Is a good idea to travel to Morocco, Algeria and/or Tunisia during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan? What should you expect during your travels during this time? What are some of the pros/cons of traveling during Ramadan?
Non-Muslim tourists traveling during Ramadan will find it to be an immersive cultural learning experience. The activities of daily living will change dramatically during this month, which will open up your eyes to seeing a whole new side of North Africa. The Ramadan period is imbued with many cultural practices that you won’t be able to experience during any other time of the year. The following are some practical information and helpful travel tips that will make your travel to North Africa during Ramadan more enjoyable!
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a month-long festival which falls in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This is considered to be the most holy month of the year. Muslims from around the world will fast from sunrise to sunset during this time. This is a special time of cleansing for Muslims through reflecting upon their last year’s actions, seeking forgiveness for transgressions, devoting time for prayers and recitation of the Quran, and giving alms (charity) to the poor.
What Should I Expect While Traveling During Ramadan?
- Most attractions and places of interest will remain open.
- The pace of life will be much slower between sunrise and sunset since most Muslims will be either staying at home or out visiting friends and family.
- Expect the city to come to life in the evenings. Muslims will break their fast with a large feast called the f’tour. After f’tour has been eaten, you will find the streets to be filled with life and vibrancy.
- Many shops, including post offices and banks, will open later than usual as the owners and employees try to recover from their late night of feasting and family visits.
- Most restaurants will be closed during the daytime, but some restaurants catering to foreigners will be open.
- Expect road traffic before sunset as everyone is trying to get home quickly to break the fast. Expect some delays as it may take longer than usual to get to your destination.
Some Helpful Advice While Traveling During Ramadan
- Although non-Muslims are not expected to participate in Ramadan, but it is important to know the local customs and remember to respect them. This includes avoiding eating, drinking, smoking and chewing gum in public places. It is okay to do these things in private.
- Consider planning ahead by stocking up on some food, snacks and drinks in your hotel room. A packed lunch to go during your travels is also a good idea as long as it is eaten in private.
- Consider booking your accommodations, transportation and tours ahead of time. Businesses are expected to operate limited hours with fewer staff.
- If you are dining at a restaurant during the daytime, it is a good gesture to tip generously. It must not be easy for them to cook and serve you such delicious food while fasting.
- Travelers to North Africa should always dress modestly, but especially so during the holy month of Ramadan. Avoid wearing shorts and mini skirts. Avoid uncovering arms, legs, and shoulders.
- You may greet the locals by saying “Ramadan Mabrouk” to wish them a “Happy Ramadan“
Experiencing Ramadan in North Africa can be a very enriching cultural experience. Muslims are typically very hospitable and willing to share food with you during their fast. If you are invited to join a family to participate in f’tour (breaking of fast) or the Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan celebration), take advantage of this amazing opportunity to become immersed into the culture. Delicious food with great company are to be expected!
If you have any questions about traveling during Ramadan, please do not hesitate to contact our travel experts.