Morocco travel tips: Utilmate guide

 

Everything you need to know for a trip to Morocco: budget, musts and more!

If you are planning a trip to Morocco, this article will probably be very useful to you, because I have included everything we would have liked to know before going there. Among other things, you will discover the places to see, the budget to plan, the means of travel, the possibilities of accommodation and several other very practical tips. Morocco is a magnificent country that is worth discovering and we want to give you the resources to make the most of it.

What to do?

Morocco is full of very diverse places; there are authentic cities steeped in culture, part of the majestic Sahara desert, mountain ranges with snow-covered peaks, ocean-side beaches and much more.  Here is a list of six places that we particularly appreciated:

Chefchaouen:

 

 

This small town in the Rif is located in northern Morocco. Many travellers come to visit Chefchaouen after falling under the spell of the narrow streets of the medina that we see in many photographs of Morocco.Her medina, entirely painted blue, very pleasant to walk around. It is also the starting point for several hikes in the High Atlas Mountains. 

 

 

Fès: *Imperial city*  

The most populated and bustling medina in Morocco, you can’t miss a visit to its famous tanneries.  Afterwards, nothing beats immersing yourself in the incessant action and discovering thousands of local craftsmen.

Meknes:* imperial city* 

Twenty-five kilometres of ramparts surround this imperial city, sometimes nicknamed the “Versailles of Morocco”, which can be accessed through one of its monumental gates. Once inside, you will discover a surprising and lively city. To feel the pulse of the city, approach the streets around Dar Jamaï Palace and rush into the souks of El Dlala, Kissaria or El Sabbat.

Volubilis: 

Located in the middle of a very fertile agricultural area where olive trees are plentiful, the Roman remains of Volubilis are one of the most beautiful examples of Roman influence in the region. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site includes the ruins of a triumphal arch, a basilica and several villas with beautiful mosaics. If your visit ends early, you can also visit the pretty holy city of Moulay Idriss, only 5 km away.  

Marrakech: *Imperial city*   

An essential part of any trip to Morocco. Its central square (Jemaa El Fnaa) and its medina deserve to spend more than a day there. Treat yourself to a little luxury for one night while sleeping in one of its 1400 riads, there is something for every budget. The other musts that you should absolutely visit: the Koutoubia mosque overlooks the city with its 70-metre high minaret, (a kind of geographical landmark),the Bahia Palace, one of the wonders of Morocco (that reminds you the Alhambra of Granada, in Andalusia) but also Jardin Majorelle, created by Mr Majorelle in the 1930s, purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980

Rabat: *Imperial city* 

The capital of the Cherifian Kingdom is not very touristy, and is in full development.The atmosphere is curiously quite peaceful, you can go for a walk in the very pretty Kasbah of the Oudayas while passing by the Andalusian Gardens ( free) then you can go down to the beach.

Otherwise the medina of Rabat outside the Oudayas is very nice with the small alleys where the sellers unpack their goods, it is a very authentic atmosphere.you can also visit Chellah, an ancient Roman city, it is a beautiful walk among the vegetation and storks. The Botanical Test Garden is also very pleasant. As well as the Hassan Tower (at the top of the tower you can admire the view of the city) and the mausoleum where the kings Mohamed V and his sons 

Moulay Abdellah and Hassan II rest (free entrance). And as you will not be far from the Oued Bouregreg, you can see the new facilities  along the Bouregreg River

Casablanca 

The economic lung of Morocco and the first metropolis of the Maghreb with 3.5 million inhabitants. “Casa” as it is nicknamed, is really different from other Moroccan cities. The city  is the main gateway to the country for many visitors.It owes its sudden development to its international port, which in a century has made it a business city with 6 out of 10 companies in the country. If Casablanca’s history is recent, you will still have things to see: the Hassan II Mosque (a must) . You will probably pass through Mohammed V Square before entering the alleys of the old medina. The Casablanca Corniche is an excellent place to walk along the waterfront, but also to swim and relax. In the evening, the nightlife is lively.   

**Imperial cities are those which, at one time in history, were designated as capital by one of the dynasties (several dynasties followed one another, such as the Idrissides, the Almoravids or now the Alawite dynasty)**

How much does it cost?

This is the question that comes up most often and the answer depends on how you travel. As a general rule, by closely monitoring your budget, you will spend $25-$40 per day (food, transportation and accommodation).  Obviously, these amounts will change according to the desired level of comfort and they can easily double or even triple if you travel without looking too much at the prices.  

How to get around?     

It’s easy to get from one point to another in Morocco! Several transport options are available to you, the most pleasant and fast way is undoubtedly the train. The rail network (ONCF) connects several of the major cities a few times a day and night trips are  available.

The slightly cheaper alternative is passenger bus service. The two main companies are CTM and Supratours, they offer trips almost everywhere across Morocco. Buses are comfortable and air-conditioned, but tickets must be purchased at least the day before and even earlier in the high season.  

Taxis can be useful for travelling short distances. Take the time to negotiate them and agree on a price before boarding. For longer journeys, it is possible to use collective taxis. The price of the trip is divided by the number of passengers, this will minimize your costs.

If you want more flexibility or travel in a group, car rental may be a good option.

Where to sleep? 

 Accommodations in Morocco, there is something for every taste and every budget. For people who travel at low prices, youth hostels are popular and undoubtedly the best option. A dormitory bed is about $6 to $12 per night and often includes breakfast. Plan 15 to 30$ for a private room with a double bed. There are hostels in most of Morocco’s popular cities and thanks to the Hostel World application, it is very easy to book your  place.

A little everywhere, you will find small guest houses ready to accommodate you. The price and quality vary, take the time to visit the rooms and negotiate a little bit the rate before accepting.

For a more luxurious stay, we advise you to experience a Riad during your trip to Morocco. These are guest houses with an open-air garden in the middle, some even have swimming pools. For our part, it was in Marrakech that we experienced them, we loved being in such a peaceful and warm place.

What do you eat there?   

Moroccan cuisine is a cuisine Mediterranean characterized by its variety of dishes from Arab, Berber or Jewish traditions, using many spices, and by its almond and honey-based pastries. It has common features with the cuisines of other regions of the Maghreb, while preserving a unique cultural originality.

There is a very wide variety of dishes such as the tajine (a stew of meat and vegetables cooked in a terracotta dish for several hours) couscous, chicken and beef skewers cooked on embers.The food is excellent and you don’t get tired of it. 

How not to get ripped off?

Morocco is the ideal country to practice you’re negotiating skills. People will ask you to spend a lot and if you are not interested, just say “no” firmly. If, on the other hand, you want to buy, take the time to negotiate prices.

In the medina, if you look lost, you will probably be approached by a Moroccan who will offer (or impose himself) to guide you to your destination. This may be a good thing if you are lost, but take into consideration that he will ask you for a few dirhams on arrival.

How to respect Moroccan culture?

The Muslim religion is omnipresent in Morocco and the population attaches great importance to it. Out of respect for them, it is advisable to observe these few rules in public:

-During the Ramadan period, be careful not to consume alcohol in public. It is also advisable not to drink, eat and smoke in public during Ramadan, especially in the less touristy places. During this period the country seems to be inactive.

-The call to prayer is announced 5 times a day, stopping time for a few minutes. 

-Holy sites are prohibited for non-Muslims, with the exception of the Mohamed V mausoleums in Rabat and Moulay Ismaïl in Meknes. 

 -Avoid public demonstrations of love, for Moroccans these are actions that take place in the privacy of their homes.

 -For travellers, it is not necessary to cover your head, but you should at least hide your shoulders and not wear shorts or skirts that reach the top of your knees. 

-With regard to photography, in general, Moroccans do not like to have their picture taken, especially if you have not asked them for permission.

-If you are invited to tea, don’t refuse, your host may get upset. Okay, you don’t like tea, but make an effort for once.  

-Considered impure, the left hand is often to be avoided when touching food or shaking  hands. So remember to use your right hand.

 When is the best time to visit the country?

Autumn (September-October) and spring (April-May) are the best seasons to travel there. Temperatures are hot during the day and cooler in the evening. In the middle of summer, it is not advisable to travel to Morocco, as temperatures can easily exceed 50 degrees Celsius and the heat is overwhelming, even at night. Winter can also be a good choice, but expect cooler temperatures.

In the desert, in summer the heat is unbearable even for Moroccans, it is strongly advised not to go there during this season. For the rest of the year, it is generally expected that the days will be rather hot and once the sun sets, the temperatures will drop drastically.

Practical information 

The first language in Morocco is Arabic and is supported by French. It is spoken by the 1/3 of the population , so it is very easy to communicate with Moroccans.

For Canadian travellers, it is not necessary to apply for a visa in advance. Upon arrival in the country, the customs officer will issue you a 90-day tourist visa free of charge.

For money, you will find counters and exchange counters in most cities. Please note, if you plan to visit smaller villages, plan to carry Moroccan currency before going there, as it will be impossible to get it locally.

In closing, we hope that this article has been very useful to you! Morocco is a beautiful country that is worth discovering. It is also very safe to travel. The cost of living is low, public transportation is well adapted, accommodation choices are numerous and food is excellent. If you would like more information don’t hesitate to ask us questions.

Have a good trip!

 

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