In June I went to Morocco with my sister, just the two of us. Although I had my photographer sidekick with me, I was able to get a pretty good idea of what it's like to travel around Morocco alone as a woman.
We had plenty of encounters and met lots of different people on our journey from Marrakesh to Agadir. From street performers and salesman in the souks, to taxi drivers, hotel staff and tour operators. I think Morocco gets a bit of an unfair reputation, as generally I felt safe. You just need to be aware of what it's like and plan your trip accordingly.
I'd like to share with you my top tips for staying safe and having an enjoyable experience as a woman travelling solo in Morocco.
Morocco from a woman's perspective
The way men react to women around here did take a bit of getting used to. You do feel like you are being glared at constantly. Even when I covered up, my bright blonde hair acted as a sort of beacon, instantly pointing out that I was a foreign tourist.
The local women are completely covered up and from what I could see they didn't appear to get any hassle. If you want to walk the streets freely I'd recommend dressing exactly as they do. Particularly if you are thinking of going outside of the main tourist cities and into some of the more remote places where there are less tourists.
In Marrakesh men did stare at us, but to be honest most of the hassling we got was to buy stuff rather than being objectified. I think in Marrakesh city the locals are more used to the presence of tourists, whereas in Agadir, they made us feel a bit more uncomfortable.
After a day or so, you kind of get used to how things are and learn to shrug things off and ignore anyone trying to bother you. Just walk away. When it comes to haggling for products, I don't think the men selling here are as bad as some people make out. They are only trying to make a living after all, and if you don't want to buy something, just leave their stall.
What to wear in Morocco
What you wear comes down to personal preference. We saw British women wearing dresses with their shoulders out, but to be honest, most of them were with their partner. Purely out of respect for the local culture I would suggest covering up, which includes covering your legs, shoulders and chest area.
Personally, I felt much more comfortable when I was totally covered up, and by the end of the holiday, I was totally at ease dressing this way. So much so, that when I came back to the UK, it felt odd to wear a strap top with my shoulders out again.
Whilst travelling in between towns and going to less touristy spots I'd definitely suggest fully covering up. We caught a bus from Agadir to Taghazout and felt much more relaxed having headscarves on. However, the dress code really does tend to vary depending on where you go. When we got to Taghazout, which is a little fishing turned surfing village about half an hour outside of Agadir, there were surfer women in shorts and vest tops. So you kind of just have to gauge the vibe depending on where you are, but if in doubt, cover up.
How to behave
We visited during Ramadan, so we were careful not to eat or drink in front of those who were fasting. When it comes to people hassling you to buy stuff, be firm with them if you're not interested. The locals will respect you if you carry yourself with confidence and casually brush off any unwanted attention. Be polite to people you encounter and respect local traditions, especially the dress code.
What to avoid
I think if you want to travel around Morocco as a solo woman you simply need to plan your trip properly. Figure out which buses and modes of transport you are going to use, and use reputable travel companies. For example, we took the Supratours bus from Marrakesh to Agadir.
I would have felt completely comfortable taking this bus on my own, and there was a young female travelling on another bus to Essaouira. We stopped and chatted to her about how her trip was going and she appeared to be enjoying her travels around Morocco.
I'd avoid winding up any of the merchants or sellers when they try and sell you stuff. It's not that anything bad will happen, it's just that causing a scene tends to draw more attention to yourself.
I would maybe avoid going to some of the non-touristy areas as a lone female. And if you must venture into the unknown, do your research first. For example, we went to Taghazout, and took a local bus outside of Agadir city. However, we knew this was a friendly and safe place to go because my sister did her research beforehand.
You can easily catch buses to various main cities in Morocco, and journeys vary between two to six hours. If you're based in Marrakesh, you can catch a bus to other main cities from the Supratours station which is located near the main train station.
The prices are very reasonable, I think it costs around £10 to get from Marrakesh to Agadir for example. If you just need to get around the city you are probably best off catching a cab, again, the prices are very reasonable at around 30 dirhams to go short distances.
If I was on my own in Morocco. I would probably book myself into a nice hotel, and simply go on lots of different excursions. They can usually pick you up straight from your hotel and drop you off afterwards. I would feel completely safe going on the excursions on my own, especially the trip to Paradise falls and the camel ride. You could even book an overnight trip to the Atlas mountains which would be an incredible experience.
What to pack - clothing for solo female travellers
- Harem pants/baggy comfy trousers (I lived in these on our trip)
- Scarf to cover shoulders and chest
- Tops with longer sleeves and a high neck
- Comfy trainers
- Nice, slightly more Western outfits to wear to dinner at hotel
- Consider buying/bringing local attire if you want to blend in more.
So, you've read my honest account of what it's like to travel as a female around Morocco, when will you book your trip? If you need inspiration and ideas for things to do, check out my earlier post about all the stuff we did on our trip.