Did you know?
- Morocco gained independence from France in 1956.
- Fez is, of course, where fezzes (the red hats) come from.
- In previous times, it was unlawful to sell a date tree in Morocco, as it was a source of food for the family.
- Tangier was an International City, from 1922 to 1956, being ruled by representatives of eight European countries.
- A number of stone circles present in Morocco serve as the proof of its contact with the megalithic cultures of Atlantic Europe.
Visas and Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to Morocco do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
The Australian Embassy in Morocco:
28 Avenue S.A.R. Sidi Mohammed
Souissi 10105 (BP 45),
Ph. +212 5376 33333
The official currency of Morocco is the Dirham. Notes come in denominations of Dh200, 100, 50 and 20. The recommended currency to take to Morocco is the Euro. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have Euros with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Rabat is approximately €1.50
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately €3
- The price of dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately €9
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately €3
Moroccan cuisine is essentially tasty comfort food with exotic spices. There are many low-cost places to dine on local dishes but even if you’re travelling on a budget, splurge one night for a feast in a deluxe restaurant. Harira, the traditional garbanzo and noodle soup, is a good starter. Various couscous dishes, tagines (stewed meat or chicken with vegetables, served in a conical clay dish) and kebabs (also called brochettes) are the most common entrees. Other tasty dishes include hout (a fish stew), mechoui (roast mutton) and djaja mahamara (chicken stuffed with almonds, raisins and couscous). Bastilla is pigeon cooked in dough with nuts and honey. If you crave international fare, you’ll generally find pizza and pasta, hamburgers and sandwiches, and to a lesser degree, Chinese food. Be aware that the taste of non-Moroccan food may not match your expectations. Almond and filo pastries are excellent. Sweet mint tea, served in a clear glass crammed with mint leaves, is served everywhere. Fresh-squeezed juices and milk shakes are also very refreshing. Beer and wine are usually available in hotels and restaurants catering to foreign visitors, however the consumption of alcohol is strongly discouraged in open areas such as outdoor cafes.
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
October-December and March-May are really Morocco’s best seasons, when temperatures average in the low 20s. The summer shouldn’t be ruled out though as the average temperature in Marrakesh and Fez can be around 38°C and the coastal cities of Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier remain comfortable, if somewhat humid at 27-29°C. South of the Atlas Mountains temperatures increase greatly.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
Morocco has a surprisingly good public transport system. The best way of getting around Moroccan cities is either by walking or hailing a petit taxi (for travel within the city). A grand taxi is more expensive and is used for travel between neighbouring towns.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Morocco…
Morocco appears to be filled with bargains, but look closely before buying. Good buys in wool carpets and leather goods can be found, but most of what is sold is of poor quality. Other items available include gems, fossils from the Sahara, thuya wood carvings, pottery, mosaic tiles, beaten brass, silk, hand-embroidered clothing, copperware, silver and gold. Bargaining is the rule in the medina; the medina is the old town centre of any Moroccan city. Offer a third to half the price quoted and take it from there. Be patient and polite but insistent. If bargaining is not your game or you’d like to avoid the hassles of the medina, you can find goods with fixed prices at craftsmen’s cooperatives, called Syndicat d’Initiative, in most of the larger cities. Pay with cash whenever possible; credit cards can be overcharged. It is also better to take goods home with you than to have them shipped. Stores sometimes substitute cheap goods for purchased items when they ship overseas.
- Remember that Morocco is a Muslim country where modesty is appreciated. Dress conservatively, which means covering your shoulders, upper arms and legs (unless you are at a beach).
- Beware of tours by self-proclaimed guides (called faux guides). If you’re harassed, calmly but firmly decline their offer, if the harassment continues make an obvious attempt to seek out a police officer.
- Take drug laws very seriously – even though drugs such as hashish seem widely available, drug laws particularly when foreigners are involved, are harsh.
- Refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours in the holy month of Ramadan.
- If you’re not Muslim, don’t enter a mosque without asking permission. Visit the ornate medersas (theological schools) instead. At smaller, less frequented mosques, custodians may allow you to enter outside of prayer times, if you ask politely.
Celebrations & Public Holidays
Morocco celebrates a number of different music festivals throughout the year, from the 8 day Sufi Music & Cultural Festival held in Fez in April, to Essaouira’s Gnaoua World Music Festival held in June each year. One of the biggest festivals in Morocco however, is Timitar, held annually in July at the coastal city of Agadir. For four days the traditional Amazigh culture is celebrated with Moroccan and international musicians coming together to perform to the crowd. Morocco is also host to a quite unique event, the Marathon des Sables or the Sand Marathon. This one-of-a-kind ultramarathon takes place over 6 days in the Sahara Desert and it is not hard to understand why it is dubbed the ‘toughest foot race on Earth’.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year's Day
- Anniversary of the Independence Manifesto (January 11th)
- Labour Day/May Day (May 1st)
- Eid al-Fitr
- Feast of the Throne (July 30th)
- Eid al-Adha
- Anniversary of the Recovery Oued Ed-Dahab (August 14th)
- Anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People (August 20th)
- Hijra New Year
- Youth Day (August 21st)
- The Prophet Muhammad's Birthday
- Anniversary of the Green March (March 6th)
- Independence Day (November 18th)
The most popular of Morocco’s imperial cities, Marrakesh is a must-see. The setting is stunning, with ochre stucco buildings on a dry, rocky plain and the snow-peaked Atlas Mountains as a backdrop, although not always visible. Much of the medina is surrounded by beautifully restored pinkish-red ramparts and lovely palm gardens, among impressive buildings, including several nicely renovated courtyard mansions (riads) that now serve as hotels. The modern town has gracious, wide avenues and large, resort-style hotels. The vast square called Djemaa el-Fna is the main show in town. It’s a market scene straight out of the movies, with snake charmers, musicians, acrobats and storytellers. At night, the plaza is filled with gas lit restaurant stalls and people enjoying the food and spectacle. Take in the atmosphere from one of the rooftop terrace restaurants overlooking the plaza.
Fez has rightly been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its walled medina is one of the most intact and impressive medieval cities in the Arab world, and it’s the architectural highlight of Morocco. Explore the contrasting French-planned new city (ville nouvelle) with the old sections of Fez. The medina is divided into two sections, Fez el-Bali (the older, more extensive part) and Fez el-Jedid (the newer, smaller area). Fez el-Bali is a formidable maze where you could spend days exploring the narrow, winding alleys. Centuries-old crafts and trades are on display in the souks in both parts of the medina. These colourful bazaars are a shopper’s delight. Self-described guides will no doubt offer to take you to the tanneries, where animal hides are tanned, dyed and fashioned into everything from slippers to suitcases - be prepared for the odours! See the coppersmiths at work and gaze at bright displays of fabric, thread, spices and handicrafts.
One of the most picturesque cities in Morocco, Chefchaouen is easily recognisable due to its distinctive buildings all painted in various shades of blue. For this reason, it is a wonderful place to explore on foot, especially the old walled medina, Plaza Uta el-Hammam and the kasbah.
Well known because of the Humphrey Bogart film of the same name, Casablanca is Morocco’s largest and most modern city. Before the French began to develop it as the country’s economic capital in 1912, Casa – as Casablanca is commonly called – was only a small trading post. Its subsequent rapid growth has wiped away most of its romantic image and it’s bound to disappoint most visitors. Now, basically a big commercial and industrial city, its market pales in comparison with those of Fez or Marrakesh.
Small Group Tours
Enjoy the trip of a lifetime through three vastly different countries. Marvel at the architectural wonder of Barcelona and the charming cities of Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon before revelling in sunny southern Spain.
From the stunning High Atlas Mountains to buzzing medinas and the vast desert expanses, there is no doubt that Morocco is one of the most diverse and intriguing countries in the world.
Experience the contrasts between mystical Morocco and charismatic Kenya during this truly unique itinerary. Be enticed by the buzzing streets of Casablanca, the beauty of everblue Chefchaouen, and the Roman ruins of Volubilis.