Morocco travel guide for your trip to Morocco.
Looking for an exotic getaway to Africa, Morocco is where you need to be heading! A gateway to Morocco with stunning coastlines on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco offers it all and then some. From magical coastlines, snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains and the rolling sand dunes of the Sahara Desert to ancient medinas, mazelike medieval quarters and bustling markets, you could spend weeks here in the dizzying diversity and still not feel like you’ve scratched the surface.
Full of Berber, Arabian, Jewish and European cultural influences, a mixture that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, Morocco gives off a charm that will have you coming back for more. To experience the most out of Morocco, read on for our complete travel tips, where to stay, what to eat, and what to do.
MOROCCO QUICK INFORMTAION
230V AC electricity. Power outlets are two-prong round sockets. To avoid the hassle of having to buy new adaptors for everywhere you go, we recommend picking up a Universal Travel Adaptor before you leave.
Most travelers who want to visit Morocco can do so without applying for a visa if your trip will not exceed three months (90 days), however, it is essential that your passport is valid for the duration of the trip and for some nationals, 6 months after your trip ends (Canada and Australia). The countries that are eligible for visa exemption include the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, and most EU countries. Check this link: http://www.moroccanconsulate.com/visa.cfm
If you plan to stay longer than 90 days, a resident permit is required and can be issued by the police department of your place of residence in Morocco.
Traveling in Morocco is generally safe for tourists, but as with any other North African country, the culture is very different from the West so it is good practice to be aware of these. The risk of crime is fairly similar to any other city, so be cautious in crowded areas and aware of your valuables as pick-pocketing and bag snatching can occur.
It is completely safe to travel with children to Morocco as the culture is very family-orientated and contrary to popular belief, it is also safe to travel as a woman. Just make sure to dress modestly, adhere to local customs, and don’t take any comments or staring too personally. Morocco is predominantly a Muslim country so make sure you are somewhat conservative with your clothing choices.
There are a few dialects of Arabic that are widely spoken in Morocco, as well as Berber languages and even some French, German, and Spanish. English is gaining popularity among younger Moroccans, and in main touristy areas, it is widely spoken. However, making an effort with the local language goes a long way when traveling so grab a phrasebook and give it a try as much as you can!
MOROCCO TRIP PLANNING
It gets quite unbearably hot during a few months in Morocco (June, July & August), so the best time to visit is (October, November, December, March & April) as you can reap the benefits of the Summer climate in the South and in the Mountains, as well as on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.
(01st June to 20th Sep) – Summer time in Morocco is extremely hot with average highs hitting triple digits, yet in those three Summer months, tourists will flock here and room rates with skyrocket. In May and September, you will be able to find discounts in accommodation. If you travel during this time, be mindful of the weather, drink plenty of water and follow the locals’ lead by staying in the shade from noon to 4 p.m.
(20th Sep to 20th Dec ) – With cooler weather, the shoulder months are great for exploring the main cities and avoiding the crowds, however, make sure to pack an umbrella just in case of unexpected showers. In these seasons, the landscape is lush and green, and in September and November, summer crowds wane and budget-friendlier room rates can be found.
(20th Dec to 10th Jan – 20th Feb to 30th May) – Although the temperatures may reach highs of 60 and 70 in the day, expect it to plummet into the 40s come nightfall. The most popular season, tourists flock here for sport and Christmas events (did you know you can ski in Morocco?) Although it is less popular, there is something beautiful about driving through the Atlas Mountains and seeing it covered with snow!
As with most countries, how expensive your trip is going to be is entirely dependent on your preferences and your style of travel. Morocco can be a haven for backpackers with hostels costing as little as 20€ and that’s including both food and shelter, but it is important to be aware that the country isn’t as dirt cheap as people assume it is. In fact, many things in Morocco are more expensive than in Europe, especially when it comes to alcohol, electronics, and cars. While it is completely possible to travel Morocco on a daily budget as low as 500 MAD ($55, 50€), there are certain expenses that could surprise you. Here is a rough break down of costs that you can expect:
Budget: 400 - 600 MAD ($45-65)
Mid-Range: 800 - 1000 MAD ($85-105)
Splurge: 1500 MAD + ($155+)
Food (Typical Meal for One)
Soup/Sandwich: 30-60 MAD ($3.5 – 6.5)
Main: 70-120 MAD ($7.5 – 12.5)
Nice restaurant: 250+ MAD ($27+)
BEST THINGS TO DO IN MOROCCO
1- Wander and get lost in the Streets of Marrakech
Marrakech is one of the most well-known cities in all of Morocco. Marrakesh needs no introduction. It is a wonderful place and former imperial city in Western Morocco, Marrakech is filled to the brim with colorful markets and souks and beautiful mosques, palaces, and gardens, all contained within towering medieval walls.
Marrakech is a mazelike city, you can spend hours here exploring all of the winding alleys, discovering the range of traditional textiles, ceramics, and jewelry in the markets, and drinking in the general bustling atmosphere of Moroccan life. With a stunning medina, traditional entertainment in its magnificent Djemaa el-Fna square and the lush Majorelle & Yve Saint Laurent gardens, this city really does offer you everything.
While in the city, stay in the many beautiful riads which pepper the city. These palatial like hotels are the perfect location to get that perfect pictures shot and are actually very affordable.
2- Ride a Camel in the Sahara Desert
You haven’t completely traveled to Morocco if you don’t pay a visit to the desert, so head to Erg Chebbi in Merzouga or Erg Chigaga in M’hamid for a full tour. You can see the stunning pictures of the incredible Moroccan sand dunes complete with a warm orange glow and camels in the distance. If you haven’t, then take a look, it’s a pretty amazing sight!
3- Discover the Blue town of Chefchaouen
If you haven’t seen the striking images of the iconic village of Chefchaouen, look them up now! This is one place that will win the hearts of many. About 60km south of the city of Tangier, you will discover an old town completely washed with blue. From floor to ceiling, every exterior surface is covered in blue which as well as amazing many a traveler, also has a strangely calming effect.
A truly unique place to see, experience this relaxing feeling for you and discover one of Morocco’s most iconic sites! Although touristy, it is still worth visiting! We highly recommend doing the hike to the Spanish Mosque or chilling in the many Riads rooftops.
4- Explore the medieval city of Fez
Fez is a medieval city which attracted scholars and philosophers, mathematicians and lawyers, astronomers and theologians along the history. Fez is both the oldest and the most impressive. Its old town, or medina, is ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses the oldest university in the world. Within its myriad medieval streets, a wonderland of vibrant color, sound and scent awaits.
Fez is a cultural hub and spiritual center of the country, this enchanting city draws visitors with its walled medina, peaceful courtyards, traditional tanneries, and colorful markets.
5- Relax in the Beach of Essaouira
This stop has to be one of our favorite places in the country. Between the beautiful beach which was bustling with water sports activities and the laid back medina, we loved our time in Essaouira. Unlike Marrakesh or Fes, Essaouira is a small yet quaint market with laid-back vendors who don’t hassle you. There are also loads of fantastic seafood grill places along the port where you can get a platter of freshly grilled seafood for a fraction of the price compared to restaurants. It also has a cool fortress overlooking the water.
6- Wander through the Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou
If you’re a lover of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Then you can’t leave Morocco without visiting the Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou, a truly magnificent fortified walled village. The sight alone of Aït Benhaddou is spectacular as the village appears to be carved with the Mountain itself and it only gets better as you step through its walls.
The Kasbah Once was a stopping point for traders through the desert; you may recognize this great beauty from films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, and Gladiator. Make sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds and you can spend a few hours just exploring the red mud brick village that seems to be frozen in time.
7- Enjoy typical Food in Local Restaurants
Morocco is a cultural haven for tourists. One of the most notable characteristics that Morocco has to offer is the delicious, flavorful local cuisine. Morocco’s cuisine is a melting pot of many cultures and traditions. Its culinary culture is a unique blend of influences from the indigenous people, traders and conquering nations who brought with them new ingredients, customs and cooking methods. The nomadic tribes called Berbers were the first known inhabitants of Morocco over two thousand years ago and their style of cooking can still be seen today in Moroccan cooking. They were keen to create dishes whose ingredients complimented and enhanced the flavor of each other and so mixed local ingredients such as olives, figs, and dates with lamb or poultry and spices in one pot to create stews with distinctive flavors.
8- Take a Cooking Class
Food in Morocco is incredibly diverse, thanks to the country’s interaction with other cultures and nations over the centuries, including Berber, Moorish, Arab and Mediterranean influences. Discover the rich flavors, aromas and colors of Moroccan cuisine. Spices feature extensively in Moroccan cooking and there is a centuries-old art to their careful balancing. We offer classes and cooking experiences for children, families, small and large groups. We cater to amateurs and professionals.
9- Enjoy Hot Balloon Ride
Enjoy the wonders and beauty with the pure African light and the music of silence from a uniquely different perspective as you drift gently over the fantastic desert landscape with views of secluded Berber villages and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains on this magical balloon flight. This is guaranteed to be an experience of a lifetime with wonderful memories that will last forever. This fantastic activity is available to anyone with a sense of adventure and an interest in the magnificent culture that Morocco has to offer.
10- Hike the Peaks of the Atlas Mountains
Morocco offers amazing opportunities for you to go trekking and hiking in the Atlas Mountains. With us you can climb the first highest peak in North Africa. You can even ski down them in winter. During the rest of the year, we can arrange and organize you a bespoke trip or you can take advantage of one of our pre-packaged tours.
WHAT TO EAT IN MOROCCO
Full of flavor, subtle spices and delicious combinations of Berber, Jewish, Arab, and French cultures, Moroccan cuisine can take you on a complete gastronomic rollercoaster. Completely unique to this country, it’s no surprise that this dynamic cuisine is considered among some of the best in the world.
Whether eating in restaurants, from food stalls or if you’re lucky enough in a local’s home, you’ll experience something truly different to anything you have ever experienced before. With so many amazing dishes to try, we’ve narrowed down our top few choices that you can’t miss:
Deep-fried parcels of flaky pastry containing spiced meat, fish or cheese.
A common side dish and typically served with crusty bread, zaalouk is a smoked spread made with eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, paprika, cumin, and a little chili powder. As Moroccan meals begin with at least seven cooked vegetable salads to scoop up with bread, you will find zaalouk pretty much everywhere with different variations of it.
Cubes of meat on skewers, most often Chicken, lamb or beef.
Put simply, harira soup is the Moroccan version of lentil soup (but it’s so much more than that!). Rich with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas and lamb, and served with a sticky sweet pretzel called chebakkiya, this amazing creation is enjoyed as a starter or used during Ramadan to break the fast at sunset each day.
Meatballs flavored with coriander and cumin. A popular and quick standby, it is sometimes served with eggs in a tagine.
Originally from Morocco, this fine wheat pasta is typically served with meat or vegetable stew. Traditionally, this dish is rolled by hand and prepared on the Muslim holy day (Friday) and for special occasions; however, you will find it at most restaurants and cafes.
Even if you don’t know Moroccan cuisine, we’ve all seen that terracotta clay cooking pot with a conical lid and wondered what it was. It’s a tagine! Slow-cooked savory stews full of beef, lamb, chicken, or vegetables, you can find tagine anywhere in Morocco from cafes and restaurants to roadside stops, and all of them will be served with bread.
This slow-cooked beef or lamb is commonly eaten in Marrakesh. It is placed in a ceramic urn-shaped pot and is slow-cooked inside the hammams (steam baths) for hours at a time. The result is a melt in your mouth meal that is loaded with flavor. This is typically eaten with bread to soak up all the goodness. This is a must-try!
Whole lamb, spit or oven roasted. Mechoui is usually found only on special occasions or in the more traditional restaurants where it often needs to be ordered in advance, though there are places that sell it year-round. Spicy beef or lamb sausages, often served with Harissa, a fiery pepper sauce.
Spiced pigeon meat encased in layers of flaky warka pastry, often dusted with sugar or cinnamon – a traditional delicacy. A fish version is also found.
PLACES TO STAY IN MOROCCO :
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to choosing accommodation in Morocco whatever your budget. Hostels and hotels are cheap, good value, and easy to find, although it is worth noting that in August, there can be a shortage of places to stay, especially in major cities and resorts like Tangier, Fez, Marrakesh and Agadir.
Whether you prefer hotels, local guesthouses, or camping, you can find a wide range of budget options throughout Morocco. If you’re traveling in the peak seasons, we recommend that you book it advance.