5 Things you Should Know About Visiting Morocco with Kids
Thinking of travelling to Morocco with kids? The burning question many people have about Morocco and is whether it is safe for families and we can understand why. It’s not far from the UK and it is very close to mainland Europe and yet culturally it is worlds apart.
Our first visit to Morocco was an assault on all of our senses but there was something we loved about it. Maybe it was the beautiful Moorish architecture with those amazing doors (seen plastered all over Instagram) or the surprising contrast of the busy cities to the perfectly peaceful countryside.
We’ve been back a few times now and highly recommend spending a few days in Marrakech to start with. We try to visit different parts of the country each time we go and on our last visit, we took the kids on a road trip to the Atlas mountains.
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When we told people we were taking the kids to Morocco, the first thing we were asked was ‘is it safe to travel to Morocco with kids?’ Having been to Morocco many times before, we knew it could get a bit hectic for the kids but we weren’t concerned in terms of general safety. If ever you are unsure about travelling to Morocco for the first time and would like a little guidance, you always have the option of booking a reputable Moroccan tour.
If you’ve decided to travel to Morocco under your own steam, there are just a few basic things you need to consider. These are the kind of things you need to consider when travelling anywhere with a family, not just Morocco. We’ve tried to outline the main things you need to be aware of when travelling to Morocco, particularly with kids.
In terms of how safe is Morocco to travel to at any particular point in time, we always recommend checking the government advice before travelling.
1. Crime in Morocco
Morocco is a safe place to visit. You just need to be aware of petty crime like pick-pocketing or bag snatching, particularly in the busy areas like the souks. If you’re a woman travelling on your own (and even if you are with a partner), you may get more attention than you would like while wandering around the medina and the souks but we didn’t experience any of this with children. We also didn’t have as much hassle from people trying to sell us stuff we didn’t want. A quick and firm ‘no thank you’ was enough.
It’s not really a crime, more of a scam, but watch out for people in the main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, with Barbary monkeys. They try to put them on you for you to have a photo and then ask you for money. Please be aware that these monkeys are poorly treated and giving them any money just encourages them. The same can be said of the snake charmers. We didn’t go near them because I’m terrified of snakes but the snakes are also treated very badly. Finally, the henna ladies can be quite persistent. They will try to grab your hand and start painting them and then charge you.
So, whilst not crimes, there are plenty of scams around. Just be sure to exercise the same level of caution you would when travelling anywhere unfamiliar. Try not to travel with valuable possessions and try to avoid flashing anything valuable in crowded areas.
2. Driving in Morocco
Driving in Morocco is very easy once you’re out of the main cities. We love to hire a car as it gives us so much more independence but you might want to take your own car seats with you because the standard of car seats provided with your car rental is very variable. We always travel with our Mifold seats because they’re so compact and easy to travel with. You must just check the guidelines to see whether they would be age-appropriate for your child.
You should also be aware of a potential scam run by the police. During our road trip, we were stopped by traffic police with a speed gun who tried to claim that we were speeding and wanted us to pay an on the spot fine. We knew that we weren’t speeding so we declined to pay and said that we didn’t have any cash on us anyway. They said that they would have to take our drivers licence so we called their bluff and agreed for them to take it. At this, they rolled their eyes and let us go. We later found out that this was quite a common scam but we also heard that this has improved in recent years.
Getting out and about and seeing the sights of Morocco under your own steam really is a great way to do it. Here’s a great article with more tips on driving in Morocco.
3. Food in Morocco
The food in Morocco is safe to eat and is very tasty. There are lots of fantastic restaurants in Morocco but it always pays to do your research. The staple food in Morocco is a tagine (usually lamb or chicken) which is a couscous based dish with vegetables, dried fruits and spices and cooked in a tagine dish. You’ll also find grilled meats and bread. We advise staying away from salads and only eating fruit or vegetables that have been washed, peeled and cooked well. If you haven’t managed to do your research and are looking for somewhere to eat on the hop, try to go where there are lots of locals.
There were international supermarkets in Marrakech like Carrefour, but once you leave Marrakech, it is harder to find snacks that the kids like. If you have space in your luggage, we’d recommend bringing some of these snacks that are good for road trips with kids.
4. Water in Morocco
Tap water in Morocco is meant to be safe to drink for the most part, but we wouldn’t recommend drinking it. In places like Morocco where the tap water is just not quite good enough to drink, especially when you have little ones with you, we like to use our Sawyer water filter. We always carry our reusable Camelbak water bottles with us and can then filter the tap water. We much prefer this to buying bottled water as it’s cheaper and better for the environment. In case of an upset stomach, it’s always good to have rehydration medicine in your travel first aid kit.
If you have to buy water and are staying in the same place for a while, try to source the largest bottle that you can practically carry and decant it into your reusable water bottles. On the subject of drinks in Morocco, we highly recommend trying the freshly squeezed orange juice from one of the stalls in Jemaa el Fnaa in Marrakech.
5. Kids in Morocco
Morocco is a fascinating place for kids and although it can be a bit overwhelming for them, it is not unsafe. Moroccans adore children and your experience visiting Morocco with kids will be completely different and very rewarding. Having said that, there are a few things that we would recommend during your holidays to Morocco with kids to feel more comfortable – and we would recommend doing these same things in a lot of other countries – not just Morocco.
- when visiting busy places like Jemaa el-Fnaa and the narrow streets of the souks, make sure to dress them in bright colours. You may be surprised how easy it is to get distracted by someone trying to sell you something or for a little one to get distracted by something at their level.
- Keep your kids close to you so that you can shield them from unwanted attention. Whilst we love for our kids to interact with locals and they love the attention, for the most part, they can get a bit overwhelmed in very busy places. It is safe as Moroccans love children, but it can be a bit much at times.
- Make sure your child has your phone number written somewhere, whether on a wristband or a little piece of paper in a pocket so that if you get separated, you can be reached.
- If you’re unsure about taking them into the Medina in Marrakech, you could try staying in Meknes instead. It’s very similar to Marrakech but on a smaller and less hectic scale.
And just a little anecdote of our experience of visiting Morocco with kids. Ed wanted to take our eldest son (who was 5 at the time) to a Morocco football match (Morocco v Burkina Faso). It was a spur of the moment decision as the stadium was just opposite our hotel and the hotel manager mentioned that there was a game on.
I stayed at the hotel with our 3-year-old because it was an evening game. I was a little anxious that it may not be safe as this is not something I had anticipated or researched. As it turns out, there were apparently more police than spectators. The crowd were very friendly and Ernie came away with some great memories and some fun Moroccan football memorabilia including a Morocco flag that got waved at anyone and everyone we passed and was greeted with big smiles.
Top tip for staying in Marrakech
Although a night in a riad in the Medina is an experience not to be missed, you might not want to spend your entire time there if you have kids with you. While the riads are incredibly beautiful, there aren’t many that can accommodate more than two people in a room. You will also hear the call to prayer early in the morning which may wake the kids. We recommend having a night in one for the experience and then checking into one of the larger hotels in the Palmeraie area.
Family rooms are much easier to find and you’ll have a swimming pool which is ideal if you’re visiting Marrakech during the summer months. After a visit to the souks, you’ll all want some downtime around the pool. We stayed at the Appartement Mehdi Vizir Center Marrakech at the beginning of the trip and at the Kenzi Club Agdal Medina for a couple of nights at the end of the trip. Both had great family apartments and large pool areas and we can highly recommend them.
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