TRAVELING IN MOROCCO DURING RAMADAN
When I said that I was going to visit Morocco last spring, I forgot a small detail: look at the dates of Ramadan. Surprise !!! Except for a week when I arrived, I fell … right in the middle! Suffice to say that I took myself full of remarks like “are you going to travel to Morocco during Ramadan?” But you’re going to starve “,” it’s going to be so hard to eat “,” you don’t want to cancel “? In short, it almost drew my doubts. In the end, I left as planned and spent 4 weeks in Morocco, so more than 3 in the middle of Ramadan. Is it possible to travel to Morocco during Ramadan? Triple yes, and I even recommend it to you, here’s why!
WHAT I FINDED DURING THE MONTH IN RAMADAN
You should know that Ramadan takes place once a year, for almost a month. The dates change from year to year, with Ramadan shifting 10 to 15 days earlier than the previous year. During this sacred period, Muslims move closer to more spiritual activities, which are accompanied by fasting, the prohibition of drinking, smoking and having sex. In fact, daily life is completely organized around this rhythm. But then ? Are we really going to starve during Ramadan? Not at all ! I noticed the following. As a tourist, contrary to popular belief, it will not have a huge impact on you.
The morning : TRAVELING IN MOROCCO DURING RAMADAN
Already in the morning, if you are in a hotel or guest house, you will always be served a great, very generous traditional breakfast. Just to start the day off right. So don’t worry about this step, it’s in your pocket!
Noon : TRAVELING IN MOROCCO DURING RAMADAN
It all depends on where you are. In the big tourist cities (Marrakech, Fez, Essaouira…), there will always be some tourist restaurants open. Probably not always the best, nor the cheapest. But hey, there will be options for eating! It was my case when I visited downtown Meknes, Aït Ben Haddou or even Ouarzazate, there is always at least ONE restaurant open.
If you are in a more rural part of the country, as was my case during my road trip in the Atlas, you will not always be guaranteed to find a restaurant at the right time on the road. So I REALLY advise you to plan a picnic. Spend the morning in a market or a mini-market, buy bread, La Vache qui rit (THE cheese found in Morocco, hehe), fruits, seeds and cakes and you will be the king of petroleum. This is what I did and it worked very well!
The evening : TRAVELING IN MOROCCO DURING RAMADAN
Take into account the end time of the fast. For my part, it was around 7:30 p.m. Depending on where you are, you will have access to small cafes where some locals will break the fast with friends. But most of the time, everything will be closed, because everyone is happy to go home to eat with family, FINALLY! This is what I saw on the edge of Marrakech or in the heart of Meknes for example. Suddenly, you can wait 1 or 2 hours, and some small restaurants will open again afterwards.
Otherwise, opt for the guest house option. This is what I have systematically done, so to speak. The hotels continue to serve as in restaurants. But the coolest thing is the guest houses, because the owners will be happy to invite you for the ftour, the traditional meal that breaks the fast! If you show them that you don’t want to bother them by cooking crazy things for you and that respecting the ftour will make you happy, hop, neither one nor two, you are invited! And you’re going to eat too well!
Conclusion: no, you are not going to starve, from the moment you organize a chouilla if you are in a rural area, and if you are willing to adapt to local habits in terms of pace.
THE ADVANTAGES TO TRAVELING IN MOROCCO DURING RAMADAN
Aaaaaaaaah, god knows that I am not a “foodie”. I eat because you have to eat first, especially when traveling. But I must say that I liked the tradition of the ftour, the meal that breaks the fast. It mainly consists of bread cakes, harira (a pea soup), dried figs and boiled eggs. Afterwards, I imagine that many families make it much richer, it’s a bit of a celebration too! But for once, I loved eating it every night! And it feels like being a bit of a local among the locals, it’s so cool!
For once, I find that it brings a fairly unique atmosphere to the country. Yes, the seats may be less festive in the evening. But for once, you are really immersed in the heart of a religious tradition, this is also why we travel! Personally, I found it fascinating to discover whole empty souks in Fez, Meknes or Chefchaouen, when it should be teeming with people. I enjoyed seeing the women busy in the markets in the late afternoon, people living in slow motion. With the heat, I had so much empathy for them, my god, I got dehydrated after 2 hours, um… In short, it’s to be done once in your life, I think, to see what it consists of (and low hat).
Well, it is an observation that I had already made in most of the Muslim countries that I have visited, friendliness and sharing are fundamental values. But during Ramadan, I think it is 10,000 power !!! I have never been invited so much to share the ftour, couscous, tea and I do not know what else during this period, it’s just totally crazy! It’s as if you were walking on the street in France, talking for two seconds with someone and he was saying to you, “Well, you just have to come and eat raclette at my house tonight”, we agree, it never happens! In Morocco, yes, all the time during Ramadan, too, too fan!
There are far fewer tourists
Well yes, everyone believes that it will be unmanageable. So no one is coming! Which means that I really felt the lack of people in certain sites that should have been much more crowded. Not to mention that foreign tourists come less, but so do local tourists! Inevitably, they are doing Ramadan, they don’t have the energy to travel. So … there is no world AT ALL! When you’re a kid like me who likes not having too many people in the photos, it’s perfect!
The trip will cost you less!
And yes, there are necessarily fewer people, so prices are falling. Not all in this case. Food prices actually go up (if you buy in the markets, you will realize that). But for the rest, the accommodation offers promotions of – 10 to 20%. I think the flights are also cheaper, suddenly. In short, it is not really negligible and to take into account …!
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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IF YOU ARE TRAVELING IN MOROCCO DURING RAMADAN
So let’s say there are a few basic rules to follow, especially during Ramadan, namely:
This is true year round in Morocco, but during Ramadan, plan to have a little shawl to cover your shoulders wherever you go. And wear loose clothing if possible.
Do not smoke or drink openly in public
It is not advisable to smoke in public, or to drink too outrageously. Let’s say Moroccans are super open to the fact that as a tourist you make a living. Of course you can drink. On the other hand, I still find it a little disrespectful to drink with a throat stretched out in front of someone who hasn’t drunk for 10 hours … Suddenly, I was drinking discreetly from the bottle in my backpack for example. It was never a problem.
Think about the end time for fasting
As I said above, everyone tends to disappear at this time, it’s a bit normal. So do not play the basic tourists who come out right now and are surprised that everything is closed. Yeah ! Plan to go out a bit later, or eat at the hotel.
Thinking about the time change
Nothing too serious, just an hour jet lag to adjust to the rhythm of Ramadan. But we don’t necessarily know it when we arrive so take it into account!
More info to organize your trip to Morocco: itinerary, accommodation, advice, it's here!
Once you are aware of this, you are ready to have a great trip to Morocco during Ramadan, a hell of an experience! For more information on how to organize your trip to Morocco, it’s here! And I await your impressions on your trip to Morocco during Ramadan in the comments!