How safe is it to travel in Morocco?
Unfortunately, it’s not just female travellers we hear this from now. Recent events and the current political climate have made many people question travelling in certain otherwise popular and wonderful destinations. And Morocco is one of them.
Luckily, here at GoLearnTo, we get to hear about real first hand experiences about the situation in Morocco. Whether it is from the locals running our wonderful holidays or the guests on their return, it’s nothing but positive and encouraging stories.
And we’ve got the facts to prove it…
Just how safe is Morocco?
Darren, photographer and host on our photography holiday in Essaouira, Morocco, got in touch with us directly to tell us about GALLUP’s Gobal Law and Order Report for 2018, in their words, “a worldwide gauge of people’s sense of personal security and their personal experiences with crime and law enforcement.”
GALLUP interviewed more than 148,000 people in 142 countries and asked them how they felt about their own personal safety. Morocco scored a massive 81/100, beating other popular destinations like Thailand, Italy and Costa Rica.
You can read the report for yourself here.
But are female travellers safe in Morocco?
A friend of GoLearnTo, Suzanne, has just moved back to England after 10 months teaching an academic year in Morocco. In addition to one of the most beautiful cats you have ever seen (found on the streets, and now safely at her forever home in Wirral, Merseyside), Suz answered some of the questions NotInTheGuideBookstravellers often have as well as first time solo travellers.
Where did you live and how long did you live there?
I lived in the capital, Rabat, for 10 months.
Did you visit the cities where our holidays are based while you were there?
I visited Essaouira, a beautiful coastal city not far from Marrakesh. I thought it was a very relaxed place with a laid back vibe. Jimi Hendrix and George Orwell are said to have spent time there back in the day.
There are tourists there as it’s a great place for adventure sports. There are also many restaurants there with lots of great options.
Do many people speak English?
English is spoken in most tourist places, especially in the souk and restaurants. French is the second language, and the locals switch between this and Dirija, an Arabic language.
Are there many tourists?
Not so much in Rabat but Essaouira is especially popular during the Christmas period and summer. Tangier can be very overcrowded during the summer months as many Moroccans also take their vacation there.
What’s it like living in a Muslim country?
Morocco is unlike other Muslim countries as it is very tolerant of the Western way of life. There are bars, alcohol shops and nightclubs. Alcohol can be bought in most Western restaurants too.
The locals either dress in traditional or Western clothes. Churches for other faiths can also be found and the Moroccan people are very generous, friendly and more open minded than other Islamic countries.
Is there a difference being a woman living in Morocco vs. England?
The main difference would be the equality. Women are still very much seen as the homemaker, and many do not work. However, this is changing and in the bigger cities more and more women are following a career.
Did you ever travel alone?
Most of my journeys were alone. I never encountered any problems when taking a taxi, a train or a tram. I visited Marrakech and Essaouira alone and encountered no problems there.
How is the public transport?
The train system between the major cities is good and cheap. They are easy to use and the station staff generally speak English. The buses between the cities are also very cheap, easy to use and ran by different companies. Many tourists use these buses to travel between the cities. They are safe to use, even for a single women.
Unfortunately, the local buses in the big cities are not safe to use and the conditions are not good. Taxis are very cheap; a local taxi will only cost on average 20 MAD (£1.80) to travel within the city. Insist the driver uses a meter and note that the driver can pick up to 2 other passengers enroute, if you are going in the same direction. They will pay their own fare, the meter is split and calculated separately. Grand taxis, usually white, carry up to 6 people. They travel between greater destinations. Outside of the larger cities they may be more difficult to use due to language barriers.
How is safety compared to England?
I felt safer in Morocco whilst walking down the street. However, I would not walk alone after 9pm, mainly due to the area I lived in in the capital.
Obviously a Western woman will sometimes attract unwanted attention; cat calling, approached for conversation and stared at (much like in the UK!). I would suggest that you do not engage in conversation and dress modestly. I would not advise wearing short skirts or spaghetti strapped vest tops (but of course, on the beach in the daytime, a swimsuit and cover up is the norm)! However, main beach destinations for water sports, such as Essaouira and beaches near Agadir, are used to travellers coming and donning beach attire – it is the norm in beachy tourist hotspots.
What do you miss about living there?
Mostly, I miss the food. The vegetables and fruit from the souks were fresh, cheap, organic and varied. The meat from the local butchers was cheap and excellent quality. There are an abundance of spices and herbs and an excellent range of fish and seafood.
The Moroccan people are some of the most friendly people I have ever met. They are extremely generous and very welcoming to tourists.
As a woman, can I have a beer, a ciggie, and travel alone?
As a woman you can travel alone, smoke on the streets and dress similar to how you would in the West. Understand your surroundings and and respect the locals, regardless of where you travel.
Finally, what advice do you have for new solo travellers heading to Morocco?
Embrace the culture and the people, engage with the locals in the souk/Medina and the tea shops. The older generation have so many tales and can tell you all about the Morocco during the French occupation. The younger generation can give you a glimpse of the future of Morocco and how they are embracing the Western ideals and mixing them beautifully with their own culture.
Visit the antique and artisan markets, you can see the locals crafting. The pottery, glassware, woodwork and furniture is beautiful and excellently crafted, and it can be ordered and shipped to your home.
Try all the foods and sweets, eat at the Medina and taste the real food of Morocco. Each region has its own special dishes and sweets and uses spices and produce from that area.
Explore the winding streets in the Medinas built in the 13th century, a glimpse into a bygone era still very much a way of life in Morocco.
Feeling ready to experience Morocco and its rich culture now? Why not have a look at what holidays in Morocco we offer.