If you are traveling to Morocco for the first time and are perhaps traveling from North America, Europe, or even Oceania, you will notice that the culture is very different from that of home and perhaps to any place you’ve been before.
Morocco is a vibrant country with so much to offer, almost as if it was created especially for tourists. Although there are so many things to see and do here, which will captivate you, there are a few things to know about Morocco before you travel there, which will prevent any unpleasant surprises or hassles.
One of the reasons your ‘Local Destination Expert’ is such a crucial aspect of your trip is because their local knowledge can come in very handy. Because, after all, the locals know best – so be sure to ask them for their local recommendations, tips, tricks, and advice.
With that being said, there are a few topics you shouldn’t overlook when traveling to Morocco, so let’s look at the main things to know for your trip.
One of the main things you will need to plan when going to Morocco is your budget, and that is crucial to all trips, which depends on the time you have, the standards you expect, and the daily activities you have planned. Food is reasonably priced in Morocco in restaurants and street food vendors, which offer the cheapest option for traditional dishes. You will be able to find a variety of restaurants to choose from at great prices due to the high level of competition. The same goes for hotels, but always compare this before you travel, and you will get a good deal, especially in the off-season, but even in peak season, the competition keeps prices affordable.
Knowing what you want from your trip while setting out your budget is essential. Suppose you are backpacking, going on a group tour, traveling solo, or as a family. In that case, it is good to know that there are various options from hostels, street food, and local transport to luxury hotels, good restaurants, and daily tours avail of.
One of the most cost-saving ways to explore Morocco is on a group tour, which allows you to pay upfront and have your food, transport, accommodation, and sometimes entrance fees included. Always carry extra cash (the local currency is Moroccan Dirham) to tip guides, taxi drivers, pay at local markets, etc. There is no rule to tipping in Morocco, but it is somewhat expected, and if you tip, it is greatly appreciated.
Morocco has two official languages, Arabic, of which 90% of the population speak, and Berber (26%), while French is considered a second language for some Moroccans, with 33% of people speaking it. If you have a good grasp of French or Arabic, you will get along just fine, but you may find it hard to source English speakers outside of tourist areas, with only 14% of the population speaking it.
With that being said, if you are planning a trip that revolves around the major cities and sites, you can be rest assured to find an English-speaking guide, service staff, etc. but always carry a pocket translation guide for times when communication proves difficult. Spanish is also spoken by some Moroccans in the north of the country, specifically in Tangier and Tétouan, close to Spain. So if you are traveling to these areas and have some Spanish, this will come in handy.
Morocco has a vibrant culture, with a mix of influences from other parts of the world, such as Europe, The Middle East, and Africa. If you have not been there before, it is worth knowing a few things about the local culture to avoid the typical ‘culture shock’ that many experiences. With that being said, the culture in Morocco is an amazing one to discover, so let’s take a look at the top things you should keep in mind when traveling there.
- Greetings of the same sex occur with a kiss on the cheek. Otherwise, if a woman wants to be greeted by a man, she must extend her hand; otherwise, the man will bow to greet her.
- Haggling is a considerable part of the culture, so get comfortable with bargaining on prices, especially at medinas (local markets)
- Morocco is predominantly Muslim, so it is vital to be aware of the dress code for both men and women, and do not wear clothes that are too revealing, but rather loose and light clothing if it is hot.
- Moroccans expect you to ask before taking a photograph of them, their goods, their shop, or their family, so always be respectful and ask first.
- As this is a Muslim country, being intoxicated in public is a serious offense, but there may be areas of the country which serve alcohol, especially in tourist areas.
- Always dress appropriately, primarily if you are being hosted, and it is expected to remove your shoes and leave them at the door before entry.
One of the best ways to get around Morocco is by group or private tour, which enables you to feel safe, save time and see as much as possible without trying to organize it all yourself. But perhaps you have a tour planned and some free time to explore yourself. So how do you do it? The country has an extensive bus network and a rail network that links significant towns in various parts of the country.
There is also the option to take shared taxis, which is very common in this part of the world and can be a cheap and efficient way to get around while sharing the cost with others. And because it costs just a little more than a bus but saves you around thirty percent of the time of traveling, it might be worth it in most cases.
Suppose you are really under time pressure and plan to see many regions. In that case, you can opt for an internal flight with Royal Air Maroc. But bear in mind that these flights either originate at their hub in Casablanca or stopover there on the way to your destination. Of course, flying is only beneficial for long distances, perhaps if you plan to visit Western Sahara and have little time, but otherwise, it may be best to choose other modes of transport.
Renting a car is an option, just like in many other parts. Still, suppose you plan to do this in Morocco. You need to be a very skilled driver and be prepared for some crazy encounters, considering local drivers tend to ignore traffic rules, the roads can sometimes be a little ‘adventurous,’ and there is always traffic, especially in cities. But, of course, it is possible and doable, with many car rental agencies available in Morocco to choose from. Still, it is worth knowing the risks and the advantages versus disadvantages before deciding on this option.