The North African country of Morocco is an eclectic blend of Middle Eastern tradition and European flair, bursting with aromatic spice markets and vibrant colours. If you’re planning a vacation, take a look at these travel tips for travelling in Morocco and check out some helpful advice to make the most of your visit.
How to get there and around
Several major airlines offer routes to Morocco from Canada, so it’s simple and cheap to fly there. Once you arrive, you can get around Moroccan cities by train. There are also bus services from several companies that travel to large cities, small cities, and more remote areas. If you want to spend time exploring the Sahara Desert, it’s more difficult to access via public transportation. In this case, it’s best to hire a car to ensure you can reach your destination and to have your own schedule.
When to go
Though the coastal regions of Morocco can be visited year-round, the best time to travel to most of Morocco is from March to May and September to October. During these spring and autumn months, the weather is warm and comfortable rather than cold and snowy or unbearably hot. If you’re going to sightsee, it’s important to consider Ramadan in your planning. During this holy month, Muslim people fast during the day and you’ll wish you knew that many businesses will be closed. That said, the nightlife is spectacular during Ramadan, so there’s plenty to do late at night.
Morocco has an eclectic mix of cultural influences and differences between regions, so the dress code expectations can vary. There are a lot of religions and cultures, and the cities are progressive. While there’s no single dress code that applies everywhere, it’s smart to pack some conservative clothing and do a little research before travelling to a rural area or smaller city, and avoid public displays of affection. If you’re not sure about what’s appropriate, you can ask a local or book a guided tour to ensure that you avoid unlawful or inappropriate behaviour or dress.
Most mosques are off-limits to non-Muslims
Morocco is home to a strong Muslim population and many mosques. During your trip, you’re likely to hear the melodic call to prayer, but bear in mind that most mosques don’t allow non-Muslims to enter. The 2 exceptions are Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, which is a beautiful traditional mosque with colourful elements on a promontory, and Ali ben Youssef in Marrakech, a 16th-century mosque with a museum and Islamic design. If you’re near other mosques, it’s best to admire the architecture from outside of the building.
You can speak English
In most countries you travel to, it’s good to learn a few phrases in the native language to help you get around. The diversity of Morocco makes this more complicated, however, since you’re likely to encounter Arabic, French, Spanish, and Berber throughout the cities and towns. Fortunately, English is spoken in most of the cities. If you want to be prepared, you can know before you go and learn a few basic phrases in Arabic, French, and Spanish, such as ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, and ‘where is the restroom?’.
Visit a bathhouse
For a truly authentic experience, be sure to visit a bathhouse on your trip. Many hotels will have hammans, but a public bathhouse is about as traditional as it gets. Bathhouses have nondescript exteriors, but they’re usually found near mosques and toiletry shops. What to know before you go is to pick up a few supplies like a bath mat, a towel, sandals, black olive oil soap, a kiis, and ghassoul. In a bathhouse, both men and women bathe in their undergarments.
Prepare to haggle
Visiting a medina or market is a highlight of the Moroccan experience. You can find everything from handicrafts to antiques and traditional goods. When you shop there, however, you’ll wish you knew how to haggle. Haggling is a strong custom and expected by vendors, with many goods going for half-off the original price. The strongest part of negotiating with vendors is committing to your price and being willing to walk away if you don’t get it. To prepare, you may want to research any high-priced items and explore specific haggling travel tips.
Plan a few days for the desert
The Sahara is huge and takes a while to access, so if you’re going to visit, be sure to allot enough time to experience it fully. You can book a tour to take some of the planning out of the process, which usually includes a camel ride and a night sleeping out under the stars. Also, the desert is hot during the day and cold at night, so it’s important to anticipate and pack layers to stay comfortable. Remember to wear lightweight clothing during the day to keep your skin covered and pack a lot of water to stay hydrated.
Spend some time in the mountains
Along with the coast and deserts, Morocco is home to gorgeous mountain landscapes. Located just outside Marrakech in the Ourika Valley, the Atlas Mountains are a sight to behold. You can plan a hiking trip to see the views and hidden waterfalls or book a hot-air balloon tour for aerial views. There are many charming villages in and near the mountains as well where you can find museums and other attractions. The Atlas Mountains are a great day trip, but you may even want to spend a few days there to explore all the villages.
Sunbathe on the coast
Morocco’s coast is a popular spot for beach trips and water sports. Comfortable all year long, the coast has quaint surf towns like Taghazout and laid-back beach towns like Little Sidi Ifni or Imsouane. In these areas, you’ll practically have the beach to yourself, since they’re still lesser-known coastal gems. For a livelier experience, you can travel to Essaouira for water sports, festivals, arts and culture, and fresh-caught seafood. Despite being a hip spot, most tourists don’t know about Essaouira, so you’ll have a chance to experience local coastal life.
Plan your vacation
From traditional bathhouses and markets to expansive deserts and towering peaks, there’s something for everyone in Morocco. Now that you have all the essential information before visiting Morocco, you’re ready to plan your excursion. Take a look at Morocco vacations on Expedia to get great deals on your next adventure.