25 Essential Morocco Travel Tips for Your First Time Visiting!

Morocco is a tricky destination for travelers, it’s full of harassment, touts, and scammers, but also gorgeous architecture, great food, and kind people. I’ve been traveling to Morocco frequently over the past three years and here are 25 essential Morocco travel tips I wish I had known before my first trip!

25 Essential Morocco Travel Tips

1. Don’t Listen To Anyone Who Comes Up to You On The Street 

There are a lot of Morocco travel scams! This is sad but really no one approaching you on the street in the bigger cities like Marrakech or Fez is doing so to be nice. Or at least, that’s the mentality you should keep. As a rule: don’t pay any attention to anyone coming up to you on the street. Just keep walking. People will come up to you every three minutes saying “My friend”, “where are you from?”, “What is your name?”, “Where are you going?”, “you’re going the wrong way”, etc. You can’t interact with them all. If you need to ask for help, Moroccan people are really friendly, but anyone coming up to you on the street for any reason is likely a Tout and they’re just going to bother you and ask you for money at the end. 

stall #14 jemaa el fna
Calamari stall #14 in Jemaa El Fna square

2. Try the Amazing Street Food! I Recommend a Street Food Tour in Marrakech

Moroccan street food is AMAZING and you can find a great variety of street food and fine dining in Marrakech. I think Morocco is my favorite food location so far out of everywhere I have traveled to! Going on a street food tour is the best way to try the most while minimizing harassment from the Touts and stall vendors – If you don’t have the time/budget for a whole street food tour I recommend trying the following shortlist: 

  • Tajine from Cafe Des Epices
  • Couscous (but only on Fridays!)
  • Calamari from stall #14 in Jemaa El Fna square
  • Msemmen (Moroccan crepe)
  • A mixed-meat sandwich from Chez Hicham
  • Moroccan Escargot from any vendor in Jemaa El Fna Nightmarket
Snake charmers in Jemaa el Fna square

3. Ask Before You Take a Picture: It Might Be Illegal!

I was trying to record a little video of me disembarking the airplane when I landed in Casablanca and was totally shocked when one of the airplane stewards ran out and told me that it was illegal to film in public and I had to delete my footage! 

I read into the laws in Morocco more after this and there are conflicting things online. Some sources state it’s only illegal to take photos and videos of police officers and other government officials, and some sources say it’s only illegal to record images of citizens if you intend to share them in a “defamatory way”. It seems like the airline steward was incorrect and it’s not blanket illegal to take photos and videos in Morocco, but I was asking around after this incident and a lot of Moroccans think that is the law. So, if you’re running around taking photos and videos without asking, not only is it considered disrespectful but also illegal by a lot of Moroccan citizens. Make sure you ask first! 

a man wearing a shirt that says "sympathy" is haggling over the price of coconuts he is vending with a row of lemons behind him. Learning how to haggle is a top Morocco travel tip.

4. Be Prepared To Haggle (for Everything, Including Taxis)

I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the better part of a year now so I’ve gotten used to not being able to get souvenirs. But, if there’s one place I really felt like I was missing out on shopping, it would be Morocco. I’ve already promised myself that one day if I ever settle down I’m going to come back and buy everything for my home (yes, the shopping really is that good). It can also be a bargain IF you know how to haggle in Morocco

I was with a friend in the souks who was about to go home and was filling up her suitcase first – she spotted some glittery kaftans and asked the shopkeeper how much, he said 500 Dirhams! ($50!). That is a LOT in Morocco but was even wilder was this place was clearly selling “Moroccan-themed items that looked like they had come straight from Shein. After going back and forth with the shopkeeper she only got him down to 300 DH, or around $30, which was probably about 3X too much still. At the next stall, we stopped at I asked her to let me haggle for her – she was buying a little trinket and the shopkeeper wanted 150 DH, I said 50, he said he couldn’t do more than 125.

I said okay, thank you and walked away. 

Then the shopkeeper came running after me saying “Okay, 50 for you my friend!”

That’s it. That’s the trick. That’s all you have to do.

I’ve seen people be ripped off in the souks paying 100x for what something is worth or wasting 45 minutes haggling away their vacation. The best way to haggle in Morocco is to just be very polite, say how much you’d like to pay for something – and if they say no, then move on. All of the stores sell pretty much the same thing, and it’s the best way to get a rough estimate of how much things should cost. After you walk away, if they follow you and give it to you for the price you stated then you know you named a good price. If they let you go, then the price you named was too low, and you could either go back and agree to their price or just make a mental note going forward. 

a man driving a motorcycle down a tiny souk street in the Old Medina in Marrakech, Morocco.

5. Pack Light! Many of the Streets in Morocco’s Old Towns Cannot Fit Cars

I’ve stayed in different cities and towns all over Morocco, and unless you’re staying at a large hotel it’s unlikely you’ll be able to drive up to the door of your lodging. A lot of streets in Morocco, especially in historical areas that get a lot of tourists, don’t have streets that were designed for cars. For example, in Marrakech cars can only enter the windy streets of the old souks after sunset, and even then it’s unlikely you’ll be dropped off at the door of your Riad like in a modern city (these streets are older than cars, after all!). In the Old Medina of Fez, cars can’t enter at all, So be prepared to have to carry all your luggage to your destination by foot. If you’re staying in the old Medina in Marrakech (which I recommend, it’s a truly unique experience) you’ll likely be dropped off in Jemaa el Fna square and have to walk the rest of the way.

If you have more than you can personally carry you’ll be at the mercy of the Touts. The Touts are pretty much anyone off the street in the Old Medina who tries to “help” tourists and then demands a big fee at the end, and no matter what you give them they’ll make a stink that it wasn’t enough. It’s not the end of the world, but to ensure you have a good time visiting the city either pack no more than you can personally carry or arrange a pickup with your Riad/hotel. 

Jema el Fnaa square in Marrakech, Morocco

6. Don’t Interact With Touts On The Street: AKA the People Asking “Where are You Going?”

What is a Tout? A Tout is an illegal guide common in a lot of touristy places but especially common in Morocco and Egypt. They’ll “help” you (sometimes not) and then demand a fee for their service. Often they approach tourists who don’t need help and guilt them into accepting their services. The Touts really are the most unfortunate part of Morocco. I just put my headphones in, and sunglasses on, and walk when I’m in a city like Marrakech or Fez. Looking straight ahead. Not making eye contact with anyone.

It’s the only way to keep from getting roped in a 20-minute struggle with someone demanding money for no reason, and then chasing you down the street saying “F you woman!” (yes. that actually happened to me on my last trip). Why do I keep going back then? Because Morocco is amazing. The food is terrific, and the people are SO kind, but the Touts are a huge problem. 

7. Don’t Hail A Taxi On The Street From The Airport: You’ll Most Likely Get Scammed

Unfortunately for travelers, Uber in Morocco hasn’t caught on yet – so you need to negotiate taxis off of the street. The taxis from the airport charge 10-100x as much as they should. Taxis are VERY inexpensive in Morocco (a 10-minute ride is about $2) but the ones at the airport know you don’t have any other options. Either take a train (the trains in Morocco are fantastic) or bus to the city center and take a cab from there or arrange a pickup with your hotel. If you really have to take a taxi in Morocco from a train station or airport I’ve also used a trick where I have my Riad host talk to the taxi driver over Whatsapp. They’ll do the bartering for you and you’re more likely to get the local price this way. Make sure to ask your host first if it’s okay with them, but most Moroccans I’ve met really want you to have a good time in their country so you should always be able to find someone to help. 

handmade shoes for sale in moroccan souks

8. Take Out Cash As Soon As You Can: Morocco is a “Cash is King” Country

Morocco is a “cash is king” country so taking out a chunk of change at the airport before you go anywhere will help you out in the long run. Just make sure to use an ATM connected with a bank, and also be sure to decline the conversion fee the ATM offers you. Usually, the ATMs in Morocco will charge 30-50 dirhams ($2-$5) per transaction and will ask you to approve this fee. After you hit “yes” a second screen will pop up asking you to accept their conversion. If you read the fine print on this page, which not a lot of people do – a lot of people just hit “yes” instinctively, you’ll see they’re adding a 6-12% markup (!!!!). You don’t have to accept this, if you hit “no” on this page the transaction will go through, but you’ll get the better deal. 

a girl dipping her feet into the soaking pool in the center of her Riad hotel in Marrakech. The tiling on the pool is green, which makes the water colorful. Staying in a Riad is a top travel tip for when visiting Marrakech, Morocco.

9. Stay In A Traditional Riad (It’s Cheaper Than a Hotel & a Cultural Experience) 

A Riad is a traditional Moroccan bed and breakfast. It usually is a home with multiple stories centered around a courtyard, and most also have a rooftop terrace. Riads are unique to North Africa and are synonymous with a trip to Morocco. While Moroccan luxury tourism is world-renowned, Riads actually don’t have to be that expensive. What really blew me away was that it was the same price per night to stay in a Riad as it was to stay in a hostel! For only around $30 a night I was able to stay in this gorgeous home with hand-carved doors and a courtyard garden, as well as have a huge homemade breakfast. Marrakech and Fez don’t have much of a hostel culture, so even if you’re on a budget I would recommend springing for at least one night in a Riad. 

An orange kitten photographed on the corniche in Alexandria, Egypt.

10. Do Help The Stray Cats & Dogs

One of the things I love about Moroccan culture is how wonderful everyone is towards animals. During my time in the Old Medina, I noticed there are a lot of cats and dogs around mosques, this is because all the locals pitch in to help care for them. I always walk around Marrakech with a few tins of cat food in my pocket just in case I see some hungry fur babies, and this is encouraged by the locals! So don’t feel like you’re feeding someone’s pet when you’re not supposed to be.  

Moroccan Souk Stall in Marrakech

11. Don’t Shop With A Guide: You’re Not Going to Get a “Better Deal”

Sigh. Just don’t. I took a lot more organized tours in North Africa than I usually do because I was with my friends, and it always grinds my gears the wrong way when you pay for a private tour to a certain historical site (usually I only do this when something is hard to reach, or I legally have to have a guide) and they take you to various gift shops selling wayyyyy overpriced goods. You’d think that if you’re paying a guide to help you do the haggling, you’d get a good deal but it’s almost always the opposite. Instead, your guide is taking you somewhere they’ll get a fat commission for everything you buy – all the while the guide is saying “That’s a great price!”.

12. Brush Up On Your French! Morocco is a Bi-Lingual Country

Arabic, for a native English speaker (like me), is hard. I tried my hardest to learn a bit of Arabic in Egypt, and never really made it greetings. Luckily, in Morocco, they speak Arabic and French, and French is a lot easier to pick up a few phrases just to get around. In the bigger cities, where lots of tourists are, you’ll hear more French than Arabic in general, so unless you’re going to be visiting more rural parts I’d say you’re safe just brushing up on your bonjours.

13. Don’t Go On A “Tannery Tour” In Marrakech 

In Fes, another popular city to the north of Marrakech, the tannery is a famous tourist attraction. This is not so in Marrakech. If you see someone advertising tours to the Marrakech tannery or trying to take you there unprompted, it’s a scam. What usually happens is they take you to the tannery and then demand payment for “guiding” you there, even if you didn’t ask them to. The Tannery is in a secluded area and I’ve heard of tourists being pressured to give up more and more money once they’re there, so just don’t go! No real tour guides in Marrakech will offer to take you to the tannery.

14. Don’t Drink The Tap Water

You see more people drinking tea over water in Morocco and that’s in part due to the way boiling water cleans it for consumption. Even the locals that are used to the tap water sometimes get an upset stomach depending on the area. The first time I traveled to Morocco in 2019 I was schlepping 20-packs of water bottles through the streets, but to save my back (and the environment) now I always travel with my GRAYL bottle that cleans out any viruses or bacteria in water.

15. Do Download Google Maps Offline 

The Old Medinas in Morocco are windy mazes of footpaths that it’s very easy to get lost in. Luckily, even if you don’t get a local sim card or have cellular service while you’re in Morocco, you can download the map of the souks offline on Google Maps and always know where you’re going! I’ve used Google Maps on my past two trips to Morocco and while it misses some tinier alleys it’s been very reliable. Downloading a map of the medina offline is the best way to avoid touts trying to convince tourists they’re going the “wrong way” (and then demand money for bringing them the “right way” 🙄.

Marrakech Morocco Jemaa el fna square at sunset

16. Don’t Believe A Street Is “Closed”

The Touts in Morocco can be Oscar-worthy actors at times. One time a tout started crying while telling us a street was closed when it was clearly a well-trafficked main road! A “wrong way/ street is closed” scam is basically when someone sees a tourist and asks them where they’re trying to go. No matter what the tourist says, the answer is always the same: “oh no, you’re going the wrong way, here follow me”, and the scammer will proceed to lead the tourist to their shop/restaurant, or in more sinister cases somewhere secluded where other guys are hiding to rob them. In Morocco, Touts bypass the formality of asking “Where are you going” and just skip to telling every tourist they’re going the wrong way.

Walking down the lanes of the souk as an obvious tourist you’ll hear: ‘wrong way miss, wrong way please follow me” every 10 feet. It’s exhausting, especially if you’re not in on the secret and wind up being led in circles. Sometimes they’ll say “The main square is this way” to people walking in the souks. It doesn’t matter to them if you’re going to the main square or not.

Then you’ll respond “Oh, I’m not going to the main square” and then they’ll say “Oh where are you going? Where are you from?” and they’ve got you.

If you interact with any of the touts it’s super hard to get rid of them, but even knowing this it’s really hard for me to just ignore people who are trying to talk to me. It’s human instinct to respond! The biggest tip is to just ignore anyone who comes up to you on the street – but barring that, don’t believe anyone when they tell you you’re going the “wrong way”! Trust Google Maps over the touts. 

17. Dress Appropriately (Both Men & Women)

Remember Morocco is a conservative country where women are expected to cover up. A lot of women know that you should dress modestly in an Islamic country like Morocco, but did you know men should as well Nothing bad will happen to you if you show up to Marrakech with a suitcase full of mini skirts, but as a sign of respect it’s best to keep your shoulders and knees covered, this goes for women AND men. In the old Medina, you’ll notice a lot of men and women are completely covered – regardless of the temperature. 

There is no legal dress code for tourists in Morocco, but to be respectful to the country you’re visiting for both genders to cover up. For women, I’ve heard shoulders and knees should at least be covered, and for men, if you’re going to wear shorts they should be longer than knee-length. There will also be an expectation that women have their heads covered if they’re going to be entering a mosque, but not many mosques in Morocco are open for tourism. I’ve seen some tourists in the souks in skimpy clubbing outfits, and while it might increase the amount of harassment you receive, Morocco is pretty safe. Covering up is more of a sign of respect for the culture you’re visiting than anything else.

18. Visit the Crazy Jemaa el Fna In Marrakech 

There’s nothing like Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakech! It’s crazy, noisy, and infinitely interesting. Jemaa el Fna is the only place I’ve seen where you could get a roasted sheep’s head, fresh juice, and a BIG bowl of Escargot for under $10 – all while watching a snake charmer! During daylight cars are allowed to transverse the square, it’s still a nice place to get some shopping done in the daytime but around 5 PM when the sun sets is when Jemaa el Fna really starts to come alive. 

19. Get Out Of The City (At Least Once)

A lot of people come to Morocco and book a week-long stay in one of the cities like Marrakech, Fez, Casablanca, or Agadir. The cities and the historic Old Medinas are amazing – but they’re definitely not the best thing to do in Morocco. Going into the countryside in Morocco you’ll meet the indigenous Berber (also called Imazighen) people; everyone is always exceptionally kind, and the nature is gorgeous. On my first trip to Morocco, I fled to Imlil, a village in the High Atlas Mountains, after Marrakech became overwhelming, and on my second trip, I got to visit the hippy chill beach town of Taghazout. Morocco truly is such a diverse country in terms of climate and activities, there’s something for most types of travelers. If you’re coming to Morocco for more than three days you should take at least one day trip outside of the cities into the countryside.

20. Don’t Stay In One Place The Whole Time!

It’s best to see Morocco by hopping from one place to another. If you spend a whole week in Marrakech, Fez, or Tangier, you will probably get a bit bored. I love planning my own itineraries and traveling without a tour. However, in Morocco, the public transportation system isn’t the best. Also, most of the popular tourist attractions don’t even have public transit options available! If you’re spending 2 weeks or less in Morocco I highly recommend taking a guided multi-day tour to save on stress and get the most out of your trip. Bonus, a lot of the time multi-day guided tours in Morocco are cheaper than if you were to plan all the activities separately! This is because transportation, which is the biggest expense, is already included.

Fresh baked Moroccan bread.

21. Learn How To Eat With Bread Instead of Forks Like The Locals

Bread is a way of life in Morocco (to this day it’s the most amazing bread I’ve ever had). Meals like Tajines are usually eaten not with utensils but with a small piece of bread in the right hand (never the left!) used as a “scooper” for all the good stuff. This takes some getting used to, but if you’re invited into someone’s home for a meal it’s the polite thing to do.

22. Know Mosques Aren’t Open for Tourism 

Unlike other places I’ve visited, like Turkey and Rome, the places of worship in Morocco aren’t usually tourist attractions you can go inside of. There are some exclusions like the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, but by and large Mosques in Morocco are not open to non-worshippers. Tourists sometimes get confused because mosques are open to the public, so you’ll see people entering freely, but there are some horror stories of tourists wandering in and being quite embarrassed when they get escorted out: so unless otherwise specified just don’t enter a mosque in Morocco! 

Moroccan and Egyptian Mint Tea served in a silver pot.

23. Get Ready for A Lot Of Mint tea! It’s Served With Every Meal

Mint tea is served with every meal in Morocco & Egypt, when I came back to the United States I felt weird without having it! There’s a special way Mint tea is served, and once you get it down you’ll impress all your Moroccan friends: First, dried mint and black tea leaves are soaked in hot water in a silver teapot. Then, a bunch of sugar is added to the pot, and the mixture is poured from up high (the rule is “4 fingers” height – I think that’s about 8 inches but the higher the more impressive it is). And then you pour the tea from your cup back into the teapot and repeat this around 3 times. Apparently, this aerates the tea, and it makes the sugar frothy which is the desired quality (and also makes for a great show). 

A sign calling people to prayer in Morocco.
There are prayer rooms at all airports, train stations, etc in Morocco.

24. Be prepared To Wake Up Early For Prayer Call 

In Islam call to prayer is done 5X a day, with the holy day being Friday. It usually only goes on for a few minutes, but on Fridays, the whole prayer service is broadcast depending on where you are. Even though I don’t know the language, I’ve always found the prayer calls to be very beautiful. Most restaurants, train stations, airports, etc will also have prayer rooms for people to meet the 5x a day quota if they so wish. There is no set time (from what I could tell) for the prayer calls – instead, they go at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall, and that changes throughout the year. 

Jemaa el Fna Square at Night viewed from a terrace cafe.

25. Don’t Get Scammed! 

Really! I LOVE Morocco but I hear of people getting scammed in the bigger cities like Marrakech and Fes all the time, and it just ruins their travel experience. I really only fell for a Tout once on my last trip, and I didn’t really fall I just didn’t have enough energy to tell him to leave me alone. I was trying to buy food for some cats and a tout on the street asked me what I was looking for. I said I was going to buy food for the cats: “Mangia pour chat” (Which is half in Italian, not even French, but I was making eating hand motions to go along with it and he seemed to understand – gotta do what you gotta do!).

The guy saw where I was heading and pointed at the stall up the road I was already heading to, I said thanks and went on my way. It didn’t take long to realize he was following me there, and then once I got to the stall he spoke over me and was making a big show of ordering it for me, even though I didn’t need or ask him to. For example, if The shopkeeper asked me how many items I wanted, I held up my fingers and said “cinq” (five in French) – and then the tout would make a big fuss of loudly asking me how many tins of cat food I wanted in English, and then translating that to French.

Again, without me asking him to.

In the end, he asked for payment. I said no. He didn’t actually help me do anything to deserve a payment. Up until this moment, he was all nice and smiling, and then after this, he yelled “F**k you, fat woman!” In my face and then proceeded to yell it after me all the way back to my Riad!!!!

Don’t give money to these guys. 

If you pay Touts you’re just supporting the practice, which hurts tourism in the area and gives foreigners a terrible idea of Morocco when really it’s a wonderful place full of amazing people. Also, if you DO give the touts money, you’ll probably have the same result. Even if I had paid him we would have had the same argument, but this time it would have been over the amount. Just don’t pay these guys any mind. If I were to be in that situation again I would have landed him a firm “La” (no in Arabic) and not accept any “assistance’ from him in the first place. 

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