Things You Should Know Before Renting A Car & Driving In Morocco

Renting A Car In Morocco
Tips For Renting A Car In Morocco
Morocco Driving Guide

Renting a car in Morocco and driving yourself is a great way to experience this beautiful country. But there are a few things you should know before you embark on a road trip.

When Anna and I were planning our first trip to Morocco together, we were initially hesitant about renting a car to explore the country by ourselves.

Morocco has a bit of a reputation for crazy driving (and drivers!).

But the more we researched, the more we realized renting a car in Morocco wouldn’t be as difficult as we thought, plus it would save us a lot of money.

We love the freedom of road trips and planning our own travel itineraries. Morocco is such a diverse country that it made sense to rent a car so we could stop anywhere exploring local villages, mountains, and deserts at our own pace.

Here are some important tips we learned from our experience renting a car in Morocco, to help you save money and stay safe while driving around the country!

What To Know Before Renting A Car In Morocco

Matt & Anna in Morocco
Driving in Morocco was Awesome!

Should You Rent A Car In Morocco?

Hey, if you’re a fan of bus tours, by all means, go book one. It’s a decent way to see Morocco if you don’t have a lot of time.

No planning, no driving, just sit back and let someone else do all the work!

But if you’re like me, you prefer the challenge of independent travel.

True adventure, with no set schedule or timetable. Driving around Morocco with the freedom to stop anywhere fun you happen to find along the way.

If that’s the kind of traveler you are, renting a car in Morocco is the way to go!

Just keep in mind that driving times in Morocco can be longer then Google tells you. It helps if you have someone else to split the driving with.

Another nice thing about having a car was the ability to store things in the trunk, so you can explore cities with small daypacks rather than lugging around a giant backpack or suitcase.

How to Rent A Car in Morocco
Starting our Road Trip in Marrakesh

Where To Rent Your Car In Morocco

The best site to book your car is Discover Car Hire. They search both local and international car rental companies to help you find the best possible price. This is the easiest way to rent a car in Morocco.

We rented our car from the popular city of Marrakech, taking a Southern road trip route towards Ouarzazate before heading on to Merzouga and the Sahara desert.

From the desert we drove North to the blue city of Chefchaouen for a few days, finally ending in Fez where we dropped off the car and flew out of the country. However there are many different types of routes you can take.

Camel Crossing Sign in Morocco
Why Did the Camel Cross the Road?

Car Rental Insurance In Morocco

Some of the rumors about driving in Morocco are true, and people can drive crazy here. That’s why I highly recommend getting full insurance coverage.

Typically, rental cars in Morocco come with a basic Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), but this isn’t exactly insurance, and only covers the car for up to 10,000 dirhams ($1000 USD) worth of damage.

While you can often save money if you book your car with a credit card that includes car rental insurance, you REALLY need to read the fine print, because many people wrongly assume their card covers everything, in any country.

If you get in a wreck driving in Morocco, decided to decline full insurance coverage, and you suddenly learn your credit card doesn’t actually cover the damage — you’re screwed.

This is why I usually pre-book full coverage through Discover Car Hire for about $9 a day. It’s cheaper than at the counter — and you won’t have to worry.

Moroccan Road Trip in a Rental Car
Driving through the Moroccan Desert

How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Car In Morocco?

Renting a car in Morocco is going to cost you around $25-$40 USD a day, depending on the type of car you get. Our 4 door sedan was about $30 per day.

I recommend renting a car with an actual trunk (no hatchbacks) to hide your luggage from prying eyes. It helps prevent break-ins if thieves can’t see your stuff.

Gas (petrol) prices in Morocco might seem cheap to Americans, but remember that the rest of the world quotes gas in Liters, not Gallons (1 Gallon = 3.78 Liters).

Currently, gas costs about $4 per gallon in Morocco. Remember that diesel cars are often cheaper in gas consumption than regular gasoline too.

Age Requirements For Renting A Car

The minimum age for driving in Morocco is 18 years old, however most car rental companies enforce their own age limit of 21 years old to rent a car.

Cliff Overlook on Morocco Road Trip
Stopping Anywhere is One of the Perks of Renting a Car

Moroccan Driving Laws Tourists Should Know

The speed limits in Morocco are generally 60 kph in urban areas and 120 kph on highways. Police speed traps are very common, so pay attention to your speed.

I was actually pulled over for speeding during our road trip outside Ouarzazate, but they let me go after paying a small “fine” (bribe?) of 150 dirhams (about $15 USD).

You might also encounter the occasional police roadblock, but often they just wave tourists through. Or they’ll simply ask you where you’re headed.

Moroccans drive on the right side of the road, just like in the United States. So you shouldn’t have any issues there (unless you’re British!).

International Driver’s License

No, you do not need an international driver’s license to drive in Morocco or rent a car there. Just bring your passport, credit card, and your driver’s license from your home country.

Winding Roads in Morocco
Switchbacks in the Atlas Mountains

Tips For Driving In Morocco

Learn how to navigate the roundabout! Morocco is full of roundabouts rather than stoplights, and if you’re new to them, you might piss off the locals or get in a fender-bender.

Road traffic in Morocco comes in all types, sizes, and species! Be prepared to dodge scooters, over-filled trucks, buses, bicycles, donkeys, sheep, camels, pedestrians, and more. It can be mayhem at times, especially in the cities.

Honking your horn in Morocco is a form of everyday communication. It means all sorts of things, not just “get out of my way!” Honk to thank people for letting you pass, or to encourage camels to cross the road. Don’t be afraid of your horn!

Avoid driving your rental car at night in Morocco. Street lighting is minimal, and road markings can be too. Not to mention people or animals suddenly appearing in the middle of the road.

Many Moroccans will use their turn signals to let you know when it’s safe to pass them. For example, a big slow moving truck going uphill. They’ll hit their blinkers when the road is clear ahead, so you don’t have to guess.

Car Rentals in Morocco
Driving in Morocco can be Hectic!

Advice For Renting A Car In Morocco

Don’t book a car without reading the company reviews. Obviously you’ll find plenty of bad reviews for every company (people love to complain online), but try to pick one with the LEAST bad reviews.

Remember that you may not always get the make/model/type of car you booked. If they give you a smaller car, or a manual when you asked for an automatic, be pushy and ask for an upgrade.

Beware of mysterious “cleaning fee” hidden charges. If it’s not in your contract, you don’t have to pay it.

English is not spoken widely. You’ll have an easier time if you speak some French or Arabic. Communication isn’t impossible, but be patient.

Inspect your car thoroughly and record video on your smartphone pointing out damage before you leave. This is a backup if they try to charge you for damage that was already there.

Pay special attention to the interior too. A common rental car scam is getting charged for “cigarette burns” on the seats — that they conveniently “forget” to mark on the original damage form.

Make sure your tank is full before you leave. Some car rental companies in Morocco will start you with an empty gas tank, forcing you to fill up immediately.

Enjoy Your Moroccan Road Trip!

Exploring the small villages, hidden canyons, colorful mountains, and vast deserts of Morocco in a rental car was definitely the right choice for us.

Road trips let you get off the beaten track to see things most people miss! ★

Travel Planning Resources For Morocco

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Find cheap flights on Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine to find deals on airlines. Also make sure to read how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Car Hire is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.

Book Accommodation

Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent apartments from locals on Airbnb. Read more about how I book cheap hotels online.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.

Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Morocco
Suggested Reading: In Arabian Nights

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Renting a car in Morocco isn't as scary as it sounds if you follow my tips for a successful road trip.

Any questions about driving or renting a car in Morocco? Are you planning a road trip there? Drop me a message in the comments below!

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Mysterious Chefchaouen: The Blue Pearl Of Morocco

Chefchaouen Morocco Guide

Exploring Chefchaouen in Morocco

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Welcome to Chefchaouen, the blue city of Morocco. It’s famous for all the houses and shops painted different shades of blue. A magical place to get lost in with your camera!

The sun beats down mercilessly, setting every color around me ablaze – and since everything is blue, I feel like I’m walking above the clouds in a mythical sky kingdom.

But this is no myth, it’s Chefchaouen. Located in Northern Morocco, the city’s signature color is a variety of calming shades of blue that lower your blood pressure in seconds.

Known as Morocco’s “blue pearl” or “blue city”, the buildings in Chefchaouen are painted using a talc or chalk-based paint that looks so beguiling.

Exploring a labyrinth of narrow blue alleyways smelling of spice, incense, flowers, and fresh oranges — was one of the highlights of my journey to Morocco. Plus it’s a photographer’s dream!

Here are some tips and suggestions for things to do in Chefchaouen.

Need A Place To Stay In Morocco?
How To Find Cheap Travel Accommodation
Chefchaouen Morocco Travel Guide

Our Journey to Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen Morocco Jewish Population

A Jewish Tradition

Why Is Chefchaouen Blue?

Some will tell you that it’s a symbol of Jewish solidarity. In the 1930s, a sizeable population of Jewish refugees arrived in Chefchaouen, fleeing Nazi persecution and the growing threat of war.

The blue is meant to represent peace, safety and the power of heaven. In this version of the story, blue walls rapidly spread outward from the city’s Jewish quarter, until the entire city was aglow.

Kalam farigh! others would say (that’s Arabic for “nonsense”).

They’ll say the tradition of painting walls blue is Jewish, certainly, but goes back to the time of the city’s founding, in the 15th Century, when it was built around a fortress used to defend inhabitants against Portuguese invaders.

At this time, local Moroccans lived alongside Jews and Moriscos (former Muslims who had converted to Christianity) for a century or more.

Chefchaouen Blue City Viewpoint

View from Spanish Mosque Trail

Chefchaouen Morocco Square

Early Morning Calm

Exploring The Blue City

The narrow streets of Chefchaouen (or Chaouen, as the locals call it) make no attempt to soften the impact of the hillside the city is built on. In some cases, stone steps march straight up the slope, giving your legs a good workout.

But when the streets open into public squares, look above the city, towards the nearby Riff mountains.

The mountains above the city give the appearance of two horns – and it’s believed that this is where the name Chefchaouen comes from (literally meaning “watch the horns” in a local dialect).

But the rest of the time, keep looking around you. This is a jaw-droppingly beautiful city! It transports you into a different world.

Things To Do In Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen Shopping

Go Shopping in the Medina

Wander The Streets

This is why most travelers seek out Chefchaouen, to wander aimlessly through the narrow streets & alleys, painted in an endless array of blue — turquoise, powder blue, celeste, robin’s-egg, indigo, cyan, periwinkle.

Go shopping for colorful blankets or lamps in the souks hidden throughout the medina. Marvel at the variety of beautiful doorways and detailed tile work that decorate each residence.

Sit down at a street cafe, order a steaming glass of mint tea, and watch locals dressed in djellaba robes go about their daily life. Soak it all in — the whole Moroccan experience.

Cats in Morocco

Get Your Kitty Fix in Chefchaouen

Go Cat Spotting

If you’re a cat person like me, you’re going to love Chefchaouen. It’s a cat city for sure — a bit like Istanbul. Locals feed them, however they generally live outside in the street as strays.

You’ll find cats in alleys, cats on the stairs, and cats in the souks. Cats will be roaming through restaurants and on terraces. They’re hiding in trees and bushes, and stretched out on sidewalks.

If you want to get a cat’s attention in Morocco, try hissing. It’s a great way to get them to pose for photos! Meow.

Chefchaouen Morocco Kasbah

Rock The Kasbah

Kasbah Fortress Museum

Make sure to visit the large 15th century Kasbah fortress and dungeon located in Chefchaouen’s main square — Place Outa el Hammam. It’s pretty easy to find this red-walled structure among all the blue buildings.

Built in 1471 by Mulay Ali Ben Mussa Ben Rached, the Kasbah features a beautiful garden and small ethnographic museum. Climb the towers inside for some great views of the city and the Grand Mosque.

The Kasbah was built in the Andalusian-Maghrebian style to defend Chefchaouen from attacks by the Portuguese and Spanish. Entry only costs €1 Euro! It’s totally worth a quick visit.

Chefchaouen the Blue City

Getting Lost in Chefchaouen

Stay In A Riad

“Riad” comes from the Arabic word for “garden”, and it’s referring to the space in the centre of these traditional Moroccan guest-houses, open to the sky, usually with a water fountain.

Most rooms in a riad point inwards towards this space, the symbolic heart of the home – and when you open your door first thing in the morning to find sunlight streaming down into the building.

The distant noises of Morocco will filter down through the hole in the ceiling. You’ll hear movement, the clank of morning tea being prepared, the Arabic call to prayer, and the rhythms of life outside. It’s all extremely relaxing.

Chefchaouen Mountain Town

The Horns Above Chefchaouen

Spanish Mosque Hike

There’s an old Spanish Mosque perched on a hilltop overlooking the blue city, built by the Spanish in the 1920’s. The mile-long hike passes by prickly pear and agave cacti — with wonderful views of Chefchaouen at the top.

Because the mosque is kind of abandoned, non-muslims are allowed to go inside and take a look. Make sure to bring water though, because on a sunny day it gets hot up there.

The trail to the mosque crosses the Ras el’Ma river, where you’ll see local women doing laundry the traditional way in cold mountain water. The hike up takes about 45 minutes one-way.

Chefchaouen Blue Buildings

The City of Blue

Visit A Hammam

With a cleaning ritual that hasn’t changed for centuries, a visit to the hammam will leave you steamed, sweated, pummelled and scrubbed until you feel like every inch of your skin has been upgraded.

The main public hammam is across the square from the main mosque, Jama’a Kabir, and there are different attendance times for men and women.

You will also have to go shopping first for your own plastic sandals, soap, shower scrub and towel. The hammam experience is an integral part of life in Morocco!

Riff Mountains in Chefchaouen

Morocco’s Riff Mountains

Kif Field-Trip

The blue city of Chefchaouen has a long history of hippie-culture and the production of hashish — the most basic and traditional form of marijuana THC concentrate. Morocco is the world’s top supplier.

You might be offered a farm tour, where they drive you outside the city to the marijuana fields and demonstrate how they produce hash from kif, THC crystals extracted from the plant.

Just be wary… it is illegal to produce, trade, and smoke hash in Morocco, even in a place like Chefchaouen. Always remember that if you’re spotted, you could get arrested. Or blackmailed by the police for money.

Chefchaouen Morocco Waterfall

Beautiful Cascades d’Akchour

Cascades d’Akchour Waterfalls

Cascades d’Akchour is a trail that leads to a pair of waterfalls in the Rif Mountains. You’ll need a taxi to get to the trailhead, and sturdy shoes for this 2-3 hour hike.

The trail is full of lush green vegetation, an interesting natural stone bridge called “God’s Bridge”, and a beautiful swimming hole with a waterfall as your reward at the end.

You’ll find makeshift “cafes” along the way, which serve Moroccan food and tea during this long, and somewhat steep hike. It’s nice, but a little touristy.

Food in Chefchaouen Morocco

Vegetable Couscous was Delicious!

Eat Moroccan Food

One of the top reasons anyone should travel to Morocco is the amazing food, and you can find all your favorites in the Blue City. Stuff yourself on kefta (lamb meatballs), tajines (slow cooked stews in clay pots) and mountains of couscous.

Oranges and orange juice is a big deal in Morocco — and super delicious. A freshly squeezed glass will only set you back about 4 Dirhams ($0.40 USD). I couldn’t get enough!

Hot mint tea in Morocco is a sign of hospitality, friendship and tradition. It’s one of the most delicious treats you’ll find in the whole country, with a rich flavor you’ll struggle to find elsewhere.

Chefchaouen Paint

Traditional Pastel Paints

Chefchaouen Morocco Streets

Steep Cobblestone Streets

Getting To Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen is built on the edge of the Rif mountain range in the far north – and the only way there is by road, winding up a rocky landscape that’s surprisingly lush and green in the summer.

Rental Car

RentalCars.com searches all the big car rental companies and finds the best price. This is probably the easiest way to rent a car in Morocco.

Driving in Morocco can be a bit crazy sometimes, but it’s a relatively straightforward journey of 115 km (about 2 hours of driving) from Tangier. I recommend using a parking garage, then explore the old-city on foot.

By Bus

The cheapest way to get to Chfchaouen is by bus. There are multiple buses per day from cities like Fez, Tetouan, Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier and Ceuta. The main bus company for tourists is CTM.

From Tangier, visit Gate Routiere (Place Al Jamia Al Arabia) and look for the next bus – there’s usually at least two running per day, with one departing at noon. The fare to Chefchaouen is 45 Dirham ($5 USD).

By Taxi

Morocco is full of unauthorized or semi-legit taxis driven by people who have one aim in life: to get as much money out of tourists as possible.

The standard price of a one-way trip in a private taxi from Tangier to Chefchaouen should be in the range of 300 – 500 Dirhams ($31 – $52 USD).

From Marrakesh

Take the night train from Marrakesh to Tangier, then continue to Chefchaouen by bus or taxi. The train leaves Marrakesh at 9:00 pm and arrives in Tangier at 7:25 am. There are sleeper cabins available.

Ready To Fly To Morocco?
How To Find The Cheapest Flights Online
Chefchaouen Blue Stairway

Even the Stairs are Blue!

Blue Doors in Chefchaouen

Stylish Blue Doors

Where To Stay In Chefchaouen

There are plenty of hotels in Chefchaouen, but you’re missing out if you don’t stay in a traditional Moroccan riad. It’s like a mix between a private townhouse, a hotel, and a European “bed & breakfast”. We stayed at Riad Assilah Chaouen — and loved it.

If you’re wondering where to stay in Chefchaouen, Morocco, here are my recommendations:

BUDGET
Chefchaouen Hotel
Hotel Abi Khancha
Great location, but small rooms. Cool rooftop area.

Check Prices / Read Reviews

BUDGET
Chefchaouen Hotel
Dar Antonio
Cute hostel, good wifi, and great value in the medina.

Check Prices / Read Reviews

MID-RANGE
Chefchaouen Hotel
Riad Assilah Chaouen
Friendly staff and comfortable rooms. Nice common area.

Check Prices / Read Reviews

LUXURY
Chefchaouen Hotel
Riad Gharnata
Classic looking Moroccan riad, very romantic place.

Check Prices / Read Reviews

COUPON CODE! For a special $30 off your next Booking.com hotel stay over $60, make sure to use my special link.
Chefchaouen Colors

An Explosion of Color

Chefchaouen Travel Tips

  • Spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are the best times to visit due to weather, but the crowds are large too. Summer is usually so hot that even the locals don’t stick around.
  • Morocco is a Muslim country — so conservative clothing is recommended. Chefchauoen is a bit more liberal than other cities, but showing too much leg or mid-rift will attract unwanted attention.
  • It can get pretty cold at night in the Riff mountains, so bring something warm like a sweater or light jacket.
  • Haggling over price with local shop owners is expected — always try to negotiate a better deal for souvenirs. Except when buying food, as this is already super cheap and no haggling is necessary.
  • Many people only pop into Chefchauoen for a day trip, however I’d recommend spending at least 2-3 days here. It was one of my favorite stops in Morocco.
  • Many locals in Chefchaouen actually speak Spanish, as opposed to the more common Arabic & French found in the rest of the country.

This is a city designed to stop you in your tracks for all the right reasons. Whatever is going on in your life, especially if you’re feeling weary of travel, Chefchaouen wants you to put your feet up, drink mint tea and take it deliciously easy.

Then, when you’re ready, you can go for a walk within the ancient city walls, and let the medina work its soothing magic upon you. In a country known for being a bit chaotic, the blue city of Chefchaouen is a pleasant oasis. ★

EXTRA INFORMATION
Location: Chefchaouen, Morocco
Useful Notes: I think Chefchaouen was my favorite city in Morocco. It’s much more laid-back than the rest of the country (probably has to do with all the hash). It’s a little out of the way, but SO worth a visit. Especially if you’re into photography.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Morocco
Suggested Reading: In Arabian Nights

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Things to do in Chefchaouen! Morocco's mysterious blue city. More at ExpertVagabond.com
Things to do in Chefchaouen! Morocco's mysterious blue city. More at ExpertVagabond.com

Any questions about visiting Chefchaouen? Have you heard of this blue city? Drop me a message in the comments below!

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.