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Group in the Sahara Desert, Morocco

Morocco Travel Guide

A land of mesmerizing contrasts, Morocco invites travellers to immerse themselves in its vibrant tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty. From the bustling markets of Marrakech to the serene oasis towns of the Sahara Desert, this North African gem offers a wealth of experiences for adventurous souls. Explore the enchanting medinas, labyrinthine old towns with their narrow alleys and vibrant souks, where the scent of exotic spices fills the air. Discover architectural marvels like the intricate tilework of the Ben Youssef Madrasa and the grandeur of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, Morocco's diverse landscapes provide ample opportunities. Trek through the breathtaking Atlas Mountains, with their snow-capped peaks, fertile valleys, and traditional Berber villages. Embark on a camel ride across the golden dunes of the Sahara, where you can witness the awe-inspiring sunset and spend a night under a blanket of stars in a desert camp. Indulge in the flavours of Moroccan cuisine, from tagines and couscous to aromatic mint tea, and savour the rich blend of spices that characterizes the local gastronomy. Morocco is a sensory delight that will captivate and inspire travellers with its rich heritage and captivating landscapes.

 

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Key Facts

Time Zone

GMT+0

Money

Moroccan Dirham (MAD)

Dialing Code

+212

  • Experience the amazing North African culture in the ancient medinas, souks and winding streets of Morocco’s incredible cities, such as Marrakech, Fez and Meknes.
  • Head into the breathtaking beauty of the Atlas Mountains, visit Berber villages and see spectacular mountain scenery.
  • Go on a camel safari in the awe-inspiring Sahara Desert and sleep overnight in a traditional Bedouin tent. 
  • Experience the beauty of Morocco’s coastal area in the port town of Essaouira.
  • See ancient Kasbahs, historical city walls, fantastic fortresses, Roman ruins and imperial splendour in this culture and history-laden land.
  • Go shopping mad in the markets of the medinas, in the unique Moroccan souks.
  • Feast on delicious Moroccan cuisine such as tagine, sip mint tea and pick up tasty treats in Marrakech’s legendary market square, the colourful Djemaa el-Fna.
  • Hear the call to prayer echo through city streets as you soak up the sights, sounds and sensations of Morocco’s amazing cities. 

The capital city of Morocco is Marrakech. This vibrant and colourful city boasts ancient ruins, lush gardens and winding souks where you can shop for spices and souvenirs in the bustling medina, plus the famous central square of Djemaa el-Fna, where all life can be seen, including snake charmers and an array of mouth-watering food stalls.

  • Explore Marrakech. This magical capital will keep you occupied for days as you discover all sorts of delights in the narrow shopping souks; see ancient sites such as the Bahia Palace or Saadian Tombs or relax in the sun-soaked lush gardens at the Jardin Majorelle, as you listen to the call to prayer from the Koutoubia Mosque, which dominates Marrakech’s skyline.
  • Head into the Atlas Mountains to explore Berber villages, spot Barbary Apes and see spectacular scenery as you marvel at the natural beauty of this region of North Africa.
  • Go on a safari into the barren wilds of the Sahara Desert; try a unique camel-back safari or try a 4x4 jeep ride deep into the desert. Discover a hidden oasis in the stunning Todra Gorge with its lush palm trees or camp out under the stars in a traditional Bedouin tent.
  • Soak up the French colonial feel and Art Deco architecture of the city of Casablanca, famous as the setting of the iconic film of the same name.
  • Visit the traditional and ancient medina in Fez with its artisan quarters, which include a brass and copper quarter, a wedding quarter and the famous, strong-smelling tannery.
  • Marvel at the hustle and bustle of the Place-el-Hedim in the historic, imperial city of Meknes and enter through the ornamental city gate of Bab Mansour.
  • Enjoy the beachfront vibe of the Portuguese port of Essaouira and taste some delicious seafood in this colourful harbour town.
  • Visit the traditional fortress, or Kasbah, at Ait Ben-Haddou and get lost in the narrow passageways of this beautifully-preserved fortress, now a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • See the Roman ruins at Volubilis, with well-preserved mosaics, pillars and Roman bathhouses to be seen at this UNESCO site.
  • Shop ‘til you drop in the country's unbeatable souks, where you can pick up amazing souvenirs and haggle for bargains in anything from strong-scented spices such as saffron and cinnamon to leather goods, jewellery and textiles. Better bring an extra suitcase just in case!

Moroccan cuisine is spicy, delicious and varied and there are lots of local treats to be tried while travelling. Spices are frequently used in Moroccan cooking and popular spices include turmeric, saffron, coriander and cinnamon. A typical Moroccan meal would begin with a hot or cold salad, which often includes tomatoes or peppers, followed by a classic Moroccan one-pot dish called a tagine, which is cooked in a cone-shaped clay pot, and usually consists of a mix of spices with meat, chicken or fish combined with vegetables. Other ingredients can include olives or preserved lemons. Another popular dish is couscous, a dish that is traditionally cooked by the Berber people, and usually topped with meat or vegetables. A pastilla is a meat pie which is also available and makes for a tasty treat. Meals are usually rounded off with a cup of sweet mint tea for a refreshing finish!

Morocco can fluctuate from extremes of climate, from searing heat in the Sahara Desert to snowy winters in the cold Atlas Mountains. The best times to visit are during springtime, from mid-March to May, and during the autumn (September-November). Winters are generally milder than in the UK, apart from in the freezing mountain areas, but if you visit in winter, be prepared for very cold nights.

Visa

Visas may be required in order to enter or transit through certain countries depending on your passport nationality, your reason for travel and how long you intend to stay.

Visa, passport and entry rules are subject to change and you should check the most up-to-date information from the relevant embassy or visa specialist.

To make things easier we have teamed up with The Travel Visa Company, who are one of the UK’s leading travel visa specialists. You can use their website, alongside embassy websites, to find out the specific entry requirements for the countries you intend to travel to.

For a fee, their dedicated team of experts can also apply for visas on your behalf, taking away the hassle and streamlining the process for you if you wish. For more details on the services they provide please click here – The Travel Visa Company

Some countries will require proof of certain vaccines, such as yellow fever or covid, in order to gain entry. Please check with the relevant embassy or visa specialist before travelling.

Passport

Passports must be kept in good condition. Travellers with damaged passports may be refused entry at immigration. Some countries also require you to have at least 2 blank pages in your passport before travel. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that all travel documents are in good condition before they travel. Most countries will also require at least 6 months of validity on your passport from the time you finish your trip.

The official languages of Morocco are Arabic, and Berber, which is spoken by around 50% of the population. French is an unofficial but widely-spoken language and many Moroccans use French as their second language.

Plug sockets in Morocco are two-pin European plugs, so British travellers will need to bring a universal adaptor to use UK appliances.

Morocco is an Islamic country, so you should be aware of and respect local laws, especially during the month of Ramadan. Women should dress modestly, especially as women travelling alone may attract more attention. The penalties for possession of drugs are severe. Alcohol is not consumed by the Muslim population, so although alcohol is available for travellers, you should be sensitive to the Moroccan culture and drink responsibly. Please also note that homosexuality is still illegal in Morocco. 

Tipping is widely used and is expected on any goods or service, around 5-10% on average. Haggling is also an expected process in many of the markets and souks in Morocco. Expect to be hassled by souk market sellers trying to tempt you with their latest bargain. 

In the Muslim culture, praying happens five times a day - at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening. Friday is a holy day and most things will be closed. During the holy month of Ramadan Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and are only permitted to work six hours per day. Each night at sunset, families and friends gather together to celebrate the breaking of the fast (iftar). Many businesses operate on a reduced schedule during Ramadan. 

The traditional method of eating a meal in Morocco is by using your hand or using a piece of bread as a utensil, something you might try if you take part in a traditional meal.

Health

You should check with your GP at least 8 weeks before your visit if you will require any vaccinations. Please note that the popular Henna tattoos offered in Morocco often contain a chemical which can cause an allergic skin reaction in some people.

Safety

Morocco is a generally safe destination, although in the larger towns and cities there is some petty crime, pickpocketing and theft, as in any major urban area. Persistent sellers in the souks and some touts can be a nuisance, but if you don’t engage in conversation, it rarely becomes a problem. 

Women, especially those travelling alone, may find themselves attracting some unwanted sexual attention, but this is generally not dangerous. Avoid eye contact, dress modestly and don’t walk alone at night and it should not pose a problem. 

We do not recommend hiring motorbikes, scooters, ATV vehicles, quad bikes or other types of motorised vehicles whilst abroad. Safety and quality of vehicles vary considerably and the traffic conditions can be much more dangerous than what UK travellers are used to. Should you wish to go against this advice, you should ensure you are hiring from a reputable company and that your travel insurance covers you for such activities.

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