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Is Morocco Safe? 23 Things to Know

Is Morocco Safe? 23 Things to Know

Is Morocco safe for international tourists? Is it an ideal place to take a vacation or conduct business travel? Well, this comprehensive guide offers all the answers you seek about this unique North African country.

Morocco is one of the most visited countries in Africa and the world at large. From its unforgettable sights, warm local culture, and rich diversity, Morocco boasts a lot more tourist attractions than you can imagine.

Morocco is a beautiful blend of African, Islamic, and French influences that have played a primary role in shaping the country.

However, despite all these positive things, there have always been concerns about how safe Morocco is for tourists, especially those coming from America and other western countries.

In July 2022, the US Department of State issued an updated Morocco travel advisory to American tourists.

However, such blanket warnings apply to many other countries and do not necessarily reflect any particular diplomatic concerns the US government may have about Morocco.

But the question remains; is it safe to travel to Morocco?

Is Morocco Safe?

A street in morocco

The answer is simple; Morocco is largely a safe country for both locals and tourists. But, I know you’ll still want to ask this; is Morocco safe for Americans? And again, the answer still remains a resounding YES.

The country is one of the most popular and safest places in Africa for tourists. In the year 2019 alone, Morocco had over 13 million visitors making it one of the most visited countries globally. These high tourism numbers are proof of Morocco’s safety for travelers.

Since tourism is one of the primary pillars of Morocco’s economy, the Moroccan authorities continue to make plenty of investments to boost tourism. This includes investing in areas like infrastructure and security.

However, that is not to say that there are no incidents involving tourists, but they are typically minor and pretty rare.

To be on the safer side, you need to know what to expect and how to carry yourself while there, whether you’re in urban or rural Morocco.

You should also be cautious around the clock, monitor local media, and keep the instructions of local authorities in mind to avoid any hassle during your stay in Morocco.

See Related: Best Sabbatical Destinations

Important Things to Know About Staying Safe in Morocco

Morocco Night Lights

Here are ten things to know about Morocco to help you stay safe and enjoy your visit.

1.  Most Mosques are Not Open to Non-Muslims

Mosquée Hassan II

Over 90 percent of Moroccans are Muslims. This means you should expect to find mosques in almost every corner of Morocco. However, most of them are off-limits to anyone who is not a Muslim.

This is unlike other Muslim countries that allow non-Muslims to visit at least some parts of a mosque. Therefore, even if Morocco is safe for non-Muslims, avoid getting into a mosque to avoid inviting trouble.

Luckily, there’s one exception for those who would like to visit one; the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. As one of the biggest mosques in the world, it is considered a tourist attraction. It has a capacity of over 105,000 people.

Non-Muslims are allowed to walk around the courtyard, and for a small fee, you can tour the inside.

See Related: What Does a Tourist Look Like? Tips to Not Look Like One

2. Many Moroccans Are Camera Shy

Photographer with Camera

While it is common in many other countries for natives to want to take photos with foreign tourists, this doesn’t apply to Morocco. Most Moroccans are not very comfortable with people photographing them.

Some of them are even offended by it!

This could be due to various reasons, but one of the reasons is religion. Islam forbids the creation of images as it is considered a form of idolatry.

This seems to be taken more seriously in Morocco compared to other Muslim countries, which are more relaxed about it.

Some may not express their reservations but will ask you for money in return for taking pictures with them.

Tourists, especially, are the most likely victims of such extortion tactics. So before you get out your camera to take a picture of any Moroccan, inquire first if they are okay with it.

However, you are allowed to photograph other things like their architecture and other physical attractions.

3. Drones Are Prohibited

Flying a Drone

Drone photography is prohibited in Morocco. The country banned the private use of drones in 2015 for security reasons.

Therefore, as a tourist, you are not allowed to enter the country with a drone. In case you’re carrying one, you need to declare it immediately after you land at the airport.

Failure to do this will lead to your drone getting confiscated. You may also get fined a significant amount of money. But if you declare it, you will be required to leave it with customs and pick it up on your way out of the country.

Also, the drone is only allowed to stay at the airport for a maximum of 45 days. If you take longer than that to pick it up, you may never get it back. So, if you are keen on Morocco travel, it is suggested to leave your drone at home.

See Related: How to Travel With a Drone

4. Public Transport is Safe and Reliable

Morocco Public Transportation
image by Magharebia is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Public transportation can be very frustrating for tourists in many countries for a couple of reasons. The most common ones are overcrowding, steep costs, insecurity, and unreliability. Fortunately, public transportation in Morocco is pretty safe for tourists.

The trains, for example, offer world-class service. They are comfortable, are always on time, and are very affordable. Trains are the best way of traveling long distances in Morocco.

If you want to travel shorter distances, you can opt for buses, minibuses, and taxis. Taxis are the most preferred by tourists.

There are two types of taxis in Morocco; small ones and bigger ones referred to as “grand taxis”. You can use them to get around anywhere in the major cities.

However, the taxi fare is not fixed. You need to agree on the price with your driver before you get in. You can save money by bargaining a little.

See Related: Best Apps & Sites Like Expedia For Travel

5. Very Few Moroccans Can Speak English

Old Moroccan Woman

Even though it is a popular tourist destination, very few locals speak English. The most widely spoken languages are Arabic and Berber. Being a former French colony, a majority of Moroccans are also well-versed in French.

This means that if you don’t understand any of those languages, communication may be a challenge for you.

Many Moroccans assume that visitors can understand French and use the language to address tourists. You can deal with this challenge by engaging with a local tour guide who can act as a translator.

And if possible, you can learn some basic French or Arabic to allow you to communicate.

But if all that is not an option, you can still use basic English to get by – everyone understands what “Coca-Cola” means.

If need be, you can even use your phone or pocket dictionary to translate.

Also, non-verbal cues can still work for the most part – but do be polite about it!

6. There are Silent Limitations on Alcohol Consumption

Bucket of Alcoholic Drinks

If you’re wondering whether Morocco is safe for booze lovers, the answer is yes! You can still enjoy your favorite drink. But it is advisable to do it inside a hotel or from the privacy of your room or terrace to avoid offending others.

Being a part of a Muslim country, many Moroccans do not consume alcohol because it is forbidden in Islam.

As a result, many hotels and eateries do not sell alcohol. A few locals still indulge in alcohol, and tourists are also allowed.

However, you can only do this in private. Consuming alcohol in public is frowned upon, and it rarely happens. You can find most establishments that sell alcohol only in cities.

And it is always suggested not to indulge too much in alcohol, especially when traveling. This will help you avoid putting yourself at risk.

See Related: Tips for Beating Post Travel Blues

7. Unsolicited Help is Not Always a Good Thing

Helping Hand

This is not a problem specific just to Morocco. That said, being a popular travel destination, many locals have learned the art of making money from tourists by offering favors. Some people are quite pushy and will not even wait for your request.

That is why you should be wary of anyone offering you unsolicited help. You may encounter people trying to get money from you in cunning ways.

For instance, they will offer to carry your luggage or show you around. They are after money, expecting to get a tip from you. And if you’re not forthcoming, you may find yourself in trouble.

If anyone starts taking you on a tour or helps load your bags into the cab without your say-so, be very firm and ward them off.

Also, when walking around, try to look confident and avoid inviting unsolicited gestures of help. If you do this, you will find that Morocco is safe and fun to visit.

8. Modest Dress is Encouraged

Moroccan Clothes

Muslim countries are normally very conservative when it comes to dressing. This is no different in Morocco. And this especially applies to women.

Most of the local women wear loose Muslim clothing that covers most parts of their bodies (things like burqas and niqabs). They also cover their hair (think hijabs).

Although tourists are not expected to stick to this strict mode of dressing, modest dressing is encouraged and appreciated.

Avoid wearing skimpy tops and shorts or any other revealing clothing. The locals won’t take this kindly. No matter how hot it is outside, you must not wear clothes that are too revealing.

Women should ensure that they at least cover their legs and arms. This also helps you to avoid courting the wrong kind of attention.

Women should also carry a scarf as it may come in handy when they want to blend in.

Although Morocco is mostly safe for anyone, you should avoid being too conspicuous because it makes you vulnerable. Plus, you don’t want to be that ignorant, American idiot.

Dressing with modesty will help you to fit in with the Moroccan locals, which is also a sign of respect.

Remember; you’re a guest!

See Related: The Ultimate Vacation Packing List (+ Printable PDF)

9. Exercise Caution When Walking at Night

Night View in Morocco

Is Morocco safe at night? The country is safe both during the day and at night. However, you should always be cautious when out in public.

Past 11 pm, you need to be very mindful of the places you visit. Always be alert and aware of what is going on around you.

Avoid poorly lit streets and stick to busy places where your safety is assured. Fortunately, most cities have very well-lit roads and alleys, and you will always see people moving about their business.

Avoid walking alone at night. Team up with a fellow traveler if you want to do some night exploration to avoid becoming a victim of petty crime. The importance of this cannot be over-emphasized for women.

They are more vulnerable than men travelers. Women should ensure they move in a group, especially late at night. Even in public places, solo female travelers should always ensure they can see other women or families around them.

10. Moroccan Cuisine is Remarkable

Moroccan Food

Moroccan food is mostly safe and incredibly delicious. Being a melting pot of different cultures, their cuisine is rich in flavor and presentation. They offer a wide variety of foods to choose from and have unique ingredient and seasoning combinations.

One of the most popular dishes is couscous.

It is prepared weekly and especially on Fridays. It is usually prepared by mixing beef, chicken, or lamb stew with steamed couscous grains.

Other popular dishes include tagine, harira, and mechoui. You can also find a lot of seafood, fruits, and vegetable dishes with influences from Europe (particularly France), Asia, and other parts of the world.

The food is safe at most places, but always be careful about what type of food you consume and where you eat. Street food for example spends most of the day, out in the open, at the mercy of the elements and bugs.

Also, make sure to carry clean bottled water, as tap water in Morocco isn’t filtered to the same degree as in some places. For first-time visitors drinking tap water, it may upset your stomach at first – but the more you drink it, the more your body will get used to it.

See Related: Best Travel Accessories

11. Purchase a Local Sim Card

Phone and a Sim Card

If you still feel uneasy when thinking about traveling alone, you should consider purchasing a local SIM card, which will help you feel safer. Although it may seem somewhat obvious, many travelers forget how hassle-free, simple, and useful it is to purchase a SIM card.

The ease and safety you experience after setting it up are incomparable to the minor trouble you experience when you first arrive and need to arrange for a SIM.

You should get a SIM card that has the best coverage throughout the country and also provide reasonable traveler packages with a sufficient amount of data that lasts your whole trip.

A Complete Guide for Female Travelers or Solo Female Travelers in Morocco

Female Traveler with Camera

For some people, especially women out there, the idea of traveling alone can seem terrifying or impossible. Being alone in a foreign country where you are unfamiliar with their traditions, norms, language, and daily routines can feel overwhelming.

However, going on a solo trip or an all-female trip can be really empowering for women, contribute to equity, and broaden the perception of women as equal, independent, and most importantly, safe – and that they have a right to all of these.

Morocco is a fantastic destination for women traveling alone or in groups. Check out our complete guide before you visit Morocco and start making plans for your unforgettable vacation right away!

1. Wear Correct Clothing

Woman Wearing a Modest Clothes

What to wear when traveling in Morocco is one of the first things to consider when addressing the issue of women traveling in this beautiful country.

Putting this advice into practice begins way before your vacation, as you pack or consider what to carry. When it comes to women visiting this country, one of the frequently asked questions is, what to wear in Morocco? 

One of the first things to remember is that even though Morocco is an Islamic nation, women (foreign or local) are not required to cover their heads except when entering places of worship.

Having said that, you should not wear anything too exposed or tight. Instead, you can choose to wear long-legged bottoms and long-sleeved tops that extend to the elbow and below the knee.

Additionally, make sure to cover your chest and shoulders, which is also great for sun protection. 

You can wear lightweight pashminas to keep cool in the heat while still covering your shoulders and chest.

Furthermore, you can pair a loose knee-length tunic with bamboo leggings, keeping things modest and comfortable while going from one place to another.

See Related: Essential Women’s Travel Accessories

2. Going Out in the Evening 

Night in Morocco

Other frequently asked questions by female travelers planning a trip to Morocco are about safety when going out in the evening.

Generally, solo female travelers should stay cautious and avoid going out alone at night, especially in large cities. They should be careful, especially when exploring the southern and border areas.

However, if you are in a group with other female friends, you can go out and enjoy your evenings, as long as you stick together, know where you are going, and do not stray too far from your lodging.

Morocco shares its late-night culture with many other nations in the Middle East and North Africa. As a result, it is common to see people out and about in the streets after dark, catching up with friends, shopping, or eating.

Experiencing these types of activities on the streets make travelers feel safe and comfortable, especially when traveling alone. 

However, try being more alert and careful, especially when exploring the southern and border areas.

3. Go Through Reviews

Review and Ratings Sign

Reading reviews is crucial when choosing excursions, lodging, or other services you could utilize, particularly if you are a solo female traveler.

Furthermore, reading reviews of other travelers is an excellent method to determine whether you’ll feel secure and comfortable traveling alone as a woman.

Hostelworld, GetYourGuide, and Agoda are some of the primary websites you can use to make reservations while traveling. Also, these websites help you to read and post reviews.

See Related: Best Websites for Cheap Flights and Hotels

4. Join Tour Groups

Group Tour in the Dessert

Women who are planning a trip to Morocco, but are worried about traveling solo, can always join a tour group. Even though you do not have to take the full tour with the group, it might give you time to settle down and feel more at ease.

You can check out top tours in Morocco online, with itineraries spanning 2 to 7 days and covering several portions of Morocco. 

As an alternative, you can explore Morocco individually but join select tours to particular locations. This is a fantastic approach to being bold and more flexible by meeting new people and occasionally forming a group when traveling.

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

5. Be Kind, Yet Firm

Handshake

You should be courteous and kind in places like Morocco, but do not forget to be firm. This is especially true for solo female travelers visiting the country.

Smiling or engaging in a lengthy conversation with a man may send the wrong cultural signals, which you might not be aware of. Please keep this in mind and be polite but be clear with your boundaries and expectations every time.

A polite “no thanks” and a quick exit from a souk or market should prevent all kinds of unwanted attention. If you calmly and clearly express that you are not interested and move on without making more eye contact, you won’t often be followed, touched, or hassled for very long.

6. Be Respectful and Sensible

Two People Bowing Down

Yes, respecting others and being courteous to others are vital cultural elements in a country like Morocco. You can respect the Moroccan authorities and their culture by acting and clothing appropriately, especially at sacred and historic sites.

Keep in mind that you are a visitor to this nation, which may not share your values, but by observing social norms and being aware of your behavior, you have the opportunity to learn a lot and gain insight into how people around the world live. 

After all, this is a primary objective of travel. Always remember that this is not about who is right or wrong but rather about accepting others’ differences, regardless of your personal opinions.

Respect is important, but so is common sense. This holds true everywhere in the world, not only in Morocco. So be sure to use common sense, trust your gut, and avoid unwarranted and poorly calculated risks.

Morocco is one of the places where mishaps, thefts, petty crimes, and accidents commonly occur. So be careful and always pay attention to your bags and phones.

Using common sense before a trip also entails purchasing travel insurance so that you stay protected in the event of an accident. Do not even think of visiting Morocco without proper travel insurance.

See Related: Best Family Travel Insurance Plans Affordable Plans

7. Be Cautious on Buses

Bus Seats

You may likely travel by bus when getting around Morocco. So make sure to be careful whenever traveling on a bus.

In general, you may discover that when you make a reservation with a more upscale bus company in Morocco, they make an effort to seat female passengers close to one another.

On shorter trips, it may not matter much who you sit next to, but on night buses, you might want to give it more thought.

If you still have concerns about your bus journey, try sitting next to a friend on the bus, talking to a staff person at the ticket counter, traveling with a group, or taking a tour instead.

The alternative is to stay away from night buses and only use daytime buses and trains as a mode of transportation.

8. Do Not Be Afraid!

Fear Not Sign

Lastly, the most crucial piece of advice for solo female travelers in Morocco is not to be afraid. Morocco is highly secure for female travelers, and the majority of female travelers traveling alone will enjoy their time here without encountering any serious issues.

Even though it is always encouraged to be cautious, courteous, smart, and firm, please remember to be warm, open, and friendly if the situation calls for it.

On your journey, do not let fear or preconceived notions hold you back or keep you from experiencing all that Morocco has to offer. You will have a beautiful and safe journey if you have your travel insurance and go out there without jumping into the shadows.

Is Morocco Travel-Friendly for LGBTQ+ Community Travelers?

LGBTQ+ Community

Whether it’s your first or tenth trip to the country, Morocco is a culturally rich, occasionally overwhelming, and always fascinating experience.

Morocco is a perfect location for several reasons— anyone looking for adventure, surfers wanting to hit the best waves, shoppers looking for gorgeous rugs and trinkets, or anything else in between. 

However, is this Muslim nation a welcoming vacation spot for LGBTQ+ community travelers? Here are a few things you must know before traveling to Morocco as an LGBTQ+ traveler:

1. History

Historic Rabat Wall

Morocco is a linguistic and cultural melting pot due to its diversity of cultures and historical background that talks about several dynasties and colonization. 

The Berber people were among the first to live in what is today called Morocco, and their presence there stretches back thousands of years. emergency consular assistance

At the start of the 20th Century, Morocco was regarded as a protectorate territory by both France and Spain.

The kingdom of Morocco officially emerged as the independent nation it is today in 1956. All in all, as colorful and lively as the country and its people are, so is its history.

2. Queer Culture

LGBTQ+ Rainbow Flag

It is not that Morocco lacks LGBTQ culture; rather, it is hidden between the cracks, beneath the table, or is just not recognized in society at large. 

Whether or not the population and administration of the country wish to accept them, gay travelers visit Morocco every year and experience its beautiful culture. Despite Morocco’s historically anti-gay laws, the country has always had an inexplicable draw to the gay community.

Morocco does not have the same LGBTQ-friendly reputation as its neighbor in north Spain, where same-sex marriage is legal. Homosexuality is prohibited in Morocco and is subject to imprisonment for up to three years if “practiced”. The severity of the penalty varies across the country.

Non-Moroccan same-sex partners who travel or lodge together are exempt from this rule. However, there is an exception – gay visitors cannot be seen “fraternizing” with locals. Moroccans cannot accompany Westerners to their hotels unless they have permission, for instance, as tour guides.

Even though this law does not apply to you and your partner since you are traveling, you might still want to be aware that your LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Morocco tend to live more secret and suppressed lives.

As a gay traveler in Morocco, you must practice discretion in public and follow local customs. In fact, all gay, straight, and trans people should refrain from indulging in public displays of affection. Bear in mind that a woman and a man may receive a fine or a jail sentence for heterosexual kissing.

The majority Muslim population of the nation is conservative to PDA of any kind. This holds true for both the LGBTQ and straight communities – but curiously it’s not uncommon to see platonic friends of the same sex hold hands as they walk down the street.

Funny old world, innit?

Any visitor, gay or straight, who is visiting a foreign nation should respect their tradition and customs, and not simply for security. It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in Moroccan culture, warts and all.

Remember, you can draw two different perspectives on a country’s way of life by looking at it from the outside and experiencing it from the inside.

3. Destinations To Consider When Visiting Morocco

Morocco Quranic School Swimming Pool

You can visit several places in Morocco, from the soaring mountains to the western coastal shorelines and the eroding desert sands. There are virtually no places in Morocco that are specifically gay-friendly, but some areas are more accepting than others. 

Tangier for example is a popular LGBTQIA tourist destination, as are the beachside and metropolitan areas around the Spanish boltholes of Ceuta and Melilla.

Although Moroccans may not be legally allowed to engage in same-sex activities, this does not mean that there is no homosexual culture in Morocco.

Whether or not the authorities accept the LGBTQ community, Morocco remains a popular destination for gay travelers. Marrakech, Tangier, and Agadir are just a few places considered favorite vacation spots for the homosexual community and parties involved.

Marrakech is one of the most open-minded cities toward the gay and trans community. There aren’t any homosexual clubs and bars as such, but there are some areas known as gay hangouts.

Additionally, many clubs draw a more diverse crowd. Agadir, a coastal city in Morocco, is also gaining recognition as an LGBT-friendly vacation spot.

See Related: Top Most Beautiful Cities in the World to Visit

4. Keep Your Safety in Mind At All Times

Holding Hands

Whenever visiting a foreign land, visitors should make sure to respect their local customs and traditions. This is not merely being polite, but it also pertains to ensuring personal safety.

The LGBTQ traveler should be cautious when visiting a country like Morocco, where homosexuality is not legal. Do not forget that you’re in a different country and remember the purpose of your visit. Also, carry your travel insurance like World Nomads and InsureMyTrip as it protects you against difficulties that you may face.

Tourists typically do not visit a country to change or influence the local Moroccan culture but to learn, observe, and experience it immersively. So regardless of your orientation, be aware of your surroundings and focus more on experiencing the liveliness and beauty of this country.

Despite the laws regarding trans people and the gay community, this is a stunning country.

If you follow these simple recommendations, you’re unlikely to face difficult situations during your visit to Morocco.

It may not appear like Morocco is the most gay-friendly travel destination, but this is part and parcel of any nation clinging to the strict rules of any Abrahamic religion.

It is a religious, conservative country with a long history that is distinct from the evolutions of western society, and that is just one of the things that makes it different.

LGBT tourists seeking an alternative to the conventional gay vacation spots of over-priced resorts, muscular beaches, and circuit parties, Morocco is a country worth considering for a laid-back cultural extravaganza.

Morocco does not have the same LGBTQ-friendly reputation as other major cities like Barcelona, Tel Aviv, and Mykonos. However, it continues to draw LGBT travelers who are curious about this great country and culture of North Africa.

Hopefully, soon enough, Morocco will acknowledge LGBTQ equality, and when that day comes, it will still be the must-visit, interesting, and diverse travel destination that it is today – just a little more popular!

FAQs

1. Is it safe to travel to Morocco right now?

Yes. Apart from the travel advisory issued by the US government about Covid-19 and terror threats, Morocco is a safe country to travel to.

2. Is Morocco safe for women?

The answer is yes. As long as you dress decently and avoid solo walks, especially at night, you are good to go.

3. Can you drink a beer in Morocco?

Definitely yes. However, you shouldn’t do it in public.

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