morocco - module 2 - large signTravel and accommodation


Introduction


We’ve already seen how close Morocco is to mainland Europe. But despite its proximity it is rarely thought of as a short-haul destination. In fact, Morocco is just a three hour flight from London – that’s less than a flight to Athens!


Within the country there a number of ways to travel, including a good rail network, reasonably-priced buses and taxis, and even internal flights. Morocco is also popular with cyclists, and cycling tours are one of the best ways to enjoy the country’s fabulous scenery as you travel. This module will focus on getting to Morocco and using its transport network, and we will return to cycling tours in the Activities and sports module.



Major airports


















Agadir Al Massira20 minute taxi ride to Agadir (150 dirham by day, 200 dirham after 7pm)
A bus service via Inezgane is also available
Marrakech Menara6km south of the city
Taxi transfer costs about 150 dirham
Casablanca Mohammed V30km south of the city
Taxis (200 – 250 dirham), shuttle buses (40 dirham) and train services (30 – 40 dirham) are all available
Tangier Ibn Batouta20 minute taxi ride from the city
Taxis cost 100 dirham during the day and 120 at night
Fez15km south of the city
Buses and taxis are both available

morocco - module 2 - air travelOther airports



  • Al Hoceima
  • Dakhla
  • Errachidia
  • Essaouira
  • Laâyoune
  • Nador
  • Ouarzazate
  • Oujda
  • Rabat-Salé
  • Tetouan



Who flies to Morocco?

Royal Air Maroc is the country’s national carrier. It flies from London to all airports in Morocco via Casablanca. British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Casablanca, Tangier and Marrakech, from London Gatwick to Agadir, Marrakech and Fez, and from Manchester International to Marrakech.


In addition, an increasing number of low-cost airlines are now flying to Morocco. Atlas Blue, a Moroccan airline, provides direct services between London Gatwick and Marrakech, as does EasyJet (from 4 July 2006). Thomsonfly offers flights from Luton and Manchester to Marrakech.


Numerous other international airlines also provide fast and regular services from other major cities in Europe, North America and the Middle East.



Alternative routes to Morocco


By ferry


morocco - module 2 - tangier harbourmorocco - module 2 - ferry
It may not be as fast as flying, but there’s a certain romance to arriving in Morocco by boat. Sail into Tangier and you’ll be following in the footsteps of millions who have watched its stunning bay appear over the horizon, from the traders of the ancient world to the writers and artists who came here after it became an international zone in 1923.


There are a number of providers who run ferry services from the European mainland to Morocco. Travellers starting from the UK are best advised to make their way to the Spanish or French Mediterranean coasts.


From Sete, France
Sete is on the south coast of France, a two-hour train ride from Marseilles. Comarit and Comanav run a year-round service to Tangier, leaving three or four times a week, normally in the evening. Sailing time is 36 hours. Schedules, fares and booking information are available on www.comanav.ma and www.comarit.com. Comanav also run two crossings a week to Nador between June and September. Note that Tangier’s connections to the rest of Morocco are far better than Nador’s.


From Algericas, Spain
Algericas is on the south coast of Spain. Balearia depart three times daily to Tangier. The crossing lasts around an hour. There is also a Comarit service departing five times daily. Several ferry companies also travel to Ceuta, a Spanish enclave. Note that Tangier offers much better connections to other parts of Morocco.


From Porte Vendres, Spain
Porte Vendres is on the Mediterranean coast, near to the French/Spanish border. A Comanav service departs for Tangier every four days between June and September. The journey takes around 36 hours.


From Tarifa, Spain
Tarifa is on the south coast of Spain. FRS depart for Tangier five times daily. The crossing lasts around 35 minutes.


From Almeria, Spain
Almeria is on the south coast of Spain. Ferrimaroc operates a year-round roll-on roll-off ferry service to Nador, normally departing once or twice a day. The crossing lasts around seven hours. Note that Nador does not offer as good connections to the rest of Morocco as Tangier.



Internal travel


By road


morocco - module 2 - casblanca roadsmorocco - module 2 - casblanca roads
In general Morocco’s main roads are excellent all-weather highways, but bear in mind that road travel becomes more difficult south of the High Atlas Mountains – a 4WD is advisable if you’re planning to see the desert. The Atlas Mountains themselves can be particularly hazardous in winter.


Moroccans drive on the right. The country’s speed limits are 25mph in city centres, 35mph on residential or built-up main roads, 60mph on single carriageways and 75mph on motorways. Road signs are generally written in Arabic and French, but may be Arabic only in provincial areas.


There are three main road categories:



  • National motorways, or “autoroutes nationales” in French. These are denoted by N and a number – the N1, for example, runs from Tangier all the way down the west coast.
  • Regional roads, or “routes regionales” in French. These are denoted by R and a three-digit number.
  • Provincial roads, or “routes provinciales” in French. These are denoted by P and a four-digit number, and can be of poor quality.

While insurance is of course compulsory, motorists do not usually need to make any special arrangements – you just need to be 18 years or over and in possession of the following documents:



  • International or EU member state driving license
  • Vehicle registration document (“grey card” or “carte grise” in French)
  • Proof of insurance (“green card” or “carte verte” in French)

If you are bringing a caravan, trailer or motor boat into Morocco, you will need a customs certificate or temporary import permit (“triptyque” or “carnet de passage”). Cars, caravans and mobile homes are not allowed to stay in Morocco for more than 6 months.


If you are camping or caravanning, it is advisable to get an international camping and caravanning passbook.


Car hire

All of the major international car hire companies are represented in the larger towns and cities. Car hire is generally expensive, but you can often find bargains with smaller, local companies. It’s advisable to tell the hire company where you plan to go and trust their advice about which vehicle to take. To drive a hire car you will need third-party insurance (often included in the cost of rental).

Coach

Morocco has an excellent network of coach services running between the main towns and cities. The largest operators are CTM (nationwide), Supratours (most major cities) and the privately-owned SATAS (operating in Casablanca, Agadir and the south). Several companies allow you to charter coaches for private use. These are generally air-conditioned.

Bus

There are regular connections between most major towns and villages. Although buses tend to be very crowded – and very hot in summer – fares are low, especially with local companies. It is best to buy a ticket in advance and arrive well before departure to ensure a seat. Remember, it is customary to tip the man who loads your luggage onto the bus! Short-distance bus services also operate within major cities.


Taxis

‘Petits taxis’ are small cars – generally Peugeot 205s or similar – that operate in major towns. They are normally metered, can take up to 3 passengers and must stay within the city limits. ‘Grands taxis’ are larger cars like Mercedes-Benzes and Peugeot 504 estates. These can travel out of and between towns and take up to 6 people, usually with a third row of seats. It is advisable to agree upon a fare before departure, and expect to pay a tip of around 10%.

Internal air travel

Royal Air Maroc operates regular services from Casablanca airport to Agadir, Dakhla, Fez, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Oujda, Tangier, Essaouira, Laayoune and Errachidia. .


Train

Rail travel is a great way to enjoy Morocco’s scenery, and is incredibly cheap in comparison with other countries. Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF) provides regular, inexpensive services between major towns and cities, though there is little or no rail coverage east of the Atlas and south of Marrakech.


Consider travelling first-class at busy times and on popular routes, as it is a good way to guarantee getting a seat. Some trains have sleeper and restaurant cars for longer journeys.


Main routes include:



  • Marrakech-Casablanca-Rabat-Meknès-Fez-Oujda
  • Marrakech-Casablanca-Rabat
  • Marrakech-Casablanca-Meknès-Fez
  • Casablanca-Rabat-Tangier



morocco - module 2 - hotelGeneral accommodation options


Hotels

Morocco prides itself on its culture of hospitality, and has a high quality hotel infrastructure. The major western hotel names are long established in the country’s larger cities, but even smaller establishments will offer you a warm and attentive welcome. Large coastal resorts, especially Agadir, will also have a collection of large holiday villages that offer accommodation, activities, food and entertainment within a single complex.


morocco - module 2 - riadRiads

Riads offer an authentically Moroccan accommodation experience with the comfort and service you would expect from an established hotel. Traditional houses built around a central patio, they are generally found in medinas and many have been renovated as guesthouses. Their unique, otherworldly atmosphere is something few guests forget. (For more on riads see the History and culture module.)

Gites

Morocco’s hospitality is perhaps best experienced in gîtes or guest houses – traditional homes where the reception is as authentically warm as you could wish. This form of accommodation, with its with simple comfort, traditional decoration and genuine personal touch, gives you the opportunity to get to know local life. You will find gites in the countryside and mountains, especially in places that are on popular hiking and treking routes.

Now try answering the following questions. Good luck!


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For more information or to request promotional material for your agency, contact the Moroccan National Tourist Office.


205 Regent Street
London
W1R 7DE


Tel: 0207 437 0073 / 74 or 0207 734 8172
Email:mnto@morocco-tourism.org.uk
Website: www.visitmorocco.org