Top seven tips for visiting Marrakech, Morocco
I didn’t know what to expect when my friend and I booked our tickets to Marrakech. But what we found was a place full of culture and varying paces of life.
When in Marrakech, you can be winding through the labyrinth of the old medina markets one second with heckling young men selling handmade wares, the next strolling down the new quarter with a completely westernised shopping feel.
We both loved our experience in Marrakech and while we were there I filmed some short clips on my iPhone to capture the trip. I’ve only just recently put this together and popped it up on the ole YouTube channel, which you can watch at the end of this post.
In my pre-trip research, aside from looking up the best places to go, I try to find top tips for visiting that you wouldn't otherwise know. You can find tourist spots anywhere online but info on money and clothes was harder to find, so I thought I'd put my top six into this post to help anyone planning to visit Marrakech.
How to get travel money
Moroccan Dirham can only be exchanged in country, so you're best to take your local currency with you and change it over at the airport - there will be travel money kiosks once you arrive and get through security.I recommend getting the majority of the money you intend to spend at the airport. Some hotels will have ATMs but otherwise it'll be hard to exchange throughout your trip.
Remember to do the same on your way back home - the airport will have kiosks before you go through security again to change back to euros, sterling, or whichever currency you require.
Be aware of language barriers
While hotel staff will have brilliant English, not everyone will be able to understand you on first try. If you know Arabic or French you'll be able to communicate with locals very easily, as these are the primary languages.
Look for shuttle services
Our hotel had a free shuttle bus service that took us into the centre of town and back throughout the day. I’d highly recommend checking for this when booking your hotel, otherwise it can be quite difficult to get into the old or new Medina's.
We checked with our hotels’ customer service team and they recommended that we only use the shuttle service and no public transport, as other buses in Marrakech can be dangerous for girls travelling alone and notorious for pickpocketing. Taxi’s are also an option, however a shuttle service is a good way to save cash on holiday.
Take layers of clothing
I visited Marrakech in May and the weather reached the early 20's during the day with a chill in the evenings. In the heat it can be tempting to pack summer dresses and shorts, but just remember that Muslim is the primary religion in Morocco so you need to be respectful of their conservative way of dressing when visiting.
I opted for longer dresses, flowy trousers and tops and a denim jacket to throw over my shoulders to make sure I was appropriately covered. If you're planning to visit any religious sites while in Marrakech, take a scarf or cop one from the Medina to drape over your hair.
We stayed at an all inclusive hotel and of course there you can lounge at the pool in swimwear, no problem.
Go for experiences but say no to extras
I would definitely recommend taking part in experiences while in Marrakech. We booked a camel tour with M&A tours which was a lovely experience - you can read more in the below Instagram post.
We also decided to take a horse-drawn carriage around the old Medina and wouldn't have been able to see so much without it. But beware of extras on these tours - our carriage stopped outside a spa where they asked us to come in for a massage as 'part of the tour'. These will cost you extra and you won't have been able to check up on the place beforehand, so I recommend refusing these offers. Our driver was happy to move on and finish the tour no problem, even stopping at the side of the road to take pictures for us on our phones.
Refuse advice from eager men
This sounds harsh, but you'll know what I mean if you visit. If you get out of a taxi or off a bus into the Medina, you'll find one or two men welcoming you and offering to help you find your way into the Souks. While there are lovely people who will help you when you ask this unsolicited help can turn into a pushy sell to buy from their family business, whether that be a shop, a carriage ride or anything in between. My advice? Turn them down firmly and walk away, otherwise you could find yourself easily lost.
If you want to shop, be ready to haggle
Morocco is known for its woven rugs, handmade pottery and gorgeous lights. The Souks of the Old Medina are a magical place but if you do want to take something home you should be prepared to haggle.
Nothing will have a price tag and the shopkeeper will give you an expensive price first. Offer less than you want to pay and meet them somewhere in the middle... and don't be afraid to say no if you're not happy!
A minute in Marrakech
Watch my YouTube video below to see more of what we got up to while in Marrakech!
If you're thinking about heading to Marrakech or Morocco soon, I hope this post gave you some helpful tips to stay safe and wise while you're there! It really is an interesting place to visit.