“Travel to Morocco, they said… your gram will be lit, they said”.
Okay folks, it’s PSA time.
If you’re planning on visiting Morocco any time soon, I need to let you in on a not-so-sexy secret… this crazy country is much more than a romantic Instagram playground of patterned plates, blue walls and glam camel selfies.
In fact, coming here can be just as challenging as it is magical, all the more so if you don’t do proper research.
See, in recent years, I’ve heard many travellers say that they disliked their travels in Morocco because it didn’t “live up to their expectations”, but as a die hard fan of the country, I need to say this: yes, Morocco is gorgeous, and packed with stupidly photogenic sights, but it can also a really challenging place to visit, especially when you flail in blindly without getting your research on.
Luckily, that’s what I’m here for!
After two trips to Morocco – once to visit Marrakech and Essaouira, the second to gallivant around Fez and Chefchaouen, I’ve foolishly made buckets of mistakes and assumptions for you, all so you don’t fall into the same traps 😉
Yay me. *throws confetti*
In this post, my goal is to give you some practical info and takeaways so that you have some more realistic expectations for your trip to Morocco – think of it as tips from one silly tourist to another 😉
So, without further ado – don’t travel to Morocco without knowing the following handy tips!
Looking for the Cheapest Hotel Deals in Morocco?
One of the first questions I usually get about Morocco is where to stay, so let’s get that first point out of the way first. Morocco is filled with amazing accommodation options, from hotels and hostels to gorgeous riads (which I highly recommend). To find the best fit for you, I recommend using HotelsCombined, a great free site to use that lets you search prices from multiple sites like Expedia, Booking, etc. at once, securing you the best possible deal.
My Travel Advice for Morocco: Must-Knows
1. Morocco is yuuuuuge (seriously though, it’s a big country)
Geography is not my thing, especially for places I’ve never been to.
Here’s the #1 mistake I see people making: a lot of folks (past me included) wrongfully assume that Morocco is small and that all the most insta-famous spots are closely clustered together. I mean, if I had a nickel for each time someone asked “how can I do a day trip from Marrakech to Chefchaouen?” Ohh yenno, just a casual night train and bus combo….
But yes, know this: if you want to travel Morocco, understand that it’s a pretty freaking massive country.
At first, it might be tempting to think that you can cover the entire country in a single trip, but unless you have a lot of time at your disposal, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Try to focus instead on one part of the country rather than waste time commuting from place to place. I’m very glad I did separate trips for Marrakech/Essaouira and Fez/Chefchaouen, rather than brave night trains and long commutes just to “see it all”.
2. Brush up on your French (beyond oh la la and croissants)
As you travel in Morocco, you’ll quickly notice just how common French is.
While in big cities, you’ll encounter plenty of English speakers as well, most are much more comfortable in French, and nicer to you if you can speak it.
I can’t tell you the number of times a shopkeeper or taxi driver immediately cranked up the nice meter as soon as I busted out my rusty français. Definitely get some basic travel terms under your belt like, “how much will this cost” or “how do I get to ____” – it’ll help you a ton.
3. Morocco IS safe… just be wary of scams
Often travellers (especially those going solo) wonder whether or not Morocco is safe.
After having been there twice (once with a group of girlfriends and the second time with my boyfriend), I will say that it’s definitely safe.
Will you feel very uncomfortable at times? Probably.
Will people will stare at you, persistently follow you and randomly shout Asian ethnicities at you until they guess the right one? That last one was niche, but the answer is still YES!
All that said, at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be too concerned about your physical safety. I have a full guide all about safety tips in Morocco that you can read here, but I’ll summarize some of the main points below.
(I’d recommend getting a nice, subtle brass whistle though just in case. They’re good for ease of mind and you can get them for under $10! This set comes with a leather necklace so you can wear it at all times.)
Anyways, there are naturally a few common sensical things that you should be mindful of – don’t walk around at night by yourself (especially as a solo female traveler). The streets get very eerie after all the shops close, and you’ll likely encounter lots of “friendly” guys trying to help you find your accommodations. It’s super unsettling, so I wouldn’t recommend being alone in quiet areas like the souks after dark.
Besides that, I think you will be fine in terms of physical safety. The #1 thing to be mindful of though is ALL the scams. Tourism drives a lot of business here, so many have become experts at taking advantage of naive tourists. Don’t be disheartened by it – just view it as a way of doing business 😉