Updated August 22, 2020.
Our trip to Morocco was definitely worthwhile and unforgettable, but it also posed some challenges! We had never been there before, and I had never been to Africa, so it was all new to me. Planning would have been much more challenging if not for fellow bloggers who had been before me, but I felt that there were still some gaps that I could perhaps fill in for you.
There are lots of ways to get around Morocco (and the country is much larger than you may think!), so I have put together some tips from all the modes of transportation we experienced. Happy travel planning!
I kept wondering why people chose to take overnight trains and 8-hour bus rides when they could fly in a fraction of the time. Now I know: domestic flights in Morocco are a pain in the patootie! Here are the main reasons why:
- All passengers are required to go through passport control before and after each flight, even domestic flights, even if you are simply connecting, which can take quite a bit of time. We waited an hour after landing in Marrakech just to get through passport control. The good news is that they will not need to stamp your passport each time, just when you enter and leave the country.
- There are multiple security screenings at each airport. You will go through a metal detector and your luggage will go through a screening machine just to enter a Moroccan airport, and again before you get to your gate. The good news is we never had to remove our liquids or any of our clothes or shoes!
- The planes are small and, in our experience, hot and dirty.
- There is a lot of unexplained waiting time. We waited on buses just to get to our flights. We waited with no explanation for our flights to take off. We waited on buses to go from our freshly landed aircraft to go from the aircraft to the right door into the airport. Much of the time saved by flying between cities was eaten up by waiting without explanation.
- Flights to and from some destinations are infrequent. Sometimes there are no flights out of a particular city all day!
More here: Flying Royal Air Maroc within Morocco
We flew with Royal Air Maroc on three flights: from Casablanca to Marrakech, Ouarzazate to Casablanca, and Casablanca to Fes. For planning purposes, I’ll mention that both of our flights from Casablanca left considerably late. My best advice is as follows:
- Give yourself at least an hour and a half layover time. This will give you plenty of time to get through passport control and security, plus it will give you some cushion to make your connection if you first flight is delayed.
- Keep your passport and boarding pass close at hand. We were asked for our boarding pass multiple times, including going through passport control in Marrakech.
- Consider taking the bus or train. If either of those is scheduled for five hours or less, you may actually save time, even if your actual flight time would be less than one hour.
I wish there had been more information on this available before we went! I highly recommend taking this train into Casablanca.
Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit Morocco
Casablanca was our first stop in Morocco. Because we knew we would be jet lagged (and that I wouldn’t have slept much enroute) when we landed, we planned to just pay for a cab (300 MAD, or approximately $30 USD) and get to our hotel with as little worry as possible. But the Casa Tramway was just so easy! There was someone at the ticket kiosk to help our jet lagged selves through the process (which was super easy, and we could pay with a credit card), the train was just steps away, and while it was pretty full, Steve and I did find a couple of seats across the aisle from each other.
Here are the things you need to know about taking the CASA Tramway, and some tips to make your trip as easy as possible!
- The stop for the Casablanca downtown area and the medina (or Old Town) is Casa Port. There are only two other stops along the way.
- As of September 2019, one-way tickets from the airport to Casa Port were 50 dh (approx. $5 USD).
- The Casa Tram leaves both CMN and Casa Port at :50 after the hour.
- Travel time in each direction is 46 minutes.
- Someone will hole-punch your ticket once before you board and once during the ride. Keep your ticket handy.
- There are shops, ATMs, and restaurants at the CASA Port Terminal, including Starbucks, McDonalds, and local cafes as well. However, none were open when we left Casa Port for the Airport on the 6:50am train.
- You will have to go through security (a metal detector and luggage screening) to enter the airport from the train terminal at CMN.
We also took three buses with three different companies during out trip. The best, by far, was the CTM bus. I also read that Supra Tours is good, but I cannot recommend that one myself since we did not take a bus with that company. Here’s the scoop on the three companies we rode with.
Talmou: Marrakech to Ouarzazate
We sort of accidentally ended up on this bus.
- Price: 90 MAD (approx. $9 USD) per person, plus 10 MAD (approx. $1 USD) for each piece of luggage.
- Time: 4 Hours (actually 4.5 hours with the break)
- Be at the bus station at least 30 minutes early, especially if you are traveling with someone and would like to sit together.
- The bus was air conditioned.
- People came on the bus to sell things like sunglasses, hats, phone chargers, etc.; beggars also came on to ask for money.
- We took a “10 minute” break about half way through the journey in a small mountain village called Al Haouz. There were some shops and restaurants nearby, but no Western-style toilet or toilet paper, only a squat-style toilet. The break was actually 35 minutes. My poor husband stayed on the bus thinking it was not worth getting off for 10 minutes; he still regrets that decision.
- We made a few unscheduled stops to let locals on an off.
We realized too late that not all buses are created equal, and this is a local’s long-distance bus. We wish we had looked a little harder for a CTM bus station, but the important thing is that we did get to our destination safely!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Ouarzazate
CTM: Fes to Chefchaouen
This was by far the best bus we took, and this is the one I recommend!
- Price: 80 MAD (approx. $8 USD) per person, plus 5 MAD (approx. $0.50 cents USD) for both our bags combined; this seemed to be determined by weight inside the bus station. You will receive a receipt to retrieve your luggage at your destination.
- Time: 4 hours (actually 4.5 hours with the break).
- Seat Assignments: This is the only bus company that gave us a seat assignment, which was actually kind of nice. We didn’t have to worry about getting seats together. See on the ticket above that my seat assignment was “Place No. 39.” That corresponded with the number above my seat.
- We took a “20 minute” break half way through, but it was actually 35 minutes again. We stopped at a rest stop and gas station where there were a couple of small restaurants, restrooms (including one Western style toilet for 2 MAD; 20 cents USD), and some peacocks.
- The bus is blissfully air conditioned.
- The seats were comfortable and even reclined! Great for the girl in front of me, irritating for me!
- To receive luggage at your destination, give your receipt to the luggage handler, and he will give it to you.
Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit Chefchaouen
Pro Tip: Buy your bus ticket to Chefchaouen at least 24 hours in advance as buses do fill up, especially the 8:00am bus; for CTM buses, you can purchase your ticket online with a foreign credit card three or more days in advance.
Nejme Chamal: Chefchaouen to Tangier
This was #3 on our list of the three buses we took.
- Price: 35 MAD (approx. $3.50 USD) per person, plus 10 MAD (approx. $1 USD) per piece of luggage.
- Time: Scheduled 2 hours 40 minutes, but actually 3.5 hours due to a late departure and a long wait at Tetouan.
- No break half way through due to the short scheduled time.
- We found out that the Nejme buses are the old CTM buses that this company bought cheaply. What we did not realize until it was too late was that once the air conditioner stopped working, whenever that was, no one paid to fix it. So there was no air conditioning.
- We were 30 minutes late leaving because the driver and the man working with him kept selling tickets, even after the bus was full. There were at least three people sitting on the bus steps by the door, one woman sitting on a stool in the aisle in the back. There were also a couple of people simply standing.
- There were a couple of altercations on this bus, and one man had to be kicked off. That was unsettling.
We chose to take the Nejme bus because it left at 10:00am (plus a few other departure times), and the first CTM bus for Tangier wasn’t scheduled until 3:00pm and was scheduled for 3.5 hours. We thought it would be better to leave earlier and have more time to spend in Tangier. Ultimately, we did arrive to Tangier safely!
Other Important Information
- The bus may or may not be on time leaving the bus station; it will be late arriving.
- When searching for a bus station, search for “CTM” specifically. If there is no CTM station, search for “Gare Routiere,” which is French for “bus station.”
- Not all bus stations have all buses. CTM seemed to have their own bus stations in most cities we visited, which is one reason we took Talmou by accident!
- Journeys of four hours or more take a break about two hours into the journey; there was not always a Western-style toilet available. The bus driver always gave a time limit (10 minutes, 20 minutes), but it was always at least 35 minutes for the break. Stay close, but don’t stress.
- Most bus stations will not have a Western-style toilet available; you will need to bring your own tissues for toilet paper.
- You will have to pay 1-2 dh (approx. 10-20 cents USD) to use the toilet at the bus stations and often at the rest stops on longer journeys.
- Arrive at least 30 minutes early, especially if your ticket does not include a seat assignment.
There are “Grand Taxis” for long distances (like Chefchaouen to Tangier), and then there are “Petite Taxis” for shorter trips, such as within a city. Here are the best tips I can give you:
- Look to see if there is a meter. If so, make sure it is turned on before you close the door to drive to your destination. If he refuses to turn it on, get out and go to the next taxi in line or start walking to find another one.
- If there is no meter, agree on a price before you get in. There is usually a set price from airports to the city or the medina. If you are not sure how much a taxi should cost, e-mail your accommodation in advance to ask. You can also ask the people at your accommodation for other general prices while you’re there, such as the price to the bus station or a restaurant they recommended for you.
- Tipping is not required, but somewhat expected; a general tip for taxis is 5-10 MAD ($0.50-$1.00 USD) per trip.
As of September 2019, common taxi prices are below:
- CMN (Casablanca Airport) to Medina: 300 MAD (approx. $30 USD)
- RAK (Marrakech Airport) to Medina: 70 MAD (approx. $7 USD)
- FES (Fes Airport) to Medina: 150 MAD (approx. $15 USD)
- Fes Medina to CTM Bus Station: 20 MAD (approx. $2 USD)
- Chefchaouen bus station to Medina: 20 MAD (approx. $2 USD)
- Tangier bus station to Medina: 100 MAD (approx. $10 USD)
- Tangier Medina to TNG (Tangier Airport): 170 MAD (approx. $17 USD)
This is the way to go! We knew we didn’t want to drive ourselves to the Sahara Desert (5.5 hours each way), so we chose a package deal for our Desert excursion that included a driver. This was the best decision for us, without a doubt. Our driver was Ibrahim, and he stayed with us for three days: driving to the Desert, driving within the Desert, and driving back from the Desert.
We enjoyed this mode of transportation because we could stop when we wanted to to stretch our legs or use the restroom, our driver knew where to stop for Western-style restrooms, and he gave us a lot of wonderful information about the Desert, Morocco, the sites we were seeing along the way, camels, and more!
Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit the Moroccan Sahara
The price for this was included in our rate, so I’m not sure how much this would cost on its own. It’s customary, however, to tip 50-100 MAD (approx. $5-10 USD) per day for a hired driver, and we tipped ours 300 MAD (approx. $30 USD) total for three days.
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