Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The dates vary each year, with this year beginning on Sunday, May 5th, ending on Tuesday, June 4th. Observing Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is a holy month, where Muslims fast and abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, sexual activities even swearing and arguing from before sunrise to sunset. From speaking with locals, I’ve been told also that it’s a spiritual month, of giving up earthly pleasures, focusing on prayer and reading the Quran and being generous in giving and good deeds.
My trip to Marrakesh was only 4 days, but it was such a learning experience. I traveled there solo but met up with family later in the evening. My prior research, I read a lot about the airport taxis, and how they haggle and overcharge you. I ended up booking a ride with Zip Transfer that worked out perfectly for me.
At the airport, they provide you with a free sim card, if you want. You can also pay for data. I paid 10€ for 10GB of data. They did take a photo of my passport, but the company was Orange, which is a trusted company (that I know of), so I felt okay.
Where To Stay
In Morocco, you always hear about a Riad; which is a type of traditional Moroccan house that has an inner courtyard or garden. We booked a Riad through Airbnb, being budget friendly – but you do get what you pay for. Unfortunately, ours was nothing like the photos or the reviews, and we ended up booking an apartment for the remainder of the trip. With lots of research, and depending what your budget is, there are lots of beautiful Riads to stay at in Marrakesh.
Eating & Drinking
Everything was open throughout the days, restaurants, cafes, tour operators, malls etc. but most things did close a bit before sunset and re-opened a little bit after. Some fast food restaurants we went into, stayed opened, but kindly let us know they wouldn’t be serving anything for about 30 minutes, while they sat in the back and broke their fast. Although being a tourist, you don’t have to practice Ramadan, I would recommend just being respectful, and depending where you are, avoid eating, drinking or chewing gum in public. Also, if you’re looking for a alcohol filled party vacation, this isn’t it.
I do have to recommend an enjoyable night out, with great atmosphere and to try traditional Moroccan food is Comptoir Darna. You make a reservation for the restaurant, but you can just show up for the club. We had such a lovely meal, and enjoyed the bellydancing and orchestra shows from our table.
What To Wear
Marrakesh has beautiful views, and of course, beautiful Instagram photo opportunities, but it is advised when traveling to Morocco, to dress modestly. For women, to try to avoid skirts that are above knee level, and to not wear sleeveless tops. Now, when nobody is watching, I’m sure you can adjust your outfit to get that perfect picture, but while walking in the city center, with the majority of women covered, do you really want to be in booty shorts?
What To Do
I was grateful that my Zip Transfer driver was beyond friendly and helpful when it came to tours in Marrakesh. Most tours operate as usual during Ramadan, but just research times beforehand, as again, things might close earlier. We did a local hour-long Camel Ride, which was nice, but probably didn’t help that we went during the hottest peak of the day.
We also did a full day tour of the Atlas Mountains, a cooperative of Argan products, a Berber village and a hike to see the Ourika waterfall. It was a beautiful excursion, with lots learned. The hike was a little more strenuous then they had led it on to be, but I made it to the top. My family was all 60+ years, so they stopped along the way, and I picked them up on my way down. Also, I clearly wasn’t THAT prepared, as I wore a dress (don’t judge me), but again, what they said it was going to be vs. what it actually was, was different, but overall beautiful and worth it.
Be Open Minded
This was my first time visiting a part of Africa, and also first time visiting a Muslim country. It was kind of a last minute trip for me, and with more time, I would have loved to make it to the Sahara desert, but it’s on my bucket list, and I will definitely return sooner than later! With that being said, I tried to do as much research as I could beforehand, but everyone’s experiences are different. I just want you to know that traveling to Marrakesh during Ramadan, for me, was an amazing learning and spiritual experience. If people were a little cranky, I didn’t take it personally, as I can imagine not eating or drinking for 14 hours, in that heat (it was between 40-42 degrees Celcius), could make you a little grumpy. Mostly everyone I came in contact with though, was super friendly.
It’s a beautiful experience, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and get to know the locals and their culture!