After visiting Morocco twice, I have the best Morocco travel tips for anyone looking to visit Morocco for the first time.
What are the best Morocco travel tips? After visiting Morocco twice (once in 2015 for a week and then for a month in 2022), I have some travel tips for anyone looking to visit Morocco for the first time.
If you want to learn more about my experience as a digital nomad in Morocco, go over to read that blog post. In this post, I want to focus on some tips for anyone who, like myself, now knows what to expect when visiting Morocco for the first time.
The streets of the city are filled with people and shops, colourful fabrics and street food. And if you travel far enough, you can see the ocean or the Sahara Desert. Do you plan to experience Morocco? Here’s all you need to know before planning a trip to Morocco.
Is English widely spoken in Morocco?
Yes, most tourist places will have staff speaking in English.
But you may occasionally, although not necessarily, find yourself in situations where you can’t understand locals. Those who are not involved in the tourism business don’t speak English as much. However, in my experience, a lot of young people in Morocco, especially in larger cities, speak English.
In North Africa, the Kingdom of Morocco rises as a land of contrasts: of colours, people, landscapes and languages. The official languages are Arabic and Berber language, but French is pretty common as well.
Most locals, if not all, do speak French, and it will be much easier for everyone if you can speak French.
Morocco Travel Tips: Locals’ attitude towards tourists
Safety and measures of caution come first. Morocco is used to tourists, and the bigger cities have a lot to offer. Also, locals are trying to take advantage of this flood of tourists.
I stayed in Marrakesh for one week. Everywhere on the streets were people trying to convince you to book a 1-day trip from their agency. If you’re a tourist, they will notice you. And some others will try to convince you to eat at a certain restaurant or street food stall. It can be exhausting and annoying, especially if you travel alone.
Beware of your surroundings always, don’t wear valuable jewellery, leave your passport at your hotel, and take care where you exchange money.
I feel that the attitude towards tourists has changed a lot in Morocco over the past few years. And I can definitely see a big difference between my 2015 and 2022 visits.
Back in 2015, a lot of blogs and my guide there were saying not to travel alone and too far from the crowded streets. Especially at night and if you are a woman. This is a Muslim country, and at your first contact, it can come as a shock.
However, after my second visit in 2022, I have to say that it doesn’t feel like that anymore. I walked a lot around Marrakesh and in the other major cities (Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Fes), and I have never felt unsafe.
I have videos from each major city in Morocco on my YouTube channel, and you can see for yourself the chill attitude towards tourists.
While locals don’t speak English in other cities as much as in Marrakesh, I had no issue finding restaurants, ordering food, asking for directions and doing everything I wanted to do.
In the end, it’s up to you not to end up in sketchy places, but as long as you don’t go anywhere that doesn’t inspire you good vibes, I don’t see an issue.
For my second visit, I was a bit scared of walking on the streets at night. But that soon faded away, as there was nothing to be scared about. I frequently took evening walks around the neighbourhood with my boyfriend, even on empty streets.
It’s true; I wasn’t alone because we were travelling together, but I have never felt like that had an impact on our evening walks.
A lot of tourists go there with a group or search for local agencies to tour the country. Either way, I believe it’s the best way to explore more than 1 city to get insights and tips about places. The locals “offering” to help you will leave you alone if you are in a group.
For my first 2015 Morocco visit, I went there with a group. All trips were planned before getting there, so that made everything easier. However, for my second trip in Morocco, which lasted one month, I organised everything myself.
Looking back and comparing the two types of trips in Morocco, I recommend organising your own trip if you like to enjoy more or have a more spontaneous travel style, like myself.
You can book it up to one day in advance, and it will save you the hassle of trying to find a reputable tour agency in Morocco and then negotiating for the experience. Also, they will pick you up from your hotel in the morning, which makes everything really easy.
I used GetYourGuide in Morocco for the following day trips, and I do recommend it:
- Ouzoud Waterfalls Guided Hike and Boat Trip
- Merzouga 3-Day Desert Safari with Food
- Essaouira Full-Day Trip
- Day Trip to Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou
What you will see in Morocco: The landscapes of Morocco
The waves of the Atlantic Ocean touch the shore of Morocco, and one great place to visit and admire the ocean is Essaouira. A colourful, fish-abundant city is a perfect 1-day trip from Marrakesh.
The Atlas Mountains border the dry desert. Mighty peaks, winding roads, rocky cliffs and red soil. A place for trekking and absorbing the greatness of nature.
And then arrive in the desert: sand as far as the eye can see. This was my favourite experience in Morocco.
If you want a comprehensive list of places to include on your itinerary, check out my list of the best places to visit in Morocco.
A Camel Trek in Merzouga Desert
Definitely, my favourite moment from Morocco was the trip to the desert. This is also the most popular experience in Morocco. Everyone wants to do it, and it will be wonderful.
Although this is a very popular tourist attraction there, and many tour guides and agencies have it among their offerings, it is such a beautiful experience. Here’s the 3-day desert experience in Morocco.
It started from this house, which was literally at the beginning of the desert, and from there, we jumped on a camel, and it was a nice 1-hour camel trek at sunset in the desert.
We arrived at a desert camp, some tents and carpets laid on the sand, and the Berbers made dinner for us, set up a fire, and played traditional music using a few Tbilat (it looks like a drum) and Krakebs (a large iron castanet-like musical instrument). And we drank Moroccan tea under the clear sky.
For the first time, I saw a sky full of stars. It was so full of tiny spots, having no city lights to seize its greatness.
On the way back, I witnessed the sunrise from the second camel trek, and that was probably one of the moments worth getting up early for. Read the entire story here (and the photos!!)
Seeing Aït Benhaddou
For Game of Thrones fans, this place is something you will want to see. This place was used to film scenes from famous movies like Gladiator, Alexander, The Mummy, and many more.
This ancient fortified village is a great illustration of Moroccan architecture made of clay. The site still has four families living there and half of a dozen merchant houses, while most locals live on the other side of the river.
The village is located on the old caravan route leading from Marrakesh to the Sahara Desert. Aït Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
I recommend booking this day trip to see this place.
During my first trip ever in Morocco, I spend here most of my trip, and I can say it is another world. Although apparently most of the locals earn a living from tourism, their style may not always be the one you are used to.
Years later, in 2022, I came back to Marrakesh and rented an apartment for a month in the Gueliz area, which is the expat area outside the medina. Honestly, it was so much better to stay outside the medina. I do recommend it. Here are my thoughts after spending a month as a digital nomad in Morocco.
Marrakesh is the fourth biggest city in Morocco, but one of the busiest cities in Africa, hosting the busiest market (soak), Jamaa el Fna. The great bazaar is a great crowd of locals selling everything from fresh food and orange juice to electronic devices, pottery, copperware, leather and other crafts. Shopping in the souks requires the skill and the ritual of bargaining.
The name of the city is believed to come from a Berber word, and it means “Land of God.”
It’s referred to as a great citadel of the Muslim world. The city became a trendy tourist destination between 1960 and 1970, and famous people began to spend significant time in the city ( Yves Saint Laurent, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jean-Paul Getty).
The old town area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This title led to a lot of international publicity, creating awareness.
If you want to enjoy these historic places without any unwanted attention, I strongly advise you to dress modestly. Here are my tips for how to dress in Morocco as a tourist.
Other places to visit in Marrakesh are Jardin Majorelle, El Badi Palace, Bahia Palace, Station Marrakesh, La Palmeraie, Souk des Teinturiers, Menara Gardens and Pavilion. I have an entire video on my YouTube channel about the best places to visit in Marrakesh.
Traditional Food in Morocco
Expect spicy food, although it is not hot. This is the land of oranges, lemons and olives. Some common spices used are berries, chilli, cinnamon, grains of paradise, monk’s pepper, nutmeg, and turmeric.
Moroccan common dishes are:
- Tajines (with either chicken, lamb, beef or fish, adding fruits, olives and preserved lemon, vegetables and spices, including cumin, peppers, saffron, and turmeric)
- Rice cooked with saffron, raisins, spices, and almonds
- Briouat (triangular or cylinder-shaped pastry) filled with meat (mostly chicken or lamb) mixed with cheese, lemon and pepper.
- Couscous (small steamed balls of semolina) served with vegetables
- Pastilla (pastry pie stuffed with minced chicken or pigeon prepared with almonds, cinnamon, spices and sugar)
- Harira (soup: flour, tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, onions, rice, meat (beef, lamb, or chicken), olive oil)
- Chebakia (made of strips of dough rolled to resemble a rose, deep-fried until golden, then coated with a syrup made of honey and rose water and sprinkled with sesame.)
Popular drinks available everywhere:
- Green tea with mint is served with sugar from a curved teapot spout into small glasses.
- Orange juice
- All sorts of fruit juices. My boyfriend is a huge fan of fruit, so he always had juice at all the restaurants we tried, and all of them were really tasty.
Street food in Morocco
I personally believe that we are all different, and what turned out to be a bad food experience on my first trip to Morocco, can be the exact opposite for you.
However, as a general tip, never eat something that doesn’t feel good to you. Always trust your instincts because your instincts will speak to you faster than your gut will, especially when it comes to street food.
On my second trip to Morocco, in April 2022, when I spent one month in Morocco, I had a really good experience. I avoided eating street food, thinking about the really bad food poisoning I had a few years prior, but I enjoyed countless restaurants and never had issues with food.
I hope these Morocco travel tips will help you better understand this amazing Moroccan culture and prepare you for your first time in Morocco.