Morocco's winter is mild and somewhat rainy, but December also brings many sunny days ideal for hiking and exploring the cities.
You'll want to dress in relatively warm clothing if you're visiting Fes, where the high temps average at 64°F (and the low is 43°). In the Atlas Mountains, the daily average is 57°F, and you're likely to see some precipitation. In the north, expect rain, too, and moderate temperatures in the fifties in cities like Tangier. Marrakech is warmer, with temperatures reaching almost 70° on sunny days. After dark in the desert, you'll need to bundle up.
Also, be aware that some hotels offer central heating, and others do not. Depending on your destination, it's worth asking about ahead of time.
Crowds & Costs
There's a spike in tourist numbers around Christmas and New Years, particularly in larger cities, and you'll notice that prices go up, too. During that week, you'll encounter crowds of travelers at major points of interest in cities like Marrakech and Fes—be sure to book your hotel room well ahead of time. But earlier in the month, Morocco is much quieter, and the prices are "off-season," so it's a good time to splurge on a special stay at a riad or resort.
Where to Go
The Sahara Desert is beautiful in winter, and thanks to clear skies and less dust in the air, conditions are optimal for star-gazing and photography. Trekking in the Rif Mountains or Atlas Mountains is also a great idea at this time of year, provided that you have the proper gear and a knowledgeable guide: days are short in winter, and you need to have a solid plan in place for any kind of hike so that you don't get stranded in the mountains.
Early December is particularly ideal for sightseeing in any of Morocco's imperial cities, as you'll have comfortable weather and not a lot of crowds. Later in the month, those cities are also the epicenter of holiday festivities;
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
December is a good time to explore the Sahara desert. Unlike in warmer months, which can be uncomfortably hot for certain activities, December's cool weather is great for camel rides and sitting around a campfire. It's also a good time for hiking or trekking in the mountains, just as long as you realize that you'll have short daylight hours—it's best to attempt longer treks with an experienced guide.
Daylight hours aren't a problem in Morocco's cities, however. December is an ideal time for cultural sightseeing, especially outside the holiday rush.
Tan Tan Moussem — This legendary festival in southeast Morocco brings together more than 30 indigenous tribes for camel racing, traditional dancing, and horse competitions.
Marrakech International Film Festival — Featuring a round-up of the year's best Moroccan films, this film festival in Marrakech involves open-air movie screenings in Jemaa el-Fnaa square. The festival sometimes starts in November. Check the website for specific dates and screening times.
New Year's Eve — Though Morocco also celebrates the new year according to the Berber calendar (the Yennayer, or Berber New Year, happens in January), December 31st is a lively night across the country. Some say it's good luck to spend the evening under the stars in the Sahara Desert, but you'll have just as much fun out on the town in Marrakech or Fes.
Traveling to Morocco in December? Check out these great itineraries.
Morocco Grand Tour from Rabat: Imperial Cities & Coastal Towns — With fewer crowds to contend with, December is ideal for sightseeing. This version of the grand tour starts in the capital city of Rabat. Highlights along the journey include the Rif Mountains, the "blue city" of Chefchaouen, the medieval medina of Fes, the souks of Marrakech, and seaside relaxation in Essaouira.
A Taste of Morocco: Fes, Sahara Desert & Marrakech — Take advantage of the clear, dust-free December skies with a desert-centric itinerary. Proof that you can do a lot in five days, this quick itinerary takes you to Fes, Marrakech, the Sahara Desert, and the High Atlas Mountains, all in less than a week.