This is a guide of Morocco’s public transport alternatives. I explain what to expect catching taxis, buses, trains and animal mode transport. If you’re interested in travelling to Morocco and want to opt for some local transport then this is the post for you!
For all city destinations, I would recommend walking if your hotel is within close proximity. If it’s too hot or you’re heading further than a 20-minute walk, I suggest taking a taxi.
Taxis in Morocco
Taxis in main Moroccan city areas have two options. A ‘Grande’ taxi (usually an old white Mercedes Benz) suitable for up to 7 people or a ‘Petit’ taxi which is a smaller vehicle designed to carry 4. If you are travelling by yourself or with a small group the Petit are the much better option.
These petit taxis are painted in various colours depending on the city you are in which makes them very easily distinguishable amongst a busy city. In Marrakesh they are beige, in Casablanca they are red, In Meknes turquoise and so on.
Petit taxis are smaller cars which will charge a lower fee. Taxis around the medina will cost you around 10-20 Dirhams (~$1.35 to $2.71 Australian) per ride. Some petit taxis have meters which may bring your cost even lower depending on distance.
Although you may have difficulty haggling to a lower price if you look like a tourist and do not speak French or Arabic. If you do not speak French or Arabic I suggest having the hotel reception assist you in writing your anticipated destination down on paper to provide your driver with directions. Simply say hello (Bonjour) and hand them these directions. Attempting French or Arabic will go a long way as a sign of respect but for clarity, this option may come in very handy. Most hotels will have business cards which can be helpful to remember your hotel name and address for your ride back. Don’t forget to say “Merci” or “Shukran” to thank your driver after your ride!
Bargaining power is high at the airport so haggle if you can but do not expect local or city prices. For airport transfers, you may have to go as high as 200 dirhams. In this case, you may prefer to arrange a transfer prior to your arrival through a travel agent or tour group just to save the stress and hassle.
Trains in Morocco
I transported via train several times during my stay in Morocco. These trains are a convenient and a fast way of travelling throughout the country. Train tickets are cheap and options of 1st class and 2nd class are available. I travelled in second class on my journeys which is adequate for short haul travels. The 2nd class berth consists of comfortable, soft bus seat type chairs which provide generous leg space.
However, I must warn you, that although second class seats are great the bathrooms are atrocious. Without going into the absurd graphic detail, I’ll leave you with this- I preferred the squat toilets I found in Asia. In case you cannot hold on until your train arrives I suggest you pack toilet paper as a precaution. Toilet paper is not always available in these public bathrooms.
Another precaution to keep in mind is that these trains do not offer air conditioning. Blinds come down to protect from the sun however that is the best you’ll have to keep cool. I suggest wearing light clothes for this trip. This may be of difficult for women as it is necessary to abide by cultural dress code requirements in Morocco which will mean covering shoulders, knees, chest and midriff. More can be found on dress code here.
Although the sun is horrid, the dry sweeping plains that flash before you, are not to be missed. I recommend that at least some point in your journey you unravel your window blinds and take a look around at the views of the countrysides and desert plains. Neat rows of olive trees, bales of hay and steep mountain terrain is to be expected. Cactus are also easily spotted as they sprout all over Morocco in favour of its dry biome. Moroccan architecture is also not to be missed as the mountainside homes will remind you how far from home you truly are.
I suggest packing a 1-litre bottle of water for these train trips as it can get very dehydrating in these train berths with the blazing sun. Food is also allowed so if you do not have time to grab a quick lunch before your departure I recommend grabbing groceries at the supermarket prior to eat on on-board.
I caught local buses several times to and from the Medina in Marrakesh. The buses are efficient for short journeys, but as for most forms of public transport, no matter where you are in the world, they all get crowded. Be mindful of this before you decide to take the bus as you may have to stand. I found the buses great value for money and very convenient. A bus ticket from my hotel to the Medina on route 1 in Marrakesh cost me 4 Dirhams which is the equivalent of 0.54 Australian per way.
Animal transport is still vastly used in all areas of Morocco. This includes camel, mule, donkey, and horse. I have seen these animals, very parched with chains on their necks, feet tied, mouths tied and metal rings pierced through their noses. As I am vegan myself, I cannot and would not recommend supporting the use of these animals for transport given their poor working conditions.Open gallery
In the Sahara Desert walking and quad biking is usually an option. I reckon, if you have legs you can just walk! I understand the cultural rooted tradition of using animals that is prevalent in Morocco, however, I do not wish to support the unnecessary use of animals for human labour.Open gallery