Visit Morocco in Ramadan: Pros & Cons
Welcome to Morocco during Ramadan, a sacred month in the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is considered the most important holiday in Islam, a time for spiritual healing and cleansing. As a visitor to Morocco, you may have some questions about the customs and traditions observed during this period, but don't worry, we're here to guide you.
During Ramadan, all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for one month, only eating after sundown. However, non-Muslims are not expected to observe Ramadan but should be sensitive about not breaking the fast in public. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar commemorates the time in which the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. The Ramadan fast involves abstention from food, drink, smoking and sex during daylight hours throughout the months. It is forbidden even to drink water. The fast is a time for Muslims to show devotion to Allah and to become a master in self-discipline.
Most of the local cafes and restaurants close during the day during Ramadan, some closing for the entire month. However, your travel agent can recommend how to participate in a traditional Iftar Breakfast with a Moroccan family, giving you the opportunity to experience Ramadan first-hand. At sunset, signaled by the sounding of a siren and the lighting of lamps in all city minarets, an amazing sense of calm takes over the streets as the fast is broken for the day. The majority of touristic boutique riads, hotels, and restaurants that serve Western cuisine remain open during Ramadan. These establishments will serve wine and beer to foreigners but not to Moroccans, as it is against the law in Morocco to serve alcohol to Moroccans during Ramadan.
An essential experience not to be missed if you visit Morocco during Ramadan is to participate in an Iftar, Moroccan breakfast. Many restaurants offer an Iftar experience along with entertainment, but if you prefer a more unique experience, there is the option to break the fast with a local Moroccan family. During the daytime, Moroccan women prepare for the first meal after a day of fasting, called Iftar. A special table setting is prepared with a variety of Moroccan breads, fruits, dates, milk, juice, harira soup, Moroccan sweets, eggs, tagines, along with tea and coffee. This spread of food depends greatly on the region of Morocco. At the breaking of the fast, everyone in the cities and villages spends their evenings celebrating with food and entertainment.
Remember, as a visitor to Morocco, you are not required to observe Ramadan. Locals will not anticipate that you will be fasting and will be accommodating. So come and experience the joy and spiritual renewal that Ramadan brings to Morocco.
If you are considering visiting Morocco during Ramadan, there are several pros and cons to keep in mind:
Cultural experience: Visiting Morocco during Ramadan can be a great opportunity to experience the culture and traditions of the country. You will be able to witness the unique customs and practices that take place during this holy month, such as the breaking of the fast at sunset with a traditional meal known as iftar.
Festive atmosphere: Ramadan is a time of celebration and community, and there is often a festive atmosphere in Morocco during this time. You may see lanterns and decorations in the streets, and there may be special events and activities taking place.
Discounts: Some hotels and restaurants may offer discounts during Ramadan, as the demand for their services is lower due to the fasting period.
Reduced hours: During Ramadan, many businesses and attractions may operate on reduced hours or may be closed altogether. This can make it more difficult to plan your itinerary and see everything you want to see.
Limited food options: If you are not fasting, it can be challenging to find food during the day as many restaurants and cafes may be closed or only open in the evenings. Additionally, during the fasting period, many restaurants and cafes may have limited menus.
Busier evenings: Since many people break their fast at sunset, the evenings can be busier and more crowded than usual. It may be more difficult to find a table at a restaurant or to navigate crowded streets.
Would visiting Morocco during Ramadan be a good idea?
Ramadan is an integral part of Moroccan culture and offers a unique opportunity to experience the festivities that occur once a year. During this spiritual time for Muslims, you can immerse yourself in Moroccan rituals and Islamic traditions, participate in the Iftar breakfast, and engage in surrounding activities. Witnessing the announcement of cannons, attending prayer at local mosques with thousands of people, and observing tables of food spread out to feed the hungry are some of the highlights of visiting Morocco during Ramadan. Furthermore, if you are a food enthusiast, you will appreciate the special Ramadan foods that are exclusively prepared during this holiday. As such, if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind cultural experience, Ramadan may be the ideal time to visit Morocco.
Does Ramadan impact my tour in Morocco?
Yes, Ramadan can impact tours in Morocco. During this holy month, many Moroccans fast during the day and spend more time with their families in the evening, which can affect the hours of operation for certain businesses and attractions. Tourists may also have to adjust their plans and schedules accordingly.
For example, some restaurants may have limited hours during the day, or may only serve meals after sunset when it is time to break the fast. Additionally, some shops and markets may have shorter hours or be closed during the day, and transportation services such as buses and taxis may have altered schedules.
In large cities, some restaurants may remain open during the day and night, while shops tend to close about an hour before sunset, reopening after breaking the fast and staying open until late at night. However, it may be more challenging to find open establishments in smaller villages and cities. Visitors should also be aware that it is not always possible to consume alcohol in restaurants during Ramadan.
Pharmacies typically operate from Monday to Saturday, from 9 am until about 1 to 1.5 hours before sunset, with only duty pharmacies open in the evening or on Sundays. Most businesses and banks are open from 9 am until 3 pm, with some closures on Fridays after midday prayers.
Road traffic during Ramadan can also be affected, with busses altering their schedules to match the setting sun or to reduce traffic. Taxi drivers are less likely to engage in afternoon or evening travel, while trains generally keep to their schedules. However, at dusk, traffic can become heavy, and drivers may speed and drive more irresponsibly as they head home to break the fast with their families.
Overall, while Ramadan may require some adjustments to tour itineraries and schedules, Ramadan in Morocco is a unique and significant experience for visitors, offering an opportunity to witness and participate in the local customs and traditions. With common sense and respect, visitors can enjoy a safe and fulfilling trip to Morocco during this special time of year. It's important to do some research and plan ahead to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip during this special time of year.