Morocco has seen a huge rise in foreign visitor numbers in recent years, as many tourists are looking for an adventurous and unique travel experience. When travelling to a country that ticks these boxes, other aspects, such as public safety and societal norms, may be different to what you're used to.
Morocco is a relatively safe place to travel as long as you understand its laws and cultural customs, and adhere to the status quo. Tourist hotspots, like Marrakech, Fes and Essaouira, are considered more safe than rural and remote regions like the Atlas Mountains as they see tourists regularly, but unique challenges and threats are present for many people across the country. Morocco is a conservative Islamic country, so if you are a solo traveller, a female traveller and/or a person who identifies as LGBTQIA+, you may face extra challenges. It is important, whoever you are, to be extra diligent when travelling through Morocco, to understand the risks that you may face and know how to avoid or deal with them.
Safety in public places
Much of Morocco's economy is dependant on tourism, and many locals have decided to prey on visitors with scams and 'tourist traps' that can catch even a seasoned traveller by surprise.
Petty crime and pickpocketing is a common problem in Morocco, especially around souqs and medinas. Keep your valuables safe by carrying small amounts of cash, not wearing expensive jewellery, and keeping money or valuables out of sight and easy-to-reach pockets. When purchasing goods at markets, be prepared for aggressive begging and selling tactics from vendors, especially if they are aware that you have a lot of cash on you. An aggressive approach to begging is also quite common around ATMs in tourist hotspots. Above all, leave your passport and spare cash locked securely in your hotel safe.
When sightseeing around tourist hotspots in Morocco's main towns and cities, you may come across people who say they are official 'tour guides' or a 'helpful local'. Be wary of these services – there are many unlicensed tour guides, especially in Fes and Marrakech, who will offer to take you – at an inflated price – to establishments where they make commission on any purchases made. Do your research on city tours, and if you do get approached on the streets, be firm and direct in declining their offer. Sometimes, they may still demand payment even if they just followed behind you for a section of your sightseeing. They may say 'no money', but they'll want to be paid.
Taxis in Morocco, like many countries around the world, are often a tourist trap. When travelling by taxi in Morocco, always negotiate a price up front, as many drivers will inflate the price substantially when you arrive at your destination.
Safety for LGBTQIA+ travellers
Morocco is not a safe destination for LGBTQIA+ travellers who wish to openly express sexuality and/or gender identity outside of a very rigid, heterosexual binary. LGBTQIA+ travellers who want to visit Morocco should exercise caution and avoid engaging in even mild public displays of affection such as hand-holding.
Safety for solo female travellers
In many areas of Morocco, particularly at night, women may feel uncomfortable with the approaches or attention from locals. Unfortunately, verbal harassment on the streets is relatively common in Morocco and women can be specifically targeted if walking alone at any time of the day. Female travellers, especially if by themselves, can attract unwanted attention from men on the streets and have an increased chance of being followed, accosted and sometimes assaulted. If possible, travel in groups of three or more and keep to well-lit streets when on the move.
Part of Intrepid’s travel ethos involves respecting local cultures and sensibilities. In Morocco, it is important to be more conservatively dressed than what you may be used to, especially in and around religious sites such as mosques. Consider clothing that covers the knee and shoulder for day-to-day travel, and when visiting mosques, ensure that your clothing covers elbow to ankle. It's also important to cover your hair with a scarf. For more information about what to pack for Morocco, go here.
It's a good idea to be cautious even when in private spaces in Morocco. At your accommodation, lock your door even when you are inside, and avoid being alone in your room with hotel staff. If hotel staff need access to your room for any reason, for your safety, request they attend to the issue while you are out, or wait at reception while they complete any cleaning or repairs. Ensure your valuables are all accounted for and either kept on your person or locked securely in your hotel safe. When you leave the hotel, take a hotel card with you so you know the address and contact numbers.
Tips for staying safe in Morocco
- Travel as a small group when walking and sightseeing, especially at night
- Lock away your valuables
- Do your research on city tours and rural stays
- Respect local dress codes and customs
- Avoid drinking the tap water
Our tours in Morocco