Morocco

TWO WEEKS IN MOROCCO: WHERE TO GO & HOW TO GET THERE, AS A FEMALE TRAVELER

Don’t be afraid to travel to Morocco as a woman.

Don’t be afraid to go to Casablanca.
Don’t be afraid to befriend the locals.

{But use caution and common sense, as you should in any new place.}

 
15 Nights in Morocco was a pretty good amount of time to get a feel for the country and check out all the “must see” places. (Though of course there are many more great places we just didn’t have time for…yet!)

    1. Tangier2 nights
    2. Chefchaouen – 1 night (wish we stayed 2 nights)
    3. Fes – 2 nights
    4. Meknès – 1 night
    5. Casablanca – 1 night
    6. Marrakech – 3 nights
    7. Ouarzazate (Desert Tour)- 1 night
    8. Merzouga (Desert Tour)- 1 night (8.5 End Desert Tour – 1 night in Marrakech)
    9. Essaouira – 1 night (we really wished we could stay 2 or more
      (Then one more night in Marrakech before our morning flight out)

From the moment I accepted a teaching position in Spain, I began fantasizing about traveling to Morocco as soon it would be practically at my fingertips. But could I find people to travel with me? And if not, would it be safe to go alone? These are questions I started asking myself, as well as my well-traveled friends and of course google, and I got some pretty mixed reviews. Some told me that “Morocco was beautiful” and that “Tours through the Sahara were simply amazing”. While others included some negative insights like, You can skip Tangier and Don’t go to Casablanca because it’s so dangerous and poverty stricken, it’s just not worth it and The men in the Fes medina are aggressive. When I wandered around the Medina by myself I felt unsafe .

I’m here to tell you that I completely disagree with the last three “recommendations” quoted here, so if you hear something similar…take it with a grain of salt. 

The majority of this post will give you logistical information, recommendations, and some personal thoughts about each city in the order that I traveled in. If you’re more interested in my thoughts on female travel and other general travel topics then you can SKIP TO THE BOTTOM NOW.

 TANGIER 

Where I stayed:
Tangier Melting Pot Hostel

Price:
€10 for a bed in a 8-person mixed dorm or
€12 for a bed in a 4-person female dorm

Includes:
Free breakfast

Decent wifi
More adequate showers than half the hostels we stayed at
Nice rooftop terrace and common areas

Notes:
Pretty much the only way you will find this hostel is by following a strange older man who will likely be waiting for you when the taxi drops you off, just outside the medina. He’ll lead you up a hill and through the hectic maze of cobblestone alleyways that are Morocco, and you will question if this is a horrible idea until the moment you arrive. (You can try to tell him you don’t need his help and that you have google maps, but chances are he will still walk with you the entire way and demand you eat at his family restaurant for dinner.) Don’t worry, he will get you there and won’t harm you. Any other hostel inside the medina will “include” this same experience…so just pick one.

WHAT TO DO

Check out Cafe Baba. This cafe is an über chill place to hang out and sip on a warm beverage AND it offers a great view of the city. The mocha I got was delicious and I’m pretty sure you can smoke hashish there too.

Cafe Restaurant El Hafa. I didn’t make it to this cafe but supposedly it’s the best.

Get lost in the medina. I found this medina to be one of the more directionally baffling. Every time I thought I knew where I was going, I ended up being completely wrong. That being said, there are some interesting things to stumble upon such as the Grand Mosque and a museum with a €2 entry fee.

Get food in the square. Just outside the medina is an area with some great restaurants. The restaurant staff all try to wave you toward their direction so we just picked a random place. The tagine and couscous were very good but my favorite part was the plate of seasoned olives along with the fresh salad containing beats and other goodies.

Go the beach. In addition to the standard relaxing on the sand, you can engage yourself in other incredibly touristic yet affordable activities such as riding camels or horses along the shore! The beach is about a twenty or thirty-minute walk from the medina and there are plenty of things to see along the way. It’s Morocco, keep your eyes peeled and you might see a group of kittens!

Grab a quiet dinner at Restaurant Rit Kebdani. This restaurant is unlike others because they actually lock their doors, you have to knock and they will come let you in. The prices are affordable and the atmosphere is very peaceful compared to the chaos of the medina just outside the restaurant’s walls.

HOW TO GET TO CHEFCHAOUEN FROM TANGIER

Grand Taxi: €7 per person if you have 6 people.

Catch the taxis from the bus station which is about a half hour walk from the medina, near the new city and the beach. Taxis will see that you are walking with your bags in that direction and try to swoop in. They may give you a slightly better deal, but many will try to charge you more than the set price. If you’re alone just walk to the bus station and you can probably be added on to another group.

Bus: Between €3 and €5

I haven’t taken the bus but I ran into a girl who did and I want to say it was between €3 and €5. She just walked to the station and bought her ticket earlier in the day and then walked around for a couple hours until her bus time. You have to take a taxi for around €1 from the Chefchaouen bus station to the city center and medina so at that point a Grand taxi is a lot easier and almost the same price.

 CHEFCHAOUEN 

Where I stayed:
Dar Dadicilaf

Price:
€10 a person for a 4-bed private

Includes:
Free breakfast, even an egg too!
Wifi, works better in the common areas
Never showered because it was too cold to take clothes off!
Rooftop terrace and a cool garden on the ground floor
Possibly most chill front desk / manager guy ever

WHAT TO DO

Eat at Casa Aladin. The food is pretty good and the view is pretty amazing. Sit on the rooftop terrace.

Buy your soaps, musks, oils etc here! There is a really cool store on the edge of the open square and I regretted not buying this stuff there. I wanted to wait and compare prices, however I found these type of goods to be more expensive in Fes and Meknès. (I also found cheap lotions and oils in Essaouira and cheap musks in Marrakech, so don’t spend ALL your money here.)

Chill at cafes. I found it hard to find cute little places with wifi to drink coffee and tea in some of the other cities, however these type of establishments are in abundance in Chefchaouen. And of course, many of these cafes offer shisha as well.

Wander the medina. Chefchaouen is often regarded as the prettiest city by tourists, as well as Moroccans, for a reason. It’s one of the smaller medinas, but it’s where you might see some of the most interesting things. I saw an ostrich on my first and only day, so who knows what you might find!

It’s possible I wasn’t supposed to photograph this ostrich.

Visit the fort on the edge of the square. It’s €1 to go in and you can see an old prison, little museum, and some really friendly cats.

View of a funeral service passing by, from a tower window in the fort.

Sunset from the hilltop. Walk up the hill to an old white mosque just outside the medina and square, to see the sunset.  It’s around a twenty-minute walk and you’ll see everyone from other travelers to local families along the way. When you get to the top you can see the whole city and as the sun sets the buildings become even more blue.

HOW TO GET TO FES FROM CHEFCHAOUEN

Bus: Around €7

This journey is a bit longer than the one from a Tangier to Chefchaouen, so the bus seemed like the cheapest option. We went to the little bus ticket office, a 10-minute walk from the medina, but the bus times we wanted were sold out and we had to leave much earlier than expected. Once we got to the official bus station, a taxi ride away, we realized there were multiple companies we could have bought tickets from. I’d recommend buying your tickets the day before or just buying directly from the bus station a few hours before. If you get bus sick, this ride isn’t fun. As you go down the mountain roads, it’s pretty bumpy and almost feels like a boat. I was fine, but if you’re like the lady who puked next to me…you might want to spend the extra money for a grand taxi!

 FEZ 

Where I stayed:
Dar Naima

Price:
€8 for a bed in a 8-person mixed dorm or
a few € more for 4 bed private rooms

Includes:
Free breakfast
Decent wifi
Warm shower
Rooftop terrace
Willing to give extra blankets

WHAT TO DO

Wander around the Medina. This Medina is by far the largest and most impressive, offering the most diversity. In the couple of nights I stayed there I probably only saw a quarter of it or less. Hanging out there truly makes you feel like you are stepping into another time. You walk down one street, and it’s filled with places selling threads in every color and people are inside little cubical stores weaving fabric together. Then you hit another street that’s basically a market with dead animals hanging, skinned and ready to go, and tables containing like 50 varieties of olives. And then all the sudden you spill out into kind of an open, square area of the medina without a roof and you find yourself surrounded by craft workers making metal goods, clanking away.

I must warn you though, IT IS SO EASY TO GET LOST IN THIS MEDINA. I mean it is in every medina, but especially this one. Every five feet there is another intersection of like six alleyways, and there are so many people. If you stop to take a picture for even second you might look up to realize your friend is not there anymore and need to go get a sim card like I did.

See the tannery where various leather products are made and died. They will probably charge you €1 to get in.

See the sun set at the tombs. The famous tombs, as well as the ruins of a fort, are located on top of a hill about a twenty-minute walk outside of the medina. You get a great view of the city as well as snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Scam to avoid
We had quite the interesting scam, though it really didn’t turn out so bad. Originally, a friend recommended I stay at “Dar Derb El Horra”, however when we arrived in Fes it was very hard to find. We tried using google maps and it led us to the correct address, however we could tell it wasn’t the correct place. There was no sign or anything. So we tried asking locals and two different people took us back to the same location, so we figured this must be it? When we walked in the owners of the guest house didn’t match the description my friend had given and they were charging triple the amount of the booking I had made on Booking.com. We started to walk out after showing the owner my email confirmation that clearly stated the price we owed and then he was like, “Okay okay, we’ll let you stay for this price, just don’t tell anyone!”. We knew the whole situation felt sketchy but it was late at night and we were tired…and hey for a private room it was €5 a person, so we decided to stay. This guest house seemed like it was still “getting its shit together” as they were in the process of installing wifi and we basically had to beg for toilet paper. Eventually, I got a whatsapp call from the REAL guest house owner who was like, “Hey…Where are you guys?”, and we had to explain that we thought we were there. Luckily he didn’t charge us, but we were still pretty annoyed. (Though this “fake” guest house weirdly served the best free breakfast out of any of the places we stayed!)

GETTING TO MEKNÉS FROM FES

Train: €3

We took a taxi to the train station, bought our tickets and were on the train within an hour. It was a half hour ride or less. Some people told us to get first class tickets as sometimes there are not enough seats for everyone in second class, however we found enough seats for the three of us to be together every time throughout our trip. (This was during December and January, other months may differ.)

After getting off the train we took a taxi to the edge of the medina. The medina of Meknès is much different than the first three we visited. It’s much smaller, and a lot of the guesthouses, and I think local’s houses too, are on more open spacious roads around the center of the medina, so it felt less hectic.

It was actually the first city where we noticed no one was trying to hassle us, people even offered us directions for free! People seemed a bit more like they were busy doing their own thing and therefore less invested in following tourists around. The people that did talk to us were just like, “Hey where are you from?”, “Oh, Americaaaa. Happy new year!”. It was there that our attitudes started to change and we began to relax around the locals. I’m not sure if it was because the city was more laid back, or because we had been in Morocco for almost a week and were getting used to it, but from then on we had so much fun making friends with the locals.

 MEKNES 

Where I stayed:
Riad Idrissi

Price:
€10-13 a person for a 3-bed private

Includes:
Free breakfast
Decent wifi
NICE shower
I believe there’s a rooftop terrace we forgot to check out…

WHAT TO DO

Visit the ancient grainery and horse stables. It’s about a twenty or thirty-minute walk from the medina and the journey there takes you past a really calm lake. It’s almost weird how relaxed this area is when you have just come from the energy of the medina. It costs €1 to get in. (There is also a palace and a mausoleum that everyone recommends, sadly both were closed when I went so I can’t say anything about them.)

Eat sandwiches in the medina. There’s a small sandwich shop in the medina that charges…well €1 If you only speak English but my friend who spoke French was charged half of that! It’s the typical round Moroccan bread stuffed with literally anything you want! They have fish, a couple varieties of spiced potatoes as well as olives, a bunch of pickled vegetables, rice, and other stuff I can’t even name.

See the Roman ruins. You can take a taxi there but, DON’T hire a private taxi to take you and wait for you. I mean it is convenient…but we learned that we could have paid like a fifth of the price by just getting a local taxi on the way there and finding a different one for the way back. There ended up being a whole bunch of taxis already there willing to take people back. That being said, our driver was really cool and stopped at random places along the way to show us interesting spots. He even got out of the car with us at one point and led us to a herd of sheep!

Visit Moulay Idriss for a couple hours. Moulay Idriss is a really quaint and colorful small town, just a few kilometers from the ruins. There is also a great view of the sunset as the town is built on a hill.

GETTING TO CASABLANCA FROM MEKNÉS

Train: Around €10

Around 4 Hours

(We really enjoyed the friendly black and white cat who hung out with passengers waiting for the train!)

Instead of sitting in the open coach section, try sitting in the compartmental section. We ended up joining a half way full room in the compartmental section because we couldn’t find any seats in the open section. At first it was a bit awkward, but it turned out to be really run. With the Moroccan passengers’ broken English and my friend’s broken French we managed a game of I Spy.

 CASABLANCA 

Where I stayed:
Carre Francais de Casablanca

Price:
€10 for a bed in a 10-person mixed dorm

Includes:
Free breakfast
Wifi, works better in the common rooms
Real bathtub shower but cold water
Stellar common spaces…Literally, like a luxury party
house equipped with
big TV, leather couches, piano, guitar, pool
Two pet cats and a tortoise.

Notes: They overbooked the dorm room so we got a free upgrade to a private room, which I gathered happens a lot after reading the reviews. They did try to charge us for the private room price at first, you just have to stick to your guns and show them your email confirmation price and say you are not willing to pay more. Also, the staff only speak French and Arabic for the most part but you’ll probably find multi-lingual guests to help you translate if need be.

WHAT TO DO

Visit Hassan II Mosque. This Mosque is the largest in Morocco and has the tallest minaret in the world. It costs €12 to get in but comes with a tour guide…who will make sure you are paying attention!

See the ocean. There is a beach….that we didn’t make it too…but we did make it to the coast next to the mosque. It’s a chill area with people sitting on the sea-wall and talking in the sun. We actually met a couple of really nice local girls. They came up to me to ask me a question about my Nikon and then we got to talking about all sorts of stuff.

Walk through the old medina. In a way, this medina ended up being my personal favorite, because of all the people we met. You could say this medina is a tad rickety, but it also has colorful buildings and is more spatially open than some. A lot of other travelers told us that Casablanca is unsafe and the people in the medina are more aggressive, but as three young women, (during the day), we felt safe. We did notice when we first entered, a lot of men were intensely staring at us, possibly more so than in other cities…but no one ever followed us or yelled obscenities at us. But people did photo bomb us! At the time, (we may have been more on the outskirts), we were the only tourists walking through and a lot of people were just interested in saying hi. A lot of people asked us where we were from and shouted things like, “I love you” and “You are beautiful!”. That was as crazy as it got for us. It’s entirely possible that other travelers have had different experiences there, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to have a negative one. However, I’m saying don’t let the stories of others steer you away if you are already interested in visiting.

Snack at this fried potato sandwich shop. We stumbled upon this little place it was about 30¢ for a sandwich. It was mostly a takeaway place but the owner was excited to talk to foreigners and invited us to eat in the back, which was basically a little cube just big enough to fit six people. We were able to talk to him in broken Spanish and he introduced us to his teenage son.

Scam to avoid:
This could happen in any city…When we got to our hostel, coming from the train station, the taxi meter said 50 dirhams. When we tried to pay that price, the driver said, “No no no, 50 dirhams a person”. If it was our first day in Morocco we may have fallen for that, but we had been there for a week at that point and had ridden in too many taxis. We paid him 50 dirhams and left the cab, and of course, he followed us to the hostel. He tried to talk our hostel’s staff into helping him trick us. The hostel staff just kind of laughed and told him to leave. THE METER’S PRICE IS ALWAYS THE TOTAL PRICE NO MATTER WHAT!

GETTING TO MARRAKECH FROM CASABLANCA

Train: Around €10

Around 4 hours

We ended up sitting in the compartmental section again. The only room with enough seats for all of us was one with guys that were laying down across all the seats. They looked like they didn’t want three more people to join…but hey we didn’t want to stand for four hours so we just walked in and started putting our bags in the overhead and they sat up for us. After a few minutes of awkward silence, I turned to the guy next to me and asked, “Do you guys speak English?”, and he replied, “Maybe…”. By the time the journey was over we had become friends and learned that they were engineering students. We even met up with them the next day and they showed us around Marrakech, (and helped us distinguish which shopping prices were legit).

 MARRAKECH 

Where I stayed:
Dream Kasbah

Price:
Around €7-9 depending on the room

Includes:
Free breakfast
Wifi that works half the time
Hot Showers!! On the second floor only!
Cool rooftop terrace with 2 baby tortoises
Cool atmosphere, the staff really like to hang with guests
They can book desert tours and such where you leave
straight from the hostel

Note: It can be a bit cold if you’re on the 3rd floor in the winter. They run out of extra blankets sometimes, so ask early if you’re a cold person! Also, they offer cheaper dinner options than most places. They were willing to make us sandwiches at 10 or 11pm, most places wouldn’t do that.

WHAT TO DO

Shopping in the medina and Jemma square. I found a lot of the creams, musks and oils to be sold for REALLY cheap in the square. I bought this green lipstick that turns pink when it touches your skin…In Meknès it’s sold for €5…and multiple places in this square sell it for €2! There are tons of cool backpacks and purses, jewelry and much more.

Eating in Jemma square. There are about a billion juice stands that make the juice for you right there and most cost less than €1. Also, eat at the street stall restaurants at night! There is a line of maybe 20 little outdoor restaurants and they will all fight for your attention. It’s really hard to decide which one to eat at but it can also be really entertaining. Every five feet that you walk, restaurant staff will come up to you and say, “OMG you NEED to eat here, it’s the best in Morocco!”, and when you say, “Okay, we’re just going to take a look at all the options first”, a lot of the restaurants will start jokingly making marriage proposals with you and offering you camels. Obviously, if you’re a man you will have a different experience…And some women will think this experience is really annoying, however, my friend and I were cracking up and joking back with them the whole time and we both agreed it kind of made the night.

Disclaimer: I tried camel…judge me if you want…I already kind of judge myself. It was delicious but I ended up puking an hour after. My friend ate the same as me and felt fine. So I don’t know…eat camel at your own risk? Later some locals told me I probably should have split a portion with someone because my body is not used to it, so there’s a thought for you if you want to try it!

Watch performers in the square, but beware of scams. There are serpent charmers, but if they walk towards you with a snake, run away. If they put a snake around your neck, they will charge you for it. There are people dancing sometimes…I think there was a parade when I was there. There will be henna ladies around, if they make just a dot on you, even without your consent, they will charge you. So if you don’t want henna and you see a lady with a henna book heading toward you, run away! There will be men with monkeys, they will charge you if you come close and take a picture etc.

Don’t waste your money at Majorelle Garden. It’s €7 to get in and it’s just an okay garden that takes maybe twenty minutes to walk through.

Ask your hostel about the waterfalls and hiking nearby, we didn’t get a chance but heard recommendations from others.

Honestly Marrakech is fun but its one of the more plain looking medinas, and by our second week we were a little “madinaed out”. I feel like the real reason to go to Marrakech is that there are a lot of really cool spots just a few hours drive away. Marrakech isn’t a place I would hang out in for a week straight, but it’s a great place to have as a home base between mini trips, such as a desert tour.

DESERT TOUR  OUARZAZATE & MERZOUGA 

Tour company: Best Sahara Tours 

Length: 2 nights, 3 days

Price: Don’t pay more than €80 or €90. If you befriend the right people or haggle well you can probably pay around €60. (Dream Kasbah’s tour is €85, some people on my tour paid €100)

Notes:

At times we ran behind schedule, sometimes due to us taking too long to get up in the morning, other times due to the driver needing to do random shit like go to the atm or chew tobacco behind the van. We ended up missing out on a couple of the scheduled stops such as the sunset on the first day. That might just be something you need to deal with because people whom we met, on tours through other companies, complained about the same things.

No matter what tour you’re on, whether you pay €60 or €150, you’re most likely going to go to the same places, see the same things and be forced to eat at the same restaurants for lunch. Every place we went to we ran into other people going through different companies. I’m sure there are luxury tours at much higher costs that do more, but if you’re doing one of the basic tours, they will likely be very similar so just pick one that doesn’t have horrible reviews.

If it’s in the winter, the desert is freezing at night!!!!

A lot of little stops where you tour a kasbah or whatever will require small additional costs like €1 or 2€, It’s possible your tour company won’t tell you this in advance.

The first and second day are mostly in small desert / mountain towns and you get to the “real” desert on the second night. By “real” I mean when you hear the word desert and see an image of endless sand dunes in your head. If that’s really where you want to be, you should consider a three or four-night tour.

GETTING TO ESSAOUIRA FROM MARRAKECH

Buses

The CTM station is about a ten-minute walk from the Train station. The bus ride takes around three hours and they have a twenty-minute bathroom and food stop after the first two hours.

I believe it was around €6. When you get to Essaouira you have to take a taxi to the center.

The “luxury” tourist bus was about the same but actually more crowded and maybe €2 more, but the station was closer to our hostel in Essaouira so we didn’t have to cab there. I believe this bus station in Marrakech is right by the train station. (Same bathroom stop.)

There is also a local bus which takes a half hour or so longer but is only €4. We met an expat later on who told us we should have just taken that.

(You can take a grand taxi too but I’ve heard it’s more expensive.)

 ESSAOUIRA 

Where I stayed:
Atlantic Hostel

Price:
€6 for a bed in a mixed dorm

Includes:
Breakfast for €2 (not really worth it)
Wifi that works mostly in the common room downstairs
I think hot water depends on the time of day
Kick-ass rooftop terrace with a bar
Friendly staff and party atmosphere
A few cats, who will literally come sit in your lap
after being in the hostel for five minutes

WHAT TO DO

Eat food!!! This town has the most food diversity of anywhere I visited in Morocco, and at good prices! In the majority of cities it seems as if you have about four meal options, but here you can get anything from really fresh sea food to late night spicy meat sandwiches from a street cart, to savory meat soup…stuff…with french fries on top. This is why it’s especially not worth paying €2 for an over cooked egg and some bread with jam for breakfast. Skip that, get out there and eat some awesome street food.

Shop for soaps and oils. We found a great store selling argan oil, lotion, musk, incense, spices and the like for REALLY affordable prices. Sadly the store doesn’t have a name, but it is located next to Taraa Cafe.

Go to the beach. The contrast between the energy of the medina and the tranquility of the beach is remarkable. There’s a spot just after you exit one of the medina gates, where if you turn to left, you’ll find a wall with a giant hole which you can step through. You step through ruins of a doorway and you are on an expansive and scarcely populated beach.

Watch the sun set by the port. The port is quite the lively scene at dusk, full of people watching opportunities. Every fisher-person is out there selling their catch, from rays and eels to sea urchins. You also get a great view of an old Portuguese fort on an island just off the coast.

Get seafood. You can get incredibly fresh seafood for pretty affordable prices compared to other countries, however, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE DEFINITELY ESTABLISHED THE TOTAL PRICE BEFORE YOU EAT! The restaurant we ate at said that crab would be x price…and then claimed that that was obviously per kilo later on. Even after we accepted that, we noticed they were still charging us over by €5 a person and they were basically like “oh…woops?”, so just beware. I’m sure this could happen anywhere.

TRAVELING TO MOROCCO AS A WOMAN
As long as you practice the same caution you would in any unfamiliar place, you should be okay. It’s better not to be alone, but honestly if it’s during the day and you’re in a public area around people, you’ll be fine. No one is going to come up and attack you in a crowd of people in a medina. Just make sure any bags you have are zipped all the way and are hanging on the front of you so no one can swipe your stuff. Obviously, don’t walk down an empty alleyway. I thought I should come to Morocco in a group of at least four other people, but ended up going with just two other girls. Actually, by the end of the trip one of the girls split off in her own direction and I found having only one other travel companion to be perfect!

Can you go out at night?

Yes! Before arriving in Morocco, I was under the impression that it wasn’t safe to go out after dark and if I did go out, it would have to be with a large group of people. If you are in a major city, especially Marrakech, you will find that going out at night is okay and can be really fun. (Though alcohol is way too expensive!) I would say have at least one other person with you if you’re walking somewhere relatively close, and maybe a few people with you if you are walking farther or are not sure where you are going. In Marrakech I was with just one other girl and we felt safe walking back from Jemma square, through the medina and back to our hostel around 11pm. That being said, it was a walk we had done before, so we knew where we were going. Also, it could be a different story at 3 am. In Tangier, I was at a bar in the new city with a group of people. One girl wanted to go back to the medina around 12:30 am, so she just got in a cab by herself. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest this but we ran into her again the next day and she ended up being fine.

Random note: In a way, it’s a small world in Morocco. We kept running into the same travelers in different cities without trying, which was kind of cool.

Traveling alone?

I personally don’t know what it’s like to travel to Morocco alone, however I did meet another American girl while I was there and she was alone. She had traveled solo quite a bit before and preferred this method. She felt confident, but I’d say Morocco is not the first place you should travel alone. Maybe make it your third or fourth. This girl was also constantly meeting up with other travelers whom she’d formed connections with online. Try Facebook traveling groups and Couch Surfer meet-ups.

What to wear?

If you want to be left alone just cover your head with a scarf and wear baggy modest clothing, (a long flowy skirt and a long, opaque, loose fitting shirt and cardigan would be perfect). My friend tried this in Fes and noticed a huge difference. People stopped hassling her and stopped treating her like a tourist for the most part. If you don’t feel like covering up all that way, it’s fine, you don’t have to. You don’t have to have your head covered or wear long sleeves or anything…but don’t wear a tank top either, unless you want a lot of attention. Supposedly, tourists are even known to hang out in the nude at the beaches in Essaouira every once in a while and nothing bad happens. However, some of the locals get really excited and flock to the beach to watch.

What not to wear: An open back shirt…IN JANUARY. It’s not even hot, as you can see everyone else around is wearing a jacket!!!

TRAVELING TO MOROCCO AS A HUMAN

Best time of year?

I think Spring or Fall would be perfect. I’ve heard summer can be brutally hot, especially if you go on a desert tour.

We went in December and January which was kind of cold. It’s a mild winter but a lot of the medinas act almost like a cave, keeping all the cold inside. When you exit the medina during the day it’s noticeably warmer. A lot of the hostels don’t have heat, or have very limited heat from space heaters. The desert is freaking cold at night, even when you sleep with a winter jacket on. We survived though and if it’s the best time of year for your schedule it’s still totally worth it.

How far in advance to book accommodation, tours, etc?

NOT VERY FAR IN ADVANCE! I know that when traveling to a new country it seems less stressful to organize and book everything in advance, but if you do this you will miss out on better prices and flexibility. Especially when it comes to desert tours. The best way to book a tour is to go through your hostel / guest house or through a local travel agency. Shop around for a day and compare all the prices. If you book online a month before coming, who knows what ridiculous price you might end up paying. Accommodation is a bit different, it doesn’t hurt too much to book in advance if you are REALLY sure exactly what you want to do. If you book a week or so in advance you will have more luck getting into the cheap €5 or €6 a night places, however you might end up wanting to add cities to your itinerary. Also, you might not know which days you will be on a desert tour until a day or two before. Originally, when planning the trip I had no idea I would end up in Meknès or Essaouira. Definitely book the first night before you get to Morocco but after that, my friends and I ended up booking each hostel the day before and sometimes even the day of. The only downside of this method is the cheapest options will already be full and you’ll end up paying a tiny bit more.

What to do when locals demand money for directions?

You’ll learn quickly that most of the time, directions are not free in Morocco. Locals seem all too eager to drop whatever they are doing to walk with you for ten minutes and show you where your hostel is because when you get there they will ask for money. If you’re not super tight on money and have some small change, why not? Let’s be honest, sometimes when you are staying in the medina you really might never find your hostel any other way. However, there are times when you truly never asked them, and that can be frustrating.

Sometimes locals will come up to you as soon as you get out of the cab and offer to show you where your hostel is. Even after you repeatedly say you don’t want help, they will still walk with you the whole way and then demand money at the end. There are two ways to deal with this.

The easy way: Just pay them €2 or 20 dirhams. This seems to be an amount that most will accept. If someone is demanding more, don’t feel obligated.

But sometimes you don’t have any small change on you…

The less easy way: Don’t pay them anything. They will most likely freak out and start yelling at you but don’t worry, they won’t harm you or anything. Just walk inside the hostel or guest house and tell the person working at the front desk. The hostel staff will get rid of them, they deal with this all the time. If you don’t do this, some “direction givers” will literally sit outside your hostel for two hours waiting until you come back out for dinner. (I think this may happen the most in Tangier though.)

Befriending the locals

We had so much fun making friends with the locals and I strongly advise you to do the same. I’m not saying get on to a motorbike with someone you just met twenty minutes ago, but if a local starts a conversation with you and your friends while you’re hanging out in the square, see where it goes! If you don’t at all, you’re honestly missing out on a gigantic part of Morocco as well as a gigantic part of traveling.

Sim cards

Sim cards are actually very easy to obtain. In the bigger cities especially, but even in some of the small desert towns there was still an Orange mobile store. In most cities, you won’t even need to find a store because you will see people advertising sim cards as you’re walking around. Prices start at around €2 for three days of data, but longer plans are available and it’s pretty easy to recharge.

Looking out from the bus ticket office, Chefchaouen

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