With a rich history, landscape, and culture, Morocco is one of my favorite spots on Earth. From the vibrant red Atlas Mountains to the explosion of colors in the endless markets scattered around the ancient medinas, this place has a unique beauty all its own.
For all things boho chic, it’s a dream shopping destination. It’s also a perfect spot for lingering in French-inspired sidewalk cafés or riding a camel into the desert to spend a night under the stars.
Ready to explore North Africa’s greatest treasure? Here are a few essential tips for your first trip to Morocco.
English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Berber- you’ll hear it all here! On a daily basis, most people speak Darija, or Moroccan Arabic, while the sizable Berber community has their own indigenous language. In official settings, you’ll hear Standard Arabic and French. Spanish is very popular in the north, while English is becoming increasing popular everywhere.
As a traveler, you’ll be able to get by with English, although knowing a few words of French can be very handy.
The local cash is the Moroccan dirham. One US dollar will get you just under 11 dirhams. Prices can vary a lot depending on your travel style but, on average, travelers only spend around $40 per day per person there.
The majority of businesses in Morocco are cash only so make sure you’ve always got enough handy to cover your purchases. The best way to do that is to withdraw cash from an ATM once you get into the country.
While you’ll find that most cafés, restaurants, and hotels in the city have Wi-Fi, it’s handy (and cheap!) to have 4G when you’re exploring the country. You can grab a Maroc Telecom SIM card for only 40 dirhams (just over 4 USD) and get 10GB of data for 100 dirhams (10 USD).
Helpful Tip: It can be difficult to source a Maroc SIM card, but your best bet is to check in tobacco shops. Be sure to have them top up your data and check to make sure everything is working before walking away.
The vast majority of Moroccans are very friendly and will make you feel welcome. However, street harassment is an issue for local women and tourists alike. The best policy is to just ignore it. If men are catcalling, keep moving.
It’s also very common for men to offer directions and that can quickly escalate into harassment or demands for money. Don’t feel like you have to be polite to anyone who’s being rude to you. Be firm in saying no and just walk away, if you’re ever feeling uncomfortable.
I personally never felt “scared.” It just became incredibly annoying. It’s sometimes worth covering your head and walking quickly through more aggressive areas if you want to avoid it completely.
Opt for lightweight, loose fitting clothing. Be sure to always cover your shoulders and knees. Think shawls and maxi skirts. They’re ideal for warm, sunny conditions and it shows respect for the culture- which, in turn, will get you treated with respect.
I always carried a scarf or shawl to wear over my shoulders, tie in my hair, or cover my head depending on where my adventures would bring me each day.
Trains are ideal for city hopping. I’d recommend buying first class tickets. They’re not much more than second class and it’s well worth it. In first class, you’ll have a comfortable experience that is comparable to anything you’d find in Europe. They typically offer snacks, but not a huge variety, so it’s usually better to buy what you like in advance and bring it with you.
If you decide to take a night train, get the first class sleeper tickets. If you’re a solo female traveler or in a group of girls, you’ll be booked into a female-only cabin. We had a mom with her young child and another single woman in our cabin, and it made for a very relaxed atmosphere.
Generally speaking, the trains are comfy. They provide you with a pillow, blanket, and a bottle of water. Expect them to be quite hot though, especially in summer. Make sure that you stay hydrated and wear lightweight clothing.
Tip- If you want to get off the beaten path, check out the nationally run Supratours buses. They aren’t as fast as trains but they’re cozy and will take you anywhere you want to go.
For everything else, taxis are the way to go. You can usually negotiate a price beforehand — especially if you’re looking to travel a long distance. Please keep in mind that driving can be quite dangerous in Morocco, so speak up if your driver is driving erratically.