Are you thinking of visiting Morocco in January?
Morocco is one of the most stunning and exotic destinations you will ever visit. The country is filled with beautiful mosaics, colorful walls, grand doors and gates, and stunning desert scenery.
A trip to Morocco, no matter when you come, will be one that you’ll never forget.
However, there are some unique things to consider about visiting Morocco in January, as well as different pros and cons. We’ve asked our friend Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast to help us out by sharing some key things to know about visiting Morocco in the winter.
Is January A Good Time To Go To Morocco?
January is a great time to visit Morocco. You’ll enjoy lower crowds in many destinations and often lower hotel prices. Plus, you’ll avoid the scorching heat of summer!
Morocco Weather In January
In most places in Morocco, the weather in January is mild during the day but chilly at night. The average high temperatures are in the 60s Farenheit, with lows in the 40s. While the average high is in the 60s, some days can go into the 70s.
In the Sahara, temperature lows can drop into the 30s, and even lower in the mountains.
Winter is also the rainiest season in Morocco (though it’s certainly not rainy rainy like you’d experience in places like Central America or Asia). Most cities see 7-9 rainy days throughout the month, accumulating anywhere from 1-3 inches of rain in total.
The Sahara sees about three rainy days in January, receiving an average of 0.4 inches of rain.
Many people are surprised to hear that it actually does snow in Morocco! In fact, the Atlas Mountains regularly get snow in the winter.
There are even several popular ski resorts near cities like Ifrane, Imlil, Oukaimeden, and Midelt. Ifrane, for example, will generally have between 4-6 inches of snow on the ground in January.
While temperatures in Morocco in January can vary across the country, there’s no denying that they are on average much cooler than in the summer months.
Morocco Events & Celebrations In January
On January 11, Morocco celebrates its Proclamation of Independence Day.
This proclamation, issued in 1944, demanded total independence of Morocco from France. While Morocco did not achieve independence until 1957, this was an important date and milestone in their struggle for independence.
Proclamation of Independence Day is a bank holiday, and there are generally speeches, street festivals, parades, and fireworks.
January 12-13 is Yennayer or Amazigh New Year. Amazigh is another name for the Berber group of people.
Yannayer is celebrated with different rites to bless the fields and crops, family gatherings, music, dancing, and ceremonies.
It’s considered an auspicious day to be married, and boys may receive their first haircut on this day. People eat dishes like couscous and tagola (made with meal and honey).
It’s celebrated mainly in the Atlas Mountains and desert in Morocco, so if you want to participate, head to that region.
With Morocco being a predominantly Muslim country, you will sometimes get other important holidays landing in January. The Islamic calendar is twelve days shorter than the solar year, so when holidays occur each year actually shifts over time.
For example, Islamic New Year (Hijri) is in July in 2022, but will be in January in 2038. Ramadan is currently in March/April, but will be in January as soon as 2028.
What To Wear In Morocco In Winter
Prioritize layers when deciding what to wear to Morocco in winter.
Lightweight long pants and closed-toed shoes will be your best bet for keeping warm, and you will want a jacket or coat for evenings – remember, lows get into the 40s F!
If you’re doing a Sahara desert tour, you might want to consider some gloves, a hat, and a more heavy coat, as lows can regularly be in the 30s F.
Since some days can get warm – highs can still go into the 70s – having a few lighter options to wear is a good idea if you are lucky and get warmer temperatures.
If you need a little extra warmth while you’re there, you can easily find scarves for sale in the souks (markets) of any town in Morocco. In fact, clothing overall is quite affordable in Morocco – and beautiful, too!
Check with your riad (traditional Moroccan home or guesthouse) to see if they have any heating (not everywhere does), and make sure to bring some warm pajamas for nighttime, especially if there is no heating!
Where To Go & Best Things To Do In Morocco In Winter
As peak tourist seasons are Spring and Fall, crowds tend to be much lower in Morocco in January, making many locations very pleasant to visit.
With Morocco being such a beautiful and diverse country, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. But the options below capture some of the key features of the variety offered by Morocco in winter:
Marrakech is THE absolutely must-visit city in Morocco. There’s nothing like exploring the twisting, winding streets in the medina (old town) or marveling at all the mosaics and colorful tiles in the gates, museums, and riads during your stay in Marrakech.
As one of the ancient capitals of Morocco, Marrakech is full of history, culture, and beauty. It’s a bustling, active city that envelops you in the Moroccan experience.
✔️Bahia Palace: This old palace is incredibly large and expansive, with large and small courtyards and gardens throughout. It’s full of tiles, plants, fountains, and stained glass and is absolutely gorgeous.
Bonus – this is one of the most popular attractions in Morocco, so you’ll maximize the benefits of lower crowds found in winter.
✔️Jardin Majorelle: The walls, pathways, and structures in this garden are painted in a distinctive blue and yellow color scheme and feature exotic desert plants.
2. Sahara Desert
It’s a long drive from Marrakech or Fes (9+ hours), but visiting the Sahara and staying in a luxury desert camp among the sand dunes is truly one of the most epic things you’ll ever do.
The desert offers a stark beauty any time of year, but the winter shields you from the intense summer heat and really showcases the stunning night sky.
✔️Ride Camels: You will definitely need to ride a camel out to your desert camp. It usually takes about 1.5 hours, and you will arrive right before sundown. Riding a camel in the dunes of the Sahara as the sun dips towards the horizon is an experience you will never forget!
✔️Go ATVing: Your desert camp will have the option for you to do some dune bashing – it’s a super fun way to spend part of your time in the Sahara, get your adrenaline up, and to go deeper into the desert.
Chefchaouen is the famous blue city of Morocco, where every single wall in the old medina is painted a striking shade of blue. Nestled against some mountains, this small city offers views, shopping, and a unique atmosphere.
This is just a delightful, pretty spot to visit in Morocco. Situated close to Fes, you can visit this unique city as part of your amazing trip.
✔️Wander the Medina: There aren’t really many attractions in Chefchaouen – the real treat is going around and exploring all the cute little nooks and crannies in the city.
There are several staircases that are decorated with colorful flower pots, and lots of shops and markets to discover. When you’re done, wander into a spa or hamman to relax.
✔️Hike to the Spanish Mosque: The Spanish mosque is set up on a hill near Chefchaouen and gives fantastic views over the city. It’s about one mile from the medina to the top and is great for sunset (although, be warned, it is often cloudy at sunset here).
Ifrane is a bonus destination for Morocco in January! Ifrane is known as the “Switzerland of Morocco” thanks to its location high up in the Middle Atlas Mountains, and because the town is designed to look like an alpine ski village.
Wooden chalets fill the streets and there is actually a ski resort in town.
This destination is listed as a bonus because it’s a great place to go in Morocco during the wintertime, but you definitely shouldn’t skip amazing spots like Marrakech, the Sahara, or Chefchaouen on this list.
Plus, having the chance to ski in Africa? It’s truly one of the only places to do it.
✔️Go Skiing at Michlifen Ski Station: Despite being in such a surprising location, this ski station has great skiing and, though not huge, resembles what you would expect to find in more traditional ski locations in places like Switzerland or Colorado.
✔️Ifrane National Park: In Ifrane National Park, you can admire the mountain landscape, walk through cedar forests filled with large trees (these trees are often used in the mosques), and observe the macaque monkeys playing everywhere.
Here are a few more good things to know about visiting Morocco in winter.
What is Marrakech like in January?
Marrakech in January is characterized by mild weather and lighter crowds. Weather in Marrakech in January averages highs in the mid-60s, but can regularly get into the 70s.
There is about 10 hours of sunlight a day, and when the sunlight starts to fade, it gets quite a bit chillier.
Make sure you bring warm clothes for the evenings, and to sleep in, as you may not have heating (or strong heating) in your riad.
When visiting Marrakech in January, you’ll also enjoy somewhat lower prices at riads and hotels.
What is the best time to visit Morocco?
While it is great to visit Morocco in January, I would say that the best time to visit is actually in the fall, particularly the months October-November.
The weather is really lovely then, with highs in the 70s and 80s and lows in the 50s (although the first part of October can still be pretty hot). This time of year also sees very little rain.
Although tourism is higher in fall than in winter, I still think this is the optimal time to go!
The Wrap-Up: Morocco In January
Visiting Morocco in January has some significant pros: moderate temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower prices. While the climate isn’t exactly “humid”, it will be less arid than during the country’s hot, dry summers.
Truly, no matter when you visit Morocco, you are going to have a fantastic time, as this country is full of stunning landscapes, impressive architecture, and interesting and delicious food.
As long as you are prepared for the conditions, you are sure to have an excellent time when you visit Morocco in January.