Tag Archives: rental car

15 Tips for a Morocco Road trip

My musings are based on the route below.  I can offer little advice for driving in the cities, as we avoided Casablanca and Rabat on this trip.  For more information about our itinerary, check out the other Morocco blogs (Coming soon).

Morocco road trip with cities.JPG

  1. Road conditions are good.  Our economy sized Fiat Punto had no problems in the mountains or desert, though we did not go off-piste at all.  The worst road we encountered was between Fes and Volubilis, where the edges were bumpy.
    Road between Fes and Volubilis

    In the desert, the roads were generally smooth except where water occasionally passes over them.  These are marked with this amusing cat-like sign.

    Thought this was a funny looking cat the first time we sped by
  2. Speed limits are well marked and range from 40/60 (in towns) to 120 (toll roads) km per hour.  Police radar traps are frequent as are checkpoints.  We met a couple whose fine for 68 in a 60 zone was about $20.  Drivers will often flash at you to warn about upcoming radar traps.  We were waved through all 20 checkpoints we went past, most of which were south of the Atlas mountains.
  3. Gas prices are lower than in Europe. Diesel (Gasoil) was around 9.50 Dh/liter (March 2017) and Unleaded (Sans Plomb) was around 10.50 Dh/liter.  There are plenty of gas stations along the main roads.
  4. Moroccan drivers are not all crazy or bad drivers.  We found driving in Marrakech and Fes to be hectic, but only a bit crazier than what we’ve encountered in Europe.
  5. Passing and honking are frequent occurrences.  Use your blinker when passing and honk to let the other driver know you are coming.  Most of the honking we encountered was just friendly beeps alerting us to their passing.
  6. Be alert at traffic lights.  If you are too slow to get moving, you will get honked at.
  7. Roundabouts or circles can be confusing.  For the majority, you should yield to traffic in the circle and this will be evident by a normal red triangle yield sign.  When there is a traffic light to enter the circle, you may be required to stop in the circle and wait for incoming traffic.  If there is neither a yield sign or a traffic light, yielding is the best bet.
  8. Watch out for animals and people in the road.  Many of the rural roads are used by pedestrians as well as herds of sheep and goats.

    Watch out for monkeys near Azrou
  9. Signs are in Arabic and French.  Most roads signs are similar to those in Europe.
  10. Avoid scams.  We were the unfortunate victim of a gas scam at the Afriquia nearest to the Marrakech airport. Make sure the attendant resets the pump from the previous customer to avoid paying extra. We also read about scams involving people pretending to need assistance, only to take you to their friend’s shop.
  11. Use an app such as maps.me for offline driving directions.  We found this app to be generally accurate even though roads were rarely marked.
  12. Rental agencies are required to provide 3rd party liability coverage.  Consider booking your car with a credit card that offers additional insurance coverage for car rentals, so you don’t have to use the additional insurance offered.
  13. For entertainment during those long hours, we found the Moroccan FM radio to be decent with a mix of English and Arabic songs.  Bring a USB car charger to play your own music and to charge your phone.
  14. Check the spare tire has air and there is a working jack before leaving the rental agency office.
  15. Relax and don’t forget to pull over to enjoy the view (and if you’re Riki, take a few thousand pictures).


In the Atlas Mountains between Marrakech and Ait Ben Haddou
In the Atlas Mountains between Marrakech and Ait Ben Haddou


Our little Fiat Punto
Driving in the desert
Pit Stop
Road in Hassilabied, near Merzouga.  Fortunately, we only drove on this for a few blocks.
Smooth roads except for some places where the shoulders are rough.
Smooth and flat


Distance markers for major towns are frequent.


Motorbikes can also make this journey
Watch out for these guys in the Medinas – real troublemakers.
Meknes traffic
Meknes Gate

Thanks for reading, and check out the other blogs on Morocco for more information.

Part 1 – On the road to Northern Spain….Madrid to Infiesto

When I asked Riki to get together pictures from our trip to Spain this summer, he gave me a thumb drive per usual with some selected photos.  But since this thumb drive contained over 1300 photos from just the first week of our trip, it has taken me awhile to get this blog together.  That, and I’ve been busy learning German.  Our 17 day road trip around Spain with my parents began and ended in Madrid, and so will this blog.  However, it will be in 3 parts due to the enormous amount of pictures.

This part will cover our first week, up until the wedding in Infiesto.  The next will cover from Bilbao to Barcelona and the last will be the south; Granada, Cordoba and then back to Madrid, via Toledo.  The photos are organized in mosaics for space reasons – just click on a picture to make it larger.

17 days, about 1800 miles/3000 kms give or take a few.

We met up with my parents at the Madrid airport, having flown from Zurich and they having flown from the US.  From there, we took the train to Atocha Train Station and walked to our rented apartment, which turned out to be tiny and  not air-conditioned, but very well located.

A master of all things free, I had researched the free hours of the Madrid art museums and we were able to visit the Reina Sophia, Thyssen Bornemisza and the Prado all for nothing.  As the master of good views, Riki had researched the Belles Artes building and we were able to get great views of downtown Madrid from the top, though not for free.

Our trip coincided with Gay Pride week so the city was decorated with rainbows and we witnessed a festive parade in one of the squares.  The rest of our two days in Madrid were spent enjoying the heat, wandering the lively streets, and eating.

Though we really enjoyed Madrid, I was anxious to get on the road and see the rest of the country.  We picked up our rental car, packed it to the gills with our luggage and headed about an hour outside of Madrid to Segovia, a UNESCO site and home to a 2nd century Roman aqueduct.  It also has an incredible Alcazar (fortress) that we climbed for nice views (another Riki find).  It was here that we first witnessed the huge white storks, which nest on the tops of trees and buildings.

After lunch, we got back in the car and headed to Ávila, another UNESCO site, about an hour away.  Ávila is known for its 12th c. walls and we walked over a kilometer of them and through the small city before getting back in the car.

From there, we drove about another hour to Salamanca, another UNESCO site, where we would spend two nights.  Salamanca is a university town and full of small walking streets, and the mandatory Plaza Mayor.  It is an incredibly beautiful city and we were lucky enough to have two charming friends here.  We ate delicious food and even bought 2 kilos of jamón ibérico, the maximum allowed to export to Switzerland.  If only we were allowed to take the whole leg.

Our next stop was León, which is known for its Gothic cathedral with incredible stained glass.  Since Riki didn’t actually go in the cathedral, I don’t have pictures, but I have an abundance of street art and graffiti shots he took while my mom and I toured the church.  We had lunch here and then continued onto our main destination, Infiesto, the wedding location.

So the whole point of this trip was to see my Spaniard get married in Infiesto, Asturias.  But Riki doesn’t have a single photo on his camera from the town or the event.  So I had to steal some from the phone.  Infiesto is a tiny place, set in an amazing location.  The wedding was great fun, with a great view, amazing food and definitely a worthy cause.