Boasting everything beautiful mountains, sandy desert, imperial cities and bustling markets, Morocco truly has something for everything type of traveller. However, with so much to explore here, it can be hard to navigate your way around a villa holiday in Morocco – and that’s before you take the country’s maze-like medinas into account! To help put your mind at ease, we’ve rounded up our top tips for travelling to Morocco, from currency to dress codes.
1. Haggle culture
The official currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham. While major stores take credit card, if you plan to shop in the medinas, you’ll need cash on hand. This is also where you can get involved with haggling – and don’t worry about causing offence, as it’s part of the culture! You may find you get up to 50% off the original price.
2. Grand taxis
A reliable bus service runs across Morocco, but the vehicles themselves can be cramped and uncomfortable. For just a slightly higher price, you can pay to ride in a shared ‘grand taxi’. These fit around 6 people, and drivers won’t leave until all seats are filled, but they you with much more flexibility around where you want to go.
3. Dress code
When you’re not relaxing back at your villa in Morocco, women will need to dress a little more on the conservative side. It’s not necessarily required, but out of respect, we’d suggest covering up with a shawl or scarf.
This is especially true when visiting mosques, as you’ll need to cover all the way to your wrists and ankles. However, you should also note that most mosques won’t let non-Muslims in, so check in advance before making your way to one specifically. The exception is the famous Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, so just come suitably dressed should you choose to visit.
4. Language barriers
Arabic and Berber serve as the two official languages of Morocco, but many citizens will also speak French. You may be surprised to learn that English is not widely known, so it’s worth brushing up on your French skills (or downloading a translator app) ahead of time.
If you encounter a taxi driver who doesn’t speak your language, it’s best to show them the French name for where you want to go – at least the characters will be ones you both recognise!
5. Stay alert
Pick-pocketing is fairly common in the busy marketplaces, so make sure you carry your bags on your front and keep valuables hidden.
Should you choose to hire a car, it’s also important to note that many drivers don’t obey road rules. Add in the blind turns and winding lanes and you’ll need to be extremely focused when getting behind the wheel.
Tipping is expected in Morocco – especially when it comes to tourism services like guides and drivers – though not forced. As a rule of thumb, 10% is a good amount to leave when dining in restaurants or cafes, but 20% wouldn’t be out of place. Tips are also appreciated when using free toilets with a cleaning attendant.
Be wary of locals who offer to give you directions or take you to where you need to go. They’ll typically want something in return, so either find your own way around or have a few dirhams to hand.
7. Snap and pay
While it may not technically be classed as tipping, if you choose to take photos of people or their shops, they may ask you to pay for the privilege. That also applies to typical tourist snaps with snake charmers – they’re never without a price, so we’d actually suggest deciding on the rate prior to getting your shot.
As a Muslim country, you’ll find that some shops and cultural attractions close over lunchtime on Friday, which is the holy day. However, most restaurants and cafes will remain open as it’s still a working day.
You should also be mindful of visiting during Ramadan – exact dates change every year, but it runs for the whole ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Restaurants close during the day, so it will be difficult to eat out at ‘normal’ times.
9. Avoid street food
The sights and smells of street food are extremely tempting, but we’d advise against sampling them. That’s because the vendors who work them don’t have to abide by food safety standards and, again, what works for locals may not work out so well for you. That means staying away from the fresh fish and barbeque on display, instead enjoying it in a sit-down restaurant.
10. Drink safe
Even when dining in, there are still certain precautions to take. You should only drink bottled water in Morocco – and that includes when it comes to brushing your teeth. That also means avoiding ice cubes in drinks, as they’ll be made from regular tap water, plus salad leaves that will have been washed in it too. While the tap water is safe to drink, it’s chlorinated so will likely upset your stomach if you’re not used to that. Pack some digestion tablets too to be on the safe side!
Now that you’ve read our top tips on travelling to Morocco, are you ready to start planning your getaway? If so, you’re in luck because we’ve got a range of luxury villas in Morocco to help you have the best experience possible. If you’re still unsure on where to stay, contact a member of our concierge team and they’ll be happy to help you get going.