Planning your trip to Morocco: 15 practical tips before you leave
Planning your trip to Morocco: Climate, currency, budget, transport, accommodation, precautions, etc., here are a few practical points that are always useful to know before setting off to discover Morocco.
Is Morocco an easy destination?
On an individual basis, Morocco is an ideal destination for first-time travellers, thanks in particular to its good infrastructure (transport, accommodation), easy language skills and relatively low risks. In fact, the country is one of the best choices for a first trip abroad away from home.
What are the formalities for traveling to Morocco?
For a tourist trip of less than 3 months, French nationals, all Europeans and a few other nationalities need a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into the country. No visa is required.
Please note that, even in the case of organized trips, an identity card is not sufficient, and a passport is also required.
As for arriving with your own vehicle, formalities are also relatively straightforward if you’re coming as a tourist for less than 3 months. You just need to make sure that your vehicle insurance includes Morocco in its coverage. Otherwise, you’ll have to ask for an extension or take out a one-off insurance policy for the occasion.
To prevent the resale of foreign vehicles on its territory, Morocco nevertheless requires drivers to leave the country with their own vehicle, on pain of fines and other hassles.
What currency is used in Morocco?
Planning your trip to Morocco: The currency used in Morocco is the dirham, divided into 100 centimes.
It’s very easy to change money in Morocco. As a tourist destination, the country has exchange offices at ports and airports, in most banks, and sometimes even in hotels and many tourist resorts, even if the rates there are not always the most attractive. ATMs are also available almost everywhere.
It’s also worth noting that, while the official currency is the dirham, in tourist areas it’s quite possible to pay for a variety of goods and services in euros. That’s why it’s always a good idea to bring a little cash with you on your trip.
What’s the budget?
The budget for Morocco tours varies according to the type of stay and the time of year. But in any case, the country remains economical compared with Europe.
Count on less than €50 per person per day for a backpacker trip for two, with travel by public transport, meals in markets or small restaurants, and nights in fairly average hotels. But for more facilities and activities, you’re still better off spending between €50 and €80/day.
Getting to Morocco
Morocco has some fifteen airports, of which Marrakech and Casablanca are the main ones. In France alone, more than ten French airports offer direct scheduled or low-cost flights to Morocco. And even if Casablanca, Marrakech and Agadir are the preferred destinations, depending on the season and service, you can also fly to Tangier, Fez, Ouarzazate, Essaouira and a few other Moroccan cities. And all at reasonable fares, even in high season.
By sea, Morocco, and Tangier in particular, is easily accessible by ferry from the Spanish coast, and even from Sète to Tangier and Nador.
As for cruises, Morocco is not really situated on the main liner routes. Nevertheless, the country welcomes around 400,000 cruise passengers every year.
How to get around?
Planning your trip to Morocco: As is often the case, having your own vehicle is the ideal way to travel, especially in the south and desert areas. Given the rental prices charged for smaller models, a car is advisable for two or three people. What’s more, for a Frenchman, driving in Morocco is not at all complicated.
If you’re on your own, or a fan of public transport, a combination of train (to the north) and bus will do just fine. Large cabs can also be used occasionally.
On the other hand, don’t forget that some journeys off the main roads may be time-consuming or complicated.
As for urban travel, you might as well opt for walking, supplemented by small cabs.
Accommodation in Morocco
Unsurprisingly, as a tourist destination, Morocco has a wide and varied range of tourist accommodation on offer. What’s more, it offers very attractive rates compared to France, even if, as everywhere else, prices rise during the high season and in the most popular locations. Campsites, self-catering cottages, hotels of all kinds, including the famous riads, as well as homestays and villa rentals, the choice is so vast that there’s something for everyone, whatever your stay.
Where to eat in Morocco?
Planning your trip to Morocco: You can eat well in Morocco for very little money, and there’s no shortage of places to eat.
From small local establishments to restaurants catering to tourists with €10/12 menus, street stalls, cafeterias, tearooms and patisseries, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a full meal or a simple snack.
Making yourself understood in Morocco
Although Arabic is the country’s official language, French is very common in Morocco, especially in cities and tourist areas. In fact, it’s the first foreign language spoken in the country. In short, we’ll never really have any communication problems.
What’s the time difference with Europe?
Morocco is on UTC+1 time, but has no daylight saving time. As a result, there is one hour less time in summer than in France, and no time difference in winter.
What electrical sockets should I bring?
The country uses 220 V (50 Hz) with “French” or more officially C + E type plugs. So nothing special is required.
What are the health risks in Morocco?
Planning your trip to Morocco: Even if you need to take a few basic precautions, particularly with regard to hygiene, the sun and, above all, water and food, Morocco poses few health problems. There are no compulsory vaccinations, no malaria, and the inconveniences for the traveller most often revolve around “turista” (diarrhoea) due to drinking tap water or eating food that is not guaranteed to be fresh.
And what about security?
In terms of crime and delinquency, the risks of (major) problems are low for visitors, and are often limited to theft in tourist or crowded areas (souks, train stations…). But, with a minimum of common sense and if you don’t flaunt your wealth, the danger remains low.
On the other hand, in tourist towns, it’s true that “little scams” or “tourist harassment” are part and parcel of the scenery. Nonetheless, this is more in the realm of annoyance than insecurity.
As for socio-political problems, certain recurrent tensions and events in the past, including terrorism, mean that a minimum of precautions and information on the subject can be useful above all if you leave the tourist areas or travel off the beaten track, particularly in the Western Sahara, where there are still a few minefields.
What to pack
From spring to autumn, pack light clothing plus a good woollen layer for the evenings and the altitude.
In winter, on the other hand, it’s a good idea to pack warmer clothes if you’re not staying exclusively on the coast or in the Deep South. Winter is also the rainy season in the north of the country.
For the desert, sunglasses, sun protection, a hat and a cheich (long local scarf) are essential.
But, generally speaking, Morocco is well-stocked, and you’ll always find all the equipment and materials you need in the big cities.
The right time, climate and weather in Morocco
Planning your trip to Morocco: The diversity of the country, with relief ranging from sea level to over 4,000 meters above sea level, means that the climate varies considerably: the coast remains pleasant all year round, with mild summers and pleasant winters (from 17 to 26°C on average, depending on the season). The inland, with its continental climate, is more stifling in summer and colder in winter.
As for the desert, it should be avoided in summer, due to excessive daytime temperatures that can sometimes well exceed 40°C.
As for the best time to visit Morocco, spring and autumn are good climatic periods for the interior. On the coast, the pleasant period running roughly from April to November may be preferred.