Morocco Travel Guide – transportation, hotels, safety tips + itineraries for 7, 12 and 14 days

  • 08.04.2024 23:00
  • Bruno Arcos

A complete Morocco travel guide with all the information you need regarding hotels, restaurants, transportation and the best travel tips for those visiting the country. We’ve also included three different itineraries with everything you should see and do in Morocco in 7, 12 or 14 days.

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Considered the most popular destination in all of the Maghreb, the North African region spanning the Atlas Mountains and the Mediterranean coastline, Morocco has experienced remarkable growth over the past decade when it comes to tourist arrivals. Home to an outstanding collection of imperial cities that preserve the heritage of different Islamic ruling dynasties – including the Saadians, the Almohads and the Almoravids – Morocco offers a healthy blend of culture and nature, with beaches, mountains and the desert all easily accessible within short distances.

So, if you’re planning a trip to this stunning destination, our ultimate Morocco travel guide is here to help. In addition to practical information about hotels, restaurants, transportation and safety tips, we’ve also put together three comprehensive itineraries, including all the places you must see and visit in Morocco in 7, 12 or 14 days.

Morocco Travel Guide

Ryanair

How to get to Morocco – Flights from the UK

Since Morocco is a rather popular tourist destination, it comes as no surprise that the country is served by several different international air hubs with direct connections to our country, such as: the Marrakesh-Menara Airport, the Mohammed V International Airport (Casablanca), the Agadir–Al Massira Airport, the Tangier Ibn Battouta Airport and the Fès–Saïs Airport.

As such, if you’re traveling from the UK, it is possible to fly directly to Morocco from the following airports:

  • London-Heathrow: Marrakesh (British Airways) and Casablanca (Royal Air Maroc)
  • London-Gatwick: Marrakesh (British Airways, Easyjet, TUI and Wizz Air), Casablanca (Royal Air Maroc), Tangier (Air Arabia and Royal Air Maroc) and Agadir (British Airways, Wizz Air, TUI and Easyjet)
  • London-Stansted: Marrakesh (Ryanair and Jet2), Tangier (Ryanair), Fes (Ryanair) and Agadir (Jet2 and Ryanair)
  • London-Luton: Marrakesh (Easyjet) and Agadir (Easyjet)
  • Manchester: Marrakesh (Easyjet, Ryanair, TUI and Jet2), Casablanca (Royal Air Maroc), Tangier (Ryanair) and Agadir (Easyjet, TUI, Ryanair and Jet2)
  • Bristol: Marrakesh (Easyjet, Ryanair and TUI) and Agadir (Jet2)
  • Birmingham: Marrakesh (Jet2, Ryanair and TUI) and Agadir (Jet2, Ryanair and TUI)
  • Leeds/Bradford: Marrakesh (Ryanair) and Agadir (Jet2)
  • Edinburgh: Marrakesh (Ryanair) and Agadir (Ryanair)
  • Glasgow: Marrakesh (Jet2) and Agadir (Easyjet and Jet2)
  • Bournemouth: Agadir (Ryanair)

How many days do I need to visit Morocco?

Actually, if you’d like to explore the very best that Morocco has to offer, including a visit to the Sahara Desert, it would be wise to spend at least 2 weeks in the country.

However, for those with limited time and/or budget, a full week would be the bare minimum to experience the essentials in Marrakesh and Fes (with couple day trips added to the mix), while 10-12 days would be enough to see the desert and the most important imperial cities. Nonetheless, we highly recommend extending your stay for as long as possible.

Morocco Travel Guide – Best time to visit the country

While the temperatures may be quite different depending on how close you are to the coast, the Atlas Mountains or the desert, it is quite common for thermometers to reach close to 40°C all over the country during the Summer. Therefore, the best time to visit Morocco is during shoulder-season, especially in the months of April-May or September-October, when the scorching heat is not as intense. As for the chances of rain, they’re not really an issue regardless of the time of year.

On the other hand, the winter months are slightly more humid and colder, though the weather will still be more pleasant than what you might be used to in mainland Europe.

Morocco Travel Guide – Documents needed for your trip

In order to enter Morocco, British and Irish travelers need to show their passport. The document should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the country.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that passport holders from the UK/Ireland can stay in Morocco without a visa for up to 90 days.

Morocco Travel Guide – Internet and SIM Cards

Since there is no special agreement in place between the UK and Morocco regarding international communications and roaming fees, using your regular phone plan is a big no-no!

Therefore, our recommendation is that you either get an Esim before leaving the homeland or buy a physical SIM card in your destination (you can do so as soon as you land at the airport). In Morocco, there are 3 big companies that pretty much run the mobile data market: INWI, Orange and Maroc Telecom. While the clerks will probably try to sell you a pre-paid data plan, you can simply buy a standard SIM card and then top it up as you see fit. Every recharge will give you access to a specific amount of data, which will turn out cheaper than buying a whole plan. You can top up your SIM card at official shops, groceries stores and kiosks, or you may simply use the official network app (regardless of which one you choose). However, keep in mind the process is a bit more convoluted than simply getting a pre-paid plan, since you’ll have to write down a specific code for each data bundle you wish to buy with your recharge. Still, any store clerk can easily help you out with that!

Morocco travel guide – INWI SIM Card

  • SIM Card price: 50 Dh
  • Top ups:
    • 5 GB: 50 Dh (30 days)
    • 10 GB: 100 Dh (30 days)
    • 20 GB: 200 Dh (30 days)

Morocco travel guide – Orange SIM Card

  • SIM Card price: 30 Dh
  • Top ups:
    • 6 GB: 30 Dh (14 days)
    • 10 GB: 50 Dh (30 days)
    • 20 GB: 100 Dh (30 days)

Morocco travel guide – Maroc Telecom SIM Card

  • SIM Card price: 30 Dh
  • Top ups:
    • 5 GB: 50 Dh (30 days)
    • 10 GB: 100 Dh (30 days)
    • 20 GB: 200 Dh (30 days)

Morocco Travel Guide – Withdrawals, banking fees and travel budget

With the Moroccan Dirham (MAD – Dh) as the country’s official currency, any withdrawal using a UK bank card might incur in the payment of several different fees. Besides the percentual fee referring to the currency conversion, some UK banks may also charge a flat commission for withdrawals made outside the UK. In some instances, you may well end up paying 5%-6% of your original withdrawal in banking fees.

On the other hand, exchanging money before your trip is not a viable solution either. Besides not being any cheaper, it’s also not safe or wise to carry so much money on you during your trip. As such, we recommend using the services of online banking fintech companies such as Revolut, N26 or Monzo.

Although each have their own limitations and fees, they allow you to withdraw a certain amount in foreign currency without any fees involved. And even after that threshold is reached, costs are much smaller when compared to traditional banks. Keep in mind, though, this does not apply to fees issued by local banks for withdrawals made with foreign cards. Be that as it may, a message will always pop up every time there is a fee per withdrawal, so you will never be caught unaware. Sign up for Revolut for free >> to get 3 months of Premium.

It’s also worth mentioning that cash is still king in Morocco, and most shops and restaurants don’t even accept card as payment. That being said, we recommend using Al-Arid Bank, the only bank in the country that doesn’t charge any fees for withdrawals using a foreign credit/debit card.

Furthermore, if you prefer to take cash and exchange your money in Morocco, here are three exchange offices we can recommend in Marrakesh:

Morocco Travel Guide – Common scams and frauds

Contrary to popular belief, Morocco is actually quite safe. In most cities – particularly in Marrakesh and Fes – the streets remain lively even at night, and incidents of violent crime or robbery are rare. That being said, using common sense is key. That means no taxis whose drivers refuse to start the meter, no accepting help from strangers when you’re using an ATM and always keeping an eye out for your stuff when you’re walking through busy areas (such as inside the Medinas). To sum up: don’t do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing anywhere else! For women, especially within the historical center, expect some unwelcome attention and light verbal harassment (in the form of comments like “very sexy”). However, things rarely escalate beyond that.

In fact, your main source of concern when visiting Morocco is the constant scamming. Don’t follow anyone offering to guide you, and firmly decline offers for unwanted services, such as placing a monkey on your shoulder for photos or having a henna tattooed without consent, even if people claim it’s free. While Moroccan touts may be persistent in promoting tours or sales, they’re usually harmless. Keep in mind most people are just trying to make a living while having to survive on criminally low wages. Be polite but firm when rejecting their advances. That, coupled with a few basic Arabic key expressions – such as “no, thank you” (leh, shukran) – is usually enough to curb their enthusiasm and have them move on to the next tourist.

Since we’re talking about aggressive sales techniques, it’s time to share some information about locals souqs/bazaars. If some item caught your eye, be prepared to bargain – it’s part of the experience! Initial prices are ALWAYS absurdly high, so don’t hesitate to counter with a lower offer (it’s usually a funny back-and-forth). When it comes to pricier items, it’s very likely the negotiation will take place over a cup of tea. Be that as it may, it’s always better to know beforehand the average prices for specific articles. For Marrakesh, you might want to pay a visit to Ensemble Artisanal, a state-owned commercial gallery. Inside this arcade, all products on display are made by local craftsmen and prices are non-negotiable. There are also some private art galleries, but those are a lot more expensive.

Now, a word specifically for couples. While Moroccan law technically prohibits unmarried partners from sharing a room, this rule is rarely enforced on foreigners. Similarly, while homosexuality is illegal in the country, it’s generally tolerated among tourists. When checking-in at the hotels, it’s likely no one will ask any questions. Nonetheless, it’s advisable for all couples (gay or straight) to avoid public displays of affection, as these are highly frowned upon according to local customs.

Lastly, remember tap water is not proper for drinking and that, unless you are a very experienced hiker, venturing alone into the Atlas Mountains or the Sahara Desert is a terrible idea!

Where to sleep in Morocco – Hotels and Accommodation

If you’re looking out for a place to stay on our Morocco travel guide, then we got you covered!

Despite its popularity among tourists, Morocco remains a budget destination for the average European visitor. This goes for restaurants and markets, but also for accommodation, with traditional riads offering comfortable rooms at friendly rates.

That being said, here are some options based on the cities we recommend you to stay at:

Hotels in Marrakesh

Hotels in Fez

Hotels/Camping Sites in Merzouga (Desert)

Hotels in Rabat

Hotels in Essaouira

Morocco Travel Guide – Transportation between the airports and the cities

Despite the option to fly directly into several different airports in Morocco, our itineraries follow a loop route that starts and ends in Marrakesh, the country’s main tourist hub. Therefore, we will only focus on this specific city/airport

From Marrakesh-Menara Airport to the city center

Located less than 8km away from the city center, the best way to travel between Menara Airport and the Medina is aboard bus number 19. The stop is located outside the arrivals’ terminal and the bus operates between 06h30 and 23h00, leaving every 30 minutes. This line links the airport to Jemaa el-Fna, at the heart of the city (passing through Gueliz as well). Tickets cost 30 Dh and can be paid in cash.

Finally, if you happen to land in Marrakesh outside of the bus operating hours, you may always rely on a taxi. While this used to pose a real challenge, considering the overwhelming amount of cab drivers who would approach you and try to trick you into agreeing to tag along for a ridiculous fare, the process is know way easier and fairer. Right outside the terminal, passengers can now find a cab-booking counter and check before-hand the prices for specific city areas. You just need to order the taxi, complete the payment and wait for a driver to be assigned to your journey. While some drivers may still try and ask for more money, do not budge! If you’re heading to the Medina, expect to pay anywhere between 80 and 150 Dh, depending on your exact destination and time of day.

Morocco Travel Guide – Transportation and how to move around between cities

Given that Morocco is one of Africa’s most developed nations, and though public transportation within the cities may leave a lot to be desired, the fact is that the country enjoys a relatively modern and well-kept transportation network that will help you move around between all the most important sites and tourist attractions.

Besides, and even if you can’t rely on buses nor trains for some reason, you can also make use of shared taxis and private tours, or even rent your very own vehicle when exploring the country.

Trains in Morocco

While the national railway system doesn’t quite reach every corner of the country, traveling between Morocco’s major cities is best done by train, with high-speed services available. Plus, you can conveniently purchase tickets in advance (up to 3 months) from the comfort of your home through the ONCF website. There are only two ticket classes – first and second – but both offer comfortable journeys, though first class has slightly more legroom, luggage space and bigger seats. For select routes, you can even rent a compartment with a bed for overnight travel.

If you prefer to keep your plans flexible or come across any issues buying tickets online, you can always purchase them directly at the stations. Tickets rarely sell out, although it’s wise to consider this during peak holiday seasons or special occasions. Nonetheless, here are the prices and journey lengths for some of the most popular routes:

  • Fes – Meknes: 30 Dh; 35 minutos
  • Meknes – Rabat: 84 Dh; 2h15
  • Rabat – Casablanca: 40 Dh; 1h10
  • Casablanca – Marrakesh: 132 Dh; 2h40
  • Rabat – Marrakesh: 166 Dh; 3h40
  • Meknes – Marrakesh: 216 Dh; 6h00
  • Fes – Marrakesh: 234 Dh; 6h30

Buses in Morocco

As for destinations that aren’t covered by the railway system, you always have the option to use the bus. Currently, the leading bus companies in the country are CTM and Supratours, and you can buy tickets for both online. Buses are generally comfortable and relatively modern, with most providing Wi-Fi connections (although they not always work). Compared to trains for the exact same routes, buses are typically slower and prices are similar (albeit slightly lower). On the other, buses are more reliable when it comes to times, although both modes often experience delays.

As before, here’s a summary of the most convenient bus connections to help you navigate any of our suggested itineraries:

  • Marrakesh – Ouarzazate: 90 Dh; 4h30
  • Ouarzazate – Merzouga: 170 Dh; 8h15
  • Merzouga – Fes: 150 Dh; 9h15 (nocturno)
  • Fes – Chefchaouen: 110 Dh; 4h15
  • Fes – Meknes: 25 Dh; 1h05
  • Meknes – Rabat: 75 Dh; 1h45
  • Rabat – Essaouira: 200 Dh; 9h00 a 10h00 (inc. transfer in Casablanca)
  • Essaouira – Marrakesh: 100 Dh; 3h00
  • Meknes – Marrakesh: 160 Dh; 7h30
  • Fes – Marrakesh: 165 Dh; 10h00

NOTE: If you travel with a cabin bag or checked luggage, you’ll have to pay about 10 Dh per piece so that it can be stowed in the vehicle’s luggage compartment.

Shared Taxis in Morocco

A well-established practice in Morocco (and widely popular across the Maghreb and the Arab world), it’s very common to watch the locals rely on shared taxis over trains and buses. Unsurprisingly I must say, as shared taxis are always faster and prices aren’t that different (if you’re not scammed) from what you’d pay on other modes of transportation.

However, it’s important to first figure out the difference between grand taxis, allowed for inter-city travel, and petit taxis, restricted to urban areas. Therefore, you can’t simply stop a random taxi and expect to haggle over a long-distance journey, as you’ll most likely be flagging down a petit taxi. Instead, you’ll need to locate a “salon”, the name given to the areas where Grand Taxis await passengers. These salons are usually found near train or bus stations, ports or around major international hotel chains. Once there, you just need to say where you want to go and someone will direct you to a car servicing that route.

This is where the “shared” in shared taxis comes into play, as you’ll then have to wait for the taxi to fill up before the driver departs, with the fare split equally among passengers (passenger riding shotgun may pay a bit more due to the extra legroom). Typically, a grand taxi accommodates up to 7 occupants: 1 driver + 6 passengers. While not the most comfortable ride in the world, shared taxis are significantly faster compared to buses. Besides, they’re also an excellent alternative if the running times for the conventional transportation methods don’t really suit your needs.

Regarding fares, and as always in Morocco, haggling is expected. Although rates fluctuate and there are no fixed prices, a good rule of thumb is to calculate approximately 2.50 Dh per kilometer for the entire taxi, and then split the fare among passengers. For instance, if you’re sharing a taxi between Merzouga and Fes to avoid the overnight bus, each passenger (assuming the cab is full) would pay around 195 Dh (2.5 Dh x 470 km : 6 passengers). Obviously, you can tell the driver to leave with fewer passengers, as long as you’re willing to pocket the fare for the empty seats.

Note: Regarding petit taxis, and in case you’d rather avoid all the haggling and dealing with Moroccan cab drivers, consider using ride-sharing platforms. While global giants like Uber, Lyft or Bolt aren’t available in the country, you can rely on Careem (most popular service in the Muslim world) or on local platforms such as Roby and Heetch.

Renting a car in Morocco

To cap off our discussion on transportation, we leave you with the ever-convenient option of renting a car. Naturally, major international car rental companies are readily available across Morocco, and it’s extremely easy to find offices both in the cities and inside the local airports.

However, there are several factors to consider before making this decision. Firstly, it’s important to note that driving in major Moroccan cities can be chaotic, as most drivers show little to no regard for signals or any traffic rules. As such, if you’re not entirely comfortable with the prospect of driving under a constant state of alert, renting a car might not be the best option for you. Nevertheless, outside major urban areas, driving in Morocco is actually quite tame, and even if road conditions may not always be optimal, they’re good enough most of the time. Along with the traffic and the reckless driving, it’s also crucial to ponder on what type of car you should rent. Especially if your plans include exploring the desert or crossing the Atlas Mountains independently, going for a 4×4 is highly recommended unless you want to take the risk of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. Alternatively, if you’re only going to the mountains/desert for 3 or 4 days and don’t want to rent a 4×4 for your entire trip, you can use a “regular” car to reach nearby towns and then either hire a taxi or join a tour to reach the more remote and secluded areas.

As for what company to use, and especially if you’re planning on working with a local provider, make sure to browse online reviews and carefully read all the paperwork before signing. Plus, taking photos and videos of the car before hitting the road (as proof of its condition) is a must! After all, the Moroccan tourism industry is littered with all kinds of scamming horror stories, and though it may not be pretty to assume and stereotype, it’s still better to play it safe than crying over spilled milk. Finally, it’s worth noting that you can rent a car in Morocco without getting an International Driving Permit, due to a current bilateral agreement.

Morocco Travel Guide – Local food and traditional dishes

Given the multitude of empires and civilizations that have influenced and called Morocco home, it’s no surprise that the country’s cuisine has its very own flair. While it does shares similarities with other countries’ staples, it was precisely the fusion of all these influences and its subsequent adaptations that helped develop Morocco’s gastronomical identity. That said, and despite the vast variety of local specialties and ingredients, there are two dishes that definitely stand out when one thinks of Moroccan food: Tagine and Couscous. The former refers to any dish cooked in a specific earthenware pot (covered with a conical lid), where ingredients are slowly cooked over fire. Although the technique is always the same, there are countless versions of the dish, ranging from chicken, lamb, beef or even vegetable tagines. As for couscous, the same logic applies. Though all dishes incorporate this wheat semolina, it can then be mixed with all kinds of ingredients and sauces to create the final delicacy. It’s simple, cheap and delicious!

However, there’s more to Moroccan cuisine than couscous and tagine! Therefore, you must absolutely try out some other local specialties, including Chermoula, a traditional sauce made with olive oil, lemon and spices, typically served over fried or grilled fish; Harira, a lentil soup with chickpeas, herbs and lamb; Kefta, small lamb meatballs that can also be served in a tagine with poached eggs; and Bastilla, a filo pastry pie filled with cinnamon-seasoned chicken (or pigeon), and topped with powdered sugar – an interesting combination of sweet and savory! As for street food, and in addition to the traditional Brochettes, the local term for meat skewers, we highly recommend trying Makoudas, potato croquettes that pair well with Harissa and Zaalouk, two local sauces usually served as appetizers along with Khobz, a local bread variety.

When it comes to sweets and desserts, Morocco follows the Levantine and Middle Eastern tradition – you can find all different kinds of Baklava and Dates here – but combines it with some local classics such as Msemen (Moroccan crepes), Briouats (deep fried puff pastry cakes filled with almond paste) or Ghoriba (crumbly butter cookies with different flavors). Along with the sweets, you can never go wrong with Mint Tea, the beverage of choice in the country!

Morocco Travel Guide – Full itineraries for 7, 12 and 14 days

So that this blog post doesn’t turn into an encyclopedia, we’ve decided to create separate articles for each itinerary.

You can check them through the following links:

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