Country: Morocco
Currency: Dirham (AED)
Peak Season: November-February
Shoulder Season: September-December
Median Temperature: 19.60 C / 67.28 F
Main Languages: Arabic, French, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, car rental, minibus, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 4 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $100.00/day
Tourist Passes: Tizi-n-Test Pass
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Marrakech is one of North Africa’s most inviting cities. The city is teeming with exotic attractions—street performers, mystics, cross-country traders, potion peddlers, and Moroccan cooks included. Marrakech was once the capital of Morocco for a short duration but has since continued to draw an increasing number of tourists, mainly Europeans, since it only takes a few hours to get here from the upper mainland, specifically Gibraltar, Spain. Marrakech is also a portal to strenuous hikes towards the Atlas Mountains and dune excursions in the Sahara Desert, with many companies offering day and night camel treks. There’s something very festive about Marrakech, and you can see it in the eyes of the welcoming locals inviting you to try out their crafts and concoctions.

Like many African countries, you’ll need street smarts to prevent yourself from being outwitted by the merchants. Buy a detailed road map, as the long-winding streets and alleys cavalcaded with donkeys (typical of North Africa) will drive you dazed and confused. Moroccans are raised to be polyglots due to all the conquests and international trade the city actively partakes in. Walking trips around Marrakesh will drain you of stamina— as there’s so much to see and do! Tourists usually start their day travel by going to the souks. Marrakesh is proud to have one of the most extensive selections of goods sold inside these open-air marketplaces.

Packing List

  • Lightweight, windbreaker clothing for daytime itineraries and smart attire for evening socialization; hats, bandanas and handkerchiefs are recommended to ward off the dust
  • Converted currency and expandable shopping bags for souq shopping; a price reference manual is helpful to not get ripped off on antiquities—remember to haggle before purchasing
  • Essential medication and toiletries; moisturizers, lip balms, sunscreen as well as anti-diarrheal/LBM tablets (for the spicy Moroccan cuisine/street food) is strongly advised
  • Bottled water, as even the tap water inside hotels has high mineral content; insect repellants against midges and mosquitoes are highly recommended for those staying inside budget hotels
  • A GPS device, phone and map in case you’re travelling; Marrakech is a congested city with a dizzying network of alleys and roads, and it isn’t hard to see why a lot of tourists get lost

Things to Do

  • Visiting the Koutoubia Mosque, the city’s largest at 58,000 sq. ft, with a prayer hall for 25,000 people; the square minaret stands at 221 feet, has six floors, and is topped by four copper globes
  • Shopping for bargains at Djemaa El-Fna, the city’s foremost souk (marketplace) in the medina quarter; other than spices, gold and handicraft, the souk is home to snake-charmers and dancers
  • Visiting the rediscovered Saadian Tombs, the burial grounds of Sultan Ahmad I al-Mansur, his family and his constituents during the 17th century, before being sealed up by Moulay Yazid in 1792
  • Immersing yourself in Majorelle Garden, conceived and designed by the French-born Jacques Majorelle whilst Morocco was still a colony of France; it is also the venue of the Islamic Art Museum
  • Exploring the remnants of El Badi Palace, which ironically means “incomparable palace”; the original building was said to have been incorporated exceedingly beautiful materials in the design

DON'T

  • Fall prey to guides that offer to give an in-depth tour of the city, but are really affiliated with merchants and force you to buy useless (and knock-off) items; closely inspect before purchasing
  • Eat in places without getting suggestions from locals; your primary concern is not how scrumptious the food—it is how clean it is, so get reviews while you’re at it and settle for bottled water too
  • Buy from the souks without prior knowledge of the items and their corresponding prices; upon shaking hands with the merchants, it signifies a done deal, so don’t appear to show much interest
  • Expect the locals to be entirely tolerant of female rights and homosexuality; though a democratic country, there is still propensity for prejudice against the females and LGBT couples
  • Ever deny invitations to Moroccan homes—you will be treated to paradise with scrumptious food; it is good to get acquainted with the right locals, who usually reside off the beaten track