I have been travelling through Morocco for a month. Is not complicated to tackle a trip in this country, but before arriving here I was kind of worried and the first days I felt so lost – due mainly to the fact that I allowed myself to be conditioned by someone’s opinions, rather than considering the real situation I was experiencing – therefore I thought writing a very practical article would be useful to give some handy “better-to-know-before-travelling”information, in order to to facilitate an easier and more relaxing organization of the trip.
If you plan to travel to Morocco for no longer than 90 days and you are an Italian citizen, you don’t have to request any visa. The only thing you need is a Passport with at least a 6 months validity. When entering in Morocco, an ordinary stamp will be placed on your Passport as usual but, in case you don’t find it, no worries, it will surely be in the last page of your booklet, as in the traditional Arabic reading and writing rule, from right to left. The stamp also reports a number that stands in for the visa and that you will be asked to write on the registration document of the hotel where you are going to stay.
The health coverage is, obviously, not valid if you have an European one, so we recommend you to get a travel health insurance: even if in this country you don’t run the risk of getting illnesses that are unknown in Italy, you may always need, as at home, an hospital. In any case, always remember not to drink tap water, but only bottled water.
You can find the Italian Embassy both in Rabat and in Casablanca. When travelling abroad, I always have with me all the telephone numbers of embassies, so that in case I need help I can promptly get in touch with them; same goes for Police and Red Cross numbers (in Morocco Red Crescent).
However, travelling in morocco is not dangerous at all, not even for a woman travelling alone.
The only annoying thing will be the constant attentions of men, but you can easily stop them by saying clearly that they are not well-accepted; or the “guides”, people offering you a tour around the city, but expecting to be paid for their service (it is good practice to clarify your position on the issue from the very beginning). These attitudes are very popular in the more touristic areas, personally I found them exhausting but, I say it once again, I never felt myself in danger. If you go out from the most touristic areas, you will find a different and more relaxing reality with welcoming people everywhere.
As always when you travel, I suggest you to respect the local “code”, which means wearing appropriate clothes according to the place: wearing a veil is absolutely unnecessary but, unless you are in typical touristic places, not uncovering too much your body (shorts, tops, etc.) would be more respectful.
Morocco is a Muslim country, therefore respect the religion – as in any other country – and remember that tourists are not allowed to get into mosques.
Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco, therefore is good to avoid any behaviour revealing it in public. Just a few weeks ago, a couple of gay tourists were heavily fined for this reason and, thank goodness, they haven’t been convicted, but it may occur.
The Moroccan summertime arrangement is an hour back compared with the Italian one.
The local currency is the dirham, that cannot be imported or exported, so the only way to change money is inside the country. I suggest you withdraw directly from the ATM (you can find one in all cities, but not in villages) because they offer a more favourable exchange rate then the money exchange houses. Sometimes, in big establishments, it is possible to pay with credit card, but most of them apply a 5% commission on the price, so I recommend you to always have cash with you, even small-denominations, in order to avoid, for example, that taxi drivers pretend not to have change for you.
It is easy to find accommodation in hotels for every pocket but, in the high season, you would better make a reservation in advance. In the cities, Airbnb and Couchsurfing are widespread. You can also easily find equipped campsites and, in general, free camping is admitted and legal.
The transport network is good: most cities are connected by the train with an excellent service (is absolutely not true that travelling in the second class is awkward, the standard is even better than the Italian one) and lot of the local or tourist buses are very common. Prices are cheaper than in Italy, but not so low price though, especially for long distance buses. In the city or for short transfers it is possible to take the petit taxi (prior price negotiation or request for using the taximeter) or the collective taxi, very cheap, but leaving only when full. If you don’t travel alone, renting a car is very convenient and not expensive at all.
Another good option to move is hitchhiking: I experienced it with a friend of mine and, in this case too, it was a wonderful experience.
The wi-fi connection is basically in all hotels and is for free, but sometimes it may be instable or not so powerful as to support a Skype videocall. In the cities, you can find several internet points or bars and restaurants with free wi-fi.
The power sockets are the same used in Italy, so it is not necessary to use an adaptor.
In Morocco drinking alcohol is forbidden, so the distribution of alcoholic beverages is not permitted, but in the most touristic places you can find something in bars or liquor stores.
I hope that this few information will help you to prepare your trip and, especially, to reassure you about the local safety.