Our Top Safety Tips for Women Traveling to Morocco

With a bad reputation for misogyny and reports of sexual harassment, just how unsafe is it for women to travel in Morocco?

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Things are getting better (than they once were) for female travelers, but it pays to be on your guard. Here are our top tips for women traveling through Morocco.

Skip the Skimpy - Conservative Dress is Best

Morocco is still a very conservative country, and many women walk around with their hair covered. This is a message to visitors that skimpy tops, shorts and revealing clothing are not appreciated by the locals. Dress modestly with legs and arms covered and you'll avoid the wrong kind of attention. It's also helpful to carry a scarf, it helps you blend in and avoid unwanted attention.

If you'd like to avoid being an object of curiosity, get a husband and kids - fake ones of course. Just say you are married. Many female travelers say wearing sunglasses helps avoid eye contact with the leering men.

If you think you're being hassled, walk into a shop or restaurant and ask for help. If you've been groped, or you're receiving unwanted persistent attention, make a fuss and show your disgust, locals (especially women) will come to your aid.

Note that marriage proposals are very frequent in Morocco, but they are almost always a throwaway line, kind of the equivalent of “you look nice in that outfit” in the west. I received several proposals a day from males aged 10 to 70, a smsile and “no thanks” is almost always received with a corresponding smile.  

There are marriage proposal scams as well, and western women entering a relationship with a man in any developing country should question whether it is for immigration purposes.

Trouble Spots to Avoid in Morocco

Morocco has many historic sights and fascinating souks. Plan your day using a map before you go out, and do your best to get a sense of direction (keep an eye on landmarks, nt shops which change in appearance markedly when then close the doors at night). Regardless of where you are traveling, always walk with a sense of purpose. If you look lost, you're more likely to be a target.

Just as you would in any other big city or remote area, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don't accept drinks from strangers, and never leave your drink unattended.

Visiting the Jemaa el-Fnna in Marrakesh at dusk is a sight not to be missed – with snake-charmers and families out to enjoy the cool evening. Stick to places where the families are. The surrounding streets up until about 11 pm are just fine.  The biggest risk here is having someone put a monkey on your shoulder and demand money for a photo.

There are very few destinations in the world where hitchhiking is still safe. You probably wouldn't do it at home, so don't do it in Morocco either. Trains are often cheaper than buses and both are cheap.

Remote and mountainous areas remain dangerous, especially to women traveling alone.

Make sure you stay in a hotel where you can lock the hotel door securely. If you're not confident on the integrity of the lock, a simple door stop is an effective way to prevent access from an intruder, and it takes up very little room in your luggage.

Meeting Local Women in Morocco

Traveling alone brings many benefits, and one of them is meeting local women who will provide a glimpse into their daily lives. But, most local women remain in the family home, and it can be challenging to make contact.

Some cooking courses in Morocco include a trip to the markets to shop for ingredients, and cooking alongside a traditional Moroccan dada. This is an excellent way to experience the local culture and meet local women.

Search for female guides in the main towns who can take you around the souks and medinas and explain a little more about the way of life.

Visit a hammam or traditional bath on ladies day. You'll see a whole other side to daily life in Morocco, although not understand much of it unless you speak Arabic. As a side note, while the women may go naked, men never do.

19 Comments

  • mich said

    i am planning to go to morocco for a weeks holiday with my 11 year old daughter in the morning, is morocco a safe country to visit at the moment, i can see things changing quite quickly on the news and am obviously very worried about our safety if it escalates or turns violent

  • suzy said

    I always check my country's government travel website which gives you information on the political situation for travellers and advises you whether it is safe to travel or not. For Morocco, it says travel with high levels of cautio. <br>maybe if you would like to mak trip in morocco and also tripinto sahara i can recommend hilghly the tour operator sahara-magic.com <br>hassan nd is uncle they ae very friendly and the show us everything .<br><br>

  • analisa said

    Morocco is wonderful country , as a solo traveller , Everyone I met was extremely personable, treating me as a friend, moroccan food is so yummy.
    To experience the highlights of this amazing cultural and visually diverse. I would recommend Marvelous Morocco Tours ( www.marvelous-moroccotours.com ) to all ages of people who are hoping to see Morrocco.

  • Laura said

    DO NOT TRAVEL TO MOROCCO.
    This country is unsafe and disrespectful to women. A place where women have no voice is not a place you want to travel or give your money to so that they can perpetuate the same.
    No beauty is worth the safety. As to beauty ... The so famous square smells of urine, there are beggars everywhere following you and asking for money and the food is unsanitary. Don't eat salads or veggies -they are stale. Don't eat in the square either, you'll be bloated at best. If you do decide to visit, stay in Marakech but not in the old city, go to the new city that is cleaner and has westernized restaurants.
    The standards are really low so a "luxiourious" stay means many no ants in your room. That doesn't mean you will get room service and the included breakfast will be very Spartan. Also no alcohol.

    I just travelled there in June 2016 and my assessment is : not worth the time and money, definitely not a luxurious vacation and I have been stressed and angry the entire time.Marrakech is very polluted, smells of urine and it NOT safe especially for solo women even if conservatively dressed. I STRONGLY recommend that you do NOT travel here.

  • Mouad said

    Yes i agree im from morocco they will cheat you , because you dont have friend help you morocco is not like spain or tueky north africa is otherthing you need someone next to you for make a vocation in morocco and im sorry for you

  • Hola said

    Would you recomend travelling to morocco to a female underaged? She has a very good friend from there and if she finally does go she would spend the entire time with her. I'm a little worried but maybe having a friend who knows what they should a shouldn't do to be safe may help.

  • Concerned mom said

    My 20 year old daughter and her female friend want to travel there, I'm not too sure it's a safe place for two young beautiful girls to go to and have to endure male harassment...

  • 20 year old traveler said

    Hi! I'm reading all the comments and your post was very informative. Just wondering, is it a safe place to go? My gal pal and I are thinking about going in March for 5 days. We are 20 years old and females. We're from New York City and we are aware of our surroundings and the creepy men here in NYC but I know that the cultures are very different but I feel common sense and planning out your day it is doable for 2 young girls? Anyone agree or no? Also anyone have an itinerary for Morocco?

  • Rachel said

    Hi! I travelled there as a teenager with my mum and sister. We did get hasselled but we were prepared, so it did not ruin our trip. It was overall a really lovely experience.

    My sister returned after graduating from University to go travelling with one of her female friends. They had enough of being bothered so wore outfits like the local women and they said it completely transformed their experience. They loved their adventure and travelled around Morrocco for a whole month.

  • Ghilan said

    Hello, my name is Ghilan twenty five years from Morocco.

    The place here is safe and good.

    No one can judge something or some place before he see it and not all people are the same.

    Anyone is WELCOME.

    Here comes the sun.

    For any information call or leave a text (+212626207031).

    Ghilan

    The Best
    Che

  • Lucia said

    I contacted Mohamed by mail by recommendation of family that had a wonderful experience with him in the summer and he lived beyond expectations!

    We started from Marrakesh where he arranged for a local guide (Mohamed as well) who was very knowledgable in history and culture and a very nice and flexible driver called Omar. Then we headed to the Dades Valley crossing the High Atlas through its narrow and dangerous road. Mohamed is an very good and experienced driver that made us feel safe throughout the route.

    After spending the night in Dades, we headed to Merzouga, Mohamed hometown, where he had arranged for a camel ride for a night at the khaima luxury camp, one of the best experiences of our life. Next morning, he was generous enough to invite us to visit his own house, an invaluable experience to be able to understand the Berber culture before a long ride to beautiful Fez.

    He is a self-made young man, that was born a nomad in the desert near Merzouga and has become a polyglot proud to show travelers from the world his wonderful country and culture. He knows what are the landmarks that interest most travelers, but is flexible enough to allow you to make detours wherever you want or stop for a picture.Highly recommended Traveling-in-morocco.com

  • Jo said

    I am looking to train for 2022 Marathon des Sables in the South Sahara Dessert next year in 2018 to start acclimatising to the 50 degree heat. Please let me know it is safe for me and I have compass and camera that I will take with me. I will be staying in hotel with the same area as well.

  • C.Swan said

    It was so obvious that this was written by a man before I ever got to the by-line but the victim blaming BS was disgusting. No one is "asking for it"; the author's internalized misogyny is showing to say nothing of his arrogance at thinking he is the person best suited to write an article about being a woman traveling alone.

  • Brittany said

    I traveled to Marrakech earlier this year and find this article, as well as some of the comments, outrageous. I stayed in the Medina (old city) and could not have asked for a better experience. I stayed in two different airBnB's run by locals and felt perfectly safe the entire time. As with anywhere, use common sense; don't follow anyone down alleys for drugs or 'deals', don't join large impromptu gatherings, and don't get into vehicles that are not clearly marked taxis.
    This article perpetuates harmful stereotypes of 'non-Western' cultures at the same time takes part in victim blaming. As a site that aims to encourages an open mind I expected more.

  • barbara mccabe said

    I traveled to Morocco as a solo woman traveler at age 38 for almost 3 weeks. I took the train to Marrakech, the bus to the desert, and local transport to Fez and the Atlas mountains. I had a wonderful time and I think Morocco is a sultry and romantic location even if I was solo while there. I agree that woman get a lot of attention, and Morrocan women are essentially hidden from view, but I did not have any bad experiences in the towns or desert. I did do a three hour solo hike in the mountains which I would not do again without company or a guide, as I was approached by a male who wanted sex, and I think it was my prayers that saved me! If you dress appropriately, plan ahead, have your destinations researched and booked, it is a wonderful country to travel to and different than any I had thus far visited. I hope to go back again someday with my husband. The desert is absolutely magical and the sights, sounds, and smells are the fabric of an unforgettable experience. It was 10 years ago so I am not sure how things have changed since then.

  • Natasha said

    I just returned from there yesterday and am disappointed to report that I don't believe most women should be traveling there alone or at a young age. This was my 34th country visited, many of them pretty rough spots, and this was in the top 3 for ongoing harassment and a general roll of the dice on whether that turns to outright danger, REGARDLESS of what you wear. For instance, one night when I knew exactly where I was going to get to my riad, and was fully covered head to toe, I turned the last corner, and the porch light was off. In the 3 seconds it took to turn on the flashlight app on my phone to see the keyhole, I had a large man upon me, molesting me forcefully and had to hit him and push him. Could this happen anywhere? Of course. But it's way more apt to happen in a place where they disrespect and harass women, which sets the stage.

    In places like this, it's just pure chance whether you land in the 50% who don't have bad things happen or the 50% that do, so NO young or inexperienced lone female travelers, please. It's not worth it.

    In addition, in the large cities, basically no one will ever do anything just to be helpful or nice (your hotel proprietor or tour operator do not count). People expect to get paid for saying you're near a landmark, or even saying you should go to a landmark you're already heading to and/or standing in front of already. Normal conversation:
    "Do you know where I can buy water?"
    "Across the street there. Give me some money for helping you. Yes!!! Give me money. You're not giving me money? You're a whore. I wasted my precious time telling you the water was there."

    When things like this are in play, I measure a country by whether the sights you see or spirituality you experience are worth the trade-off. Sadly, Morocco does not make the cut.

    2 thumbs down.

  • Tachael said

    I visited and was fortunate enough to have a friend's family I could stay with.

    I am female and was 26 or so at the time. Due to my very pale redhead complexion, it was not possible for me to blend in. I had a male escort (my friend) everywhere I wanted to go. The only place I ever went alone was to the corner shop at mid day. I tried to take the same trip after dark and that was a mistake. I immediately had two young man following me and making harassing sounds.

    The family I stayed with was kind and courteous and cooked me meals every day. The father was warm and welcoming. They were very kind.

    The worst I know of: The youngest of the siblings was a 16-year-old girl, and she had been robbed twice at knife point on her way to school by some young neighborhood thug wannabes.

    The best: there is a beautiful and warm custom in this country that if a stranger is traveling and they're thirsty, they can stop anywhere and ask for a drink of water. One day, I went downstairs because the bell was buzzing and two ladies were at the door, asking for drinks of water. I think it speaks of a very warm and hospital place where this is a traditional custom.

    Bottom line – no, I would not go there as a young female by myself, especially if you're not able to blend in. But you should be able to hire a guide for not too much to travel around with you - just pick an honest one from a good family.

    Just think of Morocco like you know some good people who live in the tourist part of town with a few opportunist crooks ( there are perfectly safe, beautiful areas of Morocco with good people all over – please don't get me wrong. But this is your safety we're talking about so it pays to be careful) Don't do anything you would not do at home in a bad neighborhood.

    And the women yes are usually very kind and supportive of each other. Other women watched out for me everywhere I went even though they didn't know me. They are a wonderful people.

  • David from TravelScams.org said

    Great article, thanks for the tips! With the Sahara desert, interesting Mosque architecture, riads, Medinas, mint tea and many more, Morocco is a place not to be missed. However, there are numerous tourist targeted scams to be wary of. http://travelscams.org/africa/common-tourist-scams-morocco/

    Do be wary of the visa scam, coin collectors, scam orphanages, Angkor Watt touts, incense/prayer scam, Tonle Sap floating village rice scam, milk/food beggar, pickpocketing, snatch theft, invitations to a local home for gambling, tuk tuk scam, rape accusation, fake police and many more!

  • V said

    Written from the perspective of a 23 year old woman who has travelled through Morocco, solo, on several occasions...

    I adhere to cultural norms when I choose my outfits, expect respect, and am very willing to tell off or lecture a man twice my age who decides to treat me in a way he wouldn't treat a local.

    Outfits: Just as I wouldn't walk through a mall in a bikini, I won't venture through the streets with less than: 3/4th sleeves (or longer), tunic length shirts (long enough to add another level of clothing over the butt-- not needed if you are wearing loose fitting trousers or a loose skirt), and pants/trousers/jeans that reach the ankles. This isn't about victim blaming-- it's about respecting tg e culture you've come to, rather than trying to transplant your country's ideals. If I'm showing most of my arms, some of my legs, any of my back/stomach/shoulders, or if I am wearing a very tightfitting outfit, I am no longer blending in, or showing locals that I respect their culture.
    (This is perhaps a good moment to mention, I don't wear a head covering, especially in big cities-- but I have dark hair. A blonde friend of mine found that occasionally wearing a head covering helped her not stick out so much.) I'd, however, avoid a shapeless, nun-worthy look. Locals go for cute looks too-- I just look at what most of my generation is wear I (locals, not tourists) and adopt what's in style to blend in.
    Also: leather shoes. They can match your outfits, are sold in medians, and are traditional-- and they are so comfortable! Bad for foot support, great for adopting the local look. (Thete are some really cute local jalabas (dresses with hood) which are always fun-- it might be worth buying one.

    Expect respect: I find out what is normal or not normal treatment of women in the culture (keeping an open mind, as different cultures show respect in different ways), and I am prepared with a four-minute lecture and cries of disbelief if anyone steps out of line. Banter is commen once engaged in conversation, but if a man starts following me, the guy fixing my phone gets my number, or if a man so much as grabs my arm, I am ready to do what their mother would surely want done, and I lecture them on what is and is not appropriate in a loud voice, so anyone within earshot is informed of their behavior. Shaming is a powerful tool-- if someone does something truly innapropriate, such as physically restricting my movement or coMing to me with a crowd of guys, or suggesting we have sex, I have no problem shouting the word "shame!" in Arabic, with total disgust, for all to hear.
    Don't be malicious or hateful, but aggression is totally okay. If local women wouldn't put up with it, why should I?

    Common sense for female travelers: find a hotel with a reputation for professionalism, in an area with a lot of foot traffic, away from the main touristy area. Stay close to thr women-- if she looks the mother of teenagers, she may step into the motherly role with you. If there's a train car with all men and one empty seat, and a train car full of women, go with the women. Stay near the females of a family. Don't give your number out to anyone who is working. Make a local friend. Explore places with less tourists, but high foot traffic. If someone's hassling you, step into a shop. Don't take local busses when it's dark. (Long rides are .) Explore local marketplaces. Help mothers, smile at children, but if a man isn't on the job or required to speak to you, it's totally acceptable to avoid eye contact-- there are plenty of colorful things to look at instead.
    Find a secure place to leave your passport -- and always have copies o f important documents. Be open to changes in your plans. Be careful at ATMs. Expect to be pickpocketed in Jemma Elf Na. If prices aren't written down, haggle, perhaps starting at 1/3 the price you are first told. Lighthearted insults are acceptable when haggling ("Your price I ridiculous," "You are cheating me" "Yhis is a horrible price.
    Take recyclable bags when shopping-- locals use ones you can get at Carrefour -- it will be worth it, because it doesn't shout "tourist!"
    Try to get a seat at the front of the bus. Taxis are safe. Local busses can get so crowded, you're exchanging sweat with four other women. Don't go to cafes where no local women are sitting down with a drink. Segregation is out of consideration for a woman's safety and comfort-- embrace it. If you're sitting on a local bus, and a man wants to sit next to you, he may suggest you move so he can sit next to the window. This is because he doesn't want you to feel uncomfortable or corned--I'd thank him for his thoughtfulness, go along with it, then promptly ignore him once we are both seated. A man may switch spots in a taxi, so that women sit together, or so you don't have to sit next to a man. Again, embrace it-- he's showing respect.

    Cultures are a beautiful part of the world's diversity-- embrace the place you're visiting, and don't let fear of the unknown stop you. Different norms aren't bad norms-- you just have to take the time to learn. And Morocco is too amazing a country to miss-- go, enjoy, and be safe !

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