12 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Morocco

I feel like Morocco, and especially Marrakesh, is THE destination of 2019. Every single influencer you follow has been there this year, either on holiday or on a press trip. Dior even held their resort collection catwalk show at El Badi Palace in Marrakesh and flew out a bunch of bloggers for the occasion. And while I wasn’t invited to the Dior celebrations, I too visited Marrakesh earlier this year. 

Now, I didn’t actually go for the gram. Yes, that was a bonus, but if you’ve seen some of the many Instagram posts I put up from my trip, you’d know it had been my dream to visit the city since I was about 10 years old. And this year, I finally went and got to share the dream with Simon, and you know I love trips with him.

Sunset in Marrakesh

If you’re wondering whether you should head there for a long weekend, take my advice and book the trip. It’s worth going, even if you only have a few days to spare. I read a million blog posts and articles with tips, so here’s a complete guide to everything you need to know before you head to Morocco.

Kristina standing by the wall at Riad Up, Marrakesh, Morocco

The Weather in Morocco

It’s quite warm all year round, but it gets hot from the end of April onwards. I’d say we had the best weather – high 20s and bright sunshine, which was perfect for exploring the city comfortably. Currently, it’s in the mid-30s, which is a bit too hot unless you’re planning to lay by the pool all day. 

But of course, check the weather before you go, you don’t want to go unprepared! 

Saadian Tombs, Marrakesh, Morocco

Arriving in Morrocco 

On arrival, you’ll probably have to queue for a while at the airport. I wasn’t expecting this, because I had never actually travelled outside of Europe before, so this was a bit of an unexpected experience. I think it took us about two hours altogether, about an hour and a bit at passport control and then currency exchange. 

And make sure you fill in all the info on the little form they give you on the plane, including the address of your hotel, as the officer at the border will want to see that!

Blue wall at Le Jardin Majorelle, Marrakesh, Morocco

Money

You can import or export up to a maximum of 2,000 MAD to or from Morocco, which is about £170, so you’ll have to change most of your money once you arrive. Remember to bring cash, so you don’t end up paying bank charges as we did. 

They also offer some sort of bank card for tourists, but as most places in the medina in the country only accept cash, we didn’t see a point in having to go around searching for ATMs and decided to give this a pass.

Taxis

Before you arrive, ask your hotel to book you a taxi from the airport, as then you’ll be less likely to be ripped off by a random driver. And once you’re in the car, buckle up, as driving through the busy streets of big cities like Marrakesh and Fes is a bit of an adventure. 

Make sure you explain to your taxi driver very well where you’re going, and stick to it. You’d have to negotiate a price before you get into the cab, which means the driver will probably be getting his money regardless of where he drops you off. If he tries to drop you off before you reach your destination, do say you’d like to be taken all the way. They would rather not go inside the medina if they can avoid it, or drop you off by their pal’s shop but you’re paying them, so hold your ground. 

Courtyard in Marrakesh, Morocco

Accommodation in Morocco

If it’s your first time in Morocco, stay in a riad. There are so many options for every budget, and you won’t regret it. 

We stayed in Riad UP in Marrakesh, which was a gorgeous little paradise in the heart of the busy medina. Definitely recommend the riad, it comes with a couple of turtles, a cat, a plunge pool and a gorgeous roof terrace overlooking the medina. It’s so crazy that you can be outside and it’s loud and busy, and as soon as you step into the riad’s courtyard, you’re suddenly in quiet heaven. The staff were also super lovely, always helpful and made us a delicious traditional dinner, served in a candlelit dining room. 

In Fez, we stayed at Chaq Chaq – a gorgeous newly opened riad with stunning views of the city and the most amazing staff – when I wasn’t feeling well, they went to the pharmacy and got me some medicine straight away.

Kristina standing by the wall at Riad Up, Marrakesh, Morocco

Clothing

When you pack, remember you are going to a religious country, and it’s best you respect the culture. Don’t wear short shorts, mini skirts or dresses. Not that it’s dangerous or anything, it’s just disrespectful. 

I did see a couple of girls in tiny shorts and crop tops, and they stood out like a sore thumb, which is never a good look. Pack midi and maxi dresses & skirts, wide trousers and sensible tops. You don’t have to be completely covered up, just don’t show too much skin. I brought a large thin scarf with me in case I wanted to cover up more but ended up mainly using it as a prop. 

Photography

People in Morocco do not like to have their picture taken very much. I found that often when they see a camera pointed at their direction, even if you’re not actually photographing them, they might shoo you away or turn around, so make sure you respect their privacy. If you want to take pictures or film inside shops, make sure you ask before you do.

Sometimes it’s worth even buying something small before you ask – I got a tiny soap dish in one of the shops we went to and the shop assistant was more than happy for us to have a mini-shoot with his lamps.

Marrakesh Oranges

Language

There are three languages spoken in Morocco – Berber, Arabic and French. While a lot of people will speak a bit of English in the bigger cities, conversing in French will make life easier. 

Even if your knowledge of French is limited, it’s still worth trying, as a lot of locals don’t understand enough English.

Safety  

Marrakesh is very safe during the day, and we weren’t worried about carrying both our cameras with us. Locals are looking to earn a bit of cash at all times, so some might try and talk to you, to show you the way or sell you something, but if you don’t respond, they give up and leave you alone. While we didn’t wander outside too much after dark, even when we did we felt safe.

In the medina, you’re not likely to spot young local women, so men often catcall female tourists, but I didn’t experience anything aggressive or threatening. 

Fes felt a little bit less safe for me at night, but in the day it was fine. Just don’t stay out too late after dark.

Fes, Morocco

Water

As much as I am fully aware that single-use plastic is the devil, I will advise you to buy bottled water when in Morocco. I read a lot on the topic before we went, and most articles recommended playing it safe and staying away from tap water.

I asked in our riad in Marrakesh if the tap water was drinkable. While they said it is, I really did not want to get an upset stomach and only drank bottled water. 

Motorbike parked by a Door in Marrakesh

Visiting Mosques in Morocco

While in places like Turkey, you can easily head into a mosque as long as you’re appropriately dressed and cover your hair, non-muslims are not allowed at mosques in Morocco. I was sad to learn this because some are really beautiful (from what I could see through the door). But at least you can admire their beauty from the outside!

Mosque in Marrakesh, view from rooftop terrace 

The desert 

If you’re able to go for a longer trip, I’d 100% recommend visiting the Sahara. It’s a long way from the north of the country, where Marrakesh, Fes and other popular destinations are, but it’s SO worth it, and you won’t regret it! I’d recommend booking the trip before you go, rather than trying to find a reliable travel agent while there. It just feels safer. We went with Sahara Tours 4×4 and had a lovely time.

Our driver and tour guide took us on a 4-day road trip all the way from Marrakesh via Ouarzazate, to Merzouga and then to Fes. Yes, being in a car for hours at a time wasn’t the greatest way to spend time, but we absolutely loved being in the desert for a day and a half and it was worth it.

Kristina wearing pink trousers and black leather jacked in the Sahara Desert, Morocco

Remember that a few months ago, the Moroccan government decided that all tourist camps should be on the edge of the dunes, instead of scattered around everywhere, so while you can’t stay in the middle of the Sahara, you can take buggy or camel trips and see all the glory of the desert from within.  

Sunrise at the Sahara Desert, Morocco

Morocco is really a stunning country, and so worth the visit! Have you been? What are your tips for visiting Morocco?

Kristina ❤

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