When is the Best Time to Visit Morocco?

When is the Best Time to Visit Morocco?
Royal Palace in Fes, Morocco. Robert Harding/ Photodisc/ Getty Images

A diverse country with something for all kinds of travelers, there is no bad time to visit Morocco. Instead, there are simply better times to travel depending on what you plan to do and see while you're there. For example, if your main priority is to see Imperial Cities like Marrakesh or Fez at their best, then the optimum time to visit is during the April to May and September to November shoulder seasons. During these months, the climate is neither too hot nor too cold, and there are fewer tourists to contend with than there would be during the peak summer or winter vacation periods.

However, those hoping to trek the Atlas Mountains or surf the waves on the Atlantic coast may find that other times of the year better suit their needs. 

An Overview of Morocco's Weather

For many visitors, Morocco's weather is the single largest factor in determining the best time to travel. Morocco follows the same basic seasonal pattern as any other Northern Hemisphere country, with winter lasting from December to February, and summer lasting from June to August.

During the peak summer months, the weather can get uncomfortably hot - especially in Marrakesh, Fez, and southwest Morocco (remember that the further south you go, the closer you are to the Sahara Desert). Coastal destinations like Tangier, Rabat and Essaouira are a more comfortable choice at this time of year because they benefit from the cool ocean breeze. Despite the heat, many people choose to visit Morocco at this time because it coincides with the European summer vacation. 

Winters 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 at Oukaïmeden, located 80 kilometers south of Marrakesh (evidently, winter is the only time to travel to Morocco if you feel like hitting the slopes). 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.

Best Time to Trek the Atlas Mountains

Although it's possible to trek the Atlas Mountains all year round, spring (April to May) and fall (September to 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 Visit the Coast

Weather-wise, the best time to visit Morocco's beaches is during the summer, when average temperatures of around 79°F/ 26°C offer plenty of opportunities for catching a tan (as well as an escape from the intense heat of the country's interior). Sea temperatures are also at their warmest during this time of year, with the average water temperature for July recorded at 70°F/ 20°C. 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.

If you prefer fewer crowds and lower prices, consider timing your trip for spring or fall instead. 

Those that are attracted to the Atlantic coast by its reputation as one of Africa's top surf destinations should ignore the advice above and travel to top spots like Taghazout and Agadir during the winter months. At this time of year, the swell is consistently good and surf breaks are operating at their best. With an average December sea temperature of 64.5°F/ 18°C at Taghazout, a thin wetsuit is usually enough to keep out the cold even in the depths of winter. 

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, temperatures tend to plummet after dark, 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.

 

Timing Your Trip to Coincide with Morocco's Festivals

Morocco is home to a whole host of exciting annual festivals, some of which are well worth planning your trip around. Some, like the Kelaa-des-Mgouna Rose Festival and the Erfoud Date Festival are connected to the harvest and take place in the same month every year (with these particular festivals taking place in April and October respectively). Others, like the Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival and the Marrakesh Popular Arts Festival, are summer extravaganzas that rely on good weather to hold performances and events outside.

Islamic festivals like Ramadan and Eid al-Adha also take place at specific times of year and offer a fascinating insight into Moroccan culture. 

This article was updated by Jessica Macdonald on February 13th 2018.