that they are nothing like the food from Southern Spain. This is gourmet dining in an informal setting where you will choose from the dishes that are lined up on bar counters, including creamed sea urchin, crab meat croquettes with wasabi mayo, and other creative bites floating in fresh olive oil. The only thing that isn’t Basque is the wine since the bars mostly sell the produce of nearby La Rioja.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Bilbao – Immersed in Basque Country

Today will be free for you to discover Basque country and you feel the depth of its history and soul at your leisure. Travel along the coast to San Sebastian, the grand dame of coastal destinations that has been popular since Napoleon holidayed here 200 years ago. Eat lunch in a seaside town that celebrates the Basque country’s role as Spain’s premier culinary destination. Cross the green hills to the medieval city of Pamplona, where a fortress lures you into a city that has far more to offer than the Running of the Bulls. Half a dozen castle-towns line the route back to Bilbao, where the evening could bring another feast of pintxos or some fine dining at one of the world’s top 30 restaurants.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Santiago de Compostela – Beneath the Cathedral Chimes of History

This morning you’ll travel to a region tucked into Spain’s northwestern corner of Galicia that sticks true to its Celtic origins. Santiago de Compostela is its traditional capital, a city of rich sandstone churches and monasteries, where the blocks of history are intertwined with the tales of St. James. Bells ring around the pedestrianized streets and the footsteps of pilgrims polish the cobbles smooth. Nothing artificial breaks the scene and when the sun fades the spires still dominate, rising above the city on sentient duty. A Galician guide will meet you and spend the afternoon satisfying your curiosities while you enter some of the religious buildings and add your own footprints to 1500 years of cobblestone.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Santiago de Compostela – Exploring the Remote Galician Coast

The following day, you’ll learn that the world’s finest grilled octopus is a particular highlight of Galicia. It’s not expensive, like oysters or crab. In fact, it’s so plentiful that many bars give you a free helping of octopus with every glass of beer. This is just one insight into the Galician mentality, where they would rather preserve tradition than profit. This is a coast of fishing villages not resorts, and a land where it’s impossible not to meet the gregarious locals. Travel to remote fjords, where it’s easy to find a private cove or beach for the afternoon. Explore tiny villages where everyone appears to be eating octopus after 5 pm. Listen to the language, embrace the authenticity of the landscape, and take your time along one of the continent’s most underdeveloped coastlines.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Casablanca – A Stunning Mosque and an Insight Into Morocco

Say goodbye to Spain today and board your flight for Morocco. You’ll be staying in Casablanca tonight with plenty of time to discover off the beaten track experiences in this famous old city. The mosaiced minaret of Hassan II Mosque rises more than 600 feet above the city and subtle green and blue colors reflect on the polished prayer space beneath your feet. This is one of the world’s largest mosques, a grandiose showcase of Moroccan artisanship with an innate attention to detail. When you touch down, the guide will take you here for a guided tour of the mosque. It’ll be a serene insight into a world of beauty and silence, one that transcends religion in the same way that many great cathedrals also do.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Dakhla – The Enduring Beauty of the Western Sahara

This morning, you’ll fly south and touch down in what was the Spanish Sahara during colonial rule. Golden sand dunes stretch out from the frothy white of Atlantic waves, and road signs warn of crossing camels. Palm trees stand in harmony and create snippets of green that cast elegant shadows while silence rules. You will hear your footsteps as they crunch against the rock before your feet disappear into the serenity of the sand. While you stand on the dunes, the Sahara Desert will extend beyond what your imagination can conjure. Then, stand on the beach and the sand extends for hundreds of unbroken miles. This is a new escape, a destination of astonishing beauty that’s recently become accessible to tourists. After you touch down, you’ll spend the day in awe of the place and the space.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 9: Dakhla – Where Dunes Meet the Waves: Camel Treks and Beaches

Spend the morning on the beach and enjoy the thrill of surfing or kite surfing the Atlantic waves. While Dakhla is a destination to discover it’s also a place to relax on a busy two-week itinerary. This morning is also about soaking up the salty breeze while you feel your tempo slow down. After lunch you set off into the dunes on a camel and plod across the ridges until the rumble of waves is consumed by the sound of the desert wind. Your destination will be a camp deep in the dunes, a traditional place to sleep that’s been appointed with modern comforts. You’ll feel like a traveler from the past, as you are at one with the arousing power of the Sahara. Spend the night beneath the stars, a thousand miles from the nearest city, enveloped by the endless walls of sand.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 10: Agadir to Taroudant – An Ochre-Walled Town Untouched By Tourism

The next day, when you fly out of Western Sahara, the enormity of the coastline will be visible from the plane window. You’ll land in Agadir and transfer to Taroudant, a trading city in the old Moroccan style. Goods spill from stalls in the maze-like souks, such as spices, lanterns, camel meat, brass doorknobs, and ornamental wood. Ochre-hued walls surround the town to act as gatekeepers and protectors of the tradition they encase. Many who visit declare Taroudant to be like Marrakesh before tourists came but locals will fervently disagree. This is the Souss-Massa region and the local guide will explain how this trading town has always been different.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Taroudant – Immersed in a Rustic World

In the morning, you’ll wake to the sound of the call to prayer. One mosque sends out a message of praise for Allah, the others respond in harmony, and a call and response routine floats euphonically through the streets. Drink sweet mint tea on the hotel balcony while you watch the city walls drift out of the shadows. Then spend the day with the artisans, traveling through the old souks to discover the secrets to constructing piles of spices, tanning leather hides, carving wood, and following the basics of Moroccan four-color design. While Marrakesh is famous for its evening storytellers, this tradition is just as old in Taroudant and the guide will help you interpret them as you spend the night on the square, listening to the tales of the Saharan camel caravans.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Marrakesh – The Greatest City Square of Them All

Comparing Taroudant to Marrakesh is an intriguing experience, as both have a similar history and style but one is more famous than the other. In Marrakesh there are more attractions to see, more streets to walk, and more corners to turn. However, there are also more people and a guide will help take you away from the tourist-focused establishments around the square. Drive here in the morning and spend the afternoon discovering the souks and mosques, along with the old palaces and gardens. When dusk falls you join the crowds on Djemaa El-Fna, where storytellers and musicians compete for your attention and business.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Days 13 – 14: Ait Bouguemez – Berber Heritage and the Beauty of the Atlas Mountains

Today, you’ll venture into the mountains, where the village of Ait Boutuemez awaits beneath the distant shimmer of snowy peaks. It was only 20 years ago that the village was first connected by road but before this, the only way to travel was on foot or on the back of a mule. Asphalt is a new concept here but hospitality has been part of the culture for one thousand years. Arrive on the high mountain road and relax in lush gardens to drink tea beneath the shade of a palm. Feel the atmosphere of a remote oasis where serenity mixes with the surreal slowness of daily life. Say hello to locals and get an invite into their houses where you will dine on the generations-old recipes of the Berbers.

Your time here will be at your leisure and a local guide will be appointed to assist you. The village is a good base to trek through the mountains, with dozens of routes connecting the neighboring villages of the High Atlas. Hidden from the world, backdropped by peaks that rise more than 12,000 feet, Ait Bouguemez is one of those destinations that feels indelibly off the beaten track. Like other destinations over the last two weeks, only the next 20 years will reveal whether it stays off the tourist trail or becomes the next raved-about destination in the guidebooks.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 15: Marrakesh – Depart

After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to Marrakesh, where there is time for some window-shopping in the souks before your international departure.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$3,482
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.