Morocco’s appeal as a holiday destination comes from its sheer diversity. In cities like Marrakesh and Rabat, magnificent examples of Arabic architecture can be found in mosques, schools and historic sites, while expansive souks offer up the equivalent of Aladdin’s cave, filled with trinkets, carpets and hand-made furniture. A bohemian vibe permeates its west coast, especially in Essaouira, where surfers flock for the reliable waves and affordable hotels. And then there are the mountains and desert for those looking for adventure. The earthquake in the Atlas Mountains in September has deterred some tourists, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit. Here’s what you need to know.
Main photo: kitesurfers on the beach in Essaouira (Alamy)
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What’s the latest government advice about travelling to Morocco?
The UK Foreign Office does not currently advise against travelling to any part of Morocco. However, it does state that terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks, particularly in crowded areas, against government buildings, transport networks, and businesses with Western interests, and in areas where foreign nationals and tourists are known to gather.
You should stay vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Has Morocco been affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict?
Geographically speaking Morocco is very far from Israel so it’s not directly affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict.
At the end of December 2020, Israel and Morocco also signed a normalisation agreement, which means both nations recognise each other’s sovereignty and are committed to establishing normal diplomatic relations.
However, within Morocco there is significant support for Palestinians with rallies taking place in the capital Rabat. The Foreign Office advises avoiding any kind of political protests.
Is it safe to travel to Morocco right now?
There’s no reason not to travel to Morocco, but there are some safety considerations to bear in mind.
Although there have been no recent kidnappings of foreign nationals, the UK Foreign Office warns that this cannot be ruled out in advice that also applies to other countries in northern Africa. The threat comes from terror groups from Libya, Mauritania, and the Sahel, who use it for financial or political gain.
Petty crime such as pickpocketing, bag snatching and drive-by motorcycle theft are common in Morocco, particularly in tourist areas like historic quarters and on the beach. There have also been occasional reports of violent crime where weapons such as knives have been used against tourists in street attacks and burglary. The Foreign Office advises avoiding quiet areas after dark and not to carry large amounts of cash or valuables with you.
Which areas were affected by the earthquake?
Close to 3,000 people died in Morocco after a devastating earthquake hit a remote area of the Atlas Mountains on September 8, 2023. Most of the deaths and injuries have occurred in the mountain villages, which are often remote and difficult to access.
In Marrakesh, the nearest tourist hub, buildings have been damaged and have collapsed as a result of the earthquake. Most of the damage is in the medina, a Unesco world heritage site and the oldest part of the city — this is attributed to the fact that many of the buildings here are historic, and were not built to withstand natural disasters like earthquakes.
Agadir and Essaouira also experienced some superficial damage to buildings but were otherwise unaffected by the earthquake.
What are Morocco’s entry requirements?
British passport holders do not need a visa to enter Morocco for the purpose of tourism, and they can stay for up to 90 days. If you want to stay for longer than 90 days, you’ll need to request an extension at a local police station.
Your passport should be valid for at least three months on the day you enter Morocco. Your passport should not be damaged as otherwise you may be refused entry. You should also make sure your passport is stamped on entry, as you may experience difficulties leaving.
Is Morocco safe for female travellers?
Morocco is generally considered safe for female travellers, especially in holiday resorts.
However, if you’re travelling alone, you may receive unwanted attention from men. The Foreign Office advises wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers the arms, legs and chest.
Is Morocco safe for LGBT travellers?
Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco, although it remains a popular destination for LGBT travellers. The Foreign Office advises against public displays of affection, which may cause offence and lead to prosecution.