Before heading to Marrakesh for a weekend visit, I’d been warned I may not like the city- friends who visited before said it was too chaotic, annoyingly hectic. Coupled with the chaos of the city, I’d heard travelling as a solo female in Morocco could be tough.
Looking back on my trip, I found Marrakesh is a safe city to walk around. But, you should take the same amount of caution you would in any other city. And, even I can’t deny there are some added precautions you should keep in mind if you’re traveling as a solo female.
Five Tips for Travelling Solo as a Woman in Morocco
Before Arriving, and Leaving the Airport
Before you leave the airport, take out enough cash to cover purchases on the trip- many places don’t accept cards, and ATMs can be tough to come by. When you exchange money, ask for a variety of notes and coins- some businesses won’t have change for larger bills.
Once you leave the airport, if you’re staying at a riad that offers a taxi service, accept their help. Negotiating price can be tough, a lot of drivers will try to up-charge or tell you their meter is broken. Taking advantage of the riad taxi service also means the drivers know exactly where you need to go, which is helpful in the winding medina maze. Once you book accommodation, ask if they offer taxi assistance and give them your flight details ahead of your trip.
As an Arabic society, Moroccan men have different expectations of women. Remember Morocco is an Islamic society, where women are expected to cover their knees and shoulders.
If you want to avoid getting harassed to the best degree possible, you will need to cover up as much as possible. Yes, you can wear whatever you want in Morocco, but the less you wear, the more attention you’ll draw. If you dress in a way that’s respectful to the local population, you’ll likely be fine.
On my trip, in January, I wore full-length leggings and loose tops/long sweaters. I also wore sunglasses whenever I walked through the medina so shop owners couldn’t see where I was looking. If you visit Morocco in the warmer months, think airy tunics and long, lightweight skirts. I’d also bring or buy a scarf for when the temperature drops, or when you’re in a situation that warrants covering up.
Besides being unwarranted, I found the harassment to be harmless. Never once did I feel unsafe- it just wasn’t ideal.
Ignore Unwanted Attention
If you ignore the harassers (mostly young men), they’ll be more prone to do the same in return.
You just need to be prepared to hear how beautiful you are, how much they want to marry you, how sexy they find you, etc. They’ll also make sucking/kissing noise as you walk by, but you have to pretend like you don’t notice. Don’t speak to them and they’ll move onto something else.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
While this tip rings true for any solo trip, it’s even more necessary in Morocco. Pay attention to where you are and what’s going on around you. Carry a cross body bag and keep it in front of your body. Be mindful of the kind of people who know you’re traveling solo.
Walk with confidence, even if you’re lost. If you do get lost and need help, see if you can find a woman- they’re a lot more helpful than men or children who often think it’s funny to send you the wrong way or try to charge a ridiculous amount for their advice. One thing to note: Most women won’t speak English, so French will be your best bet if you don’t know Arabic.
Be Mindful of People Trying to Scam Money From You
Before heading to Marrakesh, I’d read about all of the typical scams locals try to pull over on visitors. There are so many- from people trying to ask you where you’re going and offering to show you the way, to telling you the road ahead is closed and you need to go a different route, to trying to point you in the direction of the “main square” at all times, to offering to show you the tanneries, and so on- don’t be fooled into thinking these offers are acts of kindness. They’re just attempts to get money. Your best bet is to ignore them or firmly say, ‘No’ if the person asking is persistent. Don’t feel bad about being rude, and walk away from a situation if you ever feel uncomfortable.
Bottom line: Morocco is a beautiful country. Part of the joy in travelling is experiencing other customs and cultures different than your own. Be open to the experience, including moments where you may feel uncomfortable. If you keep an open mind, it won’t make your trip any less wonderful.