Morocco is a truly beautiful and stunning country. With a rich history and diverse landscapes, this vibrant country is an immensely popular tourist destination. However, like so many other places, it’s always better to brush up on some Moroccan travel tips before you go; just so that you’re prepared for your visit to this North African country.
1. What languages do they speak?
Morocco has two official languages—Arabic (and Moroccan Arabic or Darija) and Berber. They are both widely spoken, and most Moroccans also speak some level of French (though it is not an official language). Spanish is also heard in the north, while English is spoken in cities and the more touristy spots. Before you go, it can be helpful to brush up on a few French phrases, as well as a little basic Arabic, such as:
- Hello (the general greeting) – salam alaikum
- Yes – naam or iyeh
- No – la
- Thank You – shokran
- No Thank You – la shokran
- Hello (response to a greeting) – wa-alaikum salam
- Sorry – aasif
- Please – ‘afak
- Where is…? – feen…?
- How much…? – beshhal…?
2. Always ask before taking pictures of people
Be careful about taking photos of people and some places in Morocco. Some people might not want their picture taken, and others might expect you to pay them for letting you take their photo. Some shopkeepers might also not be OK with you taking pictures of their merchandise. Photographing many of the royal palaces and their guards are also generally off-limits. So, to be on the safe side, always ask before taking these pictures.
3. Be sure to be respectful of the monarchy
It is a criminal offence to speak badly of the king or the monarchy in Morocco, and severe violations could land you in jail. Much like in Thailand, defacing anything with the king’s image is also severely frowned upon.
4. Eat with your right hand only
Lots of meals are traditionally eaten with the hand in Morocco as it is done across much of the Middle East and South Asia. Much like these places, it is considered unclean to eat with your left hand (as it is the one used to clean with after going to the toilet).
5. Dress appropriately
Everyone has a different idea of what “dress appropriately” means. But in general, respect local customs and dress relatively modestly, covering shoulders and legs. You can also carry a scarf or shawl to drape over your shoulders and cover your head when entering religious sites.
Also Read: 11 Unusual Dress Code Rules Around the World
6. Step outside Marrakesh and Casablanca
Morocco is a large country; spanning the northwestern coastline of Africa, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Western Sahara Desert, there are lots of amazing places to see here. So, while popular places like Marrakesh and Casablanca are definitely worth a visit, do try to explore more of this country. Soaring mountains, desert oases, and sandy beaches await you, as do places like Ouarzazate, Chefchaouen, Tangier, Essaouira, Fez, and the Ourika Valley.
7. Always have some cash with you
Most businesses and shops in Morocco are cash only. Make sure you always have some cash handy to cover any purchases you wish to make. Also, keep in mind that ATMs are not always reliable as they often run out of money; so plan ahead, especially because Morocco has a closed currency. This means that it’s generally not available outside the country.
8. Don’t forget to bargain
Morocco is full of colourful souks, with stalls selling everything from clothing to footwear, spices, lamps, leather goods, and more. But remember, vendors will often give you an inflated starting price, so haggling is absolutely essential. If you start your bargaining at 1/3 of the quoted price; you should reach an agreement at about half of this.
9. Only employ official tour guides
In Morocco, there are often lots of locals (especially young boys) who will offer you tours while you’re walking around the markets and medinas. But this practice is highly discouraged by the government, who ask that visitors only employ the services of official tour guides.
10. There are women-only cabins on trains
One of the best ways to travel in Morocco is by train. They can be quite comfortable, especially in first class (which is actually not much more than second class). If you’re a solo female traveller or in a group of girls, you can pick the easily-available female-only cabins to travel in.
11. Carry toilet paper with you
Restrooms in Morocco will rarely have any toilet paper. If you’re accustomed to using it, the best option is to carry some with you, along with things like sanitizer and wet wipes. A lot of public restrooms also have a fee to enter, so be sure to keep some cash handy.
12. Remember, most mosques are off-limits to non-Muslims
Morocco is full of highly decorated and beautiful mosques, but if you’re hoping to visit some, you might be out of luck – unless you’re Muslim. Most mosques don’t allow non-Muslims to enter, except the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. Just remember to cover up and to remove your shoes outside.
13. Fridays are holy days
Morocco is a Muslim country, and so observes Friday as a holy day. This means that most shops and attractions are closed while everyone goes to the mosques to pray. But after prayers are over, many places reopen, so remember to plan ahead. Visiting during Ramadan and Eid can also have similar difficulties.
Are there any Morocco travel tips that we’ve missed? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.