Morocco

Map of Morocco

Events in Morocco

Event Occurs Description
Rose Festival May Rose Festival at El Kella des M’Gouna
Fez Sacred Music Festival June International musicians flock to Fez to take part in the festivities, with music ranging from local chants to gypsy music. there will be concerts, Sufi nights, workshops to raise awareness and art exhibitions that reflect a desire to encompass various aspects of culture.
Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival June A celebration of the mystical traditional music of the Gnaouas.
Cherry Festival June Held in Serfou, Fez – Cherry harvest time is celebrated with music, dance and a colourful market.
Marrakech Popular Arts Festival July Traditional folklore performances take place in various parts of the city, including Place Djemaa El Fnaa and El Badi Palace.
Feast of the Throne July The day that King Mohammed Vi’s ascended to the throne is celebrated throughout the country.
Camel Festival July Held in Tan Tan, Goulimine this yearly festival has become more of a tourist attraction than an actual trading market, however it is fascinating to visit and there is also a chance to see the local dance ritual of the Guedra.
Imilchil Marriage Feast August Every year local Berber tribes congregate for what is in effect a large blind date, giving men and women the chance to meet partners from another tribe and resulting in up to 40 couples marry on one day.
Erfoud Date Feast October Erfoud is home to Morocco’s date producing area. When crops are harvested there are traditional processions, music and dance, culminating in the “Miss Date” beauty parade.
Day of the Sacrifice ‘Eid al-Adha’ Festival December/January Held throughout Morocco the festivities mark the end of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and is an important feast day for all Muslims. Animals are sacrificed and the meat donated to the poor.
Dakka Marrakchia Festival February Held in Marrakech this traditional music festival is a tribute to the ‘Sabaatou Rijal’ – the city’s seven spiritual patrons.
Tarfaoute Almond Tree Blossom Festival February Tafraoute is at the centre of the almond growing area of Morocco. The trees are at their best in full blossom and are celebrated in Traditional style with music, dance and storytelling.
Sale Wax Lantern Procession April This annual event celebrates the towns origins as a once pirate port with a rather dubious reputation. Men wearing pirate clothing and carrying wax lanterns form a procession to Zaouia – the Muslim shrine to Sidi Abdallah Ben Hassoun.
Ramadan Variable Ramadan is the month of fasting and celebration dates vary each year. At this time offices, museums and cultural sites operate reduced hours, however this generally does not affect the traveller too much. Ramadan finishes with a 3 day celebration of feasting called Eid el-Fitr, a National Holiday. Eid al-Adha, a 3-day feast and National Holiday, marks the time of the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Plugs and Electric in Morocco

Electricity

Voltage

Conversion from 127 to 220V is currently underway

Frequency

50 Hz

Plug

Round two pin attachment plug, some round pin plug with receptacle and male grounding pin. This type of plug is common in most “universal” adaptor sets.

Flights in Morocco

Royal Air Maroc operate numerous domestic flights within Morocco, the majority of which all go to or via Casablanca.

Morocco Culture and Traditions

Local laws reflect the fact that Morocco is a Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

Women, especially when travelling alone, will attract attention. To minimise hassle, you should dress inconspicuously and avoid wearing clothes that could be regarded as provocative (eg short skirts and low-necked strappy tops), except on the beach. Homosexuality is considered a criminal offence in Morocco. Sexual relations outside marriage are also punishable by law and there were a number of arrests in 2007.

The penalties for possession of even small amounts of drugs are severe: up to 10 years’ imprisonment, with no remission for good behaviour, heavy fines and confiscation of your vehicle/vessel. If you travel through the Rif Mountains, a major cannabis growing area, you may be harassed by drug dealers.

It is against the law to carry bibles in Arabic, to attempt to distribute any non-Muslim/evangelical literature or be involved in any such activity.

Weather in Morocco

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).

Seasonality

In line with other popular destinations for travellers, certain places in Morocco are much busier during UK and French school holiday periods, in particular Christmas and Easter. Although the heat of high summer may put off some families, for others it is a real attraction, so July and August are still popular months.

August is also, traditionally, the month that Moroccans take their main annual holidays – coastal resorts are literally heaving during this period and accommodation can be scarce unless you book early. Out of holiday periods, Morocco is a real delight – the blossoms of early Spring and the balmy warm evenings of early Autumn – and without the crowds. If you are looking for winter sun then head for Marrakech, it has much to offer.

Best Time to Visit Morocco

To get the most out of your next adventure it makes sense to consider some of the very local factors that combine to make up what you feel is the best time to travel to a destination. Many of these factors are very personal – some people prefer to travel when the weather is not too hot, or sites too crowded – others prefer to travel when a traditional local event is taking place. Taking into account the dates of public holidays can also make sense as these may have an impact on opening times of attractions, shops and restaurants, or might affect public transport or other services. Conversely public holidays can be a time of great local festivities and celebrations providing a feast of local expressionism and culture.

Money Advice for Morocco

Local Currency

Moroccan Dirham (MAD)

General Advice

Major international currencies such as Euro, US Dollars and UK Sterling are widely interchangeable at banks. Nowadays 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 Availability

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 temperamental – especially on weekends and public 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.

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.

Entry Requirements for Morocco

Entry Warning

The documentation and fee required for obtaining visas varies according to both your nationality and where you are applying from. It is the sole right of each country to determine who is allowed to enter.

Passport

All passports must be valid for six months and have two clear pages free.

Taxes

Some countries may charge an arrival or departure tax which may or may not be included in the price of an airline ticket, or may need to be paid in cash on arrival or departure.

Visa Requirements

Travelling from Requirements
Australia A visa is not required for stays up to 3 months.
Canada A visa is not required for stays up to 3 months.
Denmark A visa is not required for stays up to 3 months.
Ireland A visa is not required for stays up to 3 months.
Netherlands A visa is not required for stays up to 3 months.
New Zealand A visa is not required for stays up to 3 months.
South Africa A visa is required and should be obtained from the nearest Moroccan embassy before travel.
United States A visa is not required for stays up to 3 months.
United Kingdom British Passport holders with passports endorsed ‘British Citizen’ do not require a visa for stays up to 3 months.

Other Nationalities

Other nationalities should either contact Travcour UK (see below) or their nearest embassy for up-to-date information prior to departure.

Passport & Visa Service

For assistance with obtaining passports and visas UK-based ‘Travcour’ have been offering travellers a comprehensive and reliable travel document service since 1985. www.travour.com

Transport in Morocco

Buses

There are many local buses in Morocco. The main bus companies are Supratours (run by Moroccan Railways) and CTM who operate safe and comfortable buses between cities. Various companies operate buses within cities – where you usually pay on the bus.

Taxis

There are two different types of taxi in Morocco. Grand Taxis operate over fixed routes between major towns and cities, and rather than paying for the whole car, you pay a fixed rate for a seat in the car, the car will not usually depart until it is full. Vehicles vary from Mercedes saloon cars to transit vans and landrovers in the mountains. Most towns have special taxi ranks for grand taxis. Petit Taxis operate in the usual way, they are officially metered though most drivers prefer not to use these. Always check fares before starting the journey.

Car Hire

All major car hire companies have offices in Morocco with desks at most of the international airports.

Driving

Driving is on the right. When driving in Morocco be aware that some of the roads, especially in the High Atlas are notoriously windy with sheer drops to the side. In the winter some roads are blocked due to snow. When driving in cities be aware that local drivers can be notoriously impatient and do not keep to lanes.

Trains

Trains operate in Morocco from Oujda in the north east, down to Marrakech, and to Tanger in the North, covering the cities of Fez, Meknes, Rabat and Casablanca. Morrocan trains are fast, modern and air-conditioned and reputed to be some of the best in Africa, making it an easy way to travel between cities.

Moroccan trains have first and second class carriages. First class have individual seats, whilst second class have bench seats. There is usually a refreshment trolley on board selling snacks and drinks. Fares are very reasonable, children from 0-3 travel free, 4-10 years old half price and 11 and over are treated as adults.

There is an overnight train from Tanger to Marrakech with couchettes available in 4-berth compartments with bedding provided. Train tickets must be booked in Morocco either on the day of travel or before. Seats can be reserved in first class only. Combined tickets can be bought for bus and train.

Boats

There are no domestic ferry routes, however ferries can be taken from the northern ports to Spain and Gibraltar. A popular route is from Tanger to Algeciras (if you cross from Ceuta note that it is a Spanish enclave and a slow land border crossing is necessary before taking the ferry).

Other

Once out of urban areas, cycling is a great way to see the country. Rural roads are quiet and up in the Atlas Mountains, Berber villages are linked by scenic tracks.

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