Morocco is one of the most fascinating countries to visit. Especially for Jewish heritage tours, the country is a colorful and rich lesson in history, full of beautiful synagogues, history, and centuries of Jewish stories.
A land of color, spice, and culture, Morocco should be at the top of everyone’s travel bucket list.
But just like in any other country, there are certain norms and rules that a traveler should keep in mind during a Morocco tourism trip so they can have a memorable and positive adventure.
Morocco is a safe country, but keeping up with the dos and don’ts of traveling to Morocco will make sure you avoid any trouble.
Make sure you book quality guides and tours before heading to Morocco.
One of the complaints I hear all the time about Morocco is unofficial tour guides offer services without credibility. It’s common to be approached on the street for free tours, but many of these are scams. Eventually, the scammers will likely ask for a ridiculous amount of money for taking you to a place you could have found on your own and for providing very little value.
There are knowledgeable and skilled tour guides in Morocco for Jewish heritage tours and general travel tours. Just make sure to do your research or work with a qualified travel agency to plan your trip.
Use reviews, ask people how their experience in Morocco was, ask for recommendations, and utilize the people helping you book your trip like your travel agency and hotel. They might have partnerships with great tour guides that you wouldn’t have known about.
One benefit of a good guide is that less visited parts of Morocco might not be as English-friendly. Your guide will do a better job of translation to help you navigate the country!
90 percent of Morocco is Muslim, and it’s helpful to learn about the religion and how to respect it before you leave on your Moroccan adventure.
While Morocco is quite liberal compared to many other Muslim-majority countries, there are always ways to make sure you respect the people around you.
If you’re not Muslim, do not enter mosques in Morocco. Only the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is available to tourists.
Dress modestly and learn how the country changes if you travel to Morocco during Ramadan. For example, although cafes and restaurants will likely remain open, you should stay off the roads to avoid traffic and accidents an hour before sunset when many families will be leaving to eat their first meal of the day.
According to Moroccan law, criticizing and mocking the Moroccan king is a criminal offense. If you’re not careful with your words, the cost of speaking poorly about him is a jail sentence of up to three years.
Don’t deface anything with the king’s image and stay respectful. Try not to criticize the country or government while you’re traveling through Morocco.
It can make a big difference when you’re traveling to be respectful to the local culture. Not only does it make interactions go smoother, but locals appreciate the effort that you make to learn about their world.
Meals in Morocco are often eaten with the hands, but not every hand is created equal! Try to only use your right hand to eat with since the left hand is considered unclean.
You’re unlikely to get berated if you eat with your left hand, but it will definitely make a meal go smoother (and prevent uncomfortable stares) if you use your right hand to eat.
This also counts for shaking hands–make sure to use your right hand when you shake hands or risk a very awkward encounter!
Dress code is conservative in Morocco, especially if you’re a woman and don’t want to attract any attention. You can wear bathing suits at the beach, but once you’re in the towns, villages, and cities, make sure to cover up.
Try not to pack short skirts or revealing dresses.
Local men don’t wear shorts, so if you don’t want to stick out, stick to pants!
It might get hot, but if you pack light, breathable clothing, you’ll notice that covering up with the right fabrics is good protection against the sun. Stick to jumpsuits, maxi dresses, and linen, and you’ll be just fine.
Like in any big city, pay attention to your things when you’re in Morocco. Keep your purse in front of you at all times, and when you’re sitting at a restaurant, make sure to keep your things in your lap.
If you have flashy jewelry, leave it at home. This rule helps in a lot of countries, but in Morocco, it could help you so you don’t stand out. Too much flashy jewelry could mark you as affluent–and make you a potential target for pickpocketers.
While Morocco is safe, pickpocketing is a common occurrence. Especially in the souks, you’ll want to take extra care.
When you’re at the hotel, keep your valuables and passport in the safe.
Public displays of affection aren’t acceptable in Morocco. Try not to kiss or hold hands in public. It’s never comfortable to attract unwanted attention, and it may make the people around you uncomfortable if you don’t follow this etiquette rule.
If you’re lucky enough to get invited to tea at a Moroccan person’s house, say yes! Not only is this a great way to get to know people and drink Moroccan mint tea, but a refusal might also be interpreted as rude.
If you leave your hotel at night, make sure to find someone to accompany you. Stick to busy and well-lit areas, and avoid the medinas at night–they’re often a center of petty crime.
Not only should you pay attention if you’re traveling to Morocco on Ramadan, but you should also know the rhythms of the week so you can plan your trip around them. For example, if you’re looking to eat couscous at a local restaurant, you’ll likely only find it on Fridays!
If you’re traveling during Ramadan, don’t drink alcohol in public. Try not to eat or smoke in public either, especially if you’re not in a touristy area.
Make sure to haggle when you go to the souks. Most shops know that you’ll haggle the price down, and they keep the prices up precisely to prepare for that.
If you’re using a taxi, negotiate the price before you get in. You can ask your hotel how much cab fare should cost for wherever you’re going and work from that.
Alcohol is allowed in Morocco, but you need to make sure you buy alcohol from licensed places – that is licensed bars, hotels, and touristy areas. Supermarkets also have a separate room for alcohol.
Ready for your trip to Morocco? Then book a Morocco Jewish tour. With a knowledgeable tour guide and these tips, you’re sure to have a smooth trip.
Iris Hami is President of Gil Travel Group, the largest travel management firm sending people to Israel. She has over 40 years of experience in the travel industry, and uses that knowledge to craft unique Jewish journeys around the world. Her company has won multiple awards, including one from State of Israel Bonds for Extraordinary Achievements Promoting the State of Israel.