Morocco travel advice
Marrakesh is a traditional favourite, with the ancient city of Fez and the walled coastal town of Essaouira becoming increasingly popular.
Trips normally vary from a six night, two centred trip through to two week comprehensive touring itineraries.
Travel and guides
Travel can be by private vehicle less expensively on trains, which are punctual and relatively clean.
Private guides can accompany you throughout your itinerary, and we also occasionally use local guides for certain monuments and regions.
For those looking for something a bit more active or adventurous, we can arrange treks in the Atlas Mountains (including ascents of Jebel Toubkal) or the chance to camp on the fringes of the Sahara Desert.
Local culture and religion
Being a Muslim country, certain key dates and festivals such as the month of Ramadan and the festival of Eid can make a difference to your travel plans. By checking each year's Islamic calendar we can make sure your trip is planned around such dates.
Arabic, the official language of Morocco. Moroccan Arabic is the most different to the other dialects, so much so that everyday Moroccan Arabic is virtually incomprehensible in the Arab world. French is very widely spoken, and with the exception of remote rural areas and Berber enclaves in the mountains, you will be able to communicate with basic French. Berber is the language of the indigenous tribes of Morocco and comes in a variety of dialects.
Local currency is the Moroccan Dirham, divided into 100 centimes. The dirham is a closed currency and you can only obtain it once in Morocco, and it should not be taken out of the country. Credit cards can be used in hotels, major restaurants and shops, but not in many other places. There are ATMs now in most of the major towns that will accept Cirrus cards and credit cards for cash advances, and money and travellers cheques can be changed at the main bank branches; please note that you may be asked to show a copy of the issuing banks debit note along with your passport when changing travellers cheques.
Tipping is widespread and will be expected for every service rendered, no matter how small (and in some instances imaginary!). Anyone who has offered a genuine service should be tipped to some degree. Tipping is discretionary: it is an accepted part of culture and you should tip the smaller services no matter how perfunctory they seem. With the drivers and guides please do not feel obliged to tip to this level if you felt the service was substandard.
Morocco has fantastic cuisine and the food will doubtless be a real highlight of your trip. There are two dishes for which Morocco is especially well-known, tajine and couscous. Tajine is a stew cooked in an conical earthenware pot, and often involves some contrast of sweet and sour: so whilst being essentially meat-based (normally lamb), you will find raisins, dates or almonds in there as well. Couscous, steamed semolina grains, is a real staple of Moroccan food. Served on a huge communal plate it is topped with a variety of things — chicken, lamb and steamed vegetables are the most common. Meat, other than in the forms above, is normally roast chicken or lamb, which is often served as brochettes — barbequed skewers.
Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country. It is very important to respect Muslim social customs. This involves dressing in a way that will not offend: men should never be in public without a shirt of some sort on, and both sexes should remove shoes before entering a mosque or religious site. Generally speaking the shoulders are best covered, cleavage is best toned down and short shorts and skirts as well as anything too figure hugging should be avoided. Women should also cover their heads in mosques and religious sites. Public displays of affection should be avoided.
Do not photograph anything to do with the military or government buildings — also avoid photographing bridges and canals, or anything that could be construed as having strategic significance. Ask people if they mind before photographing them.
During Ramadan, do not eat, drink or smoke in public.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.
When to go to Morocco
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Morocco.
3½ hours to Marrakesh