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Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa
Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa - dream vacation

Rue Harroun Errachid Quartier De L , Marrakech

Hotel Relax Airport
Hotel Relax Airport - dream vacation

Airport Mohamed V Nouasser, Nouaceur

Riu Tikida Garden
Riu Tikida Garden - dream vacation

BP 1585 Circuit de la Palmeraie, Marrakech

Morocco (المغرب Al-Maghrib; ⵍⵎⴰⵖⵔⵉⴱ Elmaɣrib) is a North African country that has a coastline on the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has borders with Western Sahara to the south, Algeria to the east and the Spanish North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the Mediterranean coast in the north. It is across the Strait of Gibraltar from Gibraltar.



  • Rabat (Arabic: الرِّبَاط, Berber: ⵕⵕⴱⴰⵟ) – The capital of Morocco; very relaxed and hassle-free, highlights include a 12th-century tower and minaret.
  • Agadir (Arabic: اكادير, Berber: ⴰⴳⴰⴷⵉⵔ) – Agadir is best known for its beaches. The town is a nice example of modern Morocco, with less emphasis on history and culture. Take the local bus for a few cents and go 2 or 3 villages north, where there are additional beaches
  • Casablanca (Arabic: الدار البيضاء, Berber: ⴰⵏⴼⴰ) – This modern city by the sea is a starting point for visitors flying into the country. If you have the time, both the historical medina and the contemporary mosque (the third largest in the world) are well worth an afternoon
  • Fez (Arabic: فاس‎‎, Berber: ⴼⴰⵙ) – Fez is the former capital of Morocco and home to the oldest university in the world, the Qarawiyyin University.
  • Marrakech (Arabic: مراكش‎‎, Berber: ⴰⵎⵓⵔⴰⴽⵓⵛ) – Marrakech (also known as Marrakesh) is a perfect combination of old and new Morocco. Plan to spend at least a few days wandering the huge maze of souks and ruins in the medina. The great plaza of Djeema El Fna at dusk is not to be missed.
  • Meknes (Arabic: مكناس, Berber: ⴰⵎⴽⵏⴰⵙ) – A modern, laid-back city that offers a welcome break from the tourist crush of neighbouring Fez.
  • Ouarzazate (Arabic: ورزازات‎‎, Berber: ⵡⴰⵔⵣⴰⵣⴰⵜ) – Considered the capital of the South, Ouarzazate is a great example of preservation and tourism that hasn't destroyed the feel of a fantastic and ancient city.
  • Tangier (Arabic: طنجة‎‎, Berber: ⵜⵉⵏⴳⵉ) – Tangier is the starting point for most visitors arriving by ferry from Spain. An enigmatic charm which has attracted numerous artists (Henri Matisse), musicians (Jimi Hendrix), politicians (Winston Churchill), writers (William S. Burroughs, Mark Twain) and others (Malcolm Forbes).
  • Tetouan (Arabic: تطوان, Berber: ⵜⵉⵟⵟⴰⵡⵉⵏ) – Nice beaches and is the gateway to the Rif Mountains.

Other destinations

  • Chefchaouen (Arabic: الشاون, Berber: ⴰⵛⵛⴰⵡⵏ) – A mountain town inland from Tangier full of white-washed winding alleys, blue doors, and olive trees, Chefchaouen is clean as a postcard and a welcome escape from Tangier, evoking the feeling of a Greek island
  • Essaouira (Arabic: الصويرة, Berber: ⵎⵓⴳⴰⴷⵓⵔ) – An ancient sea-side town newly rediscovered by tourists. From mid-June to August the beaches are packed but any other time and you'll be the only person there. Good music and great people. Nearest Coast from Marrakech
  • 3 High Atlas (Arabic: الاطلس الكبير, Berber: ⴰⴷⵔⴰⵔ ⵏ ⴷⵔⵏ) – regular destination for mountain hikers, ski enthusiasts, or travellers interested in the indigenous Berber culture
  • Merzouga (Arabic: مرزوقة, Berber: ⵎⴰⵔⵣⵓⴳⴰ) and 5 M'Hamid (Arabic: محاميد الغزلان, Berber: ⵜⴰⵔⴰⴳⴰⵍⵜ) – From either of these two settlements at the edge of the Sahara, ride a camel or 4x4 into the desert for a night (or a week) among the dunes and under the stars
  • 6 Tinerhir (Arabic: تنغير, Berber: ⵜⵉⵏⵖⵉⵔ) – Desert oasis and access point to the stunning High Atlas

Archaeological sites

  • 7 Volubilis (Arabic: وليلي, Berber: ⵡⴰⵍⵉⵍⵉ) – Also known as Wallibi and is 30 km north of Meknes, biggest Roman ruins in Morocco, next to the holy town Moulay Idriss



The earliest known independent state of Morocco was the Berber Kingdom of Mauretania under Bocchus I. This kingdom dates back to 110 BCE.

From the 1st century BCE, Morocco was part of the Roman Empire as Mauretania Tingitana. Christianity was introduced in the 2nd century CE and gained converts in the Roman towns, among slaves and Berber farmers.

In the 5th century CE as the Roman Empire declined, the region was invaded by the north by the Vandals and later the Visigoths. In the 6th century, northern Morocco became part of the Byzantine Empire. Throughout this time, however, the Berber inhabitants in the high mountains of the interior remained independent.

In 670 CE, the first Islamic conquest of the North African coastal plain took place under Uqba ibn Nafi, a general serving under the Umayyads. The indigenous Berber tribes adopted Islam, but retained their customary laws. They also paid taxes and tribute to the new Muslim administration. The first independent Muslim state in the area of modern Morocco was the Kingdom of Nekor, an emirate in the Rif Mountains. It was founded by Salih I ibn Mansur in 710, as a client state. After the outbreak of the Berber Revolt in 739, the Berbers formed other independent states such as the Miknasa of Sijilmasa and the Barghawata.

According to medieval legend, Idris Ibn Abdallah had fled to Morocco after the Abbasids' massacre of the tribes in Iraq. He convinced the Awraba tribes to break the allegiance to distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad and he founded the Idrisid Dynasty in 788. The Idrisids established Fez as their capital and Morocco became a centre of Muslim learning and major regional power. The Idrisids were ousted in 927 by the Fatimid Caliphate and their Miknasa allies. After Miknasa broke off relations with the Fatimids in 932, they were removed from power by the Maghrawa of Sijilmasa in 980. From the 11th century to the early 20th century onwards, a series of dynasties including the Almoravids, Almohads, Marinids, Wattasids, Saadis and Alaouites ruled Morocco until it was controlled by the Spanish and French.

Morocco's long struggle for independence from France ended in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier was turned over to the new country that same year. Morocco annexed Western Sahara during the late 1970s, and even though the status of the territory remains unresolved, all maps in Morocco show Western Sahara as an integrated part of Morocco.

Gradual political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997, although the king still possesses the actual political power. The press is mostly state controlled even though there are free newspapers, and clampdowns have occurred following criticism of the authorities or articles concerning the Western Sahara situation.


Morocco is a good place to see varied cultural heritages including those with African, Arabic, Berber, Moorish and Western influences.

Electricity and voltage

The voltage in Morocco is generally 220V, and outlets will fit the two-pin plug known as the Europlug. It's probably the most commonly used international plug, found throughout continental Europe and parts of the Middle East, as well as much of Africa, South America, Central Asia and the former Soviet republics. Europlugs are included in most international plug adapter kits.

American and Canadian appliances, which are built to use 110V. may be damaged if they're plugged into a 220V unless your appliance is "dual-voltage" (designed for both 110 and 220V). If not, you'll need a power converter as well as an adapter.


The biggest event on the Moroccan calendar is the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast during the day time and break the fast at sunset. Most restaurants are closed for lunch (with the exception of those catering specifically to tourists), and things generally slow down. Travelling during this time is entirely possible, and the restrictions don't apply to non-Muslims, but it's respectful to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public during the fast. At the end of the month is the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, when practically everything closes for as long as a week and transport is packed as everybody heads back home. Alcohol consumption is not prohibited for tourists during Ramadan; there are a few restaurants and bars serving alcohol. Also, alcohol can be purchased in a supermarket, but only if a tourist shows their passport to the staff, as Moroccans are not allowed to buy or consume alcohol during the holy month.

Best time to visit

If you are adventurous at heart, a good time to visit Morocco for trekking in the desert is February. You can enjoy coastal areas or beaches at Essaouira in July. April is the best time to visit the Imperial towns in Morocco. The peak tourist season in Morocco is July and August.

Get in

All visitors to Morocco require a valid passport but visitors from the following countries do not need to obtain visas before arrival: Schengen member states, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Niger, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela

For tourists from countries that need a visa to enter Morocco, the Moroccan Embassy is usually the first port of call. They charge the equivalent of UK £17 for a single entry and £26 for double or multiple entries. (Double or Multiple entries will be issued at embassy discretion). Visas are usually valid for 3 months and take around 5-6 working days to process.

Visa requirements are: completed application forms; four passport-size photos taken within the previous six months; valid passport with at least one blank page and with a photocopy of the relevant data pages; Fee, payable by postal order only; a photocopy of all flight bookings and a photocopy of hotel reservation.

Tourists can stay for up to 90 days and visa extensions can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. (You may find it easier to duck into the Spanish-controlled Ceuta or Melilla and then re-enter Morocco for a new stamp). Anti-cholera vaccination certificates may be required of visitors coming from areas where this disease is prevalent and pets need a health certificate less than ten days old, and an anti-rabies certificate less than six months old.

By plane

There are flights from New York, Montreal, Dubai and various European cities to Casablanca as well as seasonal charter flights to Agadir.

Many European carriers serve Morocco. These are Iberia, TAP Portugal, Air France, Lufthansa, Swiss, Turkish Airlines, Norwegian, BMI, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Air Berlin, Alitalia, Portugalia, Air Germany and many other European airlines.

Easyjet — Now fly at budget prices from London and Manchester to Marrakech and Casablanca. Another option is from Paris - Charles de Gaulle to Casablanca.

Ryanair — flies to Morocco from Bergamo, Girona, Reus, Bremen, Madrid, Brussels, "Frankfurt"-Hahn, Eindhoven,London, Porto. Flying to Fez 3 times per week. Flights to Marrakesh are also available. A Bergamo-Tangier route opened in July 2009.

Royal Air Maroc — The state airline, which drastically needs a price cut.

Air Arabia Maroc owned by Air Arabia, is another low cost carrier which flies to other Moroccan destinations, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Tunisia and Turkey.

Jet 4 You — A low-cost carrier with extremely cheap tickets from France and Belgium.

Aigle Azur — A small North-African carrier with reasonable rates.

Thomson fly — Flights from Manchester to Marrakech and are very reasonably priced.

Binter Canarias — Flights from Canary Islands to Marrakech.

Emirates — Flights from Dubai to Casablanca.

Many visitors also fly to Gibraltar or Malaga (which are often considerably cheaper to get to) and take a ferry from Algeciras, Tarifa or Gibraltar to Tangier. This is not recommended in summer as literally millions of Moroccans living in Europe use this passage during the summer holidays.

By car

You can enter via ferry or via the two only open border posts on land connected to the the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. The frontier with Algeria has been closed for ten years. For the closest maritime connection you head for Algeciras or Tarifa in southern Spain. At Algeciras there are ferry services to Ceuta and Tangier that carry cars. Tarifa has a similar service to Tangier and this is the shortest and fastest route, just 35 minutes.

It's possible also to enter Mauritania by car from Dakhla. Most countries' citizens need a visa to enter Mauritania which is available at the Mauritanian embassy in Rabat (visas are no longer issued at the border).

It might be hard to get into Morocco with a commercial vehicle. Camper vans are acceptable (but they must look like a camper van), but other commercial vehicles might get turned around and prevented from travelling onwards. If you want to take a commercial vehicle, and there is more than one person travelling, it may be worthwhile if a French-speaking person travels to any international border with Morocco of your choice and meets with the head of Customs before you bring in a commercial vehicle.

By boat


There are several ferry connections to Morocco, mainly from Spain. Algeciras is the main port and serves Ceuta and Tangier. A ferry between Algeciras and Ceuta takes 40 minutes, and less than 2 hours to get to Tangier. You can also get to Tangier from the small port of Tarifa, on the southernmost tip of mainland Spain. This will take 35 minutes or one hour, depending on the vessel. Some companies run buses between Tarifa and Algeciras for free (25 minutes), so you will have no problems getting to the train station. Other Spanish ports that have connections to Morocco are Malaga and Almeria, which are connected with Melilla and the adjacent Moroccan town of Nador.

Ferries from France also go to Tangier, from the port of Sète near Montpellier and Port Vendres near Perpignan. However these ferries are rather expensive. The Italian towns of Genoa and Naples also have direct connections to Tangier. The British dependency of Gibraltar connects to Tangier through a high-speed boat service.

From the south of Spain (Estepona) a sailing yacht will take you for a few days to the north east of Morocco (Smir).


From Tarifa to Tangier the ferry costs €34 per adult without a vehicle using on-line booking. An open return costs €54, (March 2013). However, you can get the ferry ticket from Tangier at 390 dirhams (about €36). To Algeciras from Tangier, it costs 395 dirhams single.

Get around

However you are travelling, work out which direction you are heading and where the sun will be for the majority of your trip and choose a seat on the shady side.

By train

Trains are generally the best option because of their speed, frequency and comfort. However, the network is limited, linking only Marrakech and Tangier via Casablanca and Rabat. A branch line to Oujda starts at Sidi Kachem linking Meknes and Fez to the main line.

People are incredibly sociable and friendly on the trains in Morocco and you will find yourself perpetually talking to strangers about your journey. Each new person will advise you on some new place you should go or invite you to their home for couscous. Stations in smaller cities are often poorly marked, and your fellow passengers will be more than happy to let you know where you are and when you should get off. It's expected to greet (Salam) new passengers entering your compartment, and if you bring fruit, cake, etc., it's common to offer the other passengers something as well. If you spend a little extra for 1st class you increase your chances of meeting someone proficient in many languages.

There are three daily departures from Tangier, bound for either Oujda or Marrakech, although all of them can be used to reach either destination as there are corresponding trains in Sidi Kachem using the opposite branch of the train coming from Tangier. The night trains between Tangier and Marrakech offer couchettes for an extra 100 dirhams. This is the only option if you would like to lie down sleeping as there are obstacles between the seats in regular compartments.

The only drawback with Moroccan trains are that they are very frequently delayed, so don't count on the timetables if you are in a hurry.

The train network is operated by ONCF. In order to check costs on the ONCF website, which in only in French, scroll down to Billets Normaux (under Prix & Reservation) and choose your ride.

The major cities, MarrakechMeknesFezTangierRabat, and Casablanca, are all linked by reliable (if not very fast) rail links. There are usually several trains every day to or from every major town. There is also a night train between Marrakech and Tangier.

Trains are very cheap (compared to Europe). For example, a single from Tangier to Marrakech costs about 200 dirhams second class, or 300 dirhams first class. Casablanca to Marrakech - 90 dirhams for second class.

First class train cars are supposed to have working air conditioning, however, not all train cars with air conditioning have it in working mode, so it's advisable to bring with you plenty of water (there are no vending machines on ONCF trains, unlike SNCF or TrenItalia trains, and the conductor with a vending cart is not often easy to find). For example, the travel time between Tangier and Fez is about 5 hours and with no AC and no water, the ride can become unbearable in the summer desert heat.

When you arrive at a station, to reaching the platform you'll need to validate your ticket (checkpoint at the entrance).

A high speed rail line connecting Tangier to Casablanca is under construction. The first section from Tangier to Kénitra is scheduled to open in 2018.

By bus

Luxury buses are the next best bet, with almost universal coverage, if somewhat odd departure times in some places. CTM, Supratours and some smaller companies provide good comfort with reasonable prices. Supratours buses offer specific tickets to link with the rail system and are bookable on the train company website as Supratours is run by it. All bus companies charge for baggage separately, however CTM is the only one that does this officially and provides baggage receipts. On Supratours, whoever takes your bag will demand up to 20 dirhams (pay no more than 5 dirhams).

Nearly every city has a central bus station where you can buy tickets to travel from region to region (and in some cities certain companies run their own stations - mostly that applies to the operators CTM and partly Supratours). You can either choose the buses for tourists with air-conditioning and a TV. Or you can also take the local buses which cost only 25-50% of the tourist buses and are much more fun. They are not very comfortable, but you can get in contact with the local people and learn a lot about the country. The buses often take longer routes than the big ones, so you can see villages you would never get to as a "normal" tourist. For heat-sensitive people this is not advisable though, as locals may tell you that 35 degrees is "cool" and no reason for opening a window. The route from RissaniErfoud, and Er Rachidia to Meknes and Fez, while long, runs through the Middle and High Atlas and is particularly scenic.

Luxury buses operated by CTM are also inexpensive and offer an easier travelling experience than local buses. See CTM's timetable and tariffs.)

Supratours, a major rival of CTM, complements the train network to Essaouira and all major Atlantic-coast towns south to Marrakech.

Local buses are a completely valid choice for the hardier traveller, and often even have more leg room than the luxury buses although this may be just because the seat in front of you is disintegrating. They can be extraordinarily slow as they will stop for anyone, anywhere, and only luxury buses are air conditioned (and locals hate open windows). On local buses only, the ticket is sold directly by the driver.

By taxi

Travel by taxi is common in Morocco. There are two sorts:

  • Petit taxi used only within the area of the town
  • The grand taxi can be used for trips between towns, and for larger groups

Prices for petit taxi are reasonable and it's the law that taxis in town should have a meter - although they are not always on. Insist that the driver starts the meter. If not, ask for the fare before getting in (but it will be more expensive).

Grand taxi

Operate between towns; fares are semi-fixed and shared equally between passengers. However, there are six passenger seats per car not four (this is for the ubiquitous Mercedes, there are 8 or 9 seats in the bigger Peugeots in the southeast). Two people are expected to share the front seat, with four across the back. If you want to leave immediately or you want extra space you can pay for any additional empty seats. Grand taxis generally cost less than a luxury bus but more than the local bus. Late at night, expect to be charged a little more than at daytime, and also to pay for all the seats in the car as it probably won't show up other customers late. Petit taxis are not allowed to leave the city borders and is thus not an option for travelling between cities.

The grand taxi is a shared, generally long-distance taxi, with a fixed rate for specific route; the driver stopping and picking up passengers like a bus. Grand taxis are usually found near main bus stops. Negotiate on price if you want a journey to yourself and this will be based on distance travelled and whether you are returning—but price per taxi should not depend on the number of passengers in your group. When sharing grand taxi with others, drivers may cheat tourist-looking passengers charging higher—look how much locals around you pay; don't worry to ask other passengers about the normal price, before boarding or even when you're in.

Grand taxis are usually 10-year-old Mercedes, regular saloon cars that in Europe are used for up to 4 passengers plus driver. For a grand taxi, it is normal to share a car between up to 6 passengers. The front seat is normally given to two women (as local women are not allowed to be in contact with a man, they rarely take rear seats). Travellers often pay for 2 seats that remain unoccupied to travel with more space inside, and hence comfort.

Grand taxis can also be hired for approximately the price of two petit taxis for shorter trips. This is useful if your party is of four or more. Beware, some taxi drivers will refuse to drive off until the taxi is full, potentially causing you delays. Alternatively, for a relatively reasonable sum (depending on the driver), you can hire a grand taxi in Marrakech for the entire day, allowing you to explore the Ourika valley.

Taxi owners vie with each other to add extras such as sunshades. A clean vehicle and smart driver is usually a good sign of a well maintained vehicle.

Be aware that most grand taxis operate only on a single route and that for trips outside of their licensed route they need to get permission from police first. If you plan to take a grand taxi for a custom tour it is best to book one day ahead to give the driver time to get this permission.

By plane

Domestic flying is not a popular means of transportation, however, Royal Air Maroc, the national flag carrier, has an excellent but expensive network to most cities. Other airlines include Air Arabia Maroc and Jet4you.com.

By tramway

The Casablanca tramway is 30 km long, with 49 stops, and Y-shaped. Tickets cost 6 dirhams; buy your ticket before boarding. You have a choice between a rechargeable ticket valid for 10 journeys only, or a rechargeable card, valid for 4 years.

This is, after the Rabat-Salé tramway, the second tram system in Morocco, but also the largest system in number of stations and the length of the route.

By car

The main road network is in good condition. Roads have a good surface, although very narrow, in most cases only one narrow lane in each direction. Many roads in the south marked as sealed actually have only a central strip, one lane wide, sealed with wide shoulders to be used every time you meet oncoming traffic and this is a sensible economic solution in these areas of sparse traffic and long straight roads - except when you can not see oncoming traffic because of windblown dust!

The main cities are connected by toll expressways still being extended.

  • The expressway between Casablanca and Rabat (A3) was finished in 1987.
  • It was extended from Rabat to Kénitra in 1995 and today reaches the northern port of Tangier (A1).
  • Another expressway (A2) goes eastwards from Rabat to Fez some 200 km down the road. It comprises part of the planned transmaghrébine expressway that will continue all the way to Tripoli.
  • South from Casablanca runs the A7. It was planned to reach Agadir in December 2009 but only goes as far as Marrakech 210 km south of Casablanca.
  • Around Casablanca and down the coast is the A5 expressway which connects Mohammedia and El Jadida.
  • The A2 between Fez and Oujda on the Algerian border has been completed, but the border is still closed.

Fuel is not so common in the countryside so plan ahead and get a good map. Roads are varied and mixed with many cyclists, pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles.

Road signs are in Arabic and French and the traffic law is as in much of Europe but you give way to the right. This means that traffic on a roundabout gives way to that entering it. Be very careful as many drivers respect signs only if a policeman is nearby. There are numerous police checks on the main roads where you must slow down to allow them to see you. The speed limit is enforced especially the 40kph in towns and on dangerous intersections where fines are imposed on the spot. General rule is that vehicles larger than yours should be given a priority: trucks, buses and even grand taxis.

Driving safely in Morocco takes practice and patience but can take you to some really beautiful places.

The centre of Marrakech can be a scary place to drive. You will be constantly beeped at, regardless of how well you drive. Marrakechis like to beep their horns at anyone they feel to be holding them up. This may mean even if you're just in front of them at a red light. Also, pay very close attention to your wing mirrors and your blind spots. The two lane roads often become free-for-alls, up to the point at which you may see four cars wing to wing at a red light. One of the major hazards on the roads in Marrakech are the mobilettes. These pushbikes with an engine will zig-zag around you and generally make themselves a nuisance, however, on longer stretches of road, they tend to keep to the right. Often, a few beeps of the horn will cause a mobilette rider to pay a little more attention to his surroundings. However, be warned that some drivers pay absolutely no attention to your horn, as they have become so used to the sound. Drive defensively, and keep your speed down, so any accident causes minimum damage. Do not be intimidated by other drivers. Make sure that you drive predictably, and don't do anything rash.

Renting a car

Rental firms abound in the large cities. Most worldwide rental networks have their offices in Morocco. Also there are several local rental companies (5-7 have representative offices in Casablanca airport). They offer lower prices, but be sure to check the vehicles condition, spare tyre, jack, etc. Local companies may be less proficient in English—but if you are ready for a higher risk, when you rent in an airport try to negotiate with them first; if failed you always have worldwide rivals to go next.

Multinational companies seem to easily share cars with each other (although prices and service level may vary), so if your company of choice doesn't have what you need they may ask from another company.

Check where you can drive - some rental companies won't allow travel on unmade roads.

  • Alamo/National: All Alamo and National Car Rental offices are co-located in Morocco. During low season (November) expect at least 20% discount from the list price if you come without a reservation—at least for economic class (Peugeot 206, Renault Logan Dacia). Deposit is taken as a paper slip of a credit card; Alamo is unable to transfer your slip to the city of your destination if it's different from your starting point. Some economy-class cars (like Peugeot 206) are as old as 4 years, with mileage up to 120,000 km.

Renting a vehicle with driver/guide

Some tour operators will arrange for you to hire a 4x4 or SUV with a driver/guide, and offer customised itineraries, including advanced booking in hotels, ryads, etc.

By thumb

Hitching is a routine form of travel in Morocco. Particularly in large farm trucks which supplement income by picking up paying passengers. Price is about half that of a grand taxi. Expect to ride in the back with lots of locals.


See also: Moroccan Arabic phrasebook, Arabic phrasebook

The official languages of Morocco are Arabic and Berber. However, the local Moroccan Arabic, a dialect of Maghrebi Arabic (spoken in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria) is very divergent from standard Arabic, so even native Arabic speakers from outside the region would not understand the conversations of locals. However, all Moroccans learn standard Arabic in school, so speakers of standard Arabic should not have any problems communicating in the major cities. Officially about half the population cannot read or write so there are always translators around and people to assist filling in forms (for a small fee) around most places where such forms are required such as ports, etc.

Various dialects of Berber are spoken by Morocco's ethnic Berbers.

French is widely understood in Morocco due to its history as a French protectorate, and is still taught in schools from relatively early grades, making it by far the most useful non-Arabic language to know. Most urban locals you meet will be trilingual in Moroccan Arabic, standard Arabic and French, but only speak French to foreigners and never among each other. In the north and southern part of the country, many people also speak Spanish instead or alongside French.

While knowledge of the English language is increasing amongst the younger generations, most Moroccans don't speak a word, and even those that do will most likely speak better French. Although you will find a few people who speak English among the most educated people, in urban areas most of them are touts and faux guides. Some shop owners and hotel managers in urban centers also speak English.

People are used to dealing with the communication barrier that comes with having various Berber dialects - pantomiming, smiling and using even the most broken French will get you a long way.


At just a few hours from the main European cities, Morocco has everything to overwhelm you with the amazing colours, smells and sounds of Islamic Africa. Imagine bustling souqs and spice markets, stunning mosques, white-washed sea side towns and medieval city centres. With panoramic views varying from snow-covered peaks in the High Atlas to the endless sand dunes of the Sahara, no-one ever has to be bored in this beautiful country.

Movie-famous Casablanca might be the most famous of Moroccan cities and is home to the huge Hassan II mosque, the second largest mosque in the world with only the Grand Mosque of Mecca surpassing it. Many travellers quickly leave this vibrant and modernist metropolis on a search for a more traditional Moroccan experience, but admiring the impressive colonial architecture, Hispano-Moorish and art-deco outlook of the city centre is actually time well spent. Marrakesh, known as the "Red City" and probably the most prominent former imperial capital, will leave you with memories to cherish for life. Spend your days wandering through the lively souqs, admiring the old gates and defense walls, see the Saadian Tombs, the remnants of the El Badi Palace and visit the Koutoubia Mosque with its 12th century minaret. However, when evening falls make sure to head back to Jamaa el-Fnaa, the largest square in Africa, as it fills up with steam-producing food stalls. Indulge in the bustling activity there, listen to Arabic story tellers, watch magicians and Chleuh dancers. Fez, once Morocco's capital, is another gorgeous imperial city. Get lost in its lovely labyrinth of narrow Medieval streets, enjoy its huge medina, see the beautiful city gates, the ancient University of Al-Karaouine and the Bou Inania Madrasa. Also, make sure to visit a traditional leather tanning factory. The city of Meknes is often called the "Versailles of Morocco" for its beauty. Its lovely Spanish-Moorish style centre is surrounded by tall city walls with impressive gates and you'll be able to see the 17th century blend of European and Islamic cultures even today.

For a more laid-back experience of medina life, catch a sea breeze at the coastal towns of Asilah or lovely Essaouira. The blue-washed town of Chefchaouen is an old time travellers' favourite and a great starting point to explore the Rif Mountains. Other impressive mountain scenery can be in found in the Atlas Mountains. Climb Jebel Toubkal, in the High Atlas, the highest peak in North-Africa, passing lovely adobe villages and exploring the gorgeous Ourika and Amizmiz valleys on the way. The stunning panoramic view from the top will make it worth every bit of your effort to get there. Other praised hiking routes lead through the beautiful Ameln Valley in the Anti-Atlas and the forests of the Middle Atlas.

Hop on a camel back for a trip through the golden Sahara sand dunes at Erg Chebbi, near Merzouga. Spend the night in a desert tent, under the incredibly starred sky. Somewhat less easy to reach but therefor also less crowded are the dunes of Erg Chigaga near M'hamid. On your way to the desert, make sure not to miss the stunning Todra gorge near Tinghir. The ancient fortified city of Aït-Benhaddou is another must-see sight. Although rainstorms damage the mud-brick kasbahs time and again, this mostly abandoned village remains an impressive sight and has been the décor for a range of movies, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.



Marrakech can make a good base for exploring the High Atlas or for organizing one to four day Sahara treks.


There are two types of Hammam (steam baths) across Morocco.

The first is the tourist hammam, where you can go and be pampered and scrubbed by an experienced staff member. As these are promoted only to tourists they are the more expensive option with pricing usually around 150 dirhams for a hammam. They can not be technically referred to as a proper hammam, but they are nonetheless enjoyable, especially for the timid. Your hotel can recommend a good one.

The second option is to visit a "popular" Hammam. Popular hammams are the places where the locals go. Ask the staff at your hotel where they would go.

At the popular hammams, you do it all yourself. To make the most of a popular hammam, you need to take a scrubbing mitten (available cheap in the souks), a towel, and some extra underwear (otherwise, you will be going home without any, as it will be sopping wet). Popular hammams are often only identified by tiles around a door and entrance way. If you do not speak French or Arabic, it could be a daunting, or at least a very memorable, experience. Men & women have either separate session times or separate hammams.

Nudity in a popular hammam is strictly forbidden for men, so be prepared to wear your underwear or a bathing suit. For women, you'll see some wearing underwear and some going naked.

Whilst in a popular hammam, you may be offered help and a massage from another person. It is essential to remember that this massage is nothing but a massage, with no other intentions. Sexual contact or presumption of sexual contact does not occur in these places. If you accept a massage, be prepared to return the favour.

Normal entrance prices for a popular hammam are 7-15 dirhams, a scrub will cost around 30 dirhams, and a massage another 30 dirhams.



The local currency is the Moroccan dirham, sometimes symbolised as "Dh", "Dhs, "DH", "درهم, or the plural form of "دراهم" or "Dhm" (ISO code: MAD). It's divided into 100 santime or centimes (c).

There are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, 1, 2, 5 and 10 dirham coins, although coins smaller than 20c are rarely seen these days. Banknotes are available in denominations of 20, 50, 100 and 200 dirhams.

While the dirham is the only currency officially accepted in Morocco, some hotels may accept your euros and US dollars unofficially.

Important notice: Dirhams may generally not be exported or imported. At the time of writing, a tolerance of 1000 dirhams applies to tourists; more information can be found at the Moroccan customs website.

Money exchange: It's illegal to take more than 1,000 dirhams of local currency out of the country, so you can't buy dirhams outside of Morocco. By law, exchange rates should be the same at all banks and official exchanges. Make a note of the exact rates before you go to make sure you're getting a fair deal.

Don't expect to see many banks in the souqs or medinas, although in larger cities there are often an ATM near the main gates, and even one or two inside the large souqs (if you manage to find your way). You may also encounter "helpful" people who will exchange US dollars or euros for dirhams. Unofficial exchange on the streets outside souqs or medinas doesn't seem to exist.

Besides banks and dedicated exchange offices, major post offices provide exchange, and work until late hours. There are several exchange offices in Casablanca airport. Make sure you keep any receipts, as this will make things far easier when exchanging any left-over dirham back to your own currency before leaving - official "Bureau de Change" won't change money without a receipt, even if you originally withdrew the money from an ATM.

ATMs can be found near tourist hotels and in the modern ville nouvelle shopping districts. Make sure that the ATM accepts foreign cards (look for the Maestro, Cirrus or Plus logos) before you put your card in. Also be aware that they are not refilled during weekends in smaller towns, so get enough cash for the weekend on Friday or Saturday morning.

Try to have as much small change as possible and keep larger bills hidden separately.

What to buy?

Apart from classic tourist souvenirs like postcards and trinkets, here are some things from this region that are hard to find elsewhere, or even unique:

  • Dates: 10 dirhams for an orange box seems an adequate price after some bargaining.
  • Leatherware: Morocco has a really huge production of leather goods. Markets are full of mediocre models and designer shops are hard to find.
  • Argan oil and products made of it such as soap and cosmetics.
  • Tagines: Classic Moroccan cooking dishes made of clay will improve oil/water based meals you make if you plan to bring Morocco to your kitchen back home.
  • Birad: Classic Moroccan tea pots.
  • Djellabah: Classic Moroccan designer robe with a hood. Often come in intricate designs and some are suited for warm weather while other heavier styles are for the cold.
  • Carpets: Genuine handmade Berber carpets can be purchased direct from the artisans who weave them. If you go to small villages, such as Anzal, in the province of Ouarzazate, you can visit the weavers, watch them work, and they will happily serve you tea and show you their products.

If you're looking for T-shirts, consider designer items by Kawibi—they look much more inspiring than boring traditional set of themes. They are available in duty-free stores, Atlas Airport Hotel near Casablanca and other places.

What not to buy

  • Geodes: Pink and purple dyed quartz are widely sold along with fake galena geodes which are often described as "cobalt geodes".
  • Trilobite fossils: Unless you are an expert, you will most likely be buying a fake.


Remember that bargaining in the souks is expected. It is not really possible to give an accurate indication of how much to start the bargaining at in relation to the initial asking price, but a general idea would be to aim for approximately 50% off. Prices are set on a daily, even hourly, basis, depending on how much has been sold on a given day (or period of hours), while also reflecting the vendor's personal estimation of the potential client. The souks are often a good reflection of the basic economic principles of supply and demand, particularly with regard to the demand side. If a lot of products have been sold by a particular merchant he/she will raise the price, and may refuse to sell any more products for the rest of that day (or for days) unless the price is much higher than usual. If there are many tourists around prices go higher and bargaining even small amounts off the asking price becomes quite difficult. In addition, the seller will generally inspect the client, whose dress and possessions (particularly if the potential client sports an expensive Swiss watch, camera, etc.) are usually the main indication of how high the price may be set above the usual. However, the potential client's attitude is also taken into consideration.

Taking all this and other factors into account (such as the time of day, day of the week, season), initial prices may be up to 50 times or more in excess of normal prices, especially for more expensive items, such as carpets. Carpets, however, are a very specialized item and it is necessary to have at least a cursory understanding of production techniques and qualities. If possible, an ability to distinguish between hand-made and machine-made carpets, hand-dyes, and the like is helpful to avoid being utterly duped.

Bargaining is an enjoyable experience for most vendors and they prefer clients that don't appear hurried and are willing to take the time to negotiate. It is most often actually necessary to give reasons why you believe the price should be lower. The reasons you might give are limited only by your imagination and often lead to some very entertaining discussions. Common reasons may include: the price of the item elsewhere, the item not being exactly what you are after, the fact that you have purchased other items from the stall/store, that you have built a rapport with the vendor after discussing football and so forth. On the other hand, if there is little movement in the price after some time, the best advice is to begin leaving, this often has the result of kick-starting the bidding anew, and if not, it is likely that the merchant is actually unwilling to go further below a given price, however absurd.

It is also important to show a genuine interest for the workmanship of the product for sale, no matter how uninterested you may actually be in what you are buying. This does not, however, mean that you should appear over-enthusiastic, as this will encourage the vendor to hold his or her price. Rather, it is important to project a critical appreciation for each article/object. Any defects are either unacceptable or a further opportunity to bargain the price down.

You should take caution to never begin bidding for unwanted items or to give the vendor a price you are unwilling or unable (with cash on hand) to pay. Try to avoid paying by credit card at all costs. In the event you do pay by credit card, never let it out of your sight and demand as many receipts as possible. There is typically a credit card carbon copy and an official shop receipt.

Never tell a vendor where you are staying and 'never tell a vendor how much you paid for any other purchases. Just say you got a good price and you want a good price from him or her too. And, above all, never be afraid to say 'No'.

It must also be said that, as is true for buyers, not all sellers are actually very good at what they do. A vendor that is completely uninterested or even aggressive is unlikely to give a good price. Move on.

Last but not least, when you spend all of your holiday in the same place, esp. in smaller, touristy towns: Vendors deal with tourists all the time. Most tourists buy souvenirs just before flying home, most tourists try the "walk out" trick as part of their bargaining strategies. It is not unheard of that tourists haggle for a carpet on a Friday, walk out and when they come back the next day, expecting a lower offer, the price actually increases. The vendor knows that you are likely to catch a flight the same day and that your second visit is actually your last chance to buy the carpet...


See also: North African cuisine

Moroccan cuisine is often reputed to be some of the best in the world, with countless dishes and variations proudly bearing the country's colonial and Arabic influences; see French cuisine and Middle Eastern cuisine. Unfortunately as a tourist through Morocco, especially if you're on a budget, you'll be limited to the handful of dishes that seem to have a monopoly on cafe and restaurant menus throughout the country. Most restaurants serve dishes foreign to Morocco considering that Moroccans can eat their domestic dishes at home. Apart from major cities, Moroccans do not generally eat out in restaurants so choice is generally limited to international fare such as French, Italian and Chinese cuisine.

Traditional cuisine

  • Couscous made from semolina grains and steamed in a colander-like dish known as a couscoussière is the staple food for most Moroccans, and is probably the best known Moroccan meal. It can be served as an accompaniment to a stew or tagine, or mixed with meat and vegetables and presented as a main course. Almost all Moroccan restaurants uphold the tradition of serving couscous on Fridays.
  • Tagine (or tajine), a spicy stew of meat and vegetables that has been simmered for many hours in a conical clay pot (from which the dish derives its name). Restaurants offer dozens of variations (from 25 dirhams in budget restaurant) including chicken tagine with lemon and olives, honey-sweetened lamb or beef, fish or prawn tagine in a spicy tomato sauce. There are many variations of this dish.
  • A popular Berber contribution to Moroccan cuisine is kaliya, a combination of lamb, tomatoes, bell peppers and onion and served with couscous or bread.
  • A popular delicacy in Morocco is Pastilla, made by layering thin pieces of flakey dough between sweet, spiced meat filling (often lamb or chicken, but most enjoyably pigeon) and layers of almond-paste filling. The dough is wrapped into a plate-sized pastry that is baked and coated with a dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon. Preparation is very time consuming, so Pastilla should be ordered one day in advance. Restaurants that serve Pastilla on demand can only serve the industrial versions which comes out of a freezer (but they will still charge you the price for a handmade one).
  • At many cheap eating places stews like loubia (white beans), adassa (lentils) and ker ain (sheep foot with chickpeas) are on offer.
  • Fish on southern beaches is usually very fresh (caught the same day) and cheap. A mixed fish plate comes for about 25 dirhams at stalls in the markets of fishing villages, a huge plate of grilled sardines is 15-20 dirhams. If bought fresh at the fish market, a kilogram of fish is 5-20 dirhams (the latter for a small kind of tuna). Most restaurants in fishing towns have a BBQ in front and will grill any fish you bring them for 30 dirhams (includes fries, a salad and bread). Fish is gutted on demand at the markets, just tell them how you want to prepare it (for a BBQ you get a nice butterfly cut, for tagine it is just gutted). A small tip of 1-2 dirhams is appropriate for the gutting.
  • Sfenj: These deep fried donuts from unsweetened yeast dough, dusted with sugar, are a popular and very filling snack that can be found throughout the country for 1 dirham per piece. They want to be eaten very fresh. Look out for stalls with a huge bowl of hot oil.

Many cafes (see Drink) and restaurants also offer good value petit déjeuner breakfast deals, which basically include a tea or coffee, orange juice (jus d'orange) and a croissant or bread with marmalade from 10 dirhams.

A 3-5 dirhams serving of harira or besara will always include some bread to mop the soup up and will fill you up for breakfast or lunch:

  • Moroccans often elect to begin their meals with warming bowl of harira (French: soupe marocaine), a delicious soup made from lentils, chick peas, lamb stock, tomatoes and vegetables. Surprisingly, among Moroccans harira has a role of nourishing food for "blue-collars" rather than a high-flying cuisine.
  • Soups are also traditional breakfasts in Morocco. Bissara, a thick glop made from split peas and a generous wallop of olive oil can be found bubbling away near markets and in medinas in the mornings.

Snacks and fast food

Snackers and budget watchers are well catered for in Morocco. Rotisserie chicken shops abound, where you can get a quarter chicken served with fries and salad for around 20 dirhams. Sandwiches (from 10 dirhams) served from rotisserie chicken shops or hole-in-the-wall establishments are also popular. These fresh crusty baguettes are stuffed with any number of fillings including tuna, chicken, brochettes and a variety of salads. This is all usually topped off with the obligatory wad of French fries stuffed into the sandwich and lashings of mayonnaise squeezed on top.

You may also see hawkers and vendors selling a variety of nuts, steamed broad beans and barbecued corn cobs.


Although a predominantly Muslim country, Morocco is not dry.

Alcohol is available in restaurants, liquor stores, bars, supermarkets, clubs, hotels and discos. Some Moroccans enjoy a drink although it is disapproved in public places. The local brew of choice carries the highly original name of Casablanca Beer. It is a full flavored lager and enjoyable with the local cuisine or as a refreshment. The other two major Moroccan beers are Flag Special and Stork. Also you can find local judeo-berber vodka, mild anise flavored and brewed from figs. Morocco also produces various wines - some of remarkable quality. A bottle in supermarkets start at 35 dirhams and go up to 1000 dirhams; a good quality wine can already be had for 50 dirhams.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal even if you drank just one beer

As a rule, do not drink tap water at all in Morocco, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of minerals than the water in Europe. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for travellers from places such as Europe, drinking the tap water will usually result in illness. Generally this is not serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it is enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday.

Bottled water is widely available. Popular brands of water include Oulmes (sparkling) and Sidi Ali, Sidi Harazem and Ain Saiss Danone (still). The latter has a slightly mineral and metallic taste. Nothing with a high mineralization produced.

Any traveller will be offered mint tea at least once a day. Even the most financially modest Moroccan is equipped with a tea pot and a few glasses. Although sometimes the offer is more of a lure into a shop than a hospitable gesture, it is polite to accept. Before drinking, look the host in the eye and say "ba saha ou raha". It means enjoy and relax and any local will be impressed with your language skills.

Note that a solo woman may feel more comfortable having a drink or snack at a pastry shop or restaurant as cafes are traditionally for men. This doesn't apply to couples though.


Hotels in Morocco are a matter of choice and fit every budget. Classified hotels are 1-star (simple) to 5-star (luxury), and are classified as an auberge, riad, rural gîtes d'étape or hotel. Stays usually include breakfast, and many include dinner.

Places to stay

Auberges are found in the country or in rural small towns, and are built in the traditional mud (kasbah) style, many with wood burning fireplaces and salons or roof terraces for taking meals. Auberge are very comfortable, small and usually family run and owned.

In MarrakechEssaouira and Fes or anywhere there is a medina (old city), small hotels renovated from old houses are called riads. Riads are usually small (about 6 rooms or less), clean and charming, often with to a lovely walled garden where breakfast is served on an inner patio or up on a roof terrace. Riads are usually too small to have a swimming pool, but may have what is called a tiny plunge pool to cool off in during summer months. Some riads are in former merchant houses or palaces and may have large opulent rooms and gardens.

Gîtes d'étape are simple country inns and hostel style places, where mountain trekkers can grab a hot shower, a good meal, and have a roof over their head for one night.

Desert bivouacs are traditional nomad carpeted wool tents with a mattress, sheets and blankets. You can shower at the auberge where you will also have breakfast.

Otherwise there are the usual more modern hotels or equivalent found anywhere in the big cities and larger towns around Morocco. On the lower end of the budget scale, HI-affiliated youth hostels can be found in the major cities (dorm beds from around 50 dirhams) while the cheapest budget hotels (singles from around 65 dirhams) are usually located in the medina. These hotels can be very basic and often lack hot water and showers, while others will charge you 5-10 dirhams for a hot water shower. Instead, consider public hammams as there are quite a lot of them in the medina and in rural areas.

Newer, cleaner and slightly more expensive budget (singles from around 75 dirhams) and mid-range hotels that are sprinkled throughout the ville nouvelles.

Many hotels, especially those in the medina have delightful roof terraces, where you can sleep if the weather's too hot. If you don't need a room, you can often rent mattresses on the roof from 25 dirhams.

For those looking to camp, almost every town and city has a campground, although these can often be some way out of the centre. Many of these grounds have water, electricity and cafes. In rural areas and villages, locals are usually more than happy to let you camp on their property; just make sure you ask first.

With the exception of large high end hotels, expect the hot water supply in hotels to not be as stable as in more established countries. In Marrakech, MHamid, near Ourzazate and possibly other places, the hot water temperature varies dramatically while you take a shower.

At most places, both in cities and in the countryside, you have the possibility to sleep on the roof or terrace. This will normally cost you 20-25 dirhams and you're provided with mattresses and a warm blanket. Just ask the receptionist in the hotel/auberge/gite. If you want to ask in French, which works fairly well, you can say ca sera possible de dormir sur la terrace, s'il vous plait? Often you can bargain on the price and if it's more than 30 dirhams you should bargain.


Most foreigners looking to study in Morocco are seeking either Arabic or French language courses. All major cities have language centres, and some will even arrange homestays with an Arabic-speaking family during your course.


Some Moroccans that you meet on the streets have come up with dozens of ways to part you from your money. Keep your wits about you, but don't let your wariness stop you from accepting any offers of generous Moroccan hospitality. Put on a smile and greet everybody that greets you, but still be firm if you are not interested. This will leave you significantly better off than just ignoring them.

  • Faux guides and touts congregate around tourist areas and will offer to show you around the medinas, help you find accommodation, take you to a handicraft warehouse, or even score some drugs. While these men can often be harmless, never accept drugs or other products from them. Be polite, but make it clear if you're not interested in their services, and if they get too persistent, head for a taxi, salon de thé, or into the nearest shop - the shopkeeper will show the faux guide away. Though, if it's a shop frequented by tourists, the shopkeeper may be equally eager to get you to buy something.
The best way to avoid Faux guides and touts is to avoid eye contact and ignore them, this will generally discourage them as they will try to invest their time in bothering another more willing tourist. Another way is to walk quickly; if eye contact happens just give them a smile, preferably a strong and beaming one rather than a shy one meaning no! thanks (they are very clever in judging human emotions and will bother you if they feel a weakness). The word la (Arabic for "no") can be particularly effective, since it doesn't reveal your native language. Just another is to pretend you only speak some exotic language and don't understand whatever they say. Be polite and walk away. If you engage in arguing or a conversation with them, you will have a hell of time getting rid of them, as they are incredibly persistent and are masters in harassment, nothing really embarrasses them as they consider this being their way of earning their living.
  • Some of the more common tactics to be aware of are as follows.
Many Faux guides will pretend they are students when they approach you and that they just want to practice their English and learn about your culture, invariably if you follow them, there is a big chance you will end up in a carpet or souvenirs shop. A variant is they will show you an English letter and will ask you to translate it for them, or will ask for your help to their English-speaking friend/cousin/relative etc abroad. Expect to be told that anywhere and everywhere is 'closed'. Invariably, this is not the case, but a con to get you to follow them instead. Do not do this. Do not accept 'free gifts' from vendors. You will find that a group of people will approach you accusing you of stealing it, and will extort the price from you. Always insist that prices are fixed beforehand. This is especially true for taxi fares, where trips around a city should cost no more than 20 dirhams, in general, or be done on the meter. This cannot be stressed enough. In all situations (including Henna tattoos) always agree on a price before! When bargaining, never name a price that you are not willing to pay. At bus/train stations, people will tell you that there have been cancellations, and that you won't be able to get a bus/train. Again, this is almost always a con to get you to accept a hyped-up taxi fare. In general, do not accept the services of people who approach you. Never be afraid to say no.
  • Drugs are another favourite of scam artists. In cities around the Rif Mountains, especially Tetouan and Chefchaouen, you will almost certainly be offered kif (dope). Some dealers will sell you the dope, then turn you in to the police for a cut of the baksheesh you pay to bribe your way out, while others will get you stoned before selling you lawn clippings in plasticine.
  • Ticket inspectors on trains have reportedly attempted to extricate a few extra dirham from unsuspecting tourists by finding something 'wrong' with their tickets. Make sure your tickets are in order before you board, and if you find yourself being hassled, insist on taking the matter up with the station manager at your destination.
  • Moroccan toilets, even those in hotels or restaurants, could lack toilet paper. It is worth buying a roll (French: "papier hygenique").

Try to learn at least a phrasebook level of competency in French or Arabic (Spanish may help you in the North - but not largely). Just being able to say "Ith'hab!" or "Seer f'halek" ("Go Away!") may be useful to you... Many locals (especially the nice ones who are not trying to take advantage of you) will speak limited English. If you can at least verify prices in French with locals, you could end up saving a lot of money.

What to wear

You won't need high and heavy mountain boots unless you go in coldest time of the year like February: it's quite warm in the country even when it's heavy raining in November. Even in medinas, streets are paved if not asphalted—just be sure your footwear is not toeless in medina, as it may be dirty or unsanitary.

For trekking in valleys, low trekking shoes will be likely enough.

For a desert trip to dunes, ensure your pockets can be easily shaken out as sand gets in there very quickly.


Morocco operates Daylight Saving Time except for during Ramadan.

Note that, the further south you go, the more people refuse to use daylight saving time (also called "political time" in contrast to "wild time"); state-run places there will always obey DST, merchants not necessarily.

Stay safe

Overall, Morocco remains a relatively safe place; however, homosexuality is criminalised and is punishable by up to 3 years in prison in both Morocco and Western Sahara. Gay and lesbian tourists should be self-aware and careful. In 2014, 70-year-old British traveller Ray Cole was prosecuted and imprisoned for four months after police searched his mobile telephone and found incriminating photographs. He ended up sleeping on the floor of an overcrowded Moroccan prison filled with hardened criminals, despite interventions of the UK Foreign Office and a British member of parliament on his behalf.

Like any country, Morocco has its share of problems. Many can be easily avoided by following common sense. Avoid dark alleys. Travel in a group whenever possible. Keep money and passports in a safety wallet or in a hotel safety deposit box. Keep backpacks and purses with you at all times. Make sure there is nothing important in outside or back pockets. There is some intolerance for public practice of non-Abrahamic religions and non-Sunni denominations.

Women especially will experience almost constant harassment if alone, but this is usually just cat-calls and (disturbingly) hisses. Don't feel the need to be polite — no Moroccan woman would put up with behaviour like that. Dark sunglasses make it easier to avoid eye contact. If someone won't leave you alone, look for families, a busy shop, or a local woman and don't be afraid to ask for help. If you are so inclined, you could wear a hijab (headscarf), but this is not necessary. Morocco can be a liberal country and many Moroccan women do not wear headscarves. However, women should always dress conservatively (no low-cut tops, midriffs, or shorts), out of respect for the local culture. In cities, women can wear more revealing clothing, but as a general rule they should follow the lead from local women. Locals will also assume that Moroccan women venturing into ville nouvelle nightclubs or bars alone are prostitutes in search of clientèle. Foreign women entering such places will be not be so considered but will be thought of as approachable.

Be careful about being drugged, especially as a solo traveller. The common and easy-to-make drug GHB only lasts 3 hours and is undetectable in the body after 7 hours, so if you are attacked take action immediately.

Hustlers can be a big problem for people travelling to Morocco, and Tangier in particular. It's often difficult to walk down the street without being accosted by somebody offering to give you directions or sell you something. Your best bet is to politely refuse their services and keep walking, as all they are after is money. There are some legitimate tour guides, but your guide will receive a commission on anything you buy while you're with them, so don't let yourself be pressured into purchasing anything you don't want.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly illegal even if you took just one beer.

In certain places, hustlers will do their best to intimidate you, and they can be very clingy, insisting that you give them money or offering their 'services'. Don't be intimidated by this; usually a firm "No" does the trick. Some of them can get nasty and abusive but before it gets to that stage walk towards a shop or crowd. Most Moroccans would immediately tell the person off if they see that you are being harassed.

Armed fighting in the disputed areas of the Western Sahara is less frequent now, but clashes between government forces and the Polisario Front still occur. Don't wander too far off the beaten path either, as this region is also heavily-mined.

Stay healthy

General concerns

  • Inoculations: No particular inoculations are needed for Morocco under normal circumstances, but check with the US's Centre for Disease Control (CDC) travel web pages for any recent disease outbreaks. As with most travel, it makes good sense to have a recent tetanus immunization. Consider Hepatitis A and B inoculations.
  • Food and Drink: Avoid uncooked fruits and vegetables that you can not peel. Avoid any food that is not prepared when you order it (e.g. buffets). Usually fried and boiled foods are safe. Some travellers have also had problems with unrefrigerated condiments (such as mayonnaise) used in fast food outlets.
  • Water: It is advisable to drink bottled water (check that the cap is sealed - some people might try to sell you tap water in recycled bottles). Be wary of ice or cordials that may be made with tap water. Some hotels provide free bottled water to guests and its wise to keep a supply in your room so as not to be tempted with tap water.
  • Shoes: Keep your sandals for the beach. Moroccan streets double as garbage disposal areas and you may not want to wade through fish heads and chicken parts with open-toe shoes.
  • Malaria: Present in the northern, coastal areas of the country but not a major problem. Take the usual precautions against being bitten (light coloured clothing, insect repellent, etc.) and if you are really worried see your doctor about anti-malarial medication before your departure.

Medical help

Pharmacies are denoted by a green cross, usually in neon. They sell medicines, contraceptives, and often beauty and related products.

Medical treatment can be obtained from self-employed doctors, clinics and hospitals. Most general practitioners, specialists, and dentists are self-employed; look for signs saying "Docteur". An average doctor’s check-up in a city costs 150-300 dirhams. In general, the quality of their work is decent, but you can try to ask some locals for advice and recommendations.

There are few English-speaking doctors, though French is widespread.

Medical care can be difficult or impossible to find in rural areas

Government hospitals are cheap and okay for minor injuries and minor problems, but they tend to be very crowded and for anything serious, a private clinic is generally preferable. Treatments in private clinics will be quite expensive and travellers will be required to pay for any treatment received up front.


  • Greetings among close friends and family (but rarely between men and women!) usually take the form of three pecks on the cheek. In other circumstances handshakes are the norm. Following the handshake by touching your heart with your right hand signifies respect and sincerity. When approaching someone or when entering a shop, cafe or restaurant a "Salaam Alaykum" (~"peace upon you") is expected; when greeted this way, the traditional response is "Wa Alaykum Salaam" (~"and peace upon you too"). Both greetings are also accompanied by the right hand going to the heart.
  • Left hands used to traditionally be considered 'unclean' in the Muslim religion and Amazigh nomadic cultures, as they used to be reserved for hygiene in toilets. As in many cultures it could be considered impolite to shake hands or offer or accept something from someone with your left hand, more so is giving money by your left, so try to avoid that. While left-handed people may get an occasional exclamation, and local children may get pressured by parents to use their right in traditional societies, most people will understand if you do your own business with your left hand.
  • Elders: Moroccans still have the tradition of strongly respecting their elders and the sick. If someone who is handicapped, or older than you is passing, then stop and allow room for them. Or if a taxi arrives and you are waiting with an elder, then you should allow the older person to take precedence over you. Tourists are not held to these expectations, but it improves regard for tourists in Morocco when they adhere to the same traditions.
  • Drugs: Smoking kif or hashish is part of Moroccan culture and widely tolerated (though officially illegal). Even police do not care about small amounts that are clearly only for personal use. But it is frowned upon to get stoned early in the day and one does not smoke on crowded beaches or in cafes or restaurants without the owner's consent - it is OK, even expected, to ask for permission. Opium is also an established drug, but only for medicinal purposes. Drinking alcohol in public is an absolute no-go.
  • Ramadan: The holy month is observed by almost every Moroccan. As a tourist one is not bound to observe it but refraining from eating, drinking, smoking, bubble gum-chewing or candy-sucking in public will make you lots of friends. In touristy places, restaurants and cafes are open all day and serve drinks or food, but, if at all possible, one should sit inside, out of the public's view.



Public telephones can be found in city centres, but private telephone offices (also known as teleboutiques or telekiosques) are also commonly used. The international dialling prefix (to dial out of the country) is 00. All numbers are ten digits long, counting the initial 0 and the whole number must be dialled even for local calls within the same area code.

You can get a prepaid card (Télécarte) for public phones (5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dirhams). The rates are very reasonable: for the Maroc Telecom card it is 0.50 dirham/min to any phone in most Western European countries, 3 dirhams/min to Eastern Europe and North America, and mobile phones in Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Norway.

Useful numbers

Police: 19. Moroccan Royal Gendarmerie: 17 Fire Service: 15 Highway Emergency Service: 177 Domestic directory: 160 International directory: 120 Telegrams and telephone: 140 Intercity operator: 100


The mobile telephone network in Morocco can be accessed via one of major operators: Meditel, Inwi or Maroc Telecom. Network coverage is generally good at least in populated areas but mostly also in the countryside. SIM cards are availble from 25 dirhams including airtime and a data. The rate is national: 3-4 dirhams, to Europe ~10 dirhams, SMS 3 dirhams. You can buy prepaid cards easily at the operator shops (ID required for both citizens and non-citizens); they also offer interent access if you wish (you can get 10 GB for as little as US$10). More information on available services, coverage and roaming partners are available at: GSMWorld. Beware that roaming with international cards from most countries is very expensive, so think about buying a local card.


The Moroccan postal service is generally reliable and offers a post restante service in major cities for a small fee. You will need some identification (preferably your passport) to collect your mail.

Items shipped as freight are inspected at the post office before they are sent, so wait until this has been done before you seal the box.

Don't leave postcards with the small post office at Marrakech Airport as they'll never be delivered, despite taking your money for postage stamps. Postboxes on streets seemed to be a more reliable means to send postcards.

Email & internet

Moroccans have really taken to the internet. Internet cafes are open late and are numerous in cities and smaller towns that see significant tourist traffic. Rates are 3-4 dirhams per hour and they are often located next to, above, or below the telekiosque offices. Speeds are acceptable to excellent in the north, but can be a little on the slow side in rural areas. Most internet cafes will allow you to print and burn CDs for a small charge.

Moroccans have also really taken to 3G and 4G/LTE coverage. There is a good access to email and the internet via Mobile Phones and it is relatively inexpensive. There is 3G access even in the desert, as well as in all cities. You can easily use the mobile internet network by buying a prepaid card (see mobile section).

“So you travel . . . only?” asked the woman sitting next to me in halting, but intuitive English, as we sat in the packed compartment on a train speeding through Moroccan farmland. We were the sole unveiled, accompanied women in the car. I enjoyed this story about solo travel in Morocco, a place I'm not sure I'd have the courage travel alone. Read more: Alone, a Western woman sees the sights Solo travel has...

This episode of the Amateur Traveler talks about the recent Amateur Traveler trip to southern Morocco. 9 of the 10 people who joined me on this trip also join me for the podcast to share the good and bad of the trip.

Morocco is an amazing country, full of bright colours, delicious flavours and interesting smells. Fresh fruit piled high in market stalls, an artfully arranged meal cooked in a tagine, the odour of the tanning pits in Fez… perhaps that last one isn’t quite as much of a drawcard as the rest!

Pin me on Pinterest!Our nine days in Morocco last year were amazing: we flew into Marrakesh and headed straight to the beach town of Essaouira for two days of sun and relaxation, then returned to Marrakesh for an evening of exploration.

Our two-night desert trip started the next day; we celebrated Christmas night in the freezing desert with 30 or so new friends and marvelled at the clear night sky.

Finally, we headed north to Fez and finally to Chefchaouen: see for yourself with these Instagram photos.


Another belated photo from our time in Morocco: the Fez tanneries. The guide gave us mint leaves to cover the smell, which is really something!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:51am PDT

The shops in the medina of Fez have some pretty amazing displays — I almost bought some shoes from this one just to take some of the colour with me.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:25pm PDT


It feels like a long time since our trip to Morocco in December, I want to go back! Here's a sunset over the blue town of Chefchauen.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:21pm PDT

Do you love the colour blue? If so, you might have to make a visit to the Moroccan city of Chefchauen, like we did back at Christmas. Its blue walls (and doors) are pretty striking.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 25, 2015 at 1:37pm PDT

I found another photo of Chefchauen — this has to be one of the most photogenic towns in the world. Or at least, in Morocco.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 12, 2015 at 2:23pm PDT

While exploring the streets of Chefchauen, Morocco, on our Christmas holiday, we came across this cute cat drinking from a puddle. It graciously allowed us to take a few photos of it before darting away.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 9, 2015 at 11:21pm PDT

Desert trip

During our desert trip in Morocco, we stopped in a Berber village for a tour, during which we learned all about dates and also about hand-made rugs. Of course it was an opportunity for them to sell their rugs (and two members of our mini-bus group made purchases) but it was also fascinating and very colourful. #latergram

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 24, 2015 at 12:43pm PDT

A colourful stop on our trip through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It was quite cold.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 14, 2015 at 2:11pm PDT

Christmas Day, 2014: we rode camels to a desert camp in the middle of nowhere, Morocco. No wifi or phone signal there, so this photo is a little late!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 2, 2015 at 4:30am PDT

We spent Christmas Day in the desert in Morocco — no wifi or phone coverage there so this photo's a little late! It was freezing but we were so far from any towns and their light pollution that the stars were amazing. Two local guides played the drums by the tiny fire and we stayed up late chatting with the other people staying at the camp.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:59am PDT

I just realised that we hadn't posted any photos from our Christmas trip to Morocco, so here's one of a Berber village.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Mar 31, 2015 at 6:47am PDT


Essaouira is a good place to go surfing… And also ride horses on the beach, apparently. #latergram

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:08am PDT

Time for another cute cat photo, I think! This guy was just hanging out in a boat near the docks in Essaouira, Morocco, when we were there in December. Plus, it was December and 26 degrees! A good day, for us and for the cat.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 14, 2015 at 9:31am PDT

Come join us on Instagram by searching for indietravel — we’re having heaps of fun!

Morocco is an amazing country, full of bright colours, delicious flavours and interesting smells. Fresh fruit piled high in market stalls, an artfully arranged meal cooked in a tagine, the odour of the tanning pits in Fez… perhaps that last one isn’t quite as much of a drawcard as the rest!

Pin me on Pinterest!Our nine days in Morocco last year were amazing: we flew into Marrakesh and headed straight to the beach town of Essaouira for two days of sun and relaxation, then returned to Marrakesh for an evening of exploration.

Our two-night desert trip started the next day; we celebrated Christmas night in the freezing desert with 30 or so new friends and marvelled at the clear night sky.

Finally, we headed north to Fez and finally to Chefchaouen: see for yourself with these Instagram photos.


Another belated photo from our time in Morocco: the Fez tanneries. The guide gave us mint leaves to cover the smell, which is really something!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:51am PDT

The shops in the medina of Fez have some pretty amazing displays — I almost bought some shoes from this one just to take some of the colour with me.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:25pm PDT


It feels like a long time since our trip to Morocco in December, I want to go back! Here's a sunset over the blue town of Chefchauen.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:21pm PDT

Do you love the colour blue? If so, you might have to make a visit to the Moroccan city of Chefchauen, like we did back at Christmas. Its blue walls (and doors) are pretty striking.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 25, 2015 at 1:37pm PDT

I found another photo of Chefchauen — this has to be one of the most photogenic towns in the world. Or at least, in Morocco.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 12, 2015 at 2:23pm PDT

While exploring the streets of Chefchauen, Morocco, on our Christmas holiday, we came across this cute cat drinking from a puddle. It graciously allowed us to take a few photos of it before darting away.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 9, 2015 at 11:21pm PDT

Desert trip

During our desert trip in Morocco, we stopped in a Berber village for a tour, during which we learned all about dates and also about hand-made rugs. Of course it was an opportunity for them to sell their rugs (and two members of our mini-bus group made purchases) but it was also fascinating and very colourful. #latergram

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 24, 2015 at 12:43pm PDT

A colourful stop on our trip through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It was quite cold.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 14, 2015 at 2:11pm PDT

Christmas Day, 2014: we rode camels to a desert camp in the middle of nowhere, Morocco. No wifi or phone signal there, so this photo is a little late!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 2, 2015 at 4:30am PDT

We spent Christmas Day in the desert in Morocco — no wifi or phone coverage there so this photo's a little late! It was freezing but we were so far from any towns and their light pollution that the stars were amazing. Two local guides played the drums by the tiny fire and we stayed up late chatting with the other people staying at the camp.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:59am PDT

I just realised that we hadn't posted any photos from our Christmas trip to Morocco, so here's one of a Berber village.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Mar 31, 2015 at 6:47am PDT


Essaouira is a good place to go surfing… And also ride horses on the beach, apparently. #latergram

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:08am PDT

Time for another cute cat photo, I think! This guy was just hanging out in a boat near the docks in Essaouira, Morocco, when we were there in December. Plus, it was December and 26 degrees! A good day, for us and for the cat.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Apr 14, 2015 at 9:31am PDT

Come join us on Instagram by searching for indietravel — we’re having heaps of fun!

A homestay can be an incredibly rewarding experience both for the homeowners and visitors. Typically, students use homestays as safe, affordable accommodations when traveling on a tight budget. But it’s also a great way to practice language skills in a comfortable environment and receive insider information on the best areas to explore in their travel destination—homestays are especially suited to solo female travelers

  1. Yuvacali, Turkey

In Turkey’s southeast region, in the village of Yuvacali, visitors receive a raw experience of what daily life is like for local Kurdish families. Traditional life means hard work for families living here, most only survive off a few dollars a day. Though struggling financially, these families offer a culturally rich experience for anyone interested in a unique holiday. A handful of families in the small village offer accommodation under the starry skies of Yuvacali in a nomadic canvas tent adorned with vibrant paintings or in a traditional, mud/brick house. Guests help out on the farm, learn to cook traditional dishes on an open hearth, and enjoy swapping stories with locals. This is no five-star hotel (in fact, it’s far from it) and families here, though extremely friendly, present an opportunity to work together, not offer hotel-like services. If you’re up for the challenge of helping out, Yuvacali has plenty to offer any curious, open-minded traveler.

  1. Tighza Valley, Morocco

Throughout Morocco, there an abundant number of opportunities to experience a homestay with a local family. One particularly magical place is within the breathtaking Tighza Valley where many Berber families open their homes to foreign visitors, offering simple, clean rooms within family owned homes. The arid valley, dusted with cacti and leafy green foliage, is within the high-reaching Atlas Mountains, far from the turbid, bustling cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Rabat. This is rural Moroccan life at its finest: simple and scenic. Within the valley, most guests take to the alpine trails, hiking throughout the valley and enjoying mountainous routes filled with endless snap-worthy scenes: Berber women cultivating fields, shepherds watching after flocks of goats and sheep, and boisterous children playing imaginative games. Life definitely happens at a slow pace, which is not for everyone, but the Berber people are exceptionally welcoming and on point with keeping guests occupied and well-fed.

  1. Old Havana, Cuba

Becoming familiar with the words “casa particular” or “casa particulares” is a great advantage when traveling to Cuba for an independent holiday. The term means “private house”, and upon booking, will land you either a private home or room. The Cuban government issues special permits for renting out privately owned homes, or rooms in family homes, and they are advertised through bright blue signs out front with the words “Arrendador Divisa”, it’s a rental permit showing which casas are legal. Prices vary and depend on the travel season, area of Cuba, amenities offered, square footage, and so on. One of the best places for casas is in Old Havana, where friendly owners give a healthy measure of gossip and tips on the lay of the land. You’ll get great insider information on Old Havana’s top music clubs, festivals, and bars, and most often the owner will treat you just like family.

  1. Lisbon, Portugal

In Portugal, “Solares de Portugal” is an interesting idea introduced to bolster tourism within houses laden with charm and unique character, called “Turismo de Habitação”. The concept is aimed at preserving rich heirlooms of the country’s cultural and architectural heritage. This type of accommodation is not a guesthouse or hotel, but a genuine homestay. Accommodation comes in various forms such as rustic farmhouses, elegant estates, and grand country homes restored to their original luster for welcoming guests from around the world. Most homestays can be found in Lisbon, but others are in Porto, Faro, the southwest islands, and other small Portuguese cities and towns. The Solares exemplify hundreds of years of Portuguese culture and history (a large part of the magnificent 17th and 18th centuries manors are owned by descendents of the original owners). Taken quite seriously as a representation of their country, the Portuguese are dedicated to providing exceptional experiences to foreign visitors.

  1. Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

If you’ve ever had the desire to explore the deepest reaches of the Amazon Rainforest, a Brazilian homestay could be an idyllic experience. Easily planned in Manaus, you can book a trip and be paired up with an indigenous family. You’ll score a room in an eco-lodge or camp under the forest canopy—it’s entirely up to you. Lodges are simply constructed from locally sourced, natural building materials and designed in traditional style. Think “fancy” thatch hut with some modern conveniences and you’re not far off. Ideal for intrepid spirits, planning a trek through the lush, magical landscape is authentic, eye-opening, and lands you where wildlife is richest. Friendly indigenous guides offer a healthy dose of insight on the rain forest ecosystem and teach guests survival tips in a natural environment. You’ll also be treated to some amazing local eats and be privy to some Amazonian cooking secrets too.

The post Top 5 Destinations Around the World for Homestays appeared first on Geeky Traveller.

Photo: Amelia Wells

“One rotten fish can make the whole bucket stink.”

It’s late September in Taghazout, a small surf village on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, and I’m sitting at the edge of the world watching the waves crash against the rocks.

I sip strong black coffee and chat with a new friend, the owner of a local backpackers, about safety and misperceptions in Morocco.

He shares the above proverb with me.

For those who work in the tourism industry, that rotten fish (in the form of robberies, political unrest or an isolated attack) is the proverbial boogeyman. Just a whiff of danger and foreigners will cancel their flights. An act of terror (as occurred while I was living in Kenya)? Total disaster for the industry.

But I don’t want to tell you what happens when the fear-mongers win. I want to tell you why you shouldn’t listen to them in the first place.

Every place in the world has a rotten fish—often many.

They’re the reason people tell women not to travel solo to India, Zanzibar, Turkey, Morocco, or fill-in-the-blank-with-your-unsafe-country-of-choice.

“It’s not safe.” “Men don’t respect women there.” “It won’t be pleasant.”

I’ve heard it all.

I (and just about every woman ever) learned since birth to fear. Fear attack. Fear violence. Fear bad men. Fear everything, right? Society teaches us that.

And it’s true. Of course it’s true! The world is a scary place. Especially for women. We’re working on it, but we have a long way to go. Change, however, has never happened when we stick to the status quo. Fear-mongering doesn’t keep us safe; it keeps us the same. So if you want something different, you have to ignore the fear-mongers.

That’s what I did. Here are seven reasons they were wrong and I can’t wait to go back to Morocco:

1. Berber hospitality is unparalleled.

Within days of my arrival, I was enjoying home-cooked meals with new friends’, cosily sipping tea in roadside cafes, and exchanging words of greeting with dozens of acquaintances on my morning walk.

2. Morocco is statistically safer than home.

According to the 2015 World Economic Forum Report, Morocco ranks in the top forty safest countries in the world—placing it well above the UK and US.

3. The surfing is world-class.

From beginners like me to top professionals, everyone will find a wave their size in the coastal region around Taghazout. Go a bit before high season, which starts late October/early November, to enjoy an entire beach to yourself.

4. Tourism is a key industry, and tourists are treated well.

In addition to high cultural standards of hospitality, everyone from my riad hosts to my surf instructor seemed genuinely happy to have me. I felt warmly welcome from the start.

5. Storytelling is an art form.

One of my favorite memories from my weeks in Morocco involves sitting in a shoemaker’s tiny shop ensconced in the scent of leather and cigarette smoke, listening to his stories. No rush—only the age-old tradition of weaving words.

6. Every market is a colorful sense experience.

Men and women in colorful kaftans and djellabas, precisely stacked blocks of perfume, cones of bright, pungent spices, and glittering racks of jewellery satisfy every fantasy I’ve ever had about labyrinthine marketplaces.

7. The artistic and musical traditions are exceptionally rich.

I dare you to listen to traditional Amazigh music, peruse the artisan shops of Chefchaouen or watch a master craftsman at work and not fall in love. If I had a home, I would fill it with things from Morocco—and I never say that. More like this: 11 side effects I had as a traveler in Morocco

All photos by the author

A few years ago, I had the special privilege to travel to Morocco by invitation of the Maison de l’Artisan – with a directive no more precise than to “document the artisans and crafts of the country.” The opportunity was beyond incredible, but in the eyes of some, it was to be feared. Morocco is a Muslim country.

I joined eight other remarkably talented individuals – writers, shop owners, and designers – from Austin and Houston. Along with the outstanding Molly Winters, I would be one of the official photographers because someone else had recently dropped out.

I assume travel to Morocco was regarded as dangerous and unsafe because of its ties to Islam, the established state religion. As a country just a few years separated from the September 11th attacks, we were stricken by a fear of the word “Muslims” because of the media’s all-too-frequent connection to the word “terrorist.”

My parents didn’t want me to go, nor did several other relatives that I spoke with about the opportunity. I remember how caught off-guard I was with that then. And in today’s world, in a climate that seems to be even more accepting of a clenched fist reaction to a religion (that counts nearly a quarter of the world’s population as followers), I am even more so.

I remember what I saw there.

I remember the beauty I felt privileged to witness.

And I remember what I discovered about myself while on the other side of the lens.

Before I was a Creative Director, before I was a graphic designer, and before I was a writer, I was a photographer.

Photography was one of the primary factors that led me on the course to quit my engineering job, and towards my search for creative freedom.

It was something I unknowingly had a knack for. In fact, I distinctly remember thinking “instant art” the first time I went out on a shoot.

I especially enjoyed capturing moments — the unexpected instants of truth when no one is particularly looking. And during this trip, without much setup beyond a Canon 5D Mark III on a leather camera strap, I took some of the best photos I’ve ever taken. But it wasn’t me or the Canon — it was Morocco.

For seven days, I was inspired by a foreign country and an unfamiliar beauty I wasn’t expecting to find.

Though my current role in my business doesn’t often allow for the chance to engage in photography, these photographs remind me of why I started my creative journey.

They remind me of my purpose.


Our first day in Morocco set the tone for me. Upon arrival, we checked in at the government office of our host, the Maison de l’Artisan. We were escorted into a room with ceilings of hand-carved wood, and greeted with silver trays of handmade cookies of uncountable variety. We were treated like diplomats. And the sincerity, warmth and respect they showed all of us, was something I wanted to reciprocate through my photos.

Being personally escorted by the Arts & Tourism division of Morocco was a further revelation of the respect this country had for art, and it left me wishing our own government held these institutions in similar reverence.

Not too far from the official building where we made our introductions was our next destination, the Kasbah des Oudaias. This interior of narrow streets, and whitewashed homes marked with pale shades of blue, was coincidentally built by Muslim refugees from Spain.

Emerging from the walled medina and onto the expansive open-air plaza is a sight that brought forth both emotions of humility and self-regard. Everyone was framed diminutively against the size of the sky around them, yet individually we all had our own space — our own world.

I stood on the edge and admired the colors of the Moroccans’ dress and the independence with which they wore them.


The next morning we took a one hour bus drive from Rabat to Casablanca — the country’s largest city and headquarters to most of its leading businesses. Our first stop was the Grande Mosquée Hassan II — the largest mosque in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world.

On the mosque grounds the light was so perfect that it seemed to possess its own atmosphere. It imparted an ethereal glow and prominence on everyone within it.

Every step we took toward the mosque uncovered more detail. And stepping inside the prayer hall, whose hand-crafted marble walls can embrace over 25,000 worshippers within them, made you feel their religion. It made you realize their devotion — both in the hands that created it, and the hands that have prayed within it.

This inspiring display of Muslim faith is something that all Americans deserve to see.

Located on the same grounds of the mosque was the Complex Artisanal de Casablanca, which seemed to serve as both a monestary and university for learning the traditional skills of the country’s crafts.

The studies we observed ranged from jewelry-making and tile-making, to the art of hand-chiseled wood and plaster. The attentiveness of both student and professor in every classroom showed an enviable reverence. And even though I was surrounded by both the artisans and their finished works, it was still almost impossible to imagine that hands — just like yours and mine — were creating these masterpieces.

In a digital age where everything is so immediate, this dedication to craft was otherworldly.

Surrounded by both the artisans and their finished works, it was still almost impossible to imagine that hands — just like yours and mine — were creating these masterpieces.


Craftsmanship in Morocco is not isolated to institutions on holy grounds. It is also found in the country’s souks — open air marketplaces where you’ll find hand-hammered silver tea sets, leather satchels, silk robes, and Moroccan rugs.

After having explored these bazaars along the city streets, we were treated to a private tour at the Complex Artisanal de Marrakech — another complex of artisans responsible for producing a sizable amount of the country’s exports.

Before taking this trip, my first vision of photographing “authentic artisans in Morocco” was rural and un-industrialized. I never expected to see all of this.


The Ministry of Handicraft had arranged for us to privately tour the estates of rug dealers, cooperatives, and artisan entrepreneurs. I was humbled by the exquisite form of hospitality they all provided (to us as well as our bus driver), and in awe of the tapestries displayed on every wall — like canvases in a gallery hall.

While the interior designers were procuring their selection of rugs by the acre, I explored all the floors of the facility — observing as the family and their butlers prepared a traditional Moroccan meal on the rooftop for their guests. For us.

As we enjoyed dinner, with a view that overlooked the mountains, we had one of our first real chances to talk with the government officials serving as our hosts. I remember how awestruck we were with the respect and knowledge they had about our politics, and about our democracy. They knew about recent policies our president had passed, and shared their perspective on them from their own country’s history.

It was one of the most intelligent and open-minded dinner conversations I’ve ever had.


This experience of Morocco opened my heart and my mind. In seven days, this Muslim nation taught me about dedication, craftsmanship, devotion, hospitality, talent and confidence. I am better for going. I am better for knowing its culture.

And in light of today’s political atmosphere, I can’t help but feel sympathy towards those who let fear interfere with their willingness to really know and understand people from a culture that is different than theirs.

The first step toward change is awareness. And I hope the profound beauty of a Muslim country that I witnessed allows others to see these people from a new perspective.

We are all human.

This article originally appeared on Medium and is republished here with permission.

More like this: Off the beaten path in Morocco

BEFORE AND AFTER my trip into the Moroccan desert I spent some time in Marrakech. As a photographer, everywhere I looked was a photo opportunity. History, architecture, colours, people, and culture make wonderful subjects. It’s hard to condense this experience into a short photo essay; it’s a place that must be visited. But here is my attempt.

[Note: Paul was a guest of Merzouga Desert Luxury Camps in partnership with The Sahara Experience, Riad Tawargit, and Les Jardins de Mouassine.]


Orange glow in the distance

The journey to Merzouga from Marrakech is about 600km, give or take a few stops. After eight hours in the car, snaking along the long black tarmac road through to the desert, energy stirred within. Ahead, my guide Khalid and I could finally see the Sand Dunes of Merzouga tower several stories high from the desert floor and glow like a bright orange beacon in the setting sun. They would mark the end of the journey from Marrakech and my home for a few days.


Camel ride into the sand dunes

Riding a camel is not an everyday experience. After a 600km journey in a 4x4, a ride on a camel was a very welcome opportunity. My guide Hassan led me up the sand dunes to a high vantage point to view the surroundings. It is a slow and somewhat lumpy ride, and so quiet - it’s perfect for taking in the sandy environment around you. The camels do not make much noise at all and they don’t smell bad either.


Dunes casting shadows

As the sun moves overhead, the different angles of the dunes produce different shadows. The sand dunes are like mountains with huge peaks dotted as far as the eye can see. Smooth lines and shadows make everywhere look soft and inviting. Scrabbling to the top is tricky. The loose sand makes each step a challenge and you do wonder if there could be such a thing as a sand avalanche. After what feels like a stair master 12000, it is worth it catching your breath with these views.


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A closer look at the sand dunes

Crouching down shows a different side to the massive sand banks. There are lines in the sand, similar to those made on a fresh ski slope, that are made by the wind. They can be seen all over the sand dunes and make great patterns with the shadows. The sand dunes actually move a short amount every year where the sand is blown around.


Sunset and silhouettes

Groups of tourists and locals gather at the top of the sand dunes that surround the various camps to watch the sky change as the sun sets and to take the perfect ‘Sahara Selfie.’ The camels create a perfect silhouette stomping through the fine sand. It may go without saying, but there is no Wi-Fi in the desert and minimal service. It’ss a great chance to switch off and take in the surroundings. As the dunes provide the highest point, it’s fun to see people checking to see if they have any reception.


The search for service

Amazingly it is not just the guests hunting for WiFi. While people are being entertained in their camps, members of staff from surrounding camps head to the top of the dunes searching for signal to get on Facebook or to check the football score. The locals had better success at finding signal than I did.


Setting sun over the dunes

As the sun finally sets, huge dark shadows are cast and the dunes turn to a beautiful burnt orange colour. The floral smell of incense burning on the fire pits and Moroccan drumming fills the air from the different camps. It is a serene moment.


Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp

There are many different accommodation options in the desert. I stayed here at Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp. It is a small camp set in the middle of a large dune and makes a great subject for spectacular images. First world problems found the moon to be too bright and so the sky was too light to see the Milky Way. The warmth of the camp that accompanies the dark blue of the sky and burnt orange of the sand dunes makes this a surreal experience. The rooms rival a five star hotel with luxury linen, toiletries, and a very powerful shower, only under the most amazing skies.


Photography demonstration

Over dinner a discussion was had how it’ss very difficult to make photographs at night. An impromptu photography workshop took place with the local cat as the model. Hard to believe a cat sat still for 20 seconds while demonstrating long exposure photography.


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A reflective moment

After dinner, a couple left the group to sit at the top of this sand dune to take in the beautiful night sky over Merzouga. Their delight could be heard around the dunes as they saw shooting stars overhead.


A line of camels

Camels in the desert are like red buses in London: there is never one when you want one and then ten come along at once. The camel rides are very popular for both sunset and sunrise, and rightly so. A camel ride in the Sahara desert is on many peoples bucket list.


Sun rise

Hassan is the young man who hosted the Camel rides from the Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp. The camels are well looked after and get a lot of rest in between the tourist runs. A camel is also top of the “I must photograph this in the desert” pictures. The morning light in the desert is amazing and made for a close up silhouette of a boy and his camel.


The perfect sunrise

Leaving Hassan and still smiling after a camel has taken me to the top of a sand dune, it is time to hike a little further to find a spot where there are no footprints in the sand, which is easier said than done. After finding a suitable spot, I set up, sit, and wait for the right moment. Riding a camel in sand dunes for an amazing sunrise is an unforgettable experience. When the sun broke the horizon, it was spectacular. My shutter went click while the smile on my face and the warm fuzzy feeling inside me grew bigger.


Long shadows

After sunrise, it is time for the camel ride back to camp. Camels are tall and slow. While on my camel I was about six or seven feet above the ground. A couple of people are climbing the sand dunes in the distance, the position as the sun rises makes my camel have an interesting shadow with very long legs.


Small person in a big world

While making sunrise pictures in the dunes, it was so peaceful and I felt like the only person in the world. I wasn’t alone. I was very lucky to have this person walk into the frame. It would be very easy to edit this person out but a small person in a big landscape shows how insignificant we can be in this big beautiful world.


Tea with a nomad chief

While exploring the outer rim of the dunes, there are lots of nomad camps dotted everywhere. The nomads wander the desert looking after animals and land and making ends meet in any way necessary. It is a very simple life that is very different to the hustle and bustle of the souks 600km away in Marrakech. My friend Khalid and I were passing this nomad and his camp and he invited us to join him for traditional mint tea. Accepting us into his camp, in a world where people are afraid of others that have a different religion or skin colour, we became just three men sitting enjoying a cup of tea whilst escaping the heat. Sitting with Chief, as he is known, was a humbling experience. He allowed us into his home, which is very different to what I know to be a ‘normal’ house, but he has everything he needs. His children were so happy and it made me reflect upon my own life and question my wants and needs. Chief has the luxury of having his family around him as well as the time to spend with them that so many others do not have.


Moulay Ali Cherif Mausoleam

The Moulay Ali Cherif Mausoleam is a stunning garden oasis in the desert. This is the garden to the Mosque that holds the body of Moulay Ali Cherif, considered to be the founder of the Alaouite Dynasty of Morocco, the current Royal Family. There are not many of these gardens in the desert and this is worth a quick visit if in the area. I am not a Muslim and so I was not allowed in the Mosque; fortunately I could wander around the garden and stretch my legs for a few minutes.


Marrakech views

Before and after your desert experience, take time to explore Marrakech. Its Arabic culture is mixed with French influences, the warm climate and vibrant colours is set amid deep blue skies. Marrakech is so colourful, with different sounds and smells. Vibrant street markets encourage bartering from even the most timid individuals. Exploring the Arabic and Berber architecture, history and religions are all important parts of the fabric. The Hotel Restaurant Café de France offers an amazing viewpoint.


Riad in Marrakech

There are accommodation options to suit all budgets; a Riad in the Medina would offer the best cultural and authentic experience over a hotel. Riads are traditional Moroccan homes with an interior courtyard that offer a more personalised stay. Riads are predominantly in the Old Town whereas the hotels are in the New Town area.



Some people questioned if Morocco is a safe destination. Apart from a little aggressive selling here and there it was a very friendly experience. Speaking in Arabic, French, and English it is relatively easy to navigate. In Marrakech, the souks are in rather tight little alleyways that can get a little confusing but there are signs pointing you in the right direction. I can't wait to go back.

Lonely Planet Morocco (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Morocco*

Lonely Planet Morocco is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Lose yourself in the Fez medina, take a camel ride in the Sahara, or enjoy a cup of mint tea in the High Atlas; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Morocco and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Morocco Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - customs, history, art, literature, cinema, music, architecture, politics, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine Free, convenient pull-out Marrakesh map (included in print version), plus over 75 maps Covers Marrakesh, CasablancaTangierFezTafraoute, Taghazout,  Sidi Ifni, Anti Atlas, High Atlas, Assilah, Moulay Idriss, Figuig, Erg Chebbi and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Morocco, our most comprehensive guide to Morocco, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Africa and Mediterranean Europe guides.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Paul Clammer, James Bainbridge, Paula Hardy and Helen Ranger.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Best-selling guide to Morocco. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA, February 2013 to January 2014

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Morocco


Explore Morocco's busy city streets, historic mosques, and delicious food. Discover the different regions of Morocco, and see the beautiful culture firsthand through events, festivals, and local markets.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Morocco.

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps include street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Morocco truly shows you this country as no one else can.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.

The Rough Guide to Morocco

Rough Guides

The Rough Guide to Morocco is the ultimate travel guide to this beguiling country and includes all the details you need to explore Morocco at your own pace.

The Rough Guide to Morocco gives you the lowdown on how to get where you're going, where to stay when you get there, and the best places to eat, drink, and hang out, whether you are oasis-hopping in the desert or mountain trekking in the High Atlas. Accommodation and eating options for all budgets are included, from the chic riads of Marrakesh to the backstreets of Tangier to the fine dining of Casablanca.

Clear maps supplement the text throughout, and there is even a detailed food glossary in English, Arabic, and French. Practical information helps you explore this unique part of the world with ease and gives you the context you need to understand what makes Morocco tick.

Make the most of your time with The Rough Guide to Morocco.

Series Overview: For more than thirty years, adventurous travelers have turned to Rough Guides for up-to-date and intuitive information from expert authors. With opinionated and lively writing, honest reviews, and a strong cultural background, Rough Guides travel books bring more than 200 destinations to life. Visit RoughGuides.com to learn more.

In Morocco

Edith Wharton

In Morocco Edith Wharton is a great novel . The great American novelist Edith Wharton (1862-1937) here gives us her colorful and textured travel memoir "In Morroco" (1920). Still a deeply energized work, Wharton imbues the reader with a sense of wonder that served as the impetus for her travels into this exotic Northern African land. Edith Wharton made her name as a novelist closely associated with the prolific Henry James. Their personal and literary kinship may be seen in much of her long and short fiction. And just as Henry James' travel novels arrest and captivate, so too does "In Morocco". This account explores the culture, history, and beauty of a Morocco of yore in an intriguing combination of realist and romantic prose. Wharton weaves together anthropology with poetry, depicting the customs and manners of this place in all its splendor. Written with the eye of a documentarian, "In Morocco" is a breath-taking read full of wanderlust. In Morocco by Edith Wharton is a novel highly recommended to read.

With Open Arms: Short Stories of Misadventures in Morocco

Matthew Felix

"Sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrifying, but always entertaining."- Teresa L Holland (Amazon)"I'm a great fan of Bill Bryson's books, and Matthew Felix captured some of that charm and wit in his book...Matthew, however, added a bit of suspense that kept me awake reading into the night."- Amazon reviewerWhen Matthew had to renew his European visa, his point of exit was obvious: he was going to Morocco. Memories of his previous trip filled him with anxiety. What was he thinking? After everything that had happened, did he really want to go back? Scams. Altercations. Mishaps. But also humor and beauty. His curiosity overcoming his fears, his second trip would prove as unforgettable as the first.A best-selling collection of travel writing as entertaining for the armchair traveler as indispensable for anyone interested in adventure in North Africa.Excerpts, video, and more at: matthewfelix.com/open-arms

National Geographic Traveler: Morocco

Carole French

The relaunched National Geographic Traveler guidebooks are in tune with the growing trend toward experiential travel, providing more insider tips and expert advice for a more authentic, cultural experience of each destination. These books serve discerning, curious travelers and supply information and interpretation not available on the Internet.In response to the interests of today's traveler, the acclaimed National Geographic Traveler series includes exciting new editorial features, a contemporary redesign, and inviting new covers.

Morocco - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (Simple Guides)

Jillian York

Culture Smart! provides essential information on attitudes, beliefs and behavior in different countries, ensuring that you arrive at your destination aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues. These concise guides tell you what to expect, how to behave, and how to establish a rapport with your hosts. This inside knowledge will enable you to steer clear of embarrassing gaffes and mistakes, feel confident in unfamiliar situations, and develop trust, friendships, and successful business relationships. Culture Smart! offers illuminating insights into the culture and society of a particular country. It will help you to turn your visit-whether on business or for pleasure-into a memorable and enriching experience. Contents include * customs, values, and traditions * historical, religious, and political background * life at home * leisure, social, and cultural life * eating and drinking * do's, don'ts, and taboos * business practices * communication, spoken and unspoken

The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

Tahir Shah

In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here is the story of his family’s move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge–and nothing is as easy as it seems….Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he and his wife, Rachana, had, Tahir packed up his growing family and bought Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s caliph, or spiritual leader.With its lush grounds, cool, secluded courtyards, and relaxed pace, life at Dar Khalifa seems sure to fulfill Tahir’s fantasy–until he discovers that in many ways he is farther from home than he imagined. For in Morocco an empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. The ardent belief in their presence greatly hampers sleep and renovation plans, but that is just the beginning. From elaborate exorcism rituals involving sacrificial goats to dealing with gangster neighbors intent on stealing their property, the Shahs must cope with a new culture and all that comes with it. Endlessly enthralling, The Caliph’s House charts a year in the life of one family who takes a tremendous gamble. As we follow Tahir on his travels throughout the kingdom, from Tangier to Marrakech to the Sahara, we discover a world of fierce contrasts that any true adventurer would be thrilled to call home.From the Hardcover edition.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Increased threat of attacks and kidnappings 

In 2013, the French military assisted the Malian government in efforts to repel armed rebels. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. While the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali has been supporting the transitional authorities in stabilizing the region since July 2013, citizens of countries supporting the intervention are still at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance in the region.

Western Sahara and border regions

Western Sahara is a non-autonomous territory whose political and legal status has yet to be determined through the United Nations. Although the Government of Canada does not recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, you are subject to the laws and regulations of Morocco, which unilaterally administers the territory. Because of the remoteness of Western Sahara, the Government of Canada may be extremely limited in its ability to provide assistance in this region.

Restrict travel to officially designated tourist areas if you choose to travel to this area. Western Sahara is a former area of conflict still littered with unexploded landmines, particularly in remote regions. Seek local advice prior to travelling to the desert areas in the south and hire only official guides recommended by hotels, travel agencies or local tourist authorities. A four-wheel-drive vehicle and appropriate supplies are essential for off-road driving in the mountains or the desert.


There is a general threat of terrorism in Morocco and past attacks have targeted foreigners. On April 28, 2011, a terrorist attack at a restaurant on Jemaa el Fna Square, a popular tourist site in Marrakech, resulted in several deaths and numerous injuries. Exercise caution in public places, monitor local news reports, avoid demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.


There is a general threat of kidnapping in the border and remote regions of Morocco. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times, especially when travelling in the southern and border areas of Morocco.


Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Demonstrations take place mainly on Friday afternoons and on Sundays. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to certain forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.


Petty crimes—notably pickpocketing, purse snatchings (sometimes by motorcyclists), scams and other thefts—take place frequently in the medina, market areas, in parks and on beaches. Thefts occur around automated banking machines. Credit card fraud is also frequent. Panhandling is increasing and some panhandlers can be aggressive toward tourists. Ensure that your personal belongings are secure and do not show signs of affluence, particularly when walking at night.

Do not accept food, drink or invitations from strangers, or change your planned itinerary at their request. While Moroccans are generally very friendly and hospitable, you should always exercise common sense and travel wisely.

There have been reports of tourists being taken to certain stores and intimidated into making purchases. Stay on major roads, especially in the medinas, exercise caution and politely but firmly decline.

Exercise caution in the mountainous Rif region, on the northern coast of Morocco, since drugs are produced in this area and tourists are occasionally tricked into unknowingly committing drug offences.


Road conditions vary according to location and weather (for example, in the high mountains or during the rainy season). National roads are generally in good condition but narrow and heavily congested. Driving is generally easier on the highways.

Morocco has a very high traffic mortality rate. Despite police enforcement, traffic regulations are not respected by all drivers. Pedestrians, scooters and animals on roadways can also pose risks. Avoid driving at night.

If an accident occurs, first ensure your personal safety, but avoid moving the vehicles before the police arrive, if at all possible, even if this makes the traffic jams worse. If no one has been hurt, an accident report drawn up by the parties involved will suffice.

Carry your identification and vehicle documents at all times, as checkpoints are frequent.

Be extremely careful when driving on the Rabat–Casablanca highway, and on certain national highways because of high traffic volume. Accidents, which are numerous and often attributed to poor driving practices, have resulted in serious injuries and deaths.

The rail network is developed, reliable and safe.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Border areas

The border with Algeria is closed. Do not attempt to cross into Algeria by land.

Internet romances

Exercise caution if travelling to Morocco for romance, especially in cases of relationships initiated on the Internet. Find out beforehand about the country’s customs and laws on conjugal relations and marriage. Ensure that you hold on to your return plane ticket, your money and your passport in case problems arise.

For more information, consult our Marriage Overseas FAQ and our Overseas Fraud page.

General safety information

While swimming conditions in tourist areas are generally safe and problem-free, public beaches in major cities are often polluted and unfit for swimming. Check with your hotel for advice on conditions.

Emergency services

Dial 19 for police services and 15 for firefighter or ambulance services.


Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.


Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.


Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
  • Vaccination is not recommended.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers’ diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in North Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in North Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in North Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.



There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in North Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech have good, private medical facilities for non-emergencies. The services provided in public facilities do not compare to those in Canadian facilities. Services may be limited elsewhere.

Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal or restricted activities

Public alcohol consumption is prohibited. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict and judgment is expeditious.

Unauthorized importation of Bibles or other religious material is prohibited, except for personal use. Religious proselytizing is forbidden.

Homosexual activity is illegal.

Extramarital sexual relations are illegal. Hotels will refuse to allow couples who are unable to provide proof that they are married to stay in the same room, although foreigners are almost always exempt from having to provide proof.

Public displays of affection are frowned upon.

Possession of pornographic material is illegal.

Photographing military or security interests can result in problems with authorities.

It is illegal for visitors arriving by private boat to enter Morocco other than at a recognized port of entry.

Criticizing Moroccan institutions or the monarchy is a crime and may result in imprisonment.

Children and custody

Children of Moroccan fathers automatically acquire Moroccan citizenship at birth, regardless of where they were born. Children must have their father’s permission to travel, regardless of whether they are travelling on a foreign or Moroccan passport.

Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.

Dress and behaviour

Islamic practices and beliefs are adhered to in the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.


The local currency, the Moroccan dirham (MAD), cannot be exchanged outside of the country and it is illegal to take any out of Morocco. Unused dirhams can be reconverted to hard currency at the airport exchange counter upon departure, provided the wickets are open and you have kept the receipts for the dirhams purchased. Exchange only as much money as needed. Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are accepted in certain stores and restaurants in urban centres, and in major hotels.


The rainy season extends from November to March. Flash floods can be frequent and sometimes severe during this period. They can be especially dangerous in the High Atlas Valley area. Monitor regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

Morocco is located in an active seismic zone.