Some General Information and Tips
I have collected some general information and practical tips that should help you on your family travels through Morocco and in Marrakesh with babies, younger children and even older kids.
Where to Stay in Morocco and Marrakesh with Kids
Finding the right, child friendly accommodation for families, especially in the cities, larger towns and beach resorts is easier than you might think. Family rooms are not yet a standard but most hotels, pensions and bed and breakfasts offer additional beds and cots plus adding additional rooms and extra beds (sometimes at a cost) should not break the bank. A large number of hotels, especially those in remote locations will also include breakfast in their overnight rate and we found these to offer a good selection of food for everyone, including children.
Additional Tips on Booking a Hotel
When booking a hotel in Marrakesh and other Moroccan cities it is always advisable to check road access, as some hotels and riads may only be reached by foot and parking might prove difficult. A stay in a riad inside the walled, ancient parts of the towns can be a memorable experience but also a noisy one, so choose carefully aligned to your family needs. Please note that a stay in the villages is like being thrown back about a hundred years, the smell of animals in the air and the simple life of the locals may be shocking to some, young and old. The chanting of the early morning-prayer calls reaching every corner will wake even some of the tight sleepers whether you stay in a town or villages.
Where we Stayed During our Trips to Morocco
Atlas Mountains near Telouet: Kasbah Tigmi N’Oufella
Ouarzazate: Hotel Cote Sud
Sahara Desert near M’Hmamid: Camp Adounia
Agdz: Lodge Hara Oasis
Where to Find Baby Food in Morocco
Baby food in jars is still hard to come by in Morocco, with the exception of Marrakesh, Casablanca and Agadir, where a selection of mainly French baby food, can be purchased at the larger Majanes Supermarkets. In the more remote areas you will most likely not be able to find any pre-prepared baby food, and therefore it is highly advisable to bring or your own or be prepared to make your own from local supplies. If you do have a more fussy baby then make sure you have enough supply that will last you during your stay unless of course your baby or toddler is flexible enough to have some basic mashed fruit/vegetables (perhaps with a little couscous and/or meat). The market for baby food in Morocco has increased but it is still a very small number of mums that feed their babies and children common baby food as we know it in the West. Most of the time this is due to the hefty price tag, which most Moroccan families cannot afford to pay. Also be aware that microwaves might be hard to come by, especially if you are not staying in a five star hotel or travelling off the beaten track, so if you need to warm food consider taking a travel kettle to heat water.
Where to Find Baby Formula Milk
Milk formula is readily available at most pharmacies in the country. However I would recommend you to consider bringing your own if your baby is fussy and only drinks one brand at home, as in Morocco you might not be able to buy the same baby formula – it would be a shame if you have a cranky baby due to the fact it has a different taste from their normal experience. Of course it is good to try and have a baby that is flexible but all parents know that is not always easy to achieve. Be aware that even the same brand might taste different due to differing production and they could refuse to drink it. Always use bottled water or cooled boiled water to prepare your baby formula, in an emergency adults may well drink tap water without any troubles in Morocco but babies and younger children should certainly not.
Tips for Breastfeeding
I believe it goes without saying that breastfeeding in Morocco is topic that requires mums to be very discreet about. Morocco is a strict Muslim country and while the younger generations are much more open towards our Western culture than other Arabic countries, it is still forbidden to show too much naked skin in public. I would therefore appropriate you to carry a large scarf that you may use to cover your baby during breastfeeding in public spaces, or better still seek a private spot. Moroccan women cannot always be at home when they need to feed their babies and the male population is trying to ignore this part of daily family life as much as possible. Find a bench in a park or a discreet spot in a café where you feel comfortable to sit with your baby and enjoy breastfeeding your little one.
Drinks for Babies and Children
Juices both bottled and freshly pressed are usually available throughout the country. The local fruits are excellent when freshly prepared. Moroccans in general like drinking Moroccan Mint tea, a mixture of green tea, fresh mint and sugar, a welcoming drink, especially during the cold winter months. Older kids, like Jerome, might enjoy drinking the local tea but we have often either asked for it to be prepared with honey or without any added sugar at all. In tourist centres bottled water is mostly used for ice, but elsewhere there is some risk it is from tap water although we took ice in drinks with no problems anywhere. The tap water is treated but most tourists and locals alike avoid drinking it.
Moroccan Food for Older Children
Moroccan food is considered by many parents to be exotic for their children. However the French influence is definitely present in Moroccan cuisine. Many familiar elements like potatoes, carrots, meats and bread are usually available and even couscous and other traditional dishes can be enjoyed by even the youngest kids. The traditional meals such as tagines are not normally spicy hot so are actually very children friendly once you get them past the trying it stage. In fact after an initial reluctance Jerome swiftly found several favourites.
Western Food Options in Morocco
In larger towns, like Marrakesh, Casablanca and other tourist centres, child friendly fares, including French fries, pasta and pizza are on offer and from our experience, many restaurants and hotels are happy to make changes or accept special requests. In rural areas, the food on offer may be quite basic and if you are very worried about hygiene I could recommend to take a picnic with you when you are out exploring or ask your hotel to make you a packed lunch, however our experience suggested that it was always easy to find a good café or restaurant out and about.
Be Cautious About Certain Foods
Some parents might be worried about upset tummies, and it is always wise to take certain precautions. The usual traveller rules such as not eating fresh salad or anything that is not peeled or cooked can be taken, but having said that we never have yet had an upset tummy during our travels in Morocco without being overly cautious or worried. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be bought at local markets, “souks”, or sometimes bought off street side stalls but these should definitely be peeled before eating. The selection might not be as varied as back home, but the usual fruits like bananas and oranges are commonly available.
Where to Find Nappies and Other Baby Essentials
Take enough nappies etc. with you from home that might last you for at least 48 hours. Nappies can be bought at most supermarkets and pharmacies but if you plan to visit rural areas it might be impertinent to stock up in Marrakesh or the nearest large town as the size you require might not be able where ever you are headed.
Public toilets are an uncommon sight in Morocco and certainly do not fit the Western standard. We have been to some very basic facilities on our trip and some extra tissue papers might come in handy if you do find a toilet. Also be prepared that hygienic levels might differ considerably to home. Even at tourist sights or restaurants in remote areas the toilet might be a hole in the ground style rather than Western style seat toilets. A trip to or pause at a café or restaurant is perhaps the best option for the price of a coffee or drink.
Baby Changing Facilities
Do not expect to find any baby rooms at any of the sights or places you visit in Morocco. Bring your own travel-changing mat alongside your baby changing bag and other necessities.
Should you Take a Pushchair or Baby Carrier to Morocco?
A pushchair might prove to be more of a hindrance than help in most Moroccan towns and villages. While sidewalks/pavements in most larger towns exist, they can be crowded and lack decent surface fit enough to take a lazy stroll. The souk in Marrakesh allows no access for cars but again the masses of people might make it difficult to cope with a pushchair, on the other hand it is a great way to keep an eye on the little ones and lets them sleep while adults wander. For me, the best way to get around Morocco’s towns and villages with very young children would be a baby carrier or backpack, especially in remote villages the alleys and streets off the main roads will not be paved and either very dusty or muddy, depending on the weather and usually lined with potholes throughout.
When is the best time to visit Morocco?
Winters in Morocco can be very cold and snow falls regularly in and near the Atlas Mountains. In all but the top high-end hotels the heating and supply of hot water may be infrequent and not up to Western normal standards. It is therefore prudent to take extra layers with you and proper winter gear for the cold months from November to end March. We enjoyed our winter visit but I even packed a hot water bottle(!). In contrast even in middle of winter the sun will mostly shine and you can often wander in short sleeves or enjoy lunch in the warm sun.
The opposite is the case during the summer months and the heat can be unbearable day and night. Make sure you take plenty of water with you to avoid dehydration and let children drink regularly. Sun protection will be essential for everyone! With a family perhaps these months are best avoided.
Spring and Autmn
The best time to visit Morocco is perhaps early spring and later autumn when temperatures are comfortable and provide the perfect climate for discovering this beautiful country.
Getting Around Morocco
Car Hire is the Best Way
If your are not focused on a single centre like Marrakesh then car hire is the best way to explore the Morocco on your own. Driving was surprisingly easy except in the centres of the big cities. A car allows you the flexibility to get away from the tight schedules of tour groups and take your own time and pace. It is a necessity for those travellers looking to explore unusual routes and reach off the beaten track destinations on their family holiday.
Car Hire Companies
Most major car hire companies offer car rentals to foreigners and the prices are a little less expensive than in Europe in most cases. International driving licenses are not required for European drivers. All other countries should carry an international driving license.
Driving in Morocco
The roads are generally in good conditions except in the far south near the dessert or in the high mountains. We found outside the cities the driving less stressful an than most countries, and only in the most remote places you will find yourself driving along narrow dirt tracks. Always take a fully comprehensive insurance with your car hire as accidents do happen! Police checks are frequent, we were stopped three times in two weeks, the police are usually friendly but will fine you for speeding, crossing the lines on roads or other small infringements more often than you might expect at home. Police in Morocco may stop you at random and ask you to pay a fine for some minor traffic infringements, even if you did not commit these, do pay without any arguments to avoid further troubles, keep some cash to hand just in case. Car seats for children are not an obligation by law in Morocco, however most companies will offer them at an additional fare and safety should always come first!
Plan your Family Holiday
I hope my tips will help you plan your family holiday to Morocco. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in this diverse country and always felt safe and welcome by the locals. It is still a largely under explored destination and therefore makes it a great place to visit for all those that seek an adventure away from the tourist crowds, especially if you avoid the main cities like Marrakesh and get off the beaten path. Need some inspiration on where to go read here.
Follow us on Social Media