One of the best parts about our two week trip was that all our most useful Morocco tips came from locals because we had a guide and driver in the know. We ate at the best restaurants, tipped the right amount, and enjoyed more authentic cultural experiences.
I’d highly recommend a guided tour for these reasons but even if you travel independently, you’ll be all set with my best travel tips below!
Morocco Travel Tips
There are so many wonderful places to see in Morocco. Whether you’re headed to imperial cities like Fes and Marrakesh or will be trekking in the Sahara Desert, you’ll want to know what to expect as you travel in Morocco.
From how to avoid traffic tickets and which foods to try to how to dress and tip, read on for all of my best suggestions…
1. Obey speed limits.
We had a private driver as we crisscrossed Morocco over 14 days from the desert to the imperial cities and the Atlantic coast to the High Atlas Mountains.
Our driver constantly pointed out cops hiding roadside behind rocks and other hidden areas. Even he was pulled over once. (We were on our way after he paid a small “fine”.)
So it’s hard for me to imagine that most travelers could expect to spend much time in Morocco without ending up with a few traffic tickets.
Don’t get me wrong: The freeways are in excellent condition and it’s safe to drive in the country (although I’d steer clear of major cities like Marrakesh with its scooters everywhere).
If you are driving, watch for hand signals from other drivers to warn you of cops lurking nearby.
You might see a driver pass and make a V sign, for example, or someone may flash his lights.
2. Know the currency and exchange rate.
Morocco uses Moroccan dirhams. When we visited, the exchange rate was nearly 10 dirhams for one USD. You can check the current exchange rate at xe.com.
You’ll find that most restaurants accept credit cards. Expect to have cash on hand for purchases in the medina or sometimes in small roadside restaurants.
I’d read from other bloggers that ATMs didn’t work reliably but we never had a problem.
3. Hire a driver/tour guide.
While Morocco is generally safe to travel on your own, you’ll get so much more out of the experience and avoid lots of hassles—like those speeding tickets I mentioned above—if you hire a private driver and/or tour guide.
We visited Morocco as a couple with our adult daughter and my elderly mom and felt like we got so much more out of two weeks in the country this way.
And I say this as someone who prefers to travel independently in most countries and booked my first multi-day tour ever on this trip.
We enjoyed lots of local cultural experiences we’d never have found on our own.
And, since they were vetted by our guide, they felt authentic instead of touristy.
Plus, we had ample opportunity to ask our guide and driver all our burning questions about Africa, Islam, and Morocco. And we felt 100 percent safe the entire time.
If you prefer to travel independently and book your own hotels, you can always reach out to a tour company and request a driver only to save money.
I highly recommend this approach for solo female travelers who want to see Morocco without being approached by men.
4. Take a cooking class.
There are oodles of cooking classes you could take in places like Marrakesh but our experience at Atelier de Cuisine with Chef Tarik was truly something special.
Located about a half hour drive from the city in a tiny country village, this class was so much more than learning how to cook authentic tagines and other Moroccan specialties.
Chef Tarik Harabida trains local women from the nearby village how to become chefs through a year-long culinary program.
The certification they earn makes them sought after by local restaurants and sets them on a sustainable career path that changes lives.
The hands-on half day cooking class included a deep dive into Morocco tea culture, spices, tagines, and a tour of their beautiful organic vegetable garden, wrapping up with a delightful meal.
This is sustainable tourism as its best. You can feel good about spending your tourism dollars here.
5. Friday is holy day.
In Islam, Friday is a blessed day of prayer.
In Morocco, you’ll find many shops in the median closed as Moroccans perform their weekly cleansing ritual in a hamam and prepare for Friday prayers.
Families often lunch together on Fridays or gather with friends in celebration. So plan ahead if a particular attraction is on your list that may be closed on Friday.
6. Morocco has a tipping culture.
As a traveler in Morocco, you’re likely to be meeting a lot of baggage handlers and maids in hotels, waiters in restaurants, and tour guides at famous UNESCO sites.
Morocco is generally inexpensive for travelers and all those service workers don’t make the kind of wages you’d typically find in Europe or the USA.
If you get great service, be generous (but not over the top). In restaurants, tips are optional but we typically tipped 10 percent.
We usually tipped baggage handlers and maids in hotels 20 MAD ($2 USD). If you find yourself short on change, it’s totally okay to ask someone to break some bills before offering a tip so don’t be shy.
If you hire a tour guide for a half or full day tour, definitely include a tip at the end of your tour if your guide did a great job.
In Morocco, all tour guides must be licensed by the Moroccan National Tourism Board after passing a rigorous exam to earn the privilege to run tours.
We benefited from a number of guided day tours by local experts in places like Fes and Volubulis (the incredible Roman ruins near Meknes) and typically tipped 100 MAD ($10 USD).
However, no discussion of Morocco’s tipping culture would be complete without my next tip!
7. Bring change and toilet paper for restrooms.
There is of course no tip required when using restrooms in fancy hotels or restaurants. (And plenty of toilet paper is provided, too.)
However, if you’re traveling further afield on long road journeys—or even stopping in a small cafe in a medina somewhere—you’re likely to find a bathroom attendant at the entrance.
And this person is expecting you to fork over a coin or two in exchange for the privlege of using the loo.
If you’re fortunate, the attendant will hand you some TP in exchange for the coin but don’t rely on that.
Ladies, always carry some travel size tissue paer just in case!
You’ll be happy to know that much of Morocco—at least “tourist Morocco”—has western size toilets.
However, you’ll also find plenty of squat toilets in small cafes and on road side options. These are not always the most sanitary options so bring your hand sanitizer, too.
Read more on travel tips worldwide:
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8. Visit a mosque.
There are more than 55,000 mosques throughout Morocco!
However, if you’re not Muslim, there is only one you are permitted to visit inside.
That’s the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca…the main reason to include Casablanca on your Morocco itinerary, in my opinion.
(Casablanca is otherwise less interesting than places like Marrakesh, Fes, and Rabat, in my opinion. as it’s primarily an industrial hub for the country.)
Hassan II is the largest active Mosque on the African continent and is truly a wonder to behold.
You’ll need a ticket to visit but can get one on site. Just check the website for current opening hours.
Imagine more than 100,000 Moroccans praying here daily during Ramadan!
9. Book a hamam experience.
If there’s one experience you just can’t miss when you’re in Morocco, it’s a hamam.
I’d been anticipating this ever since we missed out after booking a hamam experience in Granada, Spain years ago. (Thanks to the ridiculous amount of traffic on a festival day, we missed our appointment.) But it was worth the wait!
A Hamam—or steam bath—is part of Islamic culture. Moroccans typically bathe in a hamam once a week to cleanse themselves.
It’s also a great place for community…to spend a few hours with friends catching up.
But the inexpensive public bath house many Moroccans visit on a weekly basis is quite different from the luxury experience you’re after here.
A really wonderful hamam begins with a generous dousing of lots of warm water and is followed by exfoilating with black soap, a steam bath, and then a one hour massage with lots of Argan oil. There’s nothing like it!
I highly recommend Maraja Spa in Marrakesh where we enjoyed this mind-blowing experience. It’s under $60 USD.
10. Visit artisans in Fes.
Everywhere you go in Morocco, you’ll be simply astounded by intricate tile patterns…in the riads, in ancient UNESCO sites, and pretty much everywhere you look. (Notice that there’s no grout used. Every tile fits perfectly next to the next one.)
But it wasn’t until we visited a cooperative in Fes to watch how pottery and Zellij tiles were made—with our own eyes—that we fully appreciated the art and skill of craftsmen who made all this beauty.
Today, they use the same skills and techniques as their forebears have been using over centuries.
You’ll want to visit Chouara Tannery while you’re in Fes, too. They’ve been dying and treating leather here since the 12th century…which leads me to my next travel tip…
11. Yes, you can drink alcohol.
So is Morocco a dry country?
While it’s true that the Quran explicitly forbids Muslim from drinking and using drugs, what actually occurs is a little bit different.
A large percentage of Muslims do drink—and use hashish which is in abundance here—despite this directive.
However, they don’t tend to drink socially, say, to have a glass of wine with dinner as in other countries though. They do it to get drunk.
And, in a sense, they’re considered bad Muslims…or at least not very pious. (Perhaps not so different from Christians and Jews who selectively ignore teachings from The Bible and The Torah.)
However, they also don’t judge those who do choose to imbibe.
Plus, Morocco recognizes that the availability of alcohol on vacation is important to most tourists so it’s not as hard to find as you might think.
It’s true that it’s not available at most restaurants…even in many of the five star hotels, as we found out. There are a few cocktail bars in places like Marrakesh, primarily for tourists.
The best way to get your wine fix though is to head to a supermarket like Carrefour and stock up for a night cap in your hotel later.
It was interesting though as we only saw Moroccan men buying there…and female tourists like us!
12. Know how to haggle.
I rarely shop during my travels and went so far as to tell our guide that we weren’t interested in a lot of stops to buy Moroccan souvenirs.
And then my willpower was completely sapped on the very first day as I went on a buying spree lol.
I was really concerned that I’d feel pressured to buy but I didn’t feel that way at all.
Rather, there were so many unique and beautiful things at such great prices that I couldn’t resist!
If you feel uncomfortable bargaining, you’re going to need to get over it. It’s that simple.
Haggling for a final price that both the seller and buyer can live with is an art and is an expected part of the process. The right price is whatever it’s worth to you that feels fair.
My best bargaining tips: If you’re interested in an item, ask a price but don’t seem overly interested.
Know your own bottom line. Are you willing to walk away if you can’t come to an agreement? (That’s often when the best price is offered.)
Share your respect for the craftsmanship and desire to support locals.
Ask about the price. Then offer 10 or 20 percent of that. The seller will likely counter at 80 or 90 percent of that price.
With patience and a positive attitude, you can often get an item for less than 50 percent of the initial price.
13. Learn a few words of Arabic or French.
It’s amazing how it sets you apart from other tourists when you take the time to learn a few words in the language of the place you’re visiting…and Morocco is no exception.
I find time and again that it’s received as a gesture of goodwill and sets me apart from other visitors as someone who is respectful and wants to assimilate to the degree that I can.
So if you just learn one word of Arabic for Morocco, make it “shukran” (pronounced “show-Krun”) which means “thank you.”
While Arabic is Morocco’s official language, French is its second language and is widely spoken so “merci” also works just fine.
There are also lots of great apps and resources for learning a language if you’re inspired to learn a bit more.
14. Eat tagine.
Tagine is Morocco’s national dish and most famous dish. You’ll find it everywhere…with lamb or chicken, and vegetables (zucchini, carrots) and cous cous. Vegetarian options abound as well.
The dish is actually named after the distinctly shaped earthenware pot it’s made in, with a cone like shape reminiscent of Morocco’s famous Atlas mountains.
Authentic versions are made on a charcoal fire which has a beautiful way of crisping up the bits on the bottom!
We ate tagine all over Morocco and found quality varied quite a bit.
In lower end cafes and restaurants for tourists, they are not made in the traditional way and the taste reflects that.
Be sure to visit at least one restaurant known for their great tagines!
15. Try the mint tea.
Jokingly called “Berber whisky,” mint tea seems to lubricate most of the goings-on in Morocco.
Moroccans drink it like water throughout the day. It’s a sign of hospitality, generosity, and welcome and is literally part of daily life in Morocco.
You’ll likely be treated to a traditional Moroccan tea ceremony when you arrive at your hotel, at the hamam…and perhaps even at 11 pm at night as I was when complaining to hotel reception about late night noise in the bar. (“No thank you. I just want to sleep!”)
Historically, Morocco brewed a bitter black tea that they made palatable with lots of sugar until they leveled up after the King discovered the more refined taste of green tea imported by China.
You’ll typically be served with an optional and extraordinarily large chunk of sugar on the side.
The person pouring the tea will often pour from the teapot high above the small glasses to mix the sugar and aerate the tea.
It’s typical to pour the tea and return it to the pot three times before serving for this effect.
This lovely green tea is brewed with fresh mint, but also with all manner of other aromatic herbs including verbena, geranium, and even absinthe. Be sure to try different varieties as they have very distinct flavors.
16. Bring the right adapters for charging.
Good news! Morocco uses the same converters as most of Europe so if you have those, you’re already set.
If you need a set, you can grab this set of six on Amazon. (Bring extras: Trust me on this. I can’t tell you how often I manage to misplace these when moving in and out of hotel rooms.)
And while we’re on the subject, consider grabbing a USB charger cube on Amazon, while you’re at it.
In my eternal quest to pack ever lighter, I’ve found this really handy for slimming down my electronics bag instead of carrying lots of individual charging devices for phone, ipad, etc.
17. Ask permission before taking photos.
There’s a number of reasons to always ask permission before snapping a photo.
First, it’s just good etiquette. This is one of the first things photographers learn about street photography: Always ask permission from your subject before snapping a shot.
Secondly, aniconism is a thing in Morocco. Islam rejects icons—objects and images that represent persons or events.
They believe that they are poor substitutes for God and the divine.
In fact, if you search the intricate tile work and architecture in famous palaces and historical places throughout Morocco, you won’t find any art that represents people or animals, as you might in, say, Europe.
So you’ll find that some especially devout, traditional women—and even men—will shake their heads or turn away if you attempt to take a photo.
So be respectful and ask. Many Moroccans are happy to oblige.
And finally, be aware that many in the medina may sell photographs to make a living.
If, for example, you want a photo of a snake owned by the snake charmer, be sure to offer 500 dirhams (ie. $5 USD) or so for the opportunity.
18. Ride a camel in the desert.
Riding a camel in the Sahara Desert was a magical experience for me.
Or, it was kind of a magical experience because there were two American frat boys in our caravan that were on their cell phones the entire time telling everyone they knew they were on a camel in the Sahara Desert.
It’s great that locals have 5G cell service here but OMG some experiences are meant to be enjoyed in the moment. Please don’t be that person.
Listen to the timeless whisper of the wind and watch the undulating sand instead!
Still, watching my 79 year old mom fulfill a lifelong dream on her 90 minute camel ride was really something.
Before you book, be sure you ask about how the camels you’ll be riding are treated.
Ethical animal experiences are important. Remember, you’re supporting more of wherever you spend your tourist dollars.
The camels we rode were so gentle and loved pats. A far cry from the camel spitting I’d read about!
While you can ride a camel near Marrakesh, there’s no sand there.
The camels are imported for tourists. You’ll need to make the 8+ hour trek to Merzouga in southern Morocco for the real deal.
100 percent worth it!
19. Visit the Sahara in spring or fall for best weather.
So the only bad thing about our 90 minute camel ride to our luxury desert camp near Merzouga (aside from the rude American frat boys mentioned above) was the fact that it was cold.
Despite the fact that the camel guide was sauntering along in a lightweight djellaba (pronounced “ja-la-ba”, a long outer robe common here), we were freezing in February…especially considering the wind.
So plan on lots of layers if you’re heading to the Sahara in winter. (There’s no heat in camp, either so it’s nippy when the sun goes down.)
And in summer, a guide we met in camp described the experience as “hell on earth” lol.
It’s 120 degrees Fahrehneit during the day, often with sand storms to complete the experience.
Despite that, tons of hardy souls venture into the Sahara mid-summer and sleep under the stars.
I wonder how many of them knew quite how warm it would be?
If you’d rather skip the extreme temps, spring and fall are the perfect time to visit!
20. Wear a head scarf in Sahara.
Is it cultural appropriation if you’re a tourist in the Sahara Desert and wearing a head scarf?
No. It’s just good sense 🙂
This particular style of head covering is known as a “tagelmust” and it’s essential for anyone trekking in the desert…wherever you come from.
Because it’s loose and allows good air circulation even though you’re covering up.
It’s the best way to protect your skin from hot sun, wind, rain, dust, and sandstorms. And, trust me, you’re going to come in contact with at least one of these elements here.
Ask a local to help you learn how to tie your tagelmust.
Basically, you’ll tie a knot close to the edge, put the fabric on your head, firmly wrap it around as many times as you can and wedge the fabric in back above the knot.
It’s ingenious actually and stays put surprisingly well!
21. Visit a Nomadic Berber family.
While the world knows them as Berbers, Morocco’s indigenous people prefer to call themselves “Amazigh” to identify the tribe they are from.
(The word “Berber” hails from Roman days when they referred to non-Latins as “Barbaros” or “Barbarians”.)
The Amazigh have a long and ancient history here in North Africa, with 19 to 30 million of them (depending on your source) in Morocco still today.
For many, Tamazight is their primarily language rather than Arabic or French, which are the languages otherwise used widely in the country.
The Amazigh are a nomadic people and still live in temporary tent shelters in remote locations throughout Morocco, including near Merzouga in the Sahara Desert.
It’s a memorable experience to drive out to the middle of nowhere and be served mint tea and bread by a nomadic family that moves every few months in search of food for their goats.
On the one hand, they have no electricity or running water.
On the other hand, many have solar panels on their tents which are donated by local not-for-profit organizations to help charge their cell phones!
22. Taste Berber pizza.
No visit to Southern Morocco would be complete without tasting “Madfouna,” also known as Berber pizza.
It’s actually more of a flat bread stuffed with a delicious combination of beef or lamb, spices (i.e., cumin, garic, paprika, turmeric, ginger, parsley), and onions and then pinched closed and fired in a traditional Berber mud oven.
The dough is essentially made of flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, and water…an ancient Sahara bread recipe.
Vegetarian options are available too. So YUM.
23. Dress conservatively.
When you’re visiting a Muslim country like Morocco, expect to see many women mostly covered, from head to toe. They’re modest…and you should be, too.
Sure, you’ll see plenty of Instagrammers in skimpy dresses in scenic spots, but honestly? It’s a bit disrespectful, particularly in rural communities that tend to be more traditional.
It’s easy for solo female travelers to attract unwanted male attraction anyway so don’t give them an extra excuse by wandering around half naked.
No one expects tourists to cover their heads or dress in traditional Moroccan clothing but you are expected to show some respect for the culture and people you’re visiting.
For instance, it’s completely fine to wear leggings or jeans.
But consider adding a loose, flowing top that extends to your thighs…or a dress that extends past your knees.
Feel free to wear short sleeves but bring a cardigan or scarf if you’re heading somewhere you might feel more comfortable covered.
24. Don’t drink the tap water.
You’ll find bottled water readily available when you stay in Morocco’s hotels and riads as the local tap water is not necessarily great for travelers.
Still, none of us got sick while in Morocco which was a welcome change from our recent visit to Mexico City.
And I’m pretty sure my elderly mom was taking pills with tap water daily despite my suggestion to use bottled water.
Still I always travel with Imodium just in case!
25. Don’t stress too much about your personal safety.
This was one of the things I wondered most about before visiting Morocco.
It was my first trip to a Muslim country and to Africa and I wasn’t sure what to expect, particularly as a woman.
It’s true that we traveled with a local guide and male companions—which I do recommend for solo female travelers who want to avoid unwanted male attention—but I felt 100 percent safe during my entire visit.
Let’s pause here briefly to note that there were 71 mass shootings in the USA in the first two months of 2023 and zero in Morocco.
Owning a gun in Morocco gets you five years in prison. Sometimes safety is a matter of perspective. Still, be sure to check government travel advisories before you travel.
Much like I recommend when visiting any country around the world, observe local customs, stay in well-traveled areas, avoid drugs and other shady behaviors, and you likely won’t have a problem.
Theft can be an issue in bigger cities in Morocco, just as it can in places like Paris, NYC or other busy places.
It can be easy to get distracted and separated from your things when traveling as you pore over maps or look at your surroundings.
Be smart and always keep a hand on your phone or put it in a purse or pocket. Problem solved!
26. Plan on late dinners.
Much like in Spain, Moroccans tend to eat a bit later, anywhere from 7 pm to as late as 10:30 or 11 pm.
Still, unlike in Spain, we didn’t find restaurants closed if we were looking for dinner a bit earlier.
The other thing to know is that service can be very slow in restaurants (and also when eating in restaurants in riads).
This is a good news bad news sort of situation. On the one hand, it can be maddening to wait 30 minutes or more for your meal after ordering day after day.
On the other hand, Moroccan culture is very relaxed. It’s a good reminder to slow down, take your time, and go with the flow. It’s just how it is!
These are the best tips for visiting Morocco.
However you decide to spend your days in this magical country, I hope you’ll find the travel tips above as useful as I did.
They make daily life easy and ensure you get the most joy—and the least amount of hassle and frustration—out of this once in a lifetime travel adventure. Enjoy!
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