They say that if you want to see the real Morocco, go further south and visit the royal cities. On my 1st stay in the country, I stayed in Tangier, a major port in the north of the country, which at its narrowest point is only 15 km as the crow flies from the coast of Spain.
Morocco (the official name of the state is the Kingdom of Morocco, which was established on March 2, 1956) is located in northwestern Africa. It is washed by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Algeria to the east and Western Sahara to the south.
Morocco is 9 times larger (446,550 km2) and has almost 7 times more inhabitants (more than 35 million) than Slovakia. The capital is Rabat (1.6 million inhabitants), which is almost 4 times larger than Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. But, the largest city is Casablanca (3.36 million inhabitants), which is almost 8 times larger than Bratislava. The state establishment is a constitutional monarchy. The international country codes are MAR and MA.
Territorial division of Morocco
Administratively, Morocco is divided into 16 regions. From the point of view of tourism, it is divided into 6 regions:
- The North Cape and the Mediterranean coast
- Central Morocco
- Atlantic coast
- Atlas Mountains and valleys
- Souss Atlantic Sahara
- South Atlantic coast
Morocco and language
The official languages are Arabic and Berber. Standard Moroccan Amazigh or Standard Moroccan Tamazight also known as Standard Moroccan Berber is the standardized national Moroccan variety of the Berber language. Berber languages belong to the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is a group of related languages spoken by the Berbers. This ethnic group originates from North Africa. Moroccan Arabic, Hassaniya Arabic and French are also spoken in Morocco. Some Moroccans also know English and Spanish.
When we commented that there were only explanations in Arabic and French at the archaeological site of Lixus and that we lacked explanations in English, the technical guide (if I can call him that) warned me that when I travel abroad, I should be multilingual. So I told him that I speak 5 languages and I’m sorry that Arabic and French are not among them. He had nothing more to add to that.
Time zone in Morocco
In Morocco, 1 hour is added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in the case of winter time and 2 hours in the case of summer time. This means that one hour is subtracted from the Central European Time (CET), which we use in Slovakia.
Morocco and visa requirements
A visa is not required before entering Morocco from Slovakia. But you need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the day of entry into the country.
Morocco and vaccination
You do not need any special vaccination before entering Morocco (e.g. against yellow fever, typhoid, viral hepatitis B, …) from Slovakia. At the moment (August 2022) there are only special requests regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. All travelers over the age of 12 entering Morocco by air must present:
- valid vaccination certificate – while no more than 4 months have passed since the administration of the 2nd dose, in case they have passed, the passenger must have 3 doses of the vaccine,
- or a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours before boarding the plane
- and health form – you can find the form at https://www.onda.ma/form.php. You fill it out online, then save it and print it, because it is not sent anywhere, and you hand it in at the airport upon arrival. If you do not have the form filled out after entering the country, you will fill it out at the airport.
Immediately upon arrival at Moroccan airports, you may be subjected to a quick test. PCR tests may also be performed randomly for groups of passengers. The authorities will inform you about the test result later. In the case of positive tests, it is necessary to remain in quarantine at the place of accommodation and follow the instructions of the Moroccan authorities. The Ministry of Health of Morocco recommends wearing masks in crowded or closed spaces. The rules can change quickly, so it’s better to check them again just before departure.
Healthcare in Morocco
They will provide you with the necessary first aid free of charge. For more serious injuries, it is recommended to visit private clinics. Before traveling to the country, I took out short-term travel insurance. The one-time insurance premium cost 27.50 euros/11 days. The price included insurance valid worldwide, medical costs up to 250,000 euros, mountain and water rescue costs, legal aid, assistance services, common summer and winter sports, missed means of transport, delayed return from abroad, luggage insurance, accident and liability for damage. Fortunately, I didn’t have to claim any of that.
Foreign exchange conditions and currency in Morocco
The official currency is the Moroccan dirham (MAD). One Moroccan dirham is equal to 0.096 euros. One euro is equal to 10.43 Moroccan dirhams. Prices in Morocco are easily converted. If you want to know how much a given item costs in Slovakia, just move the decimal point one place to the left. I didn’t change money in Slovakia, because the exchange offices I visited don’t buy this currency, and I didn’t change it in Valencia either, because they needed to know at least a few days in advance.
I changed the money immediately after arriving at Tangier airport. It is always a good idea to have some cash in the local currency with you. In some places I could also pay by credit card. In case you don’t have the local currency and the seller doesn’t have a terminal, I could also pay in euros and they gave me change in dirhams.
Calling and Internet in Morocco
The phone code for Morocco is +212, the price for sent SMS and MMS is 0.35 euros. The price for outgoing and received calls is 2.50 euros/1 minute. A two-minute call with my mom cost me 5 euros. 😀
1 MB of transferred data costs 9 euros with a billing interval of 10 KB. I have a prepaid data package on the second phone, which I mainly use abroad. However, after entering Morocco, I did not realize that I can only use data in the European Union. Logging in to gmail and sending one e-mail cost me 50 euros. Data transfer in roaming stopped after reaching this amount. At least that’s how I set it up. Then I finally asked for the Wi-Fi password. The network was quite fast to my surprise. You can find free Wi-Fi internet connection in several places in the country.
A friend bought a Moroccan SIM card upon arrival. She paid around 10 euros. Then, she had a choice of 10 hours of internet or 10 GB of data or 10 hours of calls or 100 SMS. She chose what she needed and they activated it for her.
Security in Morocco
Street crime is common in Morocco. Watch out for pickpockets, snatching bags and purses or stealing cars is common. We met begging people in the streets. You can recognize them by the sanitary napkins they give you for money. Most of the time you beat them off with one „no„, but we also met one persistent girl who we only got rid of after we threatened to call the police.
Representative Office of the Slovak Republic, Representative Office of the Country for the Slovak Republic and Honorary Consulate
In case of urgent need in Morocco, you can contact the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Madrid, Spain. The Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco is located in Vienna, Austria. The Slovak Consular Office is located in Casablanca, Morocco.
How to get to Morocco?
See how to get to Morocco by road or by air.
The journey by car from Bratislava to Rabat is 3,273 km long and would take 33 hours without a break. The route is chargeable, includes ferry transportation and contains roads with limited use. It leads across country borders, so check the border restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic before leaving. Rabat is of course in a different time zone. Such a journey could certainly be adventurous, but I probably wouldn’t take it. That’s why I preferred the plane.
I was flying from Aeroport de València in Valencia, Spain to L’aéroport international de Tanger-Ibn Batouta in Tangier, Morocco. The flight lasted an average of 1 hour 25 minutes. Due to the time difference of 1 hour, the flight actually took 25 minutes there and 2 hours 20 minutes back. The return ticket cost 143.96 euros. The price included 1 checked bag up to 20 kg and 1 hand bag that fit under the seat in front of me. In addition, I could choose a seat on the plane both on the way there and back. I checked in online a few days before my flight.
When flying in the European Union, I broke away from a habit to those endless checks at airports. After arriving in Morocco, I went through several security checks. Immediately after arriving at the airport, I submitted the medical form, then at the next window the airport employee asked me where I would be staying, at the next window they checked the stamp from the employee from the previous window, then they checked my suitcase and hand luggage, …About an hour after arriving, I finally got out of the airport. They were waiting for me at the airport with a sign with my name on it, but I was so tired I didn’t even notice.
On the way back, the airport employee asked me where I was from and could not understand why I was flying to Valencia and even a day later. So I had to explain to him that there is no direct air connection between Morocco and Slovakia and that I could not catch the flight from Valencia that day. He finally let me go.
I did not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage of the services provided by tourism businesses, institutions and organizations.
© Ing. Adam Vanečko