Planning a trip abroad may always be a little overwhelming to some. There is so much to think about: how much it costs, where to stay, what to wear, how to get around… luckily I’ve got you covered in this handy Morocco Travel Guide.
Currency: The local currency in Morocco is dirham. 100 MAD is about $9.12 (as per exchange rate on date of publication)
When to go: Winter (December to February) is chilly, with rain in the mountainous areas and very cold nights. Summer (June – August) can be unbearably hot. I visited in mid-October which was a perfect 75-80 degrees during the day but the nights were chilly. I recommend visiting in Spring or Autumn.
Language: The main languages in Morocco are Arabic and French – I knew my foreign language studies would come in handy one day! English is widely spoken too. For street signs and menus, my handy dandy translator scans and recites the translation into English for me.
Plug sockets: European 2 prong type E/C.
How to decide on your route
The hardest part of planning a trip is always whittling down the long list of places you want to see into a realistic itinerary that fits with your time constraints. Of course, if you are one of those lucky people who travel full-time, you can spend as little or as long as you like in Morocco, and I guarantee you’ll want to stay.
Flights generally fly in and out of Casablanca and Marrakesh – these are the two biggest airports seeing the most flights. Casablanca has more international, worldwide flights, whereas Marrakesh sees most traffic to and from Europe.
It therefore makes sense to begin your trip at one of these destinations, but do explore options from other big cities too. Morocco is a very big country, and doing a ‘loop’ itinerary might not work in your favor, as you may end up spending hours on a bus or train in order to get back to the airport you arrived at.
In my personal opinion, the best places to visit in Morocco (by ‘best’, I mean diverse, with lots of attractions and cultural highlights) are Casablanca, Marrakesh, Fes, Chefchaouen and Essaouria. But there’s much more to Morocco than just these five destinations!
Decide on where you want to go first, and then research how to get around. When I planed my Moroccan getaway, I knew another country was in the mix. Since Dubai was the layover, it made since to visit Dubai on Emirates. Which leads me on to…
How to get around in Morocco
You can easily do the entire trip with a driver. Mohammed V Airport to La Corniche and surrounding areas were 300 MAD (less than $30 USD for a 45 minute drive). I’m starting to think that every taxi is trained in the art of tour guide. Everyone left their cards with me. A price sheet from one showed prices to get around Morocco.
A trip to Marrakesh was 700 MAD ($63.81 USD for almost a 3 hour ride – 152 mi). I’m as wild as they come but I prefer to take it all in on my own with a driver. However, on public transport you will meet many interesting characters and see how locals get around.
Train travel in Morocco is GREAT!! Train cars are spacious and clean and generally on time. You can reserve tickets online or buy them at the station in advance or on the day of your travel. In many stations there is an electronic ticket machine like we have in the US. Stations are generally spacious and clean with various cafes and washrooms, and signage/ announcements are clear. The network covers a vast area (don’t forget your SIM card at the airport) but does not go everywhere. In my opinion, train travel is simple in Morocco.
Buses in Morocco are a little more complicated to figure out, but still fairly simple. There are rules and there is order (although it may seem like chaos to begin with!) CTM is the main bus operator in Morocco. You can view times and routes on their website and even pay for your tickets online. If not, you can go to the station to book your tickets in person – and you can book any CTM route at any station. Buses journeys are cheap but efficient. The buses are roomy and comfortable with reclining seats – you do have to pay an extra for your luggage though (but it’s only about $5).
Is Morocco safe?
Compared to the states, I feel that Morocco is generally a safe country to travel in but like anywhere bad things CAN happen. If it’s your first time traveling, Morocco might be a bit difficult, but it’s definitely a must visit! The people I encountered were friendly, hospitable and endearing.
General tourism-provoked scams can happen, like being ripped off or paying for something that doesn’t exist, but these are rare. Kids panhandling, attempting to sell goods you don’t need … being very persistent. Avoid the ladies using black henna, it can cause really bad skin reactions.
Pickpocketing can occur so keep your belongings safe to reduce your chances of your valuables being stolen. Don’t wear fancy watches or jewelry – you’re inviting attention to your wealth. Leave valuables in a safe at your accommodation or hidden on your person.
Whether you’re a man or woman, dress conservatively so as not to offend the local people. More on this later.
Is it safe for women?
I travelled alone in Morocco as a young Muslima. I received a little attention; I’m African American so I stood out against the local women. Young men tried to get my attention by calling “Coco” as we crossed paths, but it never elevated from there.
If you are a solo female traveller, the usual precautions will apply. Dress conservatively, don’t go out alone after dark and don’t drink too much. I would recommend finding a guide to explore with during the day, or sticking to busy areas if you go alone.
If you’re worried about traveling to Morocco alone, I suggest taking a tour.
How to travel sustainably in Morocco
As a developing country, it’s always going to be a bit more difficult to encourage sustainable travel, simply because the knowledge may not yet be there or a priority.
Two easy things you can do are:
- Avoid using plastic bottles, plastic straws etc. That means taking your own reusable bottle when you want to buy fresh orange juice at the market (which you will want to do). The fresh fruit is so much sweeter than in the states.
- Use public transportation when feasible. Of course you’ll most likely need to fly into the country (unless you live in the south of Spain – lucky you!), but once in Morocco, take trains and buses to get around. It’s not hard. Walk the neighborhoodsl instead of taking a taxi. Try to arrange group taxis/ tours instead of taking one vehicle for 1 or 2 people.
What to wear in Morocco
For women, as Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country it is advisable to cover up accordingly. Be respectful of local customs and dress modestly.
You may see tourists (and locals) in spaghetti-strap tops and short skirts, but I personally would not wear this sort of thing in Morocco (off the resort that is). Not only will it draw attention to yourself (you’ll get enough anyway), but it’s also quite disrespectful.
Yes, the heat in Morocco can be stifling during the summer months, it’s important that as a woman, stay respectful. I would avoid revealing clothing or tiny shorts (if that’s your thing). Men can get away wearing most things.
Where to stay in Morocco
Any post you read about where to stay in Morocco will generally lead to the same answer: in a riad! Riads are the go-to accommodation in Morocco because they combine an experience with a requirement: they are beautiful, traditional houses with a courtyard in the centre of them. Usually, the owner will greet you with some mint tea!
AirBnB is quickly becoming a popular option for travelers in Morocco. You can rent a room or an entire property, meaning you could end up with a whole riad to yourself!
If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge with AirBnB, you can find quality properties on my favorite booking engine, BOOKING.COM ranging from hotels to riads. Hostels aren’t as common in Morocco but riads, being so widespread, are a great place to meet other travelers.
I used BOOKING.COM for my entire trip in Morocco. Check out some of the best deals there.
How to book your trip to Morocco
Organizing a trip is fairly easy, but if you’re feeling worried, I recommend booking a tour through Travel Advisor or your hotel concierge.
First, search for cheap flights on Google Flights or Skyscanner. Both are a search engine for flights; they finds flights across hundreds of airlines so you can find the cheapest ones available! I flew with Emirates direct from Dulles (IAD) to Dubai (I spent 5 days there) then on to Casablanca.
Then decide how long you want to spend in each place. For inspiration drop a comment in my my Facebook group to ask other travelers for advice!
Book your accommodation through BOOKING.COM.
When it comes to booking transport, you can research bus times online through the official CTM website. You can book tickets online too, but it might be easier in person at the bus station (I advise booking as soon as possible if you decide to book in person). Unfortunately you can’t book train tickets outside of Morocco, but you can do so in person when you arrive or on the ticket machines (which are in English and French and are so easy to use!)
What does it cost?
A trip to Morocco can cost as little or as much as you would like, depending on how you want to spend your time there.
On a budget, i.e. using public transport, staying in cheaper-end riads and eating street food or at a low-cost restaurant, you can expect to budget as little as $50/day. Add some activities and sights, around $100. This post by along dusty roads has some useful info on budgeting in Morocco.
I spent around $800 for 5 days in Morocco (excluding the flights).
What do you think to my First Time in Morocco Travel Guide?
I hope it settles any nerves you might have ahead of your first trip to Morocco – have a great trip!
For more helpful travel advice don’t forget to join my Facebook group ! Thanks for reading and happy travels!