From the sensory overload of crowded markets and beautiful deserts deep in the mountains to charming fishing villages and pastel-blue cities, Morocco is surprising travelers from all over the world. However, going to a North African country without preparation is a sure way to find yourself disappointed. To help you prepare, we've put together a list of eight mistakes to avoid on your next vacation in Morocco.
1. Don't explore Morocco beyond Marrakech
Of course, there is a lot of alluring magic in Marrakech, but the pleasures of Morocco's most famous city can undoubtedly be masked by a large number of tourists. With that in mind, don't be afraid to venture off the beaten path. Fez, Chefchaouen, and Tangier welcome all travelers and are a great alternative to Marrakech, should you decide to deviate from the norm. If you're staying in Marrakech and want to escape the loud noises for a short break, try the Atlantic coast, where you can stop in the beautiful town of Essaouira or the laid-back fishing village of Taghazout.
2. Expect to cover all of Morocco's famous destinations in one trip
Unless you are willing to make many flights (or plan a visit for several weeks or more), it may not be possible to visit all the popular places in Morocco during a visit. The journey between Marrakech and Tangier alone would take more than six hours and would include a car and a night train.
Even trying, it would mean selling yourself short at the places you decide to see. The best method to experience Morocco is to pick a region and go beyond the city limits of that region (think Marrakech and the Atlantic coast or Tangier and Chefchaouen).
3. Being too paranoid to be scammed in Morocco
Scams are certainly possible, and as a tourist, you are a prime candidate. There are scams with camel rides, henna tattoos, fake carpets, guided tours, and taxis. There are even hash configurations between cops and dealers to extort a bribe.
That being said, not everyone is trying to scam you, and it would be a shame to let a reputation for scamming – even if it's somewhat justified – put you off before you have a chance to invent your mind. As with traveling anywhere, common sense is a great tool to stay within reach.
Check my article about how to avoid tourists scams in marrakech
4. Taking photos without permission in Morocco
Many people travel to Morocco for the sole purpose of photographing the beauty of the country, which is a bit ironic since taking pictures of people and places here without permission is a huge no-no. Be sure to ask permission before shooting people on the street, and be prepared to tip occasionally.
5. Think about visiting the mosques of Morocco
In a Muslim country as large as Morocco, it is not surprising that there are a dizzying number of mosques, many of which are feats of beauty. However, although they can be enjoyed from the outside, the majority of Moroccan mosques are reserved for Muslims, which means that tourists are generally not welcome. While interiors are probably off-limits, that doesn't mean you can't appreciate the outer beauty of these Islamic buildings.
6. Being too polite to bargain properly in Morocco
There is no doubt that haggling is an art form and if you are not aware of it, you may pay too much for this Moroccan carpet in the souk. Prices in many markets are often very inflated, so don't be afraid to trade – and walk away if necessary. That being said, there is a balance to be found, as too low may seem insulting.
7. Ignoring public transport in Morocco
Morocco is generally safe for tourists (aside from the risk of scams), so don't be afraid to make the most of the country's public transport network. Buses are a good option, but trains are even better, especially if you plan to see the country beyond its big cities. Reliable and cheap, trains are the best way to travel the country on a reasonable budget. In addition, amazing landscapes await you outside the window.
8. Assuming that it is legal to smoke Hash (Kif) in Morocco.
The smell of hash is ubiquitous in some squares of the Moroccan city, but if locals brazenly take part in it, tourists should not do the same. It is still illegal, and the consequences can be heavy if you get caught.