Going to Morocco as a solo female traveler in January 2019 — is it safe?

Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech with the cook and my free henna tattoo

Morocco will be a cheap warm place, perfect to spend New Year’s on my own, I thought. As a blue-eyed blonde-haired woman in my late 20s I’m gonna need to make an effort if I want some alone time. Perfect, because not making friends is the only thing I fear really when I go on a solo trip.

The day I left, Facebook made sure I found out about the two Scandinavian girls who got killed, you know, just to add to my peace of mind. Because if I search for “Swing in Morocco” sure I must be looking for info on beheaded tourists.

That gave me a bit of anxiety but didn’t put me off the trip. I thought in the aftermath of such tragedies places tend to be even safer than usual. And that was true. For the most part.

If you’re used to a western European life, Morocco can be overwhelming — the incessant noise, the cars and scooters that won’t stop if you want to cross the road, the horse and carriages and the smell of piss making your eyes water, the snakes in the main square in Marrakech, the monkey a stranger will just randomly place on your shoulder, the spices, all the people wanting to know your name and where you’re from — it’s hard to decide what to pay attention to first.

Many well intended people will recommend staring straight ahead or wearing shades to avoid all the merchants trying to sell you something. I went for the other extreme — I stopped and talked to every person that wanted to talk to me. I learned their names. I asked for advice. I got their phone numbers. I took pictures with them.

Hassan, the spice man, who may or may not be serious about wanting to marry me

I asked the spice man to recommend a place to eat. I asked the waiter at the restaurant about where I could have a shisha. I asked some local girls what they normally paid for shoes. I heard a band playing music and stopped to dance with them. They offered me cake.

I met a guy in the main square and he invited me for dinner — he later confessed he was too shy to even try and get a hug.

I asked a guy on the streets about their famous miracle working chocolate, we had one in his studio and gave me some more to take home –for free. I offered dinner because I wanted to, but I never felt like anything was expected in return.

I had a few less pleasant experiences too — a woman drawing a henna tattoo on my hand without me asking for it and then trying to charge me 50 euros for it. I just walked away without paying, she stopped trying to follow me soon enough. All the locals I told the story to congratulated me for it.

A couple guys I wouldn’t be able to pick from a crowd keep insisting they want to marry me.

Plus an evening with five men trying to break down the door I had locked myself behind — that was largely due to cultural differences and misunderstandings and it’s worth a post in itself — stay tuned!

My conclusion is if you’re genuinely nice to people they’ll be genuinely nice to you — just like anywhere. Obviously take your safety measures, keep your friends updated on where you are and who with, stay in public places, but don’t let recent events keep you from going — it’s just as safe as it’s always been.

Oh and if a person you’re not interested in asks if you’re married, always — I mean ALWAYS — say yes!