Is Morocco worth visiting? Well, I have been here three times now, and I can tell you that Morocco is totally worth visiting. In fact, it’s one of my favourite countries in the world to travel to. Morocco is a culturally vibrant Muslim country, and the people of Morocco offer excellent hospitality. This is a country that offers a diverse range of cities and landscapes. So, whether you want to enjoy a bustling city like Marrakech, take a camel ride through the desert, or go hiking in the Atlas Mountains, there will definitely be something for you in Morocco.
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Why Morocco will always be special to me
There are two destinations from my youth that I would say gave me the ‘travel bug’ – and they are Romania and Morocco. Morocco was one of the first extensive trips I made at just 18 years old, which was an exhibition with BSES (British Schools Explorer Society).
The first time I truly envisioned a future of travel was when I was hiking in Foum Zguid, through gorgeous Oases. At that point, blogging was not really an option as a profession, and so I never realised at that time that travel would not only become part of my life, but my career too!
I remember that turning point in my life very vividly – it was a hot day and a local walked by with a donkey, offering to carry my bag, so I tipped him a few Dirhams! The next day, my friend woke up with a frog on her head!!! Funny isn’t it, how the things that you predominantly remember are the interactions with people, over the place itself. Little things like this a what makes Morocco a really special place.
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How much time have I spent in Morocco?
My first trip to Morocco was for six weeks spent in the remote areas of the Atlas Mountains. For my second trip to Morocco, 10 years later, I returned with my mom for a fortnight, to show her the delights of Marrakech and Ouarzazate. Now, as I write this, I have returned to Morocco for the third time, which will involve a three week tour of more Northern cities – Casablanca, Fes, Meknes and Chefchouhen (the blue city). I am thrilled to be back in one of my all time favourite destinations in the world.
What I love about Morocco
There are oh, so many things that I like about Morocco, and I have so many more travel stories about this place, almost too many to share!
Where do I start? There was the time I found a colony of beetles the size of my hand, the time I was invited to dance in the desert at a Meshwi (goat feast) and the time that my mom was called ’Angelina Jolie!’ in a busy Marrakech souk! Something tells me that this trip will also be full of adventures.
What do I love about Morocco? I love the warm welcome of the Berber people. I love the Game of Thrones film locations of Air Benhaddou and Essaouira Ramparts. I love the food, which includes gorgeous tagines, salads, soups. I love the shopping in the souks – even getting lost and engaging in the souk ‘banter’! I love the chilled out vibes of the coastal cities that are a surfers paradise. And of course, I love the beautiful architectural and historical sights such as Koutoubia Mosque, the old Quranic school of Ben Yousef and the Saadian tombs (all of these are found in the city of Marrakech – don’t miss it!) In fact, if you haven’t already guessed – I can’t get enough of this place!
Because of the glorious warm weather combined with healthy eating (lots of fruit and vegetables) and exercise (you will walk a lot!), I always seem to come back from Morocco feeling happier and healthier. Morocco is good for your body and good for your soul!
So, why is Morocco worth visiting?
If you didn’t catch that already – my view is that Morocco is absolutely worth visiting! If you haven’t bee yet, go and book your flight right now! What are you waiting for?
Morocco offers an exciting introduction through the exciting and bustling city of Marrakech. As soon as you arrive at your hotel or Riad (traditional Moroccan house with a courtyard), expect to be greeted with friendly smiles and a mint tea ceremony! This is how the Moroccan people welcome their guests, and so you will always feel welcomed.
The cities of Morocco are full of exciting monuments – you will see museums, mosques and Kasbah’s. After that you can decide to head towards the coastline (Essaouira is great for surf), mountains (Mount Toubkal Is a popular hike), or another city (such as Casablanca or Fes). Morocco boasts stunning landscapes, beautiful architecture and fantastic food (their taglines are amazing!). Oh, and don’t forget the excitement of haggling in the souks – most Moroccan cities have a central souk or market with local produce and souvenirs.
If you are looking forward to a trip filled with Arabic architecture, warm hospitable people and interesting cultural experiences, them Morocco is a travel destination not to be missed!
How to get there
Most people visiting Morocco for the first time fly into Marrakech. Although it is not the capital city (that is Rabat), it is the most favoured first experience in Morocco, firstly due to its accessible flights, and secondly due to its wealth of historical monuments.
You can fly directly to Marrakech from many UK airports including Gatwick, Heathrow, London Luton, Manchester and Bristol. The flight time is very reasonable at three and a half hours approximately, and so you get a relatively short haul flight for a culturally vibrant destination on another continent. Recently, I flew from London Gatwick to Marrakech with British Airlines, and it was a comfortable flight with friendly staff.
If you are travelling from the USA you can fly directly to Casablanca or Marrakech from several cities. Popular flights include the Royal Air Maroc routes from NYC to Casablanca, NYC to Marrakech, Washington DC to Agadir and Los Angeles to Agadir.
How long to spend in Morocco?
Of course, it is possible to spend just three or four days in Marrakech to get a good insight into Morocco and see some of the main sites of the city. However, as Morocco has so much to offer and such a diverse range of travel experiences, I would advise that you spend at least 10 days to two weeks in Morocco. This would allow you to head into the Atlas mountains or desert, and also to add on another city for further sightseeing, or head to the coast.
What are the pros of visiting Morocco?
Morocco offers great weather, stunning architecture, coastal and mountain landscapes and good food. It’s also very reasonably priced, making it a suitable destination for backpackers on a budget. In Morocco, you will need to chill out and go with the flow, and you can have an exciting and rewarding travel experience.
An culturally interesting and exciting experience
Morocco is 99% Sunni Muslim and so you can expect to be woken up at around 5am with the Arabic call to prayer – it’s a beautiful sound that sets the rhythm of the day and reminds you as soon as you wake up that you are in Morocco. Religious and traditional ways of life are everywhere. You are likely to see festivals in the street and be invited to local celebrations and meals. You will find horse drawn carriages and tuk-tuks in Marrakech, giving you a range of different and exciting modes of transport. I was once driven through the streets of Marrakech on the back of a moped! If you are a ‘cultural vulture’ like me, then you will thrive in this environment. If you are travelling from the UK, Morocco offers a diverse and exciting travel experience, without needing to take a long haul flight.
Souk Shopping – an experience like no other!
Also, you will surely enjoy thrills and ‘organised chaos’ of the souks, a truly experience unlike any other! Most souks are organised into sections or quarters such as the jewellery quarter, leather quarter, wood carving and spice souk. Don’t be put off buy the fact that you will have to barter, it’s all part of the cultural experience. It is a good idea to find out from a local how much you should expect to pay for an item that you are interested in purchasing before you go shopping. Go in lower than that and you can meet around the price it is worth. Always barter with a smile on your face and a friendly manner…being rude or aggressive is not the Moroccan way.
Warm and Hospitable people
As I have already mentioned, the Moroccan people are so kind and hospitable. They will welcome you warmly and politely, with offerings of food and drinks to their guest. It is likely that the mint tea will come out when you arrive at your hotel, someones house or even a carpet shop (of course then you will be expected to buy haha!). Personally, I have been invited into peoples Berber houses in the Atlas Mountains and families who are total strangers have bought me bread and jam, goats milk and even tagines.
Moroccan people often bring their hand up to their chest when thanking you. This is polite and a sign of respect, meaning that they are thankful from the heart.
Amazing Arabic Architecture and Sightseeing
Most Moroccan cities will centre around a Kasbah (settlement within old town walls), a main mosque and souk. Although in some cities this will be on a larger scale than others, I have found this to be the general setup. And so you can get your bearings by knowing where the minarets and city walls are – these landmarks help you not to get lost.
Marrakech itself has some of the most amazing examples of Arabic architecture that I have ever seen in my life. Don’t miss the Saadian tombs, Bahia Palace, Marrakech museum and the beautiful old Qu’ranic school of Ben Yousef. If you really want to treat yourself in Marrakech, take a relaxing horse and cart ride through the centre.- what a beautiful way to appreciate and enjoy the city.
In addition to Marrakech, you can see some amazing historical architecture in Casablanca, Fes and Meknes. Also, if you have time, I would strongly advise that you add Chefchouhen to your itinerary. This is known as the ‘blue city’ and if you take a look at the pictures, it’s easy to see why! Chefchouhen makes a great ending to any Moroccan itinerary because it is a relaxing place with mountain views and spa Riads – the perfect way to relax and reward yourself for your travel accomplishments.
As well as the bustling inland cities such as Marrakech, Casablanca and Fes, consider taking some time along the coast. Many Moroccan beach towns along the Atlantic coast make fantastic surf destinations and there are great value lessons offered for beginners if you would like to learn.
The atmosphere in the beach towns is much more relaxed than in the busy cities, and so you will find a stark contrast to Marrakech if you visit Essaaouira, for example.
Stunning views across the Atlas Mountains
One of the most popular things to do in Morocco is head into the Atlas Mountains. Many hikers take a trip from Marrakech to hike Mount Toubkal, which is a famous and rewarding three day hike to the summit. Even if you are not an avid hiker, you can still hire a driver to drive you along the Tizi and Tichka pass to Ouarzazate, and along the way you will experience jaw dropping scenery, Be warned though, it’s a bit of a windy road! Travel sickness tablets would be a good idea!
Cons of Morocco
As amazing as it is in Morocco, all destinations have their downsides. Morocco is an exciting place to travel, but also a challenging one. I would say that its not a destination for first time solo travellers – you may be put off by the intensity of if and the ‘hassle’ in the souks. If you are travelling alone, get some other easier countries under your belt before jumping on the next flight to Marrakech! Saying that, many of the challenges get easier as you adjust to Moroccan culture. So although there are downsides which I am about to highlight here, don’t let it put you off!
Queues and Chaos at Marrakech airport
Marrakech airport is a rather overwhelming introduction to Morocco. When we recently disembarked, we looked down at passport control to see a sea of people waiting in queue after queues – many of them could have been there for two to three hours waiting for the stamp to gain entry. Luckily, we had pre planned to get in the fast-track lane. If you can afford to pay for this in advance, it is well worth the money. And Blue Badge holders or registered disabled so NOT need to wait in the massive queues, ask for someone to take you into the special assistance lane. It’s not ideal for people with disabilities or medical conditions to wait in those queues.
The next thing is trying to find your driver! It’s always best to pre-book your airport transfer ahead of time, and you can do this here. When you come out of Marrakech airport, there is another sea of people – this time the taxi drivers, all waiting for their guests! It is hard to see the card with your name on it, because there are so many! Be prepared to look hard and be patient. Make a phone call to your driver if necessary to find him – many of them use What’s App and there is free WIFI at Marrakech airport.
Rip of merchants and Taxi drivers
Sadly, there are a few shady drivers and touts in Morocco who will try to screw you over, especially if you are fresh off the plane and not aware of the exchange rates. Remember as I mentioned, that you should pre-book your taxi from the airport, or at least negotiate the price for the trip (not per person!) Before you get in a cab. I used a pre-booked transfer from get your Guide and it worked personally, also the price was very reasonable – just £12 from Marrakech airport to the Medina.
As well as rip off taxi drivers, you may also find people who want to be your ‘guide’ or take you to the tanneries. They will tell you that their service is free, but of course, it is never free! If anyone guides you through the Medina, have just 10 Dirham ready as a small tip (just under £1) to keep them happy. Some of them become rude or aggressive if you do not offer to tip them – they are not real guides and not a true representation of Moroccan hospitality.
The ‘tanneries’ in my opinion are not a nice experience – they get very smelly as they make the leather in the Moroccan heat. They are not really that interesting either, so unless you have a burning desire to see how leather is made, then they are probably best avoided.
Getting lost in the souks
The souks, as I’ve mentioned, are a highlight of any trip to Morocco. But, many tourists comment that they find them overwhelming and stressful. The souks can be very busy and there will be a lot of people shouting trying to sell you things – in busy souks it sometimes becomes a competition of who can shout the loudest! You can wear sun-glasses and a head scarf as a way of blending in and to draw less attention to yourself.
It is likely that you will get lost in a souk, so get data on your phone or buy a Morocco e-SIM to help you to navigate. You can always pop into a cafe if you get lost, and navigate from there. That is much better than getting your phone or a map out in the middle of a busy street – this is just asking for attention and it might not be help that you want to take! Try to avoid random boys or men who approach to ‘help you’ as they may get you lost even further and then demand more money (or a kiss!) To get you out of the mess that they got you further into!
There are less touts and fake guides about in the mornings, and so a good strategy is to get up early and do your siteseeing first thing. Then you get a calmer experience and can spend the hot afternoon having a swim or relaxing in your Riad.
Women may experience hassle from men
This is unfortunately a negative experience that many female travellers attract unwanted attention from men. This can unfortunately happen even if you are modestly dressed and well covered, but dressing conservatively without your shoulders, arms or legs on display can minimise this. I once had my arm grabbed in a souk – it wasn’t aggressive (he just wanted to sell me a ring!) But it was unwanted touch. Young girls, particularly ones with blond hair, have reported being touched or having their hair touched. Sometimes, people follow you for ‘a kiss’. There are also some marriage scams when men pretend to fall in love with women, but its only for their money or a UK or US visa!
Be aware of strange men and don’t feel that you are being rude by asserting boundaries. Moroccan culture is generally very respectful towards women and men who breach that are not common, but do exist.
Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration
Remember to consider that Morocco is a country that experiences extreme heat, particularly in the summer months of July and August. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are a real risk to travellers. You will need a sunhat, head scarf and sun cream. It’s also a good idea to pack some Dioralyte sachets which will help to replace your body salts if you do become dehydrated. Also take a refillable water bottle (such as a SIGG or Lifestraw) and buy plenty of bottled water. Sometimes a cold water costs more than one that has not been in the fridge – this is justified by the cost of the energy of the refridgerator!
Diarrhoea or travel sickness
Sadly, some travellers to Morocco are affected by travel sickness and/or traveller diarrhoea. Mostly, the food is of a high quality and hygiene is good, but sometimes you can get sick from the change in food, or food that has been left out longer than it should be. Try to avoid street food stalls where it looks like the food has not been adequately prepared or refrigerated. Drink bottled water and some travellers opt to brush their teeth with bottled water also. Basic immodium and paracetamol are good things to pack (you don’t want the runs on a long bus or train ride!).
Insects and harmful creatures
Remember that with the different climates come different insects and wildlife. Some look scary but are completely harmless, such as the cicada beetles that I found in the desert. The biggest annoyance is mosquito bites. Closing the shutters in your Riad windows before you go to sleep is a good way to protect yourself. If you are camping while trekking, you may be encouraged to use a mosquito net. An insect repellant with DEET or an eco alternative to DEET is a good thing to pack. Also, antihistamines and an antiseptic or hydrocortisone cream will be good for taking down swelling and itch if you do get bitten.
Oh, and one last thing….if you camp in the desert, check those boots for scorpions and those bushes or rocks for snakes! Once someone in our camp put their carrycot down on a snake unaware, and when they packed up to trek the next morning, there it was, in a flat swirly S shape!
Your guide will look after you and probably check for these things as they know what they are dealing with – don’t head into the mountains or desert without a guide.
Although uncommon, Morocco is in an earthquake zone. Be aware that Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains villages were hit by an earthquake in 2023 that resulted in lives lost and some building destroyed. Always travel with insurance so that you will be covered in a medical emergency.
What to pack for Morocco
- Travel documentation – passport AND a photocopy of your passport.
- Smart phone and charger – I would recommend getting a Moroccan SIM such as this e-SIM which works well if you have a dual SIM phone.
- Tablet or laptop and chargers.
- A converter plug – Morocco uses the two pin plugs that are common in Europe (Portugal and Spain)
- Comfortable and conservative clothing such as leggings, T-shirts and long sleeved tops or tunics
- Dresses, but only if they are long and cover cleavage.
- A warm fleece in case it is cold at night time (this is common especially in the winter months).
- Sturdy walking boots (especially if you are trekking) or comfortable trainers and thick comfortable walking socks.
- Comfortable underwear – I recommend sports bras, ladies!
- A pair of comfortable sandals – walking sandals or sturdy comfortable leather sandals are ideal.
- A scarf that can be used as a head scarf for visiting religious or historical places and also keep your shoulders warm on cool evenings
- Antihistamines and antiseptic cream or hydrocortisone for bug bites
- Hat and sun cream to protect yourself from the Moroccan heat.
- A water bottle and dehydration sachets
- A mosquito net – if you are hiking and camping and this has been recommended by your guide
- Travel toiletries – pack very light or basic make up such as a tinted moisturiser or tinted lip balm. Morocco is too hot for a full face of make up!
- Baby wipes or hand wipes/toilet wipes – good for keeping clean whilst on the road and this will minimise illness or infection.
- A Morocco Lonely Planet – It’s full of good restaurant and hotel recommendations, and nice to sit and read when you are on trains don’t have internet access.
This is just a short summary of what to take – if you want more detail on this, visit my full article on What to pack for Morocco.
Top Morocco travel tips
- Spend at least 10 days in Morocco to get a contrast of the city and the coast or desert landscapes.
- Make sure that when you book a trip you consider a contrast in your destinations, such as Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, or Marrakech and Essaouira (coast).
- Pre-plan your airport transfer – download Get Your Guide for this or book your airport transfer here.
- Book your accommodation in advance – I recommend downloading booking.com app
- Take a head scarf and conservative clothing to blend in as much as possible.
- Take a well stocked medical kit including antihistamines, dioralyte, ammonium, paracetomol and antiseptic cream.
- Go with the flow in the souks and Kasbah’s – smile and engage in the friendly negotiating – being rude and aggressive is not the Moroccan way and the bartering is normal in their way of life.
- Don’t panic if you get lost, just go into a cafe with wifi, order a drink and look at your map in there to get your bearings.
- Avoid conversing with and accepting help from street touts or illegal and unofficial guides.
- You can use French in Morocco and will be widely understood, but most people in tourist places do speak English.
- Use a firm no-thank you or no-merci to refuse help or unwanted attention.
- Keep hydrated with regular sips of water.
- Avoid street food that looks like it has been out for a while or has flies landing on it!
- Respect the Islamic culture – never insult the Prophet Mohammed (Peace be Upon him) or speak badly about their religion or politics. Don’t go around eating during Ramadan or drinking alcohol on the streets.
- Do not take your Bible or an alternative holy book – this can put you in a difficult position in Morocco.
- Avoid public displays of affection and be aware that Morocco is not very LGBT friendly. So keep your sexuality to yourself and avoid sex outside of marriage.
- Avoid areas of political protest which may quickly escalate into violence (this can be true of any city and is not common but just something to be aware of).
- Tips are common – a good tip for a bag carrying is around 20 Moroccan Dirhams and a good restaurant tip is around 20%.
Is Morocco worth visiting? Overall verdict
So, what’s the overall verdict? Is Morocco worth visiting? Absolutely! Be prepared for an intense experience, but once you get used to the culture and go with the flow, you will enjoy it immensely. Some of my best ever travel experiences have been in Morocco. Enjoy the pace of life, the friendly nature of the people and fantastic attractions. If you haven’t explored Morocco yet, please do. Start with Marrakech, and then venture to the coast or mountains. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
Is Morocco worth Visiting – Further Reading
If you enjoyed this article about ‘is Morocco worth visiting?’ and would like to read more, then check out these other Morocco blogs…
- Best things to buy in Morocco
- My holiday to Morocco – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
- Things to do in Essaouira
- Is Marrakech worth visiting?