When is the Best Time to Visit Morocco?
The best time to visit Morocco depends on what you plan to do and see while there. If your main priority is to see highlights like Marrakech or Fes at their best, then the optimum time to visit is April - May, or September - November. During these months, the climate is mild and there are fewer tourists. However, several of Morocco's most iconic cultural festivals take place during the summer.
Information and tips about Morocco's weather, festivals and activities follow below.
It's hot and sunny for most of the year in Morocco. During the peak summer months, it gets uncomfortably hot especially in Marrakech, Fes, and southwest Morocco. Tangier, Rabat, and Essaouira are a bit more comfortable in the peak of summer because they benefit from a cooler ocean breeze. Despite the heat, this is the most popular time to visit Morocco, since it coincides with the European summer vacation. Moroccans also take their vacation during the summer months, and usually head for the cooler coast.
Winters (November - February) are generally mild although temperatures at night can fall dramatically, with record lows of -3°C/ 26.5°F recorded in Marrakesh. A dusting of snow is not unusual in Northern Morocco and, of course, the Atlas Mountains are prone to heavy snowfall in winter. You can even ski in Oukaimeden just outside of Marrakech.
Winters in the north of the country and along the coast can be quite wet, while winters in the south are drier but colder, especially at night.
Although it's possible to trek the Atlas Mountains all year round, spring (April - May) and fall (September - October) generally offer the best weather.
Although summers in the Atlas Mountains are typically mild and sunny, temperatures in the mountain valleys often exceed 86°F/ 30°C, while afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon. In winter, nighttime temperatures can plunge to 41°F/ 5°C or lower, while snow precautions including crampons and ice-axes are required above 9,800 feet/ 3,000 meters.
Weather in the Atlas Mountains can be unpredictable at any time of year and conditions depend heavily on what elevation you're planning to trek to.
Best Time to Go to the Beach and Surf
The best time to visit Morocco's beaches is arguably during the summer, when average temperatures of around 79°F/ 26°C offer an escape from the intense heat of the country's interior. At an average of 70°F/ 20°C in July, sea temperatures are also at their warmest during this time of year. However, summer is also peak tourist season, so make sure to book well in advance - especially if you plan on visiting hotspots like Essaouira or Agadir.
Morocco has long attracted surfers to its Atlantic breakers. For surfers, the best time to visit is during the fall and winter months, when swells are consistently good. Most of the country's top surf spots are centered around Agadir and Taghazout, where the average December sea temperature is around 64.5°F/ 18°C.
Therefore, even in winter, a thin wetsuit is usually enough to keep out the cold.
Best Time to Visit the Sahara Desert
If you're planning a trip to the Sahara Desert, the most comfortable time to do so is during fall or early spring. In this way, you'll be able to avoid the bone-dry landscapes and scorching temperatures of summer (which average around 115°F/ 45°C), and the freezing nighttime temperatures of winter. At any time of the year, nighttime temperatures can get cool, so it's best to bring a warm jacket regardless of when you plan to visit.
Although spring is generally a good time to visit the desert, it's important to remember that April in particular can bring with it the sandstorms of the Sirocco wind.
Many of Morocco's major festivals take place in May, June and July.
These include the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, the Marrakech Popular Arts Festival and the Gnaoua World Music Festival held in Essaouira. The Islamic month of Ramadan is also a festive time to be in Morocco, although things can be a little quiet during the day and organising tours and transport can be tricky.
Article updated by Jessica Macdonald on August 5th 2016.