I spent one month in Morocco as a digital nomad, and I loved it! This is the first travel blog that I write about this trip to Morocco in April 2022, from a long series of blogs filled with travel tips and suggestions on what to do in Morocco.
First of all, I have to say that I was craving like crazy this break from the European madness and pandemic. The news that Morocco has finally opened its borders to tourists in February 2022 was one of the best travel news for me. Also, in the current context of the war in Ukraine, the inflation and increasing prices for everything in Europe, getting to travel to a different continent felt like a break from everything, if even for a while. However, high prices and inflation have started to be felt everywhere you go. But even so, Morocco remains a wonderful option for digital nomads from all over the world, as well as for tourists looking to spend 1 week away from their homeland.
Why Morocco? Why would you go holidaying in Morocco in the first place?
Why travel to Morocco? Here are some key things:
- Friendly locals
- Close to Europe
- Culturally and historically rich
- Huge geographical diversity
- Great and different cities to explore
- Welcoming towards foreigners
Firstly, because it’s a friendly country and locals are beyond hospitable and welcoming to tourists. And of course, because Morocco is so close to Europe, you can basically see Gibraltar from the most northern Moroccan city, Tangier. It doesn’t take forever to get to Morocco, and there are many low-cost flights from Italy and Spain, operated by EasyJet, that will get you to Africa.
Secondly, Morocco is still exotic for most of us. There is a huge difference in culture, religion, customs, and nature. The vast majority of its population are Muslims, but that doesn’t mean tourists can’t visit them.
Is Morocco welcoming foreigners?
On the contrary, I feel that Morocco is one of the most welcoming Muslim countries. They understand that foreigners may have different religious views and are not bothered by that. However, please be respectful of their religious customs and try to act accordingly. But that’s not all. Morocco has a fascinating history, as it all started with the Berber population. I’m not going to give you a history lesson (I’m not that good at it either), but rest assured, you will have many things to discover during your trip to Morocco.
As for the land of Morocco, this is hard to describe in words, but I’ll try my best. Morocco is a land of wonder, as it offers so many miracles – mountains, valleys, forests, the start of the Sahara Desert, rivers, a long coast on the Atlantic Ocean, and another one on the Mediterranean Sea. It’s hard to think of any other country that has all of these.
Since I’ve been to Morocco twice, and this last time I was there for one month and explored most of this beautiful country, I’ll give you some cool tips on travelling as a digital nomad in and around Morocco.
Tips for visiting Morocco as a digital nomad
Most people who asked me about my trip to Morocco seemed to think there’s something wrong with me when I told them that I loved this experience. But I think that has something to do with the fact that most people are not aware of the amazing experiences offered by Morocco. As always, when it comes to fear of travelling, it involves some dose of ignorance, but I’m here to shed some light on what’s like to travel as a digital nomad in Morocco.
Where to stay in Morocco as a digital nomad
Where to stay in Morocco? The answer to this question comes down to what you plan to do during your stay and your expectation of Morocco.
While it doesn’t seem like it, Morocco is a great country. It offers a great geographical diversity and a cultural diversity that can be observed as you travel between its different cities. I’m not a local, and probably some Moroccans will find my descriptions not worthy of their country, but I’ll try my best (so don’t throw any stones).
I stayed in Marrakesh, and I booked an apartment there for the entire month and used it as a base. I went on several day trips and also longer trips to explore all these places and more, and occasionally stayed in a hotel (4 nights in total).
If you plan to go to the ocean more, I recommend Essaouira for the chill vibe or Tangier for the more European vibe. Casablanca is ok for a day trip, but there isn’t much to do or see. Rabat deserves at least one full day, the medina is lovely. I would consider this my base for the next trip, although Tangier is also a great option. Personally, I wouldn’t choose Fes, as it feels like a different culture, a bit more rude and dirtier.
You can use Airbnb, booking.com, or simply use local agencies to find a place for a longer time in Morocco
I used Airbnb to book my apartment for the time I spent as a digital nomad in Morocco. But if you want to stay longer than a month, I recommend you book a hotel for a few days, and after you get there, you can contact a local agency to help you get an apartment. Hopefully, they will talk to the owner and convince them to rent you an apartment for 3 months only (they usually want 6 months – 1 year). But the prices are so much better than on Airbnb. I paid 820 Euros for 1 month on Airbnb, while locals that rent medium term might ask for 500 Euros. These are prices from April 2022.
Cities in Morroco
Here are the main cities you might stay in Morocco as a digital nomad, and I will also provide a brief description for each one:
- Marrakesh. This is the most touristic and one of the most expensive city in Morocco. Lots of great accommodation options and friendly locals, but the city is almost in the desert. It can be a good base you plan to explore the desert, while being close to the ocean as well. I recommend staying in the Gueliz area (the expats’ area, full of shops, restaurants, co-working spaces and everything you need).
- Essaouira. Great small medina near the ocean, quieter than larger cities (Rabat or Casablanca). Has a lovely vibe and many fish restaurants.
- Casablanca. The famous city is actually a huge city, and it may take a while to walk around the city, but most probably you will use public transportation of taxis. It’s less touristy, but still has everything you’d expect in a big city.
- Rabat. I enjoyed it more than I was expecting it. The medina and old cities are renovated and clean; the city has a number of different beaches and a long waterfront street. You can also go surfing here.
- Tangier. The most European like city in Morocco. It reminds me of the South of Spain and has a bit of Malta vibe in the old medina. You’ll find plenty of accommodation options near the old city, and you could take the ferry to Spain. Locals are offering drugs on the streets everywhere, but you can simply ignore them. Police are everywhere, and you will be very safe.
- Fes. The so-called cultural centre of Morocco. The city is fairly big, and the medina is older and has a different style than in the other cities. The locals are a bit more aggressive and try to convince you to go into their shop (this happens everywhere, but here it felt a bit more). I felt that the layout of the medina is too crowded and the train and bus stops are pretty far away from the centre – you need to take a taxi.
What’s the best month to visit Morocco as a digital nomad?
Morocco is a country that has half of its territory in the desert. Needless to say that it will get pretty hot during the summer. The best times to visit are April-May and September-November. April was simply perfect. I only wore sandals and some evenings I put on a jeans jacket on.
However, you might want to avoid Ramadan month. Ramadan changes its date everywhere, so make sure to check that beforehand. During Ramadan, most shops and businesses will open late and close early, supermarkets close for 1-2 hours during dinner time (18-20), and most restaurants are closed during the day. The touristic area in the medina is not that affected but will find it uncomfortable to eat on the street. Also, since most local restaurants will be closed outside the medina area, you will have to eat at home or spend more money to eat at a fancy restaurant that happens to be open.
I know all of this because Ramadan 2022 was in April, and I experienced the entire month of Ramadan. It’s safe to say that I know that you will probably starve if you don’t plan your meals in advance. While I didn’t fast, I certainly ate less and lost some kilos.
Morocco rules for tourists
There is no such thing as “Morocco rules for tourists”. Just be a nice human being and respect the laws of the country. Don’t do anything crazy, and remember that Morocco is a Muslim country. This means that women should dress respectful to their religion, don’t say anything offensive about Muslims, or the king of Morocco (he is very loved by Moroccans).
Non-muslims are not allowed in mosques, except for the big mosque (Hassan the 2nd) in Casablanca.
During Ramadan, try to be respectful and don’t eat or drink in front of locals.
I’ve seen tourists dressing however they wanted (shorts, tops), and nobody said anything, but this was in fairly tourist places. But since April has perfect weather, I mostly wore long pants are dresses, with normal T-shirts. Don’t feel too stressed about it because Morocco is trying to adapt and understand that foreigners are not used to its ways and is accepting everyone as they are. And I feel that is part of their welcoming culture – trying to understand everyone and make them feel welcome. I love it. I also felt that it was a huge difference from my first visit to Morocco in November 2015.
What to do in Morocco
There is so much you could do and see in Morocco. It’s up to your time schedule, work schedule, energy and budget. Here are some of the top things you can do in Morocco (all travel agencies will try to sell you day trips to most of these places):
Day trip to the ocean. If you’re staying in Marrakesh, then it will be a day trip to Essaouira, which should cost you around 20 Euros per person. They pick you up from your hotel/apartment and then drop you off.
Desert 3-day trip. This is one of the most popular trips for tourists in Morocco, and I did it when I was there for the first time. It’s extremely exhausting, and they try to show you as much as possible during those 3 days. The trip includes 2 nights of accommodation and a camel ride in the desert, where you’ll sleep in a desert camp. It should be around 100 Euros. You’ll be sitting in the car for hours every day, and the desert camp is just a bed in a tent with no toilet. Worth it?! Up to you, but I wouldn’t go again.
Other activities include day trips to the Atlas Mountains, the famous Unesco site (Aït Benhaddou), camel rides, quad bike ride over desert dunes, d’Ouzoud waterfall, and all the other major cities in Morocco.
Do you need a visa for Morocco?
Most countries’ nationalities will receive a 90-day visa on arrival. However, you have to check your country’s Ministery of Foreign Affairs website to make sure of the diplomatic conditions they have with Morocco. That’s how you will also find out if there are any travel restrictions that would apply to your arrival.
For instance, I visited Morocco in April 2022. Back then, Morocco was still requesting all foreigners to have a PCR Covid test done 48 hours prior to their arrival. Here is the official website visitMorocco.com that may help you with some extra info.
Is Morocco safe?
If you’ve never been to Morocco, you must be wondering if it’s safe. Actually, that’s mostly because there are so many big travel blogs and magazines saying stuff like you should always keep your passport at the hotel and that you shouldn’t carry around too much cash.
But is Morocco safe? YES. Beyond any doubt, regardless of what you’ve read online, I can tell you from my own experience that it is much safer than most countries you’ve visited. I, too, was a bit paranoid for the first couple of days in Marrakesh. But then I relaxed when I got to walk around, go out for walks at sunset, walked through the medina maze at night when most shops were closed. As full disclosure, I was there with my boyfriend, but you could have spotted us from a mile away, as my boyfriend is blonde, and everyone thought he was rich or something.
I have the habit of carrying my phone (iPhone 13 Pro) in the back pocket of my jeans, and I never had an issue with that. Nobody grabbed my purse, my phone, or any other weird thing. Yes, some shopkeepers were a bit pushy and tried a bit too much to make you buy something from their shop. But that isn’t a crime, and you don’t have to answer if you want to.
Again, Morocco is safe, and I say this after visiting all the major cities in the country, walking on the streets after sunset, taking all means of transport and visiting all medinas. But please be a respectful traveller, apply common sense, and take care of your stuff.
How I planned my trip to Morocco as a digital nomad
My plan for Morocco was to find a base city and then explore some other places during weekends or when I had more free time (remember that I also had to work).
I chose Marrakesh as my base city, as it was the city where I landed. Marrakech is well-connected to multiple European cities, and you can find low-cost companies flying to Marrakesh. That’s always a plus if you are travelling on a budget.
I booked an apartment in the Gueliz area, in Marrakesh, for 1 month. I wanted to make sure I had a place to go directly from the airport. On my way to Morocco, I had a layover of over 5 hours, and I knew I would be exhausted (and I was).
If you want to travel to other cities, you will most likely use the train to go to any of the other larger cities (Casablanca, Rabat etc.). That’s why I recommend you find a place between the medina and the train station. There are trains leaving for Casablanca every two hours or so, but if you want to get the first one in the morning, you will need to get there at 5 am. My apartment was just across the street from the train station, and it was perfect. In this case, you won’t have to rely so much on public transport, which works just fine during the day, but not that great during the night.
In all cities in Morocco, you can take petit taxis (normal taxis) to take you to your destination. Note that even petit taxies may stop to take other people along the way if they are going in the same direction.
I will further explain the taxi situation in another post. But don’t worry, it’s not as dreadful as some portray it.
Other than that, everything is really easy.
Can you travel by train in Morocco?
I recommend that you travel by train between the large cities because it is the most convenient and efficient way to travel in Morocco. You can buy your train or bus tickets online or directly at the station by card.
You can search for trains in Morocco here: https://www.oncf-voyages.ma/ (you can also find buses here) and https://www.oncf.ma/en (this may not work outside Morocco).
Can you travel by bus in Morocco?
The south part of Morocco isn’t yet connected by trains (but there are plans to expand the railroad network), and you will have to take the bus. I’m talking about Essaouira and everything else to the South. There are multiple bus companies in Morocco that operate different routes. For instance, Supratours (the link may not work outside Morocco) is a bus company that operates from Marrakesh to Essaouira.
You will also need to take the bus if you want to visit smaller cities and villages, such as the famous blue city of Morocco, Chefchaouen. To visit the blue pearl city, you need to take a bus from Tangier or Fes. The company’s name is CTM, and it operates a few times per day. Please note that you should book your bus ticket in advance, as buses have limited seats. You can pay online with your international card and then have your ticket on your phone and show it to the driver.
Travelling to Morocco during Ramadan
As I said, I was in Morocco for the entire month of Ramadan in April 2022. It was my second time experiencing the month of Ramadan, and I knew what to expect. But if you’re not familiar with the Muslim culture and Ramadan, some of these customs will seem weird.
First of all, always be respectful of the local traditions. You are a guest in this country, and it is not for you to decide how things get done.
As with any Muslim country, you will hear the five prayers of the day, every day. However, there aren’t too many mosques in the Gueliz neighbourhood in Marrakesh (the one that I stayed in), and I almost never hear the calling to the prayers. Stay close to the train station, and you will like it.
People are especially friendly and helpful during Ramadan, as this is a holy month for Muslims. They are required to donate food and money, and you will see random acts of charity as you are walking on the streets.
What is different during Ramadan in Morocco?
But the thing that most foreigners will be interested in, are restaurants. The thing is that Muslims in Morocco are required by law to fast during Ramadan. That’s why almost all restaurants are closed during the day, during Ramadan, except for a very few in the touristic parts of the medinas. Google maps is not aware of this and will not be very helpful in finding any open restaurants. However, you will find food in the open markets (bread, fruits, things you can cook at home), and supermarkets and pastry shops will be opened. If you plan to be out for most of the day, you should pack some sandwiches, just to be sure you have some food with you.
Note that everyone is fasting, so you should be respectful and not eat or drink on the street during Ramadan. If you have to eat, go somewhere more private, where fewer people will see you. It’s unlikely that someone will come to you and say something, but locals will not be pleased (and quite frankly, I would feel the same).
Most businesses will open late and close early, as everyone is fasting and they are feeling more tired than usual. Also, locals might get more easily irritated, but I guess that’s normal when you don’t drink or eat anything for the entire day, every day, for a month. But don’t worry, those are isolated cases.
Dinner time is when things are a bit different than usual during Ramadan
Note that supermarkets close during Iftar, the evening prayer, and the time everyone eats the first meal of the day, dinner. However, restaurants open and welcome everyone to dinner. Most places have a special Iftar menu. You should try it once, it’s very filling.
During dinner, everyone is busy eating, and there will be almost no one on the streets and very few cars on the road. The city becomes like a ghost town, and all you hear are people eating. There’s almost zero chance of catching a taxi or bus during Iftar. One hour after Iftar, everything resumes, supermarkets open for two more hours and most places are open.
If you stay till the end of Ramadan, you will feel how the vibe of the city changes. I found it to be similar to the way Easter feels for Christians. The first three days after Ramadan ends are a holiday, and everyone visits their families. Most businesses will be closed for the first two days (coworking places, shops).
Alcohol in Morocco
Morocco is a Muslim country and their religion forbids them from drinking alcohol. That’s why you can’t find alcohol everywhere. Big supermarkets will have a special section, where they sell alcohol, and they will ask for your passport, to write down your details. Only touristic restaurants and bars will serve beer, wine or alcohol, and it will not be cheap. During Ramadan, the dedicated liquor stores are closed (for the entire month).
It took us about one week to find one of the few supermarkets that sold alcohol during Ramadan. That is Champion Market, Rue Oum Errabia in Marrakesh. They had a huge variety of wine, beer and spirits. Make sure to have a photo of your passport on your phone because they will ask for it.
Most of the time, it’s a hassle to try to find alcohol, and that task is even more difficult during Ramadan.
Internet in Morocco
As a digital nomad, the first thing you need to research before visiting a new place is the internet speed. When my future Airbnb host said she has very fast internet, at 12MB/s, I started having serious doubts about Morocco.
Actually, my boyfriend and I researched this topic extensively and ended up reading all the blogs and Reddit forums on the topic from the past decade. Please don’t waste your time, because you will not like what you’ll find.
However, the truth is that most apartments and hotels will have slow wifi in Morocco. The bright part is that you can get a local SIM card and get 10 GB of data for 10 Euros. And you can add more each time you run out. I had to recharge 3 times during that month, but I live on Instagram. The SIM data works fine, much better than most WIFIs. I recommend choosing Maroc Telecom, as it has the best coverage.
However, for your daily work, you will need to use your mobile data (turn your mobile into a hotspot) or go to a coworking space. Luckily, all major cities have coworking spaces, and prices vary from 10-15 Euros per day. In Marrakesh, you will find quite a few places, and the staff is always super nice. This is another reason to stay in the Gueliz area, as this is where the coworking spaces are.
Would I travel again to Morocco as a digital nomad?
Absolutely, yes. I don’t have an issue with any of their customs or religious rituals. I try not to offend in any way and simply be a nice and polite person. Other than that, I felt really safe and at home in Morocco. I had everything I have at home, all the shops and brands, skincare stuff, food, supermarkets and lots of things to see and do.
Most digital nomads complain that Morocco has bad wifi. While that is true, you can simply go to a coworking space and enjoy great fiber optic internet. I can’t really complain.
Tell me what you think!