This charming and exotic city is bustling with life and history and is often found on the best of travel lists. Its(Visit to Marrakech) distinctive radish houses are giving this city its nickname the “red city”. Its massive medieval fortified walls are still inserting the historical core, preserving it like a time capsule.
This city has some of the largest and the richest traditional markets in Africa that offer unforgettable shopping experiences. It’s a crazy web of winding streets eventually leads to a massive huge main square that is changing from dawn till dusk. This is the fourth largest city in the Kingdom of Morocco and one of its four Imperial cities. This is the one and only Marrakech!
In this article, I will go over all you need to know before your first visit to Marrakech, including transportation, best places to stay, amazing experiences not to miss, day trips from Marrakech, desert tours to try and much more.
Introducing: Visit to Marrakech
Located just north of the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is one of the main cities of the Kingdom of Morocco and was one of Morocco‘s four Imperial Cities. Like many other large settlements in the Kingdom, it has a Medina, an old wall-enclosed district, full of street vendors, old housing and riads.
In fact, Marrakech fortified medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For orientation, let’s start with the Djemaa el-Fna Square, a square and marketplace in Marrakech’s Medina. Located just outside the main square is Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in Marrakech and a sacred symbol of the red city.
Souks are traditional marketplaces spread throughout the Medina, while leather tanneries are found in its eastern part. Located in the central part, you will find Madrassa Ben Youssef, Almoravid Koubba, and La Musée de Marrakech. Next to these attractions is the beautiful Le Jardin Secret. Another famous garden is the Jardin Majorelle. It is a beautiful blue painted villa and located close to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. The Menara Gardens are located close to the Oliveraie, southwest of the Marrakech. In contrast, Jardins de l’Agdal is located in the south.
One of the spectacular gates in Marrakech is Bab Agnaou. It was built around the 12th century and provided entrance to the royal kasbah. It is set next to Saadian’s Tombs, where more than 60 members of a former Saadian dynasty are buried. If you are in the area, drop by Place des Ferblantiers, one of the many impressive attractions in Marrakech. Marrakech has remarkable palaces, such as El Badi Palace, a ruined palace built in the late 16th century, and El Bahia Palace constructed in the 19th century. The Mellah, the Jewish quarter, includes the Miara Jewish Cemetery.
Normally, you can arrive at Marrakech at Menara Airport, which is situated close to the city. Suppose you are travelling from other Moroccan cities by train. In that case, you will arrive at Marrakech’s only train station located in the western part of the city. To get a better sense of distances, a 0.6 mile or 1 km walk from the Jemaa el-Fna Square to Saadian’s Tombs takes about 10 minutes. In comparison, a 1.5 mile or 2.4 km walk from the Koutoubia Mosque to Jardin Majorelle takes about 30 minutes.
Climate in Marrakech
Marrakech has a hot, semi-arid climate. In other words, there is a lot of sunshine all year round. Winters are mild to cold and relatively wet, with temperatures ranging between 43 and 69 °F or 6 and 20°C. Summers are very hot and dry.
Temperatures range between 63 and 99 °F or 17 and 37 °C. On the other hand, in spring and fall, the weather is mild, ranging between cool and warm. Temperatures are between 50 and 83 °F or 10 and 29 °C in spring and between 51 and 91 °F or 11 and 33 °C in the fall. However, these are all just averages. The weather can be different when you visit, so remember to check the weather forecast before travelling.
Best Time to Visit Marrakech
The best time of the year to visit Marrakech is in spring, especially in March and April. And in fall from September to November. This time of the year the weather is very pleasant, and the tourist crowds are relatively small. Late January and mid-February are the cheapest months to visit as it is low season.
Probably the worst time to visit Marrakech is July, the hottest month. But don’t worry – there are a lot of things to see and do in this enchanting city throughout the year, and you will have a great time regardless of the season.
And how can you tell what are the perfect days and hours to see Marrakech attractions? Just check Google to know how crowded a particular place is at a certain time of day. Alternatively, I recommend going early during the week and in the morning.
We recommend staying in Marrakech for at least three days. This way, you will view most of its main attractions and go on a day trip outside the bustling city.
Where to Stay in Marrakech and Best Accommodations
If this is your first time in the red city and you want to experience Marrakech’s vibrant atmosphere, it is recommended to stay in the Medina. However, if you are looking for nightlife or cool places to stay. In that case, Gueliz district or Hivernage quartier are perfect choices for you.
If you want peace and quiet, and don’t mind spending more on accommodations, stay further away from the city centre. Or even better, why not spend a night in a luxury camp in Agafay Desert just 40 minutes outside of Marrakech?
On average, a mid-range hotel in Marrakech costs about 70 MAD. For budget hotels, the average is about 350 Dirhams. Again, these are all just average prices. The ranges for different hotel categories quite wide depending on the season of the year. With a little research online, you can get good deals, especially if your dates are flexible and don’t travel in high season.
Transportation & How to Get Around in Marrakech
From and To the Airport
To get to and from Marrakech to the Menara Airport, you can use: Bus, taxis, car rental or private transfers organised in advance by your hotel or a tour agency. Actually, this is the type of transpiration we suggest the most because it is usually the most reliable and not subject to bargaining.
Getting Around the City
Since Marrakech is not a big city, walking would probably be a good option for getting around the city, especially in the Medina. So, wear comfortable shoes!
Other options for getting around include
- Taxis: You can take either a Grand Taxi, which carries 6 passengers for a fixed price, or a metered Petit Taxi for three passengers. Not all taxi drivers use their meters, so be sure to ask the driver to turn it on or negotiate a price upfront.
- Buses: bus service in Marrakech includes public buses and tourist buses. While a one-way public bus ticket costs just 5 or 10 dirhams, the buses can get crowded and are mostly used by locals. So, it is convenient to use the tourist buses, which cost between 100 to 150 dirhams.
- Hop on Hop Off Busses or green horse-drawn carriages mostly at the Jemaa El Fna Square and the Medina.
- Rent a Car: Of course, it is also possible to rent a car. We do not recommend this option as driving in Marrakech is pretty hard, especially for tourists.
Currency, Exchange Office and ATMS
Of course, the currency used in Marrakech is the Moroccan Dirham. At the time of this article’s making, 1 US dollar is worth roughly 9 Moroccan Dirhams. 1 EUR is worth approximately 11 Dirhams. Euros is also accepted at most places in Marrakech. While paying by credit cards is accepted at several locations such as hotels and restaurants, it is recommended to have cash as you will need it in most locations.
There are many ATM’s in the Djemaa e-Fna square and throughout the city. Of course, you can always exchange money at several exchange offices open in the city. Head to the city centre for the best rates, and make sure to get small bills and coins.
General Information: Visit to Marrakech
Let’s take a look at some other things to keep in mind to make the most of your visit to Marrakech.
Travel Adapters: Visit to Marrakech
Depending on where you are coming from, you will probably need a travel adapter to charge your phone and other devices in Morocco. Morocco adopts European power plugs and outlet styles. If you travel a lot, you should consider buying a universal travel adapter that you can use everywhere.
Morocco is a very open-minded country, especially towards foreigners. And even though there is no official dress code, its preferable to show respect to the local culture by dressing modestly. Keep your chest, shoulders, and stomach area covered, and wear pants or knee-length shorts, skirts, or dresses.
You can legally buy alcohol in Marrakech when you are at least 18. It is available at most restaurants, bars, hotels, supermarkets and liquor stores. Also, keep in mind that it is not recommended to drink in public places.
Crowds & Lines
Marrakech is Morocco’s most visited city, so expect crowded streets and populated places. Even if you can’t avoid all the crowds, you can do some things to make your trip to Marrakech a much more pleasant experience.
For example, try to avoid high seasons, get up early to explore the city without the crowds or use Google Maps to check how crowded a particular place is at a specific time of day. Unfortunately, unlike several cities around the world, there is no city pass for the red city.
Tap water in Morocco has high levels of minerals, and the locals are used to it. But as a tourist, avoid drinking it and get bottled water instead.
Even though public toilets are available in Marrakech, many of them have squat toilets and may not have toilet paper. But you can find sitting toilets in hotels, cafés and restaurants.
Carry Tissues & Hand Sanitizer
sometimes, there is no toilet paper at public restrooms, so it’s best to bring your own. There are also restrooms without sinks and soap, so bring some hand sanitiser too.
Free WiFi is available for guests at hotels, riads, guesthouses, restaurants, and cafes. You can also get access to free WiFi in Marrakech Cyber Park.
Prepaid SIM card and Pocket WiFi
You can buy a SIM card, from one of the local companies such as Maroc Telecom, Orange or Inwi to access the internet on your phone. An alternative is to rent a pocket WiFi or mobile hotspot.
Visa: Visit to Marrakech
If you are a citizen of the United States, Canada, UK, member states of the European Union, or Australia, you will not need a visa to travel to Marrakech. If you are travelling from another country, you should check the visa requirements for Morocco with your government.
Even though some modern infrastructure is wheelchair-friendly, you will find it difficult to access historical locations, for example in the Medina, traditional marketplaces and elsewhere. There are a lot of uneven grounds and stairs. Also, while some places are wheelchair-friendly, the standards are not the same as in the United States or Europe. So, heads up for that one!
Interesting Experiences in Marrakech:
Here are some experiences you should not miss during your stay in Marrakech:
Try traditional mint tea
Moroccan mint tea is just green tea infused with mint leaves and sugar. Sip a glass of this sweet drink to kick-off your day, and how about another one to relax before sunset? And there are delicious things you can try, like Moroccan desserts, argan oil, juice and more.
Stay in a riad
A riad is a royal traditional Moroccan house or a palace with an interior garden or central courtyard. Charming, historical, and atmospheric riads are the ideal places to stay in Morocco, and you will certainly find one that fits your budget. Taste a traditional Moroccan breakfast on your riad’s inner courtyard or the rooftop terrace and cool off in its plunge pool.
Go Shopping in Djemaa El Fna
Tour the Local Markets and Try Bargaining in Marrakech’s Djemaa el-Fna Square. You will witness donkey carts, Berber performers, and large tourist groups; smell exotic spices and taste fresh orange juice, and hear the sounds of snake charmers with the cries of street vendors selling their wares. All these unusual experiences make this vibrant city an enchanting feast for the senses.
You will find the entrance to the souks around the square, which are full of colourful shops of all types and sizes. Prices in the souks vary widely from one shop to another, and you will need to bargain. Moroccans love to negotiate and bargain. Don’t be intimidated and if you don’t like the price proposed, just walk away. They will not be mad at you. Generally, you should aim for about 30 per cent of the initial asking price, and pay about 50 per cent.
Try a hammam
Unwind in a hammam, which is similar to a Turkish bath. Marrakech offers both luxury hammams with span and authentic hammams used mostly by locals.
Go on a Day Trips from Marrakech
For the more joyful experience, don’t confine yourself to the bustling city. Take at least one trip to some other attractions outside Marrakech. For example, a day trip to Essaouira from Marrakech, a serene coastal city with 16th-century walled Medina and ramparts offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Formerly called Mogador by Portuguese colonists, Essaouira is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its rich history and its relaxing beach vibe and artistic atmosphere.
Also, check out the argan oil co-operatives and photograph goats climbing argan trees on your way to the city.
Visit the Sahara Desert
If you have been planning your holiday in Morocco, then you probably know that no vacation in Morocco is complete without a visit to the Sahara Desert. Marrakech is an ideal place to travel to one of the three desert regions in Morocco. On average, you can embark on a 2-day desert trip to Zagora desert’s dunes. But, ideally, you would want to opt for 3-day Marrakech to Merzouga desert tour or to the wild and expansive dunes of Erg Chigaga Desert because that is where the huge sand dunes are.
Regardless of which desert destination you choose, you can experience the iconic sunset camel ride, sleep in nomad tents among the dunes and experience a wonderful desert safari.
Marrakech and other activities you can experience in the red city have many other desert trips. With a little research on the internet, you will be amazed by the number of attractions surrounding Marrakech that you can visit to Marrakech and the variety of activities you can try.
Now that you have a general idea on Marrakech, you can use this exhaustive travel guide to Marrakech that can help you to plan other aspects of your visit to the red city(Visit to Marrakech).
I hope these tips were useful to you and that you have a wonderful time in Marrakech. If you have any questions or if you feel that we missed something, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to hear from you!