“We travel to change not of place, but ideas.” - Hippolyte Taine
Morocco welcomed 11.3 million tourists in 2018, an increase of 8.5% compared to the previous year.
There’s been a large increase in tourism not just from France (which has historical ties with the country), but also from Germany and Italy.
The country’s becoming more popular, that’s for sure, but before you go on holiday in Morocco, just like any other country, there are a few things you should know whether you’re going as a family, a couple, or on your own.
Here are our ten tips for visiting Morocco.
For a getaway in Ouarzazate, Meknes, or Merzouga, you’ll need a passport that’s valid for at least 3 months from your arrival in Morocco.
You don’t need to apply for a visa but you will need to get your passport stamped on arrival.
If you want to rent a car, your driving license will be fine.
In terms of health, you won’t need any obligatory vaccinations. Just make sure you’re up-to-date with your usual vaccinations (polio, in particular). For long stays in rural areas, you might need to check your vaccines for Hepatitis A and typhoid fever.
Check out our guide to visiting Morocco.
Learn Some Arabic Before Going to Morocco
While French is Morocco’s second language, Arabic is the first language. Some speak English and French in the bigger cities, but you probably want to learn some Arabic before you go as it’ll go a long way with the locals. You’ll be less likely to get ripped off in the souks if you speak a bit of the language. At least learn to say “hello”: “As-salamu alaykum”, which means “Peace be upon you”. You can answer “ wa ʿalaykumu s-salām”, which means “Peace be upon you, too.”
You should also learn how to count in Arabic, even though you can use your fingers for this.
Respect the Local Customs
The Kingdom of Morocco is a Muslim country and whether you go to Tetuan, Chefchaouen, or the Sahara desert, whether you’re a man or a woman, you need to respect the customs.
Opt for modest clothing. Even though cities like Fez and Marrakech are used to Western fashion and tourists, it’s better to not draw too much attention to yourself.
Women should opt for longer dresses, unrevealing blouses, and sarouels. Avoid showing your shoulders or knees. Opt for a headscarf when entering into mosques. These are also useful against the sun and sand of the Moroccan desert.
Men should also have shorts that cover the knees and shirts that cover your shoulders.
Need Arabic lessons London?
Friday is a Day of Prayer in Morocco
Friday is the day of public worship in Mosques for those of the Muslim faith and shops tend to be closed or open at different times. Generally, Moroccans will be found sharing couscous.
We don’t recommend visiting Morocco during Ramadan as life tends to slow down completely. Also, the opening times of public places change such as the souks, museums, shops, etc. while most restaurants and hotels in Morocco keep to the same schedule.
If you’ve decided to visit Morocco during this time, people won’t be shocked if you’re having lunch. However, out of respect, you might want to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public places. While the daytime goes at a slower pace, the evenings during Ramadan are when the fast is broken and there’s an interesting atmosphere. At the end of Ramadan, there’s Eid al-Fitr, three days of festivities for Muslims.
Find out the best time to visit Morocco.
Learn to Barter Before Going to Morocco
Visiting Morocco is an opportunity to barter and negotiate. While Moroccans are famous for being warm and welcoming, they’ll be even more so in the souk. Don’t be naive. They’ve one thing in mind: get you to buy something like argan oil, a tagine, or a pair of babouche.
Before you buy, ask if the price is in Euros or Dirhams. There’s a big difference, after all. Don’t hesitate to divide the price by three or four, but always in a friendly way. If you show that you’re not going to be taken advantage of, the seller will respect you more. A trip around a souk is quite the adventure.
Make sure you agree on a price for taxis before you get in. You’ll pay around 50Dh for a trip across town in a taxi. Bigger taxis can be recognised by their colour. These taxis can go out of town and you can expect to pay around 100Dh for a trip. Opt for official taxis that have meters. Thus, you won’t be surprised at the end of your trip and you can always take their number if your driver isn’t being honest.
Find out more about the cost of visiting Morocco.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll get ill anywhere in Morocco, it’s more likely to happen in the south of the country. Here are a few things you should know to ensure that you don’t get sick:
- Don’t drink tap water and instead opt for mint tea. The water’s been boiled, killing the bacteria. You can get bottled water in the bigger cities but during a trek in the desert, you’ll need to buy something like Micropur to purify the water.
- Avoid minced meat and opt for your meat to be well done. Moroccan food tends to involve a lot of well-done meat and food that’s been simmered for a long time.
- Don’t eat the skin of fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t get ice in your drink and avoid fruit juices that may be watered down.
- Regularly wash your hands. To eat like the Moroccans, eat with your right hand and wash them before you do. You might want to get some hand sanitiser before you go.
- Don’t touch the wildlife as they can carry diseases.
Avoid Driving in Morocco
Opt for camel rides! Driving can be chaotic for those not used to driving in Morocco and it can be tricky enough just crossing the road. There are tractors, donkeys, goats, and carts.
It’s tricky enough during the day, at night it’s even worse.
Don’t Take Photos without Permission
In Morocco, especially in the countryside, taking photos without prior permission can land you in hot water. There’s the belief that photography can take part of the soul. Ask before you take any photos to avoid conflict. You don’t want to be getting into trouble on your trip!
Tips Are Expected
Tipping is almost essential in many African countries. It’s expected for almost every service:
- For a guide for the entire day, you’ll want to give around 100Dh per person.
- A driver for the day, around 50Dh per person.
- In a restaurant, add 10 to 15% to the bill.
- For bellhops, between 10 and 20Dh should be enough.
Make sure you’ve always got cash on you. There are cashpoints all over the bigger cities but they’re harder to find in the south of the country.
Avoid Certain Topics of Conversation
We don’t share the same culture as Morocco. Certain things that we think are normal to talk about that aren’t acceptable topics of conversation. It doesn't matter whether you're in Marrakesh, Tangier, Casablanca, Rabat, or the High Atlas Mountains, you need to respect the cultures of the country you're in. Don’t discuss the king, religion, women in society, or even Spain’s presence in the region. You should go to Morocco with an open mind or at least keep certain thoughts to yourself.
Isn’t that what travelling’s about, after all?
Before going to Morocco, you should consider learning some Arabic. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of talented Arabic tutors on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorials available: one-on-one tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Each type of tutorials has its pros and cons so choose the right type and right tutor for you.
One-on-one tutorials are a bespoke service offered to you by your tutor. During the lessons, you'll have their undivided attention, making these the most cost-effective tutorials available. However, they also tend to be the most costly per hour as you're paying for personalised tuition and all the tutor's time both inside and outside of your classes.
As long as you've got a webcam, mic, and decent internet connection, you can enjoy online tutorials. This is when your tutor teaches you remotely via a video call. Since the tutor has fewer overheads, this type of tutorial tends to be cheaper than one-on-one tutorials.
Finally, online tutorials are when the tutor teaches a group of students. These may be students who already know one another or strangers. Either way, with several students footing the bill, these tutorials tend to be the cheapest option per student per hour of tuition.