Morocco and Egypt are two fantastic destinations in North Africa, so it is no surprise that choosing between the two can be a challenge. There are plenty of similarities between the two countries, but each does offer very distinct experiences and sights to charm any traveler. So, which comes up on top of the ‘Morocco or Egypt’ debate?
Both Egypt and Morocco have a fascinating ancient history that has shaped their modern-day cultures. Whether you choose to visit Egypt or Morocco, you will get to experience an exotic world across bewitching landscapes. Chaotic cities and sleepy settlements can be found in both, so it will be the different tourist sites and adventures up for grabs that will sway your decision.
We have done the research and put these two North African tourist destinations up against each other. From ancient temples to beach resorts, this comparison guide will help highlight the differences and (hopefully) help you discover your next vacation destination. So, Morocco vs Egypt – let’s jump to it!
Table of Contents
Morocco vs Egypt: Overall vibe
Morocco and Egypt are both predominately Muslim countries, though there is quite a large Christian minority in Egypt. Religion is a huge part of culture and customs in these conservative North African countries. There are expectations across behavior, manners, and dress code, with some key things to avoid doing or saying.
The coastal parts of each country are slightly more relaxed. However, if you are visiting large cities, such as Marrakech or Cairo, you must dress modestly and be conscious of the patriarchal society. The US State Department advises women traveling alone to be extra cautious in both Morocco and Egypt. LGBT visitors may also face challenges but can expect slightly more acceptance in Egypt.
There are some marginally different local customs that are recommended to learn before visiting either Egypt or Morocco:
- Morocco – touch your heart lightly with your right hand after shaking someone’s hand, and haggling is a test of authority.
- Egypt – refrain from touching someone of the opposite sex in public, and never show the soles of your feet.
The overall vibe of both Egypt and Morocco is fascinating and magical. The beautiful chaos of the cities and rich customs are so different from the Western world. Both Morocco and Egypt offer an enchanting vibe to every vacation.
Morocco vs Egypt: Getting around
Getting around Africa is a real adventure, right from the time you arrive! There is a whole range of international flights that land in both Morocco and Egypt – the easiest way to get to North Africa. However, you can also easily catch a ferry from the south of Spain to Morocco. When you arrive at any airport in either Morocco or Egypt, prepare yourself to be bombarded by taxi drivers looking for a fare – remember to always haggle if you choose to use a taxi.
On the whole, public transport in Egypt is pretty good. A rail link connects the Nile Valley, Delta, and Canal Zone. Other areas are easy enough to travel to and around by bus or a shared (service) taxi. On the Nile you can indulge on cruise boats, and in the desert you have to tick off camel riding from your bucket list.
Public transport in Morocco is also available, however, it is slightly more limited. There is a rail service that connects Marrakech to the coast. Along the coast are bus routes to help navigate and travel between the towns. However, renting a car is advised so you can reach the more remote destinations and see more of this stunning country.
Morocco vs Egypt: Landscapes
The landscapes across North Africa are consistently dry and arid. While Egypt has low mountains to the south, it is Morocco that offers a more interesting terrain. The Atlas Mountains are the spine of the country, stretching 1,350 km from the central north to the southwest, providing a home to a diverse range of wildlife in Morocco.
Both Morocco and Egypt have miles upon miles of desert, sharing the same sands of the Sahara desert. But this doesn’t mean it’s always scorching hot! Morocco actually has an incredibly diverse climate with temperatures dropping overnight in the desert parts. You can even encounter snow in the high Atlas Mountains near the town of Midelt.
What Egypt lacks in diversity, it makes up for with ancient wonders dotted across the landscape. The mighty River Nile dominates Egypt’s landscape along with the Great Pyramids.
The coastlines of both Morocco and Egypt are stunning but are vastly different. Morocco is rugged and raw with the powerful Atlantic Ocean rolling into the shore. Egypt has two bodies of water lapping at the golden sands: the Meditteranean and the Red Sea are warm, calm, and have some of the best reefs in the world.
Morocco vs Egypt: Hotels
There are thousands of hotels and accommodations across the busy cities and touristy areas of both Morocco and Egypt. Listed on booking.com alone:
- Morocco – 8,652 properties, of which 1,982 are rated superb
- Egypt – 5,077 properties, of which 575 are rated superb
Morocco has a great range of hotels, from budget to luxury, so every type of traveler will be able to find somewhere that suits. Egypt, while still having some options, is better suited for resort stays and the more opulent vacation.
If you are planning on staying in Marrakech, check out the centrally located Riad l’Oiseau du Paradis for a traditional and opulent stay. M’hamid Desert Camp Tours offers a unique stay experience in the remote desert edge. Or maybe Dar Surf is more up your street, located in the surf capital of Morocco, Taghazout.
Sharm el Sheikh is one of the more popular destinations in Egypt, particularly with families. Sunrise Arabian Beach Resort and Albatros Aqua Blu Sharm El Sheikh are two fantastic options for beachfront luxury on the Red Sea. However, the Pyramids Planet Hotel in Giza is the best place to stay in Egypt in our eyes; with balcony views of the Great Pyramids and only minutes away from the Sphinx, it is hard to beat.
Winner: Morocco – there is such a huge choice of hotels available.
Morocco vs Egypt: Food
When you visit Morocco, you have to dive into the depths of the cuisine – and the same goes for the food culture in Egypt for that matter! From aromatic tagines to flatbread and spice, both countries offer a distinct personality of flavor and delicious food. But which is tastier?
Morocco draws influence from Mediterranean flavors and is blessed with a wealth of ingredients, including pomegranates, mint, lemons and oranges, olives, lamb, and the fragrant spices that for thousands of years have been brought to this country.
On the other hand, we have Egypt, the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The culinary traditions of Egypt are quite different from Morocco, drawing more influence from the Middle East. Fava beans, chickpeas, and hummus are abundant along with a mixed variety of spices and vegetables.
4 Moroccan Must-Try Dishes
- Tagine: Morocco’s national dish and biggest culinary export, named after the clay pot with a conical lid used for preparation and cooking. Ingredients vary from region to region, sometimes using lamb, chicken, or just vegetables. These slow-cooked stews are always served with bread and often with couscous.
- Harira: A nourishing soup served during Ramadan when Muslims break their fast at sunset. Prepared with lamb, lentils, tomatoes, and chickpeas, topped with chopped coriander and lemon juice, then served with a sweet pretzel or bread.
- Zaalouk: An spread of salads, dips, and bread. Often featuring a smoked aubergine dip that’s seasoned with cumin, paprika, garlic, and chili powder.
- B’stilla: Traditionally served at special events, like weddings, however now this pie has become a street food sensation in Morocco. Layers of flaky pastry are stuffed with a blend of pigeon meat, eggs, and almonds, spiced with cinnamon, saffron, and a dose of fresh coriander.
4 Egyptian Must-Try Dishes
- Koshary: Egypt’s national dish, made from rice, lentils, macaroni, and a spicy tomato sauce.
- Ful medames: A staple made from mashed fava beans and occasionally topped with olive oil, lemon juice, onion, garlic, or parsley. Similar to hummus.
- Fatta: Traditionally consists of lamb, rice, fried pitta, and a creamy garlic sauce and typically saved for special occasions.
- Fiteer baladi: Egypt’s take on pizza, a stone-baked bread made from layers of buttery Filo pastry and served with either savory or sweet toppings.
Morocco vs Egypt: Things to do
Visiting Egypt offers insight into the culture and history of a different world. Through mesmerizing landmarks and curated museums, you can catch a clear glimpse of ancient Egypt. Cairo is the main port of call to discover the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings – both iconic sites of the world of the pharaohs.
The River Nile offers sailing and overnight cruises while the Red Sea has some of the finest offshore reefs in the world. There are loads of things to do here including scuba diving and snorkeling, yachting, deep-sea fishing, and windsurfing. You also have to visit the Abu Simbel Temple, a UNESCO-listed site guaranteed to impress.
Morocco also has an ancient heritage, however, it doesn’t have the temples and monuments left behind. That being said, Marrakech is filled with ornate temples and places of worship. Any trip to the capital is not complete without exploring Djemaa el Fna, the heart of Marrakech offering markets of spices, carpets, and jewelry. At night the square comes alive with dazzling and mysterious storytellers, dancers, magicians.
The town of Ait Benhaddou is a popular filming location offering views over the high Atlas Mountains, which are perfect for hiking and discovering hidden waterfalls in the wet season. The City of Fes offers the greatest experience of Moroccan culture through markets and the medieval labyrinth of buildings. If you are the more adventurous type, you can surf the world-class waves on the Atlantic coast or try sandboarding in the huge Sahara desert dunes.
Morocco vs Egypt: Price
You will be pleasantly surprised at how cheap both Moroccan and Egypt are on the whole. Dollars go a long way in North Africa and haggling is a way of life. Whether you’re in Morocco or Egypt, when you’re in markets picking up souvenirs, spices, or jewelry, always barter. It is seen as rude to not give it a go, even if you aren’t very good!
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Morocco vs Egypt: Safety
It’s important to remember that you’re in Africa when visiting either Egypt or Morocco. Things work differently here than in the Western world and you do have to be more alert. Always keep up to date on travel advice from your country’s embassy.
In past years, Egypt has had significant civil unrest due to political issues. Some regions of Egypt are deemed advisable to travel as a tourist due to terrorism threats and safety concerns. However, generally, tourists are safe and can enjoy a cultural trip to this magnificent country. Morocco is considered safer than Egypt and most travel advisories state exercise normal precautions.
Of course, regardless of which destination you choose, you should always be aware of your surroundings and keep a watchful eye on your belongings. The busy markets and medinas are prime locations for pickpocketing and petty crime.
Morocco or Egypt: The Conclusion
As you can see, it’s no easy feat to decide whether you should visit Egypt or Morocco. Both countries offer a vibrant and rich culture with spectacular sights, landscapes, and experiences. However, for us, the winner has to be Morocco.
Morocco is perfect for independent travelers that want to explore colorful towns and chaotic cities. Lose yourself in a market and sip on mint tea or hike through valleys and mountains – Morocco has so much to offer!
However, if you love archeology or want to explore tropical coral reefs, Egypt should be your chosen destination. Exploring the Egyptian Museum in Cairo or joining a group tour on the Nile could be the educational trip of a lifetime you’ve always dreamt of.