Two years ago, I went on 10-day road trip through Morocco and it was an incredible journey to get to know this unique country. From snowy mountaintops to the depths of the Sahara Desert, in a little over one week I got a glimpse of how diverse Morocco can be.
If you’re thinking of traveling to Morocco but you’re not sure where to start, here’s a quick guide to the country. From visa requirements to the cities you can’t miss: here is everything you need to know about traveling to Morocco.
Wanderlust Guide to Morocco
How to Get There
Airlines & Airports
Morocco’s tourism industry is bursting and airlines are taking note. You’ll be able to fly into Morocco via one of the many world-famous airlines including British Airways, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, Swiss Air, and more. For budget flights try Vueling, easyJet, Ryanair, Thomson Airways, or Monarch.
To fly between Morocco’s regional airports, you can board one of the many national airlines including Jet4you, Royal Air Maroc, Air Atlas Express, Regional Air Lines, Atlas Blue, and Mondair.
Mohammed V International Airport (Casablanca): Named in honor of King Mohammed V, this is Morocco’s busiest airports. You will find plenty of taxis, buses and train shuttles that will take you into Casablanca.
Menara International Airport (Marrakech): Located just 6km from Marrakech, this is another of Morocco’s main international airports. You’ll have to take a taxi to Marrakech, but you’ll be better located to explore Morocco’s interior region.
Ferry Companies & Ports
Every day, dozens of ferry boats dock in one of Morocco’s many port cities from a variety of ferry companies including FRS, Intershipping, Balearia, Trasmediterranea, Grandi Navi Veloci, and Grimaldi Lines. You can take a ferry from Spain (Tarifa, Algeciras, Malaga, Almeria, Barcelona), France (Sete) or Italy (Livorno, Genoa). Ferries departing from Spain are the most popular as they offer the shortest route (a trip from Italy can take up to 3 days), most frequent trips and a greater variety of arrival cities.
If you can, opt for one of these three arrival port cities in Morocco:
Tangier: Morocco’s busiest port city, Tangier receives dozens of ferry boats every day. Trips from Tarifa take just 1h and you’ll be pretty close to plenty of Moroccan must-visit cities such as Chefchaouen, Rabat, Fez, and Meknes.
Tangier Med: Located about 40km from Tangier, Tangier Med is just a cargo port so not much to see there. Sometimes, ferry boat prices will be cheaper if you choose to arrive in Tangier Med. But don’t worry: FRS offers a free shuttle bus that connects the two cities.
Nador: If you want to go off the beaten track and start exploring Morocco’s western side first, Nador is the best arrival city for you. You’ll be perfectly located to drive The Rocade (Morocco’s coastal road connecting Nador to Al-Hoceima) or to hop on a direct train to Fez.
Places You Can’t Miss
Marrakech: This Moroccan city combines the best of both worlds: a modern, cosmopolitan hubs meets the traditional way of life within just a few blocks. Make sure to grab a bite at Djema el Fnaa square in the evening!
Fez: I was sad I didn’t get to visit Fez because I’ve heard so many great things about it: an ancient medina, historical monuments and busy souks are just some of the things to explore.
Ouarzazate: Film addicts will love Ouarzazate. The two major studio companies (CLA Studios and Atlas Studios) have kept sets from major blockbusters like Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002) completely intact. I’ll be honest: I couldn’t contain my excitment when I stepped on the set of The Gladiator! #favoritemovieforlife
Sahara Desert: This was the highlight of my trip. From Ouarzazate, take a four-wheeler to the edge of the desert and then hop on a camel guided by two Berber men. They’ll take you up and down the golden desert dunes to reach a traditional Berber camp just in time for the sunset of your life. Then, enjoy a quiet night under the stars literally in the middle of nowhere. Read all about my experience & tips here!
Chefchaouen: I didn’t get to visit this picturesque blue-walled town but it’s easy to see why this should be on everyone’s Moroccan bucket list!
Stay in a riad: A riad is a traditional Moroccan house. Many of them today have been transformed into picturesque boutique hotels – perfect for those wanting to experience Morocco like a local. Rooms decorated in traditional Moroccan fashion all face an interior courtyard which usually also features a fountain or a small garden. PLUS: They’re usually located in the heart of the medinas, making them a perfect base from which to explore the cities on foot.
Try tagine stew: Maybe you’re not much of a foodie, but there’s one traditional Moroccan food you have to try while you’re visiting. A tagine is a large conical-shaped pan used to cook many dishes, among them the popular Moroccan tagine stew. The dish involves chicken, garlic, olives, ginger and all kinds of spices.
Shop the souks: Let’s be honest – where else are you going to find tasty spices and test your bargaining skills?
Know Before You Go
Visas: Of course, you’ll need your passport (valid for at least 6 months) to travel to Morocco. But the good news is most travelers (i.e. from the EU, UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) don’t need to apply for a visa, so long as your stay doesn’t exceed 3 months. You should always check with your local Moroccan embassy for updated information.
Language: You’ll be spoilt for choice as a foreigner when it comes to languages in Morocco. While the official languages are Modern Standard Arabic and Berber, most Moroccans speak Moroccan Arabic and a bit of French, the unofficial second (third?) language due to the historic French colonization of Morocco. You’ll get around easily in most cities and touristic centers with English. Spanish is spoken a bit as well in the northern coast.
Local Customs: Although Morocco is opening up to international visitors, it is still a conservative and religious country. Make sure to dress appropriately (especially when visiting places of worship) and avoid PDA at all costs. Moroccans typically greet with a handshake and two kisses – but only if between two people of the same sex. And don’t forget – all gestures must be made with your right hand as the left hand is considered impure.
Health & Safety: Health doesn’t need to be a major concern for those wanting to travel to Morocco. The country is virtually malaria-free and you don’t need any vaccinations to enter Morocco. Always check with your doctor before departing to make sure you’re covered. Safety concerns should center around typical tourism-related crimes such as pickpocketing, bag snatching and con artists. You can read more in an article I wrote for Journey Beyond Travel.