A Call for Morocco-mendations

Posted in Africa, Morocco, On the Ground

Dear Friends. I’m about to embark upon my first trip to Africa. Tomorrow, I’ll leave Los Angeles and find myself in Morocco by the end of the weekend. This is one of the first times I’ve gone to a destination where I have no idea what to expect. That’s why I’m calling on you, the Fly&Dine community, to help me out.

Have you been to Morocco? If so, tell me about your experience. I want to hear simple tips and tricks to not make myself look like an American Idiot. I want to know about customs I should observe so as not to offend my hosts. I want to know foodie secrets about dishes I can’t leave without trying. In sum: tell me everything.

In return, I promise to post photos and details of my journey so you can experience this wonderful trip alongside me. As an added bonus, I’m flying Royal Air Maroc, an airline I also know nothing about. Should be quite the journey!


Photo:Attribution Some rights reserved by Grand Parc – Bordeaux, France



  1. One of my favorite countries in the world. I spent a month there and it wasn’t enough time. If u have time I highly recommend the Sahara desert “Safari”. They basically take u on camels out to a little oasis for a night of camp, and if u book two nights they will take you close to the Algeria border. ( I think the launching point was near Zagora). I don’t know how long u are there, but I would skip Casablanca and Rabat. Definitely see marrakesh the old city of Fez, and if u have time chefcheon and essouaria( spelling is off I’m typing on the go). Asilia was nice too. Again my spelling is off). Also skip Tangier. Pretty much the two main foods are tagine and couscous. The marrakesh medina comes to life at night definitely do z dinner there….okay here’s my train gotta go hope that helps

  2. Agree w Frank on Casablanca and Rabat. Definitely essouira, Marrakesh and fez. Stay in a riad. Sleep in tent in Sahara and see the sunrise. The people are friendly and funny – enjoy them. Go off road and meet some nomadic Berbers. Beautiful, kind people. Do not take pictures of the butcher shop!

  3. Just left Morocco today after 5 days. I am genuinely disappointed to say that I’ve never been so relieved to leave a country in my life. There are certainly interesting / charming / delicious / scenic aspects to the country, but taken on the whole there are simply too many negatives for me to say I enjoyed it. I am not a picky traveler and have no trouble enjoying developing nations, basic accommodations, etc. In my experience with Morocco, everyone — and I mean everyone — is trying to scam you and take as much money from you as possible at every opportunity. My main advice would be to make sure you are constantly on the defensive lookout for a near-constant stream of pickpockets, scam artists, upcharges, misinformation, panhandlers, evil cab drivers, arguments, and “extras”. Was in Marrakech for four days and Fes for one.

  4. How long will you be in country? I will have to disagree with the skips. Casa is a major city but does have some beautiful sites. Rabat, the government and royal seat, is sleepier than Fez, but houses so many (non-touristy) attractions. I actually like Tangier. Eat b’stilla (pastilla) and fall in love. Jealous. Obvi Mara and Fez.

      • Try Riyad Amani in Fez. If you have time, hire a taxi to Ifrane, a ski resort 60km from Fez. You should also try to visit Volubilis (Roman ruins) an hour drive from Fez.
        The lakes near Ifrane are amazing this time of the year with migrating birds arriving from the north. Lake Dayat Aoua is a gem with cedar forrests all around.

        There are tons of stalls of food street that you should try (bissara, sikouk, harira…).

        You should visit the Batha museum in Fez.

        By the way, Rabat is a beautiful town. There is the mausoleum with the ruins of a mosque that is the twin sister of the Koutubia and the Giralda. The change of the Royal Gard is even more impressive than Buckingham Palace. The Oudaya necropolis is amazing.

        Casablanca is the world capital of Art Deco architecture. Walk in Avenue Mohammed V and you will see real gems like the old Shell Building (now a hotel).

        As per people, they are sweet and helpful. Just trz

  5. I lived/worked in Morocco for 2 years and agree with Frank. Must visit (beginning with my favorites): [1] Marrakesh for the Jema L’fna (“square”/market; best times 3pm-9pm) and nightlife and restaurants, [2] Fez for it’s medina (“old city” market, and tanneries; specialized in leather goods), [3] Chefchouan for its free mountain village vibes (and hashish, if you’re into that), [4] Asilah (a quiet beach town with an art colony), [5] Legzira for its natural rock formations, and [6] Essaouira for its fish market. Skip: Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier. If you’re buying anything without a price tag, haggling and bargaining is part of the experience and is expected of you; if you’re unaccustomed to this, spend a few hours seeing how others do it. An overnight camel trek can be had in the town of Zagora, Ouarzazate, and a few others in the South. Travel by bus between big cities with the locals, and taxis between smaller cities. Unless you’re wealthy, never buy-out an entire taxi, but split the fare with the others (locals and otherwise) who are also going to your destination. Foods to try: home-made anything, couscous, tajine, dates, almond/avocado smoothies, and my favorite appetizer/entree/dessert-item: bastilla. Eat the street food. Drink whatever’s brewing. If there are any adult females in your party, expect cat-calling, try to dress modestly/conservatively, and try to be in a group when outside. Use only your right hand (if singly) or both hands together when giving and receiving anything, including handshakes. Be prepared to (sometimes) greet with kisses on the cheeks, both cheeks, multiple times. When you are offered tea, accept and drink the first cup; the following cups, you can refuse. Be respectful — many might not have completed university, but they are all street-smart and learn any formal skills on their own. Ask for permission before snapping photos of people. Expect to hear the Islamic Call-to-Prayer 5-times-a-day no matter where you go, beginning at ~5:30 (sunrise). Smile lots and have fun!

    • Just saw that you’re only in Marrakesh and Fez for a total of 5 days. There’s no train between the two, so take a bus from the bus station (“La ma-ha-tha n La kar”). Those “petite taxis” are inexpensive and you can hail one easily from the sidewalk. Marrakesh has the square (“Jema EL-fina”) that gets a live in the evening hours, and the adjacent open market that’s open all day. Many restaurants, fast-food chain imports, and bars. Private hostel rooms as low as $5USD/night (40 Dirhams) to expensive hotels $100+USD/night. A few museums here, but nothing too impressive. By just buying a coffee at a cafe along the square gets you a seat to people-watch as long as you desire. Fez has the market (“medina” meaning old-city) that you’d get happily lost in and can wind up on the other side and that’s okay — just taxi back home. Enter the shops who will take you to their rooftops to show you the tanning process if you like. Tour guides here are not a bad idea, but you can go without if you like. There’s an artisanal school that teaches kids how to craft fine goods that you can tour.

  6. Taking pictures of the butcher is not acceptable, I do believe it stems from religious beliefs. I was only taking pictures of the chickens in their cages, but having the butcher run out from behind his stall waving his arms and shouting was enough for me! That aside, I loved the country and people. They were nice and I felt perfectly safe. Haggling is a way of life. Decide what you are willing to pay, if they do not agree, shake hands, smile and leave. I found humor and charm go a long way. One proprietor, after he finally agreed to my husband’s price, called my husband a camel! We laughed, he gave me a hug and a small gift. It was not like Turkey where they follow you out to the street calling things out at you.

    If you only have 5 days, I still say Marrakesh and Fez. They are very different experiences. Leave Marrakesh to Ait Ben Haddou to Sahara then on to Fez through Ifrane. If you can see Volubilous it’s very interesting, however, if you have seen Roman ruins elsewhere, I would concentrate on what is indigenous to Morocco. I was in Morocco for 2 weeks in April/May.

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