The Ultimate Guide for Planning a Trip to Morocco (2020)
Morocco is located in Northern Africa. Moroccan culture is a blend of African, European, and Arab influences. The vibe of Morocco is gritty and eclectic. During a trip to Morocco, you’ll see sprawling markets that sell handmade items—such as Moroccan tile, Moroccan furniture, and Moroccan rugs.
A trip to Morocco will send the visitor into sensory overload. The streets are full of many different scents. The scents include rich Moroccan spices and Moroccan oils. Visitors might also smell homemade Moroccan food while walking around; such as Moroccan bread that’s baking on the side of the street by a local vendor.
Morocco is not only full of markets that sell spices, oils, and handmade goods. There’s a ton more to see and do in this country—including an overnight trek on camelback through the Sahara Desert, a hike up a Moroccan waterfall or a Moroccan surf trip at the beach.
It’s very important to research a lot while planning a trip to Morocco. It can be a challenging place to navigate, but it’s a great destination for travelers that want to experience the authentic Moroccan culture. This travel guide gives Morocco Travel Tips including: what to do, see, pack and budget.
It’s beneficial to understand that a part of the culture in Morocco is to make money off of tourists as a business. The more you respect them and know how to play their game, the better off you’ll be. Here’s a list of the local scams that I’m aware of & how to navigate them during your trip.
The primary languages of Morocco are Arabic & Berber. You also may hear the secondary languages: French, English & Spanish at times.
Here are some common Arabic/Moroccan phrases that would be helpful to learn while planning your trip to Morocco.
- Hello (Peace Be With You):
- When addressing a stranger: Salam Alikome (salaam a eleikum) (formal) or Salam (salaam) (informal)
- When responding to someone’s hello: wa-alaikum salam (wa’iilaykum salim)
- Goodbye: Salam (salaam)
- Thank You: Choukran (shukraan)
- No Thank You: La Choukran (la shukrun)
- Where’s the toilet?: Ayn Alhamam (ayeen mal hamma)
When to Visit Morocco
The best time to visit Morocco is during Spring (mid-March to May) or Autumn (September to October). The weather is warm & dry around this time (ranging 64-82 °F) in the coastal cities. There are also historically less tourists in the country during these months
Morocco can be extremely hot during the Summer months (June, July, August) (ranging 80 – 100 °F) in the coastal cities, so it is suggested to avoid a trip there during this time – unless of course, you like the heat. This is also a time that attracts many visitors as its when many regions are on Summer break.
December to February is mildly temperate during the day but can get very cold at night (with temperatures dropping as low as 27 degrees Fahrenheit). There’s also more precipitation in the country during this time.
How to Dress in Morocco
It’s best to dress conservatively in Morocco; especially for women travelers. It’s not a must to follow this rule but it’s suggested if want to fit in with the culture and feel comfortable while there.
A rule of thumb is to ensure that your shoulders should always be covered and that all of your bottoms fall below your knee. Men are also expected to dress conservatively but have a little bit more leeway than women with this.
Currency & Payment in Morocco
The Morocco currency is the Dirham.
Carry sufficient cash around with you; most local shops, tour guides, cabs, etc. only take cash. Established stores will usually take credit.
ATM’s are available but do run out of cash at times. Most accommodations can give you a cash advance or money exchange if needed.
Have small bills available. Some local shop owners, taxis & guides will not give you change.
Don't Forget to Haggle!
Haggling is a part of Moroccan culture. Vendors price their items about 25-50% more than what they expect to sell them for. Don’t be afraid to haggle; Moroccan vendors will appreciate it and will likely cut you a deal.
Ask Before Taking a Picture
It’s disrespectful to take a photo of a local or their store/things without asking first. 80% of the time the locals will likely tell you that it’s ok to take their photo but they’ll probably ask for 1-2Durham in return.
Always Say Yes to Moroccan Tea
It’s rude to say no to a Moroccan when they offer you Moroccan tea. You will likely find yourself drinking a lot of Moroccan tea during your trip but don’t worry, it’s delicious!
Tipping in Morocco
Tipping at Moroccan restaurants is expected. 1DH at a local place and 3-4DH in nicer restaurants is the standard. Cab drivers and local guides will often expect a small tip too.
Here’s a list of what to pack for a trip to Morocco. This list only details items that you might not think of on your own and does not include any standard items that you’d want to bring (such as clothes, money, identification, camera, shoes etc).
→ Scarf or sarong (carry this to cover your shoulders or head when entering a mosque)
→ Long breathable pants & skirts (Morocco can be HOT, so I recommend a light material)
→ Shirts with sleeves (they can be short-sleeved but must cover your shoulder)
→ Good walking shoes (you’ll walk a lot in Morocco; often more than planned)
Morocco uses the same power adaptors as what is used in Europe. So if you have one that works in Europe, it will work here too: Voltage: 220 V, Frequency: 50 Hz, Power sockets: type C / E.
Morocco is a country that serves up a lot of authentic experiences. Here’s a short list of some of the best things to do in Morocco but is by no means complete—there’s much more to do beyond this!
Shop in the Medinas: The Medinas are markets in each city. They’re full of incredible local shops that sell things such as: handcrafted figurines, Moroccan oils, spices, jewelry & carpets.
Stay in a Traditional Riad: Experience authentic Morocco by staying in a Riad—an interior garden or courtyard associated with house and palace architecture.
Visit a Tannery: Morocco is known for its leather production; see it in action at a local tannery. The most famous tanneries are located in Fez but they can be found in most major cities.
Enjoy a traditional Moroccan Hammam: Enjoy the steam room + massage if you’d like.
Have dinner at the Djemaa el Fna: Chill out with some street food in the local center of Marrakech which is also a UNESCO site. While you eat; you can take in the cultural sites.
Experience the Blue City: Stroll through the streets of Chefchaouen. Located in the Northwest of Morocco; you’ll be astonished by the shades of blue everywhere.
Take an Overnight trek through the Sahara Desert: ride camels into the desert and camp there overnight.
Go on a camel ride: If you can’t do the overnight trek in the Sahara—then have no fear—there are many opportunities to ride camels and take pictures with them throughout Morocco. You can find these outside of the city or on the coastal beaches.
Trek the Atlas Mountains: Experience the mountains & fascinating landscapes.
Visit a Mosque: The mosques in Morocco are built with an incredible eye for design & tilework. Do be sure that the Mosque you plan to visit is open as not all accept visitors.
Here are a few fast facts about Morocco to give you a base knowledge before your trip to Morocco:
- The official name of Morocco is the Kingdom of Morocco.
- There are approximately 36 million people living in Morocco.
- Morocco is about the same size as the state of California.
- The capital city of Morocco is Rabat.
- The largest city in Morocco is Casablanca.
- Toubkal is the tallest mountain of Morocco and the highest peak in North Africa.
- The most popular beverage in Morocco is tea with mint & sugar.
- The most well known food in Morocco is couscous; which is typically eaten on the Islamic Holy Day. Other popular dishes include: tajine, pastilla, and harira. Chicken is the most popular meat.
- The most popular sport in Morocco is Football (soccer).
- Morocco is the largest producer and exporter of sardines in the world
Here are some budget suggestions that will hopefully be helpful for you to plan your trip to Morocco. I break this down by budget travel, mid-range & high-end. Costs will vary pending time of year, etc. but this is a fairly good estimate of what you should expect.
With COVID-19 and the change that the travel landscape has recently seen, I decided to make some virtual resources available for those who want to satisfy their wanderlust and explore Morocco virtually from home. If you have a trip to Morocco planned; then these can serve as great tools for getting amped for your trip!
Note: the links on this curated list will navigate you off of this page & take you to an external website.
- Take a Virtual Tour of the Sahara, a Moroccan Riad, a Medina & much more at: Youvisit.com
- Experience the landscapes of Morocco in 8K with this virtual video on Jacob & Katie Schwarz YouTube Channel
- Follow this Youtube Tutorial and learn how to make your own Moroccan Cuisine at home!
- Bring Moroccan Locals into your home, virtually with this AirBNB Experiences Course.
Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco and extremely unique. The city is famous for its Medina which is a large market that is enclosed by walls that span approximately 12 miles. The market is like no other—with thousands of dizzying sights & smells that come from hundreds of vendors. While in Marrakech, I recommend that visitors stay in a Riad (local accommodation) within the Medina. While in the Medina, you can find excellent local food in restaurants, street vendors or in the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa.
Here are some things that I recommend doing in Marrakech:
Things to do in Marrakech
→ Go shopping in the souks
→ Have a local meal at Jemaa el-Fnaa
→ Visita Hammam for a Moroccan steam
→ Learn to navigate with your sense of smell (maps won’t help here!)
→ Visit a carpet shop and practice haggling like a pro
→ Pass by the Menara Gardens for beautiful sights & great photo pops
→ Check out the palaces, mosques & awesome architecture in the city
→ Head to the New City for dinner & a belly dancing show
→ Go to Maison de la Photographie for tea, photography & good views
Food & Restaurants
→ Avocado Smoothie: Try this. Trust me.
→ Mint Tea: A Moroccan staple.
→ Moroccan Tagine: Local dish. So good.
→ Dar Cherifa Restaurant: Delicious local restaurant in Marrakech. Try their orange cake.
→ Souk Kafé Restaurant: Delicious local food!
Riad Meriem: We stayed here and felt like royalty. It’s a lovely riad; a super serene oasis in the middle of the hustle & bustle of Marrakech. The staff was incredible and treated us like we had been their lifelong friends.
Click here to view Riad Meriem’s website.
Essaouira is a cool beach town off the coast of Morocco—located about 3 hours driving from Old City Marrakech. This city has adorable villages, nice people and awesome beaches where you can take in the sea view while watching camels & horses casually roam around. I recommend a visit to this city as a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the other major cities that you’ll likely go to while on your trip.
Here are some things that I recommend doing in Essaouira:
→ Sit on the beach and take in the views
→ Participate in water sports such as windsurfing, kayaking & kitesurfing
→ Go on a horse or camel ride down the coast
→ Check out historical ruins such as The Ramparts
→ Spend an evening at II Mare Bar Restaurant for music, food & drinks
→ Visit a Moroccan Argan Oil Cooperative and see first hand how Moroccan Argan oil is made
→ Pay a trip to the Sidi Mohamad Ben Abdellah Museum
→ Stroll through the fishing market & port to watch the locals in action
→ Check out the Essaoira souks! They are very charming here and more tranquil than in Marrakech