Morocco is one of those countries that had been on my travel bucket list for a long time. It´s close to Europe, easy and cheap to get to, but completely different from anywhere else I´d been. I had heard it was beautiful, I loved Moroccan food, and it sounded like a very interesting country.
Yet still, I never went.
I never went because I had no one to go with and I felt unsure about going by myself. Even after travelling a few places alone in 2017, I still felt like I needed a travel partner for Morocco.
After backpacking by myself through South East Asia and Europe in 2018, I was still unsure about going by myself. But then a few people I knew went and showed me pictures, and I thought: I had to see this for myself. So I sucked it up, gave myself a much-needed reality check and kick in the butt and decided that I would go. The ridiculously cheap flights I found were the final thing to put me over the edge and just go for it.
And I am so glad I did! Now, Morocco is not a country I would recommend for first-time female solo travellers. But having travelled by myself before, I knew to take all the discouraging stories about scamming and harassment with a grain of salt. Not that those things don’t happen. But some of the blogs about travelling alone as a woman in Morocco almost scared me off. I’m so glad I didn’t let them.
Because, sure, Morocco is chaotic and intense and it can be overwhelming, but it is also amazing and incredible and thrilling. And sure, people try to scam you, but it is always really obvious, and I found them easy to fend off. And yes, men stare and catcall and proposition you, but even they usually backed off after a firm “No” or “leave me alone” or by simply ignoring them. I felt like my previous experience as a solo female traveller prepared me very well for solo travel in Morocco. In general, Morocco is a safe country, just keep your wits about you. Walking around alone as a woman you may get a bit tired of all the attention so it can be worth getting a guide, finding a friendly local through Couchsurfing or staying a hostel to meet other fellow travellers.
And it is so worth it! Morocco is such a beautiful country. The landscape, the architecture, the markets, the colours, the smells, the food, the people. I loved it all. It was at times overwhelming but in the best possible way. It was all so exciting, and I felt so alive trying to take it all in. Morocco is one of those places that you need to see for yourself to truly appreciate. Take some time to visit several different places, spend a few days in each, take it slow and do and see as much as possible. I went in late November, early December and that was perfect. The weather was lovely (25 Celsius), and it wasn’t too crowded. These are the places I visited on my 10-day trip, and I wish I could have spent more time in all of them. I highly recommend them all:
The more relaxed city: Fez
Fez was my first stop and the one I wished I had spent a lot more time in. I flew in at night, went straight to my hotel and took the bus to Chefchaouen the next morning. I was planning on spending two days in Fez after coming back from Chefchaouen, but I ended up tagging along with a few others to the desert. Instead, we only spend one day wandering around the Fez Medina, a place I instantly loved. The old Medina of Fez is a maze of narrow little streets lined with shops. But navigating actually isn’t as hard as it seems, as there are 2 main streets running in a loop. If you stick to those, you’ll always find your way back to the Blue Gate. The Medina in Fez turned out to be my favourite, due to the friendly atmosphere, variety of shops and good and the amazing food. I definitely plan on coming back to Fez one day to shop some more on the Medina and to explore more of what the city has to offer.
Where to stay: Riad Verus in Fez deserves it’s high rating on Booking.com and Hostelworld. The downstairs common room of this Riad is absolutely gorgeous! It has that beautiful Moroccan Riad look, without the accompanying pricetag. The dorms and bathrooms leave something to be desired, but the free breakfast is the best I had in Morocco and the location is perfect.
The Blue Pearl: Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Morocco and probably also the most Instagramable. This little town in the north is also called ‘the blue pearl’, for obvious reasons when you see it. The whole old part of the town is painted in different shades of blue, and the result is stunning. Because Chefchaouen lies at a 3-4 hour bus ride from Fez, I opted to stay overnight, Couchsurfing with a lovely Moroccan family. Chefchaouen is small, so one or two days is enough to see the city and explore a bit of the surrounding landscape. My favourite part was hiking up to the Spanish Mosque at sunset, where you have a perfect view over the town.
The incredible Sahara Desert
The desert tour I did was without a doubt my favourite part of the whole trip. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Morocco in the first place. I did a bit of research before coming but figured it would be better and cheaper to book a tour in Fez rather than prebook online. Luckily, I met a few lovely people who had the same idea, so we decided to book a tour together. We opted for a 2-night tour from Fez to Marrakech through Merzouga. It was a lot of driving, but we made it a fun road trip, blasting music and eating snacks the whole way through. In Merzouga, we had a 30-minute camel ride to our desert camp. Although the ride itself was rather boring, the sunset in the desert was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to a ‘luxury camp’, which turned out to be really fancy with actual beds, showers and wifi. A very pleasant surprise indeed. But the best part about the desert was watching the stars at night. It was stunning, humbling and overwhelming all in the best way possible. The second leg of the trip involved more driving through beautiful landscapes and the impressive Atlas mountains.
Where to stay: We booked our trip with Morocco Desert Private Tour (they all have generic names like this) and I would definitely recommend them. But, although I loved the tour and everything was organized very well, I wouldn’t book it a next time. I would love to go back to the desert, but next time I would take the night bus from Fez to Merzouga, book my own accommodation and drive an ATV into the desert instead of a camel. It is also worth to keep in mind that, although we managed to negotiate a great deal, tours from Fez to Marrakesh are more expensive than the other way around.
The most overwhelming city: Marrakech
I am so glad that Marrakech wasn’t my first destination in Morocco. I may have turned and run if it had been. Because Marakkech is a lot to take in. Coming out of the tranquillity of the desert, I felt overwhelmed at the sheer amount of people and noise in Marrakech. But, I quickly adjusted and started to enjoy it. It’s a beautiful city, but the Medina was my least favourite as it was so touristic. In my experience, the street vendors were a lot more persistent in Marakkech than elsewhere, although a firm ‘no’ was usually enough to deter them. If you are not feeling confident or assertive, avoid the main square at night, because it is crazy! The waiters got uncomfortably aggressive in their efforts to get us to dine at their food stall and, although I consider myself tough and capable, I was happy to be walking around with two tall men.
My absolutely favourite thing in Marakkech was the cooking course I did at the Amal women’s centre, a non-profit organisation that teaches disadvantaged women cooking and general skills to help them get a job. The cooking class was very good, and the end results delicious.
I also really enjoyed visiting a local hammam. I recommend going to a local hammam to get a more authentic experience of getting scrubbed down and washed, rather than a touristic spa. We went to the Koutoubia Spa, which was recommended by our hostel and it was a perfect experience, I highly recommend it!
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Riad Dia. Although it did not live up to its rave reviews in my opinion, it was still a decent hostel. Not the cleanest or the most comfortable, but the staff is very friendly and helpful and the rooftop lounge was the perfect place to meet people and hangout.
The laid-back surf town: Essaouira
From Marrakech, I decided to go along with two of my travel buddies to Essaouira for a day on a whim. And I am glad I did because Essaouira was like a breath of fresh air. Literally. After the chaos and crowds of Marrakech, it was a delight to breathe in the cool sea breeze in Essaouira. It is a small town with both a surfer, reggae vibe on the one hand and a high-end resort vibe on the other. A curious but pleasant combination. It was great to just stroll around, shop (a lot cheaper than Marrakech), visit the morning fish market, try all sorts of great snacks and relax on the beach. Even in early December, the weather was still warm enough to lounge on the beach (albeit clothed).
Where to stay: The Atlantic Hostel was a really fun place to stay. The atmosphere was very social and laid-back (maybe due to the copious amounts of hash). The food was amazing, but a bit overpriced, and the staff does their best to make everyone feel welcome. Great place to relax for a day or two.
Morocco is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited and these places are a great start for crafting your itinerary. If you have any questions, comment or concerns, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments.
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