Morocco (المغرب al-Maghreb) is a North African country that has a coastline on both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has borders with Mauritania to the south, Algeria to the east and the Spanish North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla on the Mediterranean coast in the north. It is just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Gibraltar. Morocco's long struggle for independence from France ended in 1956. The internationalized... Read more...
Who’s been here?
Latest updates from our Morocco travelers
Cities and Destinations in Morocco
Morocco (المغرب al-Maghreb) is a North African country that has a coastline on both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has borders with Mauritania to the south, Algeria to the east and the Spanish North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla on the Mediterranean coast in the north. It is just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Gibraltar.
Morocco's long struggle for independence from France ended in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier was turned over to the new country that same year. Morocco virtually annexed Western Sahara during the late 1970s, and even though the status of the territory remains unresolved, the government is trying to conceal this, e.g. on all maps in Morocco, Western Sahara is drawn as an integrated part of the country.
Gradual political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997, although the king still possesses the actual political power. The press is relatively free, although clampdowns have occurred following criticism of the authorities or articles concerning the Western Sahara situation.
High Atlas Western Sahara
There are flights from New York, Montreal, and various Europe an cities to Casablanca as well as seasonal charter flights to Agadir.
Easyjet http://www.easyjet.com — now fly at budget prices from London to Marrakech.
British Airways http://www.ba.com — also offer promotional fares.
Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com — has signed an agreement with the Moroccan government and flies to Morocco from Barcelona, Frankfurt-Hahn and London. Flying to Fez 3 times per week.
Royal Air Maroc http://www.RoyalAirMaroc.com — the state airline, which drastically needs a price cut.
Atlas Blue http://www.atlas-blue.com — a so-called budget airline owned by Royal Air Maroc, but is still fairly expensive.
Jet 4 You http://www.jet4you.com — a new low-cost carrier with extremely cheap tickets from France and Belgium.
Aigle Azur http://www.aigle-azur.fr/ — a small North-African carrier with reasonable rates.
Thomson fly http://www.thomsonfly.com — Fly from Manchester to Marrakech and are very reasonably priced.
Many visitors also fly to Gibraltar or Malaga (which are often considerably cheaper to get to) and take a ferry from Algeciras, Tarifa or Gibraltar to Tangier. This is not recommended in summer as literally millions of Moroccans living in Europe use this passage during the summer holidays.
The only open border posts on land are the ones at the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. The frontier with Algeria has been closed for ten years. For the closest maritime connection you head for Algeciras or Tarifa in southern Spain. At Algeciras there are ferry services to Ceuta and Tangier that carry cars. Tarifa has a similar service to Tangier and this is the shortest and fastest route, just 35 minutes.
It's possible also to enter Mauritania by car from Dakhla. Most countries citizens need a visa to get in Mauritania which is available for 20 Euros at the border for EU passport holders.
There are several ferry connections to Morocco, mainly from Spain. Algeciras is the main port and serves Ceuta and Tangier. A ferry between Algeciras and Ceuta takes 40 minutes, and less than 2 hours to get to Tangier. You can also get to Tangier from the small port of Tarifa, on the southernmost tip of mainland Spain. This will need 35 minutes. Some companies run buses between Tarifa and Algeciras for free (25 minutes), so you will have no problems getting to the train station. Other Spanish ports that have connections to Morocco are Malaga and Almeria who connect to Melilla and its Moroccan neighbor town of Nador.
Ferries from France also go to Tangier, from the port of Sète near Montpellier and Port Vendres near Perpignan. But these ferries are rather expensive. The Italian towns of Genoa and Naples also have direct connections to Tangier. The British crown colony of Gibraltar connects to Tangier through a high-speed boat service.
From Tarifa to Tangier the ferry costs about 25 Euros each way. From Algeciras it costs £28 single.
Trains are usually most preferred recommended transport because of speed and comfort; they are far less cramped and stressful alternative to local buses. Train network links Marrakech and Tangier via Casablanca and Rabat, a branch line near Meknes goes to Oujda.
Many Moroccans also take luxury buses between towns usually run by CTM, Supratours and smaller companies. These offer comfort and a reliability (the train service is not good in this), are inexpensive and provide much better coverage. When using CTM services, keep in mind they charge a small fee per bag (~7dh).
A shared taxi service (grande taxi) also operates between towns; fares are fixed and shared equally between passengers. Grande taxis are often the cheapest way of traveling between towns and cities in Morocco.
Domestic flying is not a popular mean of transportation, however, Royal Air Maroc, the national flag carrier, has an excellent but expensive network to most cities.
People are incredibly sociable and friendly on the trains in Morocco and you will find yourself perpetually talking to strangers about your journey. Each new person will advise you on some new place you should go or invite you to their home for couscous. Stations in smaller cities are often poorly marked, and your fellow passengers will be more than happy to let you know where you are and when you should get off.
Train network is operated by ONCF http://www.oncf.ma/.
The major cities, Marrakech, Meknes, Fez, Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, etc are all linked by reliable (if not very fast) rail links. There are usually several trains every day to or from every major town. There is also a night train between Marrakech and Tangier.
The trains are very cheap (compared to Europe). For example, a single from Tangier to Marrakech costs about 200 dh (£15) second class, or 300dh (£20) first class.
Nearly every city has a central bus-station where you can buy tickets to travel from region to region. You can either choose the buses for tourists with air-condition and TV. Or you can take the local buses which cost only 25%-50% and are much more fun. These ones aren't really comfortable, but you can get in contact to the local people and learn a lot about the country. The buses often take longer routes than the big ones, so you can see villages you would never get to as a normal tourist. For heat-sensitive people this is not advisable though, as locals may tell you that 35 degrees is cool and no reason for opening a window. The route from Rissani, Erfoud, and Er Rachidia to Meknes and Fez, while long, runs through the Middle and High Atlas and is particularly scenic.
Luxury buses operated by CTM http://www.ctm.co.ma are also inexpensive and offer a better travelling experience than local buses.
Supratours http://www.supratours.ma/, major rival of CTM, complements train network to Essaouira and all major Atlantic-coast towns south to Marrakech.
Travel by taxi is common in Morocco. There are two sorts:petite taxi used only within the area of the townthe grande taxi can be used for trips between towns, and for larger groups
Prices for petite taxi are reasonable and it's the law that taxis in town should have a meter-although are not always on. Insist that the driver starts the meter. If not, ask the fare before getting in (but it will be more expensive).
Grande taxi is a shared, generally long-distance taxi, with a fixed rate for specific route; the driver stopping and picking up passengers like a bus. Grande taxis usually can be found near main bus stops. Negotiate on price if you want a journey to yourself and this will be based on distance traveled and whether you are returning--but price per taxi should not depend on the number of passengers in your group. When sharing grand taxi with others, drivers may cheat tourist-looking passengers charging higher--look how much locals around you pay; don't worry to ask other passengers about the normal price, before boarding or even when you're in.
Grande Taxis are usually a ~10-years-old Mercedes regular sedans that in Europe are used for up to 4 passengers plus driver. For grand taxi, it is normal to share a car between up to 6 passengers. Front seat is normally given to two women (as local women are not allowed to be in contact with a man, they rarely take rear seats). Travellers often pay for 2 seats that remain unoccupied to travel with more space inside, and hence comfort.
Grande Taxis can also be hired for approximately the price of two petite taxis for shorter trips. This is useful if your party is of four or more. Beware, some taxi drivers will refuse to drive off until the taxi is full, potentially causing you delays. Alternatively, for a relatively reasonable sum (depending on the driver), you can hire a Grande Taxi in Marrakech for the entire day, allowing you to explore the Ourika valley.
Taxi owners vie with each other to add extras such as sunshades. A clean vehicle and smart driver is usually a good sign of a well maintained vehicle.
The main road network is in good condition. Roads have good surface, although very narrow, in most cases only one lane in each direction.
The main cities are connected by toll expressways still being extended.The expressway between Casablanca and Rabat (A3) was finished in 1987.It was extended from Rabat to Kénitra in 1995 and today reaches the northern port of Tangier (A1).Another expressway (A2) goes eastwards from Rabat to Fez some 200 km down the road. It comprises part of the planned transmaghrébine expressway that will continue all the way to Tripoli.South from Casablanca runs the A7. It is planned to reach Agadir in December of 2009 but currently only goes as far as Marrakech 210 km south of Casablanca.Around Casablanca and down the coast is the A5 expressway which connects Mohammedia and El Jadida.Construction started in 2006 for the A2 between Fez and Oujda on the Algerian border which will be completed by 2010.
Fuel is not so common in the countryside so plan ahead and get a good map. Roads are varied and mixed with many cyclists, pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles.
Roadsigns are in Arabic and French and the traffic law is as in much of Europe but you give way to the right. Be very careful as many drivers respect signs only if a policeman is nearby. This means that traffic on a roundabout gives way to that entering it. There are numerous Police checks on the main roads where you must slow down to allow them to see you. The speed limit is enforced especially the 40kph in towns and on dangerous intersections where fines are imposed on the spot. General rule is that vehicles larger than yours should be given a priority: trucks, buses and even grand taxis.
Driving safely in Morocco takes practice and patience but can take you to some really beautiful places.
The centre of Marrakech can be a scary place to drive. You will be constantly beeped at, regardless of how well you drive. Marrakchis like to beep their horns at anyone they feel to be holding them up. This may mean even if you're just in front of them at a red light. Also, pay very close attention to your wingmirrors and your blind spots. The two lane roads often become free-for-alls, up to the point at which you may see four cars wing to wing at a red light. One of the major hazards on the roads in Marrakech are the mobilettes. These pushbikes with an engine will zig-zag around you and generally make themselves a nuisance, however, on longer stretches of road, they tend to keep to the right. Often, a few beeps of the horn will cause a mobilette rider to pay a little more attention to his surroundings. However, be warned that some drivers pay absolutely no attention to your horn, as they have become so used to the sound. Drive defensively, and keep your speed down, so any accident causes minimum damage. Do not be intimidated by other drivers. Make sure that you drive predictably, and don't do anything rash.
Renting a car
Rental firms abound in the large cities. Most worldwide rental networks have their offices in Morocco. Also there are several local rental companies (5-7 have rep offices in Casablanca airport). They offer lower prices, but be sure to check the vehicles condition, spare tire, jack etc. Local companies may be less proficient in English--but if you are ready for higher risk, when you rent in an airport try to negotiate with them first; if failed you always have worldwide rivals to go next.
Multinational companies seem to easily share cars with each other (although prices and service level may vary), so if your company of choice doesn't have what you need they may ask from another company.
Check where you can drive-some rental companies won't allow travel on unmade roads.
When to go
Quick Facts about Morocco
32,725,847 (July 2006 est.)
Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French often the language of business and government
Country Dialing Code
Moroccan dirham (MAD)