Very recently, against the advice of my entire family, I went traveling to Morocco alone. Did I go mad? Absolutely not! Morocco doesn’t deserve the awful reputation it has; if you’re a woman and want to travel to Morocco on your own, you have nothing to worry about. Leave your prejudices at home and get ready to discover a country that will leave you mesmerized. Here are my thoughts on traveling to Morocco as a woman.
When I told my mother I was going to travel to Morocco alone, she said the same thing as when I told her I was going to Iran alone: “But Ana, why do you like that kind of country so much?” My answer was also exactly the same: “that kind of country” makes me feel the most alive. Because Morocco, like Iran, is life in its purest state – a bomb for the senses and a non-stop ride of emotions and contrasts. Although most of the news we hear about this country is rather bad, as soon as you step foot in Morocco you realize that it’s a very friendly country, with surprising and welcoming people. It’s nothing like the image that the media encourages. So close to Spain and yet so far away, Morocco is – for most of us – a great unknown.
If the “crazy” idea of traveling Morocco alone has also crossed your mind, I want to tell you that it’s a great plan and you’ve come to the right place. Get ready to discover my best tips for traveling to Morocco as a woman.
Traveling to Morocco as a Woman Alone. Is it safe?
It is, I promise. Traveling to Morocco as a woman alone is very safe. Obviously, bad things can happen anywhere, but I traveled all over the country alone and I never felt in danger. As for theft, you probably run a greater risk of being pickpocketed in cities such as Barcelona or Paris than in all of Morocco. As long as you pay attention on the busiest streets of the medina, you have nothing to worry about.
In regard to personal safety, no-one is going to kidnap you or trade you for a camel. Please ignore those who speak without knowing; some who think that traveling to Morocco is dangerous haven’t even left their hometowns at all, let alone actually been to Morocco.
Having said that, there are a few things that you really have to keep in mind: there are big cultural differences, Moroccans like to speak (and do so in every possible language), and they are very good at selling. In other words, everyone will want to talk to you and you’ll have to face unwanted attention. Many shop owners will try to sell you something, some of them may also try to flirt, but most will simply want to talk without necessarily expecting something in exchange. The word you will hear the most is “welcome”, almost always followed by some kind of compliment or cat-calling. I recognize that at times this can be truly annoying, but I would not define it as dangerous. For Moroccans, complimenting, eye-contact, and cat-calling is a very cultural thing and most do not even consider whether this could bother you. If it does, I recommend trying to ignore it. Don’t feel obligated to respond to everyone who talks to you. If you feel overwhelmed, get used to having their words go in one ear and out the other. If it’s too much, set your boundaries. Almost everyone understands the meaning of “no”. Saying it firmly and walking away is enough. No-one is going to chase or put a hand on you. Or, at least, that was my experience (and the experience of many solo female travelers I met during my trip).
Best Tips for Traveling to Morocco as a Woman Alone
01 | Plan your itinerary
Since you’re going to be traveling Morocco alone, I would recommend you have a plan to stick to; which cities you want to visit, where you’re going to stay, and so on. There’s a lot to see in Morocco so I would recommend staying for at least one week (two if possible). The itinerary I followed last time was:
Rabat (1 day)
Fez (3 days)
Chefchaouen (1 day)
If it’s your first trip to Morocco, you should also include a trip to the Sahara desert in your itinerary. I didn’t do it this time because I already lived that experience years ago, but I highly recommend it!
To get between cities, I recommend traveling by train. You don’t have to buy the tickets in advance, but you can check the schedules here.
02 | Ask your hotel to pick you up from the airport.
The first contact with a new country can be intimidating. Plus, if you arrive in Morocco at night, you won’t want to be busy searching for your accommodation with no internet through the labyrinth of the medina. To avoid this, I recommend you ask your accommodations to pick you up at the airport. Almost all hotels offer this service for about 150 DH. This way, you’ll arrive more relaxed knowing that someone trustworthy is waiting for you and you won’t have to negotiate the price of the trip to your hotel with a taxi driver. This will help you to forget the stress until you get a little more familiar with the country.
03 | Stay in a hostel in order to socialize
Even if you prefer comfort, I do not recommend you stay in a private hotel room when you travel alone as this will make you feel lonelier. I prefer to stay in shared rooms at hostels where it is much easier to meet other women traveling alone. A good trick to get some privacy is to find a hostel that has bunk beds with curtains. For example, my riad in Marrakech (Rodamon) was magnificent in this regard. Rodamon is a beautiful riad that has all the advantages of a good hotel. However, if you stay in a dorm with other travelers, the price per night will be much cheaper. My hostel in Fez (Medina Social Club) was wonderful, too; an amazing riad in the center of the medina at a very good price.
Another trick to feel at home is to stay at an Airbnb, where you can stay with locals that can advise and guide you. If you haven’t used Airbnb yet, feel free to use this discount of 27 EUR on your first reservation.
04 | Buy a SIM card to always be connected
Whether to have GPS in the chaos of the medina, seek recommendations, or instantly share all the photos you will take, I recommend buying a SIM card as soon as possible. I bought mine for 65 DH (6 EUR) from one of the guys who sell them on the streets in Djemaa el Fna square in Marrakech. Apparently, the best company is Maroc Telecom.
In case you can’t or don’t want to have mobile internet, I recommend downloading the Maps.me app that works perfectly as a GPS and doesn’t need Internet data.
05 | Take a walking tour or an organized day-trip
Another tip for socializing on your solo trip to Morocco is to take a walking tour or day trip. I recommend GetYourGuide or Airbnb experiences. For example, in Fez, I did a walking tour and this cooking class experience which I highly enjoyed. If you haven’t tried the Airbnb experiences yet, you can use this link to get 9 EUR off your first experience.
06 | Use your common sense and female intuition
I guarantee that, unless you’re looking for trouble, you’re not gonna find it. Morocco is a very safe country for travelers. Keep in mind that they practically live off tourism and therefore take good care of it. There is a lot of hidden police who protect tourists and the penalties for theft or assault are very high, so you have no need to worry.
If you stay in tourist areas during the day, I assure you that nothing bad will happen to you. However, you do have to pay special attention to little scams and pickpockets in Djemaa el Fna Square. For example, something very common in this square is for some women to grab you by the arm, telling you that they’re going to give you a henna tattoo for free, and then ask you for a lot of money for it. In that square, you also have to run away from men with monkeys and enchanted snakes, who will want to put the animals on you so that you can take a picture and then pay for that. Unfortunately, in Morocco, there are no laws to protect animals from these awful practices, so I recommend you stay away from anyone who tries to make a living by exploiting an animal.
07 | Bring your travel insurance
I’m not advising this because of the people, – as I’ve already said, there’s no reason for fear – but there are a few things that can go wrong during a trip to Morocco. For example, food poisoning. I’m not gonna lie, you’ll probably get it. Another potential danger is a motorbike accident in the medina of Marrakech; motorbikes appear from nowhere at full speed, so watch out!
I recommend World Nomads insurance. I’ve never had to use it (and I am grateful for that), but I recommend making this small investment to be safer. Never consider your travel insurance a waste of money!
08 | The trick of the ring
Wearing a ring or having a photo with your boyfriend as your phone screensaver can also help in case someone has trouble understanding “no” at first.
09 | Set a curfew for yourself
I wouldn’t recommend walking alone through the medina late at night. As long as there are people around, you’ll be fine, but keep in mind that they’re usually very narrow and dark streets. The best thing to do if you’re traveling alone is making the most of the day and set yourself a curfew. For example, be home by 10 o’clock.
10 | Always negotiate the price of the taxi before you get in
If you’re going to use a taxi (note that there are almost no city buses), ask your accommodation how much the trip should cost and then negotiate the price with the taxi driver before getting in.
11 | Dress modestly
In Morocco, you’ll attract attention no matter what you do, so avoid attracting it which of the way you dress. We’re talking about a Muslim country with a very different culture that should be respected. Of course, you don’t need to wear a burka or cover your head, but it’s advisable to dress modestly. I recommend wearing long pants or dresses, avoiding sleeveless clothes, or covering your shoulders with a scarf.
12 | In the unlikely event that you have a problem, don’t stay quiet
If someone steps out of line and makes you feel uncomfortable or in danger, don’t stay quiet and let everyone around know about this. I have learned that people will always be on your side.
To sum it up, people around you may try to discourage you when you tell them that you’re going to Morocco alone, but I hope this doesn’t put you off. Traveling to Morocco as a woman alone is a safe and amazing experience. If your family or friends don’t like Morocco, nobody’s forcing them to go! But don’t let their fear or unfounded opinion take away your desire to visit this fascinating country. You won’t regret it!
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