Backpacking Morocco

Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Morocco? Here you will find information on working in Morocco, entry visas, Morocco hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

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.

Travel Warning

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.

  • 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

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.

Morocco climate map including average rainfall and temperature by month. Find the best time to backpack Morocco based on your climate preferences.

Things to see and do

Tangier is the nations 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 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 story tellers, 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.

Travel

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 Inter-Rail passes are valid on all services in Morocco. See our “Europe by train” section for more information on this rail pass. For booking and fare enquiries contact Rail Europe.

There is a wide range of inter city 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.

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 usefull addresses section).

Health

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 un-pasteurised 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.

Useful Links

The Federation Nationale de l’Industrie Hoteliere regulates hotels in Morocco

Office National des Chemins de Fer operate the Moroccan rail network

Rail Europe provides online booking for Inter-Rail passes

Entry Visas 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.

Addresses

Any queries regarding visas or immigration should be addressed to the local British Embassy:

Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco
49 Queens Gate Gardens
London
SW7 5NE
Tel: (020) 7 581 5001 or Visa Section- (020) 7 600 035

If you require UK representation while you are in Morocco you should contact the British Embassy:

British Embassy 
17 Boulevard de la Tour Hassan
BP 45
Rabat
Morocco
Tel: +(212) (7) 72 96 96 or +70 45 32
Fax: +(212) (7) 70 45 31

Alternatively there are also British Consulates located in Agadir, Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier.

The youth hostel network is run by Federation Royale Marocaine des Auberges de Jeunes:

Federation Royale Marocaine des Auberges de Jeunes 
BP 15998 
Casa Principale 
Parc de la Ligue Arabe 
Casablanca 
21000 
tel: (22) 470 952 
fax: (22) 227 677

How to Say Common Arabic Phrases

Meeting People

English
French
yes
oui
no
non
thank you
merci
you are welcome
de rien
please
s’il vous plaît
excuse me
pardon
hello
bonjour
goodbye
au revoir
good morning
bonjour
good night
bonne nuit
I do not understand
Je ne comprends pas
Do you speak…?
Parlez-vous…?
English
anglais
French
français
What is you name
Comment vous appelez-vous?
Nice to meet you
Enchanté de faire votre connaissance
How are you
Comment allez-vous?
Good
bon
bad
mauvais

Directions

English
French
map
carte
left
à gauche
right
à droite
straight on
tout droit
far
loin
near
près

Methods of Transport

English
French
Where is…?
Où se trouve…?
How much is the fare?
Quel est le prix du billet?
Ticket
billet
A ticket to…, please
Un billet pour …, s’il vous plaît
Where are you going?
Où est-ce que vous allez?
Where do you live?
Où habitez-vous?
Train
le train
bus
un autobus
underground
le métro
airport
un aéroport
train station
la gare
bus station
la gare de bus
underground station
la station de métro
departure
le départ
arrival
une arrivée
parking
le parking

Time

English
French
What time is it?
Quelle heure est-il?
Today
aujourd’hui
yesterday
hier
tomorrow
demain

Accommodation

English
French
hotel
un hôtel
room
une chambre
reservation
la réservation
Are there any vacancies?
Avez-vous des chambres disponibles?
No vacancies
Complet
Passport
le passeport

Places

English
French
post office
la poste
bank
la banque
police station
le poste de police
hospital
hôpital
chemist
la pharmacie
shop
le magasin
restaurant
le restaurant
museum
le musée
church
une église
square
la place
street
la rue

Shopping

English
French
How much does this cost?
Combien cela coûte?
I will buy it
Je le prends
I would like to buy…
Je voudrais acheter…
Do you have…?
Avez-vous…?
open
ouvert
closed
fermé
postcard
la carte postale
stamps
des timbres
little
un peu
lot
beaucoup
all
tout

Meals

English
French
breakfast
petit déjeuner
lunch
le déjeuner
dinner
le dîner
vegetarian
végétarien
cheers!
à votre santé!
the bill please
l’addition s’il vous plait

Drinks

English
French
drink
la boisson
coffee
le café
tea
le thé
juice
le jus
water
l’eau
beer
la bière
wine
le vin

Food

English
French
meat
la viande
fish
le poisson
vegetable
le légume
fruit
le fruit
potato
la pomme de terre
salad
la salade
dessert
la dessert

 

Morocco Hostels

Hostels are a cheap form of accomodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travellers. We have compiled a list of hostels in Morocco to help you plan your journey. If you are looking for a hostel in Morocco, you’ve come to the right place.

Marrakech

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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