Let’s be honest and upfront – Morocco is not the best place for a first time solo traveller. It can be intense and overwhelming to say the least! It is certainly not without it’s travel challenges! However, if you have a bit of travel experience under your belt and love learning about Islamic culture and architecture, then Morocco is a fantastic solo travel destination. Morocco really is a feast for the senses (sorry – cliche, I know!) You will wake up to the sound of the Muezzin chanting the call to prayer, be blown away by the views of the Atlas Mountains and revel in the scents of leather and spices in the souks. This is now my third trip to Morocco, and I’ve spent a total of two and a half months travelling in Morocco altogether, so I hope that you find my Morocco solo female travel guide helpful. This is one of my all-time favourite travel destinations….enjoy!
What did I get up to in Morocco?
So, what did I get up to in Morocco? Well, there are three different trips for me to mention here! My first experience was challenging as I was trekking with BSES (British Schools Expedition Society). There were all sorts of challenges and many firsts. I abseiled down a cliff face in the high Atlas, trekked in the Sahara desert, swam in the wadis of Todra Gorge and explored the streets of Ouarzazate. My second trip included the highlights of Marrakech, the kasbah of Ait Benhaddou and the coastal town of Essouira (where Jimmy Hendrix alledgedly hung out!). My third and recent trip was my most extensive Morocco itinerary yet! It included Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Fez and Chefchaouen.
Well, it’s official…I’ve now covered all modes of transport including foot, bus, train, petit taxi, grand taxi and donkey! The funny thing is, I’m already thinking about planning another solo trip to the North of Morocco, as I’ve not yet explored Tangier or Tetouan. I’ve got a few hundred Dirhams stashed away ready for that!
Oh, but please remember that you can’t take large amounts of Moroccan currency out of the country. The exchange rate at the time of writing this blog was approximately 12 MAD to the Pound. For ease of calculation, I was rounding it off to 10 MAD to the pound. Don’t worry, there are many other tips for solo female travel in Morocco to follow!
Introduction to solo travel in Morocco
It’s important to understand the basics about Moroccan religion, geography and history before embarking on your solo trip. The country is over 99% Sunni Muslim and you will need to respect the Islamic religion and culture at all times. That means dressing respectfully and not speaking offensively about the religion or the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).
Morocco was a French colony from 1912 to 1956, and this means that if you don’t speak Arabic very well, your French will still go a long way. Saying that, I found that English was spoken well in the bigger cities such as Rabat and Casablanca.
Morocco is a relatively large country, which will bring to you contrasts of coastal towns, mountain treks and desert safaris. If you enjoy hiking and getting off the beaten path, you will find views over the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert are truly breathtaking. There are also the mosques, kasbahs and souks to explore – pretty much every Moroccan city has these!
The great thing about Morocco is that it has a wealth of different destinations, meaning that it has something for everyone. Sun worshippers head to Agadir for a week on the beach. Trekkers head to hike Mount Toubkal. Culture vultures (like me) thrive in the historical cities such as Marrakech, Fez and Meknes. Whatever ‘floats your boat’, you will not be disappointed!
A note on visiting Mosques in Morocco
A note on the mosques in Morocco – non-Muslims cannot go inside. Often you will be able to look in, or observe from courtyards and terraces. The one mosque in Morocco that you CAN visit is the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. It is a relatively modern mosque and truly stunning inside and out. It can be combined with a ticket to the Hassan II Mosque museum where you can see sample of decoration and Islamic art, alongside information about how the mosque was constructed.
Is Morocco safe for solo female travel?
Remember, of course, that no travel is risk free at all. Always take your travel advice from your governments website and follow their guidelines. You should be aware that there is a risk of terrorism in Morocco, and it is wise to be vigilant and avoid areas of protest or large gatherings.
Also, note that Marrakech and the Atlas mountains are in an earthquake zone. There was a bad earthquake that hit Marrakech and the foot of the Atlas Mountains in September 2023 which caused extensive damage. The aftermath of this has now settled – I have visited Marrakech since and everything is functioning as normal, other than a few buildings that were destroyed in the quake.
Morocco can be intense at times, particularly in the souks and kasbahs. You may find people running after you to try to sell you things, and sometimes people trying to be you ‘unofficial guide’. In some ways, it is easier to deal with this as a solo traveller, because you won’t be speaking to anyone and so they only know that you are English if you open your mouth! One tactic that worked very well for me when I was alone was to pretend I didn’t have any common language with the touts – just smile sweetly and shake your head or shrug your shoulders. They quickly move on to their next target!
Let me tell you this – don’t let the stories of the touts and scammers put you off Morocco. When you have been in Morocco for a while, you get used to the system of bartering, baying a ‘trolley man’ to wheel your cases and tipping the train guard who helps you with your bags. You also to book your official guides online beforehand, and learn to shake off the unofficial ones very quickly. Morocco is certainly not ‘aggressive’, it’s just a different way of life.
I have travelled in Morocco extensively, sometimes alone, sometimes with a family member and sometimes as a group, and I have been fine in all of those situations. If you are apprehensive, you can book your transfers and train tickets in advance, and then have some 20 Dirham notes readily available for ‘tips’ for anyone who helps you along the way (such as the men who offer a cart for your luggage or the train guard loading your cases on to the train).
Best destinations for solo female travel in Morocco
As I’ve mentioned, there are so many destinations in Morocco to visit, I couldn’t possibly list them all in one blog! But I am happy to write down some of my favourites….
- Marrakech – This city is thriving, with fantastic architectural delights such as Bahia Palace, the Saadian tombs and Ben Yousef Madrasa. The souks and bars are full of excitement, and don’t miss the famous Jmaa el Fnaa in the evening. Marrakech is my top favourite travel destination in Morocco!
- Mount Toubkal – A popular 3-4 day trek which offers a moderately challenging hike and fantastic views. Always go with a qualified guide.
- Ouarzazate – This stunning authentically Moroccan city is known as the gateway to the Sahara Desert. Don’t miss Ait Benhaddou – one of Morocco’s most amazing kasbahs. It doubled up as the city of Yunkai in the filming of HBO series Game of Thrones.
- Essouira – This relaxing coastal town is less intense than Marrakech and offers great opportunities to learn to surf. It’s rumoured to be the favourite travel destination of famous guitarist Jimmi Hendrix.
- Rabat – The Moroccan capital is a cut above every other city in Morocco! The city is so well organised and beautifully kept – it will remind you more of Dubai than Marrakech! Rabat is the perfect destination for a first time traveller to Morocco. It is safe, with good roads and less hassle in the souks. Don’t miss Udayas Kasbah and the Mausoleum of Mohammed.
- Fez – Fez is the worlds largest pedestrianised medieval city, which was founded in the 9th Century and reached its height in the 13th-14th Centuries. Don’t miss Bab Boujloud, Al Attarine Madrasa and The Royal Palace. I would recommend a guide for the Fez Medina and souks as it is easy to get lost and hard to find things! A guide is well worth the money in this city!
You can use your French in Morocco!
French is the second most widely spoken language in Morocco, after Arabic, but you will also be pleased to know that in many tourist destinations, and in the capital of Rabat, English is widely spoken. I have a French GCSE and did use my French a fair bit.
Reasons to travel alone to Morocco
- You will be able to be completely in charge of your itinerary and what you want to see.
- Moroccan hospitality is welcoming – as soon as you arrive, you will be greeted with a mint tea ceremony in your Riad!
- Food is amazing and excellent value – try Kefta, tagine and the Moroccan salads.
- Believe it or not, it is actually easier to get rid of touts and scammers in Morocco when you are travelling alone!
- Morocco is a budget friendly travel destination – great value food, transport and accommodation.
- It is easy to pre-book taxis and trains online – use the ONCF website for trains and booking.com for taxis.
- As a solo traveller, you can book guided tours in Morocco using Get Your Guide – download the app before you go.
- Morocco has something for everyone – beaches, souks, architecture, hiking and more!
Dining out in Morocco
Dining out is a pleasure in Morocco, and is really cheap. For a basic tagine in a cheap cafe you can pay around 30 MAD, or for a full set menu including starter, salads and dessert or fruit you can pay around 150 MAD. Eating out in Morocco is relatively healthy with lots of salads and vegetables. Some of my favourite dishes include lemon chicken tagine and lamb Moroccan cous cous. They will usually bring complimentary bread and olives to the table.
Don’t worry about eating out solo – the wait staff are often very friendly and will chat to you. I have also ended up chatting to several other solo travellers eating alone in restaurants.
A few things to note about eating out in Morocco – some restaurants have rather low seating and in some kasbahs or on roof terraces you may even have a meal on the floor on Moroccan rugs. Some retaurants don’t take card, so always be prepared for cash only. You can often get tap water for free, but in Morocco you may prefer to order bottled mineral water. Finally, tipping is appreciated in Morocco (although not essential). If you enjoyed a meal, then 10% is a good tip on top of the bill (it should not be a service charge or tip automatically added).
Here are a few of my favourite restaurants in some of the Moroccan cities I have visitied…
- Marrakech – Kozy Bar, Nomad Cafe, Le Jardin.
- Fez – Fez Cafe, Restaurant Soultana, Snack Malak, Restaurant Dar Hammad.
- Casablanca – Rick’s Cafe, Le Jasmine, Vieilles Canailles.
- Rabat – Le Dhow, Golden Fish, Dar Zaki.
- Meknes – Palais Ismailia, Restaurant Khadija, Restaurant Dar Baraka.
Morocco is Reasonably priced and Great Value Travel Destination
To put you in the picture, trains between cities will be somewhere between £10-20 (depending on length of journey) and meals can be as cheap as 30 MAD which is around £3 (prices true at time of writing – start of 2024).
Solo Female Travel Morocco – tips
- Stay at a Riad and you will always have a Moroccan friend to look out for you!
- Pre-book your taxis or transfers on booking.com app or if you do get a cab, negotiate the price before you get in!
- Avoid speaking to random men or boys in the Medina and close to the main attractions in Marrakech
- Ignore anyone who tells you ‘it’s closed!’ It’s probably not closed – they just want to use it as a ploy to get you to listen to them, become your unofficial guide and then charge you a ridiculous price for the privilage.
- If you want to attract less attention to yourself in souks and kasbahs, it can be a good idea to dress conservatively to blend in. You can wear sunglasses and a headscarf, with a long dress or tunic and leggings.
- Avoid short skirts, low cut tops and vest tops with spaghetti – they are not suitable for Morocco.
- In busy cities like Marrakech walk on the pavement or as close to the edge as possible, because motorbikes can rush past unexpectedly.
- Remember to plan in rest days – travel in Morocco can be tiring and intense!
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration – Morocco can be very hot, especially in the summer.
Always get travel insurance
One important point to note is that you should always get travel insurance for Morocco. Although it’s unlikely that you will get sick or have an accident, in the event that you do, you need to know that your medical care is covered. Traveller diaorrhea and dehydration are common medical issues in Morocco. Road traffic accidents are common, especially in Marrakech.
Focus on a certain region of Morocco
My best advice would be that you focus on a certain region in Morocco for your trip. Most people visit Morocco for around 10 days. During this time, you could see Marrakech and head through the Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate, followed by a desert safari. Or, you could travel through the North to see Rabat, Fez and Chefchaouen. But, don’t try to cram in both – you would find that it would be too tiring and intensive, and this would have a negative impact on how you feel about travelling in Morocco.
If you only have a week in Morocco, then I would recommend that you stay in one destination, such as Agadir or Marrakech, and then do day trips to surrounding areas.
Don’t be afraid to Book a Guide!
And finally – How to Navigate the Airport
Last of all, and possibly the most important pieces of advice….presuming that you are flying in and out of Marrakech like I did…
- When arriving in Marrakech airport, book the FAST-TRACK to skip the line at passport control. It can be up to three hours wait otherwise, and that is standing with no food or water.
- On the way OUT of Marrakech airport, remember to PRINT your boarding pass. Digital tickets on Easyjet and Ryanair apps may work to Spain and Portugal, but they are not accepted at Moroccan airports. I have heard horror stories of people being charged an extortionate 50€ to print it at the airport!
Overall Verdict – Should I travel to Morocco alone?
I would recommend solo travel in Morocco, but not to a first time traveller. Morocco can be intense, and some people find the hassle in the souks and kasbahs a lot to deal with. The good news is that the transport system in Morocco is well organsied, and it is well set up for tours. As a solo traveller, you will be able to happily take trains and mini bus transfers in Morocco. Spend at least 10 days to two weeks in Morocco in order to see several different cities – you will be surprised by the differences between them. From Marrakech to Tangier, in Morocco solo female travel will never disappoint! This is one of my favourite countries to travel to with a fantastic amount of culture, history and religion. Enjoy Morocco!
Further Reading on Morocco Solo Female Travel
If you enjoyed this article on solo female travel in Morocco and would like to read more about it, check out these other articles…
- Is Meknes worth visiting?
- Is Chefchaouen worth visiting?
- Visiting Chefchaouen in winter
- What to wear in Chefchaouen
- How to spend one day in Casablanca