Travel guide Morocco

Morocco is known for its diverse desert landscapes, which are among the most beautiful in the world. But the country consists of more than just barren deserts. Morocco's attractiveness lies in its variety, from dinners in the desert to winter sports.

The country's charming landscapes, as well as its rich culture and art, make it a jewel worth exploring. Much of Morocco's culture is embodied in its famous markets, known as the souk (suq). These markets around Marrakech, Rabat and Fez offer not only a vast selection of art, but also a variety of culinary delights, such as its world-known spices.

Morocco attracts tourists from all over the world thanks to its fairy-tale landscape. This is especially true in the historic cities of Casablanca, Fés or Marrakech, where marvellous sights like the Medersa (Koran school) are waiting for you. But don't forget to visit Agadir, Tangier, and Meknès - some of Morocco lesser known yet equally impressive destinations.


General informations about Morocco

Geography

The Kingdom of Morocco is located in the north of the African continent, bordering with the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the neighboring Algeria. The country's area equates to 446,550 km², therefore making Morocco one of the smaller African countries. The landscape is incredibly diverse, ranging from desert landscapes to snow-covered mountains, green plains and beautiful sandy beaches.

Time zone

The time difference is Central European Time (CET) -2 hours in summer and CET -1 hour in winter.

Climate and season

Morocco has two climate zones divided by the Atlas Mountains. While the northwest is influenced by the Mediterranean climate, the southern part is influenced by the Saharan desert. The country's fauna strongly depends on these different climatic zones, with Mediterranean flora in the north, date palms in oases, and forests in the mountains. The southern coastal area grows plants that are mainly associated with the image of Morocco: Argan trees, jujubes, strawberries, and pistachios.

Tthe best time to travel to Morocco also depends on where in the country you are flying to. For the interior parts of the country, where temperatures fluctuate between 29 and 45 degrees in the summer, the months of March to May or October to November are the best time to be there. Visits to the northwest area are better done between April to November.

Climate chart (Rabat)

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Highest temperatures Highest temperatures

18°

18°

19°

20°

22°

24°

27°

27°

26°

23°

21°

20°

Lowest temperatures Lowest temperatures

10°

13°

15°

18°

18°

17°

14°

11°

Hours of sunlight per day Hours of sunlight per day

6h

7h

8h

9h

9h

10h

10h

10h

9h

8h

6h

6h

Water temperatures Water temperatures

16°

16°

16°

17°

19°

19°

21°

22°

21°

21°

19°

17°

Rainy daysRainy days

6

7

7

6

2

1

0

0

1

6

6

7


Preparing your journey

Requirements for entering Morocco

EU citizens do not need a visa for a stay of up to 90 days in Morocco. For longer stays, a residence permit is required. To obtain this permit you must submit an application to the local immigration police within 21 days after entering the country. For this application you will need, among other things, proof of financial means and a justification of why a longer stay is necessary. The Moroccan embassy can also provide further information on the application.


It is recommended to be presentable when entering the country, because unkempt-looking people can be denied entry. Please note that some regulations in Morocco are very different from the laws of your country, so we recommend everyone to familiarize themselves with the local laws and refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for specific information.

Currency

Morocco's currency is the Dirham. You can use a currency converter to quickly find out the current exchange rate between your currency and the dirham. You can import and export up to a maximum of 1,000 on your trip. Since the limit changes regularly, it is a good idea to consult the Moroccan Customs website in advance. The dirham (DH) is divided into 100 centimes. Bills are available for 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 DH and coins are available for 1, 2, 5 and 10 DH.

Health care

The German Foreign Office recommends that you take out travel health insurance before traveling to Morocco. Alhough Sprachcaffe offers travel insurance, be aware that it is only valid for 45 days.

No special mandatory vaccinations are required. Standard vaccinations such as tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A are generally recommended. In regards to medical care, larger cities tend to have sufficient clinics and well-trained doctors. However, it might be more challenging to access a higher standard of medical care in rural areas due to poor hygiene and insufficient equipment. You can find further medical advice and up-to-date safety information on the Minestry of Foreign Affairs.

Packing list

Take a look at our packing checklist and make sure you have everything before departure day!


Society and every day life in Morocco

Religion

The state religion is Islam. Around 98.7% of the population are Muslims. Islam is thus also the basis of laws and influences the daily routine of Moroccans.

Politics

According to the 1992 constitution, Morocco is nominal constitutional monarchy. The current head of state is King Mohammed VI, who belongs to the Alawid dynasty. The Prime Minister is Aziz Akhannouch.

Local language and communication

Although Arabic and Mazirian are the official languages of Morocco, French is also used throughout the country as a language of commerce, education and as the unofficial working language. Spanish is spoken in some northern regions.

It is customary for friends of the same sex or family to kiss each other twice on the cheek as a greeting and goodbye. Men and women only shake hands. However, the right hand can also be brought to the mouth or to the heart to express respect and cordiality.

Public transport

In Morocco it's common to travel by cab. A differentiation is made between the petite cab (small cab) for inner-city trips and the grande cab (large cab) for longer trips out of town. The prices are comparatively cheap.
Alternatively, there is also the option of the bus. Morocco has a well-developed bus network, with direct connections between almost all major cities.


Culture and History Morocco

History

From the soaring city walls to the breathtaking Atlantic coastline, the Moroccan capital of Rabat will enchant and inspire you. The history of this fascinating city can be traced back to pre-Roman times, when the Punic port of Challah was built on the Bou Regreg River - 300 years before the dawn of our era.

The fortress in Rabat, as well as its sister fortress Kasbah Oudaias, are fantastic relics of Rabat's heyday. Rabat became the capital of Morocco in 1921, and has since then transformed into the modern and dynamic city it is today. Despite its long past, Rabat is a modern 21st century metropolis - with all the conveniences and pleasures you could wish for.

Because of its past as French colony, French is one of the main languages spoken in the country. In the early 1950s, the first tensions arose between the incumbent Sultan and the French protectorate administration due to growing independence efforts. As a result, the sultan was exiled in 1953 and replaced by his uncle. This was followed by a wave of indignation against foreign rule, which eventually led to the first step toward Moroccan independence. France and Spain could no longer maintain their protectorate power and Sultan Muhammad V was thus able to return in 1955.
In 1956, Morocco gained independence from France. Morocco then occupied Western Sahara from 1975.

For more detailed information about Rabat, please refer to Visit Morocco.

Festivals

Festival des Musiques Sacrées du Monde: The festival of sacred music takes place around May in Fez. During the festival, orchestras, solo artists, choirs and dance groups from all over the world perform. The festival takes place in the city, the gardens and the Medina. There is also the possibility to buy a universal pass.

Cherry Festival: Every June the town of Sefrou hosts the Cherry Festival. The locals dress up with fancy clothes and decorate the streets with roses. Folk songs are played and nine beautiful girls in traditional dresses to distribute roses and cherries to the people.

Marrakech Folklore Festival: Between March and April, the Folklore Festival takes place in Marrakech. During this festival, folk dance is celebrated as part of the Moroccan tradition. The festival provides a platform for the exchange of traditions, as local groups as well as dancers from European and African countries can participate.

Mawazine Festival Rabat: Rabat hosts the Mawazine Festival, a week-long global music festival in June. The line-up includes artists from all over Africa, as well as Europe, Asia and the rest of the world. For one week, numerous concerts, in all styles and genres, take place.

Jazz au Chellah: On the grounds of the Chellah, Moroccan and European jazz concerts have been held for five days in September since 1996 to promote dialogue between Europe and Morocco. Jazz concerts featuring European and Moroccan artists are also held with increasing frequency outside of the festival.

Oudayas Surf Club: If you feel like surfing, you can join the Oudayas Surf Club. Since 1998, this surf school has attracted avid surfers from all over the world. Surf lessons can be taken here every day except Mondays. A surf lesson costs around 150 DH.

Procession of the Candle: This festival takes place in the town of Salé. Here men carry huge wax lanterns of all shapes and sizes and dance in circles. The town is beautifully decorated and the locals are especially fond of celebrating. This is because it is the time when the candle season begins and is meant to commemorate the birth of Mohammed. The locals even get two days off during this time.

Holidays

January 11 - Manifeste de l'indépendance: The January 11, 1944 manifesto led to the formation of the "Party of Independence" (Al-hizb al-istiqlal)
May 1 - Celebration of Labor Day or Fête du Travail (French) and Aid a choghl (Arabic)
July 30 - Fête du trône (French)/ Aid el 3àrch (Arabic): On this day Moroccans celebrate the accession to the throne by Mohammed VI.
August 14 marks the return of the Saharan provinces to Morocco. This holiday is also called Allégeance Oued Eddahab or Dikra Istirjaa Oued Eddahab et Sakia el-Hamra.
August 20 - Révolution du roi et du peuple / Thawratou el malik wa chaāb. This day celebrates the rising of the Moroccan people against the banishment of the king by the French.
August 21 - Birthday of King Mohammed VI, a day also called "The Day of Youth" (Fête de la Jeunesse/Aid Achabab).
November 6 - "Green March" (La marche verte/ El massira el khadrae): Event that celebrates the march the Moroccan people organised to strengthen their influence over the Western Saharan territory.
November 18 - Fête de l'indépendance (Arabic: Aid el istiqlal ): celebration of the end of the French protectorate

One should of course not forget the annual fasting month of Ramadan. Ramadan is determined and set every year based on the position of the moon. The fasting month influences the life of the Moroccan people, since opening hours of stores and places of interest change. After the sun goes down people tend to congregate in the street and celebrate as a community, eating and sharing stories.

Food

Moroccan cuisine is a delicious adventure. Morocco is known for its spices, so you can look forward to a very flavorful experience. National dishes include tajine and couscous. Couscous is typically eaten on Fridays and it is not uncommon to eat the dish by hand. You will often find cucumbers and tomatoes in Moroccan salads. The menu also includes all kinds of meat skewers or fish dishes on the coast. One of the more unusual dishes is the boiled goat's head, served with salt and cumin. With Sprachcaffe you have the unique opportunity to take a typical Moroccan cooking course:


Everything you need to know about Morocco

Common tourist mistakes

Did you know that Islam had a ban on picture? In fact it was not allowed to have depictions of animals and people. Nowadays the rule isn't followed as much, but you should always ask before taking a picture of someone. It is also advisable not to photograph official facilities, especially military installations or police officers as well as soldiers.

There are rules regarding what you can take back from Morocco. For fossils and semi-precious stones, you will need a special permit. In general, you should refrain from giving gifts of plants or stones out of respect for the local flora and fauna. You may not export more than 10 stones out of the country. You are also not allowed to bring seeds of exotic plants. Allowed are textiles, ceramics or glasswork.

Remember that you are in a Muslim country, so your clothing should be respectful of the local traditions. You should also refrain from kissing or holding hands in public, as it is unusual in Morocco to exchange such intimacies outside of the private space.

Tips and advice

Tips in a restaurants are around 10%, whereas in cafes you usually tip 1 dirham per drink.  Cab drivers are given about 2 to 5 dirhams extra, depending on the fare. Luggage porters get 5 to 15 dirhams per piece of luggage, according to the hotel.

Respect Ramadan and do not eat too substantial meals on the street during the day. Also note that during this period service in hotels or local transport (buses/taxis) can sometimes be a little erratic. It is also harder to get access to alcohol.

When you are invited to someone's house, it is good manners to bring a small gift for the host, and don't forget to always accept tea in a friendly manner.

Before entering living quarters or mosques it is necessary to remove shoes.

Small dictionary

English

Arabic

Arabic in Arab characters

Hi!

Salam!

سلام

Good Morning!

Sabah el kheer!

صباح الخير

Good Day!

Masaa el kheer!

مساء الخير

Welcome!

Marhaban!

مرحبا

How are you?

Kaifa haloka? (m)/ Kaifa haloki? (w)

كيف حالك؟

Good, thanks!

Ana bekhair, shokran!

أنا بخير شكرا

And you?

Wa ant? (m)/ Wa anti? (w)

و أنت؟

Thank you very much!

Shokran (jazeelan)!

شكرا (جزيلا)

You're welcome!

Al’afw!

ألعفو

Good evening!

Tosbeho 'ala khair! (m)/ tosbeheena 'ala khair! (w)

تصبح/ تصبحين على خير

See you later!

Araka fi ma ba'd! (m)/ Araki fi ma ba'd! (w)

أراك في مابعد

Goodbye!

Ma’a salama!

مع السلامة

I've got lost

Ada'tu tareeqi!

أضعت طريقي!

Can I help you?

Hal beemkani mosa’adatuk?

هل بإمكاني مساعدتك؟

Can you help me?

Hal beemkanek mosa’adati?

هل بإمكانك مساعدتي؟

Where is the toilett/pharmacy?

Ayna ajedu al merhaad/ assaidaliah?

أين أجد (المرحاض/ الصيدلية)؟

Do you speak (English/ Arabic)?

Hal tatakallamu alloghah alenjleziah/ alarabiah?

هل تتكلم اللغة الإنجليزية /العربية؟

My name is …

Esmee…

إسمي....

Videos

A picture is worth a thousand words, so why not take a look at the video below and fully take in all the gorgeous landscapes and rich culture of the Kingdom of Morocco?

Adventure Morocco