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Holidays in Morocco: How to Get There, Where to Live, How to Save

Holidays in Morocco
Holidays in Morocco

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Morocco is one of the most versatile resorts. There, the sun shines year-round, and the air temperature does not drop below 20 ° C during the day, even in winter. 

Some cities are located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, part – on the Mediterranean Sea. Journalist Ksenia Troitskaya based on personal experience drafted instructions on how to budget relax in Morocco.  

My husband and my friend spent 14 days in Morocco in December and January. We visited 7 cities: Casablanca, Rabat, Meknes, Fes, Marrakesh, Essaouira, El Jadid. Here are our life hacks.

How to Get to Morocco?

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Morocco is a visa-free country for Americans.

The cheapest flight from Moscow to Marrakesh or Casablanca. For January 2020, the cost of tickets (with transfers) round trip 176.28 and 279.11$ / person, respectively. If you are planning a beach holiday, consider flying to Agadir – up to 264.42$ in the winter and from 367.25 $ per person in the summer.

I bought tickets for December 26, 2019 in August. A KLM airline flight with a two-hour transfer in Amsterdam cost 558.22$ for two in both directions. Tickets for the train from Casablanca airport to the center – 4.70 $ / person, travel time – 35 minutes. 

If you have a Schengen visa, see tickets from Europe. From Italy and Spain, a flight to Casablanca and back is 132.21$ / person. If you are relaxing in Barcelona, ​​take a ferry to Tangier. Travel time is 34 hours, the ticket price for a backpacker is from 141.02 $. From the Spanish cities of Algeciras, Tarifa and Almeria, the ferry runs 1-7 hours. Choose and buy a ticket on the website

Weather in Morocco: What to Wear to Be Comfortable and Not Annoying Moroccans?

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Traveling in the central part of the country is better from late October to March. At this time, excellent weather for movement is 15–23 ° C during the day. 

Humidity is high: things do not dry out in rooms and on the street, they grow moldy in the morning. So bring a few pairs of trousers and t-shirts with you. Doing one set will not work. 

In medinas (the old quarters of the city) it’s dirty, sooner or later you will get dirty on the shelves of butchers or on the walls. Also in the wardrobe you need to have thermal underwear, sweatshirts, jackets. 

In January, winter down jackets made life easier for us in the morning and evening, when the temperature dropped to 3–7 ° C.

The beach season is from May to September. Morocco is a Muslim country. Therefore, you should wear dresses below the knees if you are a girl, and thin pants if you are a man. 

The Moroccans do not approve of men in shorts – for them, shorts are the same as family shorts for us. To the open shoulders and arms of foreigners, local residents are normal. 

As for bathing, the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean rises slowly: at 35–40 ° C it is hardly warmer than 20–22 ° C. It is cool, but bearable for a short swim. Beautiful and crowded Horta hens – Essaouira and Agadir. 

What Currency to Take in Morocco?

The national currency in Morocco is the Dirham. Course in 2020: 1 dirham (Dh) = 0.11$ .

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Bank cards are accepted in stores of shopping centers, network cafes and expensive restaurants. Contactless payment is undeveloped. In 99% of cases, cash is needed. We filmed at the airport, as well as exchanged euros in the medina of Marrakesh.

Cash out from different cards. Tinkoff offered a profitable course – 0.11. Gazprombank gave 0.11 $ for 1 dirham , and Alfa-Bank – 0.11. The best bank by Morocco – BMCE Bank of Africa. 

The fee for withdrawing any amount is 35 Dh (3.29 $, hereinafter payments at the rate of 0.11$ per dirham), no more than 4000 Dh (377 $) can be withdrawn in one tranche. 

Locals advise against using the services of the BSGV bank: a large commission and often faulty ATMs

In official exchangers, the exchange rate varies: 10.3-10.6 dirhams for € 1. 

We found the most profitable – 156 – in Marrakesh. 

Keep the exchange receipt until the end of the trip: you can’t take the dirhams out of the country, so you will either have to spend the rest or change it to the euro. Exchange without a receipt is not possible.

Where to Live in Morocco?

You can book your accommodation in Morocco on Booking.com or Airbnb.ru. There is no problem finding a house or hotel on the spot: during off-season the rooms are idle. 

In the summer, the situation changes only in Agadir: there are a lot of people who want inexpensive rest on the ocean, so take care of renting housing in advance.

Riads are located on the medina:

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The outer part of the riad is a wall with small windows at the level of 2-3 floors.

The walls of the houses consist of the streets of medina. Inside the house are a well with a garden, pool or living room in the center. It part of the riad does not have a roof or is covered with a glass canopy.

The rooms are located on the perimeter of 3-4 floors. The roof is residential: there Moroccans organize greenhouses, kitchens or dry clothes.

There is no heating in riads:

it has not been provided since the construction of houses in the medina. For the inhabitants of Morocco, it is natural to hide in winter with blankets, the same they offer guests. In any room you will find at least two blankets per person. 

However, in winter they will not save: in order to prevent the destruction of the walls from moisture, the owners spread them with tiles. 

Exception:

Expensive riad hotels that can afford the expense of maintaining the interior. If you travel in winter, choose a room without a bath.

Its presence worsens the microclimate in the room, being in it is cold and unpleasant.

In summer, riads are better. When the temperature outside the walls rises to 45 ° C, the inside is 20–23 ° C.

Water is heated by boilers:

Return home before the rest of the tourists to swim. It is useless to wait until the water heats up after 20:00.

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In the evening, there is nothing to do in the medina: people spend time in riads, take a shower before going to bed.

Owners of some riads take laundry:

One thing is 5 Dh (0.47 $), socks count as one pair. I recommend taking a tee with you (in Auchan or Tape – from 0.73 $). Outlets in riads are few. Sometimes there is one room and it is occupied by a table lamp.  

The cost of living is from 50 Dh / night (5 $) for a bed in a common room. Double room – from 100 Dh (10 $). 

Separately, you need to pay a city tax of 15-25 Dh (1.41-2.35 $) for each day of stay. Almost everywhere, payment in euros is welcome. 

Please note that the change will be given in dirhams at the rate that is convenient for the riad owner.

Breakfast is included in most riads:

they are fed flat cakes, yogurt, served butter, jam and bread. Choose coffee or Moroccan tea. Dinner – from 80 Dh / person (8 $). At any time, order tea for 12-15 Dh / glass (2–3 $).

The streets of medina have no names, there are no numbers on the houses. 

Good luck if the riad owner takes care of the plate. If not, ask for a photo of the door, the nearest turns and landmarks, and coordinates before check-in. 

Thanks to this, we found riads with almost no problems.

Apartments and hotels

We chose apartments in the best areas of the city and in luxury homes. 

It fact does not make the amount for living space. In Casablanca, they paid € 40 / day for a two-room apartment; in Marrakesh, they rented an apartment of 120 m 2  for € 50 / day.

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There are no features of living in the apartment. A city tax is payable and a cleaning fee of € 10 is added. 

There is no heating, and the windows do not close tightly due to design features (it is the same in all houses). Because of this, a draft walks at night. 

External blinds slightly correct the situation. Close them completely when you leave, even if you live on the upper floors. 

The owners of the apartments strongly recommended that we take care of the safety of things and exclude all the possibilities of entering the apartment.

Single and double rooms in hotels can be rented from 80 Dh (8 $). More often they are worse than riads. It is affected by the fact that the owner takes care of the riad, and the hotel is a public institution.

What is in Morocco

Unsanitary conditions prevail in all street institutions; food is laid with bare hands and dropped to the floor. If you are impressionable, do not go to these eateries. 

We loved them for tasty and inexpensive food: the participants in our company had no stomach effects. For a large plate with meat, vegetables and a side dish (350–500 g) or shawarma, we paid 30–50 Dh (3–5 $). 

Freshly squeezed juices are cheap both in eateries and in decent cafes:

  • orange, lemon, tangerine – 10 Dh (1 $);
  • apple, pineapple, banana – 15 Dh (1.5 $);
  • strawberry, plum – 15–20 Dh (2 $);
  • avocado, kiwi, multifruit – 25 Dh (3 $).

In Morocco, tasty oranges – one piece weighs 200–600 g (5 Dh – 1 kg), sweet tangerines and citrons (3–7 Dh  1 kg).

In the shops, medinas sell puff cakes (5–10 Dh ), sandwiches (10–15 Dh ), donut shfengi (2–4 Dh  pcs ) , boiled or fried snails (from 15 Dh). 

From the sweet: cakes (5–7 Dh), waffles (1–2 Dh ) brivet – an envelope from the dough with almond-sugar filling, honey brush, crunchlet – cookies -reshes with sesame seeds (3 Dh per 100 g), cactus fruits – 1-3 Dh  pcs ).

Onions, cabbage, greens, potatoes – 3 Dh tomatoes, cucumbers – 5 Dh per kilogram . Fish: mackerel – 30 Dh , salmon – 80 Dh.

The menu of civilized cafes includes:

  • Tajine – any products stewed in a clay pot. Any – meat, vegetables, fish. The cafe chef told us: “Recipes” are invented by Europeans, but we put in tazhin what is at hand. ” Cost – from 50 Dh.
  • Harira – soup from lentils, lamb, tomatoes with spices – from 20 Dh.
  • Couscous – any cereal, vegetables, meat, stewed sweet vegetables. There are a lot of variations. Price – from 45 Dh.
  • Zaalyuk – eggplant and tomato salad. The taste is no different from an eggplant spin. Price – from 13 Dh.

Traditional Moroccan tea is called “Berber whiskey” for the fortress. Composed of green tea, mint, spices, sugar. If you don’t drink tea with sugar, ask to serve it separately. 

The cafe usually bring the finished drink. The price for a kettle of 180 ml is 10–20 Dh A mug of coffee – 15–20 Dh.

Prices for food and household chemicals are almost the same as in Russia:

  • shampoos and shower gels – from 6 Dh.
  • powder for a washing machine – from 1.5 Dh or 9.6 $ per pack of 200 g; from 6 Dh per pack of 500 g.
  • fresh pastries and factory bread – 3–6 Dh.
  • packs of biscuit cakes – from 18 Dh .
  • sausage – from 9 Dh per 100 g.
  • cheese – from 7 Dh per 100 g.

What connection to use in Morocco

With the internet in Morocco is bad. Wi-Fi is absent in eateries in 90% of cases. There is a cafe, but they will give out a password if you ask. Waiters enter it themselves on your device.

In apartments, hotels and riads there is Internet, but the speed depends on the day of the month: starting from 20 numbers it is minimal, in the last days of the month there is almost no Internet. 

The logic is this: the more money on the account, the higher the speed. 

At the end of the month the money was almost spent, the speed is the lowest.

We bought a sim card at Casablanca airport. We stopped at Maroc Telecom – the largest provider of Morocco. 5 GB of traffic without calls and SMS cost € 5. It was enough for 2 weeks of using instant messengers, cards and translator.

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Two more providers in Morocco are Orange and INWI (opens to loud music).

You can buy a SIM card in any major city. At least 2-3 offices are found on every large street. Ask a consultant to set up your Internet. 

You yourself most likely will not be able to do this. To activate, the seller inserts his SIM card into your phone, changes the settings. 

After inserts your SIM card and types a few commands that are not in the manual.

How to Get Around Morocco?

We rented a car, but a month before the trip I had to abandon it.

The most favorable conditions were offered by the MLB distributor. Auto Peugeot 301 (automatic) for € 35 / day, unlimited mileage, delivery to Casablanca Airport from Marrakesh – € 45, return – free.

When buying insurance for € 8 / day, a deposit of € 500 is not required. Manager Farid quickly answers WhatsApp – it will be he who will communicate with you. 

There is no prepayment. Asks for a copy of rights and a passport to confirm intentions. Given the characteristics of the Moroccan movement, this is a bargain. 

Despite the excellent intercity roads, it is difficult and nervous to drive in the city. People, donkeys and horses, motorcycles and cars mix on the roadway, creating chaos and emergency situations. 

If you have little driving experience, discard the car in favor of public transport.

Moris:

Another good distributor with similar conditions is Moris. They answer for a long and short time, they make it to the database instantly. We did not wait for an answer to the question for several weeks and rented a car from MLB (which we eventually abandoned in favor of public transport).

On the day of arrival we received an SMS from Moris that the car was waiting for us. Do not allow this and specify to the last.

Fortunately, the distributor complacently reacted to our refusal and canceled the reservation, which he himself had created. According to Moroccans, there are no problems with the rental itself, only with communication.

Parking:

Parking in Morocco is nominally free, but you still have to pay: the local guys will pay a “tribute” for the “guard.”

The parking location is not important. Such people can be found even in wastelands far from settlements – this is business.

Needless to say, no one will monitor the machine and perceive this payment as a donation. The bribe is 3–15 Dh .

Particularly cunning entrepreneurs wash the windows and wheels of a car while you are gone, and after that they require up to 50 Dh.

You can not pay if you are a mentally stable person: a crowd of teenagers is going to refuse, they grab hold of their hands and do not allow them to get to the car. Run after you and threaten.

If you rent a house in the medina, parking will be outside its walls. They are public, but the owner of the riad still relies on € 1–2. For what, we did not understand.

Easiest Way to Travel Around the City:

The easiest way to travel around the city is by bus, tram (in some cities) and taxis. Buses run on schedule, they are big and new. The fare is 5 Dh . 

Pay immediately upon entry. If you are at the end of the bus, transfer money through people – the ticket will be returned back. Traveling by tram will cost 6 Dh . 

Tickets are sold at the machine at the bus stop. After the purchase, go to the platform through the turnstile. 

A city taxi is called PETIT TAXI and costs 15–30 Dh without taking into account the number of people.

There is a counter, but Moroccans prefer to bargain with foreigners when landing. It turns out approximately the same if you do not let yourself be deceived. 

Each city has cars of a different color. For example, in Fez red, and in Meknes – turquoise. 

There is a grand taxi – old Mercedes. They play the role of a minibus and cost 4–6 Dh per person. We met them on intercity transportation and only once in the city.

We Traveled by Train:

Between the cities we traveled by train. They are managed by the national operator ONCF. 

The trains are comfortable, clean, every half hour they deliver tea, coffee and sweets from the restaurant car. Budget price – tea – 10 Dh , coffee – 15 Dh.

The fare on the train depends on the distance, you can check on the official website . Tickets are sold at the box office, easy to buy on the day of departure. 

There are vending machines for self-purchase. However, only in Casablanca vehicles can you choose a future travel date. In other cities it is possible to buy tickets only for the current day.

Between cities ply buses. The main carriers are CTM and Supratours. Buses are new and comfortable.

if whenever you want transfer your money with any bank problem to find IFSC code, MICR code  and usaa routing Number of banks.

The peculiarity of the bus and train stations is that they will not let you out onto the platform until the time for boarding arrives – 15–20 minutes before the departure of the transport. An employee is on duty at each entrance. It regulates the fullness of the platforms, it is impossible to make mistakes and not board your flight.

Total cost of the trip

Morocco is a cheap country. Taking into account tickets and accommodation, my husband and I spent 1558 $ for 14 days for two. At the same time, they did not save, ate in cafes and restaurants, lived in good or elite housing. Your budget for traveling around cities (excluding the desert) is unlikely to go beyond this: unless you want to buy a camel or prefer a luxury vacation. 

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