I read so many articles about female solo travel in Morocco before I visited myself. I armed myself with as many solo travel tips for Morocco as I could and thought I was prepared. After all, I’m a savvy female traveller who has been travelling solo for the past 16 years, how hard could it be?!
However, the way I was treated by many Moroccans still took me by surprise. Maybe it was my long blonde hair, pale complexion and blue eyes but in Morocco, I stood out and I wasn’t quite prepared for the attention that would bring.
Travelling in Morocco as a solo woman was frustrating, challenging and at times, downright exhausting.
But despite that, I’d still encourage other women to visit. There were so many aspects of Morocco I loved. The vibrant colours, changing landscapes, delicious food, stunning architecture and then, of course, there are the shopping opportunities…
So I decided to write this guide to tell you from my perspective as a pale, blonde girl, about my experience of female solo travel in Morocco. I will also share with you my top tips for solo travel in Morocco to help you enjoy your trip to this beautiful, colourful, intriguing but stressful country!
Top Tip | If you are nervous about travelling solo in Morocco, consider booking a group tour with a company like G Adventures. You will feel much safer and enjoy your trip!
What you can expect from this article…
What to expect from female solo travel in Morocco
You should cover-up
The dress code in Morocco is very conservative.
With the majority of the country being Muslim, you’ll notice that most people keep their skin covered with long sleeves, trousers or long skirts and the women wear hijabs or headscarves. Some women will even cover their faces with niqabs or burkhas.
This doesn’t mean that you have to dress exactly the same. But equally showing too much skin, can offend locals and lead to unwanted attention. It’s important to show respect for local cultures, traditions and religions, by avoiding revealing clothes.
In general, I avoided any clothes which showed any cleavage. I also made sure that my shoulders, midriff and knees were covered at all times as well as avoiding fitted clothes like tight jeans or leggings.
Most days, I paired a loose-fitted t-shirt with a midi-skirt and trainers which kept me feeling cool without offending any locals.
But people will stare anyway
But despite making attempts to blend in, you will get stared at regardless. Especially if you are pale and blonde like me.
What took me by surprise was even when you noticed the staring and looked up, they wouldn’t break their gaze which made me feel very uncomfortable.
That said, as time goes on, you do get used to it and start ignoring the stares.
People will stare at your belongings
Not only, did the men stare at me, especially when I was out walking alone, but they also stared at my camera. This may just have been curiosity, but it also made me feel very uncomfortable and cling onto it that little bit tighter.
I recommend putting your camera away when you leave the busy, touristy areas.
Men may compliment you
Most of the men I met in Morocco were harmless but the constant stream of compliments got tiring!
I struggle with compliments at the best of times but in Morocco, I quickly understood it wasn’t personal. Every young, blonde woman, was treated the same.
Men would tell me they liked my face (translates to ‘you’re very pale’) or that they thought I was beautiful (which, translates to ‘you’re very blonde.’)
Initially, I muttered a quick ‘thank you’ and scurried on but I soon learnt that any kind of response would encourage them to try to tag along and make more comments, sometimes inappropriate ones.
So eventually, I learnt to put my head down and ignore them. As a naturally smiley, chatty person, this wasn’t easy for me but was completely necessary if I wanted to get anywhere!
Or say derogatory comments
Amongst the compliments, there will also be derogatory comments. I had comments like “Lady! I love sex!”
Ok, good for you…
I noticed this a lot more when I was out walking alone and noticed it was worst in Casablanca.
Luckily, I have a fairly thick skin and let most of these comments wash straight off me!
Petty theft is common
Petty theft is very common in Morocco, especially on public transportation and in the busy, crowded souks.
It happened to someone I met whilst travelling in Morocco. Someone took her purse from her backpack on a crowded train.
So you need to remain vigilant at all times.
Many people carry backpacks on their front or have across the shoulder bags which they can position so that it’s in sight at all times.
Knowing I would be carrying expensive photography gear with me, I decided to invest in a theft-proof bag. I loved this bag which I bought off Amazon. Not only did it look stylish and fit a surprising amount inside, but it could only be accessed from the back. It is waterproof and comes in 4 colours. I choose the brown leather design.
When I was in busy areas, I tightened the straps so that the zip access was firmly against my back and couldn’t be reached even by expert pickpockets without my noticing. This bag made my trip to Morocco, significantly less stressful!
Scams are commonplace
As well as theft, scams are commonplace.
Men (and sometimes even children) will stand on street corners, telling you that the road is closed. They offer to guide you and seem to be friendly, helpful locals. The next thing you know, you are lost in the souk, visiting their friends business and being charged for their services as a ‘guide!’
It’s best to avoid asking anyone on the street for directions and instead, visit a local shopkeepers to help you find your way.
There are men who try to grope western women in crowded markets
For me, this was the worst part of travelling in Morocco as a solo woman. In the night market in Marrakech, the infamous Jemaa el-Fna, I got groped by men 3 times in the space of 30 minutes.
The men appeared to be loitering in tourist areas, purely with the intention to grope as many western women’s bums as possible. One guy groped my bum as he walked past and I shouted at him. My friend who I was with in the markets, later told me the same guy groped her 20 minutes later. Some of the men even walk around in pairs! It’s disgusting and I felt violated.
That said, experiencing Jemaa El-Fna was still a highlight of my few days in Marrakech. There is just so much to see and do, it’s a hive of activity.
If I were to go back to Jemaa el-Fna again, I would wear a headscarf. My other friend I was walking with, was Muslim. So from behind, in her headscarf, she looked like a local. She received zero hassle and had a completely different experience.
You should avoid being alone in rural or non-touristy areas at night.
Following my experience in the night market, I realised there were many men with shady principles. This made me even more cautious at night.
I’d recommend sticking to busy tourist areas and avoid walking up dark streets or alleys in the medinas. Instead, take a taxi back to your hotel. If you are staying at a riad in the medina, then I’d suggest you aim to be back before it goes dark and only go out at night if you are in a group or have a tour guide.
If in doubt, ask the riad or hotel staff where is safe to go at night.
Some places are worse than others
For me, Marrakech and Casablanca were the hardest locations for female solo travel in Morocco.
Chefchouen, the charming ‘blue city’ was, by contrast, a peaceful haven for female travellers. Here I received barely any harassment or stares and consequently, I could have happily stayed there for a lot longer.
Equally, Essaouira, the popular hippy beach town a few hours from Marrakech, was a lot more laid back. There was still a few stares but a lot less derogatory comments and I felt safe, even in the old medina at night.
There are also lovely people in Morocco. But sometimes, it’s hard to know who is who…
One of my biggest concerns was that I might appear rude to someone who was generally being helpful.
It was easy to become cynical in Morocco and start to presume everyone who helped you, was in it for a tip or it was part of a scam. Therefore there were several times when I turned down help then afterwards, worried I’d offended someone who was genuine.
Because there were plenty of genuine, helpful people I met along the way. There was the kind lady who helped us order our food in the night market when the menu was in Arabic. The guy who taught me to love quad biking even though I started off slightly terrified. The tour guide at Volovubilis who brought the roman history to life with his humorous stories. Then there was my wonderful guide, Mohammed, who even took us to his home, introduced us to his family and served us tea and cake.
Top Tips for solo female travellers in Morocco
- Dress conservatively in loose clothes which cover your shoulders, midriff and knees. You may want to consider wearing a headscarf when visiting the busy night markets in Marrakech.
- Consider investing in an anti-theft bag like this one and stay vigilant of your possessions at all times.
- Avoid walking down the dark laneways in the medina at night. Either choose to stay at an easily accessible hotel and get taxi’s to and from or resign yourself to evenings spent at your riad accommodation unless you can travel as a group or with a guide.
- The medinas can be very confusing. You may want to consider hiring a guide so that you don’t get lost. You can do so in advance on this website.
- Where possible, try to travel with someone else in Morocco. When I walked with friends, I received a lot less unwanted attention and felt much safer.
- If you don’t have friends or a partner that wants to visit Morocco, then consider travelling with a tour group. Having taken 9 trips with them personally, I always recommend G Adventures as they provide adventure-packed itineraries for small groups and are heavily focused on eco-tourism and ethical travel. Intrepid Travel also offers similar trips to Morocco and have a similar reputation. You can compare the two companies in my article G Adventures vs Intrepid Travel.
My final thoughts on Female solo travel in Morocco
Reading back through this article, I can see how it could come across very negatively. I don’t mean to put you off travelling solo in Morocco as a woman. It’s definitely achievable and you may well fall in love with this chaotic, colourful country as I did.
But for me, it was a love-hate relationship. One minute I was besotted with huge orange sand dunes of the Sahara desert or the gorgeous riads hidden down tiny alleys, the next I was frustrated and angry by the attitudes I encountered.
Would I go back as a solo female traveller?
Yes. But I’d factor in plenty of time out, staying in peaceful riads or hanging out in the laid back towns of Chef Chaouen or Essaouira.
I’d love to hear about your personal experiences travelling Morocco solo. Feel free to share your stories in the comments section below!