Traveling Morocco as a Woman

Ben Youssef (1).jpg

Traveling Morocco as a Woman 

Traveling Morocco as a woman - are you out of your mind?

Morocco: when you think about this country a lot of images come to your mind. A land far far away, oriental with sandy beaches, a beautiful oasis, a hot desert, colorful markets and incredible mountains. However, what sadly also comes to one’s mind is terrorism, the suppression of women inevitably: danger. But how is it really to female travel Morocco?

 ’’What? You want to go to Morocco? Alone as a woman?’’, this is what hit me from my family and friends. ’’You know that Morocco is dangerous? Especially for women!’’ Yes, I heard that a lot before. To be honest, I would have probably told my friends the same thing if they had planned to go on a trip to Morocco with just a group of three girls, but now that everybody had told me I started to question it. Was it really that dangerous for women to go?

Even if I had decided for myself that it was too dangerous, it would not have mattered at this point. Naïve and adventurous as I was, I had already booked my flight to Morocco. 70 Euros with Ryanair from Marseille. How amazing is that? Bless the budget airlines of Europe! My friends and I were so excited to experience something so different and special.

Marrakesh at first sight

We did some research online about what to do, what to wear, and what to respect when traveling as a woman. The tips were mostly: don’t be alone in the dark, dress properly, and pay attention at the markets! We packed long skirts, jeans, scarfs, long sleeves, and jackets. Then we were ready to start our journey. After a two hour flight, we reached our destination: Marrakesh.

There I was, far away from home, in an oriental city with a different culture, ready to experience every piece of it. The sun was shining brightly as we were catching the first impressions: crowded markets filled with incredible lamps, colorful scarfs, and a huge amount of leather bags. Morocco at first sight - interesting, different, and overwhelmingly beautiful.

The Medina - a labyrinth of streets

 Tanneries,  The Medina Morocco

Tanneries,  The Medina Morocco

We walked through the narrow streets of the Medina, the old city center of Marrakesh, which was full of people from all over the world. The women were dressed in long skirts or dresses and the native men wore long trousers and hats. Even the tourists mostly tried to fit in and dressed appropriately.

Watch out for people demanding money to show you the way

The medina is known for its confusing structure: once you enter a street, you can get easily lost. You might get overwhelmed by the all the different products and streets. The first instinct in this situation is to ask someone to show you the right way. But in Marrakesh you have to be careful. The people are using the confusing structure to make money. They are kindly offering you to show you the way and later you have to pay your ‘’tour guides’’. But not just in the streets of Marrakesh this happens: also at the so-called ‘’Tanneries’’ where the leather is produced, we were getting in a similar situation. We asked for the way and suddenly we were part of a big chain: first, we were showed around by several people, they offered us a mint to cover the smell of the leather and after they wanted to sell us leather bags. After the ‘’tour’’ we had to pay 10 Euros, which we gladly did without any questions, to not get in trouble. However, we soon realized that we had been tricked.

Traveling Morocco as a woman

You are probably thinking by now: I would never go to Marrakesh alone as a woman. What would have happened if we had not given the money to the guys who tricked us? But I can assure you it is not as dangerous as you might think. As a couple of web pages suggested, I would not recommend for any woman to roam the streets at night by herself. In addition, I would dress appropriately for cultural reasons. You might also feel strange with shorts when everyone else is wearing long trousers, anyway.

In general, foreign women are not treated differently or even badly. You might hear ‘’Shakira’’ or ‘’pretty lady’’ when you walk through the streets. The salesmen haggle with you and I even heard,  ‘’You are a strong woman" quite a lot. Dressing culturally-proper should not be a problem for a couple of days, but I can imagine that you might feel a little bit unfree living there as a Western woman.

What to do in Marrakesh: an experience of Camels, palaces, and delicious food

Web pages often also warn that you should not go on camel tours in the Palmeraie near Marrakesh. But how could you visit Morocco without seeing camels? Short: we did not follow the advice and booked a camel tour and it was amazing. On the back of such calm and huge animals, the world looks different. Kinglike we marched through the desert, which is only 15 minutes away from the city center, touristy dressed in a native turban. The camels carried us till the sun went down.

The Riad - A Morrocan Palace 

 Staying at a Moroccan Riad

Staying at a Moroccan Riad

A very unique and definitely recommendable experience is also to stay at a Riad. It is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with a garden and beautiful and cheap housing.

What to do in Morroco 

The place that you should not miss is definitely the “Bahia palace”, “the Jardin Majorelle” and the “Ben Youssef Mosque”. These beautiful buildings are worth every journey. They are all different as their mosaic walls are incredible. Although they consist of several different patterns, the colors create a tasteful appearance. In addition, you should try one of the dishes at the Jemaa el-Fna market. This market is unique in its own way: during the day it is nearly empty, you can only see some cobras dancing to oriental music and henna artists doing their work, but at night, it is completely transformed: crowded, full of food places and people. You cannot walk through the market without being asked in the most creative ways to come to their food place.

Henna for women’s education

Typical for Morocco are the amazing and cheap Henna tattoos. A good place to combine Henna and charity is the Henna café. The place serves amazing food and you can relax here after a long day of shopping. They even have a little turtle “running around”. At the same time, you support the charity work for women. For example, they are organizing educational workshops and lessons to learn a language.

 Amazingly beautiful:  Marrakesh

All in all, Marrakesh is a beautiful city and definitely worth a visit. In my humble opinion, it is not dangerous to travel there as a woman. Surely you have to pay attention: don’t be too naïve, but also try not to be too afraid! Don’t let the fact that you are a woman stop you from traveling to Marrakesh! One last advice: don’t ever go to the pharmacy and ask if they have birth control. Just don’t! 

 Travel Morocco as a woman

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The Female Travel Collective is a team of four feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.

 Our guest author Marie Steffens studies communication and political science in Berlin. In the future she wants to become a journalist to report on political and social topics. She loves to travel and to discover new places.

Our guest author Marie Steffens studies communication and political science in Berlin. In the future she wants to become a journalist to report on political and social topics. She loves to travel and to discover new places.