- Elizabeth Cochran
Female Travel Guide in Morocco
Morocco is an amazing country and filled with a vibrant culture. I am sure a lot of you have heard of stories or are intimidated as a female to travel to Morocco. But fear no more, I have traveled to Morocco as a 21 year old woman and still to this day am in love with the country.
First things first, is it safe to travel to Morocco as a female?
Yes, I had never felt unsafe. Simple as that. However, the culture is much different and that is something to keep in mind as a female especially. I am speaking with full honesty here when I say this. Your role as a women is different here compared to the West, but the Moroccan women are not in danger 24/7 and I got in zero altercations with men or the law whilst in Morocco. Women have their own jobs, you will see women in public, women are starting to dress more and more modern.
What should I wear?
To be on the safe side, its best to dress more modestly. Morocco is in fact a Muslim country and generally everyone dresses quite modestly. Of course you can wear dresses, long skirts, jeans, and still be stylish you don't have to completely change your style. There isn't a law that you must abide with certain dress code in Morocco, but its smarter to dress more modestly. In your trip, if you visit the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, cover your shoulders and dress more modestly as it is a holy place.
In Morocco it isn't always hot either, like you may be thinking. There are mountains, beaches, deserts, and forests. Morocco has many different landscapes and its best to be prepare for these different climates. In the mountains, there is snow and it will be a blizzard up there. Read about my friends adventure climbing the famous Toubkal here. From January to February it is common for there to be a bit of rainy and chilly days. I recommend that you bring some layers and scarfs. In the mountainous towns, it can be very chilly before and after sunset as the temperature can drop a lot without the Moroccan sun. Morocco is also a desert and there can be very dusty days and having a scarf to protect your face is a must. If you have planned a trek or camping experience in the great Sahara a scarf is a must in the desert, to protect yourself from the heat, sun, and winds.
Is it safe to walk at night?
So my advice for you is to avoid this, it isn't that it is unsafe, but walking in the dark of the night at one something in the morning is not smart and that's the case for most countries, so it goes the same for here.
I will tell you this though, you definitely are going to get lost in Morocco, especially in the souks and the medinas. As a foreigner its impossible for you to make sense of these winding and narrow streets. It takes years for locals to know the medinas inside and out, and there aren't maps that have every road. Knowing this, have a general idea where your accommodation is and also note where the mosques are while you are roaming around (that is of course if your accommodation is in the medina). A local told me this advice and it changed my life, and that is that the main and bigger roads all lead to the mosques and the main roads will flow out to the exits of the medina. Every medina has a different amount of mosques, but there will always at least be one. There are usually about four main roads in the medina and you will know this because they are the widest roads. If you are lost wander to a wide road and look up to see where the mosque is and walk in that general direction. You soon will wander your way back safely. If you are really lost of course you can ask a local and they will help you, but with a small fee. The medinas are a bustling place at night so of course you can enjoy them, but once the markets start closing up and there are less people wandering around at the souks then its time to go.
Is it true people get catcalled?
Yes, its true but you are not in danger. When they catcall usually nothing comes about from it and walking with confidence is the key for this. The common things they say are where are you from and they will keep on trying to get your attention, sure it is annoying and excessive but it is what it is. I want to tell you the truth, so you know what to really expect. When you are in the situation where you are catcalled, stand up tall and keep on walking. Don't give them the time of day and most importantly, don't react, ignore them. If you know a bit of Darija, you can tell them to piss off, but that is only for if they are really persistent. They will be shocked and will leave you alone. I will say, the catcalling happens to younger women, and when I would wander the medinas with my Moroccan mothers there was no catcalling. Common things that got said to me were things like "Hello Miss America", "Hello Asia", "Your eyes are dreamy", "Do you want to be my friend?".. Now yes, I will not lie, they are a bit creepy, but I would get a kick out of it. Essentially these men are trying to hit on you, but also they are complimenting you too, sometimes. When I thought about it in the USA, women get catcalled all of the time, and the things that are said in the USA are not nearly as friendly as this...
The men gaze
I will not lie to you, I want you to be prepared. The men will stare. If you are a blondie, then I am especially talking to you. They will stare and stare at you because of your blond hair, this goes for if you are a man or a woman with blond hair. Moroccans aren't as used to this and they still find it fascinating to see blond hair.
For my women, if you are in a cafe alone the men gaze you will notice immediately. I say this because the men pile into the cafe to smoke, drink tea, and chat all day it seems. The catcalling in the cafes didn't really happen that I recall. What will happen though is people will stare at you. This is a mixture of things though, they are staring either because you are a foreigner, a woman, or both.
I went to cafes alone, though so don't let the intimidation prevent you from having delicious Moroccan mint tea. I would go study in cafes, read, or just have tea to have tea. So do it! Just go sit and have your tea sis.
Can I travel alone?
I had studied in Morocco through ISA study abroad program and lived in Morocco for one semester in 2019. I traveled to Morocco by myself and lived in Morocco as a young female. I was bound to do some things on my own whilst living there, so yes it is possible. Morocco as I learned from living there, studying women's studies, and working in a women's community center is becoming more and more progressive with women's rights and freedom everyday. It is changing and progressing for the good more and more every year.
Now, I will say there is a difference from how you can travel around in South East Asia or Europe compared to Morocco as a female. In Morocco, it is not as common to just backpack around as a female in Morocco like it is in Europe or South East Asia. It simply has to do with the history of Morocco, and the stigma that many people still believe which is that women usually stay home or are going to go to public places with other people such as friends or family. The youth dominates the population and it is becoming more and more common for the youth to speak out about women's rights and fight for equality. I foresee that travel in Morocco as a women is going to have a drastic change in the coming years.
While I was living in Morocco, I had to become accustomed to Moroccan culture and it took me some time to get enough bravery to do more things on my own, but I did it and it was powerful. This wasn't necessarily because I was a woman, but it also had to deal with my language abilities. I couldn't speak French or Arabic actually, so my fear you could say was more so that I didn't know how to communicate when going out. It wasn't that I was afraid, but attempting French or Arabic was so intimidating to me as I had never experienced an immersion quite like this one. If you are a tourist coming to Morocco, you won't have any experience quite as intense as mine when it comes to the language barrier, as I was living in a city outside of the main tourist hubs, so it was less common for people to speak English. I might add though that Moroccans are masters at languages, and will try as many languages with you to see what you know. They love to converse and also to sell too. Moroccans official languages are Arabic, French, and Amazight (native language), but they also can speak Spanish, English, and some even German. Moroccans are not shy to speak with you either, so be ready for them to try any language with you too find some common ground. It is both comical and equally impressive.
Morocco is a place that I will always call a home of mine, and I want to share with the world about what it truly is like in Morocco as a female traveler and realistic expectations as a traveler. I wish you luck and hope you will embrace Morocco with an open mind and enjoy your time there.