Accommodation, Tours, Markets: Must-Knows Before Visiting Morocco
Morocco is a country set upon the borders of our imagination. As part of the northern tip of Africa, it is indeed half a world away, yet this adds to its allure.
There’s no other place like it; the smell of spices as you wander the vibrant markets and the thrill of treasures on every corner. The luxury palaces of Marrakech and the turquoise hues of Chefchaouen, the blue city of the north.
When you open a door in Morocco, you never know what jewels you’ll find on the other side. It’s a country of colour, mystery and exotic beauty, a mosaic palace set upon the Atlantic Sea. For the wanderers, the silent dunes of the Sahara will surely rival any holiday experience of your future.
If you’re willing to take the ride, we’ve got some Morocco travel tips ahead of the grand journey.
What to know before travelling solo
Morocco is surprisingly easy to travel through. There’s a well-defined tourist trail for those who’ve been traversing Morocco’s delights for many decades. Flying into Marrakech, Rabat, Casablanca or Essouira is cheap and easy and a great place to start, though you’ll have to fly via London or Paris from Australia. You can also get the northern ferry from Tarifa to Tangier, if you’re coming straight from a Spanish adventure.
As with any new place, it’s wise to do your research before setting foot on foreign soil. Know the currency, understand the basic common laws and try to work with that and blend it into the holiday you want. If you feel like somewhere might be unsafe to travel alone – find a travel buddy, or a tour and stick with them instead.
How to find a tour
The Atlas Mountains are an unmissable treat, and tours to the desert can be booked with any local travel agency. Merzouga is classified as one the safest, most beautiful Moroccan deserts, and travelling there will take you through Ouarzazate, home of Morocco’s ancient Kasbah’s, aptly titled the ‘gateway to the Sahara’.
There are plenty of tours to all different parts of the country, which can be booked pre-trip or from any of the cities as you pass through and decide on your destination. Kimkim, Abercrombie & Kent and TourRadar offer luxury, basic and solo tours, but there’s no shortage of options available.
Where to stay
Morocco hosts some of the most beautiful accommodation, ranging from classic European settings to the more traditional Moroccan riads. The Hilton, Hyatt, Sofitel and Four Seasons boast some of the country’s most lavish poolside hotels all with classic Moroccan charm. Yet it’s the infamous riad, the large Moroccan abode centred around a garden or courtyard, where the true Moroccan hospitality begins. It’s impossible not to feel like royalty when lounging in Marrakech’s Riad Kniza or Rabat’s Riad Dar El Kebira.
Morocco has a plethora of things to do – if surfing is your adventure, the west coast has some of the best right-hand beach breaks going. The bay of Imsouane hosts the longest wave in Africa, and the small community of beautiful seaside riads and restaurants in this town are easy to wile away a relaxing week in. You can reach these places by taxi from the surrounding cities of Essaouira or Agadir, or if you’re feeling adventurous you can try a collective taxi with the locals.
How to interact with the locals
For a place so culturally different to Australia, the idea of solo travel might seem overwhelming but the Moroccan people are happy and open, and they love family. Learn to say no to any unwanted requests in the markets, you won’t offend anybody. Then again, if someone offers you a cup of tea and a chat, feel free to sit and take it all in.
Morocco time is slow, nobody is in a hurry. The sooner you roll with that, the sooner you can relax into the hot hazy delight of the country.
How to navigate the markets
Moroccans speak an Arabic dialect called Darija, however, French is a second language so if you have any French skills they will go a long way. Learning a few words in the native tongue is a very good idea, and shows respect to the locals.
As in any country, keep your common sense by your side, and don’t be afraid to say no or to ask questions. The Moroccan people are used to tourists but always ask first for a photograph, and be courteous. And if you start bartering with someone at the markets that means you are in the game to buy it. Don’t start the auction unless you’re willing to buy at the price you offer. Happy hunting.
Published 31 May, 2019