Planning a Trip to Morocco: All You Need to Know
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Tucked between the mammoth Sahara Desert and the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean, Morocco offers a wealth of activities to enjoy, history to explore, and varying cultures to indulge in. This multicultural gateway to Africa boasts breathtaking natural beauty, from epic mountain ranges and vast arid desert-scapes to golden sandy beaches and ancient cities with regal palaces.
Morocco is also home to colorful spice markets, bustling bazaars, grand palaces, towering minarets, and buzzing sidewalk cafés. From the magical medina maze of Fez to the vibrant carnivalesque atmosphere of the Djemaa El Fna in Marrakech, you can experience Morocco’s many faces at every turn.
Best Time to Visit Morocco
The best time to visit Morocco is during spring (mid-March to May), or during fall (September to October). Summer in Morocco can be brutally hot, while winter can be frigid with plenty of snowfall. The country’s coastal regions, however, have pleasant climes throughout the year. Coastal towns like Essaouira, Mirleft, Oualidia, and Saïdia have favorable conditions even during the winter. In summer, the mercury reaches a maximum of 32°C, ideal for beach activities.
The High Atlas Mountains are also great to visit throughout the year. But remember that summer temperatures may be too hot for hikes or treks, while winter brings icy temperatures and snow, making these activities dangerous. So it is best to plan hiking and trekking tours in between these two seasons.
The other thing for travelers to keep in mind is that Morocco is a predominantly Islamic country. The country virtually shuts down during the month-long Ramadan, affecting everything from shopping to transport. The dates of this Islamic festival vary each year, so checking the festival calendar is advised while planning your trip to Morocco.
Morocco in March
Morocco in April
Morocco in May
Best Destinations in Morocco
- Sahara Camel Tour: Venture into the golden dunes of the Sahara Desert in an overnight camel safari and experience the night sky like never before. Camel tours depart from the little village of Merzouga in the east of Morocco, as well as Zagora, M’Hamid.
- Explore Casablanca: Soak up the beautiful colonial architecture that combines the French Art Deco and traditional Moroccan designs in Casablanca. Take your time to visit the awe-inspiring Hassan II Mosque, explore the Quartier Habous, and buy some local pottery or leather goods from the local bazaars.
- Visit the Medina in Fez: Home to a thriving cultural scene, Fez introduces visitors to the arts, culture, and history of the city. Its labyrinthine streets lead to iconic monuments and age-old souks like the beautifully decorated Medersa Bou Inania—a must-visit when you are in the city.
- Drive Through High Atlas Mountains: Drive your way through the nerve-wracking roads of the High Atlas Mountains. The breathtaking views along the paths of Tizi n’Test and Tizi n’Tichka are well worth the scare.
- Visit the Blue Village of Chefchaouen: Considered the most beautiful small town in Morocco, Chefchaouen is famous for its unusual blue buildings against a backdrop of rugged mountains. Walk through the narrow alleys and check out the medina and the Spanish Mosque of the iconic city.
- Immerse in the Magic of Marrakech: Marrakech is a bustling metropolis, which is home to stunning architectural marvels like Bahia Palace and El Badi Palace, as well as some of the most renowned souks, tucked away among the maze-like alleyways. Visit the bazaars around the city center replete with dazzling displays of traditional textiles, pottery, handmade jewelry, and leather goods.
How Long to Stay in Morocco
Morocco is a treasure trove of varying cultures. Experiencing the highlights and top activities in the country would require at least three weeks. During this period, you can visit the spectacular architectural monuments and old marketplaces of Casablanca and Marrakech. The coastal city of Essaouira is ideal for beach activities. Catch some waves and bask in the sun before heading to the High Atlas Mountains for an unforgettable trekking experience. You will also have time to explore other cities like Fez, Rabat, and Volubilis — home to some magnificent Roman ruins.
If you have limited time, a week can be enough for a Morocco trip. Travel from Casablanca to Marrakech to see some of the highlights of the country. In seven days, you can see the desert and the mountain landscapes of the country while also squeezing in a visit to the seaside town of Essaouira.
Two weeks in Morocco
10 days in Morocco
5 days in Morocco
1 week in Morocco
How to Get to Morocco
The easiest way to get to Morocco is to fly. Morocco’s national carrier, Royal Air Maroc, offers non-stop flights to Casablanca from New York, US, and Montreal, Canada. Airfares will depend on the season, with the most expensive being in the high season (July and August) and around Christmas and New Year’s time when many Europeans head south to warmer climes.
Other options include flying into London Heathrow from any of the major US airports and taking a train or a bus to France, Gibraltar, or Spain, and catching a ferry across to Morocco.
Getting Around Morocco
Depending on your schedule and budget, you can travel within Morocco by flying to your preferred destinations or overland on buses, trains, and cars. Public transport is the most convenient mode of getting around the country, with plenty of bus, taxi, and train services connecting Marrakech with the main towns in the north and along the coast.
If you plan on traveling between the major cities, the train is your best option. Despite a limited network of routes, trains are comfortable and fast, though they are occasionally subject to delays. Exploring Morocco by bus is a budget-friendly option but slightly slower. Nonetheless, for a cooler and quicker journey, book a night bus.
Budget and Money
Morocco is an affordable destination. On average, you can get a hotel for a couple for around 42 USD while meals could set you back 13 USD per day. Local transport is also fairly reasonable. A week in Morocco for two could cost around 614 USD.
*The prices mentioned above are of August 2022 and are subject to change.
What You Didn’t Know (But Should)
- The official language in Morocco is Moroccan Arabic (known as Darija). Most Moroccans speak excellent English, and locals are usually keen to use the language.
- Oukaïmeden tour takes you to the highest ski resort in Africa. Located about 80 kilometers from Marrakech in the Atlas Mountains, the resort rests between 8,500 feet and 10,500 feet.
- Morocco has a valley dedicated to roses. Known as the Vallée des Roses, the M’Goun Valley grows over 3,000 tons of wild roses annually, most of which are exported to French perfume companies.
- Jemaa el-Fnaa in the medina quarter of Marrakech is Africa’s busiest square. Both locals and tourists flock here to eat, shop, and enjoy entertainment provided by magicians, snake charmers, storytellers, and Chleuh dancing boys.
Morocco has a bad reputation for harassing female travelers. But it is still possible to explore the country if you keep a few of these tips in mind.
- Dress appropriately. Morocco is a highly conservative country, so it is important to cover your shoulders, upper arms, cleavage, and knees. Cover your head with a scarf inside mosques. Wearing sunglasses also tends to deflect unwanted attention.
- Men proposing to foreign women for marriage are also frequent, so you might want to wear a fake wedding ring to avoid being hounded, so to speak.
- Women tend to get a lot of attention in Morocco — if you are being pursued or harassed, then the best thing to do is report the perpetrator to the nearest authority.
- Be aware of your surroundings and stick to the areas that are well-lit or popular with families if you go out at night.
The gateway to Africa, Morocco, boasts an enchanting and exhilarating mix of culture, history, and dizzying diversity. Home to sweeping deserts, majestic mountain ranges, laid-back beach towns, bustling souks, and ancient medinas, Morocco is tailor-made for travelers wanting to have an experience of a lifetime. Just plan your trip well and follow the traveler’s tips and you should be alright.