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25 Tips for Driving in Morocco & Why a Morocco Road Trip Is a MUST!


The following post is about driving in Morocco, particularly on southern routes on N1, N9, N10, and some detours and smaller roads in the area.

I would never have thought to take a road trip in Morocco.

Thoughts of scary pot-hole ridden roads crossed my mind, flying off the side of a mountain pass, and perhaps even running into a camel on the road totally put me off.

But as my trip to Morocco came closer, and I finally got a taste by bussing around a few places, I realized, driving in Morocco doesn’t look half bad!

In fact, we decided to take a two-week road trip around Morocco and at the end, we were sad to leave…

Why a Morocco Road Trip Is Totally Necessary (And Not Scary)

Well, let’s not exaggerate, Nina (although, I absolutely love to), it’s not 100% necessary. However, if you want ultimate freedom, a more epic trip, and therefore more time and more stops around the country, a road trip around Morocco is the best way to go.

Morocco is far more than what you imagine. There are adorable towns along its coastline, wonderfully chaotic cities, incredibly impressive mountain terrain including one of the tallest mountains on the continent of Africa (topped with snow!), and of course, the Sahara Desert.

While all of these spots are possible without a car and accessible using public transport and booking tours, nothing can come close to doing it yourself.

We had a two-week road trip and we didn’t want it to end. We also found so many other wonderful things to do and see along the way, we could have had double the amount of time and still not have seen it all.

While some may think the roads are a bit dangerous, scary, and possibly a bit too much to handle, let me put your worries to the side. Driving in Morocco is far easier than you may think.

The roads are quite decent, some are even brand new! And some, are still being built.

Sure, some of the mountain passes are a little hairy as the roads are narrow, sure you may come across a rural road that all of a sudden turns into a dirt path and you may even encounter a bridge that has been washed away leaving you to deal with the logistics of driving over a stream with a car that shouldn’t drive through a stream…

Use these tips for driving in Morocco.
It doesn’t look that bad but it was knee deep in some areas and I had to go in and move big rocks out of the way!

But it’s all part of the adventure—well, at least I think so!

We were fine in those situations and made it through and I know you will be too. However, we also went on some more rural paths, which you can choose to do… or not.

The main point is, driving in Morocco is not at all scary and it’s an awesome experience.

While I can’t speak for the whole country, the highways and roads we took were overall in good condition and fine to drive.

With my motivation above and my tips below, I think you’ll be fine for a road trip in Morocco.

25 Driving in Morocco Tips & Why a Morocco Road Trip Is a MUST!
There were a few small detours but this is more or less our exact route. It took us two weeks.

Tips for Driving in Morocco

Renting A Car and Parking

1. Unlike many places around the world, renting a car in Morocco comes with little gas. Don’t start your trip until you fill up! And when it’s time to return, don’t give them a full tank, a half a tank, or anything more than they gave it to you with. Gas in Morocco isn’t cheap!

2. Before even starting your ignition, takes tons of pictures and video of the car and its condition. Point out every single scratch, mark, and dent. Make sure your papers reflect it as well. This is a rule for around the world.

3. Always have some small change on you because parking 90% of the time costs money. Anywhere from 2-30 MAD depending if it’s a big city or not, overnight parking, or just a quick parking spot for an hour or two which “requires” you to tip the dude who watched your car.

More info on renting a car at bottom of this post.

You have to drive around Morocco to really see it.
Agdz on our Morocco road trip.

Police Checkpoints

4. When someone flashes their brights at you, slow down. It likely means there is a checkpoint up ahead.

5. When there are checkpoints don’t go the speed limit. Go significantly under the speed limit. There are often stand up stop signs on the side and you definitely don’t want to blow through a checkpoint.

6. Speaking of checkpoints, there are TONS of them. Taghazout to Essaouira is less than a three-hour drive and we encountered four checkpoints. But no worries on getting pulled over.

Here’s the deal with getting pulled over on your Morocco road trip:

– If you’re obeying the traffic rules, you’re fine.
– They are likely not after tourists, as many may think. They usually want to check locals for their car papers.
– In fact, it’s pretty hilarious. we got pulled over twice (in two weeks of driving in Morocco) and this is what happened:

First pull over: The cop literally pulled us over with a big smile on his face just to say hello, ask where we were going, and then let us on our way. *adorable*

The second time: It was because Garrett was wearing his new turban and looked like a local. After the cop realized he was, in fact, not Moroccan, he smiled and let us go.
The main thing to do when pulled over driving in Morocco: Smile and be nice. 🙂


7. Be careful what roads maps tell you to take! If you can take a highway most of the way and then cut in through on a smaller road, it might be better that way than taking the smaller roads all the way.

For example, Essuarai to Sidi Kaouki, maps told us to take P2201 when in reality, taking N1 and turning on P2216 was a FAR better choice, for us and the car. Alternatively, sometimes taking the off the track roads can be fun. Choose your adventures wisely while keeping time and potential car damage in mind!

25 Driving in Morocco Tips & Why a Morocco Road Trip Is a MUST!
Hope you don’t get car sick!

8. Download Maps.Me. My tip in every single country. Always. Not only does it offer paths, walking trails, and sometimes better routes than Google maps, it can be used offline, so you don’t use up all your data. Don’t forget to download the maps while on wifi before your trip. It’s also good for pointing out dirt roads that Google Maps totally eliminates!

9. On the same note, Maps.Me is a fun tool to find things. Click “sites” to check out what’s around you. There are viewpoints, castles, ruins and more that are on this map that may not be on Google Maps. Not every sight is worth it but it’s fun to play!

10. Take directions with a grain of salt because sometimes it says “turn left/right” and it’s really just a sharp turn as the roads are windy. So always double check your routes and don’t make hasty turns.

11. Always take the maps estimated time with a weary side eye, similar to that look your mom gave you when you said you were “sleeping at your friend’s house” as a teenager. It’s more often than not going to be longer than it says. Stops, road conditions, donkey traffic… lots can happen. Always overestimate and be especially careful when you’re cutting it close to driving at night.

Speed Limits and Signs

12. Signage is actually pretty good! Everything is in English, or at the least French, which is easy enough to understand.

13. Speed signs are a bit a wild. Sometimes you won’t see one for miles, and sometimes you’ll see three within a mile. Usually, the speed signs go from fast to slow quickly when you’re entering a town. Just pay attention.

Driving Etiquette, or Lack Thereof

14. Sometimes people drive in the middle of the road. I’m going to go ahead and say it’s because the sides of the road can get a bit crumbly but I think they just drive that way anyway! The lines are simply decoration. Just weave, wave, and be the defensive driver—always!

15. On a similar note, it’s more likely that you’ll be the one to move over when driving. They move over at the last possible minute or sometimes hardly at all! Just slow down early and move over.

A road trip in Morocco is the best way to see it.
I know it’s small, but yes, that’s a large herd of camels crossing the road ahead.

16. When you’re on mountain passes or roads where it’s hard to see to pass someone, it’s kind to help out with a hand gesture out the window that it’s safe for the car behind to pass you while you slow down a bit and take the shoulder as they pass. And of course, if you’re trying to pass, you’ll now understand when someone does this to you.

17. When going through towns and cities it’s common for the right-hand lane to be used as a parking area. When driving in that lane, be careful as cars sometimes literally stop in the lane all of a sudden.

Road Conditions

18. Be careful around rainy season! Are the roads washed away? Have rocks fallen? Just be wary of some roads and ask around. We even encountered a road washed away when we went a bit too far off the path (#noregrets). It became just a dirt path for about a mile but luckily still OK enough to drive down. Some rocks on the mountain passes are literally about to fall any day now and the rains can speed that process up!

19. All roads will have at least one lane for each side but it doesn’t mean it’s actually big enough for two cars. Some roads, even on the slightly scary mountains passes are big enough for 1.5 cars at best. The main highways are more “normal.”

20. Before going on long stretches of drives, especially the “tizis” ask! Like #18, roads get washed away a lot. The Tizi n ‘Test road was in bad condition earlier (potholes galore on a mountain pass—no thanks!). We asked a local, our friend Brahim from our awesome desert tour, how is it now and he said it’s fixed and good to go.

Planning Your Morocco Road Trip… or Not

21. Only plan about 50% of the trip. Get a few ideas sorted and try to book accommodation a day or so out because the cheaper places can fill up a bit. The last thing you want to do in a new city, after driving around Morocco all day, is to go hotel hunting.

22. On a similar note, only plan about 50% of the places you want to go as there will be plenty of surprise stops along the way. Guaranteed.

Don't skip out on a Morocco road trip!
A dusty click while driving around Morocco.

Other Driving in Morocco Tips

23. Don’t stop for kids flagging you down on the side of the road, particularly around the road heading north from Ait Ben Haddou. They simply want you to stop so you can hand them some change.

24. The main road letters and what type of road they are:
– N roads are the main highways and the easiest to drive with reasonably new tar to drive on.
– R roads are a bit less reliable. R106 towards Taliouine is actually where we experienced a few dirt road patches and even a few watched away bridges (but the river was dry). Everything was fine, but something to keep in mind!
– P roads are the smaller roads that are often made for a car, maybe a car and half to fit on. The conditions were decent enough though.

25. Remain vigilant ALWAYS. Around sharp turns, in the cities, when animals are around… You’re going to be fine but you also need to pay attention a bit more than what you’re used to.

Renting a Car in Morocco

Grabbing a car rental in Morocco is decently easy, just be careful where you get it. We always find the cheapest rentals here. I would certainly advise booking one ahead of time as well depending on when you come over.

We met some people who were stuck paying for a far more expensive vehicle because they waited until they landed to book one!

When picking your car up, like my tip mentioned above, check every single nook and cranny. Get it on video and the papers, even film the inspection with the worker. Do whatever you can to save your butt.

A Morocco road trip is so worth it!
Grab a car and just GO!

On that note, make sure you’re actually getting the car you booked and don’t fall victim to their tricks. Blaming a scratch on you, trying to guilt you into an insurance add-on when you prebooked insurance… They will try it if they can! Just put your foot down, get it recorded, and triple check everything.

I’ve used the link below around the world and they have been reliable and display where you can get the cheapest deal.

Phew, I know that was a lot and hopefully, you’re not scared of driving around Morocco. These tips are so that you’re prepared and are not meant to scare or make a Morocco road trip sound like an awful idea.

Again, it’s one of the best times I’ve had in my travels and it’s SO beautiful.

Are you thinking of taking a Morocco road trip? Where? Let me know your plans in the comments!

>>> Even More About Traveling Morocco <<<

Everything You Need for Your Badass Road Trip: 53 Item Packing List

9 of the Best Day Tours From Marrakech

45 Essential Morocco Tips You Need for Your Trip

Toubkal National Park: An Easy Trek Around Imlil, Morocco

Best Time to Visit Morocco: When Spring Is in the Air!

Finding Goats in Trees in Morocco: Yes, This is Real Life!

8 Things to Do in Ouarzazate: A Movie Buff’s Paradise in Morocco

How to Visit Paradise Valley Morocco: A Day Trip to an Oasis

7 Badass Beach Towns in Morocco for Surfers and Professional Beach Bums

What to Wear in Morocco Packing List: 13 Must-Have Items

This Is What It’s Like Camping in the Sahara Desert in Morocco—Erg Chigaga Trip

Finding a Surf Camp in Taghazout & Becoming a Badass Surfer (Kinda)

What NOT to Miss on Your 5-Day Morocco Itinerary

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  1. Nina, thanks for your article! I’m going to El Jadida in October 2021, and considering a small road trip to Marrakesch and Casablanca. Any thoughts on traveling as a single woman, and what it may be like to travel that time of year? Thanks!

  2. We have been stopped 17 times in our 15 day trip to Morocco this December, it cost us 150 usd dollars in total, police is most furious on the way from Marrakesh to Merzouga.
    Half of the times 9 when we paid) it was openly said- “you enjoy – we need coffee money” from 50 dx to 100dx.
    Once when we stopped and were waiting for the cop to come he came over and looked inside and my kids took off the seat belts thinking that we are getting out- he was soo happy and gave us 300dx fine for NOT wearing the seatbelats at the back. In Morocco you cannot ever win a case against the cops, better pay. cops are very smart: let’s say you are goin to essouria – this is a paid toll road – so what they do- they stand literally 20 m in front of the gates and stop practically every car and openly demand money, or they stand just outside of the toll gates after you paid the toll and again stop you.
    They also sometimes hid in the bush in between lanes on the toll roads with speedgun to see if you were doing above 120km/h. I did rent a car diesel and one more thing when renting these: diesel car WILL STOP if it has run out of AdBLUE liquid- and you CANNOT check when you rent it that it had been topped up. We ran out while we were on the toll road in the middle of the night. No calls OF COURSE were answered by the rental company or the company that was supposed to help- we paid 189 dx for the adblue, topped it up and when returning the car we were told that we will be paid back- guess what AVIS never did pay it back. :)But renting diesel is cheaper than the gas cars- we drove 4500km to 16 cities in morocco and I only spent 300 usd for diesel.

    1. Sorry to hear that. Would love more info like – where you’re from and the areas you were driving. As I mentioned, it was more likely that locals or people that “looked a certain way” were pulled over. Unfortunate and not nice, but the truth.

  3. Hi Nina,

    I loved your post, very practical and it sounds you did a trip in the style my husband and I normally do. We have just had to take some days of holidays from a work situation and have booked last minute a flight to Marrakesh with the idea of rent a car and drive around the area you did. The only thing we won’t be doing is the dessert as temperatures reach 50 degrees in Jul-Aug. Is there any place we could look at the stops you did so, given the barely 7 days we have before our flight, we can get quickly inspired. We will be in the country 15 full days.
    Thanks Nina

  4. So glad I found your post on this topic. I’m planning a 2 weeks driving trip from Marrakesh-Merzouga-Fes-Casablanca-Marrakesh with stops in smaller towns in between mid August. We’re 4 women travelling so definitely worried about the long distance drive, safety and making sure we get to each destination before nightfall, lol. I might take ur advice and plan just 50% of the trip rather than booking everything ahead. You guys had a different route, but any small towns/sights you definitely love along the way? Is finding a gas station a problem? are they far in between? am gonna go thru all your morocco post! Cheers!!

    1. Have fun, Adnin! Glad this was helpful 🙂
      I mentioned all my fave spots in my itinerary post.
      I didn’t road trip that northern route but have Marrakesh day trip ideas and Fes info I’m assuming you’ve found as you browse my other posts! 🙂 You girls should be fine and just book a night’s stay a day or two in advance if you’re seeing that they are booking out. Sometimes you can even book day of in the morn, but I found it to be stressful looking for a cheap spot in the moment after driving all day so that’s what I would avoid. Gas was easy to find in the towns.

  5. Thanks for all those great tips. I was very aprehensive about hiring a car. Have to admit, still a little bit. But we dont want to get stuck on a bus full of people. We are heading from marrakech to merzouga to the desert camps in november. So ill definitely be checking road conditions before we leave. The winding mountain roads are freaking me out….. But im sure we’ll be okay.

        1. Austen,

          I spent 2 weeks in Morocco and most of it in the desert near Merzouga. The roads between Merzouga and Errachidia are very good. They seemed to be taken care of well. The only thing we had was a herd of Camel cross the road!! Oh yes and a small wind storm. Just make sure your windows are up and the air conditioning/heat turned off. The sand comes in through the vents. I loved it! Make sure you go to Erfoud it’s outside Errachidia there are many fossils to be found there. Just and idea! Have a great trip!

  6. Great info, I’m going to Marocco in two days time and I wasn’t sure if we want to drive there but I think we will rent a car and explore more. The plan is to stay for 2-3 months so driving around will be best option

  7. Great information. I am heading out to Marrakech for 7 days and would love to get a car and do some driving. Will be with 2 kids and for that reason being a little apprehensive. I would love to not spend the whole week around the Souks in the old City. And we are definitely would loved to give the kiddos the site of the SAHARA. Any feedback to ease my anxiousness would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Joe, how about reading my other 15 posts on Morocco that are conveniently located at the end of the post you just finished reading? All that info plus more is right there. Have fun!

  8. The police checkpoints are really the most frequent of all countries we have been driving in so far! Most were indeed ok, but we found that police is *really* strict on obeying Stop signs. We are from Germany, so used to driving as per the rules, but after being lectured twice we stopped extra clearly like in driving school at each sign even in the middle of nowhere…