How to prepare and plan your trip to Morocco: the complete guide
Planning to travel to Morocco and looking for reliable travel tips? Well,
read on for an adventure-filled plan with our top tips! Morocco is only a
few hours by plane from Europe – and yet, it's as if you've just been
dropped off in a completely different world. Morocco is an ideal travel
destination for a road trip, with adventures, an oriental touch, and a
pleasantly warm climate. In this article, we will not deal with expeditions
and treks in the desert.
We have compiled everything we know about our experience and all our best travel tips for Morocco in this article so that you can best prepare for your trip. When is the best time to travel? How safe is a trip to Morocco? How to get from A to B You will find the answers to these questions and more in this special travel guide for Morocco. Happy reading!.
Pre-Trip Tips: Important Facts About Traveling to Morocco
What to expect in Morocco
What images come to you when you think of Morocco? Probably the ones that show the lifestyle of the Arabian Nights to perfection, right? Yes, you can definitely expect this when you travel to Morocco. But: Morocco is much more than that. It is a country that tends to be modern and is developing at a great speed.
The following three things make this country so special:
· Oriental atmosphere: it starts with the colorful markets, and continues through the typical cuisine to the hammams and wonderful hotels (riads): in Morocco, you can soak up the oriental way of life from dawn to dusk.
· Landscape: From the Atlas Mountains to gigantic canyons, from the desert to the mountain passes, the landscapes of Morocco will take your breath away. We had high expectations before, but we must admit: it was even better!
· Geographical proximity to Europe: you are in a completely different world just a few hours from continental Europe. No stressful jet lag, no long-haul flight. An ideal travel destination for anyone who doesn't want to travel too far.
Best time and season to travel to Morocco
You can travel to Morocco all year round, but of course, there are months that are better and others less suitable. It also depends on the regions of Morocco you want to go to. Tangier to Dakhla, there are several reasons that separate them...
The ideal travel periods for a round trip through Morocco are spring (if possible avoid the holiday season and autumn. Although it can still be cool in Europe in the spring, you can usually expect a radiant sun in Morocco. In the autumn, you can also enjoy beautiful late-summer days in Morocco.
We would not recommend the middle of summer (July and August), especially if you want to see the desert. In addition, sandstorms in the desert begin to prepare between April and October. At 35 degrees in the shade, sightseeing might become uncomfortable. Restrictions are to be expected during Ramadan, as some restaurants are closed during the day.
Around Christmas and New Year, many flee to the scorching sun and there are many people in Morocco, and therefore more expensive. If you want to avoid this, you need to take this into consideration as well.
We traveled to Morocco in late February/early March. It was delightfully warm during the day, occasionally even rather hot in the sun. ICa cooled down in the evening. Our accommodations were all equipped with heating. Our advice: during the colder months, be sure to find rooms with heating, otherwise, the nights will be rather uncomfortably cold.
Arrival tips: enter Morocco
Good news: the French do not need a visa to enter the country. On the plane, you will receive an entry card that you will have to fill out. The border police will take the card and can ask you some questions. That's all.
You can expect the same procedure when you leave. Anyone working in journalism or another field that could be a thorn in the side of the police should prepare for a slightly longer question-and-answer game. But overall, it's relatively relaxed, so don't worry! Moroccans are very welcoming and open-minded.
Guide to accommodation in Morocco: where to stay?
Traditionally, we spend the night in Morocco in riads or standard apartments. Riads are traditional multi-story buildings with a beautiful courtyard and often a large roof terrace. From the outside, it is often hard to believe what oasis is hidden behind the doors of a riad.
Nowhere else in the world have we seen such a density of grandiose and elegant accommodation as in Morocco. In big cities, you are literally overwhelmed by offers. If possible, we strongly recommend staying in a riad. For about 70 to 100 euros per night, you can have a very nice room with breakfast for two people.
Eating and drinking in Morocco
In Morocco, people love the combination of sweet and salty, and dried dates, apricots, and raisins are used in many dishes. Honestly, we're big fans!
Typical of Morocco is tagine, a dish that is prepared in a clay pot (also called tagine) and is often served with couscous. This stew is normally made with meat and vegetables, although there are vegetarian variations as well.
Although we liked Moroccan cuisine, to be honest, the culinary offerings have become a bit boring over time. Especially for vegetarians, you will find the same dishes served, because the choice is unfortunately rather limited unless you eat in trendy restaurants. Meat is often eaten in Morocco, unfortunately, vegetarian dishes are less present on the menu than in some other countries.
An exception is breakfast, which is almost always very rich in bread and carbohydrates. Breakfast is included in most accommodations. Various meals, such as Moroccan pancakes, bread, jams, and homemade yogurt, will virtually always be offered.
Religion and Culture: Clothing and Behavioral Tips in Morocco
As is known, Islam is the state religion in Morocco. Knowing in advance
will help you adapt more quickly to this cultural difference.
We therefore particularly recommend that women do not wear clothes that are too narrow. Loose blouses, long pants, and long dresses and skirts are more practical. Honestly, as a tourist, you already stand out right away so it's more pleasant to be dressed as covered and casually as possible.
There is no obligation to wear a scarf, but we must admit it: even in the sun we like to use cloth. The exchange of tenderness in public is prohibited in Morocco.
Good to know: Non-Muslims can only visit two mosques in Morocco: the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca and the Moulay Ismail Tomb Mosque in Meknes. But don't worry: there are beautiful quranic palaces and schools in Morocco that you can visit.
Security: How safe is Morocco to travel?
One of the questions we were asked most often: is it safe to travel to Morocco? First of all, we advise you to read the section of the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your home country. In terms of security, this should always be your first point of contact.
However, we will of course also be happy to share our own personal experiences and this is where the good news comes in. Nothing bad ever happened to us in Morocco. We have not had any negative experiences. We were not robbed or harassed. Yes, we probably paid too much for some things, but that's about it.
Our specific safety tips:
Travel as a couple if possible. Of course, there are also many who travel alone in Morocco – including women. To be honest, we personally found it very pleasant to travel as a couple.
Avoid the medina at night. Some cities' medinas (old towns) are made up of extremely small streets. Especially at night, these dark alleys can seem a bit shady. Try to avoid night walks. We recommend it to women traveling alone.
Don't spread out your valuables. We are usually the kind of people who are often too lazy to safely store our (rather expensive) photo equipment and let it hang freely around our shoulders. Apparently, you shouldn't make it a habit, especially in the crowd.
Don't be fooled by self-proclaimed guides. At every corner of Marrakech, someone will offer to show you the way to "La Place" (the large square). In truth, he wants to take you to his shop to sell you something, or he really shows you the place and of course, charges you a good sum. Our advice: if you really get lost, it's better to ask a woman the right way.
Cities vs. Rural: We have personally found that men in big cities (especially in Marrakech) are much more intrusive and uncomfortable than in rural areas. While, for example, tips are constantly requested in cities (e.g. for photos), people in the countryside are much more reluctant about it. Which is normal in itself.
Transport Guide: Road Trip through Morocco by car
Morocco is a really great place to travel by rental car. There are several reasons for this:
· First and foremost, the principal thoroughfares are in generally good condition. Most places are easily accessible even with a tiny automobile.
· Traffic is very limited outside the big cities. You may not see any other cars anywhere.
· We drive on the right in Morocco, so you don't have to get used to it (unless you're from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, or other Commonwealth countries)
· Most places are marked in two languages (English, and Arabic).
· The prices of a rental car are relatively cheap: for our Peugeot 301, we paid about 250 euros (excluding the navigation system) for a week.
Renting a car in Morocco – what should I pay attention to?
Provider and franchise
What does a franchise mean? In some countries, this is also called the "deductible" or "deposit". For example, if you break into a car, you will be reimbursed for any additional costs caused by this accident. However, if you book the rental car "with deductible/deductible/deposit" (this is the case with many other platforms), you have to pay a certain amount (usually a few hundred euros) in case of damage, which you lose.
Is it safe to cross Morocco with a rental car?
Other tips for renting & driving in Morocco
We are happy to rent the car ourselves at the airport, as there is usually less traffic than in the city's train stations and you can get used to the traffic conditions with peace of mind. We picked up our car in Marrakech on the day of departure for two reasons: first, you don't need a car in Marrakech, so we were able to save money. Secondly, as soon as you drive towards the medina, the traffic is appalling. We didn't want to do that to ourselves.
We bought a navigation device (GPS), but we would not recommend it. It was quite expensive and we didn't find many benefits in having it. Also, we couldn't find many places in the navigation system and had to trust our own orientation or the travel guide map. We recommend that you better download an offline app for your smartphone. It makes a lot more sense.
An International Driving Permit is usually not required when renting and we have never been asked for it. Nevertheless, we recommend that you get one only for insurance reasons. You can easily get your International Driving Permit in France.
In big cities, you need to avoid the car, which saves you time and stress. It's better to park the rental car as close to the hotel as possible. (e.g. in a guarded car park or at best in the hotel car park) and switch to taxis for the duration of the stay or walk distances.
Police checks in Morocco
Many stories circulate on the Internet, it is the police checks in Morocco: Yes, it's true. They are everywhere and you may be checked if you travel to Morocco in your own car.
Our personal experience: We have never had a negative experience with the Moroccan police. Even when we were stopped after crossing a stop line during an overtaking maneuver, the policeman was very understanding ("French motorhomes are always slow, I understand that").
Urban transport in Morocco: Tips for taxis
Even in the big cities (Marrakech, Fez, Casablanca, etc.), you can do most of it by walking. For long distances, it is common to take a taxi. A fundamental distinction is made in Morocco between Petit Taxi (red) and Grand Taxi.
· The Petit Taxi (small taxi) is – as its name suggests – a very small car that can cross narrow streets.
· Longer distances are usually covered by a Grand Taxi, i.e. between two cities or for destinations slightly outside the city.
The fare is usually determined by a taximeter, but of course, they will try to convince you that it is not currently working. Therefore, you should either ask another driver or negotiate the fare in advance if they are trying to do the "taximeter thing" to you.
Prices vary from city to city – depending on people's habit of tourism. In Marrakech, for example, you can expect a short-distance ride to cost a few dirhams or more. You should, however, only pay a maximum of 30 dirhams. In Casablanca, we often paid only 20 Dirhams for a longer distance. Plus, you can expect extra at night.
Travel expenses: how much does it cost to travel to Morocco?
Currency & Payment in Morocco
The currency of Morocco is the Moroccan dirham (MAD). 1 euro corresponds to about 10.70 dirhams (early 2021). With prices written in Morocco, you simply mentally omit a zero at the end to get the approximate amount in euros.
You can easily withdraw money from ATMs.
Travel budget in Morocco: price level and price examples
How much does it cost in Morocco...?
· 70-100 Euros per night for a double room in a lovely riad in Marrakech
· Car rental for one week: 200 to 250 Euros
· A taxi ride in Marrakech or Fez costs between 20 and 30 dirhams.
· 200 Dirhams for a great restaurant dinner for two.
· Entrance to the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech: 80 Dirhams
· Entrance to the Bahia Palace in Marrakech: 50 Dirhams
We would describe the price levels in Morocco as slightly lower than in France. But don't expect to make a super cheap trip to Morocco.
Tipping is not only considered desirable in Morocco for many services but it is actually expected. In restaurants, 5 to 10 percent is appropriate. We would also leave the service staff of our accommodation about 10 to 20 Dirham per day in the room.
If you ask for directions or take a picture of someone, they may also be asking you for money. We would then give about 10 to 20 Dirhams.
Photography Tips and Restrictions in Morocco
Morocco is a paradise for photography enthusiasts. And yet, there are a few things to consider: Especially if you want to take pictures of people (and Moroccans are really photogenic), you should always ask permission. In big cities where people are used to tourists, you will almost always be asked to tip if you want to take pictures of someone.
An extreme example is the Djemaa el Fna square in Marrakech. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people who make a living as photographers. Unfortunately, you are often asked for money here, in a not-too-kind approach.
It should be borne in mind that in Islam, the depiction of people is forbidden or not welcome. You should keep this restriction in mind when taking photos, especially if you are in very religious areas. If in doubt, we do not recommend taking a photo and withdrawing rather than attracting attention.
Under no circumstances should you photograph military installations and uniformed officers (police, security guards, etc.).
Internet and applications to travel to Morocco
Mobile Internet: SIM card in Morocco
The SIM card can be purchased at the airport. It is critical that your smartphone is network unlocked. (i.e. not limited to a single provider). The SIM card is usually configured and activated directly by the staff – without any problems. The price will depend on the volume of data, but as a rule, SIM cards are quite cheap.
Morocco's network coverage is decent, yet there are certain areas where you won't be able to connect. Especially in sparse and arid regions between cities, you often have to do without the reception. However, in the cities themselves, the reception is excellent.
Also, WiFi is quite widespread in Morocco: the vast majority of hotels offer WiFi. However, the speed leaves something to be said.
Useful apps for your trip to Morocco
· Google Translate (download the French version to be able to use it offline): especially in rural areas, you will find that many speak little or no English, but rather speak French.
· maps.me or CityMaps2Go (download the map of Morocco so you can also use it offline): perfect for marking individual sites and restaurants.
· Maps (iPhone) or Google Maps application: ideal for navigating from A to B.
· Happy Cow: ideal for finding vegetarian restaurants nearby.