25 Essential Travel Tips for Morocco
Morocco is slowly becoming a happening destination to visit. But there are so many of us, who want to visit, but are skeptical of visiting a conservative Muslim country. We hope these essential travel tips for Morocco will give you all the tools and insider tips you need to book that flight!
25 Essential Travel Tips for Morocco
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Travel Documents and Visa Requirements for Morocco
Morocco is welcoming to tourists. All of Europe, the US and Canada can travel to Morocco without a visa.
Indians wanting to travel to Morocco have to apply for a tourist visa. You can apply for a single or double entry visa. Visa processing takes up to 2 weeks. Most tourist visas for Indian passport holders will be valid for 2 months.
PS: Moroccans love Indians!
Currency Exchange and Credit Cards in Morocco
Morocco’s official currency is Moroccan Dirham. You don’t have to exchange currency, they gladly take in Euros and US dollars.
When you make a purchase or pay your restaurant bill, the change is given back in dirhams. So you can use that. Currency Exchange is
1 dirham = 10 cents
Prior to our visit, we read that Canadian dollars are also accepted. But it not true. Euros first and then US dollars are accepted. If you are purchasing souvenirs in the medina or taking a petit taxi – use dirhams.
For currency exchange of a large amount of money, do it in an exchange (or CHANGE) office. You can easily locate currency exchange offices in and around the medina or the city center.
Credit cards – Use of credit cards are a hit and miss. Some 4 star hotels will take it or shopping malls and night clubs. But smaller vendors or shops at the medina may not. So having cash on you is essential.
Languages in Morocco – Travel tips for Morocco
Morocco has 2 official languages – Moroccan Arabic (known as Darija) and Berber. French is widely spoken here, and it is used for business dealings. We didn’t know French or Arabic, but we survived using English. The people at the hotel, bus, tours all spoke English.
If you are in the medina, the majority of the people will communicate in English.
We also found a few people who knew a bit of Urdu/Hindi (Indian language) and they tried to greet us in our language. They were super nice to us.
We didn’t think language was a barrier at all. If you are heading to rural areas where tourism is not popular, you can take a local guide to help you out.
Conservative Muslim Country – How shall I dress?
Morocco is opening up to tourists. You wouldn’t believe many Europeans including Italians and the Spanish visit Morocco quite frequently. So they are welcoming to tourists and were happy (and used to) seeing people from other countries.
We have seen tourists dressed up in all kinds of clothes. But here is the catch – women are more conservatively dressed when they travel solo or in rural areas. When ladies are in a group or with family, we have seen them wear shorts, sleeveless tops and pretty much anything that you will see in Europe or North America.
During our trip to Morocco, I didn’t have to change my dressing style. Mind you, I don’t wear shorts anywhere else and Morocco was no different. Long or midi dresses, full sleeves blouses and pants are my go-to and that’s what I wore in Morocco.
Point is, it is good to be covered with or without a group in tow. That way, you will not get any unwanted attention. Plus, the heat and small (sometimes dirty) lanes in Morocco call for covered hands and feet.
READ Our in-depth travel guide to what to pack for Morocco.
One item that you should carry when in Morocco – Toilet Paper and Sanitizer
Washrooms in Morocco were not super clean. Some had no toilet paper or no water. Carry toilet paper with you.
Also, add sanitizer. When water isn’t available, you will need a hand sanitizer to clean up!
Best time to visit Morocco – Travel tips for Morocco
Morocco is a huge country with varied temperature levels. The central area to the southern side is warm. The northern side of the country is cooler. Like Fes is cooler then Marrakesh in summer months.
Mediterranean coastline is warmer than the Atlantic side. So Tangier and Fes are warmer than Agadir (in Atlantic coast).
Also, the mountainous regions are colder than the rest of the country. So yea, it is hard to pick the right time without knowing the destination.
But overall you can expect shoulder seasons to be the best time to visit Morocco. So that means, March to May are great months to visit. They are off-season and the weather is not SUPER hot in the central region. They are cultural festivities also organized around this time.
Autumn months are also a great time to visit. September to October to be exact. We visited in September and the weather was very pleasant and perfect for a full day of exploring.
Dar, Riad or Hotels: Accommodation in Morocco
The Moroccan accommodation landscape is pretty interesting. There are dars, lavish riads, 4 or 5 star hotels and resorts. And not to forget Berber tents for camping overnight in the Sahara desert.
So here is what you need to know.
Dar – Dar means a traditional Moroccan house with a courtyard. Typically you will find a dar inside a medina. They are smaller than hotels and can accommodate guests in 9-12 rooms.
Riad – Riads are bigger than dars. And they are Moroccan homes with gardens. They are beautiful with fountains, swimming pools, and gardens, of course. They are also smaller than hotels and can accommodate guests in 9-19 rooms.
Both dars and riads are a great way to experience Moroccan hospitality. As they are traditional homes, you are for sure staying in a century-old house (but with modern amenities). And they are located inside the medina – so sightseeing made easy!
Hotels, hostels and resorts in Morocco – You will find hotels in Morocco for as low as $30 USD/night. Many hotels are also located inside the medina.
Whatever accommodation you choose, keep in mind that they charge resort fees, on top of the nightly stay. Almost all hotels will serve you free breakfast and have wifi!
A note on Berber tents for camping overnight – These are best booked as part of a Sahara desert tour. Most popular ones depart from Fes or Marrakesh for 2 or 5 nights.
Wifi and Sim cards in Morocco – Travel tips for Morocco
Most hotels will offer free wifi. In our experience, the wifi is hit and miss. In some hotels, the connectivity was great and in some not so much. Talk to your host if you have connectivity issues.
Wifi in the airport and bus stations were decent enough for browsing, WhatsApp and other social media-related activities.
If you really NEED to be connected and want flawless connection, purchase a SIM card instead. Maroc Telecom sells SIM cards with calls and data plans. It is not super expensive (like 40-50 MAD). You can purchase SIM cards at the airport or mobile stores in the new city areas.
The cell phone you are carrying should be unlocked to use Maroc Telecom SIM card.
Transportation Guide – Travel tips for Morocco
Domestic and International Airports
Let’s start with airports. The imperial cities of Morocco (Fes, Marrakech, Rabat) and a few others including Casablanca has an international airport. So you can easily fly to Morocco.
Intercity Buses and Trains
Buses and trains are a good option to travel in Morocco. However, trains are restricted to bigger cities. For visiting smaller towns like Chefchaouen, local buses are the best.
Buses are efficient, clean and cheap. READ our day trip itinerary from Tangier to Chefchaouen in a bus.
Trains are a great option to travel from Fes to Casablanca or Marrakesh.
Buses – CTM buses are operated by the government and they have a wider network across the country (than smaller private networks). CTM website can be used to check the latest schedules and plan your day trips. You can also book tickets online.
However, the last time we checked they didn’t have an SSL encrypted secure webpage, so we avoided paying online. You can go to the bus station a day or two in advance and you will be able to get a ticket!
Trains – Moroccan rail provides services to major cities. They are faster than buses, of course. You can visit their website to check schedules and book tickets online. However, their website only takes in Moroccan credit cards.
Train tickets are slightly expensive than buses but are the best options if you are short on time. (The Moroccan train website is in French, but use your browser translator to switch to English).
Pro tip: Something to keep in mind is that Morocco is huge. So unless if you are flying from north to south of the country, allow yourself some room to travel especially if you are driving or taking a bus/train.
Should you use taxis in Morocco? – Petit taxis or Grand Taxis
Taxis are an inexpensive way to travel in a city. Grand Taxis as the name suggests are bigger and are mostly white or pale –beige in color. I have never seen anyone using a meter. But before you hop on to the taxi, confirm or negotiate the fare. Pay the fare in dirhams as much as possible.
Petit taxis are smaller than Grand taxis and they blue or turquoise-y blue in color. Their fares are cheaper than grand taxis. Petit taxis can be used as a shared taxi by the driver. When we were in Tangier, we asked the petit taxi for ourselves (so they wouldn’t take on more passengers) and the driver charged us accordingly.
Taxis are safe as well. But occasionally you might find a driver (or two) who will drive SUPER fast. But the thing is it is not Canada with wide roads or traffic lights – and people cut lines to get ahead. So just be careful. In many ways, it was like driving in India.
That brings us to renting and driving in Morocco. We didn’t drive in Morocco, but you can rent and drive there. With buses and train connectivity to major cities and guided tours to deserts, we don’t think you need a car in Morocco. Leave it for the locals.
Traveling from Spain to Morocco? – Use Moroccan Port
Morocco is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. If you are traveling to southern Spain, you can add a day trip or travel to Morocco.
Tangier is a popular port city in Morocco, and you can arrive in this city via ferry. This city is excellent as a base to explore the northern region of Morocco. Read: Things to do in Tangier
Port of Tangier – The port of Tangier is located near the city’s medina. We traveled from Seville to Tangier Morocco. The Tarifa port in Spain, located about 2 hours from Seville is perfect to hop on a 45 minute ferry ride, to land in Morocco. Check out this day tour from Seville to Tangier Morocco.
You can also buy ferry tickets and explore Tangier on your own.
Tangier Med – Tanger Med is a cargo port located on the Strait of Gibraltar about 45 minutes east of Tangier, Morocco.
Read the complete guide to traveling from Spain to Morocco via ferry
Food Guide – travel tips for Morocco
Moroccan cuisine is definitely popular and you should experience it in an authentic way. Meals include couscous with vegetables or meat, tagine (hot plate), salad, Moroccan soup, mint tea, bread, etc.
At the medina, you will also find vendors selling cactus fruits, bread, sweets, juices, and other items. Always exercise caution while eating from street vendors. Avoid food that is not covered, or if you see flies in a sweet shop – of course, avoid eating it.
Tap water is not safe to drink in Morocco. Use a water bottle with an in-filter to kill germs or buy packaged water during your stay in Morocco. Drink mint tea and/or soup when they are hot.
Restaurants are not super expensive for a meal out every day. You can budget for 40-65 dirhams for a full meal of couscous with vegetables (one plate).
Here are some of the food items and meals to try (keeping in mind the above tips)
Couscous – Couscous can be found in all restaurants. They are served on a hot plate or a regular plate/bowl with vegetables, and meat.
Tagine – Tagines are hot plates where meat and vegetables are served. You can also purchase a hot plate as a souvenir to bring back home.
Moroccan Mint Tea – Such a deliciously refreshing tea with mint steeped in hot water and offered in a traditional pot – you have to try the Moroccan mint tea. It is super cheap at 10 dirhams.
Moroccan Soup – For some reason, I didn’t like their Moroccan soup. And I tried it in many restaurants – my chickpeas were missing or had fewer spices in it. If you try it, let me know if you liked it.
Bread – Bread is served in all restaurants as a “free” item. Olives and hummus are also served. Bread is baked in community ovens in the medina.
Other food items to eat – Fruits are delicious in Morocco. Oranges, cherries, apples, peaches, bananas, strawberries and cactus fruits are very delicious and worth trying out. Orange juice is killer – try it!
Morocco is also produces wine, hashish, and tobacco. Smuggling or buying hashish (even in Chefcahouen) is not legal.
How about alcohol?
Alcohol is restricted to licensed bars and hotels serving international tourists. Almost all of the restaurants we been to whether in the medina or in the city center areas had no alcohol option on their menus.
Night clubs and lounges offer alcohol, but there are entry fees. Hashish is easily found and you will see people offering you in Morocco. But remember consuming, buying or selling of Hashish is illegal, even in the Rif mountains – Chefchaouen.
Medications – Tablets to carry
Although Moroccan food is not hot and spicy, many travelers visiting the country complain of stomachache and diarrhea. Carry diarrhea tablets, just in case.
A word about restaurants in Morocco
Inside the medina and at the (larger) city center or new town neighborhoods, it is common to see proper seating areas in a restaurant and also common to see families, groups, and couples dining.
BUT…..further you go away to smaller towns or those in-between towns harder it is to find females eating in ANY restaurant. Yes, you will only see men eat or hang out in those restaurants. Not a single girl soul.
So something to keep in mind regardless of who you are traveling with, avoid going to a restaurant with all-male presence. Carry some snacks or fruit with you.
Tourists Safety in Morocco – Travel tips for Morocco
We want to share this first – that Morocco is welcoming to tourists. Tourism accounts for #2 spot for revenue, which means traveler needs and amenities are developed and are taken care of.
For accessing the major cities like Marrakesh, Fes, Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, etc. – you will find a variety of ways to explore and arrive in the city. There are international airports and a good network of bus and train systems. Fares are also very affordable.
Within the city, medina can be explored on foot, and there are guided tours, day tours, taxis available to make traveling comfortable. All without breaking the bank.
We have utilized public transport and found them to be safe and efficient.
All these infrastructural benefits are pointed out to show that tourists are welcome in the city. And by booking a tour in advance or using public transport – you will be safe.
Just like any other city, avoid dark and unknown alleys. Don’t go out with strangers offering a cheap deal in the medina – check reviews online or ask other travelers. It is always good to book them online, ahead of time so that you know the tour agency, name of the tour guide or contact information.
In a taxi or bus, no one will rob you, just be aware of your surroundings and don’t flash valuables or leave your purse while you head to the washroom. So just basic safety tips that you will follow in every major city.
Truth be told, I was worried about my purse in Barcelona Spain a LOT more than in the medina alleys here. So it is safe to travel.
Traveling as a female – Morocco travel tips
We covered what to pack and wear section above. As a female traveler, it is important to dress well, so as to not bring in unwanted attention. It is true that blonde, North American or European ladies will get more attention (and it is true regardless of what you wear).
During our trip, we have seen blonde women in groups, with families and they were dressed less conservatively.
Our tip: Just be mindful of your surroundings when traveling solo (and this is true for any city). Avoid venturing out to an unknown area, if directions are not clear. You don’t want to get caught in the middle of something and get no help. Avoid non-touristy areas at night – solely because the place is new or unknown and you may or may not receive help right away.
Beware of scams – Travel tips for Morocco
We wanted to list the following well-known scams and scammers out there in Morocco so that you can travel safe.
- Need to find a way? Someone helps you and expects you to pay them
- Someone waiting to give you a tour – No company name, no receipts, no reviews online or locally. Avoid
- Part of a tour and you are pushed to buy carpets, natural oils and what not – You can say no. You have only paid for the guided tour, not to buy extra stuff they show you.
- Love henna tattoos? Negotiate the price and then get the art done. Run if they forcefully make you do it. They shouldn’t
These scams are common in a super touristy city like Marrakesh. Fes, Chefchouen and Tangier seemed less aggressive with tourists. We didn’t find any pushy sellers.
Which Morocco city should you visit?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. Each imperial city in Morocco and major touristic places will have a few sightseeing similarities. Like the medina – you will find one in Marrakech, Fes, and Tangier.
All the cities will something in terms of Moroccan cuisines, traditional Hamman, souvenir shopping and more. The difference will be in terms of historical/chronological dates and how crowded they are and one-two unique characteristic.
Marrakech is a popular destination choice, but it is super crowded. An authentic medina can be experienced in Fes – it is the oldest in the world, less crowded, but slightly dirty.
Camping in a Berber tent and spending a night at the Sahara Desert is on everyone’s bucket list. To enjoy this you can book a Sahara desert tour from Fes or Marrakech, stay in a town on the fringe of the Sahara Desert sand dunes and travel via one-humped camel.
The capital – Rabat is slightly ignored by tourists as it is an urban city, but they do have traditional Moroccan culture and tons of history, as it is one of the Imperial cities. Same goes for Casablanca or Tangier-Tetouen region.
And of course, the blue city of Chefchaouen attracts tourists for its Instagrammable lanes and the Rif Mountains.
Morocco is all about the experience
In Morocco, whichever city you choose to visit – you will find history everywhere. Truthfully, many processes and nuances have not changed over the centuries like tanning, dyeing and cooking procedures. And that is their beauty.
Unlike capturing or checking out buildings and monuments (like in most places), here you will be experiencing the medina craziness, the Hamman spa, the food and more. So don’t rush yourself – take your time, relax and enjoy this magical country. If you can only afford 2 days – try sticking to one city to fully appreciate it.
Morocco is a Muslim country and not all tourist attractions are open to non-Muslims
That’s right. If you are a non-Muslim you cannot enter a mosque and certain Madrasas. It is a good idea to ask, when in doubt.
But as a rule, mosques are out of reach. We have taken pictures of mosques and madrasas from outside, hotel rooms, balconies, etc. without a problem. It is the going inside of the premises, which is not allowed.
A word about photography in Morocco
Speaking of photography, always confirm before taking pictures. Many Moroccan women at the marketplace may not agree to photographs. Museums also have a no photography policy.
Traveling on Fridays or during Ramadan season
Friday is a holy day in the Islamic religion. However, we didn’t notice any barriers to us exploring or taking transport to other cities on Fridays. Everything seemed normal.
It is, however, different during the holy season of Ramadan, when certain shops or restaurants won’t be open or will run with a different/modified schedule. Although we didn’t travel during Ramadan, we have heard that the operating hours will be different. Please ensure you check the bus/train and attractions holiday hours before embarking on your trip.
Bargaining at the medina souks
If you are traveling to Morocco and are looking for souvenir shopping, there is no better place than the medina to check out traditional and local made goods.
All stores, street vendors are used to bargaining in Morocco. And we also found guide books saying that you should bargain.
We think of haggling of prices this way – a little differently. We wouldn’t recommend bargaining with anybody or everybody. Like don’t bargain with a cosmetic jewelry store selling items for 5 dirhams (c’mon its 5 dirhams like less than 1 USD – you can leave it if you like, rather then haggle)
On the other hand, if you are out and about looking to purchase a carpet – review your options and see what price estimates are available online (or ask your host in a riad) and then bargain.
Items like scarves, sweaters, etc. can be negotiated for up to 20-30% off from the selling price.
But all we are saying here is that make sure it’s a fair amount. Don’t utilize all your negotiating skills at one place in Morocco – allow some leeway and be nice.
What to buy in Morocco? Best Souvenirs to buy
Morocco has a rich culture and here you will find tons of local and traditional items to take back home.
Popular souvenirs include spices, argan oil, saffron, mint, etc. Textiles made of aloe vera threads, hand spun cotton and silk scarves or head wraps, tops and wool are great buys too. We bought a pretty scarf in green from Fes medina.
Pottery is very common and they come in unique decorations and mosaic patterns that are worth purchasing. Berber rugs and carpets are also popular items to purchase.
In Fes, pay a visit to the Chouhara tannery and buy some authentic leather bag or jacket.
In all the medinas, I noticed that selling fake bags, belts, and shoes were common. I have seen Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel replicas. For luxury bag lovers, you know how expensive they are.
Some replicas were so perfect (and made with Moroccan leather), and some just fake (I saw one with a Louis Vuitton monogram canvas with a Gucci GG buckle – like WOW).
I went in to check out some replicas so that I can share this information and they were not super cheap. Like a fake Chanel bag was priced at 70 euros and above. As these items are copyrighted and replicas – we don’t recommend buying them (I think customs will want to see the receipt and what not. Not sure about replica/fake rules there).
Our Moroccan guide told us that people love to buy gifts for their friends and family when they visited the medina – it was considered holy (due to the presence of many mosques and madrasas). Hence the souks are always bustling with people and trade.
Final Thoughts on Travel tips for Morocco
Morocco is a beautiful country and we highly recommend visiting it. There is no need to worry or cancel travel plans to Morocco, just be mindful of local traditions and take time to relax and enjoy!
If you are visiting Morocco anytime soon, you will find these posts useful.
Additional Resources on Morocco Travel Tips
- Exploring Morocco in 7 days
- Take a day trip from Tangier to Chefchaouen
- Guide to the blue city – Chefchaouen
- Fes Itinerary and Guide
- Guide to Morocco Packing
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Travel Morocco Tips