For those not familiar with Ramadan, it’s the Islamic holy month when Muslims all over the world fast between sunrise and sunset. The month honours when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Ramadan is seen as a time for prayer, spiritual reflection, spending time with friends and family and doing good deeds. Although it’s observed on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the date changes each year. This is due to Islam following the lunar calendar which is based on the cycles of the moon.
Those travelling to Islamic nations during Ramadan often worry about how it will impact their trip or even cancel their plans. Below I share my experience of visiting Morocco at the end of Ramadan. Find out more about what to expect and why I found this a surprisingly good time to visit.
Arriving into Morocco, it was clear the locals were excited to finally break their period of fasting. A three-day festival called Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and begins when the new moon is first seen. As they eagerly watched the twilight sky, everyone was asking if they thought today would be the day.
Fortunately for us, it was. During the evening, Marrakech’s medina and souks came to life, with friends and families celebrating in the streets, restaurants and pretty gardens of the city. Many had brought tasty picnics to enjoy in the cool evening temperatures and children were running about and playing.
An abundance of stalls offered beautiful fresh fruit and many other delicious foods that could only have been too tempting after nearly 30 days of fasting. And in the market square of Jemaa el-Fnaa, traditional music and dancing, story tellers and magicians enchanted the gathering crowds.
Although many restaurants and shops are closed during Eid al-Fitr, each town and village throughout rural Morocco was buzzing with activity. Moroccan’s celebrate the end of Ramadan by feasting and every public space was teeming with people gathered to meet friends and family. By no means did the country come to a standstill, instead this was the time for festivities and the locals to dress in their best.
Why visit at the end of Ramadan?
If you’re coming to Morocco to shop for fine carpets or pottery, then Ramadan is unfortunately not the best time. In the city medinas only a handful of shops will be open. And you can expect the Medina in the medieval city of Fes to be almost deserted during the day.
However, if you want to experience an age old tradition and gain an insight into the Islamic religion – this is one of the best times to visit Morocco. As you become part of the celebrations, you’ll experience Morocco from a local perspective unseen by many other international travellers.
Throughout Ramadan, Muslims won’t even take a sip of water during the day. And, after experiencing the soaring temperatures of Marrakech, you’ll be in awe of the Muslim people’s dedication to their religion.
Looking to visit Morocco? Our group tours cover everything from the Sahara Desert and Atlas Mountains to the UNESCO-listed medina of Marrakech.