In 2006, the Moroccan government, in conjunction with Mohammed VI's desire to dramatically increase tourism arrivals, invoked an open-skies policy on the country's air transport sector. Several low-cost European airlines leapt at the opportunity, resulting in decidedly more flight arrivals, especially into the tourist hubs of Agadir, Fes, and Marrakech.
Scheduled international flights fly directly into a number of airports in Morocco: Agadir (AGA), Casablanca (CAS), Fes (FEZ), Marrakech (RAK), Ouarzazate (OZZ), Rabat (RBA), and Tangier (TNG). Casablanca is the country's major airport and hub for the national carrier, Royal Air Maroc. If you're flying from anywhere other than Europe, then more than likely your flight will touch down here. Domestic connections are plentiful, and the airport is connected to the national rail network. North American flights, as well as those from Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, operate from Terminal 3, a short shuttle ride from terminals 1 and 2, where all other flights are operated from and where the main arrivals and departures buildings are located.
If you're departing from Europe, then flying directly into one of the country's other airports is definitely possible, and the decision whether to do so comes down to which destination you wish to begin your journey and the frequency of flights available. All the airports mentioned above are located out of town, but taxis are usually always parked outside to meet incoming flights, or transfers can be prearranged with your hotel.
When departing Morocco, the departure tax is already included in the cost of your ticket, and most airport bureaux de change will change your dirham (notes only) back into euros or sometimes U.S. dollars. There are duty-free shops past the immigration counters, but they won't accept dirham, only euros, British pounds, and U.S. dollars.
The national air carrier is Royal Air Maroc (tel. 09000/0800 toll-free in Morocco; www.royalairmaroc.com), which has offices in most major Moroccan cities, as well as in the U.K., Langham House, 32-33 Gosfield St., London, W1W 6ED (tel. 020/7307-5800), and the U.S., 666 5th Ave., New York, NY 10103 (tel. 800/446-726 or 974/385-053). Since 2004, Royal Air Maroc also operates a subsidiary low-cost international airline called Atlas Blue (tel. 08020/09090 within Morocco, or 020/7307-5803 within the U.K.; www.atlas-blue.com). There are flights from a good selection of European destinations including London, and most of them fly directly into Marrakech. Although their prices are reasonably competitive with other budget airlines, they are notorious for experiencing delays and canceling flights.
Regional Airlines (tel. 0802/000082 within Morocco, or 902/180-151 within Spain; www.regionalmaroc.com) is largely a domestic carrier within Morocco, but they have a few flights into Agadir, Casablanca, and Tangier from mainly Spanish destinations.
Be sure to ask your rental agency about additional fees for insurance and taxes. They can add a significant cost to your car rental.
Traveling by sea is a wonderful, almost spiritual, way to arrive in Morocco. When sailing from the Spanish port of Algeciras -- the most popular point of departure -- the Rock of Gibraltar is visible for quite some time before finally fading away into the Mediterranean mist. However, it's not long before the silhouettes of Tangier's minarets appear in the distance.
As mentioned, the most popular route operates between Algeciras and Tangier, and during the peak August holiday month, ferries run every hour almost around the clock. Popular alternative routes include Algeciras to Ceuta and Tarifa to Tangier, though Tarifa is not an "international" port, thus only E.U. passport holders can travel on this route. The crossing from Algeciras to Tangier can take between 80 minutes and 3 hours, depending on the ship, and currently costs range from 35€ to 42€ per person. The companies crossing from Algeciras to Ceuta all operate fast catamarans, taking only 35 minutes; the cost is currently 38€ per person. Note: It's worth remembering that Ceuta is still on Spanish soil, which means the port is void of all the border formalities experienced in Tangier. If you're traveling independently, you'll have to catch local bus no. 7 (.75€) or a taxi (3.80€) from the center of Ceuta to the border. Crossing from Tarifa to Tangier is also by catamaran and takes 35 minutes. The current fare is 38€ per person.
The ferry companies operating between Morocco and Europe are:
- Acciona Trasmediterranea (tel. 902/454645 within Spain; www.trasmediterranea.es): One of the largest companies, sailing between Algeciras and both Ceuta and Tangier; Almeria and Malaga to the Spanish enclave of Melilla; and Almeria to Nador.
- Buquebus (tel. 902/414242 within Spain, or 0539/342384 within Morocco; www.buquebus.es): Spanish company sailing between Algeciras and Ceuta.
- Comanav (tel. 0522/302412 within Morocco, or 956/570420 within Spain; www.comanav.co.ma): Moroccan-based company sailing between Algeciras and Tangier; Genoa (Italy) and Tangier; Almeria and Tangier, Nador, or Al Hoceima; and Sète (France) and Tangier or Nador.
- Comarit (tel. 956/668462 within Spain, or 0539/320032 within Morocco; www.comarit.es): Spanish company sailing between Algeciras and Tangier and Almeria (Spain) and Nador.
- EuroFerrys (tel. 956/652324 within Spain, or 0539/948199 within Morocco; www.euroferrys.com): Sails between Algeciras and both Ceuta and Tangier, and Almeria and Nador.
- FRS (tel. 956/681830 within Spain, or 0539/942612 within Morocco; www.frs.es): Sails between Tarifa, Gibraltar, and Algeciras (in summer) to Tangier.
- Limadet (tel. 0539/933621 within Morocco, or 956/669613 within Spain): A Moroccan-based company that sails between Algeciras and Tangier.
- Nautas (tel] 956/589530 within Spain, or 0539/934463 within Morocco; www.nautasferry.com): Sails from Algeciras to both Tangier and Ceuta.
Ferries will always have an onboard restaurant serving meals and drinks, but sometimes not much else. Note: Payment, no matter which direction you're heading, is almost always only accepted in euros. Tickets can always be purchased at each company's office or ticket booth located at the ferry terminals. Don't be swayed by any talk of "last ferry leaves now" or "cheapest ticket here" by hustlers.