What to Wear as a Tourist in Morocco: Your Complete Morocco Travel Guide to Cover How to Dress as a Tourist in Morocco in Every Situation!
“What to wear as a tourist in Morocco” seems like it should be a straightforward question. It’s actually one of the top questions I get asked for private tours around Morocco, especially by female travelers coming to Morocco, but, do a search on what to wear as a tourist in Morocco on the internet and you’ll find inconsistent responses and explanations.
From my perspective, when determining what to wear as a tourist in Morocco, there are nuances within the culture and among tourists, which is why there is no short and simple answer as to what may be considered “appropriate” clothing for travelers in Morocco.
The fact that you are actively searching on how to dress while traveling in Morocco is a strong indication that you WILL blend in and not “offend” any locals!
What to wear as a tourist in Morocco will depend on a number of factors. First perhaps is weather, next is your destination/location or activity and to further understand what might be considered acceptable clothing for tourists in Morocco, we’ll look at differences between men and women.
What to wear as a tourist in Morocco will depend on the season of your travel
Morocco is sometimes generalized as having a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. I would describe Morocco as having 2 long seasons: summer and winter, and 2 shorter transition seasons: fall and spring.
In summer, weather in Morocco is more temperate along the coastlines with higher humidity (think Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier) versus hot temperatures inland with very low humidity (think Fes, Marrakech and the Sahara region). In winter, daytime temperatures across Morocco may be mild, though usually warmer along the coasts, but nighttime temperatures can be downright cold, especially in Fes, Marrakech and the Sahara region, where it can literally be close to freezing!
So the first rule as to what to wear as a tourist in Morocco is… dress in layers! This works for any season in Morocco. In summer, you may appreciate some light layers to protect against the sun. In fact, Moroccans have a saying that “what protects you in winter, will also protect you in summer”, and this mainly refers to covering up. This isn’t out of modesty per se, but rather, because the sun is so strong, so when dressing in layers in Morocco, it helps you to stay cool and to stay protected from too much sun and heat. And in winter, layers work especially well, when there is a greater difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures.
Morocco in the summer can get H O T! When deciding what to wear as a tourist in Morocco, prefer breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen, or fabrics which may not show sweat or which you can wash and air dry quickly, because most likely you WILL sweat if you are visiting in the hottest summer months!
In the winter, you’ll be fine with … layers! Yep, layers. Everyone has their own heat comfort level, and depending on where you are coming from, you may find winter in Morocco more mild than back home. Bring some t-shirts, long and short-sleeved, some sweaters and even a light-to-medium jacket. It can still be sunny in winter in Morocco, which can be great. But when it is cool and rainy, the dampness can make the winter temps feel colder.
And whether you visit Morocco in the summer or the winter, it’s always a good idea to wear a hat. In the summer, a hat with a large brim can help protect from the sun and to keep you cooler. In the winter, you will also appreciate to have a hat, whether a baseball style hat or even a knit beanie. Early mornings and evenings/nights can be cool and even cold, and it can also feel damp from the rain.
Spring and fall in Morocco are generally mild and quite beautiful and comfortable weather, no matter the region. However, if you’re visiting Morocco in the early spring or late fall, and want to know what to wear as a tourist in Morocco, consider the weather a mild winter. And if you’re visiting Morocco in the late spring or early fall, consider the weather a more mild summer.
Your destination and /or activities will also dictate how to dress in Morocco
As a very general rule, you will feel more comfortable when dressing a bit more conservatively in Morocco when visiting smaller towns or remote villages. And the opposite, when considering what to wear as a tourist in Morocco, you can branch out more with clothing choices in large metropolitan cities.
If you are going to the beach or hanging out at a pool, of course you should feel comfortable to wear a swimming suit! You will see all versions of swimwear in Morocco, from a bikini to a burkini, from a one-piece to rash guards, from board shorts and even a Speedo or two! But it won’t be common to walk around in beachware if you’re exploring a nearby city.
Pack for specific activities that you plan to do on your trip to Morocco, such as hiking where you will want sturdy and supportive shoes. In fact, I do recommend some comfortable walking shoes for making your way through the medinas, as these are car-free zones and include a fair amount of walking on possibly hilly or uneven surfaces. And finally, my friends at Morocco Local Insider have some great ideas on what to wear on a Sahara Desert Tour. Specifically, and especially for night, consider it very hot in summer and pretty darn cold in the winter!
What to wear in Morocco as a tourist versus what locals in Morocco wear
Here is my general advice about how to dress when visiting Morocco: I recommend to err on the side of modesty and take a cue from locals. Sure, the idea of modesty can be subjective and will depend a lot on the local culture, whether Moroccan culture or your own local culture back home.
When I say “modest”, I mean that it’s best to avoid very tight and very revealing clothing, so no plunging necklines with cleavage, no too-short shorts which show the bottom of butt cheeks, no going shirtless as a guy, or even, ahem, “competing with the feet of camel” – leave those dromedary toes to the one carrying you on your camel ride!
When I say take a cue from locals, it does not mean that you need to dress exactly like a Moroccan, either! It simply means that you may feel more comfortable by fitting in, or at least, not completely standing out by your clothing choices.
If you check out what Moroccans wear, you will see a variety of clothing choices, but maybe you won’t quite get the cultural nuances.
Some of this depends on the city in Morocco. In general, Fes remains a more traditional city, so what may pass in Casablanca or Marrakech may raise some eyebrows in Fes.
For example, you will see many Moroccan boys and young(er) men walking around wearing shorts during summer months. Most often, these are longer shorts, like cargo length, and sometimes you’ll find Moroccan boy and men wearing even a capri pants length. But, you will probably not find many older Moroccan men wearing shorts. You will also find many young girls wearing shorts, and maybe even young women in their early twenties, but you won’t find many “older” Moroccan women wearing shorts.
Some general observations about what Moroccans wear:
- Apart from the traditional clothes such as jellaba and gandoura gowns, most Moroccans will wear more fitted clothing, similar to a more European style than a baggier American style.
- Curvy Moroccan women may sometimes choose to downplay their curves, by wearing looser clothing, longer skirts, or longer tunic-style shirts, though this doesn’t always hold true for the younger generations.
- Moroccans will make sure they look more than presentable when going to work, shopping or out with friends. Jeans are actually common for work but will usually be paired with a nice shirt or blouse.
- Athleisure may be popular in the US for all ages – hello yoga pants for Saturday morning errands! – but in Morocco, you’ll see mostly boys and men wearing tracksuits, as it’s not as common for women, though it is becoming increasingly popular.
- Moroccans tend to dress up when going out to dinner, and you may feel comfortable doing the same. After a long day of driving or exploring the medina, it can be nice to get refreshed and change your clothing.
Are there any specific dress codes in Morocco?
There are very few official dress codes for tourists in Morocco.
The main exception for dress codes in Morocco is for guided tours inside the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. As to what to wear as a tourist to Morocco and touring this impressive mosque, all visitors will be asked to take off their shoes, for which you will be provided a bag to carry them during your visit. Women visitors are not requested (and are NOT expected or required!) to wear a head scarf inside the Hassan II mosque. All visitors, male and female, are expected to wear more modest clothing; knees and shoulders must be covered to enter the mosque.
The second big exception for what to wear as a tourist in Morocco as a required dress code, pertains to fine dining restaurants or nightclubs throughout Morocco, but especially in Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech.
If you do decide to eat in a fine dining restaurant in Morocco or perhaps go clubbing in Marrakech, please inquire directly with the establishments on any dress code requirements! They may have their dress code listed on their website or you might have to call them to be sure. For example, Rick’s Café in Casablanca is a popular stop for travelers in Casablanca to have a nice dinner or just relax with drinks in their piano bar. BUT, Rick’s Café does has a fairly strict dress code, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on going simply because you didn’t check in advance.
Is Cultural Appropriation an issue in Morocco?
Moroccans will never accuse you of cultural appropriation! They are much more likely to feel flattered and happy that you are interested in local clothing and may even encourage you to try some on for a photo opportunity! If you are ever invited to a wedding in Morocco, women may even feel more comfortable to wear a traditional dress such as a caftan or takchita.
One innocent faux pas that women tourists may want to avoid is wearing a very casual “pajama” loungewear gown bought from a local market as a dress in Morocco. In this blog post it is kind of hard to explain the difference between what Moroccan women will consider at-home lounge wear or a pajama for house chores versus what foreign tourists may think is a charming casual loose dress, but your guide or private driver can help point them out. Moroccans are polite and won’t make a comment to you about this possible faux pas, but they for sure will take notice.
What to wear as a tourist in Morocco: Special Section for Women Travelers to Morocco
In general, foreign women tourists in Morocco are in no way expected to cover their hair, arms or legs. It is best to avoid very tight/revealing clothing and very short lengths. Capris, knee-length or maxi skirts and dresses are totally acceptable, though you may feel underdressed if you’re wearing a short sundress which just skims your derriere.
Do women tourists need to wear a headscarf in Morocco?
No, no, and no! Foreign women tourists DO NOT need to wear a headscarf in Morocco! There is absolutely no expectation for foreign women to wear a headscarf, and for the few religious sites which non-Muslim tourists are able to visit in Morocco, there is no requirement to wear a headscarf when visiting them.
OK OK, maybe you read “do not need” or “no requirement” for headscarves in Morocco, but still wonder if you “should”? No, as a foreign woman tourist, wearing a headscarf in Morocco is not going to make any difference. It won’t bring any disrespect from locals but it also won’t earn you respect (consider it neutral, as a non-issue), and it won’t make you blend in. If anything, you might get more attention wearing a headscarf in Morocco as by doing so, Moroccans assume you’re Muslim or interested in Islam, and that might start conversations.
Remember how I said to take a cue from locals? The thing is, when you travel in Morocco, you may see some women wearing headscarves, but this doesn’t mean everyone does, and it doesn’t always mean it is for religious reasons. Maybe she is having a bad hair day, or her hair needs washing. Or maybe she just came from the hammam and simply has her wet hair covered to ward off a chill. Headscarves in Morocco remains a personal decision for each woman.
Can female tourists wear leggings or skinny jeans?
Yes, for sure!
Is there certain clothing that female tourists SHOULD NOT wear when traveling in Morocco?
Technically, there are no laws regarding “proper dress” and what to wear as a tourist in Morocco. I’ve noticed that even for Moroccan women, they are dressing in what is less “conservative” clothing than even several years ago.
As a foreigner in Morocco, you are already going to stand out, so on one hand, dress according to your tastes and comfort. “Can” you wear a spaghetti-strap tank with a low neckline and short shorts or a short skirt? Um, sure, technically… but I do not recommend it. Will you get attract looks and attention? Probably… Does this mean you must wear long sleeves and pants or a long skirt? Absolutely not.