Morocco Travel Guide
Morocco Travel Guide
Morocco is pure exoticism, the chaos that falls in love from the first moment you set foot on African soil. It is noise and commotion, hustle and bustle in the souks, comings, and goings of carriages, pack donkeys, motorcycles, and pedestrians on the same street.
In Morocco all 5 senses are awakened, where you can see a city as if you had entered a time machine, smell the mint with which they prepare the delicious tea, hear the muezzin’s call to prayer shouting ‘Allah Akbar’, interspersed with the music played by snake charmers and the background noise of hundreds of people haggling in the souk (“Dude, cheaper than Ryanair!”), touching leather, carpets, slippers, or any exotic object that will leave you captivated in the souk and savor its gastronomy to lick your fingers, with typical dishes such as tajín, couscous, pastilla, humus, or falafel. They say that it is a country that “you love it or you hate it”.
In order to enjoy Morocco, I recommend above all putting stereotypes aside, going with an open mind willing to find a very different and disorganized world, and following my advice to travel to Morocco. I am sure that you will return with the tremendous satisfaction of having visited the country of spices.
Travel to Morocco by plane
There are many direct flight options from different cities in Spain. The plane ride is short, so you will have time to take a short nap and when you open your eyes you will already be immersed in Moroccan exoticism.
Here are the direct routes from Spain:
From Madrid: Tangier, Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat and Fes
From Barcelona: Tangier, Marrakech, Fes, Casablanca and Nador
From Seville: Fes and Marrakech
From Girona: Rabat
From Valencia: Casablanca and Marrakech
From Santander: Marrakech
From Bilbao: Casablanca
From Gran Canaria: Casablanca, Agadir and Dakhla
From Tenerife: Casablanca and Agadir
From Malaga: Casablanca and Tangier
From Palma: Nador and Tangier
You also have flights available but with a stopover from Spain to other Moroccan cities such as Oujda, Essaouira, Tetouan, or Ouarzazate, among others.
If you are going to travel on your own and you have a lot of free days, you should take a flight to one city and return from a different one and thus you will save a lot of time traveling. If, on the other hand, you plan to make a short getaway, I recommend that you take a return flight from the same city and from there you travel to other points of interest by rental car or hire an excursion.
Travel to Morocco by Ferry
Another option is to cross the Strait of Gibraltar with the following ferry routes from Spain to Morocco. If you are considering this possibility, it may be because you have 2 or 3 weeks to visit the country or because you are only going to visit the north of Morocco. If not, you are going to go with tight weather and having cheap flights, it is not worth going by boat.
Algeciras to Tangier
Almeria to Nador
Barcelona to Tangier
Barcelona to Nador
Motril to Tangier
Motril to Al Hoceima
Motril to Nador
Tarifa to Tangier
Do I need a visa to Travel to Morocco?
If you are a Spanish citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Morocco, but a valid passport for a minimum of 3 months is necessary. The maximum legal stay allowed for tourists is three months a year. If you want to prolong it, you must contact the corresponding police services. You can find more information in the Recommendations for Travel to the Kingdom of Morocco of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
I also leave you a list of the countries whose citizens do not need a visa to travel to Morocco: Germany, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Korea, Ivory Coast, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, United Arab Emirates, United States, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Guinea (Conakry), Hungary, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Monaco, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Oman, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Czech Republic, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela.
What currency is there in Morocco?
The Moroccan currency is the dirham. The exchange rate in November 2017 was 1 EUR = 11.05 Moroccan dirhams (MAD). To check the current exchange rate, I usually use this currency conversion page.
What outlets are used?
In Morocco, no adapter is needed. The plugs have two round pins and the voltage is 220 volts, as in most European countries. Of course, I always travel with a universal adapter just in case.
What climate is there in Morocco?
Whenever we think of Africa, a scorching sun comes to mind, right? But the truth is that in Africa, and specifically in Morocco, there are different geographical areas and the climate varies from one area to another. In general, the best time to travel to Morocco is in spring or autumn, with average temperatures of 24 degrees, except for the area of the Atlas Mountains or the Sahara desert, where you can find extreme temperatures. In the coastal area, there is a moderate climate all year round, with temperatures around 12-24 degrees. If you are going to visit the inland cities, you will find more thermal oscillations between night and day, with temperatures that vary from 15 to 40 degrees.
Winter: from December to February. Average minimum temperature of 7 degrees and the maximum of 18 degrees.
Spring: from March to May. Average minimum temperature of 12 degrees and the maximum of 24 degrees.
Summer: from June to August. Average minimum temperature of 19 degrees and the maximum of 34 degrees. At this time the heat can become quite stifling for sightseeing.
Autumn: from September to November. Average minimum temperature of 15 degrees and the maximum of 27 degrees.
How many days do I need to Travel to Morocco?
4 Days itinerary in Morocco
Marrakech: First of all, I share with you my complete article on what to see in Marrakech. You cannot miss the Jemaa el Fna square by day and by night, get lost in its souks, see the Medersa Ben Youssef, the Badii Palace, the Menara gardens, the Majorelle gardens, the Jewish quarter (Mellah), the Koutoubia mosque or leave the walls of the medina to see Gueliz, the modern part of the city.
To make it easier for you to organize your visit to Marrakech, here are our travel guides for 2 days desert tour from Marraklech, 3 days desert tour from Marrakech, 4 days desert tour from Marrakech, 5 days desert tour from Marrakech.
For the 4th day, you can choose one of the following day trips from Marrakech. If you want more ideas, take a look at my article on the best day trips from Marrakech,
Essaouira: the pearl of the Atlantic, 170 km from Marrakech. In this article, I tell you how to get from Marrakech to Essaouira and our favorite places in Essaouira, including its medina, its fishing port full of blue boats, the fish market, and the beaches. It is a good place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and eat fish at a good price (I recommend the sardines!). Here you can book the excursion to Essaouira.
Ouzoud Waterfalls: the largest waterfall in North Africa, with a drop of 110 meters, located 150 km from Marrakech. You will be able to see different Berber villages along the way by car and relax once you reach the waterfalls enjoying the scenery, eating in one of the beach bars, or even bathing in the river (the locals do it). Book here the excursion to the Ouzoud waterfalls.
Ouarzazate: If hearing the word kasbah makes you salivate, then speak no more. Before arriving in Ouarzazate you will be able to see the most famous fortified city in the country, Ait Ben Haddou, known for having been the set where scenes from movies such as Gladiator, The Mummy, or Lawrence of Arabia were shot. Once in Ouarzazate, you can visit the Taourirt kasbah, tour the city or go to the cinema museum to discover why Ouarzazate is known as the “Hollywood of Africa”. The drawback is that it will take about 4 hours to get there. If traveling on the road becomes heavy, you may come back with the feeling of having been in the car too long. Book here the tour to Ouarzazate.
Ourika Valley: it is the closest excursion to Marrakech, only 40 km away. On the way, you will be able to see some traditional markets, such as Asni or Aghbalou before reaching the Anti Atlas, where you can visit the Setti Fatma waterfalls, although much smaller than those of Ouzoud. Book here the tour to the Ourika Valley.
Morocco 1-week itinerary
Here you have 2 options. If you don’t feel like going to the desert, you can extend the 4-day itinerary with the rest of the excursions that I mentioned in the previous section. Thus, you would spend 3 days in Marrakech and another 4 days visiting the surroundings with the 4-day trips that I recommend.
On the contrary, if you feel like going to the desert, be careful because both the excursion to the Merzouga desert and the Zagora desert include a visit to Ouarzazate and the kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, so if you are thinking of going to the desert, make sure you don’t do the excursion to Ouarzazate in the 4 days itinerary or you will see it twice!
Here I will tell you about the best tours to the desert from Marrakech, but I will tell you about some of the most popular ones,
Merzouga Desert: 3 days excursion. On the way to Merzouga, in addition to seeing Ouarzazate, you will see the Dades Gorges, the Todra Gorges, the Jorf and Erfoud Palm Groves, Berber villages and wake up to enjoy the sunrise in the desert (with a trip on camel back included).
Zagora Desert: 2 days excursion. In addition to Ouarzazate, you will see several Berber villages, the Draâ Valley, you will cross the High Atlas and spend the night in a Berber tent. On this excursion, you will also ride a camel and get a sunrise in the desert.
2 Weeks itinerary in Morocco
Add to the 1-week itinerary:
Fes: visit the blue gate Bab Bou Jeloud that leads to the medina, the mausoleum of Mulay Idrís, the medieval university of Al-Qarawiyyin, the medersa Bou Inania and Al-Attarine, the Nejjarine Museum of Art and Wood Crafts and, of course, visit the largest tannery in Africa, an image that you will surely want to see with your own eyes.
Chefchaouen: (also known as Chauen ): its beautiful blue houses in the medina, Uta el-Hammam square, the Great Mosque, the Kasbah, and the Ras El-Maa waterfall. A city that does not disappoint.
Asilah: its medina, the promenade, its beaches, Zellaka Square, the Wall Square and al-Kasaba, the bazaars, or the Asilah Mosque. A getaway to the coast to relax and not think about anything, just how happy you are when you’re away!
How much does a Trip to Morocco cost?
Sleeping in a hostel in a shared room costs from 45 to 65 MAD (€4-6) per night and is slightly more expensive if the location is very good. Accommodation in hostels in a private room costs between 200 and 250 MAD (€17-22) and sleeping in a cheap riad can cost around 180-200 MAD (€16-18) including the municipal tax of €2.5 per person and night (here I will tell you which are the best luxury hotels in Marrakech with a pool and/or spa).
Food in Morocco
Eating in Morocco is very cheap and even more so if you eat at street stalls. A mint tea can cost between 15 and 25 MAD (1.3-2.2€).
If you want to try authentic local food like tajine, couscous, or pastilla, expect to pay MAD 45-60 (€4-5.5), a plate of falafel can cost you MAD 40 (€3.5), and panini or Shawarma wrap around 25 MAD (€2.2) and hummus around 25-30 MAD (€2.2-2.7). Western restaurants are expensive, around 150 MAD (€13) per plate.
Fish in coastal cities like Essaouira can cost you around 100-150 MAD (9-13€), although there are much cheaper restaurants with set menus (60 MAD – 5.5€). A bottle of water can cost you 7 MAD (€0.6) in a store or supermarket and up to 20 MAD (€1.8) in restaurants.
Transportation in Morocco
Undoubtedly the best way to get around Morocco is by train. It is cheap, comfortable, usually takes less time than buses and there are also connections between the main cities. For example, a train ticket from Marrakech to Fez costs 206 MAD (€18) for the second class and 311 MAD (€28). You can do your searches on the official ONCF train page (it’s in French).
Buses usually cost MAD 6-8 (€0.5-0.7), but I don’t recommend them because even if it’s a fixed price and you won’t have to haggle, it’s likely that you’ll arrive at your destination much later than expected.
The third option is the taxi, where you always have to close the price before getting on. I have had some bad experiences taking taxis on the street, so if you want to play it safe, you can book your transfers in Morocco here.
Excursions from Marrakech
The prices of the excursions vary a lot depending on the area, being more expensive in Fes and Marrakech. Here are some of the best-selling excursions, all of them from Marrakech:
Private tours from Marrakech (you choose between several itineraries).
Things I would do again in Morocco
Sleep in a riad: Dawn in an oasis of peace, listening to the water running in the patio fountain, enjoying a delicious breakfast with the prayers of ‘Allah Akhbar’ in the background. Yes, that wonderful and exotic feeling. You can search for your riad here.
Hallucinate with the Jemaa el Fna square: See her during the day, see her at night, see her again during the day, see her again at night…
Eat at local restaurants: What a delight the tajine, the couscous, the pastilla, the humus… And also much cheaper than if you go to western restaurants, so for more reasons.
Being fascinated that certain trades endure: The dyers, the tanners, the carpenters who even use their feet to work the wood. Trades continue to be carried out as before, without the help of machines.
Break with stereotypes: Not all the women wear veils, not all the souk vendors are pushy, and not all Moroccans try to rip you off. In any developing country they will charge you more than a local, but what would you do in their place? After all, we are buying the product for a much lower price than in our country and they are trying to sell it at the price they know (because they know) that we are going to accept. win-win
Things I would not do in Morocco
I don’t take a map with me in the souks: There are people who are born with good orientation and others who have to fight not to get lost even in our own city. But Morocco requires a very ‘pro’ level and even the most seasoned map reader will get lost in the Moroccan souks. It is very important that you download the map from Google Maps so that you can consult it without the need for an internet connection. Who Forewarned is forearmed!
Going dressed as a westerner in a Muslim country: It is worth it that if you visit Morocco in summer, at 38 degrees in the shade and with infernal heat, the first thing you will think of is to pack some good shorts, miniskirts, or tank tops. I saw tourists who dressed like that (and it was November), but you better not tempt your luck or you will go through some unnecessary trouble.
Take photos of Muslims when they pray: It is a moment of worship, an intimate moment and therefore they want to be calm. During my stay in Marrakech, I was near a mosque that did not fit all the Muslims inside. Those who were praying outside got upset because a tourist was taking photos of them.
Giving money or taking photos with snake charmers or monkey exhibitors in Marrakech. Animals have to be free, let’s not encourage similar actions in the 21st century.