Whether it’s your 1st visit or your 15th visit, Morocco truly offers something for everyone. If you’ve never left the United States before you will certainly be in for an experience but trust me, it will change your life. I could in all honesty write a blog only about traveling to and in Morocco and I do incorporate this some into my posts, but this page will be a resource portal to other great resources for the Moroccan traveler. I anticipate this page will be a continual work in progress as I become aware of more opportunities
- From North America there are a few flight options to Morocco. The only non-stop flight is from New York JFK to Casablanca. This flight operates daily on Royal Air Maroc/Delta.
- Most flights will take you through Europe – almost every major European city has flights into Morocco.
There are also low-cost carriers that connect from European hubs into Moroccan cities such as Marrakech, Fez and Tangier. Once in Morocco traveling around the country on Royal Air Maroc is possible. Flights go to smaller Moroccan cities such as Oujda, Ouarzazate, Agadir, Rabat, or Essaouira. If your journey is taking you beyond Morocco you will find flights to destinations across the Middle East and West Africa from Casablanca or Marrakech.
The Moroccan climate is very similar to California from north to south. Depending on where you’re staying, the weather may vary dramatically. The Atlantic coast is much cooler in general than the interior of the country. Northern Moroccan temperatures are more temperate than the south. Generally spring and fall are the most moderate times of year with an average temperature around 70F. Summers can be very hot, well over 100F in the southern parts of the country, and even the northern parts quite warm. Winters can drop down around 40F. This is also the rainy season. It is important to keep in mind that most Moroccan homes and riads do NOT have central heating. Even if 60F sounds like a warm winter day, it’s not so warm when it’s rainy and there’s no interior heating!
What to Pack
This will partly depend on what time of year you are visiting, where in country you are going and type of activities you have planned. For the everyday traveler who will be engaging in a typical tour of Morocco some of the items you might want to have on hand are;
- clothes that can be layered, think cardigan sweaters, tank tops, lightweight t-shirts, or long undershirts. Pants that can be worn comfortably and worn a few times without needing washing or pressing. Plenty of underwear and socks.
- A good pair of sturdy walking shoes – you’ll need them! I love shoes that can be worn everyday but fit with a nicer pair of pants and shirt. Women – you can always buy a pair of low-cost cute sandals in the markets if dressier shoes are called for!
- Swimsuit for summer months – note you will NOT swim in Morocco in the winter, it’s simply not THAT warm!
- A light weight jacket – often called a spring/fall jacket.
- For women; one longer shirt (tunic) and a scarf to have on hand in case needed to visit holy/religious sites.
- Hand sanitizer or baby wipes to keep on hand
- If you’re traveling off the beaten path you may want to bring some small roles of toilet paper or tissue with
- A few small gifts for hosts, friends you make along the way. Though not necessary, I like to have them along.
- Over the counter medication; Tylenol (acetomenophin) , Advil (ibuprofen), antacid, anti-diarrheal medication, band-aids, Benadryl or another allergy medication.
- Prescription medication in ORIGINAL containers – this is especially important if flying. Also make sure to include contacts, lense solution and extra glasses/contacts for the trip. Check out these suggestions for a travel emergency kit.
- A small duffle bag that can be used for small trips or to bring home items you may not have room for in your luggage.
- Copies of your travel documents, flight itineraries, and where you are staying. It might also be helpful to keep a detailed list of what is in your suitcase (and receipts if you have them) in case luggage is lost, broken or stolen. Keep one with you, one in your suitcase and leave one at home with a family member or friend. Make sure to include bank card numbers with this information.
Need some more ideas? Check out my posts on what to pack for kids, men, and women by clicking the images below!
What to bring in your carry-on:
- Your airplane tickets, travel documents, and trip itinerary
- Snacks/food for the airplane, esp. important if you are a picky eater or have dietary restrictions
- Reading material, a journal, Arabic or French phrase book. (I like this one).
- A pair of flip flops or socks to get comfortable on the plane.
- Headphones (with or without mp3 player depending on your wants/needs).
- Any prescription medications you need for the trip.
- OTC medication that might help on the flight (don’t bring the whole bottle in your backpack just a few!)
- You may want to bring a sleeping mask, a small blanket or inflatable neck pillow.
- Money and bank cards/credit cards.
- Morocco uses the same electrical system as Europe, 220v – make sure you have an appropriate converter for your electronics
- Telephones; if you have a GSM compatible phone you can have your phone unlocked before traveling (making sure your cell phone will work abroad). You can then purchase a pay as you go GSM card in Morocco to make and receive calls with (swapping out your GSM card).
- If you want to travel with a computer, I highly recommend a netbook or a iPad, something small, compact, and lightweight.
- Cyber cafe’s are incredibly common even in small Moroccan cities and are relatively inexpensive, though the connection may not be the high-speed quality you are accustomed to. If you’re only looking to send a few emails, check in on Facebook, or call a family member on Skype this might make more sense than carrying a computer along.
- Morocco is very tourist friendly, DSLR cameras, video cameras etc are very common on the streets. Just be cautious to keep expensive valuables such as these secure.
- The Moroccan currency is a dirham, approximately 9 dirham are equal to $1US
- Large cities in Morocco, have ATM machines. Even smaller cities that have branches of the national banks have ATM machines.
- Major banks in Morocco include; Atttijariwafa Bank, Banque Populaire du Maroc, BMCE Bank, and BMCI.
- Check with your bank about drawing money internationally and what their charges are. In most cases it will be cheaper to withdraw larger sums of money less often (fewer charges)
- Make sure that you alert your bank that you will be traveling overseas and using your debit and/or credit card. Many banks will immediately lock your account if a transaction is made out of the country.
- If you travel with your national currency you can exchange money for dirhams at any of the national banks, they may restrict the amount that can be done at any one time depending on how much cash they have on hand. Unlike American banks, Moroccan banks do not hold unlimited quantities of cash.
- You CAN NOT take Moroccan currency out of the country, nor can you exchange your dollars, euros, etc for Moroccan currency in your home country ahead of time. Take this into consideration as you wind down your journey.
- Credit cards can be used at hotels, some restaurants and higher end shops. However the majority of the economy runs on cash. If you plan to make any big purchases (rugs, jewelry, etc) plan to have enough cash on hand for this transaction, or seek out a shop that you can use credit (you should know however if this is your only option, and the seller knows this, you most likely will end up being charged more!)
There are many ways to travel around Morocco. For budget travelers train tickets are cheap, service fairly reliable, and major cities are on the route. There are several bus companies that run throughout the country. If getting to smaller cities that are off the beaten path is part of your itinerary a bus is likely to be the most economical and efficient way to reach your destination.
Many people try to see Morocco in a week or 10 days. If you want to see a lot of the country with little time for travel consider flying point to point. Royal Air Maroc (RAM) flies throughout the country and tickets are relatively inexpensive. Just be aware that RAM struggles with reliability and service standards.
Finally there are two options if a road trip is more your style. Rental cars are available in major cities across Morocco. That being said they are nearly all manual transmissions and expensive to rent. If you decide to go this route, check with your car insurance carrier to see if they cover rental vehicles, it’s also worth checking with your credit card company as some do offer rental car protection. If neither is the case, it’s highly advisable to take out insurance when you are renting a car. Morocco recognizes drivers’ licenses from most countries but beware when driving. The police are quite vigilant, especially if they notice you’re not Moroccan and an inflated ticket price to pay may be likely.
If you’re not ready to take the driver’s seat grand taxis’ run throughout the country. In most cities there is a central gathering place for these large long-haul taxis and you can negotiate with the driver about the price for the destination you would like to go. While negotiating make sure you let them know if you want a private taxi or not. If not, don’t be surprised if there’s 4 of you in the back seat and 2 up front, and that the taxi might make stops between your departure point and destination to let off and take in passengers.
Where to Visit
Visiting Marrakech? Unfortunately I can’t provide lengthy travel advice to Morocco via email. If you would like helping planning your Moroccan vacation, please browse my travel archives, you can also visit this post on Marrakech. If you would like help planning an individualized tour, I can be hired at a one-time rate. You can contact me directly to set up a consultation.
Here are some of my Morocco specific posts to help you with travel planning.
(I’ll be regularly updating this as I add to it)
Thinking of staying in a riad with kids? Good idea or bad idea?