Located on the northwestern coast of Africa, fewer than ten miles from Europe, Morocco is a culturally diverse nation that has been home to many different people throughout history. In addition to the indigenous Amazigh (Berber), you'll see African, Middle Eastern, and European influences scattered throughout this colorful and captivating country.
From the Marrakech's bustling souks to Morocco's famous "blue city," Chefchaouen, this country is a destination where an infusion of colors, smells, mint tea, and elaborately-decorated doors delight you with their chaotically beautiful mix.
Morocco is not only diverse in culture, but also in landscape -- with beaches along the Atlantic Ocean in the West, the Mediterranean Sea in the North, the High Atlas Mountains in the South, and the Sahara desert stretching along its Eastern border with Algeria --and is ripe for exploration and adventure activities.
Surf along the coast. Climb the highest peak in Northern Africa. Ride a camel through the desert and stay in a nomadic Berber camp. Immerse yourself in the colors and flavors of this culturally rich country through a tour of Morocco.
Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and the Mediterranean Sea to the North, there's no shortage of beaches and surf in Morocco.
Along Morocco's coast you'll find waves a year-round that suit both beginners and seasoned surfers. Many multi-day packages focus on the 500 kilometers of Atlantic coastline from Safi to Sidi Ifni and often include desert excursions and camping. If you're just learning to surf, it's best to stick to the Atlantic, as Morocco's Mediterranean coastline can be quite rocky with rough waves.
The Sahara Desert stretches across the majority of Northern Africa, covering an area roughly the size of the United States. Its deep red sands and rolling dunes make up Morocco’s landscape to the east.
Most desert tours in Morocco focus on the area along the north of the Moroccan-Algerian border with Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga being the most popular sand dunes travelers visit. This region is a 12-hour drive from Marrakech (just over seven hours from Fez), and tours often stretch over several days to include stops and activities along the way to break up the long ride.
On a multi-day tour, you'll likely have the chance to explore Ouarzazate and the Todra Gorge, ride a camel into the desert, sand board the dunes, and experience Berber music, food, and culture at a desert camp.
Mountain Adventures & Trekking
Nestled between the Middle Atlas Mountains to the north and the Anti-Atlas mountains to the south, Morocco's High Atlas Mountains are home to North Africa's tallest peak, Mount Toubkal.
While many tours are centered around summiting Toubkal, there are plenty of tour providers offering excursions through less-visited regions in the Middle, High, and Anti-Atlas Mountains. Regardless of the tour you choose, you'll have the opportunity to explore deep valleys and gorges, walk along gushing rivers and streams, and get acquainted with remote Berber villages.
Culture & Food Tours
It’s near impossible to step foot in Morocco without immersing yourself in the food and culture of the country. Many providers in Morocco offer single or multi-day tours that allow you to discover traditional cooking, explore the medinas filled with handmade goods from local artisans, spend time relaxing in a hammam, perfect your haggling skills in the souks, and learn about the colorful history and culture of the country.
Planning Your Trip
Best Time to Visit Morocco
While Morocco is great to visit any time of year, it’s best to pick the season that aligns with the activities you’d like to do.
- Treeking: If you're planning a trekking tour through the mountains, fall (September to November) and spring (March to May) are typically the best times. Snowfall early or late in the season can often push these dates around, so it's best to check weather conditions unless you're experienced in the snow.
- Desert tours: The Sahara is best from October to early May. Keep in mind that the Sahara has one of the harshest climates in the world -- you’ll want to avoid the unforgiving desert heat in summer and be mindful of nighttime temperatures dropping below freezing in December and January.
- Surfing: Peak surf season runs from late September until April with big winter swells hitting the coastline from December to March.
As a predominately Muslim country, you'll want to keep an eye on the timing of Ramadan (dates change from year to year). During this month-long holiday, some restaurants may be closed during hours of fasting -- from sunrise to sunset -- and services might not be operating at full capacity.
While you won’t be expected to fast during the day, you should be discrete about eating and drinking in public. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, and public transportation will be packed as Moroccans head home for the holiday.
What to Look for in a Tour to Morocco
If you book a guided tour in Morocco, pay close attention to what is, and what isn’t, included in the tour price. Day tours may only include a guide and transportation, while multi-day tours are typically all-inclusive and cover everything from gear rental to airport pickups, accommodation, and meals.
It's important to consider your travel style. Group sizes can vary from private tours to those with a handful of people, up to very large groups that can fill a coach bus. Accommodation can range from a relatively unequipped camp to luxury riads, which will be reflected in tour costs. It’s also good to know what level of experience the guides have and what fitness level or experience is required for any activities involved.
Many tours are offered in French, English, or Arabic. If you’re interested in learning one of these languages, consider choosing a program that includes a language learning element.
Typical Tour Cost
As with most destinations, your tour cost in Morocco is dependent on what's included and the level of comfort you wish to enjoy during your tour.
Morocco is still a relatively budget-friendly destination. You can expect to pay as little as $50 per day for basic tours, and anywhere from $150-$250 per day for tours with more perks. A good tour to get a sense for Morocco is from 5-10 days in length.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
Morocco is a predominately Muslim country and you should respect Islam's emphasis on modesty in the way you dress and act while traveling there.
Women should remember to keep themselves covered, particularly their shoulders and knees, and wear looser fitting clothing than they would back home. You don't typically need to cover your head, but it's always great to have a scarf on hand in case you need to cover up.
Pack appropriately for the time of year and activities you’re participating in, and keep in mind that items you need might not be as readily available in certain parts of Morocco. Most tour companies will provide all of the specialized gear you need.
Many overnight treks will include a mule or donkey for carrying your gear as you’ll likely need to pack in all of your water and food for the trip. If you’re heading into the desert, remember to pack a few warmer clothing options as it can get quite cold at night year round.
Other Tips for Travel in Morocco
Take some time to adjust to traveling through Morocco. Things work much differently than they would back home, and while it can be overwhelming at first, be open-minded about the people, culture, and processes for getting things done.
There are two official languages in Morocco: Modern Standard Arabic and Amazigh (Berber). French is often a second language for many Moroccans, and you'll find that a lot of Moroccans working in tourism speak English, among other languages.
You'll immediately notice the hard sales techniques displayed by vendors in the markets and medinas. Haggling is a part of the culture, and you'll quickly learn to wrangle a better deal than the original price you're offered. If you're polite and willing to spend the time speaking with them, you can often get items for 25-50% off the original price. Know what you're willing to pay before you start bargaining, and walk away if you don't settle on the price range that you want.
Don't get your hopes up for visiting the inside of mosques during your time in Morocco -- most are off-limits to non-Muslims (with the exception of Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca).
Health & Safety
No vaccines are required to enter Morocco, though Hepatitis A and Typhoid shots are sometimes recommended and you should make sure you're up-to-date on routine vaccinations prior to traveling to the country. You should also take out medical and travel insurance that covers all adventure activities you plan to participate in before you travel.
Food poisoning is a common issue for tourists in Morocco. To stay on the safe side, stick to drinking bottled water, and use it to brush your teeth as well. Make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are peeled, washed with bottled water, or cooked prior to eating. Wash your hands regularly as eating with your hands is common in Morocco (make sure to always use your right hand). Choose busy restaurants and food stalls as the high turnover of customers mean it is unlikely the food will be have been sitting for too long.
If you do get sick, don’t panic. Rest and hydrate. Visit the local pharmacy for recommendations on over the counter medications -- they deal with this often and are typically very helpful. If you’re not better after a few days, you can always pop into a local medical clinic and consult a doctor.
While some Western countries may have travel advisories warning of a high threat of terrorism, travel in Morocco is generally safe.
Theft, namely pick-pocketing and bag snatching, is the main crime risk, particularly in the larger cities and towns, and in crowded medinas. Pay attention when traveling on public transport or moving through bus or train stations. Leave flashy jewelry at home, and don’t carry valuables.
As a tourist (particularly if you’re female), you’ll likely experience a lot of unwanted attention from locals and pushy sales from shop owners and market stall holders. Female travelers may experience some harassment, especially if out on their own. The best way to deal with catcalls is to ignore them. If anything more serious happens, such as groping or unwanted physical attention, make a scene.
Unofficial tour guides, faux guides, or people posing as students studying English will stop you in the street, especially if you look lost or are outside of the normal tourist area. Anyone offering to show you around will expect reimbursement, no matter what they say.
Do not travel to the Western Sahara as it is a disputed territory and there is a high risk of landmines. Permission from the Moroccan authorities is required to travel there.