Morocco is so rad. It has an exotic and slightly chaotic vibe that is irresistible. It had been on our bucket list for quite some time so when we saw Ryan Air flights from Spain for literally $11 we were thrilled to start planning our Moroccan adventure! And an adventure it was. We thought we had it planned for the most part by stopping in all of the highlight cities, but then I saw a picture of Chefchaouen on Pinterest so we had to add it to the list (even though it was a nauseating bus ride out of the way… more on that here) and then Grant found out you can surf in Essaouira (also out of the way, but add it to the list!).
But the real kicker was when I found out you can ride camels in the Sahara desert and
Funny Random Story: While we were sitting in the Sevilla airport waiting for our flight to Morocco I looked on Instagram by location to see what was recently going on in Fes, our arrival city. I like to do this when I’m bored to get excited about an upcoming trip. To my horror, there were
a few several videos and photos of goats being slaughtered! We later found out it was to celebrate a big holiday, but at the time I was not quite sure what we were getting ourselves into!
Here is a video from our Morocco trip
The Food in Morocco
The food in Morocco is really good. We loved the tajines, couscous, and
As for the drinks in Morocco, be
What’s the Deal with Alcohol?
Morroco is a Muslim country so they have strict rules regarding alcohol. Basically, it isn’t on the menu anywhere. It is served at hotels and in a few bars that put out sketchy vibes but in our opinion it’s not worth the stigma. The strictness degree varies by city, and in Marrakesh, we found a lot of nice places serving alcohol. This likely won’t be a booze-filled vacation so grab a mint tea and enjoy!
What to Wear in Morocco
Due to the Muslim culture, it is customary to be covered, especially women. This is the first Muslim country I had visited and I found it interesting that the degree of coverage varied from person to person. One woman would have on modern jeans and a headscarf, while another woman’s eyes were the only part of her that could be seen!
Morocco is more relaxed on the modesty than other Muslim countries and we would sometimes see other tourists in shorts and tank tops. I mean it is super hot! I tried to adhere to the cultural norms while using what I already had (since we were backpacking, I didn’t pack specifically for Morocco.) And of course, this was an excuse for me to get some new clothes! My go-to outfit was flowy pants or leggings, a tank top, a scarf or shawl, and sandals. Grant wore pants and a short-sleeved shirt most days, except when he wasn’t rocking his full-on Moroccan getup straight from the Fez medina!
Weather in Morocco
As I said, it is hot! Like, Africa hot! We visited in August and early September which we assumed would be a death wish, but it honestly wasn’t that bad. There were definitely times where we would retreat to our riad to relax in the courtyard or by the pool, but it wasn’t unbearable. We (ahem, Grant) was reluctant to do our camel trek because of the extreme Sahara desert heat, but we left a little before sunset and we were both shocked at the mild heat. On our road trip and in Chefchaouen it was a cooler and borderline chilly at times. We even witnessed a few unexpected downpours! (Our Marrakesh one the most memorable, read about it here.)
Getting Around Morocco
I think we used every form of transportation available in Morocco. We flew there from Sevilla, took a bus round-trip to Chefchaouen, took trains between Casablanca and Marrakesh, and rented a car for the rest of the trip! The car was awesome but a bit stressful at times, the bus was horrible, and the train was efficient and not bad. Opt for first class train seats as they are way better and not that much more expensive.
A Note about Google Maps
Downloading Google maps is one of my go-to moves when traveling so we can effectively navigate without wifi. Once downloaded you can use the Google map directions just like normal. This doesn’t work in Morocco. It and a few other countries don’t have this feature. This was the 18th country we had visited on our trip and the first time I had seen this. Turns out it wasn’t a big problem, I just had to watch our location dot move across the map instead of being in the turn by turn navigation mode. I used it to navigate our entire road trip without getting lost. (*pats self on back)
Communicating in Morocco
Fortunately, as English speakers, we have it pretty good. Most countries know some English so we can get by just about anywhere. We also speak Spanish so we feel like we have a handle on communication in most places we visit. But Morocco… Nope! Arabic, French (who knew!?), and their native Berber are the main languages. Some Spanish is spoken in the North due to the country’s close proximity to Spain, but we mostly encountered French. Those working in the tourism industry mostly spoke English and overall we didn’t have any problems. (Except getting pulled over on our road trip…more on that here.) And I even learned a bit of Arabic while rug shopping in Chefchaouen!
It is also important to note that most cities are spelled two different ways. Both translations from Arabic, one with the French spelling. Fez and Fes, Marrakesh and Marrakech, etc.
Money in Morocco
The Moroccan currency is the Dirham. We almost exclusively used cash except at a few nicer restaurants. When we arrived our taxi driver said a lot of the ATMs may be empty because of the recent holiday, but after two attempts we found a working one. After that initial time, we had no problems getting cash out.
Good to Know: Spend all of your remaining dirhams before you leave Morroco. Dirhams are not accepted anywhere outside of Morocco. We read this beforehand so we took our remaining 400 dirhams (about $40) and decided we would spend them at the airport on lunch or something at duty-free. Even the airport shops and restaurants didn’t want them! They would only accept Euros. The only thing we could purchase from duty-free was a not very tasty yet expensive Moroccan bottle of wine! Ah, the irony.
Fez was the perfect start to our Moroccan adventure. It is sensory overload full of so many sights, sounds, and smells that aren’t all necessarily pleasant but are memorable in the best ways. We loved this authentic “people’s city” and its ever-winding medina. Read about our Fez trip here.
Chefchaouen is pretty little blue city in the Rif mountains. We loved its charming vibes and sleepy feel compared to the other big Moroccan cities we visited! Read about our Chefchaouen trip here.
Casablanca was the only city in Morrocco we didn’t love and for good reason. However, we still found some positives and saw the impressive Hassan II Mosque! Read about our Casablanca trip here.
Marrakesh was the “vacation” part of our Moroccan travels. We spent our
Essaouira’s salty air and small-town charm was a cool switch-up from big city life and we liked seeing camels on the beach, jamming to Gnawa music, and checking out old forts. Read about our Essaouira trip here.
Renting a car in another country is always interesting and Morocco was no exception. We did not know that this little country was so diverse until we drove across it! We stopped at film studios, a true oasis, ancient kasbahs, and wild rock formations. Our final destination being camel trekking and glamping in the Sahara! Read about our road trip here.
We cannot recommend Morocco highly enough! Steal our itinerary and you’re bound to have a great time! Prepare to be outside of your comfort zone in all of the right ways.
Want more information to plan your trip to Morocco? Check out the Morocco Lonely Planet here.