Everything I did, spent and learned in Morocco

Can I just start off by saying Morocco is fabulous? If you’re considering it for a future trip, I’m your cheerleader. This North African country is full of history, diverse landscapes and solid travel infrastructure for even the new travelers. Best of all, it’s affordable.

An art shop in Chefchaouen, Morocco

How long should I spend in Morocco? 

I was able to cover five cities in 14 days. The city hopping was fine with me because I was alone and often working from my phone. I didn’t mind getting on a bus every third day. I’m also a here-for-a-good-time-not-a-long-time person, so this was perfect.

Here is what my itinerary looked like:

I started in Marrakech and worked my way up to Tangier so I could take a ferry to Spain.

You can see that I worked my way up from the country’s south to the north. You can start from the north and go down as well. However, I’d plan according to my time and interests because there is so much to do and see. Two weeks is perfect if you want to cover three to four cities. I would not recommend more than two cities if you only have a week or less.

I chose places based on what I liked or the activities I wanted to do. So, list what YOU want and then pick the cities.

Zahra’s Morocco to-do list:

  • Drink a lot of mint tea
  • Try tagine
  • Go on a hot air balloon ride
  • Spend a night in the desert
  • Spend a day at the beach day
  • Do one thing that scares me
  • Visit a riad 
  • Meet friends from Brazil in Casablanca 
  • Buy a painting
  • Buy a pair of earrings 
  • Trek the Atlas Mountains 
  • Visit a tannery 

Here is what I did in each city:

I’m not telling you to go to all these places or do any of these things. You might not be interested in the same stuff I am. This is also not ALL there is there to do in any of these cities. I made this list with only myself in mind. I’ve linked to pages that can explain some of the historical sites. I’ve also linked some tours.

Marrakech (3 days)

Bahia Palace, Marrakesh, Morocco

Essaouira (2 days)

Port of Essaouira, Morocco
  • Listen to Gnawa music
  • Surf – you need to rent a wetsuit and board. You can also hire a trainer.
  • Walk the medina
  • See the port and blue boats
  • Eat snails! – 10 dirhams

Casablanca (2 days)

Fez (3 days)

Me walking through the old medina in Fes, Morocco
  • Bab Boujloud gate
  • Medressa Bou Inania
  • Qaraouiyine Mosque
  • Medersa el-Attarine
  • Chouara tanneries
  • Al-Andalus Mosque
  • Roman ruins (I didn’t do this)
  • Buy some leather products

Merzouga (2 days)

The Sahara Desert, Morocco
  • Camel ride
  • Campfire
  • Sleep under the stars
  • Watch the sunrise and sunset

Chefchaouen (2 days)

Chefchaouen, Morocco

What cities should I go to in Morocco?

The cities you want to go to depend on your interests. If you want to experience history, I’d pick Fes (in the north) or Marrakesh (in the south). Pick one if you have less than a week.

If you want Instagram heaven, two days in Chefchouan, the blue city, is ideal.

If you want the desert experience, one to two nights camping is great. The Sahara is in the south. A popular spot there is Merzouga. Many tours take off from Marrakesh and Fes daily.

If you want to experience beach life, Essaouira, Taghazout or Agadir are great. Pick one and stay there for two or three days. These cities are on the southwestern coast and are an easy bus ride away from Marrakesh.

What do I HAVE to do in Morocco? 

Hot air ballooning over the Atlas Mountains in Morocco

Again, depends on your interests. But I’d say spending time in the desert is cool. I thought surfing was life-changing, so I’d recommend that. Plus, seeing a beach after a crowded city is a nice change. You can also try kite surfing if you’re not keen to surf. I loved going on the hot air balloon too!

Is Morocco safe?

Post-surfing hair in Essaouria, Morocco

I hate answering this because as a woman, no place on the planet is. There is a lot of staring and random men asking you to call them if you want a Moroccan husband but that’s pretty much the extent of it. If you’re gonna buy hash then don’t go in an alley alone. Don’t carry too much cash either. Walk with confidence even if you have no idea where you’re going.

How much should I expect to spend? 

A souvenir shop in Ourika, Morocco

All prices below are in USD unless stated otherwise. 1 USD = ~10 Moroccan dirhams.

As I said before, Morocco is affordable, but you must remember that inflation is a big thing now. Many businesses are also recovering from COVID. In two weeks, without flights and the PCR test, I spent $1,100. If my math is correct, it cost me a bit under $80 a day.

This number includes food, shopping, in-country transportation, accommodation, tips, entrance fees, excursions, shopping and anything else I may have paid for. I did not include flights because I used credit to pay for them. I also took a ferry out of the country (37.10 GBP). Morocco has now removed the PCR test requirement, for which I paid 100 GBP.

A man making a meat sandwich in Marrakesh, Morocco

Now let’s break this down more. Expect to spend around $5-7 on a good meal or $2 on a sexy street sandwich. A shared room in hostels cost me less than $10 a night. Day trips are around $30-40. My most significant expenses were $200 for the hot air balloon and $140 for a luxurious desert excursion I definitely overpaid for.

I honestly think you can make this two-week trip for less than $800 very comfortably. I was REALLY treating myself and didn’t bother haggling much.

Side note: There are bars in most big cities and supermarkets like Carrefour sell alcohol. You will overpay if you want to drink because Morocco is a dry country.

Travel Tips for Morocco

Don’t prebook anything 

Everything costs more if you book it before. Most accommodations organize day trips and excursions, so just let them know what you want, and they will arrange it for you the following day. You can also negotiate the price with them if you don’t want certain items or experiences like lunch or camel rides.

Get a local sim card

You should see phone companies at the airport as soon as you pass security. You can get 10 GB for $10, and they make it happen within 20 seconds. As a solo traveller, I feel safer knowing my location with data. I also often needed to call my accommodation for help because I got lost a lot.

Have cash for accommodation payment
Madina Social Club Hostel in Fes, Morocco

Even though I had my credit card on Booking.com, the hostels asked for cash when I checked in. If you’re in a big riad, they likely accept card. Bus tickets must also be paid by cash if you buy them in person. CTM and Supratours (Morocco’s two big bus companies) accept tickets purchased online. Make sure you also pay five dirhams for bag storage when you get to the station if you have a suitcase that needs to go under.

Bring at least two debit cards 

Two people I met had the ATM eat their card when trying to get cash out. It didn’t happen to me, thankfully, but having another bank card will keep you at ease in case something odd does happen.

Make photo friends 
Trekking the mountains to see the waterfalls in Ourika, Morocco

If you’re travelling solo, this is a great little move to make friends fast. When I was in a group or on tour, I’d ask people to pose so I could take their photos. I’d say, “my camera is better, don’t worry, I’ll send you the photos.” This is a great ice breaker, and then you can ask for their Instagram to send them the pictures and boom, you got a friend!

Exchange small amounts of cash at a time

In Morocco, cash is king. Everyone accepts cash, and it’s handy to have for tipping. There are cash exchanges and ATMs everywhere, so don’t worry about not having enough. A lot of places also accept euros. Pack a coin bag.

Buy souvenirs at the end 

Man, does it take all of God’s given will to not buy everything you see in the shops of the medinas. I only took a carry-on with me and had no space for shopping. I also did not want to drag my shopping with me from city to city. I bought all my souvenirs and gifts in Fes and Chefchouan, my last two stops in the country. There are plenty of shops in all the cities, don’t feel like you’re missing out by not buying something right then and there.

Chofchouan was by far the cheapest city for shopping in my experience. When you leave shopping for the end, you have much more confidence to haggle because you’ve seen how much stuff costs throughout your trip. Some items you should definitely get in Morocco are argan oil, something made of leather (bag or shoes), and a painting! If you have the space, get a handmade carpet too!

Go outside the medina 

Most people don’t recommend this due to safety issues, but I think taking a walk outside the old city walls is essential. Many tourists I saw stayed in the medina, which is fine, but they assumed that the entire city/country is the same, which is not true. Fes has the old city where most hostels and riads are, but it also consists of a modern side with big buildings and centres like all cities worldwide.

Be kind but firm in your ‘no’

As a tourist, sellers ask you to buy stuff or come to their shop. They’re super slick at it. Others are a bit more aggressive because they follow you and want to give you directions. Many locals depend on income from tourists. I personally freak out a bit when people get pushy but don’t take it personally. Say “no, thank you” if you’re not interested and keep walking.

Alright, that’s all from me for now. Did I miss anything? Let me know and I can either add another section or answer in the comments. Hope you get to experience Morocco soon!

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