Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Top Tips for Getting To and Around Morocco

Morocco is one of North Africa's most popular destinations, famous for its bustling cities, incredible history, and pristine desert landscapes. Visitors to Morocco are spoiled for choice in terms of ways to get there, whether you choose to arrive by plane or ferry. Once you arrive, the possibilities for onwards travel are equally diverse, ranging from traveling by bus to hiring a car or making the most of Morocco's extensive train network. 

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Before you book your trip, make sure to read our Morocco travel guide for essential information regarding the country's currency, climate, visa regulations, and top attractions. 

Getting to Morocco by Air

Morocco has several international airports, including gateways in Agadir, Casablanca, Marrakesh, and Tangier. Of these, the busiest airports are the Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) in Casablanca, which handles most of the country's long-distance flights; and the Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK), a popular choice for airlines arriving from Europe. Arranging domestic flights to other major Moroccan destinations from either of these transport hubs is easy. Morocco's flag carrier, Royal Air Maroc, is currently the only airline offering direct flights from the United States. Most major European airlines offer connections to Morocco, including British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, and Air France. 

Getting to Morocco by Sea

Those starting their journey in Europe may want to consider traveling to Morocco by sea. There are several passenger ferries to choose from, with routes starting in Spain, France, and Italy. Most ferries (including the one from Sete, France and the one from Genoa, Italy) take you to the Moroccan port city of Tangier. Spain offers the most options for traveling to Morocco by sea. You can travel from Algeciras to Tangier, or from Algeciras to Ceuta, a Spanish autonomous city that borders Morocco in the northeast of the country. 

Alternatively, there are routes from Tarifa to Tangier, from Almeria to Nador or Melilla (another Spanish autonomous city) and from Malaga to Melilla. 

Getting to Morocco by Land

The land border between Algeria and Morocco was closed in 1994 and cannot be crossed. There are border crossings between Morocco and the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, although both of these are currently chaotic with migrants hoping to gain entry into Europe from the rest of Africa. In 2017, the Ceuta border was temporarily closed in order to limit the number of refugees reaching mainland Spain. As such, traveling to Morocco by air or sea is by far the easier option. With that being said, European bus company Eurolines offers overland routes from several European cities to destinations in Morocco, including the ferry journey in your ticket price.

Train Travel in Morocco

Morocco's train network is operated by ONCF, and is one of the best in Africa. Fares are cheap, trains are relatively efficient and the journeys are generally both comfortable and safe. Depending on when you decide to travel, you may well be able to book a ticket upon arrival at the station (although carriages tend to fill up in advance on public holidays). Otherwise, advance booking is possible via the ONCF website (which is written in French). You'll need to decide whether you want to travel first or second class, with the primary difference between the two is that seats are reserved in first class, and available on a first-come-first-served basis only in second. Overnight sleeper trains are available between some destinations.

Bus Travel in Morocco

Long-distance buses offer an alternative method of transport if your chosen destination is not on the train network (this is true of several popular vacation spots, including Essaouira, Chefchaouen, and Agadir). The two largest bus companies in Morocco are the national carriers, Supratours and CTM. Supratours is operated by ONCF and stops at every train station. You can buy combined train and bus tickets on the ONCF website. CTM's website is also in French, but allows for online booking. Otherwise, you can usually buy tickets for either company at the bus depot on your chosen day of departure. Generally, bus travel is comfortable if slow, with air-conditioning on most routes (and WiFi on some). 

Alternative Ways of Getting Around

If your time is short and you need to get from one major city to another in a hurry, a domestic flight is your best option. Use a flight comparison website like to find the cheapest fares for your specific route. 

Upon arrival at your destination, you'll find that most Moroccan cities have two forms of public transport: grand taxis and petit taxis. The larger ones are shared vehicles that travel longer distances, while the petit taxis work in much the same way as taxis anywhere else in the world. Petit taxis are usually a better bet, both in terms of cost and comfort. Make sure that the meter is working before you accept a ride, or negotiate your fare in advance. 

Renting a Car in Morocco

Renting a car in Morocco is both expensive and stressful, due to the inevitable language barrier and an amazing array of hidden costs. If you do decide to hire a car, you'll find most of the international car hire agencies and several domestic ones represented at Morocco's major airports. Alternatively, those living in Europe may want to consider bringing their own car over on the ferry. Generally speaking, Morocco's roads are in relatively good condition, although distances between the major towns are significant.

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