The Kingdom of Morocco is a country in North Africa that borders Algeria and Western Sahara. Its coast opens to the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The country is connected to Spain by the Strait of Gibraltar. Even though many consider it to be part of the Arab world, it is not, but a Berber country. Morocco is one of the 3 kingdoms in Africa, and its capital is in Rabat.
The country is divided into 3 geographical zones that were greatly influenced by the Atlas Mountains. The land surrounded by mountains is the most fertile one in the country. The area where the mountains near the desert is arid, and the coastline mostly consists of lowlands. The mountains also influence the climate which is diverse throughout the country.
Morocco officially follows Islam, and most of the locals are Muslim. The spoken languages are Berber and Arabic, but the official language in the country is French, which is taught in every school. Even though they are Muslims, women have more rights here than in other Muslim countries. 62% of the population lives in urban areas in cities such as Casablanca, Fez, and Rabat.
Morocco has become more and more popular in the past 20 years, and now it receives more than 13 million tourists every year. The beaches and the Sahara desert are exciting destinations, but the most popular attractions are actually the cities of Morocco, which have fascinated foreigners for hundreds of years.
Traveling to Morocco from the United States
No matter if you plan the trip yourself or if you use a travel agency, there are some important things to keep in mind when traveling to Morocco.
The flights are run by Royal Air Maroc and the most popular route is New York to Casablanca, but you can find flights from Washington and Miami.
Choosing an off-route instead of a direct flight can save you some money, up to a few hundred dollars. Booking your flight 2-3 months in advance will help you save money as well. The best thing you can do to get the best deal for a flight to Morocco is to take your time and research dates and routes by using comparison websites. The best-rated ones are Kiwi, Momondo, Skyscanner, Expedia and Priceline.
Some of these websites also help you to look for accommodations, but to this, I must add the popular Booking.com as an option. Prices for accommodations vary greatly depending on the type and location.
The best time to travel to Morocco
You will get the optimal trip depending on several factors like heat, cost of flights, and Moroccan holidays. This is a year-round destination, however, because of the mostly Mediterranean climate, summers can be uncomfortably hot, with temperatures as high as 105 °F, depending on the region.
April, May, September, and October offer pleasant enough weather for spending time outdoors and visiting the beach and the mountains. Avoid May 1st however, as Labor Day is celebrated on this date and many businesses shut down.
If you want to save money on flights, the cheapest month to visit Morocco is February. This time is great for visiting historical sites, the desert, and the beach, where temperatures are still warm, averaging 70 °F. During this month camel rides in the desert are a tourist favourite, as dust levels are low.
Do US citizens need a visa for Morocco?
Americans don’t need a visa for this travel destination and can stay up to 90 days visa-free. You need a valid passport with at least one blank page, so it can be stamped at the airport. The USA Government has great tools and resources available on their official page.
Once there, you’ll be glad to know there is an abundance of transportation options available. You’ll need around 3 weeks to visit everything Morocco has to offer, and if you consider visiting places that are far from each other, you’ll definitely need to know how to get around.
You can use city buses or intercity buses for when you want to visit different locations. Take into account the possible delays caused by traffic. It’s cheaper than taking a taxi, but a lot slower. The main intercity bus line is CTM. The average cost for a bus ride from Marrakech to Essaouira is $8.
Most taxi drivers have fixed prices, which allows you to save money by sharing a ride. Taxis are available 24/7 in cities and the prices vary between $1.5 and $2.50 per mile, depending on the city. Keep in mind these fares rise significantly during the night.
If you want to travel between the major cities of Morocco, you can choose to do so by train. A high-speed train called Al-Boraq was introduced in 2018 connecting Tangier and Casablanca, which costs around $35.
Night trains that serve all major cities are also available and offer couches and beds, depending on the class.
How to rent a car in Morocco
If you prefer to drive you can always rent a car, even better, a motorbike or a scooter to get around cities easier. You can go to any rent a car dealer and chose your preference with prices starting from $6/day for a car for 2 adults.
Best places to visit in Morocco
Morocco is one of those places that pulls you in at every corner. There’s always something to see and it would take you around 3 weeks to visit all the major attractions.
Lovers of history should not leave without visiting the Roman ruins of Volubilis, the fortified village of Aït Benhaddou, or the settlements in Draa Valley.
If you want to leave the crowds for a nature retreat consider taking a hike in the Rift Mountains, home of the Talassemtane National Park. Those who prefer going to the beach have over 1800 miles of coastline available to choose a spot on.
The Sahara desert offers a unique experience for stargazers, but also to the ones that want to try riding camels or sand surfing.
The cities of Morocco will delight you with their cultures, smell of spices, cuisine, and shops. Here are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Moroccan cities:
- Koutoubia Mosque (Marrakech)
- Kasbah of the Udayas (Rabat)
- Fes el Bali
- Tangier’s medina
- Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail (Meknes)
There are so many attractions in Morocco that you most definitely need an itinerary for your trip. If you choose to hire a guide, try asking your hotel for advice, as many local guides will try to delay you.
What to eat
Traditional Moroccan food is a healthy indulgence for every visitor, one that will delight your senses through its extensive use of spices. Their national dish is called Couscous, which you can find in most local restaurants. Other popular dishes include Tagine, Harira soup, Rfissa, and many seafood dishes with Mediterranean influences.
Their drink of choice is mint tea and alcohol is not commonly served, but tourists can buy it and consume it discreetly, keeping in mind that is a little pricey.
Where to stay
Morocco is a country that values family, so traveling with children is a great option, especially for parents who want to have their children enjoy nature and learn about different cultures and histories. Some hotels don’t charge for children under 2 years old or between 2 and 12 years old. They charge only 50% of the regular rate if they share a room with their parents.
Is it safe to travel to Morocco?
If you were wondering how safe Morocco is, then I can tell you that the crime rate is low. According to OSAC tourists should be cautious in cities where the majority of crimes consist of pickpocketing, mugging, and purse thefts.
If you plan to shop for souvenirs, avoid going to the mall, where prices are usually high and the merchandise is not unique. Plan your shopping day around the markets where you’ll definitely be fascinated by the craftsmanship of local goods.
What’s even better is that you can haggle. Moroccan medinas have a wide variety of antiques available for tourists, jewellery, traditional clothing, spices, even handmade cosmetics. Plan your budget in advance and make sure you have dirhams (Moroccan currency) available.
Visiting Morocco can be a wonderful enriching experience, and I hope my guide points you in the right direction while planning for your trip.
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