It’s hard to believe that though Morocco is near Spain, it’s the last destination that comes to our mind when planning our holidays. Is that really why or maybe, it has more to do with the many stereotypes that circulate concerning our neighbouring country? Here are some truths and lies about travelling to Morocco so that you can judge by yourself whether or not it is an unforgettable destination.
1. Morocco is just Marrakech
Morocco is much more than Marrakech, even though this city is the most visited one or the main tourist destination. As a matter of fact, we can cite places like Casablanca, Meknes or Fes, the last one being much quieter and, I dare say, more interesting for travellers, than Marrakech. There is also, Essaouira, a coastal town that oozes authenticity from every pore, near Marrakech.
Not to mention the incredible Road of the Kasbahs, which takes you to such amazing places like the ksar of Aït-Ben-Haddou, the Telouet kasbah or the Taourirt kasbah.
2. Morocco is a dangerous country to drive in
FALSE (now, one should be careful)
Driving in Morocco is a slightly thorny issue and, to tell you the truth, it’s not exactly a quiet activity. But I wouldn’t say either that you can’t or it’s not safe to drive, especially when we know that most of the travellers rent a car to take trips to the south of the country, where the famous Road of the Kasbahs runs, or to get into the desert. In those places, driving is a lot quieter than in cities. Therefore, you shouldn’t have any problem if you obey traffic rules and speed limits (in Morocco, you’ll see a radar on every corner).
Now, you should be alert when driving, since you’ll probably see people (or animals) walking on the hard shoulder, a lot of radars, trucks driving at low speed… and many other factors that make driving something quite different from what you’re used to.
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3. Food is delicious
There’s nothing so true when we talk about Morocco: the country has one of the most delectable cuisine in the world. Still not convinced? Just taste the couscous, a kind of semolina that is usually served with vegetables. Or the tagine, a dish that takes its name from the recipient in which it is cooked. It’s usually made with chicken or lamb, and served with ingredients like vegetables, dates or plums and olives. It’s one of the most typical and eaten dishes in the country, not only because it’s very tasty, but also because most restaurants serve it at usually low prices.
4. You’ll feel like you’re “pestered” by sellers
Admittedly, going into the medina of cities like Marrakech can be a real adventure, since you’ll have to say “No, thank you” endless times to the sellers on every single corner, but, once you get away from the more tourist areas or from the city, things change completely. Even in great cities like Fes, the insistent manner of sellers become secondary and one can enjoy pleasant strolls in souks without feeling harassed at all.
I recommend you, in cities like that one, to prepare yourself mentally to such situations and to always take it as an anecdote. Otherwise, you may end up pretty upset.
5. Sleeping in a riad is a unique experience
The word “riad” means “garden” in Arabic. It’s a kind of house whose living quarters and commons areas are built around an inner courtyard with a garden. That garden, which is usually the centre of the compound, is decorated with mosaics and plants. In many occasions, it even has fountains, which mark the presence of water, another symbol of that kind of accommodation.
Riads are highly comfortable and exquisitely decorated, the hosts are usually much more welcoming than in hotels, all of which make them a perfect choice of accommodation if you travel to Morocco.
You should definitely try to sleep at least one night in one of them. I can guarantee you won’t regret it.
6. It’s worth spending a night in the desert
There’s nothing so amazing as spending a night in the desert, under a thousand stars, in a nomad tent, before a traditional dinner. But, if you really want to make it more authentic and passionate, I recommend you to avoid the best known tours and rather go in small groups.
7. Morocco is not a safe country
Nothing could be further from the truth. Morocco is a very safe country, so safe as can be Spain. Therefore, you should not be more careful nor show more common sense than in any city on this side of the world.
8. Morocco is a perfect place to make road trips
Despite what you may read out there, as I told you before, driving in Morocco is not dangerous, at least not so much as not to take a road trip across the country. Having said that, I suggest that you don’t use that means of transportation in large towns, but you can very well use it to drive along the Road of the Kasbahs and get to the door of the desert, it gives you more freedom of movement.
9. It’s always hot in Morocco
You just have to go the Atlas Mountains in wintertime and check the weather. Actually, if often snows there. So if you travel at night, first check the information on road conditions, lest you come to closed roads.
The same goes for other parts of the country at that time of the year, like Fes. Forget about going around in short sleeves or tank tops. Rather pack some winter clothes, temperatures might drop below 10 °C.
10. Morocco is a destination
You have no idea of how stunning it is, how many beautiful spots you can visit nor how warm local people are. It hooks you, so be ready to go back. But, don’t forget to take the local currency with you, the Moroccan dirham, if you want to fully enjoy your stay.