Morocco: TUI's Imperial Cities tour is an unforgettable experience - here's why it should be next on your travel bucket list

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An adventure to different cities of Morocco with breathtaking buildings, divine local cuisine, enchanting markets and more - it is a truly unforgettable experience

Enchanting markets, breath-taking buildings and mosques, waterfalls, a surreal hot air balloon ride, exquisite food. Travelling to Morocco is a trip I will never forget.

From Marrakech and Casablanca to Rabat and Beni Mellal, the cities I experienced were all different with their own charms and quirks. From the culture-rich bustling streets and markets of Marrakech to the more built-up, promenade seaside walk of Casablanca. I travelled with TUI to experience a taster of its Morocco Imperial Cities Tour and here is what I made of the experience. 

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First off, when arriving at Marrakech Menara Airport I was hit by 30C heat. The sun was shining and I was very happy to be leaving the drizzly cold February weather of the UK behind. As part of the trip I stayed at TUI Blue Medina Gardens in the heart of Marrakech. It is a five minutes’ walk from restaurants, food stalls and the famous markets (called souks). The hotel is not included as part of the Imperial Cities Tour, as you will stay at a variety of different 3 and 4* hotels during the trip, but it is somewhere you can stay to extend your trip afterwards.

I would highly recommend this TUI Blue hotel in Marrakech. I was blown away. As we travelled to it I was already in awe at the buildings in Marrakech, the colours and the architecture, and then arriving at the hotel I saw it was yet another stunning building with original Arabic features including a 200-year-old tower. The hotel is adults only so there is quite the contrast between outside the walls of the hotel with the busy markets to the inside of the hotel being very chill, relaxed and calming with many relaxing by the two large pools and in the rooftop bar. 

The TUI Blue Medina Gardens hotel in Marrakech. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)The TUI Blue Medina Gardens hotel in Marrakech. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
The TUI Blue Medina Gardens hotel in Marrakech. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)

The rooms are very spacious with beautiful views of the hotel’s pools and gardens and my room even came with a hot tub on my balcony which was an extra added bonus. Below my room the rooms on the ground floor were treated to a swimming pool which ran alongside outside of the rooms. In the gardens the hotel keeps tortoises which are very cute to see, it treats guests to its very own Shisha lounge and the food it serves is all extremely delicious from traditional tagine dishes, seafood dishes to pastas, skewers and more. 

4* TUI BLUE Medina Gardens seven-night stay all inclusive from £799 per person

TUI offers seven nights at the 4T+ TUI BLUE Medina Gardens on an all-inclusive basis from £799 per person. Price is based on two adults sharing a double room, departing from Birmingham airport in May 2024, including transfers. Upgraded extra-leg room seats are available at an extra cost. To find out more about this holiday, or to book go to, visit your local TUI holiday store or download our app. 

Over the course of our TUI tour we explored the amazing sights of Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, and Beni Mellal. The tour that is being offered by TUI also includes the exploration of Volubilis and Fez, and spans across eight days, however our trip was a little shorter.

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Before our first day of discovering the magical Marrakech, we had a taste of what the city has to offer during our first night in Morocco. We visited the authentic Dar Essalam restaurant in the heart of Marrakech which blends both tradition and modernity. The restaurant was featured in the Alfred Hitchcock film "The man who knew too much" and is famous for being visited by Winston Churchill, Charles Trenet and Alfred Hitchcock himself for its Moroccan cuisine. 

Dar Essalam restaurant in Marrakech. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) Dar Essalam restaurant in Marrakech. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
Dar Essalam restaurant in Marrakech. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld

I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are heading to Marrakech. The food was divine and the entertainment was lively to say the least. There were dancers in the middle of the restaurant circling around the room asking people to get up and dance, traditional music and at one point during the evening a Conga line formed around the restaurant. The thought of this happening when dining in a restaurant here in the UK was very amusing. 

The next day was our big tour of Marrakech, starting off with the Saadian Tombs. This is a must-see if you visit. The stunning tombs are a major tourist attraction in Marrakech and were constructed during the reign of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur in the late 16th century. It is the resting place of over 60 members of the Saadi family, plus dozens of other bodies that are believed to be nobles from their court. The buildings were impressive with stunning ceilings and ornate white marble pillars. 

Saadian Tombs (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)Saadian Tombs (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
Saadian Tombs (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld

We had a quick stop for some coffee at a local restaurant and then headed onto Bahia Palace, another must-see historical landmark. It is a truly stunning 19th century building consisting of rooms decorated with paintings and mosaics. The architecture is really impressive and the vibrant colours really bring it to life as well as reflecting the traditions of the country. The ceilings are painted with intricate patterns and designs, and the windows are framed with ornate wooden shutters.

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For lunch we stopped at a restaurant called 'Nomad'. A restaurant with roof-top seating with stunning views. From worming your way in and out of the little alleyways of the souks, to coming up to the roof-top restaurant and seeing the city from above, it was another experience. The food was spectacular and as we ate we could hear prayer’s begin, filling the streets of the city.

After this we visited Medersa Ben Youssef, a historic Islamic college founded in the 14th century. It has beautiful ornamentation and an open courtyard, and it is spectacular that places like this are hidden away in the streets of the busy and bustling city. It has over 130 rooms and has housed over 900 students. Our guide, Abdullah, who was phenomenal during the trip providing us with interesting facts and his knowledge, told us that in order for children to be able to go there they had to learn 6,000 verses of the Quran before they were six. 

Medersa Ben Youssef, a historic Islamic college founded in the 14th century. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)Medersa Ben Youssef, a historic Islamic college founded in the 14th century. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
Medersa Ben Youssef, a historic Islamic college founded in the 14th century. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld

As we left the historic school, weaving through the streets of the souks was an unforgettable experience. We saw all the many shops, stalls, stray cats, and the real culture of Marrakech. We even walked down Mechoui Alley, Marrakech's go-to spot for mechoui, whole roasted lamb and mutton that's sold by weight. The guide took us into the back of the stall where there was a hole in the ground and you could see dead animals hanging at the bottom being cooked. You could feel the heat coming from the hole. It is famous for its lamb delicacy and the likes of Mary Berry and Gordon Ramsey have visited here.

The streets of the Souks. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)The streets of the Souks. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
The streets of the Souks. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld

Next on our tour was the Jardin Majorelle YSL Gardens and this was simply stunning. It is one of the most colourful gardens that attracts over 700,000 visitors a year. It is a slice of peace and tranquillity in Marrakech created by French Orientalist artist, Jacques Majorelle, over a period of almost 40 years. Four years after his death French fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and long-term business partner Pierre Bergé visited Jardin Majorelle, instantly fell in love with it and decided to restore it. I loved the rich, vibrant blues and yellows of the buildings, the tall palm trees and bamboo, as well as the water fountains. There is a Yves Saint-Laurent shop and bookstore to explore and a museum devoted to the work of Yves Saint Laurent.

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Jardin Majorelle YSL Gardens. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)Jardin Majorelle YSL Gardens. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
Jardin Majorelle YSL Gardens. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld
TUI Imperial Cities of Morocco seven-night Tour from £956 per person in June

TUI offers a seven-night Imperial Cities of Morocco from 6 UK airports which visits the cities of Marrakech, Casablanca, Volubilis, Rabat and Fez. Prices from £956 per person in June. The price includes flights, return airport coach transfers and minibus transport, half-board basis, hotels throughout the stay, 8 experiences and local English-speaking guides.

The next day was a big day of travelling to both Casablanca and Rabat. From Marrakech to Casablanca was around a two-hour 45-minute drive and there was quite a difference between the two. The contrast of traditional Moroccan buildings with its orange, brown, clay and wooden features to the built-up, tall buildings of Casablanca. It has a beautiful stretch of coastline and the main standout is the Hassan II Mosque  - which is hard not to miss. It is the largest functioning mosque in Africa and is the 14th largest in the world, and it really does take your breath away. We went inside and the detailing was phenomenal, as was the sheer size of the rooms and the little detailing's. It took 10,000 craftsmen and 3,000 workers just six years to build the Mosque, working 24-hours per day - amazing.

A quick stop we made in Casablanca for a drink was to Rick’s Cafe and it was very charming. It is inspired, of course, by the very famous film “Casablanca” and has an elegant atmosphere and intricate interiors. Along the way to Rabat we passed luscious green parks such as the Arab League Park and other attractions including the United Nations Square and Muhammad V Square.

Casablanca, Morocco (credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)Casablanca, Morocco (credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
Casablanca, Morocco (credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld

The journey to Rabat was around an hour and again it was another completely different city to Marrakech and Casablanca. It is the capital of Morocco and has more of a relaxed holiday atmosphere with a marina and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. We visited the majestic Kasbah des Oudayas, offering scenic views of the waterfront of Rabat. It is full of blue and white buildings, shops, gardens, quaint streets and we even saw three very cute little kittens running after its mother. 

In Rabat we stayed in a traditional riad, which isn’t offered as part of the TUI Imperial Cities Tour, but if you get the chance after the tour has ended or you want to come back to Morocco I would definitely recommend staying in one. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an indoor garden and courtyard located within the old city “Medina” walls. We went out for dinner, choosing to have it on a docked ship on the marina water where I had a lovely seafood dish.

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Moroccan capital Rabat. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)Moroccan capital Rabat. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
Moroccan capital Rabat. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld

Up early the next morning we were off to Beni Mellal and the Atlas Mountains. We stopped at Ain Asserdoun with beautiful waterfalls and running water in a park full of greenery. Then we carried on with the journey to the Ouzoud Waterfalls, the highest waterfalls in Northern Africa. It is located by the village of Tanaghmeilt in the High Atlas Mountains and during the journey there you have spectacular, almost Jurassic like views with the scenery of the mountains and sheer drops. It is amazing to see villages and houses high up in the mountains as well as a huge hydroelectric dam.

When we arrived at the waterfalls we had lunch at the restaurant at the top, called Izargan, where we were supplied with so much food. Beautiful tagines, a starter full of delicious strawberries, chicken, avocado. The waiters then brought out couscous bowls and after the waterfall we had dessert - miniature cakes that were all different, one like a nougat another like a jammy dodger. The food was to die for!

The waterfalls itself were fantastic and the best I have seen so far, and an added delight was spotting a Barbary Ape monkey. The 600 steps down were not bad at all, we all imagined steep horrible steps, but this was far from the case. A beautiful rainbow shone through the waterfall as we passed on the way down and from the bottom you could get close to the sheer volume of water.

Ouzoud Waterfalls. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)Ouzoud Waterfalls. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
Ouzoud Waterfalls. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld

To top off this amazing experience, the next morning we were back in Marrakech and ready for another memorable excursion. One which I will never forget - a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the beautiful city. Now don’t get me wrong, I was very nervous about this. The thought of being carried in the air by a balloon and solely relying on this made me very anxious. But I soon found out that the hot air balloon rides are very well done, managed with air traffic control and the pilots are very experienced. We walked towards our balloon as the sun began to rise over the mountains and other hot air balloons were being set off around me, and it was simply a surreal experience.

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It is not for the faint hearted but it was a true delight and when you are in the air all your fears and nerves about it go. We all felt amazing after, full of laughs and smiles. If you ever get the chance to, do it. The excursions can be booked as extras, separate to the tour, so if you plan on staying longer after the tour ends this is something you can think of arranging.

As we were up in the air, Daniel, the pilot, told us steering the balloon is like what a sailor does with his boat but just the sailor relies on the sea and the waves, but he relies on the wind. He said an average of four phones are dropped per year by people and noted we were heading up 900m high and travelling 16km. After he mentioned this I made sure not to hang my phone out too much as I was reaching to capture that sunrise shot… 

A sunrise hot air balloon trip over Marrakesh. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)A sunrise hot air balloon trip over Marrakesh. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld)
A sunrise hot air balloon trip over Marrakesh. (Credit: Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld) | Isabella Boneham/NationalWorld

We then had a free day to explore Marrakech where I bought some gifts from the souks and we enjoyed a Moroccan themed night at the TUI Blue hotel in the evening, with traditional performances and again amazing food. We were all full of tagine by the end of the trip but we all thoroughly enjoyed the local cuisine - full of rich flavours. 

We were all really sad to leave the hotel, the beautiful city and for it to be the end of our exploration of Morocco. It was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had and I will definitely be going back at some point to explore more of the country including Fez. There is so much to see, do and experience in Morocco and TUI’s Imperial Cities Tour really allows you to do this with ease. The itinerary is set out and you can enjoy the popular and truly amazing sights of the beautiful country. It was my first time in the country and now I know it won’t be my last. 

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Combined TUI Hotel and Tour 11-night stay from £1479 per person

TUI offers an 11-night multi-centre holiday including Imperial Cities of Morocco and Marrakesh stay from £1479 per person. A seven-nights half-board tour of Morocco and three-night all-inclusive stay at the 4T+ TUI BLUE Medina Gardens. Flights departing from Birmingham on 17th May 2024 and includes all transfers. To find out more about this holiday, or to book go to, visit your local TUI holiday store or download our app. 

TUI operates to Morocco throughout the year with regular weekly flights from London and regional airports to Marrakech and Agadir. TUI Tours offer two Morocco tours, Imperial Cities of Morocco and Tracks of the Nomads. Its expertise across the globe means it has the best people on the ground delivering incredible tours experiences, with variety to suit different travellers. A range of hotels are offered in Marrakech, its key hotels include the TUI BLUE Medina Gardens and TUI BLUE Riu Tikida Garden.

TUI recommends customers download its app to ensure they have everything they need for their holiday in one place. The app provides easy access to search and book, manage bookings, download mobile boarding passes, view transfer times and find out how best to contact resort reps. New this year - from the day of departure until the day they return home customers are able to chat to their in resort team via the TUI app. The in resort team are on hand to deal with any queries customers might have and aim to respond to within 30 minutes. The TUI app can be downloaded for free from the App stores or Google Play.

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