Marrakech (Arabic: مراكش, Berber: ⴰⵎⵓⵔⴰⴽⵓⵛ), also spelt Marrakesh, is one of the imperial cities of Morocco.
The name Marrakech originates from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur (n) wakush, which means "Land of God". It is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat, and lies near the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and a few hours away from the foot of the Sahara Desert. Its location and contrasting landscape has made it an enviable destination in Morocco.
The city is divided into two parts: the Medina, the historical city, and the new European modern district called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle. The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character; it also contains the large square Djemaa El-Fna, where many hotels are located and tourists, locals and vendors congregate. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.
Marrakech is the main tourist destination in Morocco and thus it is also a place where many Moroccans try to become rich fast by ripping off tourists. This mentality is so widespread that even Moroccans are now ripped off whenever possible so that they call the city "Marrakech, Arnakech" - which rhymes in Arabic and translates to "Marrakech, Mafia". See the Scam section for more information.
For further information, you may also visit the 1 Marrakech Tourist Information (at a small square at the intersection of Avenue Mohammed V and Rue de Yugoslavie).
- 1 Marrakech-Menara Airport (RAK IATA), ☏ +212 4444 7910. The airport has two terminals housed in one complex. Both terminals have money exchange offices, and there is an ATM in the arrivals hall of Terminal 2. On ATMs, check for the Maestro, Cirrus or Plus logos to be sure that the machine accepts foreign credit cards. Some ATMs work only in French. If your card is taken at the ATM, tell airport security and they can help you get it back. There are no potable water dispensers after the security check and the small shops only see overpriced 0.5L water bottles. However the tap water from the WC tastes slightly of chlorine and is drinkable for tourists.
For some airlines (e.g. Ryanair in 2018) can only use the smartphone or mobile app for check-in but have to arrive at the airport with a print-out of your ticket. You also need to queue at the check-in counter before entering the security check (even if you do not have drop-off luggage), to get your tickets stamped by the airline, so better arrive earlier than usual.
Marrakech has an international airport with direct scheduled flights from many major European centres, including flights operated by a number of low cost carriers. Connections via Casablanca (45-min flight) are also possible.
- Easyjet flies to Marrakech from Manchester, Stansted and Gatwick Airport (and also from Madrid, from Lyon, Amsterdam and from Basel)
- Ryanair - direct flights from Oporto (Portugal), London Luton, and London Stansted to Marrakech. They also fly from Hahn (Germany), Alicante (Spain), Girona (Spain), Eindhoven (the Netherlands), Bergamo (Italy), Madrid and Reus (Spain), Dublin (Ireland) to Marrakech.
- British Airways flies from London Gatwick.
- TUIfly flies from Cologne and several other European destinations.
- Transavia a low-cost airline from Air France-KLM group coming to Marrakech from several cities in Europe, including Paris.
- Norwegian offers direct flights from Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm.
- Iberia offers two non stop flights from Madrid.
- TAP Portugal offers direct flights from Lisbon
- Domestic flights operated by Royal Air Maroc, with flights from Agadir, Casablanca (daily), Fez (daily), Ouarzazate, Al Hoceima, and Tangier.
Ground transport from airport
The airport is about 9 km south-west of the city center (Medina), and 6.6 km from the Djemaa El-Fna square.
The L19 Airport express bus is 30 dirham for a round trip (if the return trip is within 2 weeks of purchase) and the driver can make change. It serves all the major hotels and is a great way to go from the airport to the Medina area. The 2 bus 19 departure stop is right out of the terminal according to the bus' route. (If not, exit the arrivals hall at Terminal 2, to your left you will see the parking area, walk into it and continue across all the taxis, at the end, close to the exit, there's an empty area with a black BUS sign without signs or maps, nor a place to sit or shadow.) The bus leaves the airport every twenty minutes between 07:00 and 21:30. This bus line terminates at Jeema El Fna and it only has a couple of stops along the way, most notably the Menara Mall. The whole trip takes 15-20 minutes. You can see the whole route and departure times in Google Maps. Beware, some taxi drivers will approach and try to convince you to go with them, sometimes even resorting to lies ("The bus is not running today" or "It comes only once an hour")—don't listen to them.
You can also catch No 11 city bus which runs from M'Hamid district to the long distance bus station at Bab Doukkala, stopping also at Jeema El Fna. It stops on Avenue Gnassa - main road near airport, 500 m from terminal. This is an option only for people with convenient luggage, but it is the cheapest one—the bus costs 4 dirham, like all local buses. The driver can make change.
The airport is about a 10-15 min ride by petit taxi from the city center. Prices directly from the airport are fixed, insanely inflated and displayed prominently just outside the airport (just like at every airport in Morocco). Walking the 200 m across the parking lot to the road and hailing a taxi there will get you a much, much better price per vehicle (about 20-40 dirham compared to the official 200 dirham).
Many hotels and riads offer a shuttle service for about €15 per person. The advantage is that you avoid the hassle, and they will lead you all the way to you lodging, even if the car cannot drive there. However, you might have to wait a while for all your fellow passengers to get out of the airport.
Several international rental car companies are based at the airport as well.
If you do not have too much luggage then it is possible to walk from the airport to the Medina even though it would take you from an hour and half to two hours. There is a footpath alongside the road all the way and the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque provides an excellent landmark to head towards. If you have enough time you can break the trip with a visit to the Menara gardens, which are between the airport and the city.
- 3 Train station, Avenue Hassan II (Guéliz district), ☏ +212 447768. For train times and schedules, check out the Moroccan Railway website.
- Getting there: Some taxi drivers will offer their services in the train station or just in front of it. They usually don't use their meter and ask for at least 50 dirham to Djemaa El-Fna. Ignore them and hail one on the main road. The metered fair to Djemaa El-Fna is about 12 dirham, if you want to avoid any discussions just offer 20 dirham upfront and take the first taxi that accepts this offer.
Trains from Casablanca (2nd class 84 dirham, 1st class 150 dirham, 3 hr), Rabat and Tangier connect with most domestic rail destinations in the country, with Marrakech as the southernmost stop. Trains run regularly between Marrakech and Casablanca (including the International Airport). They arrive around every two hours and regularly from other destinations like Rabat. Every day there are 8 direct 7 hr trains to Fez via Casablanca Voyageurs station and another two direct connections to Tangier.
From Tangier it's about a 10-hr journey. You can travel either by day train or night train. During the daytime, you will need to change trains for a connection halfway through the journey creating a welcome break for about 30 min. The night trains which leaves for Marrakech from Tangier travels straight through to Marrakech without the need for a connection. The night trains do have sleeper cars on board, though you will need to pay extra for these if you want a bed (around 350 dirham). If you're planning to go cheap and take the night train on the regular seats in second class (and planning to sleep), you'll be interrupted by movement of passengers and a few times by the ticket conductors throughout the night. It's a great way to travel but don't plan on sleeping on the train, especially if you are travelling alone.
There is no train line further south than Marrakech in Morocco; if you want to head south, to the desert, Atlas Mountains, Agadir or Essaouira on the coast, you'll have to get a bus, rental car or grand taxi.
Moroccan trains do not have restaurant cars. A snack trolley makes the rounds with sandwiches, soft drinks and coffee, but bringing some food for the journey isn't a bad idea. Stops in Casablanca and Rabat usually are long enough to grab a bite in the station en route.
- 4 Gare Routière (ALSA) (very central next to the medina, and more convenient than CTM, near Bab Doukkala, a 20-min walk (15-20 dirham by petit taxi) from Djemaa El-Fna). Most ALSA (local destination bus company) and private bus lines depart and arrive at this bus station. Supratours (?) and Eurolines buses operate from here. It's the place to take the buses from the small companies, that go directly to small destinations. Buy your ticket inside of the terminal at the according counter. There you will also find the proper prices, outside they will just quote you arbitrary prices or tell you it is more expensive because of AC. 1 dirham to enter the station.
- 5 Gare Voyageurs (CTM Bus Station) (one block south from the Supratours station next to the train station). CTM operates a separate bus station. You can buy the tickets in advance. The CTM's offices are better than at the Gare Routière, and there are no people trying to push you to their bus company. The office and station on Zerktouni street does not exist anymore. CTM has also an office at the long distance bus station (see above) if you just want to buy your tickets in advance or check the schedule.
A taxi ride from the CTM station to the main square is, if metered, about 12 dirham. The taxis waiting in front of the station are operated by a gang of dishonest drivers who will charge up to 100 dirham. One can just ignore their pushy boss and loudly offer 20 dirham - usually someone will accept or walk 50 m up or down the road and hail in taxi.
- 6 Jardin Sidi Mimoun. Jump off point for minibuses to Asni, Imlil, Ourika Valley and the High Atlas in general.
There are many long distance bus companies operating within Morocco which serve Marrakech and other cities.
The bus companies mostly used by tourists are CTM[dead link], Pullman du sud and Supratours. Other companies do exist, though these three companies are usually the safest options, but mostly not the cheapest ones.
The long distance bus station, CTM and private bus companies travel to destinations such as Agadir (regular, 3 hr, 80 / 100 dirham local/CTM), Safi, Casablanca (regular, 4 hr, 80-95 dirham), El Jadida, Essaouira (regular, 3 hr, 55 / 80 dirham local/CTM), Fez, Meknes, Ouarzazate (regular, 3-3.5 hr, 80 dirham), Rabat, and Taroudant. Taxi touts will often gather in the bus station to convince you that a bus to your destination is 'full' and to steer you into a grand taxi, and will attempt to sell you goods as your taxi is prepared. This can be difficult if there is nobody manning the ticket desks, and the best option is to walk out of the station to the coaches - a ticket can usually be purchased from a conductor on board.
For trips to Meknes (6 hr, ~120 dirham), while seemingly shorter on the map, the mountain route via Beni Mellal takes at least 2 hr more than on the highway via Rabat and Casablanca, going there by train (6½ hr, 174 dirham) is the most comfortable option, although buses might be slightly quicker.
Once in the medina, everything can be seen on foot, though you'll be doing a lot of walking. Many tourist destinations are signposted by brown, red or green signs affixed to posts or to buildings. Bear in mind that many of these signs don't take the direct route, and some seem to deliberately send tourists via various markets or other places money may be spent.
For exploring more of the city, buses and petits taxis are plentiful.
Alsa run the city buses and have maps, fares and a frequency guide on their web page.
Almost all buses stop at Djemaa El-Fna (the bus stop for Djemaa El-Fna is called Terminus Arset El Bilk, and it is marked on Google Maps) and Place Youssef Ben Tachfine and fares range from 2–5 dirham depending on the distance. Important municipal bus lines are:
- No 1 - Towards Gueliz
- No 8 - Stops at the central train station, and bus station (Gare Routiere Voyageurs Marrakech)
- No 10 - Stops at the long distance bus station
- No 11 - Will drop you off at the gardens of Menara
- No 18 - Outside of Airport to Djemaa el-Fna.
- No 19 - Airport express to Djemaa el-Fna (return for 30 dirham)
Bus No 19 leaves Djemaa el-Fna every half an hour, from 05:15 to 21:15. The trip to the airport takes about 25 minutes.
There is an open-topped City Sightseeing bus that will take you around the outskirts of the city, with commentary provided via headphones (supplied with your ticket) in any of 8 different languages. The best place to catch it is from the coach stops by Square de Foucauld. Tickets cost 145 dirham each and are valid for 24 hours from the time of issue, no matter how many times you get on or off. You can get a 48-hour ticket for very little extra and as there are two distinct tours, this can be a good deal. Check the timetable carefully, as the buses can stop running earlier than you might think.
An alternative and romantic way to travel is by caleche, a small horse-drawn carriage. They can be hired at Square de Foucauld (the small park to the south of Djemaa El-Fna). It's wise to agree on a price before setting off. As a guide price, you should pay around 80 dirham per hour, per carriage.
You should always ask to use the meter (compteur in French); otherwise, you are just contributing to a culture of ripping off people. However, in the vast majority of cases, the drivers will refuse to take you if you insist on using the meter. Even locals often have troubles with drivers in Marrakesh, that's how it is. Even if you use the meter, the driver may try and charge extra for bags, or be lacking change in order to get a larger fare.
Your only option to completely avoid this is using the buses which serve most destinations of interest (see above). If you accept that you have to pay a small penalty fee for being a tourist, offer 50% more than the metered ride would cost upfront (see below).
For petit taxi, the maximum number of passengers is three (plus the driver), i.e. one fare applies to a single person, or a group two or three people.
- The meter starts from 1.70 dirham before 20:00 and 2.40 dirham after 20:00; there's no need to negotiate the price. Basically they have to use the meter even if it is midnight.
- The minimum charge is 7 dirham before 20:00 and after will be 10 dirham.
- 20 dirham is a good price for a 10-minute ride and if offered upfront will usually be accepted. If not, kindly refuse and simply take the next taxi.
For grand taxis (regular Mercedes taxis) there are no meters. Typically the set rate from Marrakech Airport to the Medina or Djemaa El-Fna (Main square) is 150 dirham. There also appears to be no limit to the number of people they'll attempt to squeeze in! Outside of the airport if you are a group of more than three, the maximum for a petit taxi, then do negotiate you fee before you enter the grand taxi.
There is much to see and do in Marrakech. An entire day can be dedicated to wandering around all the different souks, seeking out the best bargains. The city also offers several historical and architectural sites as well as some interesting museums.
- 1 Medina. The Medina is the old city quarter located within the sandstone city walls that give Marrakech the nickname the Red City. As an ancient hub, it contains a maze of narrow streets and outdoor marketplaces.
- 2 Djemaa El-Fna. The highlight of any Marrakech night. Musicians, dancers, and story tellers pack this square at the heart of the medina, filling it with a cacophony of drum beats and excited shouts. Scores of stalls sell a wide array of Moroccan fare (see the Eat section) and you will almost certainly be accosted by women wanting to give you a henna tattoo. Enjoy the various shows, but be prepared to give some dirham to watch or take photos. By day it is largely filled with snake charmers and people with monkeys, as well as some of the more common stalls.
- 3 The Souks (suuqs). Markets of Marrakech, just adjacent to Place Djemaa El-Fna, are where you can buy almost anything, from spices to shoes, jellabas to kaftans, and tea pots to tagines. Undoubtedly, being a foreigner means you will end up paying higher prices than a native would, but be sure to bargain nonetheless. If you happen to run out of dirham, you will also find plenty of people in the souks who will eagerly exchange your dollars or euros (though a fair rate here is less likely than at an official exchange). All that said, the sellers here are much less aggressive than, say, Egypt, so have fun!
- 4 Koutoubia Mosque (right besides Djemaa El-Fna). Named after the booksellers market that used to be located here. It is said that the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque is to Marrakech as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. The minaret is visible from Gueliz which is connected to the Medina by Avenue Mohammed V. At night, the mosque is beautifully lit. It was completed under the reign of the Berber Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (1184 to 1199), and has inspired other buildings such as the Giralda of Seville and the Hassan Tower of Rabat. Non-Muslims are not allowed inside.
- 5 Tanneries. Visiting the tanneries can be an interesting experience. Even if some people tell you the area is only for locals, it is possible to visit the Tanneries without paying a youngster. After finding a tannery, ask one of the workers if you can visit it and take pictures
- 6 Saadian Tombs. The tombs were built in the 16th century as the dynastic necropolis of the Saadian dynasty at the height of its power. After the dynasty's decline, the cemetery was progressively forgotten and its entrance walled off, until they were rediscovered and restored in the early 20th century. Unlike the El Badi Palace, they are very well preserved and an excellent showcase of the best architecture from this era. Inside you will find an overload of zellij (Moroccan mosaic tiles), painted wood, and carved stucco, all set within an enclosed garden. The most ornate chamber, accessible through a small opening, is the Chamber of the Twelve Columns, where Ahmad al-Mansur, the most powerful Saadian sultan, is buried. The site is small and compact, so it does not take a lot of time to explore. Also, there are no explanatory signs, so you should hire a guide or consult a guidebook to explain you what you're seeing to get the most out of your visit. 70 dirham.
- 7 Moroccan Culinary Arts Museum (Musée d'art culinaire Marocain), Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid. If you are interested in food and eating culture, you will enjoy this museum. Audiovisual information about the rich culinary culture of Marocco, its ingredients, techniques and traditions. You can also touch and smell many things. They also sport a very well equipped cooking school.
- 8 Majorelle Gardens (Jardin Majorelle), Rue Yves Saint Laurent (In Gueliz), ☏ +212 5 24 31 30 47, [email protected]. Oct-Apr: 08:00-17:30, May-Sep: 08:00-18:00, Ramadan: 09:00-17:00. It provides an excellent respite from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, if not crowded by tourists as it sometimes is. The park was designed by the artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s. Since 1980 the garden has been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé. It boasts a collection of plants from around the globe, including what seems like every cactus species on the planet. Get here early to avoid the crowds. Inside the gardens is also the Berber Museum, which shows a slightly bigger and more modern presentation than the Dar Si Saïd. 120 dirham, 30 dirham extra for the Berber Museum.
- 9 Yves Saint Laurent Museum, Rue Yves St Laurent (next door to Majorelle Gardens), ☏ +212 5242-98686. Th-Tu 10:00 - 18:00. 120 dirham, combination ticket with Majorelle Gardens and Berber Museum 180 dirham, queues are far shorter here than at the gardens to buy tickets though you have to buy either a YSL Museum ticket or combination ticket.
- 10 Dar Si Saïd Museum (on Rue Riad Zitoun Jdid, is a museum 5 mins away from Djemaa El-Fna.). 10:00–18:00. Museum set in an old palace with beautiful gardens. While somewhat run-down, it is worth seeing and houses many different artifacts from Morocco through the ages, such as wood carvings, musical instruments, and weapons. It is dedicated to the Moroccan craft industry of wood, gathering a very beautiful collection of popular art: carpets, clothing, pottery and ceramics. All these objects are regional, coming from Marrakech and all the south, especially from Tensift, High Atlas, Soussthe, Anti Atlas, Bani, and Tafilal. Locals: adults 10 dirham, children below 12 3 dirham; tourists: adults 30 dirham.
- 11 Ben Youssef Madrasa, Kaat Benahid. 09:00-18:00, closed for religious holidays. One of the largest madrassas in North Africa. It is a school attached to the Ben Youssef Mosque and is home to beautiful art and architecture. Build ca 1570. 50 dirham.
- 12 El Bahia Palace, [email protected]. 09:00–17:00. An ornate and beautiful palace, built at the end of the 19th century for grand viziers of the sultan. Popular with guided tours and stray cats. The palace is well worth a visit and gives a great impression of what it must have been like to be a 19th-century nobleman in Morocco. There is a nice garden with banana flowers, tranquil courtyards, and other lovely plants. Attention must be given in finding the entrance. The entrance is located on Riad Zitoun el Jdid, follow this listings GPS. To take photos without tour groups in them visit when it opens at 09:00 or toward the end of the day. Locals: adults 10 dirham, children below 12 3 dirham; tourists: adults 70 dirham.
- 13 El Badi Palace, Ksibat Nhass. 09:00-17:00. A palace now in ruins and inhabited by storks and stray cats. There are some underground passageways to explore with exhibitions within them. Note that most explanatory text is only in Arabic and French. Newer exhibitions have text in English as well but those are still the minority. The view from the terrace is majestic. The palace was built by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur to celebrate the Saadian victory against the Portuguese army in 1578 in the Battle of the Three Kings. Its valuable materials were looted by later sultans, some of them reused in other monuments throughout Morocco. A richly-decorated wooden minbar (preaching pulpit) from the 12th century, formerly belonging to the Koutoubia Mosque, is on display in one room with some explanations. Also hosts the Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts (abbreviated MMP+), a small museum which however showcases great pieces of visual art. 70 dirham.
- 14 The Menara gardens (west of the city in walking distance). 09:00-17:00. A mixture of orchards and olive groves surrounding the water reservoir with the central pavilion which is a popular sight on tourist postcards. Not a decorative garden, and now quite run down. The pavilion was built during the 16th-century Saadi dynasty, and renovated in 1869. It has a small cafe, but it is not open all hours. There are no toilets open when the cafe is closed. Free admission.
- 15 Jewish Cemetery, Avenue Taoulat El Miara (adjacent to the mellah, within the medina). 09:00-17:00. The largest Jewish cemetery in Morocco, characterized by white-washed tombs and sandy graves. The men selling tickets are full of interesting information about the cemetery but you have to ask. 10 dirham.
- 16 Slat Al Azama Synagogue. 09:00-19:00 (closed Sa). Synagogue which is not only a place of worship with a beautiful open courtyard, but also includes interesting displays about Judaism's varied history in Morocco, including photos of Jews in the Berber Mountains. 10 dirham.
- 17 Marrakech Museum, ☏ +212 24 44 18 93. 09:00-18:30. It's housed in the Dar Menebhi Palace, constructed at the end of the 19th century. 50 dirham.
- 18 Musée de la Palmeraie, Dar Tounsi, Route de Fès (in the south of the Palmeraie, it is quite off the main tourist paths, expect to travel at about an hour per direction; you must get a taxi or bus 17 towards Palmeraie (which does not run often); the route with the museum is off to the left side of the road, the crossroads just before the Atacadao supermarket; you have to head follow the road for about 500 m, there are also signs), ☏ +212-661 09 53 52, [email protected]. 09:00-18:00?. In old agricultural buildings in the Palmeraie, made out of rammed earth. The architecture itself is interesting if you haven't seen it. It offers a small collection of contemporary art, with a room dedicated to Morrocan artists (also famous ones), the international ones are rather not top-notch. The gardens are nicely made and are good place to relax in quit. 40 dirham.
- 19 Musee Farid Belkahia, Dar Tounsi, Route de Fès (at the seat of the Fondation Farid Belkahia, which is off Route de Fès, Dar Tounsi, walking past Musée de la Palmeraie for further 500 m-1 km), [email protected]. M-Sa. A museum dedicated to the renowned contemporary artist Farid Belkahia, showcasing different periods of his work
- 20 Tiskiwin Museum, Derb El Bahia 8 (between El Bahia and Museum Dar Si Said). 09:00-12:30 and 14:30-18:00. About the people in the Sahara. Created by Dutchman Bert Flint. 30 dirham.
- 21 Maison de la Photographie, 46, Rue souk Ahal Fès (200 m behind Ben Youssef Medersa - Koranic School). A little photography museum, it has one of the highest roof terraces in the Medina. 50 dirham.
- 22 Ali Ben Youssef Mosque. The first mosque in Marrakesh was erected at this place by the Almoravid emir Yusuf ibn Tashfin in the 1070s. However, it was almost completely rebuilt in early 19th century by the Alaouite sultan Suleiman, with hardly any trace left of its original Almoravid or Almohad design. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter it.
- 23 Agdal Gardens. It consists of groves of orange, lemon, fig, apricot and pomegranate trees in rectangular plots, linked by olive-lined walkways. Together with the medina of Marrakech and the Menara Gardens, the Agdal Gardens were listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1985. 70 dirham for foreign adults.
- 24 Almoravid Koubba. A very small but intricate domed pavilion, known for being the only surviving example of Almoravid religious architecture (early 12th century) in Marrakech. Located across the street from the Ben Youssef Mosque, it is believed to have been an annex of the former Almoravid mosque. It was excavated in the 20th century after being half-buried for centuries. The pavilion's exterior can be easily seen from the street, so paying for entry just lets you see its interior. 50 dirham.
- Jbilets Geological Site. Explore the Berber village on a desert tour.
- 2 Anima garden (Anima André Heller's Garden), ☏ +212 666 56 17 76, [email protected]. One of the prettiest gardens in the world. Created by André Heller , it is true oasis when you’re weary of the medina hubub. Book the official shuttle bus to get there and back for free.
- 1 Chez Ali Fantasia, La Palmeraie de Marrakech (10 km north of Marrakech), ☏ +212 5 24307730. Horse show, acrobats on Arabian horses firing rifles in the air, horseback acrobatics, belly dancing, etc. It takes place at night in a huge imitation of an old castle. €15.
The historic district of the city.
The main square in the Medina is Djemaa El-Fna. It is surrounded by endless labyrinths of souks (bazaars) and alley ways covering all of the Medina. Djemma El-Fna is a must as there is always something to see there day and night whether it be snake charmers, acrobats, sooth-sayers,or the musicians and food stalls. At night the square really comes to life as people navigate toward the exotic aromas and the entertaining sights. As the evening darkens, the hustle & bustle of activity rages on. The exotic music appears louder and more hypnotic.
The Medina is also the place to stay in a Riad, a Moroccan house with an internal courtyard. Most windows are inward facing towards the central atrium. This design of property suits Islamic tradition as there is no obvious wealth statement being made externally, no windows to peer through. Entering a Riad is like discovering an Aladdin's Cave in comparison to its non-descript exterior. They are great places to stay and offer an intimate and relaxing retreat.
Directly south of the Djemaa El-Fna is Rue Bab Agnaou. A five-min walk takes you straight to the famous Bab Agnaou entrance to the Kasbah district of the Medina. The Bab Agnaou entrance, through the ramparts, is by far the most impressive entrance of all medina rampart entrances.
The Kasbah, in comparison to the Derbs (streets) surrounding the Djemaa El-Fna, portrays a calmer, less abrasive atmosphere. It is home to the Royal Palace, also the former El - Badi Palace and the Saadian Tombs. This naturally creates better security, cleaner streets and a hint of being a special place within the medina. The Kasbah has its own little bazaars (Souikas), food stalls, restaurants, hotels and riads for travellers to enjoy.
Hammams are baths, often close to mosques to facilitate the performance of ablutions. In guidebooks and signs that call them "Moroccan Turkish Baths" the name "Turkish" is a misnomer, since Morocco (unlike Egypt or Syria) was never under Ottoman rule, but the historical role of the baths is authentic in Morocco.
- 2 Les Bains de Marrakech, 2 Derb Sedra, Bab Agnaou (same building as Riad Mehdi) (inside Bab Agnaou), ☏ +212 438 1428, [email protected]. 09:00-19:30. Tourists-oriented in good sense: couples can have hammam together in a private room. Extensive list of massages and spa treatments from 30 min to a full day. Reception and attendants are proficient in speaking English, however, the scrubbing and massage personnel speak only very basic vocabulary. You need to book two days in advance. 170–1,400 dirham.
- Hammam Dar el-Bacha, 20 Rue Fatima Zohra. men 12:00-13:00, women 13:00-21:00.
- Hammam Bab Doukkala, Rue Bab Doukkala (southeast corner Bab Doukkala Mosque). women 07:00-19:00, men 20:00.
- Thai marrakech, Résidence Les Jasmins Apt N° 13 4ème étage Angle Av. Mohamed v et Rue Oum Errabia Guéliz, ☏ +212 524 433 304. Bann Thai institute is a beauty center based in the heart of Marrakech. His team is a graduate of the famous school of Wat Po in Bangkok. The center offers several Thai massage relaxation with a traditional Moroccan hammam natural products
- 3 Hamam Essalama (traditional Hamam), Rue Moulay Abdellah (walking on Rue Moulay Abdellah, coming from Rue Bata or Rue Khalid Ben El Qualid, head towards Boulevard de Safi, the hamam is in the last block (just before Bvd Safi) at the near corner). till 17:00. Friendly staff, however, no English or French (other locals helped without any problem) 12 dirham entrance, 50 dirham scrub.
- 4 Ô Bain de Lina (massage, hammam, facials), N 1, 84 Avenue Hassan II Residence El Faroukia (next to AMAIA Restaurant, 200 m from the Grande Poste, near the Coffee "La Poste"), ☏ +212 524 422 651, [email protected]. Until 01:00. Friendly staff, however, no English or French; other customers likely to help you out. 500 dirham.
Marrakesh is not in the desert: you will spend several hours to get to the desert and that day tours are therefore pretty stressful. If you have the time, spend at least one night in the desert or in a town close to your desert trekking destination. Beware of tours that don't include meals and water as they will drop you at 100 dirham restaurants far from any other option, because of this and the kickback from shops you will visit multi-day trips to Merzouga can cost as little as 600 dirham if you play agencies against each other.
A good alternative to big desert trips is a day-trip to the Agafay desert. It is rockier (less sandy), but a common trip for the locals.
Along with the major souk (Arabic for 'market') adjacent to the Djemaa El-Fna, there are a plethora of smaller souks throughout the city where any number of products can be had. In any of them, you generally need to bargain. Keep an eye out for a wide array of hand-crafted candle-holding lanterns, as well as spectacular displays of local spices.
Most shops sell the same handful of items. But if you wander a little off from El-Fna, you can find small workshops with real craftsmen making handmade goods. You then get to talk to craftsmen that the item you bought. If you buy shoes or clothes that can also make alterations for you, and there a few places that make unique products that you will not see anywhere else.
Argan oil, produced only in Morocco, is used in Moroccan cooking and beauty treatments. If you enjoy its unique nutty flavor, be sure to pick some up in the souks. It will cost you about 70 dirham per 100 ml at local supermarket for cooking oil or 200 dirham for genuine cosmetic oil.
Marrakech is home to a large tanning industry, and leather goods of high quality can be bought here cheaply. Check out camel leather items especially - jackets, round poufs (little ottomans), and handbags.
For the shoes, always check they have no paper inside sole because it is very common. Do not be fooled by demonstration of bending the shoe back and forth; try it yourself by feeling and hearing how the paper bends. For poor quality shoes you should not pay more than 40 dirham, and for a good pair no more than 90 dirham. Shop around and learn the difference in shoe quality.
Also of interest would be items made of the local cactus silk, which is really rayon, a natural fiber made of plant cellulose and produced in Morocco. Rayon holds the chemical dyes well which accounts for the vibrant range of true colors (natural dyes cannot produce a "true" color). On offer are scarves, handbags, tablecloths, bedspreads and throws in stunning colors. Some merchants try to charge a premium price for this "cactus silk". Check well because there are many fakes and sellers will usually tell you any lie to get you to pay a high price.
Be sure to wander around the potters' souk, and look for brightly colored platters and bowls, as well as tagines (large, lidded cookpots) in all sizes
Lovely cashmere shawls can also be had for less than a fiver with a little bargaining.
If you cannot stand the bargaining, there are two government-run shops where you can buy handicrafts at fixed prices. Look for boutique d'artisans. One is near Djemaa El-Fna while the other one is in the ville nouvelle.
- 1 Les établissements Bouchaïb, 7, Derb Baïssi Kasbah Boutouil (on Rue de La Kasbah), ☏ +212 524381853. Huge two-story store with fixed prices. Carpets, spices, argon oil, jewelry, ceramics, furniture, wood handcrafts, etc. Check out the prices on the webpage before you go to get and idea of the cost of the items you are interested in.
An option to explore the souks in a more tranquil way is to go during the Friday prayer. Although some shops will be closed, most stay open and are significantly less crowded than at other times.
The Apple and Samsung smartphones being sold on Djemaa El-Fna are Chinese-built fakes; they work fine but employ less storage and cheaper components than the originals. Bargain accordingly.
- 2 Chez Monseur Michelin, 83 Riad Zitoun. Handmade bags and fashion items made from recycled tires and inner tubes.
- 3 Faissal, 119 Rue Mouassine (next to Maison de la Photographie), ☏ +212 696972001, [email protected]. Tiny workshop making scarves in wool, cotton, and linen.
In order to not become (heavily) overcharged: If there is no price tag, ask for the price first. This applies to both products and services.
As a guide for prices, maximum and generous prices you should pay.
- Djellaba, long coat with hood for men, made of cotton/wool. Low quality: 90 dirham. Good (thick) quality: 300 dirham.
- Paintings, depends on the quality and size but no more than 50 dirham for a 70x50cm.
- Shisha, 150 dirham for the smallest ones. Prices then vary with size and quality.
- Tobacco for shisha, 20 dirham. There are many flavours and decent prices at the duty-free store at the airport in Marrakech.
- Shoes, for home, no more than 50 dirham for a good one, for the street no more than 90 dirham for a good quality one.
- Lamp, no more than 60 dirham for a medium size lamp.
- Woven beanie, 15 dirham.
- T-shirt, no more than 50 dirham for a large.
- Small wooden snake toys, 5 dirham.
- Small teapot (2-3 cups), 90-100 dirham.
- Medium size cooking tagine 40 dirham. (Choose carefully, glazed tagines have a risk of releasing unsafe levels of lead.)
- Dress for women, poor quality, not wool, 30 dirham.
- Carpets: 1,000 dirham for a white wool carpet that is 8 ft x 12 ft
- Henna tattoo: medium-sized design should cost no more than 50 dirham (Ask for brown henna if you are allergic to PPP black henna, the brown henna is natural and safe)
- You can order special gold jewellery items like a chain with your name on it or using a customised design but ensure you have agreed on the price beforehand.
- 250 g of gunpowder tea, 30 dirham. Although best bought at a supermarket.
- Round piece of bread, 1.5 dirham.
- Spice mixes, 80 dirham/kg. Cumin, curcuma, cinnamon, ground ginger, etc. 40-60 dirham/kg
Also see Morocco#Buy. Do not offer a price that you are not willing to pay. Even hostel prices can be haggled.
Remember, sellers are just the middle man, they do not produce it, except maybe for some kinds of lamps, and they pay very little to the people who actually make it. Also, never pay in advance. And never let anyone write you an invoice. It is a bad idea and in most of the cases you will never see your goods or money back.
Most major banks and a slew of cash exchange shops can be found in a cluster around Arset el bilk (next to the main square). Most banks don't accept Unionpay and many ATMs displaying the Unionpay logo actually don't support the cards regardless of what Unionpay or the bank's website will tell you. Apparently the Société Générale banks can do withdrawals from 16:00-21:00.
Be aware that if you are shopping at western stores like Zara, that the return policies are different. Contrary to many other countries, purchases by credit card can only be exchanged, not returned. However, cash purchases can be returned for a refund.
How to eat (well) in the Djemaa El-Fna
Each night in the Djemaa El-Fna rows of street stalls are set up under giant white tents. The huts targeting tourists serve similar fare and have menus printed in French, Arabic and usually English. Everyone has tajine, couscous, brochette and some variety of soups. Some have specialities like offal, egg sandwiches or special tajines. Be aware that most restaurants employ rather insistent "greeters," who are very aggressive in trying to customers for their stall. The line 'we already ate' seems to work well to get them to stop. As of 2018, the "greeters" mentioned above have changed strategies to one of harassment and insults. They try to separate couples and corner women while hurling insults.
If you want to eat well in Marrakech, do what the locals do and eat at the food stalls in the square. It is a common misconception that these stalls are only here for the tourists. Actually, they have been in existence long before Marrakech became a tourist destination. All of the stalls can be regarded as perfectly safe to eat at. They are strictly licensed and controlled by the government, especially now as it is a popular destination for tourists. The locals eat at the cheaper stalls that don't employ greeters and serve the more interesting food: snails, sheep head, lentils and beans.
- Prices tend to vary a little. Depending upon how hungry you are, you can pay anything from 10 dirham for a bread filled with freshly grilled sausages, or perhaps a bowl of harira soup to 100 dirham for a full three-course meal with salad, bread, starter, main course, and tea.
- Try harira (great soup, of lamb/beef, red lentils and vegetables) and the fried aubergines. Don't be afraid-try the lamb head: it's really tasty. The "bull stew" (beef stew) should also be given a chance in the same stalls.
- Don't miss the tea! There is a row of tea sellers along the front of the food stalls who each sell tea for 3 dirham each (as of 2011). Most of the tea at these stalls is actually ginseng tea with cinnamon and ginger... most delicious and welcoming. They also have cake, made of basically the same spices, which can be a bit overpowering.
- All food stalls at Djemaa El-Fna display the price on the menus, making it less likely you'll be overcharged, but many will bring starters to you without asking, then charge for them at the end.
- Drinks are rarely on the menu so it is better to ask the price of them before ordering, as they can often be comparatively high. On the other hand, some stalls offer free mint tea to encourage you to choose them.
- Early mornings, look for people frying riifa in the covered part opposite the Koutoubia. Riifa is dough stretched and flattened and folded over, then cooked in a frying pan, and is best described as a Moroccan version of a pancake or crepe.
- 1 Chez Chegrouni, Avenue Jamaa El Fna (near the main entrance to the market.). Their vegetarian couscous is supposedly the only true vegetarian couscous in town; it's also bland but they give you plenty of it. Prices go up if you sit on the terrace. Usually packed full of good-time tourists. 30 dirham.
- 2 Chez Yassine, 70 Avenue Fatima Zohra (5 min north from the Koutoubia mosque, 70 Rue Fatima Zohra Rmila (next to the Bacha hamam)). Not much choice but served by very friendly people. Tajines and pizzas are great and you can also order skewers that are not on the menu. 30 dirham tagines.
- 3 Henna Cafe, 93 Arset Aouzal Souikat, bab Doukala (go to the taxi rank at Dar El Basha and walk 100 m up towards Bab Doukala. Henna Café is on the right side), ☏ +212 656566374, [email protected]. 11:00-20:00. If you want to travel ethically then this is your place. A pretty little cafe on 3 floors with an orange sign on the berber hand-carved wooden facade opened in November 2011. You can have a cup of tea or coffee or simple lunch with dessert or just a sandwich. The Henna Café offers safe henna body adornment as well-ranging from a 50 dirham small motif on your hand to a full arm complex design for a wedding from 500 dirham. All profits go to local causes. Henna cafe was set up by the owners of Riad Cinnamon and Riad Papillon and Vivid Trading in order to start to 'give back' to Marrakech and offer support to those who might want it. The café offers free English lessons to Moroccan women so that they can find employment out of the home. 40 dirham mains.
- 4 Chez Bismilah, 193 Souk El kebir. Amazing food and wonderful service. The owner is very kind and the fantastic chef is a humble lady who cooks perfectly all the traditional moroccan recipes. Tayine Royale is recommended. The roof top has an amazing view over the old medina.
- 5 Café Babouche medina, 37 Rue des Banques. In a small street a few steps from the Jemaa El Fna square. You can eat there in a friendly atmosphere. The veal tagine with prunes and almonds is spectacular.
For more upscale eateries (and especially for non-Moroccan cuisine) you generally must go outside the Medina to Ville Nouvelle.
- 6 Associacion Amal (situated at the intersection of Rue Ibn Sibna and Rue Allal Ben Ahmed), ☏ +212-5-24-44-68-96. Lunch: daily 12:00-16:00, dinner: groups of min. 10 people by reservation only. Here you can experience lunch similar to what Moroccans eat at home: this women's aid association provides women with education in exchange for food which is then sold for financing the model.
- 7 16 Café. Moroccan kitchen. 16 café is caterer of events and weddings.
- 8 Café Arabe, 184 mouassine (medina near dar el bacha), ☏ +212 2442 9728. They have a Moroccan and an Italian cook, so there are two menus to choose from. There are three floors including the downstairs courtyard which is lovely for lunch. The top floor terrace has fantastic views, you can lounge on their sofas sipping a cocktail and watching the sun go down over the medina.
- 9 sky mabrouka (Pass. Prince Moulay Rachid). Serves the same standard fare as everywhere else in a little courtyard or terrace.
- 10 Al Fassia, 55, boulevard Zerktouni, ☏ +212 524 43 40 60. W-M. Traditional Moroccan food in cozy restaurant run by women (except the doorman). Wine served by the bottle.
- 11 Café du Livre, 44 Rue Tariq Bnou Ziad, Guéliz (located near Place du 16 Novembre, Rue Tariq Bnou Ziad is more or less parallel to Ave Mohamed V (to the East), the Hotel is located between the crossroads with Rue de la Liberté and Rue Sourya), ☏ +212 5244-46921. 09:30-21:00. A western style bookshop-café in the villa nouvelle medium priced, sandwiches ~ 40–60 dirham.
- 12 Café Kabash, 47 Boutouil, Kasbah (on Rue Kashbah near Bab Agnaou), ☏ +212 524 382 625, [email protected]. Have a roof terrace with a good view. Daily Moroccan menus with tea and juice.
- 13 Le Marrakchi, Place jeema el-fna, 52 Rue des Banques (opposite the market and adjacent to the newspaper stand.). With two main courses and wine running at around 300 dirham, this is one of the poshest restaurants in the square. The food is not necessarily better than elsewhere, but it is one of the few restaurants that serves alcohol. It also has a completely enclosed upstairs terrace, which is ideal for views of the square when the weather is bad.
- 14 Le Bistrot Loft, 18 Rue de la Liberté, ☏ +212 524 434 216. Steaks, bistro food and good wines. Bar with beer, aperitifs and cocktails. 200 dirham.
- 15 Diaffa, 16 Derb Jdid (just off Av. Mohammed V, across from Club Med), ☏ +212 44 38 68 98. An upscale restaurant in one of the oldest buildings in the Medina, and offers Moroccan cuisine in an ambiance that recalls the Orient at the height of its magic and glory. The food, building (whether the tables around the central courtyard and fountain or the second-level balcony), and tactful and tasteful entertainment.
- 16 Dar Najat's Kitchen, Douar Groua, derb lalla chacha, N.18 (5 min walk from Jeema el Fna), ☏ +212 524375085. Daily fresh food in a boutique riad. €23 per person.
- 17 Maison de la Photographie, 46, Rue souk Ahal Fès (200 m behind Ben Youssef Medersa - Koranic School). A little photography museum, it has one of the highest roof terraces in the Medina. Over lunch of a fixed-price menu (at 75 dirham as of 2012) you get panoramic views over the city and the High Atlas mountains.
- 18 Pepe Nero, 17, Derb Cherkaoui, Douar Graoua (follow the signs from Rue Zitoun El Jedid; note the metal arrows), ☏ +212 524 389067, [email protected]. Tu-Su 12:00-14:30, 19:30-23:00. Fine Italian and Moroccan dining in gorgeous Riad. Often full so make a reservation. 400 dirham for 3-4 course dinner, wine for 200 dirham.
- 19 La Villa des Orangers, Rue Sidi Mimoune 6, ☏ +212 524 384638. 19:30-late. French gastronomic cuisine in a very calm and pleasant atmosphere. Enjoy your dinner in soft chairs, among dark woodpanels, bookcases and artwork. In the winter start with a drink at the fireplace. 700 dirham for three-course menu. 500 dirham for a bottle of wine..
- 20 Le Grand Café de la Poste, Boulevard El mansour Eddahbi and Avenue Imam Malik, ☏ +212 24 43 30 38, [email protected]. French brasserie with Moroccan influence in the former post office. 300 dirham for three courses..
- 21 Le Grand Salon, Djnan Abiad, La Palmeraie B.P. 12478 (in the Ksar Char-Bagh outside of the city), ☏ +212 524 32 92 44, [email protected]. Upscale restaurant with French cuisine. Serve organic vegetables and olive oil from its own gardens. 600 dirham for three courses.
- 22 Dar Yacout, 79, derb Sidi Ahmed Soussi, Bab Doukkala, ☏ +212 5 24 38 29 29. Traditional Moroccan gastronomic cuisine. Has a terrace overlooking the Medina. 700 dirham menu.
- 23 Le Foundouk, Rue Souk Hal Fassi, ☏ +212 5 24 37 81 76. Tu-Su. Moroccan and European cuisine. Roof terrace and bar. 300 dirham for a three-course dinner.
- 24 Les Jardins de la Medina, 21 Derb Chtouka (in the hotel of the same name), ☏ +212 5 24 381 851, [email protected]. 19:30-late. Traditional and modern Moroccan cuisine. Moroccan wine served by bottle and glass. Stylish restaurant with tall white columns. 450 dirham menu.
Street vendors offer fresh orange juice (jus d'Orange) by the glass for 4 dirham. Try it with a dash of salt like the locals, but be wary of vendors who try and water the juice down with tap water. Also, pay attention when you buy as they offer 2 types of orange... the blood orange juice costs 10 dirham per glass and a misunderstanding on what you want to drink could occur.
Confirm the price of your orange juice and pay for it before you drink. Unscrupulous vendors will sometimes try to charge you 10 dirham for a 4-dirham glass of jus d'Orange, so don't accept your drink until you've paid the correct amount.
Be wary also, that they do not always clean the glasses very well so it is possible to get an upset stomach from the juice.
There is a very limited selection of places selling alcohol in the Medina.
- 1 Chesterfield Pub (Bar Anglais), 115 Avenue Mohammed V (In the Hotel Nassim). 09:00-01:00. A slightly unusual experience, apparently an 'English pub' it serves Moroccan lager and has an outside pool in a courtyard with palm trees, not an entirely English experience. Much less touristy than it sounds with a mainly local clientele. It serves a decent pint.
- 2 Le Salama, 40 Rue des Banques (On Jeema El Fna, facing Cafe de France, take the road to the left of Café de France (as in walking behind it). After 100 m on the left hand side.), [email protected]. 11:00-13:00. Happy hour from 17:00 until they close, mostly western pop classics on the top floor. Very touristy with shishas, belly dancing and waiters who wear a fez - none of it is typically Moroccan but the overall atmosphere is between relaxed and party vibe. Also offers traditional Moroccan snacks. Good for smaller (up to 10 people) groups.
- 3 Hotel Grand Tazi, Rue Bab Agnaou. The hotel has a public bar, serving beer and wine and is not overly expensive.
- 4 Narwama, Hay Zefriti 30, Rue Koutoubia., ☏ +212 6 7250 8700. Restaurant and bar that has a fire fountain in the centre and an open roof around the patio. The atmosphere is very chilled and their food is very good, but slightly expensive. Good for pre-dinner drinks. 150 dirham mains.
Outside the Medina.
- 5 Montecristo, Rue Ibn Aicha 20, ☏ +212 5 24439031. 20:00-02:00. Nightclub with rooftop terrace
- 6 Jad Mahal, 10 Rue Haroun Errachid, ☏ +212 5 24 43 69 84. 17:00-late. Lounge bar and formal restaurant.
- 7 Sky Lounge, 3 Rue du Temple (at The Pearl Hotel), ☏ +212 524 42 42 42, [email protected]. 11:00-late. Fashionable rooftop lounge on top of the Pearl Hotel
- 8 Comptoir Darna, Avenue Echouhada, ☏ +212 524 437 702, [email protected]. 20:00-03:00. Cocktail bar and night club Dress code: elegant
- 9 Piano Bar, 26 Rue de la Koutoubia (in les Jardins de la Koutoubia), ☏ +212 024 38 88 00. 17:00-midnight.
- 10 African Chic, 6 Rue Oum Errabia (Behind Hotel Marrakech), ☏ +212 5 24431424. Moroccan Latin Brazilian. Also has a restaurant with a view to the dance floor.
- 11 Le Lounge, 24 Rue Yougoslavie, ☏ +212 70028561. 10:00-01:00.
Marrakech has an amazing choice of places to stay ranging from tented camps outside Marrakech to cheap hostels and hotels that can be charming or seedy to luxurious kasbahs in luxurious gardens or the traditional riad (garden courtyard) hotels. Wherever you choose ( or can afford) to stay it really is a must to visit one of the riad hotels to see this amazing style of architecture. Most riad managers will be happy to show you around provided that they are not too busy and in some riads you can even book a lunch or dinner without being a resident provided that the riad is not privately rented. For example, see Riad Cinnamon, Riad Laksiba and Riad Papillon.
There are three main zones to sleep: Medina, Guéliz (also known as Ville Nouvelle), and the surroundings of the city. The Medina has the highest concentration of very cheap hotels and riads (small palaces), while Guéliz is much more quiet and most of the hotels are mid price (including showers in the room, breakfast service), but going to the Medina from the Guéliz by taxi costs about 10-15 dirham and can take a long time at busy periods (evenings and weekends).
The surroundings have all the huge tourist hotels, the ones that usually come with what the travel agencies offer. They can be further away from the medina and the rest of the city, but have big swimming pools, restaurants, and many services.
The Medina is packed with Riads and Dars (old grand houses converted into hotels and inns). Traditionally, riads should have gardens; with smaller dars having open courtyards. However the term riad is now used loosely to describe any house with an internal open-air center. These are wonderful places to stay to get a feel for life in Marrakech.
- 1 Dar Attajmil, Marrakech-Medina, 23 Rue Laksour, Bab Laksour (Once entered Bab Laksour, take the second alley right, keep on until no. 23.), ☏ +212 524 426966, [email protected]. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:30. Centrally located and easy to reach, Dar Attajmil has a sand colored courtyard shaded by a tall banana tree; 4 double rooms with bathroom, 1 family suite with private courtyard, several cozy sitting areas, fireplace and library, a large terrace garden where breakfast and meals are served and a devoted team of 5 lovely persons; hammam, massages, cooking class available. Owner organic farm near Essaouira provides daily fresh products, olive and argan oil and the opportunity to spend one or more days in this old restored property, among the argan trees. €80-110/night in B&B.
- 2 Dar Jaguar, 7-8 Derb El Mesfioui, Rahba Kedima, Medina, ☏ +212 524 445 606, [email protected]. Dar Jaguar is an ancient riad that has been restored as a beautiful private guesthouse. It is situated in the heart of the old medina, neighbouring the exotic Place des Epices (spice market). From €99, breakfast included..
The Medina is packed with Riads and Dars (old grand houses converted into hotels and inns). Riads should have gardens; with smaller Dars having open courtyards. However the term Riad is used very loosely today to describe a house with an internal open-air centre. These are wonderful places to stay to get a feel for life in Marrakech.
If you arrive by car, ask the hosts to help you find your way from the parking lot, especially if you never experienced orientation in a real medina before. Here are a sample of some of the riads (in alphabetical order) where you can experience Marrakech's unique style of living:
- 3 Riad Abaka, 21 Derb Roukni Laksour, ☏ +212 6 6697 8703, [email protected]. A spacious riad with seven beautifully furnished bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms. Located in the heart of the Medina, less than two minutes walk from Jemaa El Fna.
- Riad Amazigh (Equity Point Marrakech), 80, Derb El Hammam Mouassine (Nearby Djemaa el-Fna), ☏ +212 524-440-793, [email protected]. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. A former luxury riad now a beautiful hostel. Doubles, singles, and dorms which house up to 8 people. Roof top terrace with nice views, unheated pool, restaurant and bar. WiFi in communal areas, breakfast included. Open 24 hrs, can book activities and excursions. from €9 for bed in dorm.
- 4 Riad Basma, Marrakech-Medina, 22 Derb Jamaa, Riad Basma (From square Jamaa el Fna walk up to derb Dabachi and count 3 small streets (derbs) on the right turn right and keep on until nr. 22.), ☏ +212 6 5051 7223, [email protected]. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. 5 double rooms with bathroom. from €35.
- 5 Riad Chennaoui, Riad Zitoune Jdid, Derb Sidi Fares N°01, ☏ +212 5 2437 6140, [email protected]. Simple and basic riad in the Medina. The staff are friendly and happy to discuss Moroccan life and culture over a shisha in the evening. This place can be difficult to find - you may have to pay a local to take you there (10-20 dirham should do it, although they will ask for more). Dorm beds around 100 dirham.
- 6 Riad Cinnamon, 9 Derb El Hadjra, ☏ +44 7584 327625, [email protected]. Designed and rebuilt to a very high standard with amazing attention to detail and lots of unexpected extras such as the loan of a local mobile phone and ipad loan. Dinners served on roof terrace with incredible views, pools on patio and roof garden terrace. 5 rooms that can accommodate 3 to 4 people each, with an overall maximum of 16. from £112 per room.
- 7 Riad Dar Eliane, 39 Derb Maada,Azbezt,Medina, ☏ +212 5 2437 5710, [email protected]. Four spacious double bedrooms and bathrooms with A/C. Accommodation is on two floors of a restored 300 year old riad in an older and authentic quarter of Marrakesh. Ten minute walk to Jamaa el Fna.
- Riad Iaazane, 57 Derb el Gnayz , El Mouassine, ☏ +212 5 2438 3205, [email protected]. A restored riad with extensive use of traditional styling and ceramics, includes a roof terrace with views. Shower, internet with wifi access, washing, shisha (hooka), free mint tea, city map. An authentic local style breakfast included (08:30-11:30). The owners also operate a tour company that offers guided and structured tours of 1 to 3 days duration. Single €20, double €18, dorm €10 per person.
- 8 Riad LakLak, Marrakech Medina, [email protected]. A riad built in the 17th century, which sleeps 12 in 2 suites and 3 bedrooms, that can be rented as a whole. It is between the "Palais Bahia" and the "Palais Badii", close to Jemaa El Fna Square. from €180.
- Riad Melhoun, 99 Derb Sidi Moussa, Quartier de la Bahia, 40007 Marrakech Médina, ☏ +212 524 386 252, +212 678 734 373 (Mobile), [email protected]. Located in central Marrakech, a 3-minute walk from the El Badi and El Bahia Palaces, it features an interior courtyard with a swimming pool and a furnished rooftop terrace with views of the medina. Each room has traditional Moroccan decoration and en-suite shower. Guests also have access to a traditional living room with a fireplace and a lounge area with books. Free Wi-Fi is available in common areas, hammam, massages and traditional meals are provided on request.
- 9 Riad Dar Najat, Douar Graoua, Derb Lalla Chacha, No.18 (Riad in the heart of Marrakech 5 min walk from Jemaa el Fna), ☏ +212 6 6143 9221, [email protected]. Jacuzzi on the roof terrace, wifi throughout the riad, 7 ensuite shower and A/C accommodation with great gastronomy. French owner, friendly team and atmosphere.
- Riad Laksiba, 16 (bis5)Derb Kadi, Kasbah, Medina, ☏ +44 7850 39 01 07 (UK), +212 524 38 37 04 (Morocco), [email protected]. £25-30 per person depending on season. A very popular Riad with UK visitors. Five bedrooms all with bespoke hand carved beds designed to be split to make twin bedrooms. From Bab Ksiba, an entrance into the Royal Kasbah quarter of the Medina, 1st right is Derb Kadi and Riad Laksiba is the last house in this little cul-de-sac. Ten minute walk to the Djemaa el-Fna main square.
- Riad Lotus Perle, 54, Derb Zemrane,Bab Doukkala., ☏ +212 524431537, [email protected]. Riad Lotus Perle is in the Medina, in the heart of an old neighborhood near the lively souks and Djemaa El-Fna square, this is a wonderful riad composed of rooms and suites combining authenticity and modernity.
- Riad Magellan, Derb El Hamman No.62, Mouassine, ☏ +212 6 6108 2042, [email protected]. An elegant six-bedroom riad which offers a restful and relaxing atmosphere, in the heart of the Mouassine district. Traditional Moroccan meals are available as well as complementary Wi-Fi internet. Airport transfer service available on request.
- Riad Naila, Marrakech Medina, Mosquée Sidi Ben Slimane, [email protected]. Riad Naila Marrakech is a gorgeous private rental home in the Medina of Marrakech built around a patio with a large roof terrace. It is in the Medina of Marrakech in a calm area a fifteen-minute walk away from the Djemaa El-Fna square. It has four bedrooms which sleep seven persons. Each bedroom has its own bath room. Additionally are available a fully equipped kitchen, a Moroccan lounge and a library. Riad Naila Marrakech is a private rental home. Prices range from €100-140 per day depending on the season for the entire house (sleeps 7 persons).
- 10 Riad Papillon, 15, Derb Tizougarine, Dar El Basha (near taxi rank. Go to Dar El Basha then walk towards the centre, take the 2nd road on the left Derb Tizougarine, bear right and go to the end of the cul de sac, has a bright blue door and brass hand of fatima knocker), ☏ +212 6678451893, [email protected]. Check-in: 3, check-out: 11. A riad with five beautiful rooms: Rose, Jasmin, Bougainvillea, Hibiscus and Geranium. It is located in the heart of the Dar el Basha antique district which is very safe. Cuisine is exceptional, service is warm and attentive but discrete. Papillon offers loan of local phone/ipad, Iphone charger, bathrobes. Breakfast and Wi-Fi internet are included. Very romantic and wonderful atmosphere with welcoming dipping pool and tent on rooof terrace. Airport pickups available. Rooms range from £50-100 according to the season. Ask about any special offers and last minute deals..
- Hotel Riad Primavera (Just off of Allal Fassi Avenue and near the Marjane department store), ☏ +212 2433 2570, +212 2433 2572, +212 2433 2573, [email protected]. The only kosher hotel in all of Morocco. The kosher certification is in the lobby and is issued by the Beth Din of Marrakech. 22 rooms with personal A/C units, TVs, bathrooms with showers, decorated in typical Moroccan style. Prices tend to rise during major Jewish holidays and festivals.
- 11 Riad Dar Zaman, 29, Derb Bouelilou, Sidi Ben Slimane (near taxi rank. Go to Sidi Ben Slimane then walk past the mosque towards the small square, take the 1st street on the right (just before the hammam), and turn immediately right into Derb Bouelilou, bear left and go to the end of the cul de sac, Dar Zaman has palm trees leading to the black studded door), ☏ +212 611266998, [email protected]. Check-in: 2, check-out: 11. A gorgeous old riad with four en suite rooms, in the heart of the historic Sidi Ben Slimane district. Very safe and close to popular cafés and restaurants. Cuisine is exquisite, service is warm and attentive, price includes breakfast, designer toiletries, mint tea and pastries and Wi-Fi internet. Fantastic views of Atlas Mountains from roof terrace, deliciously refreshing dipping pool, wonderful dreamy atmosphere. Rooms range from £50-100 according to the season. Askfor special offers and last minute deals..
- Riad Zara, 294 Derb Ben Salek, ☏ +212 2444 2940, +212 6281 7000 (mobile), [email protected]. Run by the friendly and helpful owner Monique and her assistant Hassan. Features a rooftop terrace with nice views of Medina and cozy cane chairs, and a small pool in the center of the Riad. Traditional meals such as Tajines can be served any time of the day. Breakfast includes an array of jams, amlou, pancakes, and mint tea and can be served at flexible times. In the evening, candles are lit and guests gather around the pool, enjoying wine and if you're lucky Hassan might give a live music performance.
- Riad Zolah, 116 Derb El Hammam, Mouassine, ☏ +212 2438 7535, [email protected]. Chic while cozy and informal riad run by Ismail and his team. The house cook, Fadila, makes fabulous fresh baked breads at breakfast. Gorgeous roof terrace and two candle-lit/petal-strewn courtyard patios (one with plunge pool).
- Ryad Dyor, 1, Driba Jdida, Sidi Ben Slimane, ☏ +212 524 375 980, [email protected]. Riad hotel with 7 luxury suites.
- Riad Al Loune, 77 Derb el Kadi, Azbezt, ☏ +212 5243 80225, [email protected]. Charming Riad with pool and hammam. The Riad is located in Azbezt's area, Marrakech Medina's heart.
The budget conscious will have more luck in the streets and alleyways south of Djemaa El-Fna, which are packed with discount hotels offering singles from 50 dirham. Derb Sidi Bouloukat is a good place to look, a quiet but safe alleyway packed with traditional-style hotels just a min from Djemaa El-Fna. Its entrance is easy to find, just a few steps away from Djemaa El-Fna. Take Riad Zatoune (unmarked) which starts right of the Moroccan Red Crescent (with your back towards the Koutoubia) and it's the first alley on the right (marked in Arabic only). On your way in Riad Zitoune you will also come across the public hammam (10 dirham, left entrance for women, right entrance for men, the soap, glove and small bucket can be bought at many shops across the street) and a small restaurant serving bissara and mint tea for less than 5 dirham.
Popular options with backpackers include:
- 12 Hotel Ali. Rue Moulay Ismail. Beds in en suite, dorms, and rooftop terrace mattresses for 60 dirham per person per night, including cooked breakfasts served with orange juice and fresh coffee. Dorm guests can use the internet cafe for 5 dirham per hour. They have a laundry service and free internet access for private room guests, money exchange, a terrace restaurant with views of Djemaa El-Fna, and a downstairs hammam. Private rooms are available with a maximum per person price of 250 dirham per night including breakfast, free internet, and a daily traditional Hammam.
- Hotel Salam (laksor), bab ftouh rue haram chikh n.14, laksor, marrakech, ☏ +212 5 24443861. Cheap and clean hotels, doesn't seem to have showers. 100 mad for double room, no bathroom.
- Hotel Atlas, ☏ +212 5 2439 1051, [email protected]. 50 Derb Sidi Bouloukat. A 2-min walk to the famous square of Djemaa El-Fna. Clean and friendly with nice rooms with shared bathrooms. Singles from 90 dirham, doubles from 170 dirham, for 3 people 250 dirham, for 4 people 280 dirham, for 5 people 320 dirham. There are some rooms with AC for an additional 50 dirham. The hotel is charming and all arranged in the traditional way.
- Hotel Central Palace, 59, Sidi Bouloukate (near Djemaa El-Fna). Rooms are around a noisy and echoey central courtyard. Rooms are clean, but the shared toilets can be another story. Indifferent staff and housekeepers. Nice terrace with a great view, and rooms starting at 150 dirham for a double room with shared showers and toilet. You get what you pay for, but all in all it's a good value considering that Marrakech is more expensive that most other places in Morocco. Car rentals can be arranged (around 350 dirham per day for a small but fairly new car).
- Hotel el-Ward, 65 derb Sidi Bouloukat, ☏ +212 5 2444 3354, [email protected]. Clean, quite comfortable, and the owners are very friendly whenever they feel like it. The rooftop terrace isn't lavish, but being one of the highest it does have a great view. 60/120/170/220 dirham for single/double/triple/quadruple.
- 13 Hotel Essaouira, 3 Derb Sidi Bouloukat, ☏ +212 5 2444 3805. The hotel has singles with a shared bath from 50 dirham and doubles from 90 dirham. It is more or less like the others, but it's all painted in the traditional way, which gives it charm. Toilets and showers are bare-bones, a norm at this price range. Hot water does not stay hot for long. Overall a very good value and comfortable place from which to explore the old town.
- Hotel Imouzzer, 74 Derb Sidi Bouloukate, ☏ +212 5 2444 5336, [email protected]. One of the cheapest and best-value hotels with rooms starting at 65 dirham for singles and 120 dirham for doubles (slightly higher in high season), all with shared bathrooms. Rooms are arranged around a traditional courtyard, and both rooms and shared bathrooms are clean with hot water. The hotel also has a comfortable terrace where you can eat breakfast for 20 dirham.
- Hotel Sindi, ☏ +212 4444 3337. Sud 109, Derb Sidi Bouloukat, Riad Zitoun El Kidim,
- Hotel Smara, 77 sidi Bouloukat. Near Djemaa El-Fna, ☏ +212 5 2444 5568. Very clean, friendly people, nice rooms. 50 dirham and doubles 80 dirham.
- Hotel Cecil. At the Djemaa El-Fna, Bouloukate. Offers doorms, rooms with shared bathroom (from US$13 per person), and ensuite rooms with AC (from US$18 per person). Rooftop breakfast and Wi-Fi included.
- 14 Palm Plaza Hotel and Spa, Avenue du 7ieme Art Zone Touristique Agdal (located in Agdal, a new residential district, 10 mins from the airport), ☏ +212 524 388 700, [email protected]. . Luxurious and comfortable providing 230 rooms, including 151 twin, 52 double, 2 rooms for disabled persons, 6 junior suites, 20 senior suites and a royal suite. The hotel has a piano bar, night club and a restaurant. Snacks are available at the pool bar. The spa features a heated indoor swimming pool, a sauna, a hammam and a gym.
- Riad Lyla, 4-5 Rue ouartani I Mouassani. In Laksour district, 2 min from Djemaa El-Fna, Lyla Riad Marrakech opens its doors. Gérard is the riad's passionate owner.
- Riad Rahba. Offers private, en suite rooms and is a minute from Djemaa El-Fna, at the entrance to the Souks. The Riad combines the traditional Moroccan atmosphere with the comforts of a modern hostel and hotel. The rates include breakfast and wifi. From €18 per single en suite room per night.
- 15 Aqua Mirage Marrakech, Km 5 - Route De Tahanaout, ☏ +212 5 25 07 80 13, [email protected].
- 16 Le Vizir Center Park Resort, Route de Casablanca, Ouled ben Rahmoun, ☏ +212 05243-54141, [email protected]. Suites decorated in 3 different styles of architecture
In the little streets between rue Bab Agnaou and rue Riad Zitoune (where the Smara, the Essaouira, and the Imouzzer are) there are a lot of other small hostels. It is difficult to get lost as they are surrounded by these two big streets and Djemaa El-Fna. It could be a good idea to arrive during the day (best in the morning) and wander around comparing many hostels in a short time.
- Marrakech Rose, 13 Derb Laadam, Kenaria, Place Jemaa el Fna (In a small alleyway near the Cafe de France, directly to the east of the main square in Marrakech. A bit difficult to find. The hostel staff will email you a map with directions once you have made a booking.), ☏ +212 618444328. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 11:00. Charming little hostel right in the center of town, with small dorms and super-friendly staff. Great place to meet other travellers and socialize - mostly a younger crowd. Not the best choice if you want an early night's sleep. Dorm beds from US$10.
- Massine II, 107 Derb Snan, Mouassine, ☏ +212 6 6815 6412, [email protected]. 2nd backpackers in Marrakech in the old Medina. Originally a 16th century house. Central garden, and rooftop. Shower, internet, washing facilities. Breakfast is available, book early, this is a popular establishment. Some travellers complain the sheets are not changed regularly. Also, travellers aren't always registered properly. from €6 in dorm.
- 17 The Heart of the Medina backpackers hostel, 47 Derb Ben Aissa, Dabachi, [email protected]. 1st backpackers hostel to be located in the Medina. 1 minute walk from Place Djemaa El-Fna. Rooftop terrace, hot showers, comfortable surroundings. No more than 6 beds to a room. Breakfast included as are bed linens, towels, and free Wi-Fi. You can expect to pay €8/person all year round per night if booked in advance via email or website. No lockouts, no curfews, and is open 24/7, 365 days/ year.
- Rue Mohammed el-Hansali (Near the train station), ☏ +212 524 447713. A clean hostel with an 23:30 curfew and obligatory wake up call at 08:00. Daily daytime lockout. It is a fair distance from the action in the heart of the Medina. A taxi can cost 15-20 dirham. Dorm beds from 70 dirham.
- 18 Sirayane boutique hotel & spa, Km 8 Route D'Amezmiz, ☏ +212 525 118880, fax: +212 5 25 11 88 81, [email protected]. Spread across nearly 5 acres of gardens, this boutique hotel faces the Atlas Mountains.
Guéliz (also known as Ville Nouvelle)
- 19 Hotel Toulousain, 44 Rue Tariq Bnou Ziad, Guéliz (located near Place du 16 Novembre, Rue Tariq Bnou Ziad is more or less parallel to Ave Mohamed V (to the East), the Hotel is located between the crossroads with Rue de la Liberté and Rue Sourya), ☏ +212 524-430-033, fax: +212-524-431-446, [email protected]. A budget-friendly hotel with rooms going off two nice courtyards, located in a rear building and therefore quiet, no luxury equipment but clean, tidy and friendly and helpful staff 150 dirham per night for a single room without bathroom up to 600 dirham double room 'Suite Hotel', breakfast included.
- Hotel al Kabir (Corner of bd. Zerktouni and rue Loubnane), ☏ +212 2443 9540, +212 2443 4150. This modern, airy hotel is one of a group of similar standard hotels in this area of Guéliz. Mainly used by tour groups and reservation agencies, the Hotel al Kabir's rooms, accessible from three elevators, are all clean, modern, and well appointed, if a tad sterile, and the bathrooms are a reasonable size with shower/tub combos. single/double 291/382 dirham.
- 20 Hotel Ibis (Near the train station), ☏ +212 5 2443 5929. A more impersonal European chain hotel, but very clean and peaceful. It is within a short taxi ride of all the action. If you want to be able to escape the hustle and bustle during the heat of the day and chill out by a pool, this place is perfect. Decent value for the money as well, with lovely rooms and showers. Free internet with wifi is provided in the lobby.
- 21 Moroccan House Hotel, 3 rue Loubnane, ☏ +212 4442 0305, +212 4442 0306. A colorful and personable hotel. As the name suggests, this is more like a house than a standard block hotel. The extravagantly painted and decorated interior is entered through bright blue heavy wood studded doors. Choice of various brightly colored interiors furnished with faux-antiques and lace-draped four-poster beds. Each bathroom has its own water heater and bath/shower combo, and comes supplied with a range of toiletries. Close to many of Guéliz's better restaurants and shops. 3-star rooms start at 405 dirham single, 484 dirham double; 4-star Pacha suites: 455 dirham single, 624 dirham double; 5-star Prince suites: 527 dirham single, 764 dirham double..
- 22 Oudaya Hotel, 147 Rue Mohamed El Baqal, ☏ +212 4444 8512. Situated close to the railway station, the Oudaya is a good alternative for travellers looking for a medium prized hotel in the Ville Nouvelle. The rooms are clean and well-kept with good size bathrooms, air-condition and TV. Breakfast is served from early in the morning and consists of a well stocked buffet, the restaurant is however mediocre and much better meals can be had just around the corner. The courtyard has a large pool (open 09:00-18:00) lined with a massive bougainvilla. The hotel does have a policy of no outside food, which includes bottled water, so make sure to keep any purchases hidden when entering.
- [dead link] Villa Dar El Kanoun, ☏ +212 2449 2010, fax: +212 2434 0635. Route de Targa. Luxury B&B villa with swimming pool and garden. It offers five comfortable double rooms in a quiet residential area nearby Marrakech downtown. Breakfast is included. Rates begin at 1,000 dirham for a double room.
There are many dry cleaning shops inside and outside of the Medina. It takes only one day to clean and will cost from 10-30 dirham per piece. If you stay at hotel, you can hand out your dirty clothes to a housekeeper. Usually they wash it by hand. They do not have a price list and usually say "up to you". You should not pay more than 50-100 dirham per plastic bag.
- Lost in Marrakech Laundry Service, 156 Derb Snane, Mouassine, Medina, ☏ +212 5 2438 4121, [email protected]. M-Sa 09:00-16:00. Laundromat with used books, wifi, coffee and smoothies. Finish in same day or in next day. 20 dirham for 2 kg.
Be sure to report any crime to both the local police and your embassy.
- Romania, Résidence Marrakech Plaza, Immeuble D1, 3-ème étage, Bureau n°1, ☏ +212 524 431449, fax: +212 524 434375, [email protected]. Honorary Consulate (Does not provide consular services. Instead, Romanian citizens in need of assistance should contact the embassy in Rabat.)
- British Honorary Consulate in Marrakech, Résidence Taib 55, Boulevard Zerktouni, Gueliz, ☏ +212 5 2442 0846, fax: +212 5 2443 5276. M-F 08:00-13:00.
Most other foreign embassies and consulates in Morocco are in Rabat, with a few more consulates in Casablanca.
Marrakech is a generally safe city, with police presence. However, staying alert about your surroundings and taking general safety precautions is always a good idea like everywhere. Here are some tips:
- Violent crime is normally not a major problem, but thefts are known to happen. Keep your money close and hidden, and avoid poorly lit streets or alleys at night.
- Guides offering their services should display an official badge from the local tourist authorities.
- Morocco is under an increased threat from international terrorism. Be vigilant when you're out and contact authorities if you notice anything suspicious.
- Be especially careful about being drugged, especially as a solo traveller. The common and easy-to-make drug GHB only lasts three hours and is undetectable in the body after 7 hours, so if you are attacked, take action immediately.
- Be careful ordering room service if you are a solo traveller, as even older women can be targets for robbery. Don't ask the waiter to enter your room.
- Get one of the shopkeepers to dress you up with a berber style scarf, for men and women, it will cover your face (leaving only space for your eyes) and you can remain undetected and will definitely not be harassed by the shopkeepers, one or two beggars may catch on that you are still a tourist from the way you are dressed though, so bear that in mind.
Emergency phone numbers
- Police, ☏ 19.
- Ambulance/ Fire, ☏ 15.
- Inb Tofail Hospital, Rue Abdelouahab Derraq, ☏ +212 4444 8011.
- Polyclinique du Sud, 2 Rue Yougoslavie, Gueliz, ☏ +212 4444 7999, +212 4444 8372, fax: +212 4443 2424. In case of a medical emergency, it's always a good idea to know where to find the local physicians who speak your language. According to the U.S. Consulate website, Dr. Taarji Bel Abbass at the Polyclinique du Sud speaks "fair to good English".
Don’t expect a good quality of tap water In Marrakech. While locals drink it with no problems, visitors often find it hard to digest and swallow. To be safe, opt for bottled mineral water, available at the numerous marketplace kiosks and food stalls. Make sure that the cap seal has not been broken, since vendors have been known to save money by refilling plastic bottles from the tap. At restaurants, ask for your drinks without ice, which are usually made with tap water.
Touts and scams
A Moroccan idiom is "Marrakech, Arnakech" ("Marrakech is Mafia"): Marrakech is the city with the most inflated prices, the most persistent touts and the most cunning scammers. Even Moroccans who visit Marrakech complain. So all the warnings listed on main page about Morocco should be taken extra seriously. On the plus side, at least since September 2016 (and still valid in April 2017), police has been cleaning up a lot; so take these items with a grain of salt and keep an open mind:
- "It's closed"/"it is a prayer area"/"you cannot go there, it is not a tourist area": This is a common technique by scammers pretending to be tourist guides. Some will even have printed badges with photos and documents pretending to be from the Ministry of Tourism. They will ask you or guess where you are going and say that it's closed. Immediately after or later in the conversation, they will lure you to the location they want you to go, usually some sort of commerce with inflated prices. If a stranger approaches you and claims a location of interest is closed, it is very likely a scam. Shake your head, ignore possible shouting and keep walking.
- "Only every 15 days": Another technique is to say a group of Berber only comes every 15 days to do commerce. Buy now, or miss the opportunity!
- Tanneries: it is a common scam near the tanneries in the medina to invite tourists for a free tour to the tanneries and then aggressively demand money. You can visit the tanneries for free, but be prepared to be intimidated by fake guides. Maybe better to go only in a group.
- Directions then pay: If strangers are showing you the way and following you, they may ask you for money at the end of showing directions.
- Snake charmers: Stay at a distance unless willing to pay 20 dirham. They will put a snake around your neck for picture and expect payment.
- Taxi drivers in the "tourist hot spots" (train station, gare routiere, agence CTM, Djeema El-Fna), by default, do not use the meter, though they have to by law, and they overcharge a lot: Either insist on the meter (good luck with that) or agree on a flat price up front. By meter, the trip from the train station to Djeema El-Fna is 13 dirham during daytime, a price of 20 dirham is a good deal for a tourist, regular asking price is 50 to 70 dirham. If your luggage permits, just walking 100 m down the street, away from the "tourist hot spot", and hailing a taxi will get a cheaper fare. (or even a metered fare).
- Djeema El-Fna is now patrolled by tourist police and one can actually walk there pretty much hassle free, except for: At night time, the food stalls can be pretty "aggressive" when trying to convince you to eat there. "Aggressive" as in shoving the menu into your face, while blocking your path or grabbing your hand because they are sure you are an "old friend", starting a lengthy, friendly conversation. And they still try the "complimentary XY" trick where they'll serve you spoonfuls of fries, salads or other items while you are already eating - each tiny plate shows up as 5 dirham on the bill. The latter can be easily avoided by insisting on paying immediately when your food arrives and then just walking away after you finished your meal. On the plus side: With all the tourist police present, (April 2017) simply raising your voice when telling the same guy "la, shokran!" (no, thank you!) for the 3rd time or when debating a bill that lists items you did not order will probably make them stop for fear of police intervention.
- When ignoring touts, you might get dismissive remarks shouted after you, usually tailored to your (guessed) nationality: Unless you know at least French really well, just keep on ignoring them.
- When you get lost in the Medina, you should never have to pay more than 20 dirham to a random person to get you at least out of the medina to a taxi that can drop you of someplace from which you can navigate. Again, agree on a price upfront and have the exact amount ready (or change en route in some shop).
- Henna tattoos are popular with locals and tourists alike. But among the many genuine traders are some scam artists who offer a free henna tattoo only to charge ridiculous prices afterwards (up to 10 times as much as locals would have to pay). Simply refuse any "free" henna tattoos. And, in Marrakech more than in other places, be wary of overly good henna: It is probably regular, cheap henna, mixed with chemicals like PPD to make it appear darker (i.e. of higher quality). This is not only questionable from an overall health perspective but it can lead to serious allergic reactions.
Always remember: Most Moroccans are incredibly friendly, honest people, so sometimes making a fuss in public can generate unwanted attention for a scam artist and shame them into backing off.
Marrakech can make a good base for exploring the High Atlas or for organizing one to four day Sahara treks. The following are towns in the High Atlas that can be seen as part of a day trip:
- 3 Amizmiz. With one of the largest Berber souks in the High Atlas Mountains every Tuesday, Amizmiz is well-worth a trip. This is especially true for those travellers wishing to experience the less urban, less touristy mountain towns of the High Atlas. The souk itself deals mostly in the ordinary household goods that any Walmart does; plan your souvenir shopping elsewhere.
- 4 Asni. A lovely rural village in the Atlas mountains.
- 5 Essaouira (2½ hours west by car.). Charming coastal city. You will pass the goats in the Argan trees on the way there. ~250 dirham for transport only..
- 6 Oukaimeden. Ski lift at 3268 m. The snow falls in the mountains just south of Marrakech every winter. And it stays. Wealthy people from all over southern Morocco have since long learned to enjoy skiing in their own country. This has given the ski resort, Oukaïmeden, a distinct Moroccan touch, too. You do not need to bring your ski equipment all the way from home, all you need can be rented. You should only pay around 250 dirham for a full day here (including a lift pass). Oukaïmeden and the areas around are some of the greatest in Morocco, with four seasons, and ever changing nature. In summer, few people enter this area — it is probably too well known for winter sports. But staying here a day or two is a real treat.
- 7 Ourika Valley (in the Atlas Mountains.). Tours involve stopping several times en route to the valley to look in tourist shops, a Berber house, and a collective run for women who make products out of Argan oil. Tours will also include a walk to visit the various different waterfalls. The journey can become difficult, so wear good walking and/or climbing shoes - suitable footwear is imperative. Think of clambering up rocks at the side of the river, and eventually criss-crossing over wet rocks to travel up the mountain. tours ~ 350 dirham.
- 8 Setti Fatma (A village at the end of the proper motor road up the Ourika Valley.). The residential part is situated above the road and is not visited too much. The attractions are the lovely valley scenery and a walk to seven waterfalls - or for most day visitors one waterfall from which others can be seen.
- Cascade d'Ouzoud. Impressive three-stage waterfalls between green and pink rock slopes has almost 100 m in height and are highest in Morocco. Ride by taxi or minivan of a local tourist company may be ordered near Djemaa El-Fna or in the streets in Medina. At least half of day need for journey but full day it is better. The way goes through picturesque valleys and takes some more than two hours on one direction. Waterfalls accessible on top and by closest downstairs till the bottom where pontoon boats offer to hike just to the place of water falling. Small cafes and food/souvenir shops available before the entrance and just on downstairs. Makakus monkeys meet mostly before sunset and walk just amongst the visitors or seat on trees and rocks. The waterfalls have full power on spring and beginning of summer and may almost dry later. Sun rays sparkly highlights the water stream before sunset.