One of the more interesting cultural topics I had to research before my most recent trip was the matter of alcohol in Morocco. Local beers and breweries are always something I seek out when I visit new places but, as a Muslim country, I’d heard alcohol was illegal in Morocco. I’ve had Moroccan beer before though! What gives? Needless to say, I had many questions.
I found out what I could about drinking alcohol in Morocco ahead of time, but what I experienced during my two weeks in Morocco was not what I expected. I’ve since done even more research into all things related to alcohol in Morocco so I can compare my findings with my own experiences.
The result is this post that contains everything you need to know about alcohol in Morocco before you go. The laws, the stigmas, and what you need to know about finding it, buying it, and drinking it. Bessaha!
Alcohol in Morocco: sources of information
Whether or not something I normally do every day when I travel (ok, not every day, calm down) is actually a criminal offense in Morocco is kind of important, no? I would never want to break the law without even realizing it, for doing something that is so commonplace everywhere else I go.
I’ve read so many pages that state what you can and can’t do in Morocco but none of those pages say where they got that information. At this point, their advice just feels like hearsay. And I want a little more reassurance that I’m not going to be thrown into a Moroccan jail than internet rumors.
So, I scoured the depths of the Moroccan penal code myself so I could give you the most accurate advice possible. And lemme tell ya, it’s 252 pages. And in French.
Now, I am not legal counsel nor am I fluent in French, so I’m still not 100% on the laws. I’m still going to share what I found through my own research and what I experienced firsthand, and only reference official sources when it comes to the important stuff.
I’m also going to remind you that I am not responsible for your actions should you find yourself in some hot Moroccan water. And to always err on the side of caution when it comes to the law in foreign countries. Duh.
1. Drinking alcohol in Morocco is not illegal, but…
Despite what you may have heard, no, drinking alcohol in Morocco (in general) is not illegal. But, there are some gray areas of which you should be aware.
Yes, you can drink alcohol in Morocco
The general act of consuming alcohol in Morocco is not illegal. You can buy all kinds of alcohol all over Morocco. They even produce their own beers, wines, and liquors. However, where and how you consume alcohol is what lawmakers and their enforcers care about.
You won’t get arrested for the plain act of drinking alcohol, but you can’t consume it in many of the same ways you are probably used to.
One eye-opening example is the fact that you can’t enter, or even attempt to enter, a sports arena (or any other public space where sports are being played or a competition is taking place) while under the influence of alcohol beverages. (Article 308-10)
Here in the U.S., from the rec leagues to the Major Leagues, it’s as if beer and sports go hand-in-hand, no? But in Morocco, connecting those dots is actually an arrestable offense. [insert obnoxious sports buzzer here.]
2. Drinking alcohol in Morocco in public is forbidden
If there’s one common denominator to all the resources I found on the subject of drinking in Morocco, it’s that drinking alcohol in Morocco in public is forbidden.
I couldn’t find a reference to this in Morocco’s penal code, but I imagine the offense probably falls under a number of other more ambiguous categories. (Things like public disturbances or insulting Islam, for example.) I also could not find any recent reports of tourists being arrested for alcohol-related offenses in Morocco which you know would have made the news.
The U.S. State Department makes no mention of alcohol on their Morocco travel information page where they list some of the things you can get arrested for there (like not paying your hotel bills or bar tabs) and other vital topics they think you should know about.
However, both the UK’s and Canada’s official government offices for foreign travel advice note that “drinking alcohol in the street and anywhere other than a licensed restaurant or bar isn’t allowed and can lead to arrest.”
So, while I couldn’t find any official Moroccan laws to reference here, I would always (what class?) err on the side of caution and avoid drinking alcohol in public in Morocco.
As for my own experience, no, I never saw anyone drinking alcohol in public in Morocco. But, that’s a pretty normal thing in many places anyway. Outside of a handful of places here in the U.S., “open-container laws” are nothing new. So, you should be used to that already.
The law I broke
The only person I saw drinking alcohol in public was me when I took a can of beer into the Sahara. *backs quietly out of the room* Despite the fact that I was trying desperately to not break any laws, this cultural difference completely slipped my mind. What I had done didn’t even occur to me until I was writing this blog post.
Thankfully, I was in the middle of the desert and there were only like 3 other people around and they were all with me. But had a local seen me? And found my drinking offensive? “Locked Up Abroad, new episodes! Know-it-all blogger gets bagged for beer. This Thursday on the NatGeo channel.”
3. Islam forbids alcohol consumption
One major thing you should know about alcohol in Morocco is that Islam forbids alcohol consumption… and Islam rules all in Morocco. Islam is more than just a religion here; it’s a way of life and portions of Morocco’s laws are actually derived from Shari’a (Islamic Law).
This book I’m reading on the subject summarizes it like this:
“All religions emphasize both beliefs and actions, but they all differ in the relative emphasis placed on each. While Christianity emphasizes belief (believe in Jesus and you obtain eternal life), Islam emphasizes actions (submit to God by living life according to the guidance God has given, and on the Day of Judgement you will enter paradise).”Malcolm Clark (Yes, I’m reading Islam for Dummies.)
This way of living and the laws that govern it are known as Shari’a. And where can you find these divinely revealed laws? In the Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam. Ergo, what the Qur’an says, goes. And the Qur’an says alcohol is the work of the devil.
(Yes, even cooking with it. As a result, I did have a delicious alcohol-free bananas foster at the cooking school outside Marrakech though!)
Islam also has a say in how you should dress when visiting Morocco. Check out my complete guide on what to wear and what to pack for Morocco here.
What the Quran says about alcohol
The Quran reveals that alcohol is evil for two main reasons:
- Because it clouds your mind/judgment and may make you do things you shouldn’t (like other things that Islam forbids)
- And because it was created by Satan who uses it to spread evil
Quran 2.219 points out that there is gross sin in alcohol and gambling, and even though they do have some benefits, their sinfulness outweighs their benefits.
Quran 5.90 points out that these things are the work of Satan and that you will prosper if you avoid them because, as Quran 5.91 explains, Satan is going to use alcohol to provoke strife and hatred among you and make you forget about Allah and your need to pray.
There’s actually a lot more to know about the Quran’s interpretation of alcohol, so if you want more depth than that, check out this page.
*Full disclosure: I am not myself Muslim nor do I read Arabic, so I can only rely on others’ translations of the Quran. I have checked these translations against at least five sources though and they’re all consistent.
My experience in Morocco
However, it’s never this black and white where adherence to religion is concerned, right? Obviously, some Muslims do consume alcohol—there are liquor stores and bars a-plenty in Morocco you know. Whether or not a person abstains and to what degree is clearly their prerogative. And I imagine there are all levels of adherence to this.
After all, those liquor stores and bars have local Moroccan’s working in them who must have no issue handling the products. On the flip side was my dinner experience in Chefchaouen. I asked the server for a bottle opener to open the wine I brought, and he mistakenly thought I asked him to open the bottle.
He threw his hands up, shaking his head firmly as he backed away, letting me know he wasn’t going anywhere near that wine. (Instead, he went and got another server, an Italian, to come and open the bottle for me.)
Another time was in Ouirgane when I asked someone for a bottle opener to open my beer. (I really should start packing like I’ve done this before.) Instead, he took the bottle from me to open it himself, but not before looking around the room and squatting down to hide behind the bar stools to make sure no one would see him touch it.
So while it may not be accurate to say “Morocco is a Muslim country therefore alcohol is forbidden,” I think it is enough to understand that Morocco has a majority Muslim population that is guided by the words of the Quran both in lifestyle and law. Ergo, you should always tread lightly where alcohol consumption is concerned.
Alcohol in Morocco during Ramadan
Ramadan is a month-long holy holiday in the Muslim world defined by the act of fasting from dawn until dusk. And they do mean business; Muslims in Morocco can be arrested for eating in public during this time.
Needless to say, restaurants are not open during this time, some of them closing for the entire month. And given alcohol’s connection to sin and evil, there’s a good chance the liquor store or bar you want to visit will also be closed.
On the off chance that you are able to buy alcohol in Morocco during Ramadan, understand that drinking during Ramadan is a huge faux pas, even if you’re not Muslim. Please always do your best to not offend the locals during their holiest month of the year. I beg you.
Ramadan occurs on different dates each year and follows the Islamic calendar and phases of the moon. Before you plan a trip to Morocco, be sure to find out when Ramadan is!
4. Yes, you can drink alcohol in Morocco
Just because Morocco is a Muslim country that largely believes alcohol is the work of the devil doesn’t mean you have to adhere to that same philosophy. In fact, Morocco’s constitution actually guarantees freedom of religion. (Not all Muslim countries are this progressive though.)
As an outside, non-Muslim visitor to Morocco, you are still bound to Moroccan laws but you are not bound to Moroccan social structure and cultural norms. Female tourists do not need to cover their hair, you are not expected to pray five times a day, nor do you have to abstain from alcohol while you’re there.*
That being said, you should still always respect the local’s majority culture and do your best to not offend the location population. Besides any legal gray areas, you should never get visibly drunk in Morocco, drink anywhere in the public eye (this includes street-facing hotel balconies), or try to push alcohol on someone who doesn’t want to go anywhere near that wine!
*However, don’t forget that what we may consider a cultural norm, Morocco might consider criminal activity. For example, same-sex sexual relations are still criminalized in Morocco.
5. Where you can drink alcohol in Morocco
As you’ve seen, just because you can drink alcohol in Morocco doesn’t mean you are free to drink it anywhere and everywhere. As a compromise between allowing people to drink alcohol but keeping a lid on it too, there are only certain places where you can drink.
In Morocco, you are only allowed to drink alcohol in licensed bars, restaurants, and hotels. As a tourist to Morocco, this should not be an issue for you. Every hotel and riad I stayed at in Morocco had a bar and/or sold alcohol.
I had dinner at many restaurants that sold alcohol of all kinds, with comprehensive beer, wine, and cocktail lists to boot. My camp in the Sahara even offered to hold my can of beer in their fridge until I wanted to drink it later.
However, that doesn’t mean all bars, restaurants, and hotels are obligated to or will sell alcohol. I also visited plenty of restaurants that did not offer any alcohol at all. This was the more common experience of the two.
Also check out: All the Morocco riads, hotels, kasbahs, and desert camps I stayed at – the best and the rest.
Inside the medina vs. outside
A general rule is that you will not find alcohol within the limits of the cities’ medinas (the old, historic parts of town) but only outside the medinas in the newer parts of the city. As far as my own experiences go, this is true. Even the rooftop restaurants overlooking Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech were decidedly alcohol-free.
6. Where to buy alcohol in Morocco
Outside the medinas is also where you’ll find the shops that sell alcohol. You can buy alcohol all over Morocco in small alcohol shops (you can call them liquor stores I guess) and grocery stores/supermarkets.
Inside the large grocery stores like Carrefour, alcohol is sold in its own separate room that you might not immediately notice. (For real, I walked all over the store and couldn’t find it.) These rooms have their own doors, their own cashiers, and their own security force that watches you like a hawk. (This is why I don’t have more pictures from inside the liquors stores – I was too scared to take them.)
Beyond supermarkets, you can also find dedicated alcohol stores in shopping malls and just as a regular curbside shop. They’ll probably seem more discreet than what you are used to, so keep your eyes peeled. And for what it’s worth, you’ll also find alcohol in Morocco’s airport Duty Free shops (though that’s only for people leaving Morocco).
Keep in mind you can still only drink the alcohol you buy in liquor stores and supermarkets in a private, licensed setting like your hotel or riad.
7. Alcohol in Morocco is expensive
Given the country’s predilection for not drinking, it only makes sense they would gouge the heck out of those who do. Yes, you can drink alcohol in Morocco, but you’re going to pay a lot for your sin juice. What is considered “a lot” is largely subjective here though.
Living in Boston, paying at least $10 for a beer is my sad reality. (Actually, that’s often a steal.) So, when I had to pay $10 for a bottle of beer in Erfoud, all I could do was pat myself on the back for getting such a great deal. But I know this is not everyone’s reality, so just be prepared.
The issue is that this is in stark contrast to the low, low prices you’ll pay for everything else in Morocco. While Morocco may be expensive for Moroccans, it’s a welcome change for tourists who spend most of their vacation time in more expensive places like France or Italy. Compared to the average costs associated with visiting Morocco, alcohol is outrageously expensive here.
8. Can you bring alcohol into Morocco?
So maybe you’re wondering if, as a tourist, you are allowed to bring alcohol into Morocco with you? Maybe save a little money? And the answer is yes. Yes, you can bring alcohol into Morocco with you, but not that much.
Moroccan customs only allows you to bring in one 1-liter bottle of wine, liquor, or other alcohol of the same amount. (So, one liter of beer I guess they mean?) That’s not a lot so… like… I wouldn’t even bother trying to bring your own alcohol into Morocco. Seriously, you can find whatever you want there.
9. You can get all kinds of alcohol in Morocco
Maybe you want to bring your own alcohol into Morocco because you’re afraid you won’t be able to find your favorite stuff? Well, I don’t know what your favorite stuff is, but there’s a good chance you can find it when you get there.
Despite the fact that alcohol is the devil’s juice, they sure don’t hold back on what they will sell you. Moroccan liquor stores look exactly like all the other ones you’ve visited in Europe and the U.S.
You can get it all – beer, wine, whiskey, tequila, vodka, scotch, brandy, rum, gin, whatever. And all from most of the same brands you already know and love. Check out the photos on this FourSquare post to see what I mean.
10. Moroccan alcohol – Yes, it’s a thing
Even in the land where alcohol = sin they are still making all kinds of their very own. You can easily get your hands on Moroccan beer, Moroccan wine of all kinds, and even Mahia, Morocco’s national spirit.
Even though my first visit to Morocco was in 2023, I’ve been drinking Moroccan beer for over a decade—mostly at Epcot’s Morocco pavilion every year at the International Food & Wine Festival. So I knew it existed.
Morocco produces three main kinds of beer—Flag Spéciale, Stork, & Casablanca—and they are not created equal. Flag Spéciale is a pilsner, Stork is a light lager, and Casablanca (a lager) is the only one worth drinking. It also costs more because of this.
Morocco also produces all kinds of wine as well—white, red, rosé, and even something called gray wine. I guess the fact that Morocco’s climate and geography are perfect for winemaking helps the powers that be overlook the evil of it all.
I tried a number of different Moroccan wines (courtesy of my travel buddies mostly) and I liked all of them! I’m not an in-the-know wine drinker by any means but I do know bad from good. These were delightfully drinkable!
Moroccan gray wine (vin gris)
Morocco also has a kind of wine known as gray wine. Vin gris is basically a lighter version of rosé, both in color and style. My friend Amanda and I bought a bottle because we had never heard of it, but then we started to notice it on all the drink menus at Morocco’s restaurants. Definitely give it a try when you’re there!
Mahia – Morocco’s national spirit
If you want Moroccan-made liquor, look for mahia (which translates to “water of life”). Mahia is a type of brandy distilled from dates or figs that’s been historically produced by and associated with Morocco’s Jewish community. Some people say it reminds them of something like grappa. *shudder*
For more on what Mahia is and how you can drink it, check out this page.
11. You can go wine tasting in Morocco
Now while you won’t be able to visit breweries or local taprooms in Morocco (that’s a boohoo from me), you can go wine tasting! Had I been able to work this into my two weeks in Morocco, I absolutely would have. If you’re looking to hit up some of Morocco’s wineries, check out these available tour options:
- Full-Day Boutique Winery and Wine Tasting Tour from Fez – Private half-day winery tour and more (likely to sell out!)
- Moroccan Wine Tasting from Marrakech – includes a visit to the Atlas Mountains, a traditional Berber lunch, and more
12. Berber whiskey is not alcohol
Don’t be fooled! Berber whiskey is not alcohol, but you are going to be drinking a lot of it during your time in Morocco. When you hear someone say it’s time for Berber whiskey, they mean tea. Berber whiskey is a nickname for Moroccan mint tea. A Moroccan dad-joke, if you will.
Rumor has it people started drinking tea in Morocco because they couldn’t drink alcohol, and thus began referring to it as “whiskey.” (“Berber” being the Arabic term for the indigenous peoples of Morocco.) Whatever the reason for the term, our tour leader certainly giggled every time he said it was time to drink some “Berber whiskey.”
13. How to say Cheers! in Morocco
Even though drinking culture is weak in Morocco at best, you can still say cheers! the local way when you drink alcohol in Morocco. (Or tea. Say it when you drink tea too.)
To say Cheers! in Morocco, you’ll want to say Bessaha! as you clink glasses. Like similar words and phrases in other countries, bessaha means something along the lines of “to your good health.” Because of that, you may hear it on other, non-drinking occasions as well.
14. My experience with alcohol in Morocco
Drinking alcohol did not occupy a lot of my time and energy in Morocco, but I did aim to try at least the local Moroccan beers (and take in as much as I could about Moroccan alcohol culture at the same time). I had a Flag Spéciale, a Stork, and a handful of Casablancas over my two weeks.
I tried a Moroccan gray wine as well as a few different kinds of Moroccan red wines too. But I never got the chance to try Mahia though it probably would not have gone well so let’s all be glad that didn’t happen.
Where I drank alcohol in Morocco
I drank Casablanca beers at a restaurant in Casablanca (Achievement Unlocked!), a restaurant in Marrakech, and at my hotels in Erfoud and Marrakech. And I paid between $6-$10 for them each. The one in Marrakech I spilled all over my hotel bed and had to sleep in sin. (That’s what I get, right?)
Where I bought alcohol in Morocco
I bought a Flag Spéciale and a Stork at a Carrefour liquor cave in Fez, and drank them at my riad in Fez and my hotel in Ouirgane. I also bought a Sahara Gold there to drink in the Sahara, even though that beer is actually made in Spain. (What? I thought it would be cute!)
Amanda and I also bought two small bottles of wine at a Carrefour grocery store in Casablanca and we drank them at our riad in Chefchaouen, with dinner, at the hotel’s restaurant. They provided the corkscrew (and a man with a corkscrew the second night) and actual wine glasses to drink out of.
I visited another roadside beer/wine/liquor shop in Erfoud but didn’t buy anything. Just wanted to check it out while others shopped. A handful of people in my small travel group drank multiple bottles of wine and/or beer at every possible opportunity without any regard for local taboos. (Pro tip: don’t ask your Moroccan server the vintage of the wines on their menu; they have no idea what you’re talking about.)
What I did not experience
No one threw any shade at me for drinking alcohol in Morocco, not once, but I did feel extremely guilty, rude, and on display every single time I drank something in view of a local. That’s my own issue. I definitely worried more about offending the locals than they did about me drinking a beer in their presence.
And I drank Berber whiskey at least 4-5 times a day, every single day, for 15 straight days. And I miss the hell out of it.
More info for your trip to Morocco
- Heading to Morocco? Read reviews and find more great places to stay here.
- Want to take a tour? You can book my exact Morocco tour here.
- Looking for day tours while you’re there? Check out these great options from Viator and Get Your Guide.
- Don’t forget a Morocco guidebook and this must-have customs and culture guide!
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