Guide to planning a trip to Morocco
Morocco is a wonderful country with a variety of landscapes ranging from the mountains and oases of the Atlas, to the high golden dunes of the desert, from the long beaches of the Atlantic coast to the steep Mediterranean coasts, from the fortified coastal cities with evidence of the Portuguese colonial past to the arid valleys of the countryside plenty of picturesque kasbah and ksar, fortified villages built with clay houses. Morocco is also popular for the charming Fès, Rabat, Meknes and Marrakech, imperial cities with a medina rich in history and heritage protected by UNESCO. For traditions lovers, Moroccan culture offers an incredible variety and richness. Throughout the year, it’s possible to see many cultural and musical events, including the famous Gnaoua Festival in Essaouira and the Sacred Music Festival in the Medina of Fès.
When to go to Marocco
Morocco can be visited all year round, but the best seasons are spring and autumn to avoid the intense heat of summer that sometimes makes visiting the attractions tiring, especially in the central hours of the day. We visited Morocco twice, the first in September (it was still too hot) and the second in December, finding pleasant daytime temperatures (especially in the south) and cooler nighttime temperatures. In the mountainous areas, the weather is much colder during the winter season, especially at night.
How to get there
Morocco’s main international airport is in Casablanca, but some low-cost airlines fly directly to Fes and Marrakech from Europe, so it’s easy to find great deals to spend a weekend there. Usually, the classic tours of the country start right from Casablanca and proceed clockwise, leaving the beautiful Marrakech and the Atlantic coast as the last stop.
Casablanca Airport: Muhammad V International Airport (CMN) is located about 30 km from Casablanca. It consists of two main terminals: Terminal 1 hosts national and international flights, Terminal 2 exclusively international flights.
How to reach Casablanca city centre: the means of transport available from the airport are the train (from terminal 1), the CTM bus and the taxi. Alternatively, you can book a private transfer with the Navette Casablanca company, the Viator.com platform, or Rentalcars.com. In the arrivals hall, you will also find the desks of various rental companies. In the other airport, you will always find taxis and a private transfer with Navette Casablanca.
Itinerary in Morocco
The classic tour of Morocco starts from Casablanca and touches the imperial cities of Rabat, Fès, Meknes and Marrakech, the city of Ouarzazate, with the visit of the famous ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, and the Erg Chebbi desert to spend a night surrounded by high golden dunes. Depending on the days available, you can visit other interesting attractions such as the blue city of Chefchaouen, the Todra and Dades Gorges, the Draa valley with its ancient kasbah and ksar, Essaouira and the Atlantic coast. The perfect time to enjoy this fantastic country is 12-14 days; while with only one week available, you will have to make choices.
If you have already been to Morocco, you can focus your trip on the fascinating cities of the Mediterranean coast in the north of the country, try a 4×4 adventure to explore the Erg Chegada or the beautiful and wild Atlantic coast in the south with the charming fishing villages and pristine beaches or a multi-day trek in the High Atlas to discover the highest range of the three ridges that make up the Moroccan mountain system.
How to move around in Marocco
The itinerary can be planned by catching trains, buses and, if necessary, also domestic flights. Once you reach the main cities, you can move by taxis and arrange the daily tours through your accommodation or some local operator. Another option is the company Navette Casablanca as it also arranges transfers between the main cities. You can use the Omio.com search engine by clicking directly on the banner below to search for your means of transport.
In our 2 trips around Morocco, we booked a car with a driver through the excellent local agencies Tizi Trekking and Atlas discovery. If you want to rent a car, you can look at TripAdvisor Rental Cars and get the best deal.
Morocco is a very popular country, and you will always find a wide choice of accommodation to suit all budgets and needs. The cheapest accommodations are often the charming Riads or Dars. The Riad is a typical traditional house with a beautiful internal garden often embellished with a fountain, carpets and plants; the Dar is typically a smaller house with no internal garden or multi-storey like a Riad. Usually, the best area to find accommodation is near the medina, the heart of the cities and where the main attractions are concentrated.
Local cuisine and restaurants
Moroccan cuisine highlights the country’s rich cultural heritage and includes dishes of Berber, Arab, Jewish, Andalusian, African and Maghrebi origins, making it one of the most important international cuisines.
The main dish that never fails in Moroccan homes is couscous, accompanied by vegetables or meat. Other typical dishes are tagine (a traditional vegetable and meat stew), chicken with lemon and olives, lamb with plums, kefta (minced meat or lamb with cumin, paprika and aromatic herbs), Rfissa (stewed chicken and lentils scented with fenugreek, saffron and ras el hanout), Zaalouk (fried and grilled aubergines, in addition to the two types of pepper, spicy and sweet), Harira (soup made from different ingredients such as vegetables and legumes), and, of course, a great choice of kebab. In the coastal towns, you will find fresh fish, shellfish and seafood. Do not miss the great choice of sweets and pastries typical of Morocco. If you are culinary traditions lovers, in Fès, you can participate in cooking classes organized by the Fez Cooking School.
There are restaurants for all budgets in all cities, from stalls and shops that cook street food to more elegant restaurants. The area of the city where you can try the typical dishes of local culture and tradition is undoubtedly the medina.
How much is a trip to Morocco?
The expense for a trip to Morocco is affordable as the cost of living is quite low. If you fly from Europe, the flight to Casablanca costs around 300/400 euros. There are also direct flights to Fès and Marrakech with low-cost like Ryanair. The accommodations are very cheap with average costs starting from 20 euros (25 USD) for a double. Local restaurants also offer excellent traditional dishes for a few dirhams. The cost of guided tours or excursions depends on what you want to do. To get an idea about the tours, you can look at the Viator.com web platform. The biggest expense will be the rental of the vehicle with the driver through the tour operator if you do not use local transport. In general, the total cost for a 10-day classic tour is about 1000 euros per person, for 14 days about 1400. If you use local transport, the costs will be reduced. We spent 1400 euros in total to complete our 2-week itinerary.
Currency exchange and method of payment
The local currency is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD). 10 Dh is roughly USD 1 (June 2021). Don’t change your currency at the airport (just the indispensable) and go to the many currency exchange shops in town. You’ll also find several ATMs to withdraw from. Cash is widely used and is the preferred and often the only method of payment.
Local sim card and wifi
Even though you’ll find wifi in the hotels, and many cafes and restaurants, getting a Moroccan SIM card will make your stay a lot easier. At the Arrival level in the airports, you’ll find the main providers Maroc Telecom and Orange, that offer a package of calls plus data. You can also buy the SIM card at any tobacco stands in town. We bought a Maroc Telecom SIM card for 50 MAD (about 5 USD), which gave us 5GB of data valid for 1 month.
Drones in Morocco
We are drones’ lovers, and when it’s possible, we really like taking pics or videos with our DJI Mavic Mini. Unfortunately, at the moment, Morocco has a strict NO drone policy for safety reasons. We were told that if you get caught flying, there’s a fine of about 120 USD and the drone’s confiscation. The best thing is to leave your flying camera at home. However, you can contact the competent aviation authority or the Moroccan embassy/consulate in your country for further updated information.
Traveller’s safety and health
In general, Morocco is a safe destination for travellers. Keep your eyes open in busy places like the medina as petty crimes can occur, especially in Marrakech. The “red city” attracts millions of tourists, and it is easy to find pushy and annoying sellers, pickpockets, petty theft, bag snatching and scams. Be careful when you walk around or cross the streets because the traffic is terrible, and the vehicles can be speedy. Although the Government has taken measures for the safety of the tourists, there’s even the threat of terrorism to contend within the country. Not to forget is the bomb attack in a Cafè of Jemaa el Fna square occurred in 2011. Remember that security conditions change every day worldwide; always do your research through the official websites and contact the embassy of your country in Morocco.
Tip: the official religion of Morocco is Islam and, even though the locals are welcoming and are used to see thousands and thousands of tourists every day, it’s recommended to dress respectfully. For women, in particular, it would be advisable to cover the knees and shoulders not to draw any unwanted attention or cause any offence, especially when visiting any religious places.
There aren’t actual health threats in Morocco, and the health situation is good. The only precaution you need to take is to drink bottled water and avoid ice in your drinks to prevent gastrointestinal disorders often accompanied by diarrhoea and fever. Health services and public hospitals are not on par with western standards. If you need medical attention, it’s better to call on a private hospital/clinic. It is highly recommended to consult a travel medicine specialist to assess travel-related risks and have information to ensure your health and safety.
It’s always recommended to take out travel insurance during a trip, even if you’re only going for a few days. Especially to cover the medical expenses because they could be very high in case you need them. We always do our travel insurance with Worldnomad.com. Remember to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs. Getting an estimate from World Nomads.com is simple; click on the banner “Get a Quote” below and fill out the necessary info!