Morocco is located on the far western edge of Europe and for hundreds of years has been a bridge between the Muslim and Christian worlds of North Africa and Europe. More recently, Morocco gained fame as the last stop for refugees escaping the ravages of WWII. In the last 100 years, Morocco has become the favorite haven for authors and adventurers seeking a world of twisting yellow alleys, mint tea with sugar, shisha pipes and the calls to prayer that echo throughout every Muslim city five times a day. With a diverse geography that includes mountains, deserts, and Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, Morocco is also home to ancient cities as well as a modernized culture that lives side by side — within even — the ancient rhythms of the Arab world.
Passports & Visas
Passports are required to enter and leave Morocco. Visas are not required for US citizens for visits of less than 90 days. For longer visits, contact the nearest Moroccan embassy.
Obtaining a US passport
The US Government Website is where to start.
Embassy of Morocco
1601 21st Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
telephone (202) 462-7979 to 82
Moroccan Consulate General
New York at 10 E. 40th Street
New York, NY 10016
telephone (212) 758-2625
Provides consular assistance to U.S. citizens
U.S. Embassy Rabat
2 Avenue de Mohamed El Fassi
After-hours telephone: (212)(537)-76-96-39
Morocco Tourist Information
Culture and History of Morocco
Morocco is a rich and inviting culture as diverse and delicious as its cuisine. A mixture of mountain Berber, desert Arab, wandering Jew and adventuress Europeans has contributed to a society skilled with language, tolerant of belief, musically wild and artistically productive. Morocco has been inhabited for thousands of years and if Jared Diamond is to be believed, may have been one of the first settled areas in the world. Arabs arrived in the late 7th century, bringing their language, customs and religion. Over time, Islamic Morocco came to rule vast parts of northwest Africa and Spain. After the Reconquista, Berber dynasties ruled a flourishing kingdom until the Europeans became powerful enough to stick their noses into everyone’s business. France and Spain made Morocco their “protectorate” during the World Wars and afterwards Moroccans rebelled, gaining their independence in 1956. Since then the society has blossomed, leading authors such as Burroughs and Bowles to write of the magical mystery of this half-Arab-Berber half-Afro-European country.
Currency in Morocco
The monetary unit is the Dirham (Dh) US$1 = Dh8.15
Driving in Morocco
Driving in Morocco can be hazardous to your health. The roads in the cities are not always well maintained and they tend to be worse in the countryside. Drivers in Morocco do not always abide by the rules … in fact they rarely do, and instead drive wherever they can find an opening. For more information, consult the State Department’s information page
Electricity in Morocco
220 V, 50 Hz
Emergency Numbers in Morocco
Fire service: 15
Medical emergency: 15
Etiquette in Morocco
The most important thing to remember is that Morocco is a Muslim country and, therefore, Westerners need to be respectful and on their toes to avoid being offensive to the local population. Public displays of affection, drunken foolishness and other rowdy behavior is not appropriate.
Public Hours in Morocco
Hours are generally 8:30am to 5:00pm sometimes earlier for public institutions and often much later for private businesses. The key is to remember that business hours are greatly affected by the holidays. Nothing happens during Ramadan. Before and after Eid al Fitr, many places will be closed or operate at random times.
Safety in Morocco
Petty theft, robbery, harassment of women — all these things can and do happen in Morocco. It is best to take all precautions when traveling here alone: keep your cash safe and out of sight and don’t carry too much of it. If you are a woman, be aware that you may be harassed at some point — it might be best to travel with friends. I have a couple female friends in Morocco and they have never had any real issues, but one is married and the other had a Moroccan boyfriend for some time. If you are the victim of a crime, be sure to contact the Consulate and the police. Some Moroccans on the street may believe you are rich if you are a Westerner and traveling, so beware of schemes to rid you of your hard earned money.
Morocco is in the same time zone as the U.K. (UTC / GMT). Moroccan Summer Time begins in May and continues until August; during this period Morocco will be one hour ahead of GMT (and so will be the same as BST). Please note that Summer time dates can vary each year, for instance to avoid Ramadan.
Tipping in Morocco
Tipping is expected and encouraged in Morocco. Muslim culture gives “heaven points” to those who give alms of their own free will and this has given rise (along with Morocco’s informal Mediterranean culture) to a society that gives and receives tips.
The following is a general guide to tipping:
- waiter in café – 1 to 2 dirhams for each patron
- waiter in restaurant – 10% or 5 to 10 dirhams each patron
- curator or guardian – 5 dirhams
- hotel porter – 5 dirhams
- petrol pump attendant – 1 to 2 dirhams
Weather in Morocco
Morocco has mild, temperate, Mediterranean weather; cold crisp mountain weather; dry searing desert weather; and a few other types of weather. Here are two good resources, Morocco.com http://www.morocco.com/discover/weather/ and World Travel Guide http://www.worldtravelguide.net/country/180/climate/Africa/Morocco.html
Getting Around Morocco
New York and most European cities have direct flights to Casablanca (Morocco’s largest city with a population exceeding 8 million), but your best bet is to fly with one of the dozens of small carriers out of Europe such as Ryanair – www.ryanair.com; Jet4You – www.jet4you.com; Easy Jet – www.easyjet.com; or Aigle Azur – www.aigle-azur.fr to either Casablanca or one of the other major cities, such as Marrakesh or Fez. For complete airport info in Morocco, go to the Office National des Aéroports (www.onda.org.ma in French & Arabic).
The Compagnie de Transports Marocains operates buses from Morocco’s main cities to Continental Europe. Buses to Spain (car ferry) leave Casablanca daily except Sunday. Book at least a week in advance. Other companies with service between Europe and Morocco are Eurolines – www.eurolines.co.uk and Busabout – www.busabout.com.
All the major car rental companies have offices in Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakesh. For booking information, click here http://www.morocco.com/car-rental/; or here http://www.moroccocar.com/
No permit is required to carry medication in your luggage. However, you should pack your medication in its original containers and/or have your doctor’s prescription with you. Customs officials will have to be satisfied that you are not importing more than would be necessary for your personal use, taking into account the drug type and length of stay (for no more than three months). Hospitals and out-patient clinics typically work 24 hours a day. Medical attention, access to certain drugs and responsiveness will not be the same as it is in your home country (in the West). A few doctors should be able to speak English, but most will speak French. If you are traveling outside of the big cities, make sure your phone works, you have a first aid kit and you know what to do in an emergency.
Lodging in Morocco
Morocco offers every type of lodging from couchsurfing, to hostels and agritourism , to 5-Star resorts.
Main Sights of Morocco
Casablanca – Just the name says it all — Morocco’s largest and most famous city, Casablanca by the sea, is the starting point for many visitors and is a great place to begin a journey through the country.
Marrakech – is the third largest Moroccan city after Casablanca and Rabat.
Fez (Fes)– once the rich capital of Morocco, Fez is one of the oldest and largest medieval cities in the world and, therefore, a top tourist destination.
Ceuta: an island paradise frequented by Spanish dreamers.
Chefchaouen – A mountain town just inland from Tangier, Chefchaouen, is full of white-washed winding alleys, blue doors, and olive trees. Chefchaouen is as clean as a postcard and a welcome escape from Tangier. It evokes the feeling of a Greek island.
Volubilis – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Volubilis is well preserved archaeological site featuring the ancient ruins of Rome.
Public Holidays in Morocco
New Year’s Day – January 1
Islamic New Year
This religious holiday is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Islamic calendar, which is lunar and therefore takes place on a different date each year.
Eid El-Adha – February 12 & 13*
This festival takes place on the tenth day of the Islamic calendar month of Dhu Hijja, the twelfth and final month of the year.
Labor Day – May 1
Eid El-Mawlid – May 14*
Allegiance Day – August 14
King and People’s Revolution Day – August 20
Birthday of King Mohammed VI – August 21
Anniversary of the Green March – November 6
Independence Day – November 18
Eid El Fitr – November 25 & 26*
This festival marks the end of Ramadan.
* These festivals may be moved to coincide with the sighting of the moon
To call Morocco from outside the country, the country code is +212. City codes are: Marrakesh – 44, Rabat – 37, Casablanca – 22, and Tangiers – 39.
Useful Country Codes:
USA and Canada 1
Returning to the US
Customs,VAT & Duty Free
A VAT reclaim service is now available in Morocco! The VAT reclaim service allows henceforth; tourists and non residents in Morocco to get a VAT refund on goods purchased during their stay in the country by simply presenting their passports.
Value Added Tax (VAT or IVA) Refund Information
If you are a U.S. or Canadian resident, you may qualify for a personal exemption which allows you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying customs duties, excise taxes, or Value Added Tax.