9th April 2019

Essential First Time in Morocco Travel Guide: How to Prepare and Plan a Trip to Morocco

Planning a trip abroad can always be a little overwhelming. There is so much to think about: how much it costs, where to stay, what to wear, how to get around… luckily I’ve got you covered in this handy Morocco Travel Guide.

Essential Information:

Currency: The local currency in Morocco is dirham. 100 MAD is about £7.88 / $10.40 / 9.19€ (as per exchange rate on date of publication)

When to go: Winter (December to February) is chilly, with rain in the mountainous areas and very cold nights. Summer (June – August) can be unbearably hot. I visited in early February which was fine during the day but the nights were very chilly. I recommend visiting in Spring or Autumn.

Language: The main languages in Morocco are Arabic and French – I knew my degree would come in handy one day! English is widely spoken too.

Plug sockets: European 2 prong type E/C.

First Time in Morocco Travel Guide - spinthewindrose.com
First time in Morocco? You’ll LOVE it!

How to decide on your route

The hardest part of planning a trip is always whittling down the long list of places you want to see into a realistic itinerary that fits with your time constraints. Of course, if you are one of those lucky people who travel fulltime, you can spend as little or as long as you like in Morocco, and I guarantee you’ll want to stay a while.

Flights generally fly in and out of Marrakesh and Casablanca – these are the two biggest airports seeing the most flights. Casablanca has more international, worldwide flights, whereas Marrakesh sees most traffic to and from Europe.

It therefore makes sense to begin your trip at one of these destinations, but do explore options from other big cities too. Morocco is a very big country, and doing a ‘loop’ itinerary might not work in your favour, as you may end up spending hours on a bus or train in order to get back to the airport you arrived at.

Make sure you read my 10 Day Morocco Itinerary. In this post I share how to see the best of Morocco in less than two weeks.

In my personal opinion, the best places to visit in Morocco (by ‘best’, I mean diverse, with lots of attractions and cultural highlights) are Marrakesh, Fes, Chefchaouen and Essaouria. But there’s much more to Morocco than just these four destinations!

Decide on where you want to go first, and then research how to get around. Which leads me on to…

First Time in Morocco Travel Guide - spinthewindrose.com
Better late than never!

How to get around in Morocco

You can easily do the entire trip with a driver, but this is a) bad for the planet, b) bad for your wallet and c) bad for your experience of Moroccan travel. I’m a firm believer that you should travel as the locals do, and on public transport you will meet many interesting characters and see how locals get around.

Trains

Train travel in Morocco is great. Carriages are spacious and clean. Trains are on time and generally aren’t delayed often. You can reserve tickets online through —- or buy them at the station in advance or on the day of your travel. In many stations there is an electtronic ticket machine like we have in the UK. Stations are generally spacious and clean with various cafes and toilets, and signage/ announcements are clear. The network covers a vast area but does not go everywhere. In my opinion, train travel is simple in Morocco.

Buses

Buses in Morocco are a little more complicated to figure out than trains, but still fairly simple. There are rules and there is order (although it may seem like chaos to begin with!) CTM is the main bus operator in Morocco. You can view times and routes on their website and even pay for your tickets online. If not, you can go to the station to book your tickets in person – and you can book any CTM route at any station. Buses journeys are cheap but efficient. The coaches are roomy and comfortable with reclining seats – you do have to pay an extra for your luggage though (but it’s only £5 ish)

First Time in Morocco Travel Guide - spinthewindrose.com
Getting around in Morocco is fairly easy fortunately!

Is Morocco safe?

Yes, Morocco is generally a safe country to travel in but like anywhere in the world, something bad COULD happen. You do generally have to be a bit tough, simply because there’s so much going on and so much to look out for. If it’s your first time travelling, Morocco might be a bit difficult, but it’s definitely a must visit!

General tourism-provoked scams happen, like being ripped off or paying for something that doesn’t exist, but these are rare. A common one is someone saying they will help you find a destination and then charging you for their ‘service’. Avoid the ladies using black henna, it can cause really bad skin reactions. Negotiate your taxi price before you get in the vehicle; they will probably tell you the meter is broken and it won’t be, so make sure you’re happy with the price you agree on.

Pickpocketing can occur so keep your belongings safe to reduce your chances of your valuables being stolen. Don’t wear fancy watches or jewellery – you’re inviting attention to your wealth. Leave valuables in a safe at your accommodation or hidden on your person.

Whether you’re male or female you should dress conservatively so as not to offend the local people. More on this later.

Is it safe for females?

I travelled with a female friend in Morocco. We got attention; we’re both white and she has ginger hair, so we stand out against the local women.

If you are a solo female traveller, the usual precautions will apply. Dress conservatively, don’t go out alone after dark and don’t drink too much. I would recommend finding someone to explore with during the day, or sticking to busy areas if you go alone.

If you’re worried about travelling to Morocco alone, I suggest taking a tour.


How to travel sustainably in Morocco

As a developing country, it’s always going to be a bit more difficult to encourage sustainable travel, simply because the knowledge may not yet be there or a priority.

Three easy things you can do are:

First Time in Morocco Travel Guide - spinthewindrose.com
Make sure you visit Marrakesh on your first time in Morocco

What to wear in Morocco

For women, as Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country it is advisable to cover up accordingly. Be respectful of local customs and dress modestly.

You may see tourists in spaghetti-strap tops and shorts, but I personally would not wear this sort of thing in Morocco. Not only will it draw attention to yourself (you’ll get enough anyway), but it’s also quite disrespectful.

Whilst yes, the heat in Morocco can be stifling during the summer months, it’s inportant that

Visiting Morocco in Winter? Have a read of this post for more information on what to pack.

As a man: Men can get away wearing most things, but to stay respectful I would avoid vests or tiny shorts (if that’s your thing…)

First Time in Morocco Travel Guide - spinthewindrose.com
Chefchaouen is a must-visit in Morocco

Where to stay in Morocco

Any post you read about where to stay in Morocco will generally lead to the same answer: in a riad!

Riads are the go-to accommodation in Morocco because they combine an experience with a requirement: they are beautiful, traditional houses with a courtyard in the centre of them. Usually, the owner will greet you with some mint tea!

AirBnB is quickly becoming a popular option for travellers in Morocco. You can rent a room or an entire property, meaning you could end up with a whole riad to yourself! This post will give you a little inspiration.

Sign up to AirBnB through this link and get £30 off your reservation.

If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge with AirBnB, you can find quality properties on booking.com, ranging from hotels to riads. Hostels aren’t as common in Morocco but riads, being so widespread, are a great place to meet other travellers.

I used booking.com for my entire trip in Morocco. Check out the best deals below.

Booking.com

How to book your trip to Morocco

Organising a trip is fairly easy, but if you’re feeling worried, I recommend booking a tour through an agent like Get Your Guide.

First, search for cheap flights on Skyscanner. Skyscanner is like a search engine for flights; it finds flights across hundreds of airlines so you can find the cheapest ones available! I flew with Ryanair direct from London Stansted to Marrakesh.

Then decide how long you want to spend in each place. Use my 10 Day Morocco Itinerary for inspiration and drop a comment in my Facebook group to ask other travellers for advice!

Book your accommodation through booking.com or AirBnB.

When it comes to booking transport, you can research bus times online through the official CTM website. You can book tickets online too, but it might be easier in person at the bus station (I advise booking as soon as possible if you decide to book in person). Unfortunately you can’t book train tickets outside of Morocco, but you can do so in person when you arrive or on the ticket machines (which are in English and French and are so easy to use!)

First Time in Morocco Travel Guide - spinthewindrose.com
You’ll need to factor in shopping costs when budgeting…

What does it cost?

A trip to Morocco can cost as little or as much as you would like, depending on how you want to spend your time there.

On a budget, i.e. using public transport, staying in cheaper-end riads and eating street food or at a low-cost restaurant, you can expect to budget as little as £40 a day. Add some activities and sights, around £60. This post by along dusty roads has some useful info on budgeting in Morocco.

I spent around £300 for 10 days in Morocco (excluding the flights).

First Time in Morocco Travel Guide - spinthewindrose.com
I came home from my first time in Morocco with a new rug, will you do too?

What do you think to my First Time in Morocco Travel Guide?

I hope it settles any nerves you might have ahead of your first trip to Morocco – have a great trip!

For more helpful travel advice don’t forget to join my Facebook Group!

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something from the linked site, I’ll earn a tiny (and I mean tiny!) commission at no extra cost to you, which contributes to running this blog.


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First Time in Morocco Travel Guide - spinthewindrose.com

2 responses to “Essential First Time in Morocco Travel Guide: How to Prepare and Plan a Trip to Morocco”

  1. Edward says:

    English is not common in morocco, it is difficult to find people who speak just basic english

  2. Hi Edward, I’m surprised to hear that, as I found the opposite when I was there, Most people could speak broken English but French was much more widely spoken. Fortunately I didnt have any issues communicating – hope you got on okay too. Thanks!

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