Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Morocco? Here you will find information on working in Morocco, entry visas, Morocco hostels, and much more.
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Facts About Morocco
Morocco is a good introduction to Africa for those just starting to explore the continents riches. Travellers will no doubt be familiar with the names of the countries exotic cities such as Marrakech, Tangier and Casablanca.
The whole country is an intoxicating introduction to the Islamic world with abundant open markets selling everything from jewellery and woodwork to rugs and of course the country’s world-famous leather. There are also numerous sun-kissed beaches, the ancient medieval building in Fes and even the snow-capped Atlas mountains to keep travellers busy.
- Currency: Moroccan Dirham (DH) = 100 Centimes
- Time Zone: GMT
- Language: Arabic
- Telephone Services: Country code +212, International Access Code 00
- Emergency Numbers: 12 Police, 15 Fire and Ambulance
Climate in Morocco
When deciding the best time to visit Morocco, weather certainly plays a large role. The climate throughout the country is hot and dry but does have some regional variations. The coastal area most closely resembles a Mediterranean climate with inland areas being hotter and drier. Rain falls almost exclusively in November to March and is most prevalent in the coastal areas. Throughout the country, the winters are hot but with cool nights.
Things to do in Morocco
Tangier is the nation’s capital and is a popular port of arrival for tourists taking a ferry crossing from Spain or perhaps Gibraltar. The city is the country’s most cosmopolitan town and this shows in the tri-lingual street signs throughout the city.
The most famous region is undoubtedly the Kasbah which contains the Dar el-Makhzen. This 17th-century structure was once a palace but has now been converted into a fascinating museum. The Grand Socco is an excellent market which is not to be missed by those seeking good souvenirs. Other sites of interest include the Mendoubia Gardens, the Moulay Isamil Mosque and the American Legation Museum.
Fes is the oldest of Morocco’s four imperial cities and is easily reachable by train from Marrakech or Tangier. This historic city contains some of Morocco’s oldest surviving buildings. The old city is centred around the Al-Qarawiyin and Al-Andulus mosques and is dominated by the towering theological college of Medersa Bou Inania.
Fes has in the past been a centre of culture and learning, a fact which is demonstrated by its Karaouine University which was founded even before Oxford. Those who want possibly the finest haggling experience in the world should head to the UNESCO recognised market in Fes El Bali which is reputedly one of the largest markets in the world. Other sites of interest include the Dar Bath Museum, numerous mosques and the Royal Palace.
The Pink City of Marrakech was once the capital of an enormous African Empire. The city was founded in 1062 and gains its nickname from the colour of earth used in its construction. The epicentre of this lively and colourful city is the ironically named Djemaa el-Fna or Place of the Dead.
The Djemaa is, in fact, a square which after dark hosts throngs of street entertainers including storytellers, acrobats, fortune-tellers and dancers. The most notable building is the enormous 12th century Koutoubia mosque which dwarfs the surrounding buildings. The Ben Youssef Medersa is a UNESCO heritage site partly for its unique theological significance but mostly for its spectacular mosaics and marble work.
Other sites of interest include the Saadian tombs, the Dar Sisaid Museum and the Koubba Ba’adiyn mosque.
Unique Activities in Morocco
Another good way to get an idea of things to do in Morocco is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
How to Travel Around Morocco
If you’re flying to Morocco or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Morocco with them compared to the other websites out there.
Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Morocco to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.
Train Travel in Morocco
The Office National des Chemins de Fer operate the Moroccan rail network. The standard of service is quite reasonable and fares tend to be quite cheap. Major routes have the addition of a first-class carriage and sleeping and restaurant cars are provided on most major services. A supplement is required for an air-conditioned carriage but due to the low prices, this isn’t a problem at all. In addition, InterRail passes are valid on all services in Morocco. See our “Europe by Train” section for more information on this rail pass.
Bus Travel in Morocco
There is a wide range of intercity coach and bus services linking all of the main towns. These are run by a wide variety of private companies but one of the most reputable is CTM. Fares are normally ludicrously cheap although tipping the guard and the driver is somewhat expected.
Backpacking Tours in Morocco
Though part of the fun of backpacking Morocco is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality.
This is especially a good option for those travelling Morocco alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. Their most popular trips in Morocco are their 8-day Moroccan Desert Adventure, or their 15-day National Geographic Morocco: Sahara & Beyond.
Health and Safety in Morocco
There are good well-equipped hospitals in all of the main cities and the Government Hospitals will often provide free or cheap emergency care. Be aware however that you may be expected to pay for treatment and therefore you should have fully comprehensive medical insurance including cover for repatriation costs.
It is recommended to be vaccinated against polio and typhoid before travelling to Morocco. These vaccinations can be provided by your local GP and generally cost around DH40. There is a minimal risk of malaria during the spring and summer, mainly in rural areas, although only the benign vivax form has been reported it is recommended that you seek up to date medical advice from your GP on whether you need any malaria treatments.
The tap water in main cities is safe to drink but it is recommended that tourists stick to bottled water for the first week or so of their stay. Outside main settlements water should not be considered safe and should be sterilised before use. Milk is unpasteurised and this should be avoided along with dairy products. Meat should be well cooked and served hot and fruit and vegetables should be peeled and cooked respectively.
Due to a series of terrorist attacks targeting soft targets including hotels known to be frequented by foreigners, the FCO recommends that travellers in this region maintain a high level of vigilance in public places and avoid public gathering, particularly political gatherings.
The disputed Western Sahara is still prone to armed clashes between Moroccan authorities and the Polisano Front; the roads in this region are also mined. For this reason, it is recommended that travellers avoid the Western Sahara altogether.
Entry Visa Requirements for Morocco
All visitors to Morocco must have a valid passport for the duration of their stay and also valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry in addition to proof of a return ticket. Visas are not required by US and EU nationals except nationals of Andorra, Hungary, Iceland, Malta and Switzerland who do require visas.
Eligible US and EU nationals may stay without a visa for up to 3 months. Entry visas are valid for 3 months and if you who wish to stay longer then you should apply to the local police station within 15 days of arrival. For any other visa enquiries, you should contact the Embassy.
Morocco Hostels & Budget Accommodation
Morocco has a very healthy tourist trade so there are plenty of hotels in and around all of the major cities and tourist hotspots. Hotels are regulated by the Federation Nationale de l’Industrie Hoteliere and standards range from basic budget accommodation to international class hotels in places like Tangier.
There are youth hostels in the major cities including Casablanca, Fes and Rabat but hostelling provision outside major populated areas is quite minimal. For more information contact the Federation Royale Marocaine des Auberges de Jeunes (see useful addresses section).
We have had good experiences finding hostels in Morocco on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Morocco is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.
Useful links for Backpacking in Morocco
- The Federation Nationale de l’Industrie Hoteliere regulates hotels in Morocco
- Office National des Chemins de Fer operate the Moroccan rail network
- InterRail online booking for InterRail passes
- Kiwi, Skyscanner, and Opodo – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Morocco and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and things to do in Morocco. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major tourist spots in Morocco
- G Adventures – guided small group tours for backpackers in Morocco, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find hostels while backpacking Morocco. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used booking site in Morocco. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers for your backpacking trip to Morocco
There you have it, the ultimate Morocco backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Morocco.
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