Mini Travel Guide: Morocco

Ever been curious about Morocco? This Mini Travel Guide has everything you need to decide if this is your next vacation destination! // yesandyes.org
Thinking about traveling to Morocco? This Morocco travel guide comes to us via the lovely Danielle who lived in Morocco for several months!
Morocco is an Arab country in Northwest Africa with a distinctly Mediterranean vibe – Morocco comes perilously close to touching Spain in Tangier. The Strait of Gibraltar separates Africa and Europe there by less than 9 miles. Morocco is still ruled by a royal family – currently King Mohammed VI. The country was colonized by the French, and as such, many citizens still speak French fluently. There are many different ethnic groups that make up this ancient and varied country, including Europeans, Arabs and indigenous Berbers.

Must Do in Morocco

things you must do in morocco

Camp in the Sahara

Few things in your life will be more exhilarating than taking a long, hot, rickety bus journey to Rissani, then hopping a cab to the tiny village of Merzouga in the southeast. There you can stay in a mud-brick auberge (a sparse kind of bed and breakfast) and hire a Berber guide to take you into the desert for several days. After riding a camel for hours into the endless sand dunes, you can crawl into your bivouac (traditional Berber tent) and wait for the sun to set. Once it is dark, the sight of the stars so far from civilization and light pollution will truly take your breath away.

Must Go in Morocco

things you must eat in morocco

Asilah

This tiny beach town feels like a slice of Spain and is a welcome getaway from other beach destinations like Casablanca. Never overcrowded but always beautiful, Asilah is the perfect place to relax and recharge your batteries for the thrifty traveler.

Bonus points: find a man with a donkey cart and ask him to take you to Paradise Beach. Don’t get nervous if the ride takes forever, the donkey is flatulent and you find yourself going through never-ending fields that definitely don’t seem likely to lead to the beach- it will be worth it and will be one of the most beautiful sights of your life.

Bab Mansour

Located in the Imperial City of Meknes, Bab Mansour is touted as the most beautiful gate in all of Africa. Many tourists overlook this gem because the walled city is not a hotspot on the Moroccan itinerary, but you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. The gate is beautiful, and conveniently located across the street from the Meknes medina, the heart of the old city where the labyrinthine markets begin. If you get lost inside, don’t be afraid to ask for directions- most anyone will be able to answer you in Arabic, Spanish, or French!

Must Eat in Morocco 

places you must visit in morocco

Couscous

In the Muslim faith, Friday is the holy day. And in Morocco, every Friday you eat couscous. Couscous is made from tiny wheat or millet granules that are cooked and taste like something akin to rice. It is typically eaten with the hands, with meat and vegetables buried beneath a mound of the sticky food. Grab a handful from the central plate, squeeze it into a ball, and enjoy!

Mint Tea

Mint tea is a trademark of Moroccan hospitality. You will be offered this treat when you are shopping in a store, asking directions or doing just about anything else. Some people might take offense if you reject their offer to prepare the tea for you. Painfully sweet, it is served hot and will give you not only a sugar rush but leave your breath smelling fresh as well.

Tajine

Cooked in a vessel of the same name, tajine is meat and vegetables cooked slowly over a long period of time – similar to what we would prepare in a crock pot. After cooking all day and simmering in its own sweet juice, the meat inside a tajine will melt in your mouth and always leave you wanting more!

Cultural Tips for Morocco

things to do in morocco

While Morocco is one of the more Europeanized countries of the Arab world, it is important to remember to respect the culture and religion practiced there. In smaller cities like Meknes and Merzouga, take care to make sure you’re properly covered. It isn’t necessary to wear a headscarf in most cases but it never hurts!

Traveling on the Cheap in Morocco

cultural tips for morocco

Avoid the tourist traps like Casablanca and Marakesh. Everything is much more expensive and you will get a more authentic Moroccan experience if you take the road less traveled by sticking to smaller cities and towns.

Related: Airbnb is always an affordable option and if you’ve never used it before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Any Morocco travel tips to share?  Questions for Danielle?

P.S. Jamaica, Austraillia’s Northern Territory & Tanzania!

photo credit: kees kortmulder // cc

6 Comments

sooz

I spent 2 weeks in Morocco a few years ago, Chefchouen was my fave place, beautiful blue mountain town – most lovely!

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Davinia

Morocco looks amazing. I've always wanted to go. Shame on me for not doing it sooner. I'm only a two-hour plane ride away!

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Caitlin

I spent last summer studying Arabic in Meknes, and I absolutely fell in love with Morocco; now all I want to do is go back!

This was such a fabulous overview of the country! For anyone planning on going, I'd suggest finding the city square wherever you are for some awesome people watching. The bigger cities are divided into the "medina", or old city, and the "ville nouvelle," or new city. Go to the medina, find a smoothie bar, and enjoy a few hours soaking up the atmosphere.

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Anonymous

I love Morocco and spent a little more than the summer there last year, studying & traveling & living. I did not, however, eat couscous with my hands. I suppose I could have, but (even at the cheapest, least hygienic places I'd eat at with my very meager budget) I was always provided with some sort of utensil. But then again, I also ate a lot of meals with Moroccan friends so maybe my "eating out" experience was not varied enough.

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Anonymous

Also, cafes (not the smoothie bar kind but the 50 old men watching a single TV) have always felt an intensely male domain to me and I personally did not enjoy going in alone, especially in smaller or lest touristy cities (aka not Marrakesh etc). Chefchouen is beautiful but be careful – it can be a little dangerous at times, and also the pot is pretty great if you make friends, but you do NOT want to end up in a Moroccan prison ok so maybe don't indulge or at least be on your guard. In general the police are going to like you even less than they like random Moroccans. If you get stopped by police because there are "too many people in your car" (aka, you're obviously a foreigner and there are too many people in your car) or because "you are speeding" (aka, you're obviously a foreigner and you are speeding), bribing often helps. I never learned the word for 'bribe' in Maghrebi dialect, but in MSA it's reshwa. If you're in Fes, find good bastilla. You will get catcalled, a lot, effusively. Don't feel so flattered that you let your guard down. (I may sound paranoid but I also got lost w/my also female friend in the medina of the city I was studying in at night, and the 5 sketchy dudes that proceeded to follow us and heckle us as a group were definitely NOT the highlight of my stay. Also my friend once got into a taxi that proceeded to intentionally take her into a super sketchy area far from the place she asked to go and wouldn't stop at her request, and she ended up having to jump out at an intersection……. so.) Also, HAVE FUN!

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