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Having just returned back from Morocco yesterday, I have started to digest the two week journey through the country. My expectations were limited before going, and I had little idea as to what to expect.

Morocco brought me to a place that I hadn’t felt in a long time in my travels. I felt challenged through moments of discomfort and yet reminded how raw and authentic those very moments can be. It was liberating to be in a country like Morocco.  Before going, research was in full force but there was much that had to be learned once on ground.

Here are 10 things I didn’t expect about Morocco:

1. Distance and time. 
I knew beforehand that choosing to bounce around would require hours of transportation, but nothing prepared me for the amount. Morocco is a large country mostly dictated by windy roads through mountain passes and traffic. Clocking in over thirty hours in a car, though worth it, truly showed me how big of a country Morocco is.

2. It’s in Africa but doesn’t feel like Africa.
I have never been to the continent to Africa and Morocco was my first country there. It didn’t feel like what I thought Africa would be. It reminded me a lot of Jordan or Turkey. With Arabic being the predominant language (with French, Spanish, and English next), it had tones of another world. 

3. The food is divine.
The food plays on a rustic yet refined palette, with ingredients like dates, almond milk, country vegetables, and of course the famous orange blossom. Spices like turmeric or cumin bring to life the local proteins, and the olive oil? Out of this world.

4. The Call to Prayer is moving.
Early in the morning it was hard not to wake up the ringing sound of the Call to Prayer over the city. In the afternoons it would play out, and it seemed as though everything paused, even in the chaos of a medina. It was moving, no matter what your beliefs are. 

5. It has a diverse landscape.
In one moment you could be in the desert and in another the oceanside. The north was drastically more lush than the south, and the Atlas Mountains had snow! I didn’t expect there to be such a diverse landscape in Morocco.

6. Riads are synonymous with the word “retreat.”
Whenever you needed a break, you could easily head back to your riad or another for downtime. I often retreated here in the heat of the afternoon. The riads are beautiful and traditionally built around an inner-square with a fountain or dipping pool. Hot mint tea, a handful of dates, and riads quickly became my best friend.

7. You will get lost at least once in a medina.
Medinas are in almost every major city in Morocco, and provide hours of fantastic shopping, restaurants and squares. They are also incredibly confusing and often there are unmarked streets. Getting lost is part of the fun, but there is always someone to help you back to a main square for a few dirham.

8. The locals like to crack jokes.
There was almost always a sense of humor with the Moroccans. Cracking jokes seems to be a way of life, and its one way to bond with them.  

9. How you dress is important.
Before the trip I was aware of how I would need to dress as a women. Upon arrival, I was instantly reminded how important it was to dress conservatively, respecting local customs. 

10. Mint tea is a way of life.
I’ve never consumed so much mint tea, but after two weeks I have come to appreciate the custom of drinking tea. It’s a way to greet someone and invite them into one’s home, and every time I checked into a riad, tea was served. It was a reminder to slow down during the day, and savor time.


Read next:

The First Timer’s Guide to Marrakech, Morocco

Luxury Glamping Adventure in the Sahara Desert, Morocco

Impressions of Morocco

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

I use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

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I use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

I use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

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Self-driving is the best way to explore most destinations. I use Discover Cars for our rental cars, select full coverage insurance, and opt for a reputable company like Alamo, Hertz, or Sixt.

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I use Priority Pass to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

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I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

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    • Jessica Wright Reply

      Hey Kyle! I couldn’t agree more! The journey has been teaching me so much during my travels, and slowly starting to appreciate it 🙂

  1. Morocco has been at the top of my bucket list for god knows how long now. I am hoping to travel there at the end of August this year. How safe is it? And is it an expensive country to travel around if you’re on a budget? I will certainly be roughing it (although hoping to sneak in a quick stay at the Riad Yasmin to treat myself!)

    • Jessica Wright Reply

      Hey Dani! The country is definitely expansive and I would suggest picking a few spots close to each other to save on time and days. From a safety perspective, it felt safe to me in relation to the other countries I have visited.

  2. I’ll add one more from my visit there – cats! Cats are everywhere…isn’t it an amazing place?!

  3. Thank you for a really interesting and well written reflection of what I can only imagine was a beautiful experience. A lot of what you describe I remember feeling when visiting Egypt and even Turkey. I’m heading to Marrakech for a weekend trip in May, and I will definitely be reading your post before going. PS — the food you described (and mint tea) sounds GLORIOUS and is making me so excited for y trip!
    Eire |

  4. You have really nailed it. Trip to Morocco is a great game on all the senses. It has something for everyone no matter if you are looking for an adventure trip, family tour, honeymoon or just relaxing..

  5. Thanks for all the great info. Love your photos. We’re considering a 3 week trip to Morocco starting February 21st. Fez > Sahara > Skoura > Asni > Marrakesh. Based on what I’ve read elsewhere, I’m concerned it’s going to be pretty cold. What was your experience like?

    • Jessica Wright Reply

      It can get very cold in the Sahara, but generally the temperatures are mild. It was nice to be there in the cooler months as I don’t love the heat personally!

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  8. I want to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I certainly loved every bit of it.

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