Quick Travel Guide  •  Morocco, North Africa

Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Morocco

Last Updated On: September 18, 2020


Morocco is an explosion of colors, tastes, sounds, and smells. A place of endless possibilities. From Marrakech in the south and Chefchauen in the north to the Sahara in the east and Essaouira in the west, Morocco has it all. Architecture, culture, cuisine, adventure, luxury and so much more waiting to be discovered. The time is now to start planning the most unforgettable trip to Morocco and we’ve made it even easier for you. Below you will find the answers to some of the most crucial questions that come up during the planning process. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know before you travel to Morocco.


Currency:

Languages:

Arabic, French, Berber, English

Favorite Cities:

Marrakech & Chefchauen

Capital:

Rabat


table of contents







Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This directly supports Bare Escape, by offsetting the cost of running this site so we can continue to provide you with free content to help you plan your next escape!

Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Morocco, Africa | Bare Escape
The pink streets of Marrakech

Do you need a visa for Morocco

Most travelers who visit Morocco can do so without applying for a visa if the trip does not exceed ninety days. If you have a passport from any of the following places then you should be good to go: Australia & New Zealand, UK, Canadian, EU, USA, Chile, Mexico & Japan. You can find a full list of all of the visa-except countries here. Just remember that your passport must be valid for at least six months from the day you enter Morocco. If your country is not on the list, then you will have to apply for a Visa at your local Moroccan Embassy or Consulate. Morocco offers a total of four different types of Visas

  • Short-Term Visa / Tourism Visa (from one to ninety days)
  • Long Term Visa (over three months)
  • Transit Visa (if you are traveling through Morocco to your final destination, transit stay can not exceed 72 hours)
  • Visa issued at the border

You can find more detailed information about how to apply ob the Moroccan Consulate website.

Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Morocco, Africa | Bare Escape
The incredible Atlas Mountains

Best Time To Visit Morocco

Outside the arid desert of eastern Morocco, the weather can be compared to countries in the Mediterranean. Warm to hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. As with any country, the weather varies depending on where you are. Thus, when to go to the desert will be a lot different than when to go to the coast or the mountains:

  • Temperatures in the Sahara are pretty hot for most of the year, so expect them to be scorching during the summer months.
  • On the other hand, the coast is a very popular destination to cool off during the hot summer months.
  • The Atlas Mountains can get quite cold during the winter months, so if you don't like the snow, the best to visit is during the shoulder season when the air is fresh but not too cold.
  • January and February, are usually the coldest months in Marrakech, but that also means cheaper prices and fewer crowds.
  • You will recognize the rain season when Riads start to cover up the otherwise open inner courtyards. Usually, the rain starts around November and can last as long as March.

So what is the best time to visit all the regions? March to May and September to November are generally the best months to visit Morocco. This when the weather is at its best throughout the country. There is lots of sunshine, the temperatures are a lot milder, and you still experience cooler nights.

With the good weather come some awesome festivals. Two of our favorites are the Rose Festival and the Gnaoua World Music Festival. The Rose Festival:This three-day festival takes place during the first week of May in the town of El-Kelaa M’Gouna. During the festival, the streets are filled with Berber tribes singing and selling a multitude of Persian rose-based products. The Gnaoua World Music Festival:This four-day festival takes place in June in the town of Essaouira. It is an eclectic music, arts and cultural festival that connects local Gnaoua musicians with foreign artists to discover new and old music.

Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Morocco, Africa | Bare Escape
View from the citadel in Essaouira
Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Morocco, Africa | Bare Escape
Salut Maroc a stunning boutique hotel in Essaouira

When to avoid traveling to Morocco

For the most part, Morocco is a great place to travel to any time of year. There are just a few times of the year when we would recommend not to visit. The Eid Al-Adha Holiday:During this sacred holiday, each family is urged to sacrifice a sheep. It is a tradition inspired by the old testament, honoring Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his child before God stopped him and a sheep was sacrificed instead. The time before the killing of the sheep is a pretty stressful time for locals as not everyone can afford a sheep, so expect the salesman to be way more aggressive. Also, you will see locals purchasing sheep and dragging them by their horns, on the back of scooters, and on the back of carts. It usually happens either end of July or August, but I would double-check the dates before planning your visit. The streets of the medina smelt like death for days, I would never recommend anyone to be in Morocco during this time. The Sahara in April:From the end of March through the end of April, it is best to avoid the Sahara due to the possibility of heavy sandstorms. Though it isn't certain that this will happen it is better to be safe than sorry.

Ready to Escape?

Let us help you handcraft your trip today!

Start your journey

How to get around Morocco

The Public Transportation system in Morocco is quite challenging to figure out and generally speaking not recommended. The buses are pretty run down and are often quite crowded, so instead, we suggest Grand Taxis.  Grand Taxis:These are basically cabs that can carry up to six passengers, mainly between neighboring cities. Usually the Grand Taxi stations are located near taxi stands or major bus/train stations, but ask your hotel/riad for directions to the nearest station. How does it work? You just show up, bargain down the price, and then wait until it’s full to head to your next destination. Depending on the size of your luggage you might be asked to pay for two people since the Grand Taxis in Morocco are normally old, beige Mercedes with a tiny trunk. Feel free to bargain heavily. It is very important that you discuss your fare prior to the ride, to make sure you are not being overcharged. We used one to get from Marrakech to the small town of Imlil in the Atlas Mountains. Highly recommended if you are on a budget!

Private Intercity Buses:Another cheap and reliable to get around Morocco is via Intercity Buses.  CTM and Supratours are the most recommended operators. Tickets can easily be bought online or directly at the bus station. You can also ask your Riad for help with your booking. They often offer to pick up your bus ticket for you for a small extra fee, but I think it's worth it.  The buses come with air conditioning, a luxury you don’t want to miss out on especially when traveling during the hot summer months. The cheapest and easiest way, to travel from Marrakech to Essaouira or Agadir, for example, is by bus. I personally prefer Supra Comfort. The tickets to travel to Essaouira are around 60-150MAD (~$6-$15) and the drive takes roughly 3h. You can check their bus schedule here. Definitely try to buy your ticket a day prior if you can, since this route, in particular, is a popular day trip for tourists so the bus fills up quickly.

Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Morocco, Africa | Bare Escape

Train travel:Trains are an easy way to get around Morocco. They are reliable, fast, cheap and a great way to travel between all the major tourist attractions. Buying your train ticket in Morocco is pretty straight forward:

  • First, visit the ONCF website to check prices, travel duration and departure/ arrival times, but don't purchase them just yet.
  • Instead, we recommend heading to the nearest train station to buy your tickets directly. Most agents speak English and are able to help you find the best route (maybe even better than what you found online). Make sure to bring cash just in case they don't take credit cards.
  • Tickets can be purchased up to a maximum of 90 days in advance of the date of travel.

Let's talk more about trains! Moroccan trains, just like in Europe are divided into two sections: first-class and second-class. If you are planning on traveling overnight then you can choose either a first or second class sleeper car, and from single or double to four-bed compartments. If you have read any of our Southeast Asian Travel Guides like Everything You Need To Know About Traveling To Vietnam, then you know by now that we love overnight train travel. It not only saves us daylight to explore, but also money by paying for a night and transfer at the same time!

If you decide to take a night train, get the first-class sleeper tickets. It is so worth it!

In countries like Morocco, it is never a bad idea to spend a little bit more money on a first-class train ticket for more comfort and safety, especially when you are traveling for a longer period of time. The price difference is small but the impact on your overall experience will be huge. By purchasing a first-class ticket you will automatically be assigned a comfortable seat in an air-conditioned carriage, as well as a pillow, a blanket, and a bottle of water. Food is not included in your ticket. Expect the occasional attendant to come through with a small cart offering light snacks such as chips, crackers, coffee, and sandwiches. So, for those longer rides, I would recommend stocking up on enough water and snacks for your journey. My last piece of advice is to bring earplugs and bring lots of layers. It can either get really warm or quite chilly due to the never-ending blasting of cold air throughout the cabin. For all the solo women travelers wanting to travel through Morocco here is a little information that will calm your nerves: if you purchase a ticket without a male companion you will be assigned to a women-only cabin. How awesome is that! Below you can find a chart of the estimated travel times of the most popular train routes in Morocco. Some routes in Morocco offer "rapide" or rapid trains. These are much faster than the "ordinaire" trains and in turn, expect to pay more. However, it might be worth it depending on your budget and timeframe.

ROUTE

DURATION


Marrakech - Fes

8 hours 5 minutes


Marrakech - Tangier (closest train station to Chefchaouen)

10 hours (overnight train)


Marrakech - Casablanca

3 hours 40 minutes


Marrakech - Rabat

5 hours


Casablanca - Rabat

1 hour


Casablanca - Fes

3 hours 45 minutes


Casablanca - Tangier

5 hours


Casablanca - Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport (CMN)

32 minutes


Fes - Tangier (closest train station to Chefchaouen)

5 hours 35 minutes


Fes - Rabat

2 hours 30 minutes

Renting a car:Trains run between Marrakech, Fes, Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, and Meknes but for extra flexibility and especially if you want to head to the desert or the Atlas Mountains, renting a car might be your best and cheapest option. You will be surprised how expensive pick-up services and private transfers are in Morocco. It is honestly quite ridiculous sometimes. For a roundtrip fare from Marrakech to the Sahara desert, you can expect to pay around $200 - $400!

EN - 728x90
EN - 468x60
Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Morocco, Africa | Bare Escape
Gole Di Dadés Gorges
Everything to know about Marrakech, Morocco, Africa | Bare Escape
The incredible city of Ait Benhaddou

How to stay safe in Morocco

First of all, I would like to say Morocco is a pretty safe tourist destination. This section is not meant to frighten or scare you, but to make you aware. While Morocco is not a dangerous country, you still need to be skeptical, alert and keep your guard up at all times. We have traveled to a multitude of places during our nine years of wandering the globe and I would say that we are pretty experienced travelers. We have seen a lot and have dealt with all kinds of scenarios, but Morocco is the only country to date where we have felt a bit unsafe at times. I have even traveled through Morocco all by myself as a woman for almost a month as well. While I have no issue walking around during the day by myself, I would never leave the Riad on my own after dusk. The old medina, in particular, can be a little bit intimidating, especially when groups of young male adults linger in the narrow side streets laughing and often drinking. Most men in Morocco are Arabic and practicing Muslims, so their expectations of women are different. Being a white woman in the medina of Marrakech will automatically give you unwanted attention. Usually, this just entails men starring you down or making random noises to get your attention. It’s best to walk with confidence and to avoid flashy or revealing outfits. The more you fit in the less you will stand out. I have been grabbed a couple of times from men driving by with their scooters or bicycles even during the day while walking alone through the narrow streets of the medina. Just avoid these roads if you can.

Always trust your gut instinct. If you wouldn’t do it at home then don’t do it in Morocco.

On the other hand, Gueliz, the new and more developed part of Marrakech is a totally different story. You will see the contrast the moment you get there. The local women wear whatever they want, it is seriously like entering a different world. I was quite shocked when I visited Gueliz for the first time because men in the medina looked at me as if they have never seen a woman's shoulder or exposed leg before, but the minute you leave the medina local women wear everything from short skirts to tank tops.

You can do all the research you want on the internet prior to visiting a country, but there are always unforeseen things that come up. The list below is not meant to solve everything, but it will help you to avoid some uncomfortable situations that we've faced while in Morocco. Taxi fares – To avoid any drama make sure to negotiate the taxi price before you get into the cab. Usually halving the price is a good place to start negotiating. Always be aware – While I have never had anyone steal anything from me in Morocco, I would always recommend zipping up your bag and carrying it in the front. Especially while roaming places like the souks or in big crowded markets such as the Jemma El Fna in Marrakech. Since pickpocketing is pretty common I would go as far as leaving all your valuables at your Riad including your passport and bringing only what you need. Street stalls – You can never be too careful when ordering from street food stalls. If there are many locals eating from the same place, chances are that this food is safe to eat for you too. We always recommend asking the local staff at your riad or hotel for local recommendations. While the prices at restaurants are easily compared to prices in the USA $15 eating at local eateries can be as cheap as $3. Cover your knees and shoulders – This is especially true in the medina of Marrakech and is required at most of the religious sites. When you head out to explore I would recommend to always bring a scarf or a shawl to cover yourself out of respect for their culture and religion. Taking pictures in the medina – Let me be the first to tell you that the Marrakichs DO NOT like to have their picture taken. Even if you are shooting a street or a beautiful carpet if the camera is pointed in their general direction you may end up with a not so happy local in your face. Be sneaky when you take photos. Try to visualize what photos you want to take before you take them and quickly snap 1 or 2 before putting your camera down. We have a large DSLR, so it can be quite tricky to take photos, so we sometimes just switch to our phone to be more inconspicuous. Don’t fall for the con artists – The first thing they do is ask an engaging question “Where are you visiting from?” (the first alert). If you answer, they usually reply something like "ohh my cousin used to live there or is currently living there" (the second alert). The goal here is to build a connection and win your trust. You will then be offered free help to guide you somewhere “for free” (the third alert). Politely say no thank you and move on. Attraction/Road is closed – This has happened to us too many times. A friendly-looking local will approach you and ask you where you are going. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an act of kindness. Once you tell them, they might inform you that the street ahead is closed or that the attraction you are looking for is closed for whatever reason (holiday or religious reasons such as ceremonies, etc.). Then they will offer you to show you either a way around or an alternative attraction. The best advice we can give you is to see for yourself and to just ignore them. Wrong Change – Always make sure you count your change after purchasing anything. I am no exception, it takes me forever to get used to the size and the color of foreign bills. Nash is definitely quicker and is usually the one responsible for paying. However, be alert especially in countries where the bills look similar to each other.

Like this post? Don't forget to pin it!

Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Morocco, Africa | Bare Escape
Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Morocco, Africa | Bare Escape
0 0 vote
Article Rating