Top Tips for Travel within Morocco as an IES Abroad Student

Mariama Regaignon headshot
Mariama Regaignon
December 14, 2023
View out the bus window of flat-top desert mountains on the drive back from Merzouga

I highly recommend traveling as much as possible within Morocco while you’re abroad! Morocco has a lot to offer, and there are a lot of different options for getting around both within and between cities.

Petit taxis: To get around short distances within each city, petit taxis are an excellent option. They’re a different color in each city. It can be stressful to get one, but here are some key tips: 

  • Hail them like a regular taxi, but tell the driver where you’re going before you get in. They’re only allowed to take three passengers, and can take multiple fares at a time. If there’s already someone in the taxi and they don’t have enough spots for your group, or if they’re headed a different direction than you’re going, they won’t take you. This isn’t rude, and it shouldn’t take long for another taxi to drive by. 
  • In the middle of the day when most petit taxis are full or partly full, you may have to split up a group of three. 
  • If you catch a petit taxi that’s already waiting outside a train station, club, or other space (as opposed to dropping someone off or driving by), they may charge you a flat rate up front. It shouldn’t be more than 50 MAD over a short distance, though. The minimum metered fare is 7 MAD. I found petit taxis to be especially expensive in Casablanca and Marrakech.
  • The Rabat-Salé airport is in Salé, and petit taxis are confined by city limits, so you’ll need a grand taxi if you’re going to the airport or traveling in a group of more than three.

Grand taxis: These are minivans, usually white or pale yellow. They can take you longer distances or across city borders; they’ll even take you between major cities if you book them in advance, but this can get expensive.

  • Grand taxis are generally pretty affordable when you split it between the group and are a lot more convenient if you’re looking to go a long way, if you’re a big group, or if you have a lot of luggage. You can also take a grand taxi with strangers to a set destination, almost like a small bus.
  • You don’t typically hail a grand taxi (although sometimes they’ll pull over when you’re hailing a petit taxi, which is fine); instead, you can catch them from unofficial stations, sometimes marked by a taxi sign. 
  • Expect to pay somewhere around 50-100 MAD per 10 minutes of driving, total. You should ask the driver for the price up front, and if it’s within that range, it’s rude to try and negotiate as grand taxis typically operate at flat rates. 
  • Most grand taxi drivers have a business card or will give you their WhatsApp contact, and it can reduce a lot of stress to call ahead to schedule the taxi the day before.

Trains: The trains are an amazing option to travel between cities. They run to most major cities several times a day, and generally run on time (although evening trains are more likely to run late).

  • They’re are very affordable by US standards (the most I’ve paid was 350 MAD for the high-speed rail to Tangier, but usually they’re more like 50-100 MAD), 
  • I don’t know anyone who was able to buy a train ticket online, although theoretically it can be done. However, you can see the schedule online, and you can buy a ticket for anywhere in the country at the Rabat Ville train station, which is walking distance from the IES Abroad Center and the old medina. The machines only take card, but not international cards, so you’ll need to see an agent, who take international cards and cash. They’re very helpful and generally speak excellent French and at least a little English.
  • There’s an unfortunate proportion of people who don't sit in their assigned seats: usually enough that you’ll have to ask someone to move out of your seat, but not enough that you can just sit anywhere without someone asking you to move. Just try to do it apologetically, and know that it’s a reality of taking the Moroccan trains.

Trams: A great alternative to petit taxis for travel within major cities (especially Rabat)!

  • The trams in Rabat run every 8 minutes during the day to most parts of the city and to Salé (only about 10-15 minutes from the IES Abroad Center). There’s a stop on one side of the old medina and one right by the IES Abroad Center, so depending where you live, it might be very convenient to get to school in the morning!
  • Tickets are 6 MAD each for a single-ride ticket (there’s a machine at every station, but they only take coins and 20 and 50 MAD bills, so you’ll need change). There’s also a student trimestriel pass, I believe for about 420 MAD, but that didn’t end up being worth it for me.
  • If you’re traveling long distances within other cities, the tram can be more convenient than armwrestling with a petit taxi driver. I took the tram several times in Casablanca and it was a lot easier than a taxi.

Buses: To get to smaller cities like Essaouira and Chefchaouen, you’ll need to take inter-city buses. The two main bus lines are CTM in the north and SupraTours in the south, and you can easily purchase tickets for both online. 

  • Tickets are fairly affordable, costing about 100 MAD per person for a three-hour ride from Marrakech to Essaouira or Tangier to Chefchaouen.
  • They don’t necessarily run very often, so you may have to plan around the available bus times.
  • Most cities also have intra-city buses, which might be a great alternative to taxis if you’re finding them expensive, but I never took these so I can’t speak to them. However, the Rabat Center staff are very helpful if you’re having trouble figuring out transit.

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Mariama Regaignon headshot

Mariama Regaignon

I'm from NYC and attend Bryn Mawr College near Philly! I'm passionate about film, social justice, backpacking, fashion, jewelry-making, reading, and plant-based cooking. When I'm at home I love exploring the city or hanging out with my two cats.

2023 Fall
Home University:
Bryn Mawr College
Religious Studies
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