There are many airports in Morocco; however those that operate most international flights are Casablanca and Marrakech Airport. In this post, we will look into which airport should you land in when preparing for your trip to Morocco. We will focus mainly on Marrakech and Casablanca Airport as they are the ones that offer most of the international flights.
The Moroccan Airports Authority (ONDA) has published a press release of their plans to build a second airport in Marrakech, including creating many new terminals in other major airports all over the country. They plan to increase the country’s capacity to 60 million visitors by 2025, compared to 22.5 million in 2018.
When planning to choose between Casablanca or Marrakech airport in Morocco, no matter where in the world you’re coming from, you need to focus on two crucial factors:
- How much time do you have in Morocco?
- What part of Morocco you would like to see?
As I’m writing you, I just received a request from a traveler planning her trip to Morocco, here is her request:
“We will arrive on 11-Apr in Casablanca, and want to end at Casablanca by 16-Apr. Can you suggest some itinerary that include the follow: Merzouga, Chefchaouen, Fes and Marrakech” Please take a minute to think about this itinerary and think of what is wrong with her plans..
So, she has 6 days in Morocco and she wants to go to 4 destinations, you think this should be doable, right? Well, it’s not the case if the desert is part of the trip, which is the case for most, if not all travelers coming to visit Morocco. The desert is far from all major airports, and so if you’re planning to include that in your Morocco trip, think about taking 4-5 days just to spend on the desert tour.
Now, this is when booking a flight to/from Marrakech comes in handy, the reason is because you’ll be departing and arriving to Marrakech from your desert trip, you can do it in 3 days, however, if you want to truly enjoy your trip, better take at least 4 days. If you’re planning to land/ depart from Casablanca, this is going to make your desert journey even more unbearable.
Many direct international flights will take you directly to Casablanca or Marrakech airport, however, you can catch many domestic flights from there as well. If the desert is part of your trip, you should catch a flight from Casablanca to Errachidia, this will leave you with only 3 hours drive to the dunes.
Casablanca airport is named after Mohammed V, the grandfather of today’s king. The airport is located in the north part of the country, and so if you’re planning to see the north of the country: Rabat, Tangier, Tetouan, and Fes, it’s a lot easier to navigate that way.
The airport is about 30 -40 mins from the city, however, you can catch a train from the airport to almost everywhere in the country (Expect to change trains along the way). You can find the train station below terminal 1. You can also find plenty of taxi drivers outside the airport premises, they will charge you around 200, 300 MAD for a ride to town. Other than that, the airport has many car rental agencies if you’re up to drive around Morocco. Check our article here to find out if driving in Morocco is for you!
Casablanca Airport is the largest airport in Morocco. It also operates most of the international flights, around 8 million passengers passing through the airport each year, which resulted in an expansion of the terminals in the last couple of years. The airport connects over 100 destinations around the world, landing in three terminals.
Why should you land here?
The main reason to choose to land here is that Casablanca is in the north part of the country, which, if you have a short time, it will be a 2-4 hours drive from the main destinations in the north of Morocco (Rabat, Tangier, Chefchaouen). Another factor you need to consider is that most direct international flights will be landing in Casablanca, especially if you’re flying from countries that do not have many connecting flights to Morocco.
Marrakech airport is the prettiest airport I’ve been to, and I’ve been traveling quite a lot. It’s the second-largest in Morocco and operates most of the flights coming in from European countries. The airport was used during world war II by the United States army air forces and air transport command as a hub for cargo and to transport aircrafts and personnel.
Over 5 million passengers go through Marrakech airport every year, and the number is expanding rapidly.
The airport is located in the southern part of the country, meaning if you don’t have a lot of time in Morocco and would like to see the desert, this airport will be your best option to discover Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains, and the Sahara Desert. There are no trains at the airport. However, you can catch buses to town or taxis which abundantly available outside the arrivals’ terminal.
Why should you land here?
Marrakech Airport is in the center part of the country. It is also where most of the desert tours usually start from; the journey takes around 3-4 days from/to Marrakech (We typically recommend four days minimum for the desert trip to Merzouga). This trip requires a lot of driving, and so, this is the reason why we suggest to avoid the three extra hours journey back to Casablanca.
However, choosing Casablanca or Marrakech airport depends on the amount of time you’re willing to spend in Morocco. Let me give you an idea:
If you have a week in Morocco, with a flight in and out of the country from Marrakech Airport, it will look like this:
- Day 1: Marrakech Arrival
- Day 2: Marrakech (Discovery)
- Day 3: Marrakech – to Errachidia Airport ( this will leave you more time to explore Marrakech – compared to driving 10 hours to Merzouga or back – The flight goes once a week (Friday) so make sure this aligns with your itinerary)
- Day 4: Merzouga (Actually spend the day in the desert, not just sleep there as is the case with most group tours).
- Day 5: Merzouga to Dades valley/Skoura
- Day 6: Dades Valley to Marrakech
- Day 7: Departure
Another common itinerary is to fly into Marrakech and fly back from Casablanca. This would give you some room to visit Fes on your way back:
- Day 1: Marrakech Arrival
- Day 2: Marrakech (Discovery)
- Day 3: Marrakech – Off to the desert Via Dades Valley
- Day 4: Dades to Merzouga
- Day 5: Merzouga (Actually spend the day in the desert, not just sleep there as is the case with most group tours).
- Day 6: Merzouga to Errachidia Airport (Fly to Fes – this will leave you some time to discover Fes)
- Day 7: Fes – Casablanca (3.5 hours drive).
If you have less than a week, then you have to plan your itinerary accordingly. Try to cut down on the destinations you want to see and figure out which part of the country you would like to visit.
North of Morocco is often looked down upon. The Rif mountain ranges are gorgeous, and there is so much to see; the cute little town of Tetouan, the Mediterranean coast, Chefchaouen and it’s neighboring waterfalls, the blue town, the imperial city of Fes, and the Roman ruins of Volubilis. You are also likely to see less of the mass tourist groups coming with giant buses as in the south of Morocco, where all tourists usually flock to the desert.
However, as magical as the desert is, with abundant land and camping experiences scattered behind the dunes, camping in the desert will always be the primary activity that tourists ask for when they come to Morocco. Now, you may think about how much time do I need in Morocco if I want to see the desert? Well, not so much if you’re planning to land in Marrakech. Although we encourage our travelers to book at least a four days tour to the desert, rather than the typical three days tour, this will leave you craving to stay one more night in the desert rather than just sleeping there.
So, this all depends on your planning skills and the knowledge you have of the journey you plan to take. Are you still wondering what airport to land on during your trip to Morocco? Send us a message below with your itinerary, and we’ll be happy to give you some thoughts on what the best option would be for you based on your itinerary and the number of days you have for Morocco.
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