I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived in Morocco. As a solo female traveler, I tried to prepare by reading other travelers’ experiences and came across mixed information. I landed in Marrakech and the immigration and customs process was very smooth. I arranged transportation with my riad, and my driver was waiting for me with a sign. As soon as we drove outside the airport, my fear and anxiety subsided. Marrakech seems to kind of hit you. The people, the architect, the smell, the heat; I instantly became excited. Marrakech was my first stop, followed by Essaouira, Chefchaouen, and Essaouira again.
My first night in Marrakech was spent relaxing in my riad. The staff welcomed me with Moroccan mint tea and a wonderful dinner that I ordered in advance. It was a delicious meal composing of traditional harira soup, tajine lamb, and finished with crepes and ice cream for dessert. After 21 traveling hours, I was exhausted; my host made a reservation for me at Alphais Spa for a hammam and massage. The next day, staff from the spa picked me up, and once again, Moroccan mint tea welcomed me as I waited and changed into my robe.
It was beautiful, and the staff was lovely. I felt calm as I took in the décor and listened to the soft music flowing from every corner of the ceiling. I was led to a room to begin my hammam. As the warm water touched my skin and the young lady started my scrub, I realized that I would give my firstborn for this, and by the time I was taken for my massage, I threw my mom in for good measures. They didn’t ask, but fair is fair. After my spa treatment, I was given more mint tea and Moroccan pastries while I relaxed in a room contemplating my life; wondering what I’d been doing all this time without a hammam and how I’d been living? Till this day, I’m still at a lost.
Following the 2-hour spa experience, I explored the famous Djemaa el-Fna and souks. I did some shopping and practiced the art of haggling. I do not have a rule of thumb for haggling. Most recommendations I received told me to pay 50% of the price the shopkeeper gives. However, that advice is well known so most shopkeepers will blurt out exorbitant prices, and you end up paying more anyway. So I merely haggled to what was comfortable within my budget. I also asked my hosts and people I met along the way what I should pay for specific items. Most were surprised with my haggling skills, and so was I.
I visited Jardin Majorelle, which I found to be very beautiful, but much smaller than I expected. The beautiful blues and yellows and the spectacular garden was a respite from the salmon pink colored buildings of Marrakech.
I did a lot of walking around the medina and thanks to maps.me (which I highly recommend) I only got lost once (when I was not using it). I also figured out how to get to my riad by using markers from several different points in the square. I went to Cent Treize for shisha and a lounge in Hotel El Andalous to dance and drink. I tried snail broth – just the broth because when I saw the snail’s ears, I refused to eat it. Nope.
I felt very safe in Marrakech as a solo traveler. Luckily, I didn’t get many catcalls or people trying to scam me as I had read about. I did wear sunglasses at times and had my headphones on when I did not feel like being bothered. I met wonderful people who took me out, and I met other solo travelers along the way. I was told that souk owners were always trying to sell you things and get you into their shops and I did experience that, but it is a souk, and they are sellers. I got a kick out of seeing all the tactics that they would use to try and get people into their shops, including telling you that something was free. Spoiler alert, nothing in Marrakech is free.
As much as I enjoyed Marrakech, I was delighted to head to Chefchaouen. It started with a 10-hour overnight train to Tangier and then a 2-hour taxi to Chefchaouen. I felt very safe in the all-women sleeper that I shared with three other women. Chefchaouen was extremely beautiful and the people very kind. When I arrived, an older gentleman helped me with my luggage and took me to my riad. When I tried to tip him, he would not accept it. I stayed in Asha’s Guest House and not only was it beautiful and comfortable, the staff was also amazing; going above and beyond to make sure that I was safe and had a great time. The owner showed me how to make shakshuka, and we prepared a meal together to share with the rest of his team. One of the staff also taught me how to make Moroccan mint tea (I think I developed diabetes with all the sugar) which I made several times for us during my stay.
While in Chefchaouen I went hiking and ended up in a cemetery – talk about spooky. I roamed around the medina and took in the beautiful blue city. But the highlight was hanging out with my host and the rest of the staff at the guest house. When it was time for me to leave, I took a taxi to Tangier train station and purchased an overnight sleeper to Marrakech.
As with most things, you will have to haggle with the taxi drivers. You have the option of taking a collective taxi for 70 dirhams, but you’ll have to wait for six people, or you can take a cab by yourself which will cost you much more. I got super lucky and I was able to pay 200 dirhams for a solo taxi to get to Chefchaouen and 140 dirhams to get back to Tangier (I told you my haggling skills were good); most people pay 500-700 dirham for a solo ride.
Initially, I took a day tour to Essaouira from Marrakech, but I loved it so much that I decided to go back for another 3 days. Essaouira is less crowded and not as busy as Marrakech. I love the laid-back beach vibe. I met another solo traveler my first time there and we enjoyed wine at a restaurant overlooking the bright and breezy waters. I love the colorful boats and bustling medina; I tried to get lost but was unable to. It was in Essaouira that I got something stuck in my ear (entirely my fault) and had to see a doctor and get medications which cost me ~$15. Yes, 15.
I stayed in another beautiful riad and took it easy. I saw the goats on the trees (note that you will have to go at a specific time to see them on your way to Essaouira), walked the beach, ate delicious seafood, drank wine, and did a photo shoot. Once again, I met some amazing people. I would go back to Morocco to spend more time in Essaouira.
I am very proud of tackling Morocco by myself. However, I will say that I experienced a great deal of culture shock that resulted in more loneliness than I ever felt while traveling solo. This is one place where I would have liked to have some company. I did meet some fantastic people and that made things much more relaxed. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling around Morocco as exhausting as it was and would go back to experience the Sahara Desert and see the friends that I made.
Until next time,