It’s safer than you probably think
Is Morocco safe to travel to? Well, my answer would be that it’s no more dangerous than any other country you might visit as a tourist. In fact, it might be safer than several countries that tourists flock to all the time if you look at violent crime rates.
The things I worried about the most before traveling to Morocco were petty crime like pickpocketing, and experiencing verbal sexual harassment as a woman. I’m happy to report that I never felt in danger in Morocco (even when walking around on my own), and that I didn’t even experience the level of harassment that my pre-trip research had prepared me for.
Will you get comments walking through the souks as a solo female traveler? Yes. But I get similar comments walking down the street in Cleveland, Ohio, so I’m not sure that should be a reason for anyone to avoid the country.
Morocco passed a new law last year that imposed tougher penalties on sexual harassment and violence against women, and tourist police are often undercover in the most touristy areas to help keep people safe. At least two women I spoke to who had previously visited Marrakech (3-4 years ago) commented that the city felt safer and the vendors less “pushy” in 2019.
I didn’t know this about Morocco before I visited, but the country has been known throughout history for its religious tolerance. There’s been a notable minority of Jewish people in Morocco for centuries (many of them fled to Morocco during the Spanish Inquisition), with almost every major city having a Mellah, or Jewish Quarter.
The current Moroccan King, Mohammed VI, has made efforts in recent years to restore and preserve hundreds of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries around the country, further solidifying the importance of this relationship.
This religious tolerance undoubtedly adds to Morocco being quite peaceful and stable.
Diverse cities and landscapes
Before visiting Morocco, my only other experience in North Africa had been in Egypt. Egypt was a fascinating country, but it felt quite same-y wherever you went – the cities felt similar, the color palate was the same dusty tan, and the desert seemed to encroach everywhere.
Even though any map will show that Morocco has only a very small sliver of the Sahara Desert within its borders, I erroneously assumed that Morocco would be similar to Egypt. But how wrong I was!
Morocco has such a diversity of both cities and landscapes. Fes with its labyrinthine medina is completely different from Marrakech’s and its rose-colored buildings and palm trees, which is completely different from the blue-washed Chefchaouen, which is completely different from the Berber towns in the High Atlas Mountains.
And the landscapes. Oh, the landscapes! There’s everything from sand dunes to arid mountains to cedar forests to rolling green farmland. They even grow grapes and make wine!
Boasts incredible historical sites
Morocco has a long history, guys. At one point it was part of the Roman Empire, it’s been home to nomadic peoples for millennia, and it has gone on to influence several other cultures (you can’t visit Spain or Portugal without seeing tiles and Islamic arches!).
I knew that Morocco would have some interesting sites to see, but I had no clue that we’d be visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site or ancient town or other historical marvel just about every day on this trip.
The food is amazing
Usually after a couple weeks traveling in a country and eating roughly the same things over and over, I’m dying to eat something else. But you know what? I really didn’t get tired of Moroccan food!
Moroccan food staples include tagine (basically meat and veggies cooked in a clay vessel called a tagine), couscous, meat skewers, olives, bread, oranges, dates, and mint tea. We tried some other things, too (like pastilla in Fes), but mostly ate tagines and skewers – and I didn’t hate it!
This is mostly because each tagine dish will be slightly different depending on where you eat it and who’s making it, so you don’t *really* feel like you’re eating the same thing over and over again.
I also came to appreciate Moroccans’ love of sweet mint tea any time of day, as well as the abundance of oranges. I would NEVER drink 2 glasses of orange juice per day or reach for an orange for dessert at home, but it just felt right in Morocco (and my body is still craving oranges!).
Since my trip ended, people have been asking me “what was it like?” I know they want me to compare it to other countries they’ve been to; to say it was like Egypt or Turkey or Greece or somewhere else they know. But the truth is that Morocco is unlike anywhere else I’ve been!