Train & ferry route map, London to Marrakech

London today, Tangier tomorrow, by train!

This page explains how to plan & book a journey from London to Tangier, Marrakech, Fez, Rabat or Casablanca without flying, in comfort & safety using regular daily scheduled train & ferry services.  And what a journey!  Take Eurostar to Paris, have lunch at the fabulous Train Bleu restaurant, then speed south to Barcelona at up to 199mph by double-decker TGV Duplex.  Stay overnight, then ride superb Spanish high-speed trains through wonderful Spanish scenery into Andalusia, sailing by ferry from Europe to Africa across the Straits of Gibraltar.  Once in Morocco, let the real Marrakech Express speed you south towards the incredible High Atlas mountains.  No flights, no airports, no stress.

UK to Morocco by train...

  London to Morocco train times, southbound

  Morocco to London train times, northbound

  What's the journey like?

  How much does it cost?

  How to buy tickets

  Video guide: Tangier to Madrid by ferry & train

  Alternative routes & options

  Hotel suggestions in Algeciras & Tangier

Train travel in Morocco...

  Train travel in Morocco:  Tangier to Marrakech

  Places to stay & things to see in Tangier

  Useful country information: currency, dial code...

  Car hire in Morocco - ideal for south of Marrakech

  Hotel suggestions in Morocco

 

 

Route map...

Train & ferry route map, London to Marrakech


Useful country information

Train operator in Morocco:

Office Nationale des Chemins de Fer Maroccains (ONCFM), www.oncf.maTrain travel in MoroccoAll-Europe train times

 

Ferries to Morocco:

www.trasmediterranea.es, www.balearia.com, www.frs.es (Spain-Tangier), www.gnv.it (South of France & Barcelona to Tangier)

Time zone:

GMT+1 all year (GMT+0 during Ramadan).

Dialling code:

+212

Currency:

£1 = approx 12 Dirhams    Currency converter

Tourist information:

muchmorocco.visitmorocco.com      Recommended guidebooks

Hotels:

Hotel recommendations   Holidays & escorted tours to Morocco by train

Visas:

UK & EU citizens do not need a visa to visit Morocco for up to 90 days.

Page last updated:

17 October 2020


London to Tangier & Marrakech

   
  The historic town of Ait ben Haddou in Morocco...
 

The mud-built town at Aït ben Haddou, south of Marrakech.  Many movie scenes were filmed here, such as 'Gladiator'.  It's well worth hiring a car for a few days and exploring this region...

London ► Morocco

Can I stop off on the way?

Why not stop off in Madrid or Granada?

Or in Gibraltar?

What's the journey like?

Step 1, London to Paris by Eurostar:  See Eurostar video guide...

  The Train Bleu restaurant at Paris Gare de Lyon

A Eurostar arrived at Paris Nord...  All you need to know about Eurostar.

 

Why not have lunch at the wonderful Train Bleu restaurant in Paris? See the Train Bleu information page.

Step 2, Paris to Barcelona by TGV Duplex See TGV Duplex video guide

The new Paris to Barcelona service is operated by impressive 186mph TGV Duplex double-decker high-speed trains.  You board the train through a wide sliding external door into a small hall at one end of the lower deck, where an internal door opens into a lower deck seating area.  A wide, short & easy flight of stairs leads from the entrance door to a landing at one end of the upper deck.  You walk along the train from car to car at the upper level, and the café-bar is also at the upper level.  There are toilets both upstairs & downstairs.  When booking, you can choose a seat on either upper or lower decks if you use www.thetrainline.com or Raileurope.com or book by phone, but not if you book at any of the Rail Europe websites.  If you have problems with stairs or very heavy luggage, the lower deck might be best.  But for the best views (over the top of the occasional sound barrier along the high speed lines!), definitely choose an upper deck seat.  For couples in first class, an upper deck 'club duo' table-for-two is easily the best option.  More pictures & an account of what to see on the Paris to Barcelona journey.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

 

2nd class table for 4 on TGV Duplex upper deck...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats, this is upper deck seating.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Crossing the Pyrenees...  One of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) Mt Canigou dominates the skyline on the right of the train all the way from Perpignan to Girona.  More pictures & an account of what to see on the Paris to Barcelona journey.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class on upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.

 

A TGV Duplex at Barcelona Sants.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

Step 3, Barcelona to Antequera-Santa Ana by AVE for regional train to Algeciras...

These superb-quality AVE high speed trains are amongst the classiest trains in Europe.  They have three classes, Preferente (premium 1st class seating), Turista Plus (1st class seating but without any food) and Turista (2nd class).  AVE trains run at up to 186 mph over the Spanish high-speed lines.  Most trains between Barcelona and Andalucia are the S102 type shown below, little articulated single-axle Talgo carriages sandwiched between strange-looking duck-billed power cars, hence the nickname pato, Spanish for duck.  The final destination of the Barcelona-Antequera train will be shown on the departure boards as Malaga.

Complimentary at-seat meal in Club class & Preferente Class   AVE Club class on an S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga

AVE S112...  Known to staff as pato (duck).  No prizes for guessing why...

 

AVE Preferente class...  Leather reclining seats, all with power sockets...

AVE Tourist class seats on an S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga   An S102 AVE train from Madrid to Malaga at Madrid Atocha

AVE Turista class...  Comfortable seats, 2 abreast each side of the aisle, mainly unidirectional but tables for 4 like this...

 

All aboard the AVE!  This is an S112 AVE high-speed train.  All AVE trains have a cafe-bar serving drinks and snacks, or feel free to bring your own food, wine or beer on board.

Scenery seen from the train to Gibraltar

Don Quixote country...  Arid Andalusian scenery seen from the train to Algeciras.  The rail line to Algeciras is one of my favourite routes, especially the last part from Antequera southwards, a scenic treat.  Watch the video...

Step 4, Tarifa to Tangier Town by FRS ferry with free bus from Algeciras...

FRS Ferry free transfer bus at Algeciras ferry terminal   Tarifa port

The free FRS shuttle bus leaves from Algeciras' Estación Maritima 1 hour before each ferry departure.

 

It's just a 30 minute 22km drive to Tarifa.  You enter the small modern ferry terminal & board the SeaCat for Tangier...

Inside the FRS fast ferry from Tarifa to Tangier   FRS ferry to tarifa, at Tangier town

Inside the FRS fast ferry.  There's a refreshment counter selling food and drink, including a welcome cold beer.  There are small open-air observation decks at the rear.

 

The FRS fast ferry at tangier town ferry terminal.  FRS still use the old Tangier Town terminal, just 5 minutes walk from the Continental Hotel & old medina.  A more convenient & romantic place to arrive!  See the video!

Coast of Africa on the Straits of Gibraltar

Crossing the Straits of Gibraltar...  One of the world's iconic ferry journeys and an inter-continental one at that, between the Pillars of Hercules from the coast of Europe to the shores of Africa...

...or Algeciras to Tangier Med Port by ferry, taxi or bus to Tangier...

A Euroferrys fast ferry from Algeciras to Tangier   Euroferrys conventional ferry approaching Tangier

Fast ferries from Algeciras to Tangier Med Port take 50-60 minutes, although you're mostly sealed in.  Here, a fast ferry sails out of Algeciras with Gibraltar in the background.

 

Conventional ferry at Tangier Med Port:  Conventional ships take 1½ hours, but their decks allow you to enjoy the crossing of the Straits of Gibraltar in the open air. This is a Balearia ferry.

Shuttle bus from the ferry arrives at Tangier Med Port terminal building   Inside Tangier Med Port 'Gare Maritime'

At Tangier Med Port, you walk off the ferry and onto a free shuttle bus which transfers you along the road and up the hill to the terminal building (Gare Maritime) for passport control.

 

Inside Tangier Med Port Gare Maritime are passport controls, X-ray machines, check-in desks & ATMs.  Taxis wait outside, plus an hourly bus to Tangier.

The 17:30 train from Tangier Med Port to Tangier Ville, at Tangier Med Port station   2nd class seating compartment on the train from  Tangier Med Port to Tangier Ville   The view from the train between Tangier Med Port & Tangier town.

The train from Tangier Med Port to Tangier Ville is now up and running...  Above left, the 17:30 from Tangier Med Port to Tangier Ville is just a locomotive and two comfortable air-conditioned carriages, connecting with the overnight couchette train to Marrakech, see the timetable below.  The station is easy to find, it's located directly below the ferry terminal building, integrated with it.  The trains aren't (yet) very frequent, but there are always taxis available as an alternative.  Photos courtesy of Andrew Leo.

Morocco ► London

  Scenery from the Madrid-Algeciras train...

Don Quixote country:  The sun is low in the sky as the afternoon train from Madrid to Algeciras snakes across the Andalusian plateau on its way south to the Straits of Gibraltar...

  The ferry from Algeciras to Morocco leaves Gibraltar astern

The Slow Boat to Africa...  Next day, aboard the ferry from Algeciras to Tangier with the Rock of Gibraltar on the port beam...

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

How to make this journey with an InterRail pass...

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Watch the videoTangier to Madrid by ferry & train...

See for yourself how straightforward, comfortable and scenic a Morocco to Europe journey can be by train & ferry.  The video shows a journey on the FRS fast ferry from Tangier to Tarifa and the train ride from Algeciras to Madrid.

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Other routes & options...

(1)  London to Morocco by GNV or Grimaldi Lines ferry Barcelona to Tangier...

This is an attractive alternative to the route via Algeciras.  Indeed, with a day exploring Barcelona then a cruise to Tangier, it's a holiday in itself.  However, it's not daily and not necessarily cheap, given the cost of the cruise ferry.  Grandi Navi Veloci operate superb regular cruise ferries from Barcelona to Tangier up to 3 times a week, with Grimaldi Lines also running a cruise ferry once a week.

London ► Morocco via ferry from Barcelona

Morocco ► London via ferry to Barcelona

On board a Grimaldi Lines ferry from Barcelona to Tangier Med Port...

A 4-berth standard cabin on Grimaldi Lines ferry from Barcelona to Tangier, Morocco   A la carte restaurant on Grimaldi Lines ferry from Barcelona to Tangier

Chaos in cabin 725.  The author's family in a 4-berth cabin on Grimaldi Lines ferry to Tangier...

 

The a la carte restaurant on Grimaldi Lines' Ikarus palace from Barcelona to Tangier...

The Ikarus palace ferry from Barcelona to Tangier   Swimming pools on the ferry Ikarus Palace   Sunset from Gimaldi Lines' ferry Ikarus Palace to Tangier

In the Straits of Gibraltar...

 

Swimming pools...

 

Sunset at sea...

(2)  France to Morocco by GNV ferry...

If you prefer a longer sea voyage, there are regular passenger ships from Sète in the South of France to Tangier, originally run by Comanav (Compagnie Maroccaine de Navigation), now taken over by the Italian ferry operator Grandi Navi Veloci.  See www.gnv.it for sailing dates, fares & online booking.  It's easy to get from London to Sète by train - You can check train times & buy tickets online at Raileurope.com.  Allow several hours minimum to connect in Sète, if necessary staying overnight.

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When in Tangier...

Tangier's Continental Hotel, the most historic & atmospheric place to stay...  Check prices & book

In Tangier, easily the most interesting & atmospheric place to stay is the venerable Continental Hotel, whatever your budget, and it's one of my favourite places.  If you arrive by FRS fast ferry from Tarifa, you'll easily spot it on your right high up on the edge of the Medina as you walk into town.  Opened by a British family in 1888 and used by many famous people including (allegedly) Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria's son Alfred, it's now a travellers' favourite, with classic Moroccan décor and an atmosphere straight out of Agatha Christie - indeed, it's been used as a film location at various times.  In spite of all this history, it's cheap, a single room with shower & toilet costs around 595 dirhams (£49) per night including a light breakfast, a double room with shower & toilet around 735 dirhams (£61) including breakfast.  Ask for a room on the first floor with a balcony overlooking the port and new town.  Rooms are fairly basic, only a handful have A/C, but they have clean en suite showers & toilets, the hotel is handy for the FRS ferry, superbly located inside the old medina walls a stone's throw from the old town centre, Petit Socco & Grand Socco.  The hotel now has free WiFi and 24 hour reception.  It has a good and cheap restaurant for lunch and dinner, too, although alcohol isn't served.  Rooms can now be booked online at Booking.com.  Or just turn up, they usually have rooms available.  The address is 36, Dar Baroud (Medina), Tangier, tel +212 39 93 10 24.

Continental Hotel, Tangier   Continental Hotel, Tangier   A bedroom at the Continental Hotel in Tangier

The Continental Hotel, Tangier.  In the middle picture, the FRS Tangier-Tarifa ferry port is in the background.

Things to see in Tangier...

Tangier sometimes gets a bad press from travellers who are hassled by a few touts at the port, who then hurry through without seeing it and tell everyone else to do the same.  This is very short-sighted, as Tangier is the intriguing and atmospheric city where Europe meets Africa.  Indeed, fans of the film 'Casablanca' will find it a far more plausible setting for Rick, Elsa, Captain Renault and Major Strasser than the big and unremarkable city to the south.  Tangier was an international zone from 1923 until its incorporation with Morocco in 1956, and it really was awash with spies from both sides in world war 2.  It retains a faint air of mystery and intrigue even today, although I've always felt very safe there!  It's a wonderful and fascinating place to spend a day or two, so make sure you include it in your itinerary.   Make sure you see the medina (old town), kasbah (fort), the Petit Socco (small square, be sure to have a coffee or mint tea here) and Grand Socco (large square), the lovely English Church, and Tangier American Legation museum (the first bit of overseas territory ever acquired by the United States).  For more information on Tangier, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangier.

Where to go next?

Modern air-conditioned trains are waiting to whisk you south to the rest of Morocco.  Rabat is the country's capital and well worth a stop; Casablanca is certainly a name to conjure with (you have to say you've been there!) but in reality it's just a large city.  Marrakech is the obvious destination, and a worthy (if touristy) one.  Why not hire a car for a few days and explore the country south of Marrakech?  Meknès & Fez are amazing places, as good or better than Marrakech an with fewer tourists, so don't miss them!

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Travelling by train in Morocco

Train routes in Morocco

The trains in Morocco are some of the best in Africa, and they're the ideal choice for getting around between cities.  New 300km/h (186mph) Al Boraq high-speed trains now link Tangier, Kenitra, Rabat & Casablanca every hour using a new high-speed line.   Several air-conditioned trains per day branded Al Atlas still link Tangier with Sidi Kacem, Meknes & Fez via the old classic line, and similar Al Atlas air-conditioned expresses run Oujda-Fes-Meknes-Sidi Kacem-Kenitra-Rabat-Casablanca-Marrakech, see the route map above,  Regular trains link Casablanca airport with the city centre, and Trains Navette Rapides (fast shuttle trains) link Rabat & Casablanca.  Agadir and Essaouira have no railway station, but are linked to Marrakech by connecting bus.

How to check train times & fares...

You can easily check Moroccan train times & fares at the Moroccan Railways (ONCF) website, www.oncf.ma, English button top right.

Fares are pretty cheap by European standards, see fare examples below.  Fares for the Al Boraq high-speed trains have variable pricing in 2nd class, with cheaper advance-purchase non-flexible fares and more expensive flexible fares.  This policy has now been extended to most conventional long-distance trains too, which have been branded Al Atlas.  At short notice the more expensive flexible fares will apply.

Children aged 0-3 travel free, children aged 4-10 travel at half fare, children aged 11 and over pay the adult fare.

Tangier Rabat

Tangier Casablanca

Tangier Marrakech

Tangier ► Meknes, Fes

How to buy tickets...

  1. Buy online...

    You can book Moroccan long-distance trains online at www.oncf-voyages.ma which is the official ticket sales site linked from www.oncf.ma, Originally it only accepted Moroccan credit cards, but it now usually accepts overseas cards, further feedback appreciated

    Booking opens one month before departure.

    When you're in Morocco, you can also book by phone on 0890 20 30 40, but this number is not accessible from overseas.

  1. Buy at the station...

    It's easy enough to buy your ticket at the station on the day or perhaps the day before.  Tangier Ville station now accepts credit cards as well as cash.

    On both the Al Boraq high-speed trains and the classic Al Atlas trains, all tickets come with a reserved seat so trains can in theory sell out, but there are so many seats that in practice they seldom do.  The Al Atlas trains have only one first class car, and that can indeed sell out on occasion.

    The shuttle trains linking Rabat & Casablanca and the few remaining conventional long-distance trains which have not yet been branded Al Atlas have unreserved 2nd class where tickets do not include a reserved seat so tickets cannot sell out, you sit where you like on a first come, first served basis.

Tangier's new station...

The old station in Tangier near the port & medina was closed some years ago (it's now a police station), but an impressive new Tanger Ville station has now been completed just inland from the far end of the sea front.  Walking from the port, the medina or the Continental Hotel to the new station takes around 30-35 minutes, so take a petit taxi as this only costs 20 dirhams or so (about £1.70).  Currently the station is a construction site, readying it for the new high-speed trains.

Tangier's new station   Inside the new Tangier Ville station...

Tangier's new station

 

Inside Tangier station, showing ticket windows

On board the new Al Boraq high-speed trains...

Africa's first high-speed trains started running in November 2018 on the new Tangier-Rabat-Casablanca high-speed line.  Morocco's Al Boraq high-speed trains are 300km/h (186mph) double-deck trains, basically a version of French Railway's TGV Duplex.  They have 1st & 2nd class and a cafe-bar.  The new line roughly follows the route of the (still-operating) classic line, but joins the Fes-Casablanca main line at Kenitra rather than Sidi Kacem.

Morocco's new Al Boraq double-deck high-speed train.  Photos in this section courtesy of Nicholas Brooke...

 

1st class...

 

2nd class...

 

The cafe-bar...

 

An Al Boraq train...

On board the classic Al Atlas trains...

The classic long distance trains have smooth-riding 1st & 2nd class air-conditioned coaches, with a trolley selling tea, coffee, sandwiches & snacks.  Most of these classic expresses have now been branded Al Atlas, with a reserved seat automatically included with every ticket.  The few remaining classic expresses which have not yet been branded Al Atlas have reserved seats in 1st class but no reservation possible in 2nd class.

A Tangier-Casablanca train at Sidi Kacem   A Tangier-Casablanca train at Sidi Kacem

A rapide climatisé at Sidi Kacem...

 

A rapide climatisé arrived in Fes...

First class seats on a Mroccan express train...   Second class seats on an express train in Morocco...   Moroccan trains usually have a refreshment trolley...

1st class is very comfortable indeed, with plush carpeted 6-seat air-conditioned compartments or occasionally open-plan seating.  It's still cheap, and well worth the extra over 2nd class.  First class tickets include a specific reserved seat, so can sometimes sell out.

 

2nd class has 8-seat air-conditioned compartments with basic padded plastic seats.  The coaches now look a bit tatty, but they're still perfectly adequate & incredibly cheap.  2nd class seats aren't reserved so cannot sell out, you find an empty one & sit down...

 

A refreshment trolley sells inexpensive soft drinks, snacks and excellent hot sweet coffee!

The overnight train from Tangier to Marrakech...

The overnight train is a popular and time-effective way to travel from Tangier to Marrakech, sleeping in a couchette or sleeper and saving a night in a hotel.  The train now has two cars with sleeping-berths, one a couchette car and one a sleeping-car.

The couchette car has eleven shared 4-berth compartments, each berth provided with pillow, sheet and light blanket.  The car is air-conditioned, although it may be a while before the air-con kicks in if the car has been standing in the sidings all day.

The air-conditioned sleeping-car has eleven private single-berth compartments (Lit Single in French), each with a comfy bed with full bedding, a washbasin and a chair.  The compartment doors lock securely, and it is a safe, comfortable and time-effective way to travel.  This sleeper is a relatively new addition, introduced in 2018.  If you use this car and get any more photos inside or out, please let me know!

Berths can get sold out, so book ahead if you can.  However, it's not impossible to find berths available even if you book at the station on the day of travel, so give it a try.  To book a sleeper or couchette in advance from outside Morocco, see the specific advice on this train in the How to buy tickets section above.

Sleeper on Tangier to Marrakech train   Sleeper on Tangier to Marrakech train   Sleeper on Tangier to Marrakech train

Private single-berth sleeper (Lit Single) on the night train from Tangier to Marrakech.  Courtesy of Stephen @firstclass10X

Couchette on the Tangier to Marrakech overnight train   1st class 4-berth couchette car on Tangier-Marrakech overnight train.

4-berth couchette:  Upper berth in a 4-berth couchette compartment on the Tangier to Marrakech overnight train... There are upper & lower bunks each side.  Courtesy Patti White.

 

Tangier-Marrakech overnight train:  The 1st class 4-berth couchette car attached to the Tangier - Marrakech overnight train. 

Photo courtesy of Dave Turner.

New double-deck air-conditioned trains linking Rabat & Casablanca...

These smart new double-deck air-conditioned trains are now entering service on the hourly Rabat-Casablanca fast shuttle service (TNR or 'Train Navette Rapide' and a few Fez-Meknès-Rabat-Casablanca express trains.

New Moroccan double deck train at Fes   First class seats on the new Moroccan double decker train

Double-decker train at Fez...  Photo courtesy of Marie Javins

 

First class seats on the new Moroccan double decker train.  Photo courtesy of Marie Javins

End of the line:  Marrakech station...

Marrakech station   An air-conditioned express train, arrived at Marrakech

Marrakech station...  Photo courtesy of Peter Brogdale

 

Arrival at Marrakech...  Photo courtesy of Peter Brogdale

Bus connection from Marrakech to Agadir & Essaouira...

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Recommended guidebooks

Recommended guidebooks...

Make sure you take a good guidebook.  Easily the best guidebooks for the independent traveller are Lonely Planets and Rough Guides.  Both provide an excellent level of practical information and historical background.  You won't regret buying one of these!

Click the images to buy online at Amazon.co.uk

Lonely Planet Morocco - click to buy online   Rough Guide to Morocco - click to buy online

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European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

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Suggested hotels in Morocco

Recommended hotels in Algeciras, Tangier, Marrakech, Fez & elsewhere in Morocco...

In Algeciras:  For Algeciras hotels, click here.  I highly recommend the Hotel Reina Cristina, which is easily the best hotel in Algeciras as well as the most historic, set in its own grounds just 10 minutes walk from either rail station or ferry passenger terminal.  It costs only about €53 per night for a single, €68 for a double.

In Tangier, the classic and wonderfully atmospheric Continental Hotel is the top choice, and inexpensive.  Ideally located for both port and old medina, and with its own restaurant too.  It can now be booked online at Booking.com.

In Marrakech, the Hotel Islane is a good mid-range choice at around €35-€45 (£26-£31) per room per night, with an excellent central location just round the corner from the Jemaa el Fnaa, the main market square.  It also has a good rooftop restaurant.  The most famous hotel in Marrakech is of course the top-notch La Mamounia Hotel, if you can (a) afford it and (b) get a room!

You can arrange hotels before booking opens for train tickets if you use a site with free cancellation such as www.booking.com.

My favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Hotel Reina Cristina, Algeciras:  Book here...

The classic Hotel Reina Cristina is easily the best place to stay in Algeciras, set in its own grounds just 10 minutes walk from both rail station and ferry terminal.

Hotel Reina Cristina, Algeciras   Main hall of the Hotel Reina Cristina, Algeciras.

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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Car hire in Morocco

It's well worth hiring a car south of Marrakech!

Hiring a car isn't the first thing you'd think of in Morocco, but the roads are relatively empty and driving is surprisingly easy.  If you've a few days to spare when you get to Marrakech I highly recommend hiring a car and driving south over the High Atlas Mountains via the absolutely incredible Tizi n Tichka Pass, perhaps the most amazing road I've ever driven.  Stay the night at the Kasbah at Tifletout (now a hotel) and visit the Gorge du Dadès, Todra Gorge, and the remarkable mud-built town of Aït ben Haddou.  Driving really isn't difficult, indeed the roads are far less crowded than in the UK or Europe, making it a very pleasant way to get around the countryside.  Instead of searching multiple websites to sort out your car, try this search engine which compares different hire companies' prices.

Compare 50 different car hire companies:  www.carrentals.co.uk

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Travel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel without travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should also cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback is always welcome.

In the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

You can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card. Use code MAN61 to get £5 cashback after signing up and using your Curve card the first time.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use them myself.

 


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