Morocco’s Imperial Cities by First Class rail and ferry
Prices from £1,495 per person
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Enjoy a remarkable adventure as you travel through Spain by rail and cross into Northern Africa, heading into the delightful Imperial cities of Morocco. Discover the contrasting ancient medinas and the colonial French architecture, and admire both royal palaces and ancient mosques on this exciting tour. Prices are from £1,495 per person, based on two people travelling together in March 2018.
Day 1 – London to Barcelona
Your holiday begins as you enter stunningly restored St. Pancras International station. Take your time to appreciate the splendour of the magnificent glass roof, then sit back, relax and watch the countryside swish past as you travel by Eurostar to Paris at speeds of up to 186mph. Enjoy the light meal and drinks served on board in Standard Premier Class (Eurostar’s 1st class for leisure travellers). On arrival at the Gare du Nord your taxi transfer will take you across Paris to the Gare de Lyon where you join the high-speed TGV service for your onward journey south through France and Spain to Barcelona. On arrival at Barcelona Sants station make your own way on foot the short distance to your hotel for tonight, the highly-rated Gran Hotel Torre Catalunya (4 star).
Day 2 – Barcelona to Cordoba
This morning after breakfast you return to the station and join the high-speed service to Cordoba, a beautiful city in Andalucia. On arrival, make your own way to your hotel for tonight, the comfortable Las Casas de la Juderia (4 star). After settling in, you are free to explore; you might like to visit the palace of the Christian Kings, the Alcazar, with its luxuriant gardens of courtyards, fountains and water terraces, combined with colourful flowers, palm trees and orange groves. Among many highlights is the world’s 3rd largest mosque, the Mezquita, a mystical, beautiful building, with simply stunning interiors, including a ‘forest’ of more than eight hundred red and white striped columns and arches. Take time to explore Cordoba’s countless plazas and courtyards hidden along narrow streets.
Day 3 – Onwards to Morocco
Following a leisurely start to the morning, you head back to the station for the journey to Algeciras. Sit back and relax as the train takes you through the changing Spanish landscape to the country’s southernmost tip. From Algeciras, you are making your own arrangements to nearby Tarifa, where this evening you board the ferry for the short crossing to Tangier in Morocco.
In Tangier you are met by a taxi (payable locally) for the transfer to your base for the next two-nights, the popular Dar Souran (4 star) which is well situated in the heart of the medina for exploring this charming port city.
Day 4 – Tangier
Enjoy a day to discover more of this coastal city with its rich and diverse history stretching back centuries.
Tangier, with access to two oceans, is naturally celebrated for its expanse of beaches. Here you can stroll and admire the old whitewashed colonial houses along the waterfront. On a clear day, it is possible to see across the Strait of Gibraltar back to Spain.
Other highlights include the Kasbah Place, which fronts the former sultanate palace and has now has been converted into a museum. The area is dominated by its fortifications which are in very good condition. Perhaps wander around the narrow twisting streets of the medina, admiring the Great Mosque and the attractive flourishes such as the grand houses, decorated gates and rose bushes found here. The Place de France is also a standout – as one of the most fashionable areas of the city, there are a number of popular cafés and shops here.
Day 5 – Tangier to Fez
After breakfast in the hotel, today you make your way to Tangier’s railway station, to take the train inland to Fez. Here you enjoy a two-night stay at the welcoming Riad Braya Hotel.
Day 6 – At leisure in Fez
You have a full day to see more of Fez – one of the oldest cities in Morocco – and its rich cultural and historical heritage. Perhaps the key attraction of the city is its medina, which is still the world’s largest car-free city centre region. The incredible labyrinth of alleyways and lanes in this area are home to an array of shops and markets that have their goods and produce delivered by donkeys and carts, just as they have for centuries. Admire the souks and the variety of scents in the air at the popular spice market, as well as the tanneries, with their variety of colours on display. Other highlights include the grand city fortifications dating back to the 1600s, and the beautifully ornate entrance gate to the Royal Palace (which is the only part of this 80-hectare structure that is accessible to the public).
Day 7 – Fez to Rabat
This morning you leave Fez as you take the train back towards the coast, to Rabat. Enjoy the wide panoramas of the changing scenery during the journey. In Rabat, your hotel for the next two nights is the charming Riad Dar El Kebira (5 star).
Day 8 – Exploring Rabat
Take today to discover the attractions of the Moroccan capital. Rabat is divided into two distinct regions, with a bustling Medina and the ‘Ville Nouvelle’, built by the French from 1912. Throughout the city the influence of Roman, Moorish and Spanish occupiers can clearly be seen.
Discover the impressive Kasbah of the Udayas, which was originally built during the reign of the Almohads during the 12th century. Rabat’s royal palace is still in use today and is therefore not open to the public, but a number of royal-themed landmarks are well worth a visit. These include the mighty Hassan Tower, the unfinished minaret of Hassan Mosque constructed by Yacoub El Mansour in the last five years of his reign to commemorate a victory. The impressive Mausoleum of Mohammed V is arguably the jewel in Rabat’s crown. Completed in the early 1970s, this imposing white-washed structure contains the tombs of the Moroccan King Hassan II and his two sons.
Day 9 – On to Marrakesh
This morning you bid farewell to Rabat as you join the rail service back inland to the delightful city of Marrakesh. Here you spend five nights at the welcoming Riad Al Rimal (4 star).
Days 10-13 – At leisure in Marrakesh
Make the most of four whole days to discover more of the Imperial city of Marrakesh. Known as the ‘Ochre City’, Marrakesh lies in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, giving it a magnificent backdrop. Among the main sights is the well-preserved old town, set alongside the more modern leafy boulevards created by the French at the beginning of the 20th century.
The city is best known for the Djemaa el Fna, its incredible, bustling main square – the largest in Morocco. The square is filled with entertainers during the day – acrobats, musicians, dancers, snake charmers, wide-eyed story tellers and instantly recognisable water sellers. At night the square is transformed into a huge open-air restaurant as it fills with stalls selling every different type of Moroccan food. The incredible aromas will no doubt prove to be an irresistible temptation. Take any of the streets heading north and you will dive head first into Marrakesh’s tantalising souks; piles of vividly coloured cloth, spice mountains, and herbalists with a cure for every ailment imaginable. The souks are also well worth a visit during the day, when their 12th century origins can be seen more clearly. Other highlights include the Koutoubia Mosque, which with its comparatively modest 70-metre Minaret, is known as the spiritual heart of the city.
Day 14 – Homeward bound
This morning you make your way to Marrakesh Menara Airport, where you join your British Airways flight back to London.