Located on the tip of North Africa, Morocco is a country full of new surprises, smells, and colors at every turn. It’s a mix of African, Middle Eastern, and European influences all blended together which pull you in every direction possible. While some first-time visitors may experience a bit of culture shock to the country’s unique way of life, these Morocco travel tips will put you at ease and prepare you for one of the most wonderful adventures you will ever embark upon.
What to know before you go: documents, vaccines, and flights
With passport in hand, you are ready for your Morocco adventure! If your stay is intended for less than 90 days and you are a citizen of the U.S., no need to look into obtaining a visa. Just double check that your passport is not expiring soon and is valid for 6 months after your Morocco departure date. Morocco also requires at least one full blank page for your soon-to-be passport stamp additions. No specific vaccinations are required for entry, but you can always check out the CDC’s website for suggested shots.
If you are planning on flying from the East Coast of the United States, check out airport hubs in cities such as New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C., for better deals on flights. If you’re planning on flying from the West Coast, be sure to plan your trip farther in advance, as these tickets tend to be pricier the longer you wait. Be sure to include some of the less common airlines — such as TAP Air Portugal, Royal Air Maroc, and Norwegian — in your search, as they sometimes offer the cheapest flights. When you’re choosing where you’d like to land in Morocco, Marrakesh usually offers many affordable flights, and so does Casablanca. This shouldn’t be an issue since both cities should definitely make it on your list of must-sees.
Make sure to give your credit card company a call and let them know the dates you will be traveling to avoid any unnecessary fraud alerts. And, if you’re looking to avoid any international ATM fees, check out Charles Schwab, as this company reimburses those pesky charges worldwide! Either way, remember to exchange cash at the airport or stock up when you have access to an ATM, as many businesses in Morocco do not accept credit cards.
In general, it’s best to stick with loose-fitting and light clothing that at least covers your knees and shoulders. For females, shawls, flowy dresses, long jumpsuits, and maxi skirts work well in this environment and are considered respectful as Morocco is a conservative Muslim country. Add in some comfortable walking shoes for your daily adventures. If you’re heading into the desert for a camel trek, a scarf will be useful to tie around your face and protect you from the blowing sand. Don’t forget a swimsuit as Marrakesh has some of the most beautiful hotel pools in the world.
Overall, pack light or bring an extra bag with you for all of your souvenirs and goodies that you’ll be bringing home with you.
EVERYWHERE. But if that is not feasible, we’ve squeezed a bunch of awesome recommendations in here that should definitely make the top of your to-do list. Ride on the back of a camel under the blazing sun through the Sahara desert. Climb the dunes and watch the sunset turn into a starry night over your desert camp accommodation. Drive through the rolling Atlas Mountains and stare at the vast landscapes. Take in the intricate design and architecture of a beautiful Moroccan riad. Stay a relaxing night and then cool off in the courtyard pool the next day. Enjoy a rooftop view as you sip on sweet Moroccan mint tea. Observe the rich blend of cultures and visit an exquisite mosque. Support local artisans and get lost while bargaining through the maze of Marrakesh markets.
If you’re traveling around multiple cities on a budget, a bus or train will be your most affordable transportation options. However, if you have room to splurge, hiring a private driver is also an option. For price comparison, an eight-hour bus ride between Marrakesh and Fes will cost you around $40 USD one-way, and a 3 hour private car ride from Fes to Chefchaouen will cost around $115 USD per person one-way.
When purchasing your bus ticket, most seasoned travelers recommend purchasing a first-class ticket, as they are not much more expensive and are definitely more comfortable than second-class accommodations. Always hang on to your bus ticket, as it is likely the bus driver attendant will check it multiple times on your journey to make sure that everyone paid.
Although most buses and trains offer some snacks on your journey, it’s a good idea to stock up beforehand with your favorites, as the selection variety is typically not that vast.
For short journeys within a city, taxis are acceptable. Negotiate your price beforehand to avoid getting scammed with a higher fare.
Bargaining is considered a way of life in Morocco and is something you should get comfortable with before shopping around the markets. With price tags providing more of a suggestion than a concrete retail price, haggling in the streets of Morocco is an extreme sport.
A basic rule is to begin by offering half the starting price that the buyer is asking for. If you’ve gone back and forth a few times, you shouldn’t feel pressured to buy the item. Feel free to walk away if it is not a price you are satisfied with. Odds are, you can find a similar item a couple vendors away, letting you give the bargaining process another go.
This preparation is bound to go a long way in getting you ready for your Moroccan adventure. Have any questions? Leave them below. Have you been to Morocco before? Join the conversation and add your favorite personal travel tips for others!
Post written by: Kirsten Cusack, @kirqsak