Morocco is one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations at the moment thanks to its combination of desert light and beautiful riads, full-on cultural experience, delicious food, and low prices. It can be a challenging destination though. So where are the best places in Morocco for solo travellers?
If you’re apprehensive about solo travel in Morocco here are some go-to destinations where you’ll find everything you need for a stress-free solo trip – including hostels, cheap rooms/dorms, good public transport, and a range of activities and tours suitable for solo travellers.
Morocco’s hostel scene is getting better year by year, although facilities are sometimes basic. Your budget will go far, so consider staying at a few budget riads and guesthouses.
The most popular destinations are the classic Imperial cities of Marrakech and Fes. The hostels here are full of solo travellers and backpackers, plus it’s easy (and cheap) to arrange day or multi-day trips through your accommodation. Both cities can be full on-though, so I recommend including the time to visit their chilled-out bohemian counterparts Essaouira (from Marrakech) and Chefchaouen (from Fes).
If you still feel daunted by the prospect of solo travel then consider taking a group tour. G Adventures and Intrepid are well-regarded and have a focus on responsible tourism. Travel Talk is a good budget option.
Morocco’s number 1 destination for most is the gorgeous Red City. And you’ll see why they call it that as soon as you arrive. The desert light combines with the red sandstone buildings to create one of the most photogenic places you’ll ever see. Highlights include the UNESCO-listed historic medina and the Djemma el Fna market square at its heart, several crumbling majestic palaces, and the distinctive colours of the Jardin Majorelle.
Marrakech gets a lot of tourists and as such also has its fair share of scammers and hassles. It can be overwhelming, particularly for solo females travellers. Consider hiring a guide to take some of the hassles out.
Marrakech is home to many of Morocco’s best places to stay, from luxury hotels to boutique riads and flashpacker hostels. Marrakesh Equity Point is one of the latter – a riad converted into a spacious hostel (pictured below). It’s one of my favourite hostels that I’ve stayed in, and you’ll be thankful for its cooling courtyards, swimming pool and rooftop bar after a hot day spent exploring the medina. The hostel can arrange tours and activities for you, including the popular 3 day trip to the Sahara, cooking classes, hammams and waterfalls. Female-only dorms are available.
If it all gets too much for you in Marrakech then it’s just a 2-hour bus ride to Essaouira – the Windy City. Known for its Atlantic coast location and chilled out hippie vibes, Essaouira offers a relaxing alternative to the craziness of Marrakech. The city’s historic ramparts were used as a filming location for Game of Thrones (Astapor, home of the Unsullied). Essaouira has a strong musical identity – every year in June it hosts the Gnaoua World Music Festival (known as the African Woodstock), and during its 1960s hippe heydey it hosted Hendrix and the Beatles. It also has a UNESCO World Heritage listed medina, a burgeoning surf scene and a very photogenic fleet of bright blue fishing boats.
Essaouira has a good range of hostels these days, some of them with a surf focus. It’s a toss-up between The Atlantic for its sociable roof terrace, Moga for whitewashed relaxing interiors, and The Chill Art for zany decor and a family atmosphere. If you’d like to splash out on a private room then Riad Lunetoile is good value.
For something a bit different take a trip out of town to L’Ane Vert, an eco-lodge in the remote countryside, with animals and an art and a beachside location. Perfect for getting away from it all.
Taghazout is Morocco’s surf capital, with a large number of surf schools and camps based in the area. but it’s also good bet if you just want to mellow out and enjoy the sea breeze, meet fellow travellers and eat healthy and delicious food (don’t miss the nearby Banana Village!).
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of cheap surf lodges and lovely places to stay – and most places run day trips to the stunning Paradise Valley at some point during the week. Pick of the bunch is Amayour Surf,a 5-star hostel offering surf and yoga packages, and Salt Surf with its comfy beds and calm white interior.
If you’re happy to splash out on special accommodation, local school Surf Maroc have opened Amouage – a boutique hotel with an infinity pool, rooftop yoga garden, wet room and spa. Room shares are available for solo travellers (I wish more places would do this). For a smaller budget, Surf Maroc also run the Auberge guesthouse with lovely white and blue decor.
Of Morocco’s 4 imperial cities, Fez is the one that most makes you feel like a time traveller. Getting lost in the extensive medina – one of Morocco’s top heritage sites and the largest in the world – is one of Morocco’s most exhilarating experiences. Amongst the alleyways, you will discover hidden gardens and hammams, smelly leather tanneries, souks, and beautiful mosques and madrasas.
Instagrammers’ favourite Chefchaouen – the blue town – is located up in the Rif Mountains. Once a hidden hippie hotspot, its popularity on social media has helped to propel it into the mainstream. But this pretty little town is still sleepy, friendly and cheap. It can be done as a day trip from Fes, but I recommend to hang out and decompress for a few days or spend some time hiking in the Rif.
Stay at Riad Hostel Baraka which is friendly, clean and comfortable and has a great breakfast.
Forget all notions of Bogart, Casablanca is Morocco’s most modern metropolis. It was modelled on Marseilles and you could easily mistake it for a European city. Casablanca’s most famous landmark is the Hassan II mosque (pictured above) and it does have a historic (if small) medina as well as art deco architecture. But it’s mainly mecca for shopping, restaurants, culture and design. Plus you can surf at its beaches, and eat at the legendary Rick’s Cafe, of course.
If you’ve only got a short time in Morocco then you can leave it out of your itinerary without missing anything, but for longer trips in the country it’s sleek cosmopolitan delights make a welcome change of pace from Morocco’s more traditional (and conservative) settlements.
The LHostel a Casablanca has comfy dorms and a shady garden for BBQs.
If you’re coming to Morocco via the ferry from Spain then Tangier is likely to be your first taste of the country. This port city has a famous name which conjures up all sorts of images. It was once an international zone with famously liberal laws (or lack of). For decades it attracted beatniks, artists, and all sorts of alternative types etc. It soon developed a reputation for being seedy and scruffy.
Tangier has been tarted up recently though, with the medina and main sights given a facelift and boutique treasures hidden amongst the alleys. Fair to say it’s undergoing something of a cultural renaissance. Tuck a copy of The Sheltering Sky under your arm and drop in at some of its famous cafes. There are also a few decent windswept beaches nearby and the arthouse Cinema Rif.
The arty vibes live on at The Melting Pot Rooftop Hostel, which lives up to its name and hosts social dinners every evening.
For an alternative to Tangier, consider Tetouan which is 1 hour along the north coast. Much smaller and less frantic, it’s still an under the radar destination and a great introduction to the real Morocco. Tetouan is on the Mediterranean coast and you can still feel the Spanish influence in the architecture here, in the UNESCO-listed whitewashed medina and green-shuttered buildings that spread out over the hills. The setting is very scenic, wedged between the sea and the lush Rif Mountains. And there are some great beaches in the area – Martil and Marinasmir are popular with locals.
For accommodation, Dari Hostel is in a historic building and has cosy rooms that make it feel you’re staying at someone’s house. And has a lovely rooftop terrace with epic views over the city.
If you’re a hiking fan then you’ll almost certainly want to head to Imlil. It’s the main starting point for ascents of Mount Toubkal – the highest mountain in North Africa – and a a number of guesthouses and cafes have sprouted up to cater for the hikers. You don’t have to be a hiker to enjoy Imlil though – it’s a pleasant enough place to enjoy the fresh mountain air, tranquillity, and traditional Berber villages. The winter months bring snow-capped peaks. There are some easy short hikes you can take to valleys and waterfalls if you don’t fancy the slog up Toubkal.
Budget dorms and mountain views are available at Tamatert Guesthouse. It’s worth noting that there’s no public transport to Imlil, you’ll have to take a taxi or grand (shared) taxi. It’s also possible to visit on a tour from Marrakech.
Known as ‘the Gateway to the Sahara’, Ouarzazate might just be about to hit the spotlight thanks to new budget flight routes that will take you from Spain to this outpost at the edge of the desert.
Ouarzazate is famous for being Morocco’s top filming location. It’s not far to Aït Ben Haddou (pictured above), the most famous kasbah in the Valley of the Kasbahs. You might recognise it from star turns in The Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, and Game of Thrones.
The town also has a fascinating Kasbah of its own. It can sometimes feel like a bit of a ghost town but is worth a longer stay than most desert tours allow. It has a relaxed feel and the standard of accommodation is generally quite good. Location-wise, it’s a useful base for the desert and exploring the area’s beautiful valleys and gorges. It’s also a lot of fun (if a bit bizarre) to visit the old film sets (CLA Studios is the best) with their lifesize chunks of polystyrene imitating Ancient Egyptian ruins.
Hostel fans can stay at Dar Widad – a friendly place with solid wooden bunks (always a fan of that), though there are some nice guesthouses around – particularly if you’re prepared to stay out of town.
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