Safety is an important and critical matter that needs to be checked prior to any of our trips, especially when we travel to countries we don’t know a lot about. And Morocco safety is definitely an important subject which most tourists read about before traveling to Morocco.
I grew up in Morocco and I still spend a lot of time there and believe, sometimes the media can draw a misleading picture that is very far from the reality. In order to learn about Morocco safety, you will need a deep insight into Moroccan society, right? In this article, I will answer the questions you might be asking yourself, about Morocco safety and all those subjects that might be worrying you, such as terrorism, crimes, women treatment, health matters and so much more.
Is it safe to travel to Morocco?
Okay. Here is an overview of Morocco safety regarding different aspects.
1. Morocco Safety and Terrorist Attacks
Terrorism is a widely sensitive subject that makes me shiver every time I think about it.
In fact, I was living in Paris when terrorist attacks happened in Le Bataclan, cafés terraces, and Stade de France, all in the same evening of November 13th, 2015. I was there too when Charlie Hebdo was attacked and during many other isolated terrorist attacks in France. Every time it was terrible, unfair, unpredictable, leaving us all in extreme shock and infinite sadness.
It might seem, at a first glance and because of imprecise statements from the media, that Morocco (being part of North Africa in particular) is a dangerous land where terrorist attacks occur all the time.
Well, good news, that’s not the case!
In fact, no terrorist attack has taken place in Morocco since 2011,
… while in the meantime, many European and North African countries still suffer, unfortunately, from such sad incidents.
There are several reasons that might explain the fact that Morocco has been rarely targeted by terrorists. However, a subtle yet very important reason is that: Moroccan society is very gossipy.
In fact, if you have the chance to travel to Morocco, you will notice that cafés (coffee shops) are everywhere. In particular, men spend most of their day drinking their coffee while gossiping and catching up.
Women gossip too while at home, souks (local grocery stores) or in the Hammam (a traditional Moroccan Sauna). So if there is somebody who, let’s say, had changed his habits or started paying interest to some controversial subject, chances are high that the information will quickly spread and reach local law enforcement.
Gossiping is one reason, but there are obviously others. If you are interested in the subject and want to dig deeper, here is an article that will better explain what makes Morocco less of a terrorist target than other countries.
It is clear that no one can predict future events or guarantee safety. Also, no one can give us the assurance we are looking for. Fortunately, recent statistics clearly highlight the fact that we can worry less about terrorism when we travel to Morocco than when we travel to other countries.
2. Morocco Safety, Crimes, and Delinquencies
And I mean by that pickpocketing, snatching, catcalling and verbal or physical violence.
2.1 In highly touristic areas
In Morocco, highly touristic areas are known for pick-pocketing and snatching. You might also deal with very insistent merchants who will stick to you and try to take you somewhere to sell you something.
My advice would be to keep safe all your personal belongings and precious items. Avoid eye contact when you are dealing with an insistent merchant, refuse free gifts and do not follow anyone anywhere.
Stick to your group (if you belong to any), do not show hesitation, and be firm but polite when you decline an offer.
If a merchant keeps insisting, you can say ” La! Shoukrane ” which means ”No but thank you”, always firmly and with confidence.
If you experience catcalling or hustling, just ignore it. And please girls don’t get offended. I know sometimes such behavior can make us very angry. But recall that you’ve made it all the way to Morocco to enjoy your time, chill and relax. So just ignore anyone annoying you!
2.2 Safety in non-touristy areas
Like most countries in the world, there exist in Morocco some neighborhoods that are known for their hostility, even towards locals.
In Casablanca, for example, there are a couple of neighborhoods which I can’t even imagine going to by myself. In fact, even locals won’t feel safe going there, especially if they don’t blend into the decor.
Fortunately, places like these are rare. These neighborhoods are mainly an agglomeration of old houses, small traditional grocery shops with no tourist attractions. The picture above shows an example of how these neighborhoods look like. Not very touristy right?
My advice would be to stick to known and touristic zones. If you don’t get very adventurous, you will never end up in places like these, believe me 😉
If you want inspiration, head to my article about the safest and best places to visit in Morocco, where I am giving real insight about ones of the most beautiful destinations in Morocco.
2.3 Morocco Safety Recommendations
Here are my top tips to enhance your safety in Morocco regarding potential crimes and delinquencies
- Stick to known cities and places.
- Avoid staying late in the night in the ancient Medinas with narrow and labyrinthic streets where you can easily get lost.
- When visiting or sightseeing, make sure you take with you all your personal documents (passports, credit cards, cash, ..) and expensive items and leave nothing precious in your room. Here are an RFID Passport Holder and a Neck Wallet I always wear. Very discreet, lightweight and practical.
- Dress modestly and avoid wearing bling or luxurious items. Your way of dressing can make your experience in Morocco richer, more comfortable and dreamy. Here I give tips and inspiration on how to dress in Morocco for women and men.
- Ask your host about the best hours to visit each place. Also, make sure transportation (buses, taxis or trains) is going to be available. It’s all a matter of organization, like any trip.
- Don’t accept any free gift and don’t follow any person you don’t know. Stick to your map or better, take a professional guide (your host can give you some recommendations or contacts).
- Decline politely but firmly or say ‘La! Shoukrane!’.
- Don’t answer catcalling or hustling.
- Look confident and sure.
3. Morocco Safety and Health
Unlike many African countries where vaccination prior to the trip might be mandatory, Morocco remains a safe country to travel to with respect to health matters. However, as when traveling to any country, organization and anticipation are key.
Here are my health-related recommendations and checklist :
- Don’t forget your medicines and prescriptions if you have any.
- Bring your emergency health kit (Band-Aids, Pain Relief Pills, Antiseptic Towelettes, etc.). In addition, you can bring essential oils which are very useful for major travel inconveniences. Intrigued? Here is my bag of essential oils for travel.
- Don’t forget mosquitoes repellent products. In fact, depending on where you go in Morocco, mosquitoes can sometimes be very annoying during the night. If traveling light is your thing, peppermint essential oil and lavender essential oil can be extremely useful. As it is quite hard to find good quality essential oils, I am listing down below some of the brands I love and purchase constantly.
- Sunscreen. A basic, right?
- If possible, get Typhoid and Hepatitis A (and even Hepatitis B) vaccines.
I had to dedicate a whole paragraph to Turista. That digestive discomfort that can occur during our trips either because of tiredness or diet change.
Morocco is not a country that is at high risk of Turista, but it is always better to get prepared. No one wants to spend his vacation in the bathroom, right? 😉 So here are my recommendations :
- Wash fruits thoroughly and peel them before you eat them.
- Switch to bottled water if possible, especially if you are in small cities or villages.
- Eat yogurt once a day to support your stomach with probiotics. Oh, and why not try local Raïb? A Moroccan version of yogurt very tasteful and creamy.
- Use lemon essential oil throughout your trip to strengthen your immune system.
4. Morocco Safety and Car Driving
If you are planning on driving in Morocco, I will start by giving you two advises: 1 – Be careful, 2 – Be zen.
Driving is Morocco varies a lot from a city to another. Casablanca and Marrakech, for example, are by far the most stressful, messy and confusing places to drive in. If you’re bold enough to take on the road, you’ll be surprised by how rude people can be. A general advice would be to avoid driving in Morocco except when really obliged to. Cabs are cheap and very convenient.
Moroccan people drive fast and don’t always respect road signs. In a nutshell, it is a bit of an anarchy.
If you are used to driving in a straight line, one car behind the other, well …. in Morocco, people don’t do that. It seems like most Moroccan drivers have their own unwritten manual of road signs that nobody has access to except of course if you are a Moroccan driver. So don’t be surprised if the drivers unrightfully overtake your car from the right and the left. Really.
Oh, and if you are in the front line and the traffic light has just turned green, either don’t waste your time and start the car immediately, or be prepared to be honked at furiously.
It always makes me laugh (or angry sometimes) when I drive in Morocco. The difference is enormous compared to the other places I lived in, such as France and the US. So here are my recommendations for a safe drive in Morocco :
- Be concentrated and follow road signs, drive carefully.
- Don’t get distracted by honks and get pressured to do something. For example, if you are not ready to make a turn, don’t. Take the appropriate time to make your maneuvers.
- Stay zen
- To move in town, cabs are your friends. They are cheap and very convenient.
5. Morocco Saftey and the LGBT Community
If you are part of the LGBT community, of course, you can visit Morocco and have a beautiful vacation, but on one condition: Stay very discreet about your sexual orientation.
In fact, Morocco, due to its religious background, is not tolerant towards any sexual manifestation in public spaces. For example, a man and woman, even married, cannot show affection in public, especially in small and conservative cities. Some places are more tolerant, so you might see couples holding hands, but not everywhere.
For LGBT people, showing affection or anything about sexual preference can be dangerous as it is illegal.
So discretion, discretion, and discretion!
6. Morocco Safety and Women
Woman Safety is a subject that is very dear to my heart. In fact, women safety in Morocco is one of my battle horses. And that’s why I developed an online platform to help Moroccan women have more choices when going for outdoor activities, entertainment, places to visit or dine-in etc.. But I am going to talk about that in a future article.
Although women safety in Morocco is rather above average, I find that Moroccan women don’t enjoy overall the same level of freedom and choices as men do. This applies especially to Moroccan local women who permanently live in Morocco. Fortunately, this doesn’t apply to female tourists who stick to touristic places. And guess what? These touristic places are the ones local women frequent whenever they want to go out and enjoy their freedom safely.
In the contrast, Moroccan men are the champions of catcalling. So if you are a woman and experience such a behavior, ignore the catcall, avoid eye contact and keep walking. Besides, if you happen to interact with a man, try to stay neutral. No touching, laughing or flirting unless you want things to go further, as Moroccan men can misinterpret your signals.
My other recommendation for women would be to avoid wearing sexy clothes and showing a lot of skin. Unless you are with a local guide and he tells you it is going to be fine, décolletés, shorts or shorts skirts can draw catcallers attention.
And if ever you get harassed (although it happens quite rarely in touristic places), yelling, screaming and calling for help will intimidate harasser and draw locals attention who will hurry to help you. But as I have said, this is a quite unlikely scenario.
So is Morocco Safe to travel to? Based on all the previous elements, Morocco can be a very safe destination, especially if you follow recommendations, plan well your trip and respect local culture and religion.
Morocco offers a heavenly nature and many beautiful cities with distinct styles and color palette. Besides, Moroccan people are very welcoming and will be happy to share their culture with you.