There are several things to take into consideration when planning a trip to Morocco, and one very important criteria is: when to travel to Morocco?
Not only should you consider the season of travel, but you will also want to think about any major holidays, including the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan in Morocco can be an interesting and rewarding time to visit, and there are also some ways that the observance of Ramadan could impact your trip to Morocco.
What is Ramadan?
Let’s start off with: what exactly is Ramadan? Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic / Hijri calendar. During this month, and for the entire month, any Muslim who has reached puberty is expected to fast during the day. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are the core beliefs for Muslims.
When is Ramadan in Morocco?
It’s important to understand that the Islamic / Hijri calendar is based on lunar months, and because they are not a set number of days, the length of each month can vary. For example, the month of Ramadan can last 29 or 30 days. Each year, Ramadan in Morocco is observed roughly 10 days earlier than the previous year.
In 2022, the first day of fasting for Ramadan in Morocco is tentatively on April 3. We say “tentatively”, because Morocco does not use a calculated date for the beginning and end of religious holidays. Instead, we rely on moon sightings by the naked eye to call both the beginning and the end of Ramadan in Morocco.
Upcoming estimated dates for the beginning of Ramadan in Morocco:
- 2023: March 23
- 2024: March 11
- 2025: March 1
How long are the days of fasting during Ramadan in Morocco?
We have already covered that Muslims will fast for the entire month, but of course, they cannot fast 24/7! Fasting each day begins at the morning prayer (Fajr) which is about 1.5 hours before sunrise, and ends at the prayer at sunset (Maghrib).
Fasting involves many things, but the most important actions from which Muslims must abstain:
- Drinking (any beverage including water),
- Sexual Relations
During these hours of fasting, Muslims observing Ramadan in Morocco should not do any of these things. However, all of them are permissible after the prayer at sunset and before the morning prayer.
The majority of Moroccan adults fast during Ramadan. There are some exceptions which prohibit fasting, and some exemptions to fast also exist, but even for the latter, many Moroccans will still choose to fast.
Now you know all of the basics of fasting during Ramadan in Morocco. You may be wondering: could Ramadan in Morocco affect your trip, if you happen to schedule it during the same time period?
Here are 11 ways that your trip could be impacted, if you travel in Morocco during Ramadan:
1. There is never a planned date for the start of Ramadan in Morocco.
We mentioned that Morocco relies on moon sightings to determine when Ramadan in Morocco begins and ends. However, this is not necessarily the case in other countries, such as the U.S., which use a calculated scientific date. This means that Muslims in different countries may start to fast a day before others, and may end up fasting a day less or more than others!
Unless you yourself are fasting in Morocco, this probably has little impact to you, but if you are planning your trip around Ramadan in Morocco, you’ll need to take this into consideration. It is also sometimes confusing when wishing someone “Happy Eid el Fitr” (the holiday which marks the end of fasting) if Moroccans are still fasting!
2. Morocco changes time for the month of Ramadan.
In 2022, Morocco will “”fall back” 1 hour early morning on Sunday, March 27 and is expected to “spring ahead” 1 hour to normal time on May 8. This can sometimes create some confusion, as some locals chose NOT to officially change time for the month of Ramadan in Morocco, so between Moroccans, we sometimes have to refer to “old” time or “new time”.
3. Your airline may make changes to your flight times.
If you travel in Morocco during Ramadan, this time change can have an impact on your flights to and from Morocco! Because the time change is not based on set dates and is often announced just a few weeks ahead, some airlines struggle to keep up with the change on a timely basis or do make the change but do not update travelers.
You will want to keep a close eye on your flights, in case your airline does make unexpected changes to reflect any impact. Please verify flight arrival and departure times directly with your airlines close to your scheduled flight days, and if there are any changes to your flight times, please make sure to let us know so we can assure a smooth arrival or departure transfer for you!
4. You may notice some unexpected changes to the time on your electronic devices.
Another unexpected way that Ramadan in Morocco could impact your travel is with automatic time changes to your electronic devices! In some past years, the telecom companies have had some “blips” to the system, where for some providers, the time change for Ramadan in Morocco was programmed and went smoothly but other telecom providers either didn’t change time when they were supposed to, or changed time when they were not supposed to!
This issue seems to have been resolved over the last couple of years, but again, it’s good to be aware of how the time change for Ramadan in Morocco could affect your trip.
5. During Ramadan in Morocco, there is a change to daily routines.
Days tend to start off a little later and a bit slower. For example, markets and small stores may not open as early during Ramadan in Morocco as they do during the rest of the year. Businesses may close earlier than usual to allow workers to get home to prepare to break the fast.
After “breakfast” in the evening, public places tend to come alive! Many Moroccans will choose to go for walks, to meet friends and family in cafes and to go to evening prayer services at mosques. These evenings have a certain sense of vibrancy and energy!
6. Beware of traffic as the day of fasting comes to an end!
As people rush home or to restaurants to prepare to break, there can be a lot of traffic congestion and even traffic jams as this happens, so you might want to plan your day’s schedule to be at your riad or restaurant before the call to prayer which breaks the fast. Conversely, you will also likely see streets completely empty right at the time to break the fast, which can be a strange sight to see, when streets and sidewalks are usually full of activity.
7. Your driver or guide may be fasting.
It is quite probable that your guide and / or driver will be fasting. This really should have little impact to you, but we do request that if they are still working or traveling with you at the actual time to break fast, please kindly allow them a short break to eat and drink before resuming service.
8. Many cafes and restaurants are closed during the day for Ramadan in Morocco.
Because most locals are observing the fast during Ramadan in Morocco, many cafes and restaurants are closed during the day. This is also a common time of year for cafes and restaurants to close for renovations.
This does not mean you will not be able to find anything to eat during the day! Your driver or guide will assist to find restaurants which will be open during fasting hours, and it will also be possible to eat at your accommodations as well. If the worst case scenario is not being able to find an open restaurant (which is unlikely), turn this into a fun opportunity for a picnic lunch! Visit a local market, neighborhood store or a grocery, and pack a smorgasbord of tasty treats for your lunch!
Traveling during Ramadan in Morocco can also be an enjoyable way to try some special Ramadan treats! There are always some staples on the table which Moroccans traditionally eat and drink to break their fast, but “breakfast” is also often a time where Moroccans “reward” themselves for a hard day of fasting with delicious snacks and appetizers! Many restaurants will offer a “Ramadan breakfast” so you can also have the opportunity to try a typical Moroccan “ftour” (“breakfast” in Moroccan Arabic / Darija).
9. It might be challenging to buy alcohol in Morocco during Ramadan.
Religiously, it is forbidden for Muslims to drink alcohol, though alcohol is readily available in Morocco, such as for purchase at some groceries and wine or liquor stores, as well as for consumption at restaurants and bars. However, Ramadan in Morocco is often viewed as an opportunity for locals to look inward and choose to focus on traditions and religion. For this reason, many stores will stop the sale of alcohol during Ramadan, and some restaurants may not serve alcohol during the month.
10. Fasting can leave some locals short on sleep and patience.
Moroccans have a reputation for being warm, welcoming and outgoing. However, Ramadan in Morocco means fasting for 13+ hours a day, and this can take quite a toll on the body but also on patience, especially if one is craving caffeine or nicotine! Many people claim that fasting actually gives them better focus and attention, so if you come across some tired or grumpy souls, please do not take it personally!
11. Tourists are NOT expected to fast during Ramadan in Morocco!
Last but certainly not least, as a tourist you are in no way expected to fast during Ramadan in Morocco. However, it will be much appreciated to show some consideration and perhaps not eat and drink conspicuously during fasting hours in front of Moroccans who are observing Ramadan.