Updated: Feb 3, 2020
Since I don't have a car, I love any type of fast and cheap transportation, and so I absolutely love taking taxis in Morocco, especially grand taxis.
In Morocco there are two types of taxis:
small taxis (aka petit taxis aka taxi sghrir) which are metered and transport up to 3 people within city limits.
grand taxis (aka big taxis aka taxi kbir) which have a fixed destination and price similar to buses and transport up to 6 people within and between cities. They can also be hired for special trips at price negotiated with the driver.
Although sometimes they are physically the same size, you can tell the difference between small and big taxis based on color (the color of each depends on which city you're in) and based on how many people they actually carry (not to be confused with the number of people that model of vehicle "could" or "should" carry).
I highly recommend both of these options for different things. Read on to learn more about how to hail taxis in Morocco, considerations for using taxi apps like Uber/Careem in Morocco, and for a list of some of the grand taxi routes in Tangier.
Petit taxis are normally Dacia Logans painted bright colors; each Moroccan city has its own color of petit taxi. In Tangier, they're a lovely blue, almost turquoise, in Tetouan they're yellow, and in Casablanca, they're red.
Choose to take a petit taxi if you want the quickest and most direct route to your destination and if your party is 3 people or less (or you don't mind splitting up).
How to catch a petit taxi
Small taxis can take up to 3 passengers with up to 3 different destinations, so if there are less than 3 of you in your group, or you don't mind splitting up, you can hail a taxi that already has 1-2 people in it and the driver will let you in if he's going your way.
To hail a taxi, hold out your arm. If you're not alone, hold out the 2-3 fingers depending on how many of you will be riding together.
The fare is metered based on distance. If you're worried you may be overcharged (tourist tax), make sure the driver starts a new trip on the meter when you get in (meters can keep track of multiple trips at the same time), and/or remember what number the meter was on when you got in. The minimum price for a small taxi ride in Tangier is 5dh and the average trip is 7-10dh for short trips, 10-20dh for medium trips, and 30dh for across town trips (which some driver might refuse because they don't want to go that far).
Make sure you know what your destination is called - you can ask a friend / hotel staff the best thing to tell the taxi driver. For some notes on common places in Tangier and their local names, check out the post Place du 9 Avril and other place names we don't actually use in Tangier.
Pay on your way out. Pay your driver at the end of the trip. As with most things in Morocco, it's good to have change. Taxi drivers are known to carry change, especially at the middle and end of their trip, but I suggest not trying to break a bill larger than a 20 or a 50. (A good rule of thumb is not to offer a bill that's worth more than 5x your fare. If you are paying 5 dirham, don't offer a 50 unless it's all you have.)
The hardest time to catch small taxis is during shift changeover, roughly 1:30-2:30pm. If you're trying to catch a taxi around lunchtime, budget in some extra time. This is when the taxi shift changes, so the drivers are hurrying to go home, or to give their car to their partner at a fixed location. Taxis will only give you a ride during this time if your destination is on the way to where they're going, or if they think it's feasible to squeeze it in.
Does Uber work in Morocco?
Yes, Uber works in Morocco, depending on what city you're in. Some large cities have an Uber presence (like Casablanca, as of the last time I tried it c. 2017), and other large cities (Tangier) have a similar app called Careem (which is now owned by Uber, but the coverage areas are still different).
These apps are still not widely used; they are little bit more expensive than catching a small taxi yourself, and not always faster. However they are helpful if it's late at night, early in the morning, and/or you're in a neighborhood where there's not usually a lot of taxis.
**When you use taxi apps in Morocco, it's normal for the driver to call you and confirm your location and that you will wait for them. There's a greater tendency for riders to bail on drivers and drivers to take their time and/or bail on riders. (Normal cancellation fees apply). I don't recommend using taxi apps outside of the city limits (in Tangier think: the forest or the beach) unless you've already confirmed that the app works out there.**
Big taxis are the bomb!
Grand taxis, despite the name, are not necessarily bigger than petit taxis. They are typically Dacia Logans, or if you're fortunate Dacia Dokkers, painted a different color than the small taxis. In Tangier they're typically off-white (see above), although occasionally they're forest green depending on the destination (I've also seen the lightest shade of sky blue, just off-white, but I'm not sure where these go).
Grand taxis are like buses in that they run a set route for a low price and you can get on and get off anywhere along that route. Big taxis are best if your destination is across town and a small taxi would be too expensive, or if you're going somewhere out of town but in the same region.
Big taxis within the city can be just as cheap or cheaper than the bus, and between cities they tend to be slightly more expensive than the bus, although still very affordable. The advantage of the taxi kbir is that it's faster than the bus - it doesn't stop as much along the way and they tend to come and go more frequently so you can get to your destination faster.
You can also commandeer a grand taxi and ask it to take you to a special destination, but know that this is a special price that will typically have to be haggled unless it is "known". (In Tangier, for example, any taxi big or small will charge you 100dh to take you to the airport; this is the normal price. Occasionally if you're lucky you can get a small taxi that will charge you a metered price, which will be around 30dh depending on where you are coming from in the city. I'll talk more about the airport, and transport to and from the airport, in another post).
How to catch a grand taxi
Go to the taxi queue. If you're not sure exactly where the taxi queue is, ask! People are helpful. If you're at somewhere like the bus station where there's a lot of different grand taxi queues, just ask someone nearby where the "taxi kbir" to your destination is and they'll direct you to the right place.
Wait for the taxi to fill up or (optional) pay for extra places. Say hi to the driver and confirm the destination; then wait inside or beside the taxi. If you want more room, or if you want to ASAP, you can pay for extra places in the taxi. Let the driver know so that he doesn't fill up completely. The taxi won't leave until all 6 places are paid for (in the smaller models, this means two people in the passenger seat and four in the backseat, so as a woman, I sometimes pay for the extra seat so I won't have to be squished in next to a guy).
Pay either when the ride starts or before you get off. Pay for yourself and any empty places you purchased. It's a set price per place, typically 3-5 dirham for destinations within the city and 10 dirham for destinations on the outskirts of the city. See routes and prices below.
Grand taxi routes: Tangier
In Tangier, grand taxis are a great and affordable way to get to some of the major tourist destinations.
Hercules Caves (mghara): Between Rue Mexique and Ain Ktaiwit, you can also find taxis here to Achakar Beach (both are 10 MAD / place). During high season (July-August) it's easy to find a taxi directly to the beach, although during low season you will need to take a taxi from this location to the supermarket Aswak Assalam (5dh), and then right behind the bus stop where the taxi will let you off, there's a parking lot with more big taxis which will take you along the coast (5dh).
Chefchaouen: Beside the Tangier bus station there are taxi queues for various regional cities including Chefchaouen, Tetouan and Asilah— (note the bus station changed location November 1, 2019 and I believe these taxis changed their route as well to start from the new bus station.) The fare for these is around 35 MAD per seat.
You can also take a taxi to Dalia Beach - ask for the taxis going to Castillejo (the closest Moroccan city to Ceuta) and either get in with people going to Castillejo (you'll have to pay around 35 MAD) or wait for enough passengers with Dalia as their destination to fill a taxi and you can pay less. Alternatively, you can take a grand taxi to Ksar Sghrir (10 MAD) and then ask a taxi there to take you to Dalia beach (10-20MAD).
**When you take a taxi to a remote location, remember that your return is dependent on your ability to find a taxi back. When you're outside the city, it's generally recommended that you start trying to find a taxi back 1-2 hours before sunset. In high volume destinations like Hercules Caves and Rmilate there is generally a taxi queue waiting nearby, but at the beaches you may have to stand on the side of the road for anywhere from 5 to 55 minutes until a taxi or a bus going your way passes. To avoid this, for an extra fee you can arrange beforehand for a taxi to come pick you up at a set time.**
NB Chefchaouen: The roads to Tetouan and especially to Chefchaouen are very windy with lots of ups and downs. If you tend get motion-sickness, I recommend you bring a nausea remedy with you and try to sit next to an open window.
Security concerns for taking taxis in Morocco - taxis are safe. I would rate traveling by large and small taxis as "secure." Taxi licensing is very controlled by the Moroccan government and all licensed taxis have their taxi number printed visibly on them (check the taxi light on top, or the the back window). You can keep track of the taxi number and, if an incident occurs, report it to the authorities. If you're traveling at night and want to be on the safe side, you can text this number to a friend.
As a woman, I have rarely been hit on by taxi drivers in Morocco. (In Tunis it was more common. This is one of the reasons I've grown fond of the Moroccan tendency to have multiple fares per taxi - social pressure to behave respectably.) You have no obligation to carry on a conversation with the taxi driver (sometimes I find it useful to pretend I don't speak or understand whatever language he's using, even if I spoke it fluently a moment earlier). If a driver is behaving inappropriately, you have every right to immediately leave the taxi without paying. You can find another one.
Moroccan infrastructure is continually improving and evolving especially in high-traffic tourist areas, so check the time-stamp of this article and keep in mind that things may be different than described in this post (e.g. the Tangier bus station changed locations with little or no warning November 1, 2019. Fortunately, taxi drivers are the most up to date and complete source of locations and infrastructure projects, past and present).
I did not receive any incentives to write this post or mention any companies or locations.
Want more? Here are some related posts:
Know where you want to go?: Common destinations in Tangier and their local names