A confident traveller’s guide to Marrakech

Where

Marrakech, Morocco

When

September is great time to go. With a monthly average temperature of 27°C, Marrakech is still warm enough to explore the city, take a trip out the desert, or just lie by the pool.

Why

Marrakech is a metropolis steeped in history and culture, with a mix of old and new charm, and an exotic and fast paced way of life. Experience the city’s eclectic offerings, from classically Moroccan arts, culture, architecture and cuisine to the kinds of adventure and excitement only found on the African continent, all just a quick and affordable flight away.

Pre-Travel Thoughts

Before you go to Marrakech, learn some French or Arabic. Just a few of the basics (Yes, please, no, thank you) in either language will go a long way during your trip.

Currency

The Moroccan currency is the Dirham, often abbreviated as DH, and the exchange rate it roughly ten Dirham to one Pound. Morocco has a closed currency, so you won’t be able exchange your money before you go or exchange any leftover money once you leave the country. It’s best to convert enough money at the airport or at exchange bureaus in the city centre, or you can withdraw dirham from a cash point. Just be aware that cash points are few and far between in Marrakech.

Price

Marrakech is a very affordable city, with a three-course meal for two still coming to less than £20 (200 Dirham).

Booking Advice

Get a good Riad. One the best unique experiences in Marrakech is being be able to stay in a Riad. They are traditional mansions built around a central courtyard and most are based in old Medina. They serve as a calm oasis away from the hustle and bustle Marrakech many have fountains, swimming pools and stunning architecture to help you enjoy your stay.

On the ground

Once you arrive at the airport, you will have to make your way through customs which, depending on how the busy airport is, may take a while. If you need to stay connected during trip, we suggest buying a local SIM card at the airport. Maroc Telecom has a stand right by the luggage carousel. Once you have your luggage, grab a taxi and head to your accommodation, but be aware that you will have to bargain with your driver. The usual price for a taxi from the airport to the Jemaa El Fna and most of locations around the city is 70 Dirham during the day and 150 Dirham at night. However, the taxi drivers will ask you for much more, be prepared to haggle. Once in the city, head out to these spots:

Jemaa El Fna

Your first stop through Marrakesh should be at the vibrant Jemaa El Fna central square. The square is alive both with food vendors offering enticing street food and fresh-squeezed juices and with Moroccan delights like snake charmers, fortune tellers, henna artists and salesmen all vying for your attention. To see the square at its busiest, visit during the evening when dancers and musicians fill the square to entertain both locals and tourists as they dine at street food stands, in a constant celebration of Berber and Moroccan culture

Souks

To the north of the Jemaa El Fna, you’ll find a network of souks (markets) that offer everything from rugs and textiles to leather goods and jewellery – and haggling is a must. Souk Semmarine and Rue Mouassine lead you to what can only be described as a sensory overload in the old Medina. There, vendors offer fragrant spices, colourful dyes, fresh produce, and intricate textiles.

Majorelle Garden

Both a garden and museum, the Jardin Majorelle is divine. Immaculately landscaped gardens stand out against its cobalt blue walls and beautiful mosaicked doorways and courtyards. Inside you will find the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, which is home to a gorgeous collection of clothing and accessories by Saint Laurent, whose work was influenced by his travels in Marrakech.

Bahia Palace

Islamic architecture reaches impressive levels of refinement in the 19th-century Bahia Palace. Let the beautiful symmetry of engravings and mosaics wash over you, and explore the beautiful courtyard that was once used by some the most powerful people in Morocco’s history.

Hammam

A Hammam is traditional Moroccan spa and Marrakech is littered with them. A hammam experience is usually divided into three steps: First bare it all in an extra-hot steam room to open the pores; second get lathered in soap and scrubbed with the traditional kessa glove; and third get immersed in cold water bath for an invigorating finish.

Take time for Tea

Who doesn’t love a good cuppa? Among the souks and narrow alleyways in Marrakech, you’ll find spots offering Morocco’s delicious traditional tea, green tea with mint leaves and generous serving of sugar. If tea’s not to your liking try some of other Marrakech’s culinary delights like pastilla (spiced chicken/pigeon pie), Moroccan butter crepes, or slow-cooked Tagine.

Trekking outside the city walls

Don’t the let city walls of the old Medina be the limit of your adventures. Some of the most breathtaking sights in Morocco can be found just outside Marrakech.

Ouzoud Falls

You can book a day trip from Marrakech that will take you the beautiful Ouzoud Falls. The falls are accessible by a hike through rocky terrain shaded by olive trees, a worthwhile experience in and of itself. Once you reach the valley, your efforts will be rewarded with views of the waterfall cascading down several hundred feet into a natural swimming spot in the El Abid River.

Merzouga Desert

If you’re in search of sand dunes, Merzouga is the place for you… You can camp out under the stars, book a camel or a quad bike tour, or even try your hand at snowboarding down a dune if you’re feeling ambitious. You can book tours from Marrakech that will take you there. It’s an affordable if time consuming multi-day trip to reach the dunes, with a few scenic pit stops along the way.

Atlas Mountains

Berber communities have lived in the steep valleys of the Atlas Mountains for centuries, and hiking excursions from the city of Imlil take you through their , through their ancient villages villages where you can get a taste of everyday life and see the woven rugs for which the Berber people are well known.. For ambitious mountaineers, the peak of Djebel Toubkal presents an exciting climb up to the tallest point the Atlas range and, in fact, in all of Northern Africa.

Good to know

  • The water that comes out of the taps in Morocco isn’t always potable. Either bring a water bottle with a filter or expect to buy bottled water whenever you’re thirsty.
  • Keep your shirt on. While Marrakech is a very cosmopolitan city, walking around the city in your poolside outfit may garner unwanted attention.
  • Morocco uses European styled (two-pronged) electric plugs.
  • Beware unsolicited help. There are many people that offer to help guide you around the city, but will either guide to their cousin’s rug shop (where you will expected to buy something) or will expect to you pay them for guiding you back to your Riad.
  • Be prepared to pay with cash – many places don’t accept card payments.
  • You can’t take a picture wherever or whenever you want to. People will expect to be asked for their picture, and often expect to be paid to have their picture taken.

Note: These rates are based on the most recent data pulled from KAYAK.co.uk, the cheapest prices are always displayed first, regardless of specific dates mentioned. The prices are quoted in GBP. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy, are per night and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available

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