Last Updated: 2020-03-09
Memories are a tricky thing. Thinking back on long family road trips, I remember them with a mixture of fondness and annoyance.
Maybe it’s that love-hate relationship that I think most of us have with transportation: as soon as we set off we are already anxious to arrive, although we later understand that the journey is as memorable a part of the trip as the destination.
In any case, we need to get from point A to point B, and any Morocco travel blog worth its salt should have an article on how to get around Morocco, detailing the different means of transport and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Let’s get started!
Train. Advantages and Disadvantages
The ONCF is the national train company, and its website indicates routes, schedules and prices (although it is in French). It also allows you to book online, but unfortunately only if you have a Moroccan credit card. And sometimes their website can be glitchy:
Many prefer trains for long distances; It has the disadvantage of being somewhat slow and oftentimes there are delays (I remember once there was an hour-long delay because they had accidentally run over a cow), but trains are more comfortable than buses or taxis, and much cheaper than taxis.
First class service is only about 30% more expensive than the other option, second class. So, I recommend first class: it’s more comfortable, less crowded, and you get an assigned seat.
Railway Network: basically, it runs along the Atlantic Coast (from Tangier to El Jadida, passing through Asilah, Rabat, Casablanca, etc.). It connects Fez with the North and Marrakech with Casablanca. So, you can see the Atlantic Coast and most of the popular cities in train alone, but if you want to visit more remote places you will have to combine it with other means of transportation.
Prices: prices obviously depend on the distance traveled. As an example, a train from Tangier to Asilah in 1st class costs approximately 30 dirhams, and from Casablanca to Marrakech 150 dirhams.
First, we must understand that in Morocco as a rule no one is ever in a hurry (if you have ever been to a similar place you’ll know what I am talking about). Since buses are the most economical means of transport and the local favorite for medium-long distances, it is usually “adapted” to their lifestyle.
In addition, buses are usually not maintained at all, and may even break down on the road, forcing passengers to wait for the next one. All this translates into more than probable delays, and it’s common to arrive at your destination an hour later than expected.
So, buses are only recommended as an alternative option for places where train or taxi are not available.
Prices: City buses usually have an approximate price of 4 dirhams. Between cities, it depends on the distance. As an example, a bus that goes from Tangier to Asilah costs approximately 20 dirhams and from Casablanca to Marrakech 100 dirhams.
The preferred method of transportation for both tourists and locals, to get around Morocco. Taxis are surprisingly affordable, since their rates are aimed at the Moroccan citizen (with a salary much lower than that of a tourist).
Most people do not have their own car because of the considerable investment involved (though sometimes an extended family will share one car). So, they mainly using taxis to get around (although this does not prevent taxi drivers from trying to charge tourists more).
On the other hand, their safety features are similar to ours in the 80s. They do not usually have rear seat belts and it is a real exception if they have baby seats or airbags.
There are two types of taxis in Morocco: Grand Taxis and Petit taxis
The grand taxis are all white. They can accommodate five passengers (not including the driver). They usually put two people in the front passenger seat (so I recommend traveling a maximum of four people so that it is not uncomfortable).
Grand Taxis travel only between cities and since they are private long-distance services their cost is of course higher, so it’s a good idea to have a strategy to get a good price.
The most effective is to get more travelers to share expenses, either looking for them yourself or commenting to the taxi driver that you prefer to wait until other customers who wish to make the same journey arrive.
Alternatively, to the initial offer of the taxi driver you can respond with very calm bargaining, especially in times of low demand (even sitting at a nearby bench or a terrace if he does not yield). After all, a taxi driver without a passenger is losing money.
Prices (for the whole taxi): Between 10 and 20 dirhams per kilometer, although sometimes the grand taxis cover routes from or to the outskirts of the cities, with a set fare. For example, a grand taxi from the Marrakech airport to the city costs 70 dirhams.
Petit taxis are based in only one city and accept a maximum of 3 passengers per vehicle. To differentiate them from Grand Taxis, they come in a variety of colors.
Their varies on the city. It can be entertaining to “hunt” the different petit taxis that you will cross on your trip, because sometimes the designs seem random, while others show certain features of their city.
For example, in Marrakech they are brown and in Casablanca red, but in Chaouen they are blue and orange in Berkane (city famous for its production of oranges).
Despite this, certain licenses are allowed, which, I suppose, are aimed at saving painting costs. For example, my favorite petit taxis are in Kelaat M`Gouna (famous for its rose water distillery) but they don’t necessarily have to be completely pink, they are also allowed to be white with a pink stripe.
Check out this gallery of petit taxi images:
Prices (for the whole taxi): Between 10 and 20 dirhams.
It is another option to consider for those people who wish to make a very specific itinerary, where there is little public transport coverage and/or who want a vehicle at their disposal to improvise the itinerary on the fly.
There are several companies that offer this service, although the one I recommend, after weighing options, experiences and prices is Hertz:
The process is relatively simple: you book right from the website, and when you arrive at the dealership you show them the reservation, your driver’s license, passport and credit card.
When you’re finished you leave the car freshly washed and with approximately the same amount of fuel in one of Hertz’s locations across the country (so, you can finish the trip in a different city than the one you started in).
I recommend full coverage insurance, it is too not far-fetched, especially in areas closer to the desert, that you may get a scratch or two. Be patient and careful behind the wheel, because there is usually a police checkpoint at the entrance and exit of all locations not to mention numerous speed traps.
Cost: As an example, a Peugeot 308 with full coverage will cost approximately 400 dirhams a day, providing for a cost in gasoline of 0.5 dirhams per kilometer. 2800 dirhams will be blocked on the card as a deposit.
Having tried all the options, without a doubt I opt for the taxi as an ideal solution to get around Morocco, although most of the time the long and tedious process of bargaining is necessary. For long journeys I would recommend the train as a cheaper alternative (considering possible delays), leaving the bus as the last option in the event that all else fails.
And if you are looking for a trip with a very specific itinerary and you cannot afford a private driver, or you want to have the freedom to make quick decisions on the fly about where to go and what to do, a rental car is also a good option.
I hope this article has been helpful and, remember, if you have any questions, you just have to ask. A hug to everyone!
This article is part of our basic information for beginners. If you want to know more, we invite you to read our Morocco guide.