Morocco offers travelers a range of year-round accommodations, including trendy medina houses, world-class luxury hotels, and beach resorts, desert and mountain kasbahs, and grand sultan palaces. The traditional dwellings within the medina are called riads or dars. The Arabic word riad translates to “garden,” while dar simply means “house,” and this is the main distinction between the two dwellings. The courtyard in a riad has both a fountain and a garden. Morocco’s other major style of accommodations is the guesthouse, or maison d’hôte. Generally, these are in the expensive and very expensive price range, offering services similar to what you would expect from a four-star hotel.
Budget: You can find a variety of hostels with dorm rooms, private rooms, free breakfast, hot showers, and central locations starting at around $8-12/ night.
Mid-Range: Mid-Range hotels typically come with a hotel restaurant and bar, rooms with flat-screen TV’s and free WiFi, a swimming pool, and room service starting around $40/ night.
Luxury: For 5-star hotels with spa services, fine dining, swimming pools, private suites, a fitness center, and an airport shuttle, you’ll pay about $100/ night.
While meal prices in Morocco can vary, it’s extremely easy to eat well and cheaply in Morocco. When dining out, an average meal in Morocco should cost around 46 MAD ($5 USD) per person. Street food is even less expensive. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. We recommend a budget of approximately 120 MAD ($15 USD) per day for food.
Airbnb is also a great choice for accommodation in Morocco. You choose from a private room in someone’s house, an entire apartment, a condominium, or a riad. If you have not used Airbnb, it’s a great alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments. If you’re new to Airbnb, get up to $65 off your first stay!
Travelers have many options for traveling around Morocco’s varied mountain and desert landscapes, whether it be by air, train, bus, taxi, or rental car.
Most international visitors fly into Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport or Menara Airport in Marrakesh. The main domestic airline carrier in Morocco is Royal Air Maroc. It is part of the Oneworld Alliance (same as American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay, Quantas, and 15 others), so when you travel on one of the smaller suppliers, you can still earn points on your Oneworld account as long as you’re using the same number consistently. Royal Air Maroc services secondary cities such as Zagora, Errachidia, and Essaouira. Keep in mind that some of these planes are quite small, so be sure to check the baggage restrictions; they’ll likely be different than those on your international flight.
Morocco’s national network of trains, operated by ONCF (Office of National De Chemins de Fer), serves major cities including Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca, Tangier, Rabat, and Meknes. Recently added high-speed service has reduced the travel time between Casablanca and Fez to three hours and 20 minutes, down from four and a half hours. The ONCF runs Supratours buses that provide onward links to cities that aren’t served by trains.
Rail travel in Morocco is quite cheap when compared to that in Europe and North America. The trains are comfortable and usually on time, but service disruptions and delays do happen, so allow a little wiggle room in your schedule. Most intercity routes are served by air-conditioned Train Rapide Climatise (TRC) trains, though you might occasionally find yourself on a less comfortable Train Navette Rapide (TNR) route if you’re traveling locally or late at night. TRC trains have two classes of service; first-class has fewer seats per compartment than second class, and your ticket includes a reserved seat. In second class, you choose any seat that’s available.
The cheapest and most popular way to travel around the country is by bus. A complex network of private bus companies crisscrosses the country, with many competing lines covering the most popular routes. The “big four” major national operators are:
- Compagnie de Transports Marocains (CTM)
- SATAS (regional)
- Trans Ghazala (regional)
Some companies, CTM included, operate overnight services on long-distance routes, such as between Fes and Marrakech; Casablanca and Tangier; and Casablanca and Er Rachidia. In the Summer, these services are a popular, and cooler, alternative to traveling during the day.
Grand taxis are shared taxis that carry up to six passengers — two in the front beside the driver and four in the back. You’ll find aging Mercedes sedans at taxi stands and near bus and train stations. Grand taxis serve longer routes between towns, and they don’t leave until they’re full. There are no meters, so be prepared to negotiate if necessary. If you have a lot of luggage, you may be surcharged.
Petit taxis are a smaller option for in-town trips, as they are not licensed to leave the city limits. They can carry up to three passengers and are usually metered. These taxis are quite inexpensive, but rates go up by 50% after 8 pm. You can flag them down from the street or find them near bus or train stations.
Driving around in a rental car isn’t typically recommended in Morocco. Drivers are aggressive and accident rates are high and a lack of road safety awareness by pedestrians, cyclists, and moped riders can make for a stressful experience. However, if you’re looking to get off the beaten path, renting a car can be a useful option.
Numerous major international car rental agencies operate in Morocco, including Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Sixt. These are the best options if you prefer to book in advance, though you may find lower rates from local agencies once you arrive. An International Driving Permit is recommended; you can get one through AAA in the U.S. Most agencies have a minimum rental age of 21.
Moroccans drive on the right side of the road, and there are highways (sometimes with tolls) between many major cities. Police speed traps and checkpoints are common, so try to stick to the speed limit. We recommend traveling only during daylight hours, as it’s legal here to drive after dark without headlights if you’re going less than 20 kph (about 12 mph).
Morocco’s climate is very diverse, meaning that it varies with the season and region. The best time to visit Morocco is in the Spring or Fall for cheaper hotel rates and fewer crowds. The average temperature during this time is around 70°F in Casablanca and Marrakesh. In the Sahara Desert, temperatures average around 80°F in the day and in the 50’s/60’s at night. In the Atlas Mountains, temperatures can be much cooler and rainfall is unpredictable, so come prepared. The fall season in particular is a great time for hiking. During the summer months of June-August, temperatures can get very hot, especially the closer you are to the Sahara.