Morocco Travel Guide
» Introduction to Morocco
» Morocco Time Zone
» Weather and Seasons
» Money, Currency and Cards in Morocco
» Health Advice for Morocco
» Electricity and Plugs in Morocco
» Safety, Security and Travel Advice
» Morocco National Events
» National Holidays in Morocco
» Facts and Figures (World Factbook)
» Flights to Morocco
» Morocco Visas
» Places to See
» Books and Maps
Introduction to Morocco
Wedged between the Mediterranean and Atlantic, Europe and Africa, Morocco is one of the most stimulating and awe-inspiring travel destinations on earth - a perfect destination for cultural, activity and adventure holidays, trips and tours in North Africa.
With a wonderful climate, a rich heritage, a wealth of antiquities, over 1800 km of dramatic coastline, the high peaks, villages and picturesque valleys of the Atlas Mountains and a vast Sahara wilderness of desert dunes, oases and camels – there is an adventure of some kind for everyone in this fabled land. With its rich traditions, time quickly takes on another dimension. Morocco is a place for escape, for experience, for adventure and for reconnection with a lifestyle fast disappearing in the developed world.
For many travellers Marrakech is the main gateway. A favoured city of the King, this fascinating city is getting the attention it has always deserved. With a backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas, bustling souks, a wealth of ancient attractions, lush gardens and the fabled medieval square of Djemaa el Fna with its acrobats, snake-charmers and musicians, it is no wonder that many travellers return time and time again.
Standard Time is GMT (UTC) +0. Morocco uses daylight saving time.
The current date and time in Morocco is:
Weather and Seasons
Morocco's climate is certainly diverse - from Mediterranean, to High Mountain and Plateau, to Steppe, and to Hot Desert. Overall the climate could be classified as moderate and subtropical, cooled by breezes off the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
Typically the climate gets hotter and drier the further south you go and travellers to the southern desert areas should prepare for cold nights, particularly in December and January. On the coast, the winter months, from November to March, tend to be rainy while mountain temperatures are cool. In the interior the temperatures are more extreme, winters can be fairly cold and the summers very hot.
Marrakech has a wonderful average winter temperature of 21ºC (70ºF) and summer temperatures can reach 100°F (38°C). If you don't mind the heat of high summer then Marrakech makes a great all-year round destination. Rain falls rarely and overcast skies are infrequent, which means numerous blue sky days are experienced through the year. Summer evenings are exotically warm, winter evenings can be chilly - a light coat or fleece should suffice.
In the Atlas Mountains temperatures can drop below zero and mountain peaks are snow capped throughout most of the year. Oukaimeden in the High Atlas is a summer walking base and winter ski resort. The winter in the north of the country is wet and rainy, while in the south, at the edge of the Moroccan Sahara, it is dry and bitterly cold. Sunshine hours build up throughout the year from around 5 hours a day in January to 11 hours a day in July, falling back to 5 hours a day in December (Rabat averages).
Travel during winter for views of snow-capped High Atlas peaks, log fires, blue-sky days and chilly nights or during Spring-time for warmer days and blossom. For heat-seekers in search of sun and balmy evenings, June to September will appeal.
Daily weather conditions, detailed 5-day forecasts and historical temperature and rainfall averages for many of Morocco's towns can be viewed at Weather Underground.
Money, Currency and Cards in Morocco
The local currency is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD). There are 200, 100, 50 and 20 dirham notes and 10, 5, 2, 1 dirham and 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c coins. Major international currencies such as Euro, US Dollars and UK Sterling are widely interchangeable at banks. There are many ATM machines located in major towns and cities providing a fast and generally reliable means of obtaining local currency.
Money Exchange:Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks and bureau de change desks in major towns and cities. The process can be slow and tedious. Banks normally close mid-afternoon.
ATM's:ATM machines are located in all major towns and this is the easiest way to obtain local currency. Although generally reliable, like anywhere in the world, they can be very temperamental - especially on weekends and national holidays. Where possible, use machines that are located inside a bank, supermarket or building. For more information check the Visa ATM locator, the MasterCard ATM locator or the American Express ATM locator for the addresses of ATMs around the world.
Credit Cards:Credit cards are accepted in most large stores, larger restaurants and hotels in urban areas. Remember to keep all receipts and before signing check that the amount is correct. Credit cards and debit cards should always be used with caution due to the potential for fraud and other criminal activity.
Travellers Cheques:Travellers’ cheques are one of the safest ways to carry money in Morocco. Be aware though that not all banks will cash these and it can be time consuming finding one that will. Travellers’ cheques are accepted in some large stores, restaurants and hotels in urban areas – however it is always best to check with the individual establishment beforehand.
Other Information:Moroccan dirham cannot be exchanged outside the country, although some stores in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla may accept it. Any unused dirhams can be reconverted to hard currency at the airport exchange counter upon departure (provided the exchange desks are open and you have kept the receipts for the dirhams you purchased). It is therefore recommended to exchange only as much money as is required.
Tipping: In Morocco tipping is part of everyday life. A gesture in recognition of efficient and polite service is always appreciated by local staff, hotel porters, drivers and waiters. 10% of the bill is best practice for good service. 15-20 dirhams per person per day for a tour guide or leader will be welcomed.
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Health Advice for Morocco
Vaccinations:Current advice indicates that there are no mandatory required vaccines for Morocco. Recommended vaccinations include Tetanus, and Hepatitis A. Vaccinations to be considered (depending on where you intend to visit in Morocco, where you plan to stay, and what you intend to do) include Typhoid, Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Tuberculosis (TB). A vaccination certificate is not required.
We strongly advise all travellers to consult their local Travel Health Clinic, GP and highly respected online sources detailed below, for further information and advice on health requirements for Morocco.
Fit for Travel is a public access website provided by the NHS (Scotland). It gives travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK. The website is compiled and updated by a team of experts from the Travel Medicine Division at Health Protection Scotland (HPS). They produce detailed health advice for travellers to Morocco.
MASTA offer a comprehensive Morocco Health Brief. These are very detailed but do incur a small charge. Their Morocco Health Brief provides travel and medical advice specifically tailored to your journey, expected living conditions abroad and dates of travel.
World Health Organisation (WHO) publish a very detailed guide 'International Travel and Health'. This publication offers guidance on the full range of health risks likely to be encountered at specific destinations and associated with different types of travel – from business, humanitarian and leisure travel to backpacking and adventure tours.
Malaria Hotspots is a good source of information for facts about Malaria, health and tips to avoid bites.
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Electricity and Plugs in Morocco
Voltage in Morocco is 230 V. Frequency is 50 Hz.
Plug & Sockets:European round two pin attachment plugs are used in Morocco (possibly with receptacle and male grounding pins).
Safety, Security and Travel Advice
Safety, Security and Travel Advice
For up-to-date information on safety, security and general travel advice for Morocco we recommend that you consult the government sources detailed below. Generally, travelling on an organised, pre-arranged tour or holiday in a country such as Morocco, with a reputable Tour Operator such as ourselves, does offer a greater degree of security and peace of mind than independent travel and 'backpacking'. In addition to our many years of experience of operating holidays to Morocco, we only work with long-established and well-connected local operators, who have exceptional local knowledge and are fully aware of 'high risk' areas (which we do not schedule on our tours and holidays).
Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) - Morocco Travel Advice
Stay Safe Overseas - Know Before You Go
The U.S. Department of State - Morocco Country Advice
Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC) - Morocco Travel Report
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Morocco National Events
Almond Tree Blossom Festival
7 February 2011
|Tafraoute - officially the almond capital of Morocco, the area is famous for the spectacle of the almond trees in blossom, celebrated at this festival. |
|Nomads Festival||18-21 March 2011||M'Hamid - features dance, music, exhibitions, conferences and handicraft displays, drawing a number of international artists. Performances are held at two sites, in the village itself and in a specially established nomadic camp in the desert. |
|The Sand Marathon||1-11 April 2011||The gruelling 150-mile (240km) Sand Marathon (Marathon des Sables) takes place near Ouarzazate in Morocco. Approximately 700 dedicated competitors from around the world take on the course over 11 long days. |
|Ben Aissa Moussem||Apr-May 2011||The largest pilgrimage in Morocco, Ben Aissa Moussen fills the town of Meknes with spectacular fantasias, illusionists, ecstatic dances and other mysterious rituals. It celebrates Morocco's most famous saints, said to have gained magical powers from the animal world. Please note that Ben Aissa Moussen, like most religious festivals in Morocco, takes place according to the moon phases, therefore it's impossible to predict the exact dates. |
|Alizés Musical Spring Festival||Apr-May 2011||Classical music and lyrical art come together at the Alizés Musical Spring Festival. The four-day celebration is held at venues around Essaouira and features visiting artists from Korea, Germany, Spain, America and Egypt. |
|Rose Festival||May 2011||In Morocco's valley of the roses, El Kelaa des M'Gouna's huge distilling plant produces the country's famous scented rose water. Every May farmers celebrate the fragrant new crop with music, dancing and floats at the annual Rose Festival. |
|Festival Mawazine||20-28 May 2011||Huge, successful and free, Festival Mawazine is a celebration of world music, its diversity and rhythms. Every year, some 1500 concerts, street performances and art exhibitions attract millions of spectators to venues across Rabat. |
|Fez Sacred Music
|June 2011||Musicians from around the world flock to Morocco's spiritual capital during the annual Fez Sacred Music Festival. Artists perform devotional music ranging from local Sufi chants to Spanish Gypsy songs at venues including the Musée Batha and Bab Al Makina. |
|Cherry Festival||June 2011||Sefrou's Cherry Festival celebrates the harvest with a rich cultural programme. Music and dance, a colourful souk (market), sporting competitions, a torchlit procession, a fairground and the election of Miss Cherry are some of the activities. The festival is held in an ancient walled town, one of the oldest in the area, pre-dating even Fez's 8th-century structures. Sefrou lies on the rising slopes of the Middle Atlas, the ideal ground for the thousands of cherry trees which lend the town its fruity renown. |
|Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival||June 2011||The Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival celebrates the music of the Gnaouas, the product of a mystic tradition with branches as widespread as Haitian Voodoo and Brazilian Candomblé. Performers include the best local and international musicians of the genre. A picturesque port painted in blue and white, Essaouira is a travellers' favourite and the perfect destination for a festival devoted to the feats of the Gnaouas, best known for their tasselled hats, which spin wildly as the musicians rock. |
|Desert Music Festival||July 2011||Errachidia, in the south-western part of Morocco, becomes a tourist magnet during the annual Desert Music Festival. As well as promoting peace and dialogue between cultures, the festival features music from the world, attracting many notable performers. |
|Marrakech Popular Arts Festival||July 2011||During the Marrakech Popular Arts Festival, outdoor venues throughout the city host traditional folk performances from all over Morocco. El Badi Palace and its courtyards in particular are packed with enthusiastic performers and spectators. From the Berber musicians and dancers of the High Atlas to the Andalus-inspired musicians of the North, and from the trance-inducing music of the Southern Gnaouas to the art of belly dancing, every element of Moroccan culture combines to create a vibrant celebration.|
|Imilchil Marriage Festival||Sep-Oct 2011||Morocco's very own version of the Romeo and Juliet story is the inspiration for this tribal marriage festival in Imilchil. Up to 40 couples tie the knot while Berber tribes dance and give impromptu musical performances. The legend goes that a man and a woman who were forbidden to marry cried themselves to death, creating the neighbouring lakes of Issly (his) and Tisslit (hers) near Imilchil. So stricken were the families that they established a day - on the anniversary of the lovers' death - on which members of different tribes could marry each other. The Imilchil Marriage Festival was born. Please note: the dates of this festival depend on the harvest. |
|Jazz in Fez||Oct 2011||Jazz in Fez is a festival held in the city's riads (ancient houses) and in the private palaces of the medina. It provides a great opportunity to see marvellous Moroccan architecture and hear fine music.|
01 Jan 11 - New Year's Day; 11 Jan 11 – Manifesto Day; 15 Feb 11 – Prophet’s Birthday; 01 May 11 – Labour Day; 30 Jul 11 – Enthronement; 14 Aug 11 – Oued Eddahab Day; 20 Aug 11 – Revolution Day; 21 Aug 11 – King Mohammed’s Birthday; 30 Aug 11 - Eid el-Fitr - End of Ramadan (Muslim); 06 Nov 11 – Eid al-Adha; 18 Nov 11 – Independence Day; 26 Nov 11 – Islamic New Year.