Like many other adventurous travellers, I saw Morocco’s absolutely gorgeous “Blue City” on Instagram and had heard about the bustling streets and markets of Marrakech. So I decided that I was ready to travel to the beautiful country of Morocco. I chose to book the Exotic Morocco tour through Travel Talk, and I was not disappointed! I’m going to give you the details about some of the major cities that I visited in Morocco along with some travel tips that I think you will find helpful as you embark on your Moroccan adventure!
During the Exotic Morocco tour, our tour group was small with only 9 of us, not including our tour guide and van driver. I did not choose the “small group” option while booking but we luckily ended up with a small group due to COVID. One perk was travelling in a smaller van versus a huge tour bus that might have struggled to fit into the tiny streets of the cities and on the small mountain roads that we crossed. Both tour options, either with a small or large group have their perks, so choose whatever works for you!
During the Exotic Morocco tour, we explored Marrakech twice (which was our starting and ending city), Essaouira, Casablanca, Rabat, Chefchaouen, Fez, and Merzouga in the Sahara Desert. While each place has its own unique qualities, I will give you some inside tips for, specifically, Marrakech, Chefchaouen, Fez, and Merzouga.
When people talk about the hustle and bustle of the spice markets (and markets that consist of pretty much any other product known to man!), they aren’t kidding! The “Red City,” as it is known, is certainly a shade of red that is unforgettable as well! A tip when walking in the markets and through crowded city streets, I would suggest wearing a small crossbody purse that goes around your body or hold a small (yes, SMALL) backpack under your arm while walking through the markets. You may think you need to carry a lot, but you don’t. You already stand out as a tourist, so minimize that by being as inconspicuous as possible while moving through the city so there is less of a chance for pick-pockets.
Chefchaouen – the “Blue City”
Chefchaouen was absolutely stunning, but pictures do not do it justice! The blue of the city is beautiful, and it is definitely a must-see. While you are in Chefchaouen, consider buying some of your small souvenirs and trinkets since cities like Marrakech have a higher tax to sell in the markets. While I was there, I also bought a rug since the cost was 2,000 to 3,000 dirham cheaper than it would have been in Marrakech. Again…the selling taxes are different, so take advantage of them!
Fez [pronounced “Fes”] and Merzouga (Sahara Desert)
Fez is said to be the cultural capital of Morocco with architecture dating back centuries and craftsmanship of all types. If you are planning to do some shopping for quality and authentic Moroccan goods, save your larger shopping for Fez. There, you will find pottery and mosaics, leather at one of the oldest tanneries in Morocco, and fabric, including scarves, tablecloths and traditional dress. Don’t worry if you are only traveling with a carry-on…most larger places in Fez can ship your purchases to you around the world.
My advice? When you visit a fabric shop in Fez, buy a scarf…you will need it in the desert! The wrapped head scarf definitely looks awesome and authentic while in the desert. However, it is also incredibly beneficial to keep the sun off your head and neck, the sweat (and there will be lots of it – it’s HOT!) out of your eyes, and the sand out of your nose and mouth. And who doesn’t want to look cool with the scarf on while riding a camel through the Sahara Desert?! When in Rome…or Merzouga!
Travel Bag Options
If you are anything like me, you have a ton of bags to use for travel, including suitcases, duffle bags, and backpacks galore. For this type of trip, I highly recommend travelling with a “backpacker” pack. Traveling from one city to another each day (or every two days) can be a bit tiring. The last thing you want to do is lug a large heavy suitcase from hotels to the van numerous times and all around the country.
I also happen to be a fan of flying with only carry-on luggage and a personal item. After having my luggage lost on a previous trip, I prefer not to check my luggage. I recommend getting a backpacking bag to use as a carry-on. I have one of these packs, and I absolutely love it! The bag comes with a detachable daypack and a top that opens easily like a duffel bag – a great perk to easily unpacking what you need for fast-paced traveling and hotel changes. With a large pack like that, make sure you get yourself some packing cubes of different sizes to help keep your clothes organized. Just remember, when you are travelling with only a carry-on, make sure your liquids follow TSA requirements. The last thing you want is for your Moroccan Argan Oil to be confiscated at the airport on your way home because the container is too big.
My largest piece of advice: DON’T overpack! When making your initial packing list, there are probably going to be a million things that you will think you will need. Widdle down your list and only pack the essentials! This means that you may only want to pack enough outfit sets for half the time you will be in Morocco. I know, you’re probably thinking, why? Don’t be afraid to wear some of your clothes twice (as long as they aren’t too rough), but you can also wash some of your essential pieces of clothing in a hotel and just let them dry overnight! Check out the section at the bottom that says “Random Travel Tips” for specific items that can help make this process easier. Believe me, you will be grateful about your choice to pack light when carrying your pack and when you want to stuff your bag full of the treasures you purchased in Morocco!
Clothing and Footwear
- Modesty – Since Morocco is a modest country, I preferred to dress more modestly even though I entered Morocco as a tourist. For me, modest means covering my shoulders and knees, especially when visiting mosques and other places of worship. Flowy linen pants and t-shirts that covered my shoulders were pretty much my go-to outfits. Whatever you wear, make sure the fabric is light and breathable(ish). It gets hot, and you will be thankful that you wore comfortable clothes. I also usually travel with a light scarf that can be used to cover my shoulders when entering a place of worship. Again, just try to be as modest and respectful as possible in the country that you travel to.
- Jackets – It was hot in Morocco (are we noticing a theme?), especially in mid-July, but I brought a fleece zip-up, a cardigan, a jacket, and a long-sleeve shirt “just in case it got cold.” Well, lesson learned: I didn’t need any of those clothes, and they just took up space in my bag. If you are traveling to Morocco in the summer months, bring a light cardigan just in case, but more layers will probably not be necessary.
- Footwear – For such a short trip, you really don’t need too many shoe options. I would highly recommend packing a pair of shoes that you have already broken in and you are comfortable wearing. This could be sneakers or walking sandals. Personally, I love walking sandals because my feet swell in the heat, and I am not a huge fan of shoes in general. One pair of good walking shoes will do! I also brought a pair of casual sandals to give my feet a break and for some less strenuous walks during the trip. Packable shower shoes, such as flip-flops, are also a great idea when using shared showers, such as in the desert camp.
Random Travel Tips
- Cash and Credit Cards – Morocco has plenty of reliable ATM’s in the cities, so it is very easy to use your debit card to take out cash once you arrive in the country. Bringing money to exchange can be difficult since there are only certain currency exchange shops that are trusted, and you will probably pay a hefty fee to exchange money at the airport. Just make sure you call your bank before you leave so they know you are traveling and planning to use your debit card in Morocco. I would also recommend bringing two credit cards (just in case one card gets lost or doesn’t work) for larger purchases and emergency situations since anything can happen!
- Wash clothes during the trip – Like I mentioned before, being able to wash your dirty clothes halfway through your trip will certainly cut down on your packing. Pack some travel-size laundry detergent packets and a little clothesline that can be clipped to different things in your hotel room (chairs, towel rack, etc.). If you are lucky and have a balcony attached to your room, you can leave your clothes outside, and they will dry fast!
- Other helpful things to pack – Since you will be moving from hotel to hotel quite quickly, you may want something that is familiar to sleep in, and a sleep sack is a must. A sleep sack folds into a small ball, and it can be used as a lining between you and hotel sheets for added comfort. A travel towel also folds up small and is nice to have for a shower in the desert or a quick dip in a pool. The microfiber material dries incredibly fast, and it’s nice to have instead of packing a full-size regular towel. A water bottle with a built-in filter can also come in handy in Morocco since it is not healthy to drink water from the tap. Such a bottle can purify tap water while doubling as the reusable water bottle that is great to take on any trip!
- Medications and First-Aid – Packing a small bag with some over-the-counter medications and basic first-aid supplies can really come in handy when the most unexpected things happen. Some must-haves in your medical kit are: BandAids, Neosporin, alcohol pads, Imodium, stool softeners, Benadryl, cold and flu packets that can be mixed with water, Paracetamol, bug spray wipes (so you don’t have to lug around a can), hand sanitizer and sunscreen.
So that’s the know before you go! I hope you found this information both helpful and exciting as you plan your trip to Morocco. Have an amazing experience as you explore new places, eat amazing food, and meet new traveller friends that will last a lifetime! Shukran!
If you fancy experiencing Morocco for yourself, then be sure to check out our Morocco tours.