Sharing My Top Travel Tips for Morocco

Undoubtedly my first trip to Morocco this year exhilarated and amazed me.  To begin with the adrenaline and anticipation left me feeling intoxicated.  However once I settled in and relaxed, I started to fully enjoy this wonderful country.  For your convenience, I’ve provided below some of my travel tips for Morocco.  Sadly some of these I learned the hard way.

Sharing My Top Travel Tips for Morocco 

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. The medina in Chefchaouen showcases a colorful show mostly inblue. If you love blue you must come here!
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. The medina in Chefchaouen showcases a colorful show mostly in blue. If you love blue you must come here!

Table of Contents

1 – Travel Tip for Morocco: Relax
2 – Travel Tip for Morocco: Chat with the Locals
3 – Travel Tip for Morocco: Negotiate
4 – Know Your Numbers Ahead of Time
5 – Saying “No Thank You” Firmly But Politely
6 – Visit the Fez Tanneries
7 – Visit Chefchaouen
8 – Visit the Mosque in Casablanca
9 – Visit the Medina in Marrakech
10 – Spend at Least a Week

#1 Travel Tip for Morocco: Relax

The first couple of days upon arriving in Morocco, my nerves consumed me.  Stories related to me by friends who had visited before, had spooked me.  For instance, twenty years ago Allan had been held captive by his tour guides in Tangier for a day, until he ran out of the house with his luggage and escaped.  Therefore, I felt guarded, ready for pickpockets, pushy street salesman and anyone looking to take advantage of me.

However, once I learned to relax I began to enjoy Morocco so much more.  Unlike Allan, I was not renting an apartment and sharing it with a tour guide.  We were staying in a very nice hotel.  And I’ve traveled a lot.  As a consequence, I’m self-aware and prepared for most scams.

In reality, Morocco is a safe country with very nice people.  The loudness, in your face display really is just part of life here.  Loosen up and enjoy the show.  Once I did, my enjoyment factor skyrocketed.

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. I had to discreetly take this photo in the medina in Rabat of this saleslady. To me Rabat is one of the most peaceful and livable cities in all of Morocco.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. I had to discreetly take this photo in the medina in Rabat of this saleslady. To me Rabat is one of the most peaceful and livable cities in all of Morocco.

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#2 Travel Tip for Morocco: Chat with the Locals

Moroccans are warm and friendly people.  Yes they can be pushy, especially salesman.  However, once they realized I was not a regular tourist there to buy souvenirs and only snap photos, they opened up.  

Strike up a conversation.  Most residents in major cities speak English.  You might learn something about them and yourself.  I did!

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. These ladies sat chatting outside the mosque in the medina in Chefchaouen, probably the prettiest medina in all of Morocco.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. These ladies sat chatting outside the mosque in the medina in Chefchaouen. This is probably the prettiest medina in all of Morocco.

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#3 Travel Tip for Morocco: Negotiate

From taxis to shopping, the price given to you almost aways is at least four times what you should pay.  So I cut the figure in about a quarter and went from there.  I stayed fairly firm on my seventy-five percent discount, and almost always got it. 

However, I had to be prepared to walk away with nothing.  And often when I did the vendor would come running after me and relent at my discounted rate.  Also, always remain polite.

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. This saleslady in the mountains of Morocco sold us spices and then stiffed us on the change.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. This saleslady in the mountains of Morocco sold us spices and then stiffed us on the change.

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#4 Travel Tip for Morocco: Know Your Numbers Ahead of Time

When we first arrived in Marrakech I didn’t have a firm grasp on my numbers.  For example, I was ignorant to the value of their currency in dollars.  And I was unaware of what a taxi should cost from the airport to my hotel.

So when we hailed a cab to our hotel, we were unaware that the $250 Moroccan dirams quoted was over three times what it should have been.  In fact when I asked the driver the value in dollars, he lied and said five.  Actually the price was more like twenty-five US dollars.

Not wanting to get scammed, I pulled out my trusted Adventure Ally app on my phone, plugged in the figures into the currency conversion section, and got my answer.  As expected he was taking advantage of our ignorance.  Plus when I pointed out his blunder, he backtracked saying he quoted twenty-five dollars, instead of five.

I waited till we arrived at our hotel to resolve the issue.  Once there we removed our luggage from the taxi and went to reception before paying for the ride.  When I asked the front desk clerk a fair price for a taxi from the airport she quoted something like ten dollars.

In the end I paid the driver fifteen dollars.  The driver protested, asking me what we paid for our hotel, trying to justify his con.  I was unhappy with his dishonesty, and upset at myself for being unprepared.  In the end he received more than he should have, but I also paid less than his original quote.

Quickly I learned ask someone I could trust ahead of time what the value of a given service should be.  Usually that person was the hotel receptionist.  For a taxi, normally it was about $20 diram, or five dollars.  Often drivers wanted more, but I stood firm and almost always got my price.

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. This minstrel in the medina in Rabat shook his head from side to side so the tassel on the top bounced about.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. This minstrel in the medina in Rabat shook his head from side to side so the tassel on the top bounced about.

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#5 Travel Tip for Morocco: Saying “No Thank You” Firmly But Politely

Moroccan vendors will relentlessly hound you, trying to solicit a purchase.  If you show any interest and/or weakness, they will follow you down the street.  Say “no, thank you” very firmly but politely, and keep walking. Normally they will only ask you once if you respond in this way.  Otherwise, the onslaught can be draining.

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. The medina in Chefchaouen lies on a hill so it's probably the most vertical medina i visited.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. The medina in Chefchaouen lies on a hill so it’s probably the most vertical medina I visited.

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#6 Travel Tip for Morocco: Visit the Fez Tanneries

Allan and I hired a guide to lead us around the labyrinth of streets that comprise the medina in Fez.  Otherwise we may have never seen the highlight of our trip to Fez: the tanneries.  This is where we got an up close lesson in how leather is made.

From raw, rotting hides bleached in pigeon poop for softening, to soaking in vats full of dyes, we witnessed the method from a wonderful lookout overhead.  Please take the free mint leaves offered to you to put under your nose.   The smell of death is sickening.  Nevertheless, the procedure is stunningly amazing, interesting and shocking.   

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. In the medina in Fez workers jump into these vats and dye the hides by hand. They wear boots and gloves and put oil on their bodies so their skin does not change to the color of the dye.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. In the medina in Fez workers jump into these vats to dye the hides by hand. They wear boots and gloves and put oil on their bodies so their skin does not change to the color of the dye. 

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# 7 Travel Tip for Morocco: Visit Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen, the “blue pearl”, presents a maze of cobalt colored walls, in a cobblestoned city atop the Moroccan mountains.  I spent hours wandering in a sea of blue as I toured the intricate maze of streets in the medina.  Surprisingly I arrived at the pinnacle of the city at sunset, quite unexpectedly and was able to witness the beautiful show as the sun set behind the mountains.

This city has become a must stop on many travelers list for Morocco, including mine. Even though the drive takes a few hours from either Fez or Tangier, the trip merits your time.  The road alone through the mountains inspired me with the colorful scenery.  The vistas within Chefchaouen of the seemingly endless blue-washed walls, just made the trip that more incredible and worthwhile.

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. Try to arrive at Chefchaouen during the day light. We left the city at night and traveled fifteen minutes on poorly lit mountain roads in search of our hotel.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. Try to arrive at Chefchaouen during the day light. We left the city at night and traveled fifteen minutes on poorly lit mountain roads in search of our hotel.

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# 8 Travel Tip for Morocco: Visit the Mosque in Casablanca

When Casablanca wasn’t on my original travel itinerary, my friend, Bruce, who is woking in Rabat, Morocco, questioned my decision.  “You’re going to skip the second biggest mosque in the world,” he probed.  “Well, I guess not,” I thought.  So I changed my agenda.  And boy, am I glad I did.

From my hotel I walked through the Casablanca medina over to the Hasan II Mosque just before sunset.  As the sky turned a purplish-pink, I marveled at this unbelievable work of religious art.  Not being particularly devout myself, I felt a divine presence immediately.  I thought there has to be a higher power to help construct something so astonishingly beautiful.  Its exquisiteness and majesty rivals that of Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.

In addition, at sunset the streets come alive outside the mosque.  Families and couples congregate in the courtyard outside.  Women in headscarfs and men in cloaks add local color to the already beautiful scenery.

Also make sure to take the tour inside.  Check the schedule online as visits are organized.  Also dress appropriately.  Ladies, cover your arms. 

Allan and I wound up retuning the following day for the excursion into the heart of the mosque.  To me the interior matches the level of quality of the exterior.  Even though Casablanca offers more than just the Hasan II Mosque, I would be satisfied just coming to see it alone.  It’s that wonderful.

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. Nearby the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca sits Rick's Cafe, a popular dining spot designed after the cafe in the movie Casablanca. It's become a must-see for any visitor to this seaside city.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. Nearby the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca sits Rick’s Cafe, a popular dining spot designed after the cafe in the movie Casablanca. It’s become a must-see for any visitor to this seaside city.

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# 9 Travel Tip for Morocco: Visit the Medina in Marrakech

The raucous display at the Marrakechttp://www.unchartedtraveler.comh medina warrants at least one visit, if not more. Even though there are many medinas, or quarters, in Morocco, none compare with Marrakech’s. Come and enjoy the snake charmers, assertive street salesman and loud-mouthed food cart vendors. Even though I found the market too loud and intimidating at first, once I relaxed I was able to appreciate the spectacle.

Plus, when I located the eye-catching shopping stalls in the souk, or market, I became bewitched. If only I had ample luggage space and an empty home to decorate! From savory spices and handmade clothes to colorful hanging lamps and copper pots, the selection satisfied even my selective taste.

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. The main centers for Moroccan pottery are Safi, which produces pottery inlaid with metal, and Fez, which produces the very distinctive blue and white fassi pottery.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. The main centers for Moroccan pottery are Safi, which produces pottery inlaid with metal, and Fez, which produces the very distinctive blue and white fassi pottery.

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#10 Travel Tip for Morocco: Spend at Least a Week

Morocco occupies a significant portion of landmass.  Spending at least a couple of days each in Casablanca, Fez, Marrakech and Chefchaoeun consumes a week, not including travel days. Plus you might consider adding Tangier and Rabat and/or a couple of days to sleep in the desert with the Bedouins.

You can easily justify a one to two week trip to Morocco without fear of being bored or running out of things to do. Allan and I spent 8 full days but felt a bit rushed. We started with 2 days in Marrakech, 2 in Rabat, one in Fes, one in Chefchauoen and one in Asilah. Additionally I rented a car and drove around, which I don’t recommend. That added time as well. We really needed about two weeks to properly see Morocco.

My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. We spent two days visiting friends Bruce and Vanessa who are living in Rabat, Morocco for two years. Bruce works for the US embassy.
My Top Travel Tips for Morocco. We spent two days visiting friends Bruce and Vanessa who are living in Rabat, Morocco for two years. Bruce works for the US embassy.

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READ MORE ARTICLES ABOUT MOROCCO

A Visit to the Fez Tanneries in Morocco: The Brutal Reality Behind Leather   

An Expedition to Chefchaouen: Exploring Morocco’s Blue Pearl

True Tales of My Week Driving in Morocco

Marveling at an Ancient Kingdom: Nine Photos of Volubilis that Fascinate

Exploring the Extravaganza that Comprises the Marrakech Medina

My Travel Nightmare: a Tour in Marrakech Gone Awry

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Matt Weatherbee
Matt Weatherbee

Hi, I’m Matt.  In 2008 I quit my job, sold everything and drove from Boston to Mexico to start a business.  Now I live and work in the Carribean, and spend my free time traveling the globe.  Learn more.

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