10 Essential Tips for Visiting Marrakech

10 Essential Tips for Visiting Marrakech

Having recently spent an incredible four nights in Marrakech, my thoughts have remained in the intriguing and intoxicating Moroccan city, despite having been back at work for a couple of days. It’s a destination that I’d been dying to visit for a number of years, and I found it to be completely unlike anywhere I had ever been before.

Tip: I used (and loved) the HG2 Marrakech guide, and I highly recommend it!

It’s a city that welcomes visitors with an assault to their senses; there is no easing into the noises, the smells, the traffic, the haggling and the heat. There is just nothing subtle about this beautiful African city.

Although millions of visitors arrive in Marrakech each year and it’s a very tourist-friendly destination there are a number of things to be aware of, which will help you to enjoy your experience a little more. Here are my ten essential tips for visiting Marrakech:

1. Take cash with you

ATMs are a little difficult to locate within Marrakech’s ancient medina, and the ones that can be found (usually around Jemaa el-Fna, the main square) often don’t accept foreign cards.

Many restaurants accept credit cards, but in the souks it’s imperative to pay with cash, mostly in the Moroccan currency (Dirham), but occasionally Euros are accepted.

There’s a Bureau de Change in Marrakech’s Menara airport arrival hall so come armed with cash and change it for Dirham as soon as you land in the country.

2. Dress appropriately

Morocco is a devoutly Muslim country, and being in the medina feels like stepping back into a long-forgotten time. From the call to prayer that echoes a loud chorus from towers throughout the ancient walled city five times a day, to the donkeys that plod dutifully through the dusty souk alleys carrying their master’s wares, every aspect of life seems picturesquely traditional.

Due to the strictly observed religion in this section of the city, it’s advisable to wear clothes that are more conservative: for guys that means t-shirts rather than tank tops, and for women it’s respectful to cover shoulders, and wear skirts or shorts that are at least knee length.

It’s not that there would be consequences if you wear more revealing clothing (and let’s face it, in the Moroccan heat that’s tempting), but it’s always best to be sensitive to the culture you’re in.

You might like to pack:

3. Choose chilled accommodation

Tips for Visiting Marrekech: Zaouia 44 Riad

I had a few people recommend that I stay no more than two days in Marrakech, because it’s ‘too hectic’. I believe that these people stayed in accommodation that didn’t offer respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The streets are crazier than anywhere I’ve ever been, and just a few hours of walking around the streets and the souks is enough to exhaust even the most energetic tourist.

Choose your accommodation wisely, and ensure it’s a calm, quiet and peaceful place to escape to at the end of a manic day.

I recommend Zaouia 44.

4. Don’t bother following the signs

Tips for Visiting Marrakech: Souks

Even someone with the keenest sense of direction is guaranteed to get lost in the twisting, turning, unmarked streets of Marrakech. In the area around the Jemaa el-Fna, brightly coloured signs helpfully point the way to the main square…except…the signs are wrong!

Instead of leading wanderers to the central point they are seeking, the markers lead in circles even further into the winding alleys of the souks. If you don’t fancy getting lost, be shown around by a guide in this Marrakech Discovery Tour.

But if you like the sound of a DIY exploration and you do get lost, it’s best to just ask for someone to point the way for you. Just make sure to keep in mind tip number five:

5. Don’t accept directions from strangers

Chances are, if you are walking around Marrakech, even if you don’t look lost someone will stop you and suggest that you follow them. Their destination could be an amazing Saharan Berber market, or a ‘festival of colour’ (the former leading you to the guide’s friend’s store, and the latter taking you to the pungent smelling leather tanneries).

Everyone who’s been to Marrakech has a similar story of their own, each with one thing in common: an end result of confusion, obligation to pay someone for something you didn’t want, and time spent away from all the other amazing things to see and do in Marrakech.

If you need directions, ask a policeman or someone working in a shop to point the way…but don’t let them lead you there!

You might also like: Flavours of Morocco – Cooking Class in Marrakech

6. Be alert

Tips for Visiting Marrakech: Traffic

Not only are there cars to watch out for on the streets of Marrakech, but there are also bicycles, motorcycles, donkeys, horses, donkeys with trailers, horses with carriages, stray cats and plenty of other pedestrians to contend with.

There are no footpaths, no lanes and very few traffic lights. Chaos is the only way this scene can be described; absolute chaos, so keep your wits about you as you’re walking around the streets.

7. Catch cabs

If you’re not keen on walking on the hectic streets in the hot sun, grab a cab to your destination. The area inside the medina is quite small, so getting from the southernmost point to the northernmost shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Although travellers on a tight budget might choose to walk or take public transport, the cabs are very affordable (keep in mind that I’m comparing this to London taxi prices!), and a fare within the medina shouldn’t cost more than around 40 Dirhams, which is less than £3.50.

Being a passenger of a taxi is an experience in itself, as the crazy traffic can be observed from a whole other perspective!

8. Haggle

If you are catching taxis in Marrakech, make sure you haggle to get a reasonable price, and agree on the fare before you get in. If a taxi driver sees you are a tourist, they will try to charge you more than double what the fare really should be.

Aim to spend 30-40 Dirhams to get anywhere within the medina; if the driver won’t budge on price just tell them you’ll find another cab and they will usually relent.

The same goes for goods in the souks; bargaining is a part of the Moroccan culture, so don’t be shy about driving the price down, but do it with a smile and a sense of good fun, because that’s what it is!

9. Spend before you leave

Tips for Visiting Marrakech: Souks

The Dirham is a closed currency, which means you can change your money for Dirhams when you arrive, but you won’t be able to change it back on your way out.

Try to plan ahead by not taking too much cash out (but do keep in mind tip number one; you may struggle to locate an ATM).

Of course, if you do find yourself with a little extra money on your last day, head to the souks where the stall owners will gladly take it off your hands in exchange for leather goods, spices, rugs, tagines or hundreds of other beautiful and exotic items.

10. Get to the airport two hours before your flight – at least!

Despite the hectic streets, people in Marrakech are extremely relaxed, and the pace off the roads is always unhurried.

The airport is an especially good example of this, as each step of the process seems to take longer than the last: check-in, despite a relatively small line, takes longer than a hammam treatment, the gender-separated security line inches forward at a glacial pace, as does the immigration queue.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is a small airport; allow plenty of time to get through to your departure gate.

Have you been to Marrakech? What other tips would you add? If you’re visiting Marrakech soon, what else would you like to know before you go?

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Tips For Visiting Marrakech

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  • m says:

    Great article! I´m going to spend all of December in Marrakech and i´ve seen that the temperature is a bit chilly. How much protection from the cold should I need?

    • Elle Croft says:

      Hi Maria,
      How exciting! It looks like the temperature doesn’t get too cold (around 14 on average by the looks of it), but it depends what you’re used to. What I tend to do when I’m not sure how cold I’ll be is to pack a few light jackets and jumpers, as well as a few scarves. This way, I can add or remove layers as needed, without having to pack thick, bulky items.
      It’s worth noting that if you’ll be in the desert at all, it does get much colder at night, so be sure to plan ahead for that.
      I hope that helps. Have a wonderful trip!

  • Rich says:

    Hi Elle
    Your tips are pretty much spot on.
    That being said, while in Marrakesh I had two interesting experiences Al Qaeda Taxi Drivers of Marrakesh (why they’re the opposite in reality) + The Juice Nazi of Marrakesh (think the Seinfeld Soup Nazi) …. Thanks again for your posts, I’m sure the readers love the tips as it saves them TIME :)

  • Hiya, great post. I’m planning on going Marrakech on Feb 2nd for 4 nights and wanted to know what a good amount of spending money is to take? I don’t know how expensive or cheap things are there but your taxi example makes it seem as if it’s very cheap compared to the pound. As I said I’m going 3 days 4 nights so what would you recommend? We’re not luxurious as you are. Imagine a early 20’s individual who usually spends about £300 on small holidays.

    • Elle Croft says:

      Hi Chanele,
      Thanks for your comment – I’m excited for you to be visiting Marrakech soon; it really is an incredible city! One of the best things about it is that it can really be as cheap as you like. For example, eating at the food stalls in the Jemaa el-Fna is exceptionally cheap. I think we paid around £5 for the two of us for dinner and Cokes (it was almost 3 years ago, so please don’t take these as exact figures). As I mentioned, getting around really depends on your haggling abilities (mine aren’t great, so I paid around £3-5 per taxi ride). £300 would more than cover you for accommodation, food, a hammam, taxis and attractions, as well as some nice souvenirs – and if you usually don’t spend a lot, you’ll probably have some change after that. You might find this tool helpful for average costs, too: http://www.budgetyourtrip.com/morocco
      Happy travels!

  • And especially for men:

    11. Visit a barber and exercise this option for a unique shave!

  • Brian says:

    Hi, I’m a traveler who blogs about said travel and I’ll be making my first trip to Morocco in February of next year, via a stint in Spain and other parts (the opportunity is too good to pass up). I’m curious to know if a pair of flip flops would be appropriate for that time of year? Cheers.

    • Elle Croft says:

      Hi Brian,
      The average temperature in Marrakech in February is around 15 C – for me, that would be a little too cool for flip flops. Also, if you travel like me you’ll be doing a lot of walking around the souks so something a bit more supportive might be a better choice. Enjoy your trip!

  • Martin says:

    Nice tips ahead of my trip to Morocco next week, Elle. Cheers.

  • meer says:

    hiya,i would lie to come to agadir if any now about it ??
    is it same like Marrakesh?i would like to visit on first week of oct so please let me know will i be ok i m 32 years old male just want to go and see how its look like ad would like to visit agadir beach please suggest whrer else should i go ??what about casablanca ?

    • Elle Croft says:

      Hi Meer, I’m afraid I haven’t been to Agadir or Casablanca so I am not the best person to answer your questions – perhaps some of my readers can help though! Is anyone able to answer Meer’s questions? Thanks :-)

    • Rashid says:

      Casablanca is the biggest city in morocco ,worthseeing as well especially the hassan second mosque rix barr nd morocco mall nd the arab league aquarre

  • Having been to Marrakech twice in the last two years, I fully agree with most of the points you made. I know many people who found the place pretty intimidating at first – I’m one of them – but returning to Marrakech a year later felt like being home.

    I did not have any problems with ATMs – we stayed in Riad Omar, which is on Rue Bab Agnaou – a very central street leading to Djema el Fna. There are a few ATMs and at least one exchange bureau in this street, and though it can get quite busy in the evening, we had a peaceful stay at the riad.

    Do not get too close to the attractions in Djema el Fnaa unless you are willing to leave a tip. And if you want to take photos, be a bit discreet.

    Personally, my biggest worry/fear while staying in Marrakech was crossing the road. If you’re a small group it’s easier to step into the road together.

    If you’re curious to know what navigating the souks and night market is like, I’ve written a few firsthand accounts on my blog, http://www.grumpycamel.com

    • Elle Croft says:

      Sounds like you had a great time – I’m so glad you found it more familiar on a second visit…I’d love to return and see if it’s any less overwhelming.
      Great tip about not getting too close in Djema el Fnaa – that was pretty easy for me as I’m terrified of snakes, so I practically walked on the outside edge of the square!

  • Mihai says:

    Very good article, Elle! I followed all the tips that you wrote about, except for the chilled accommodation. Unfortunately, I booked a hotel very close to Jamaa el Fna and it was very noisy 24h a day, so I guess it’s a good idea not to stay near this place.Thanks for your recommandations!

  • Jason says:

    Great tips! I am traveling to Morocco for 13 days, myself, wife and 10yr old daughter. We have a 13 day trip planned through Blue Men of Morocco; starting and ending in Casablanca. We will be visiting Marrakech, Essaouira, Ouarrzazate, Merzouga, Overnight in Sahara, Fes, & Casablanca. All of our accommodations are already paid for, breakfast is included in all hotels, 2 dinners. So, for 13 days what is an adequate amount to plan for 3 people? During the day we don’t eat lavish, but for dinner we typically like to find a nicer place to enjoy. Also, will need to pay for any entrance fees to sites? What is proper tip for a guide per day in Marrakech & Fes? We will have the same driver, private tour for the 13 days, is $25 per day a good rate?? Any info that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


    • Elle Croft says:

      Hi Jason,
      Thanks for your comment – I’m glad you found this post useful. I recommend that you take a look at http://www.budgetyourtrip.com/morocco, which gives you average prices for common goods and services (you can choose which style of travel you’ll be doing, too). Ignore the scams/robberies/mishaps one – that looks like scaremongering to me! But the rest looks pretty accurate.
      Have a wonderful trip!

  • We used a great tour company during our time here, they seriously helped so much with navigating all of the nuances of Morocco! I loved our time there, but it was very different than anywhere I had ever been, in a good way.

    The company is http://www.letstravelmoroccotours.com
    Let’s Travel Morocco Tours

  • Phoebe says:

    Thanks so much for the tips! I’m heading there next week for 4 days. Did you visit any cool waterfalls or fun outdoor experiences?

  • Francine says:

    Hello Ella,
    I just found this post, and wish to thank you for it! Three of us just booked this trip for business, but we are looking forward to also enjoying the experience of the culture while we are there. First time for all of us. Quite exciting! Other than those shoes, what are the best things to buy? Thank you.

    • Elle Croft says:

      Hi Francine,
      Thanks for your kind comment. You’ll have a wonderful time, it’s such a great city. It really depends what you’re looking for but Marrakech is known for leather goods and rugs. There are also some fabulous tea sets in the souks!

  • kevin hall says:

    Brilliant interesting reading, goingto marrakesh 26/2/15 for my 60th !!……..kevin

  • Daniella says:

    Really useful and well written, thank you. We’re off in a couple of days and will certainly keep all this in mind!

  • Anja says:

    Thanks for the tips! We are going to Marrakesh this April, cannot wait! Are there any restaurants/places to eat that is a “must” when in Marrakesh?

    We ordered our B&B through Airbnb.com, (which I really recommend!) Did not even check for hotels :)

  • nadia says:

    Great post!!
    Any more tips on guided tours?

    • Elle Croft says:

      Thanks Nadia! I didn’t do many myself, but I trust Viator for tours and experiences, and if you’re staying at a hotel or riad the staff may be able to help out with recommending tours to your taste and budget.

  • Bob says:


    Just a quick note to say great post… We love the city and are back off there very soon for weeks..

    In the past we have managed to change currency back on leaving. We have spent 2 x 3 week stints in our Motorhome touring Morocco and with the original money changing paperwork we returned to the same back and they converted it back OK.

    It is a stunning country

    • Elle Croft says:

      Thanks so much Bob – your comment is really appreciated. I am very envious that you’re going back, it’s such an incredible place! I think the trick is definitely to have your original paperwork to change money back. We didn’t have ours so it was totally impossible. Still…I hope to be back soon :-)

  • Katrina Daly says:

    We just had 4 wonderful days in Marrakech. We had no trouble finding ATM’s. Also western travellers with infants and toddlers everywhere. No one seemed stressed. It takes a couple of days to get wise to the tactics of the locals but that’s part of the experience. Also I paid 50 MAD for a taxi to Jardim Majorelle. Happily I might add!

  • chaz says:

    Sounds like you were ripped off and some reader swere well ripped off – £3.50 for a cab ??? £600 -£700 for a weeks worth drink and food and taxis ? Thats just ridiculously excessive .You should pay way way way less .Come on guys be smart and dont be lazy ,…..research what locals pay .Sure add a bit more but not 300-400-500% !

    • Elle Croft says:

      Thanks for your comment Chaz. It’s true that you could spend a LOT less than what we did, but we chose to pay for more luxurious experiences such as eating at fancier restaurants and having a more indulgent hammam. I certainly wouldn’t say that you need £600-700 for a week, but to have similar experiences to the ones I described in my blog posts about my time there, that was the budget we were working with. Everyone’s travel style is different, and although I was happy with my experience & budget, others might feel that it’s excessive. It’s all about making it work for your own budget and travel style :-)

  • Zimkhitha Peter says:


    Thank you so much, this was very useful , you’ve saved me a lot of trouble and helped me know how to prepare

  • Lyn & Gary says:

    Hi, Fab idea Ellie & great information :o)
    Does anyone know what sort of temperatures we can expect in Marrakech at the beginning of November please? Do you think it’s worth buying a map of the area? We are only staying for 5 nights and like to explore & don’t want to miss anything & get the most out of our time. Great info everyone :o) Thanks L & G xx

  • LR says:

    Wonderful resource, thank you! Can you suggest (or link me to another resource about) what to pack & what to wear? As a Florida native I will be shopping for some respectable garb as I’d like to be entirely covered during a 6 day trip to Marrakesh in May. What were you most comfortable in? Any go-to shopping sites? thanks!! :)

  • Jodie Young says:

    This has made me want to visit Marrakech now, thanks for inspiring me through your tips :)

  • Jen says:

    I know this is an older post but found it so helpful as I’m preparing for a trip to marrakech in a few weeks. Thank you!! We’ll be staying a few days outside of the medina and a few days in the medina. Can’t wait!

  • Sonia says:

    The Medina in Marrakech seemed to have stopped in time….Here is our first guest post by Preetam Kumar…a first hand account of wandering the souqs in Marrakech!

  • thomas says:

    This is
    really pretty cool place I like it because it has everything I want more on
    this blog soon.

    book a villa marrakech

  • Serena says:

    What about a tour guide in the Medina? I am travelling at the end of the month with husband and 5 and 10 years old but I am slightly worried about my little one. I thought it will be safer and less stressful with a guide. Any thoughts on that?

  • Richard Sharp says:

    Hi, we are out there in a week. Is it best to take euros or sterling ? Thanks

  • Pete Carr says:

    We spent £600 in a 7 day stay as a couple, purely on food / drink and general getting out and about in Marrakesh.
    A good tip, is to take a horse and carriage tour 1 hr should cost around 150-200 dh (although they will initially ask for double that) Prices are fairly comparable to England, except alcohol which is very expensive.

  • Sarah says:

    Great article, with handy advice. Any comments on 2 young women travellers together? We are aware of dressing appropriately, thanks to your article!

  • Peter Russo says:

    Marrakech (Marrakesh) is filled with “must see” attractions. Just strolling around the old-walled city (medina) is enough to fill your senses with smells, sights and sounds that will stay with you long after you have left. If you plan to travel here, I recommend to visit a list of the Cheapest Hotels in Marrakech to suit your budget and needs.

  • Safiya Pray says:

    Brilliant. Just would like to ask as I’m planning to book 2 weeks away there would this be a good idea to go for this amount of time (or is it too long) and also, is it alright with children as I plan to bring my, ten year old little brother and my 4 year old son. In total will be my Mother, Husband, Son, Brother and myself. Thank you. :)

    • Elle Croft says:

      Hi Safiya,
      Thanks for your comment! It really depends on the kind of holiday you’re after – have you considered spending some time in other parts of Morocco during your two weeks (such as the Atlas Mountains or Essaouira)? 2 weeks in Marrakech itself would be quite a long time. As for kids, I saw some families when I was there and I’m sure it would be fine, as long as you were with them at all times (which I’m sure you would be!). A family in our riad had a toddler with them and they loved their holiday. I hope this helps :-)

    • Pete Carr says:

      For US a week was a little too long, If you are planning a hotel in the new area then the amount of time and the youngsters will probably be OK, But I wouldn’t take children of any age to the old town, they will get bored and you will panic about them all the time (adults need their whit’s about them, let alone looking after kids)

  • Gemma Bishop says:

    I’m going for 7 days in April and wondered if you could suggest how much dirhams I should exchange at the airport. It’ll be just the 2 of us staying in a hotel in the centre of Marrakech and want to make the most of the city and surrounding areas but I have no idea of the value for money there and I don’t want to be short on cash. Nearing the end of the week.

    • Elle Croft says:

      Hi Gemma,
      It really, really depends on the way you like to travel and how much you usually spend abroad, but I’d start by taking out a third or half of your spending budget, and then if you go through that you can always get more (but make sure you don’t leave it until you’re desperate for cash or you might have trouble finding an ATM). It’s best not to have too much cash on you at any one time (anywhere you travel!) so I wouldn’t take out a whole week’s worth at once. Also, some places do take credit cards so you don’t have to rely on cash 100% of the time. I hope that answers your question.

  • Longtail says:

    While there are a number of forums that discuss tipping in a riad, all seem to assume that the tips given to the riad manager or placed in a tip box will be shared. From my experience they are NOT shared. It is best to tip your housekeeper, cook and riad manager separately!

  • alex says:

    Great tips. I ll be going at the end on January and I did now know u can’t check the Dirham back when you leave

    • ieva says:

      You CAN take it home with you no problems, but the point is, that you can not change it back to your own currency when you leave Morroco. Its closed currency, because no other banks all over the world has it.
      Its handy if you planing to go back to Marrakech

  • Rebecca Puffin says:

    VERY useful! Thank you for the insight and excellent advice. We’ll take all points on board for our trip over Christmas.

  • Dick Weitz says:

    Great tips – I’ll be in Marrakech later this year. Looking forward to it!

  • SweetPea says:

    Thank you so much, this is an enjoyable and helpful read.

  • christine says:

    elle – love the blog! thanks so much for this post on marrakech – extremely helpful and has taken the stress out of preparing for an upcoming trip. if you ever need tips on new york city or las vegas, i’d be more than happy to return the favor!

  • whatalicedidnext says:

    Great tips! I’ll definitely be pinning this for when I go to Morocco in the summer! I wrote a couple of similar posts on my blog about Cairo too :)


  • elan says:

    Tip #11. Tip your hotel staff. If you are staying in a Riad, leave gratuities for the entire staff (maids, waiters, kitchen staff, porters for your bags, etc) discreetly in an envelope at checkout. This avoids having to have local coins (hard to come by in Morocco) on you to tip waiters or staff for every bit of service round-the-clock.
    I typically also leave a gratuity (50 dirham or so) for the maids who make up your room. For the price of a ten-minute taxi drive, this gratuity pays for the one or two maids who make up your beds, straighten the rooms and scrub your bathroom daily. It’s not only considerate, it’s the right thing to do. In Marrakech, or anywhere, in a Riad or any hotel.

  • Amy Landolt Eber says:

    We just returned from a culinary adventure in Marrakech and Fez, both for fun and blog fodder. Could not agree more with your ten tips! Terrific advice. http://www.crawfishandcaramel.com

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