Europe + Morocco?

Hi all,
I am planning a 2 month Europe vacation around August and September in a couple of years (UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany and Netherlands). I am thinking about trying to include a short stay in Morocco. Two issues:

  1. How would i incorporate this into my itinerary, as in, in between which countries?
  2. I am worried about going to an Islamic country, being a woman and being a tourist, and not being sure at all about that culture which is very different to my own. I don't want to accidentally offend anyone but i think it could be a real eye opening experience.

Has anyone else got some Morocco travel experience?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts
  1. Forget trying to link it by geographical proximity. Treat it as a separate mini-trip, leaving and returning from the same European city. Spain and France would have the best prices, but you might want to check the UK as well, especially if you're thinking of heading to the Atlantic coast. Fez and/or Marrakech are the best places for initial visits.

  2. The only way you're going to offend anybody is by spitting on the floor in a mosque or popping a camel at one of the tourist rides. Go get lost in the souks. Eat at the night stalls . Go to the beach and wear a string bikini. Do whatever you normally do. Moslems are not boogeymen and they're not going to try to cram their religion down your throat. They don't pick on women.

The only way you could possibly screw up is by going to Morocco first - - you'd probably wind up cancelling the rest of your trip.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5331 posts

It has been a few years, but my kids and I went to Agadir for 2 weeks. We loved it. Nice beach, decent water, lovely hotel, great food. We did a half-pension so we got 2 meals a day. Took a sailing ship down 50 km of the coast which was the highlight of the trip, found a taxi driver to take us all over town for 20 DM, saw the ceder boxes workshop, went to the bazaar, saw where all the birds migrate, and the kings palace. Yes, we rode camels on the beach and got henna tatoos. All touristy stuff, but it was fun. At no time were any men disrespectful. Morocco is a great place, with very friendly people, so hope you go. I would love to go back. We flew with Air Marocc.

Posted by Mira
Midwest
291 posts

I haven't done this, but looked into it from Spain. Flights from Madrid to various Moroccan cities seemed quite reasonable, so if you're in Madrid anyway, it might make sense to fly to Morocco, do your Morocco visit, fly back to Madrid and continue on your Europe trip.
I would assume that other major cities, like Paris, Amsterdam, and London have good flights, as well, but it will obviously be a shorter flight from Spain.

There is a ferry from southern Spain to Tangier, and from there you can connect to the rest of the country by train, but I think flying just sounds easier.

Posted by wendy
toronto
86 posts

A few years ago I did a trip to Spain and Morocco. I flew to and from Barcelona from Toronto. Then from Barcelona to Casablanca and joined a tour for Morocco. I loved Morocco and would go back again, this time I would do it on my own. As a women I found that Morocco was very open, most of my clothes were more conservative that other women were wearing. I did not pack my usually sundresses, but instead ensured that my shoulders and knees would be covered. I had wanted to ensure that I was being respectful of the people. I then flew from Marrakesh to Madrid were I started my trip in Spain. Easyjet was very cheap between Marrakesh and Madrid. I flew Air Morocco between Barcelona to Casablanca not so happy with the flight and service, would not use them again if I could help it. Go and enjoy Morocco if it makes you more comfortable take a tour, but do not miss it.

Wendy

Posted by SazMcG
Australia
17 posts

I will have 5-6 days to spend on this leg ... any suggestions? destinations or activities?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Agadir, Safi, Fez, Marrakech. Pick two, but probably not two coastal towns. Weight Marrakech the heaviest.

You don't have enough time for the mountains. Don't fall for the camel ride to spend the night in a tent deal.

Posted by Dave
Ventura, CA, USA
900 posts

Saz, we have a good friend, a woman who is a young seventy, who has just returned from a Morocco tour with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) and she had a blast. It was interesting to hear her tell how she never felt uncomfortable as a woman, and very much did feel like it was a relatively forward thinking country. Now, granted, she was with a tour group, with a truly excellent, native guide-he had the group to his home for a dinner-but she was quite comfortable in Morocco, YMMV. They discussed at length life in Morocco, Islam, marriage, food, etc with their guide, and she came away with an understanding of an Islamic country doing its best to promote a-here comes that word again-relative degree of equality and societal progressiveness. It sounds to me like it may be harder to offend someone there than one may think. The call to prayer happens five times per day, but she was comfortable and loved it, nothing but good things to say about the experience, truly unique.
I realize you are not asking/looking for a tour per se, but you may find this interesting, good luck!
http://www.oattravel.com/trips/land-adventures/africa/morocco-sahara-odyssey/2014

By the way, she "fell" for the Sahara camel ride and tent "camping", it was part of the tour-she absolutely loved the experience.

Posted by SazMcG
Australia
17 posts

Now it makes me sad to not have enough time to stay longer in Morocco!

Posted by SazMcG
Australia
17 posts

how far will my money go in Morocco? In Europe we will probably stay in hostels but when i was in Thailand we booked luxurious on the beach hotels and ate dinner and a cocktail for 200 baht.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Forty bucks a night will knock your socks off -- thirty is fine. You'd probably like ryads/riads and the closer to the medinas the better.

It's impossible to spend ten bucks for supper in the stalls. Twenty absolute tops in all but the most expensive restaurants.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

American. But my rounding is pretty loose so it wouldn't make much difference.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
7449 posts

I think that visiting nine countries in two months is too fast, with less than a week for each. The more research you do, the more places you will want to go, and some could be closer together, not requiring such far-flung transportation. Flying between the further points makes them more manageable, but another common strategy is often to cut off the odd-ball or furthest points on the plan. Don't focus on just the big cities you're heard of, but try to include a mix of smaller towns that will have a much different atmosphere.

I have had the experience of going to Morocco and staying much longer than planned. I recommend bringing the Lonely Planet Morocco guidebook. FYI, non-Muslims are not admitted to mosques in Morocco, but you can peek in the door. While you can do nearly anything you want without fear, be aware that people may stare at you and approach you anywhere in public. Being modestly dressed on the streets helps you to feel more comfortable in these situations. It's not unusual to wear any sort of bathing suit on the beach, and also not unusual for men to try to chat up tourist girls. Sunglasses can help you avoid eye contact. See also general advice at http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/trip-planning/tips-for-solo-women-travelers.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Tin Mal (south of Marrakech) and Hassan II (Casablanca) are two mosques freely open to non-Moslems.

Asking the guardian will get you into others sometimes, especially the smaller ones. You are not stoned for asking. Sometimes you'll even get a mini-tour, give a tip if you do.

I'm stumped on what the Moroccan protocol might be for single non-Muslim women, it varies by nation by area within nations, by sect, and by individual congregations.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3097 posts

Depending on how the rest of your trip plays out... I went from Tariffa across on the ferry to Tangiers (fun for a few days) but the best was when we went to Chefchouen (sp) and also on to Assila. Those two locations were amazing and I would return to Morocco any time. Would love to see more. I was with a group of women photographers, but we did have a guide for our excursions, but we did go out on our own and we never felt afraid. Yes, in Tangiers we had people wanted to sell us stuff, but they were working, not begging. Just ignore if you don't want to buy.

Posted by john
phoenix, az, usa
16 posts

My wife and I flew from Madrid on Iberia Air, landed in Casablanca and took off for two weeks with a driver and a guide. This was in 2012. Great trip. Great country and not an Islamic hotbed like those in Egypt, Middle East, etc. They even make it a point of educating their girls. I probably would save Morocco for last unless you can take some medication--the water isn't what we're used to, and even if you drink from plastic bottles, they still wash vegetables and fruit, etc. in regular water. The riads (hotels) are wonderful, the people are very friendly and it's inexpensive. You can take the camel ride into the desert and spend the night in a tent if you want bragging rights.