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Marrakech

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Djemaa el Fna in the evening

Marrakech (مراكش), also known as Marrakesh, is one of the imperial cities of Morocco.

Tourist information

Understand

The name Marrakech originates from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur (n) akush, 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 distinct 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. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.

Get in

By plane

Marrakech-Menara Airport (IATA: RAK), ☎+212 4444 7910, +212 4444 78 65, +212 4444 8506 [1]. Marrakech has an international airport with direct scheduled flights coming in from London, Stockholm, Paris and Madrid and many charter flights arriving from all over Europe. If you are flying from the US, Canada, Asia or elsewhere, you'll have to change planes in Casablanca. Plenty of low cost companies now fly to Marrakech. Some companies fly to Casablanca, where a plane change for the 45 min flight to Marrakech can be made.

From the UK, Easyjet [2] flies to Marrakech from Manchester and Gatwick Airport (and also from Madrid and from Lyon). Ryanair has direct flights from Oporto (Portugal), London Luton, and London Stansted to Marrakech. They also fly from from Frankfurt-Hahn (Germany), Alicante (Spain), Girona (Spain), Madrid and Reus (Spain) to Marrakech. Thomson Airways travels from London Gatwick and Manchester. British Airways [3] are to begin flying from London Gatwick in 2011. BMI British Midland International fly 3 times per week from London Heathrow starting April 1, 2011. TUIfly no longer fly to Marrakech, Atlas Blue[4], was an offshoot of Royal Air Maroc very low cost fares but is no more a separate brand for Royal Air Maroc neither a low cost rates that flies in from several European cities. Transavia.com is a new Low cost airline from Air France-KLM group coming to Marrakech from several cities in Europe like Paris. Norwegian [5] offers direct flights from Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. Iberia offers two non stop flights from Madrid. TAP Portugal offers direct flights from Lisbon.

From inside the country, you can take Royal Air Morocco [6], with flights from Agadir, Casablanca (daily), Fez (daily), Ouarzazate, Al Hoceima, and Tangier.

Money exchange and ATMs in the airport

Terminal 1 has two money changing outlets in the Arrivals hall and one in Departures. Terminal 2 had ATMs, but (as of March 2012) is currently being re-built from the ground up. On ATMs, check for the Maestro, Cirrus or Plus logos to be sure that the machine accepts foreign credit cards. Beware as some of the ATMs work only in French. If your card is taken at the ATM, tell airport security and they can help you get it back.

ATMs generally dispense only 100 and 200 dirham notes so getting change for small everyday purchases like water, taxis etc can be a challenge. At weekends you may have difficulty acquiring cash as machines are not generally restocked until the following Monday. Sometimes your card may work in some machines and not others, or may support smaller withdrawals rather than larger ones, and may work at some times and not others. You should ensure you have a backup means of funding your visit. ATMs usually dispense a maximum of 2000Dh but other limits may apply dependent on your bank.

More info regarging using Cash / Credit Cards and ATMs

The Dirham is officially designated as a closed currency meaning it can only be traded within Morocco , however, Dirhams are being sold and bought in travel agencies and at major airports in several countries (notably the UK). The import and export of the currency is tolerated up to a limit of 1000DH. Currency purchased during a visit to Morocco should be converted back before departing the country, with the exception of the 1000Dh level. Travellers should be advised to keep the receipts of currency exchange, as these will be required for the conversion of Dirham back to foreign currency prior to departure. You can change as many Dirhams as you have left.

At Marrakech airport the exchange rate is very similar to that in the town centre, so there is not much loss in waiting to the last minute to change your remaining Dirhams. Once through to embarcation you can no longer spend Dirhams, only foreign currency, so make sure you have no unwanted Dirhams left.

Most of the main foreign currencies may be exchanged at a Bureau de Change in the airport or port upon arrival, at a bank and in most hotels although smaller hotels in more remote areas may not be able to exchange large amounts at one time without prior notice. Most hotels will exchange at the same rate as banks and without charging commission. Exchanging money in the street is illegal, so travellers should look for an official Bureaux de Change which is identifiable by a golden sign.

When bringing paper currency into Morocco (U.S. Dollars, British Pounds, Euros etc.), these must be in good condition--no tears or ink marks. Do not bring Scottish or Irish Sterling notes as they are impossible to cash as are Australian and New Zealand notes. Beware of bringing in brand new designs of banknotes, for example when the Bank of England introduced the new 'Adam Smith' £20 note in March 2007, the Moroccan banks would not change them as their records only showed the older, and at that time still legal, 'Sir Edward Elgar' £20 notes. Don't bring coins in your currency to use as tips as they are hard for the locals to exchange and they get a very poor rate of exchange so have to pester other tourists to try and change them.

Some shops, Riads/hotels and especially restaurants quote prices in Euros and Dirhams; in the days where there were 10 dirhams to the euro it made conversion easy, now 1€ (Euro) is approx. equivalent to 11Dh but some traders still prefer to use the rate of ten to one which means you are slightly overcharged. Some traders will not give change when paying in pounds or Euros!

If your Riad or hotel has only quoted in Euros (many do to make it easier for guests to understand) ask for the price in Dirhams so you can pay in the local currency.

Current exchange rates can be checked at http://www.xe.com/ucc. Please remember that the rates provided by xe.com are for wholesale transfers but are generally close to the exact rates of exchange found in Morocco.

Credit Cards

Most credit cards are accepted (especially Visa, MasterCard), although surcharges will likely apply as the cost of credit card processing in Morocco is fairly expensive for businesses. Do be aware that only a relatively small amount of businesses in Morocco have the ability to accept credit cards, although the number is growing slowly. Advise your bank or card issuer that you intend to travel abroad so that no block will be put on the usage of your credit or ATM cards. Notify the issuer and give them a 'phone number where you can be contacted abroad. Before travelling, ensure you make a note of all credit card numbers and associated contact numbers for card issuers in case of difficulty. The numbers are usually free to call as you can reverse the charges, make it clear to the operator at your hotel, riad etc that you wish the call charge to be reversed. Preferably get a pre-paid card, with good exchange rates and low withdrawal fees eg fairFX.

When making payments with a credit card, for example at a hotel for services, it is vital to memorise the PIN as signatures in many instances are no longer accepted, however certain establishments such as restaurants may still use the old method of signing.

Many people now use a prepaid FairFX or Caxton card. Theses offer good exchange rates, are safe and money is protected if the card gets lost or stolen. These are accepted in Moroccan ATMs anywhere you see the Mastercard logo and in some shops too.

ATM cash dispensers

ATMs can now be found in abundance in most towns and accept Visa, Maestro, Cirrus etc but these will usually incur charges of around 5%. You should check with your bank as charges for using ATMs abroad may make exchanging cash a better option. Popular destinations such as Tangier, Marrakech, Agadir etc have ATM's in large tourist international hotels as well as on all main roads. The medina of Marrakech has in excess of 20 ATMs. Using a credit card (VISA etc) to obtain money from ATM's is also possible but one must remember that interest is charged from the moment money is dispensed. The normal practice of an interest-free period which applies to purchases, typically over 50 days, made on the card does NOT apply to cash withdrawals. Banks will allow cheques to be cashed but must be supported by a guarantee card.

Get in

The airport is located about 9km (6 miles) from the city. The best option, if you don't have too much luggage, is by bus (line 19). Otherwise it's easier to take a taxi which takes about 15 minutes to get to the center of the Medina.

On foot

If you don't have too much luggage then it's 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.

By bus

The No 19 Airport express bus is Dh 30 for a single trip or Dh 50 for round trip (if the return trip is within 2 weeks of initial purchase). It serves all the major hotels and is a great way to go from the airport to the hotels. You can easily find its departure stop, to the left of the road immediately outside of the Arrivals Hall at terminal 2, after the taxis. The bus leaves the airport every half an hour between 7Am and 9:30PM. The bus has no particular stops except Jeema El Fna and can stop anywhere on the route. The driver has a small map to hand out and you can tell the driver your hotel you're heading to. 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 meters from terminal. This is an option only for people without large, heavy luggage, but it is the cheapest one - the bus costs Dh 3.5

By taxi

The airport is located about 6 km (4 miles) from the city, which is about a 10-15 min ride by "petit taxi." Petits taxis are hatchbacks that go to destinations within the city and charge a lower price than the larger "grands taxis," which go between cities. If you leave from the airport by petit taxi, make sure to agree on the price beforehand, or, better yet, have the driver use his meter (a taxi ride to Ville Nouvelle or to Medina from the airport should be Dh 40-70, more at night). In practice, most petit taxi drivers have agreed among themselves to an artificially high rate to or from the airport - most will quote you Dh 80 each way, and half again that much at night. As of late 2011 Taxis appear now to be quoting a very over inflated Dh 200 at night, and Dh 150 by day, trying to bargain a lower price is very difficult. They will try to charge even more (Dh 250-300) for groups. They can be very pushy and like to get you locked inside the vehicle before they reveal the price and will always demand the fare up front. Ideally you should try to pay no more than Dh 100 from the airport to the center of the city for a petit taxi, depending on the time of day, number of drivers, and number of potential passengers. While it is possible to bargain with the airport taxis, in some cases they may agree a lower price i.e. Dh 100, then stop mid journey and demand another Dh 100. Call the police if this happens. If you catch a petit taxi outside of airport, the petit taxi will use the meter instead of negotiated price.

If you are traveling from the airport to somewhere further afield (such as Essaouira), your hotel or guest house may be able to arrange a grand taxi to pick you up at the airport and charge a fixed price for the journey. Grands taxis are generally more expensive than petits taxis, but more comfortable especially when you have luggage. It also avoids hassle, as it's not always easy to haggle with a taxi driver after staggering off a long plane ride half-asleep.

Several international rental car companies are based at the airport as well.

By train

Sunset near Marrakech train station

The train station is in the recently developed Guéliz district at Avenue Hassan II, ☎ +212 447768. For train times and schedules, check out the Moroccan Railway website [7].

Trains from Casablanca (2nd class Dh84/ 1st class Dh150, 3 hours), 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 hour trains to Fez via Casablanca Voyageurs station and another two direct connections to Tangier.

Tangier: For those wishing to travel by train from Tangier it's about a 10 hour 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 mins. 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 Dh 350). Notice, that 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 interupted by movement of the passengers and a few times by the ticket conductors throughout the night. Bottom line- it's a great way to go, but (especially if you're traveling alone), don't plan on sleeping on the train.

There is currently 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.

Travel tips: 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 enroute.

By bus

There are many long distance bus companies operating within Morocco which serve Marrakech and other cities.

The recommended bus companies for tourists are CTM, Pullman du sud and Supratours. Other companies do exist, though these three companies are usually your safest options.

Most ALSA (local destination bus company) and private bus lines arrive at the long distance bus station near Bab Doukkala, a 20 min walk (Dh 15 - 20 by petit taxi) from Djemaa El-Fna. 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.

The long distance bus station, CTM and private bus companies travel to destinations such as Agadir, Safi, Casablanca, El Jadida, Essaouira, Fez, Meknes, Ouarzazate, 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 (6h, ~120 Dh) be advised, that while seemingly shorter on the map, the mountain route via Beni Millal takes at least 2 hours more than on the highway via Rabat and Casa, going there by train (6½h, 174 Dh) is the most comfortable option, although busses might be slightly quicker.

CTM operates a brand new bus station "Gare Voyageurs" one block south from the Supratour station next to the train station. It's better to take the buses there, because you can buy the tickets in advance. Besides, the CTM's offices there are better and there's 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.

Get around

Once in the medina, everything can be seen on foot, though you'll be doing a lot of walking. For exploring more of the city, buses and petits taxis are plentiful.

By bus

Almost all buses stop at Djemaa El-Fna and Place Youssef Ben Tachfine and fares range from Dh 2 - 5 depending on the distance. Important municipal bus lines are:

  • No 1 - Towards Gueliz
  • Nos 3 and 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 (one way Dh30/return for Dh50)

Bus No 19 leaves Djemaa el-Fna every half an hour, starting at 6:15AM in the morning until 9:15PM. 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 Dh 145 each and are valid for 24 hours from the time of issue, no matter how many times you get on or off. However, check the timetable carefully, as the buses can stop running earlier than you might think.

By caleche

An alternative and romantic way to travel is by caleche - pronounced kutchee - a small horse-drawn carriage. They can be hired at Square de Foucauld (the small park at the bottom of Djemaa El-Fna). It's wise to agree on a price before setting off. As a guide price, you should pay around DH 80 per hour, per carriage.

By taxi

If getting around by taxi, just bear in mind that taxi drivers will make up many excuses to rip you off; for example:
- They don't have change.
- They will hustle you to charge for everything such as bags. But you don't need to pay for extras.
- For petit taxi, the maximum number of passengers is three (plus the driver). Sometimes you need to share with other passengers. If you are a group of two or three people, you just pay the one price and share with others (example, 10Dh for three passengers).
- The meter starts from 1.70Dh before 8pm and 2.40Dh after 8pm. No need to negotiate the price. Basically they have to use the meter even if it is midnight. Each 100m, the meter will up 1.20-1.40Dh. - The minimum charge is Dh7 before 8pm and after will be 10Dh.
- Dh 20 is a good price for a 10 min ride.
- For Grand Taxis (Regular Mercedes Taxis) there are no meters. Typically the set rate from Marrakech Airport to the Medina or Jemaa el fna (Main square) is 150Dh. There also appears to be no limit to the amount 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.

Always ask to use the meter (compteur in french); otherwise, you are just contributing to a culture of ripping off people. However, Taxi drivers will in nearly 95% of the cases 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. Your only option to avoid this is using the buses which serve most destinations of interest (see above).

See

Koutoubia Mosque

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.

  • Djemaa El-Fna is 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 dirhams to watch. By day it is largely filled with snake charmers and people with monkeys, as well as some of the more common stalls.
  • The Souks (suuqs), or markets of Marrakech, just adjacent to Place Djemaa El-Fna, are where you can buy almost anything. From spices to shoes, jellabas to kaftans, tea pots to tagines and much, much more. 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 dirhams, you'll 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 or Turkey, so have fun!
  • 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.
  • Koutoubia Mosque, right besides Djemaa El-Fna, is 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. Tourists are not allowed inside.
  • Saadian Tombs were not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century. They have been preserved just like they were during the glory days of the Saadian rulers. Unlike the El Badi Palace, they were not destroyed, probably for superstitious reasons. The entrance was blocked so they remained untouched for hundreds of years. Inside you will find an overload of Zelij (Morrocan tiles) and some beautiful decoration. It doesn't take a lot of time to explore, but it is definitely worth the visit. While here, look for the tombs of Jews and Christians; they are noted by their different markings and direction of the tomb.
Majorelle Gardens
  • Majorelle Gardens [8], in Gueliz has an entrance fee of Dh 50 and is more expensive than other attractions. However, it provides an excellent respite from the hustle and bustle of the city streets. The park boasts a collection of plants from across 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 Museum of Islamic Art, for which an additional entrance fee of Dh 25 is charged.
  • Dar Si Saïd Museum, on Rue Riad Zitoun Jdid has an entrance fee of Dh 25, is a museum 5 mins away from Djemaa El-Fna. Set in an old palace, it 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.
  • Ben Youssef Madrassa is one of the largest Madrassas in the North Africa. It is a school attached to the Ben Youssef Mosque and is home to beautiful art and architecture.
  • El Bahia Palace is an ornate and beautiful palace, 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. Admission is Dh 10.
  • El Badi Palace is a palace now in ruins and inhabited by storks and stray cats. There are some underground passageways to explore. Admission is Dh 10. The view from the terrace is majestic.
  • The Menara gardens, which are located west of the city, and consist of a mixture of orchards and olive groves surrounding a central pavilion which is a popular sight on tourist postcards. The pavilion was built during the 16th century Saadi dynasty, and renovated in 1869. It has a small cafe.

Do

The Medina

The old, 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

  • Les Bains de Marrakech, 2 Derb Sedra, Bab Agnaou (same building as Riad Mehdi), +212 438 1428 [9]. Tourists-oriented in good sense: couples can have hammam together in a private room. Extensive list of massages and spa treatments from 30min to a full day. Reception and attendants are proficient in speaking English, however, the scrubbing and massage personnel speak only very basic vocabulary.
  • Hammam Dar el-Bacha, 20 Rue Fatima Zohra, men 7AM-1PM, women 1-9PM
  • Hammam Bab Doukkala, Rue Bab Doukkala, southeast corner Bab Doukkala Mosque, women noon-7PM, men 8PM
  • Thai marrakech Résidence Les Jasmins Apt N° 13 4ème étage Angle Av. Mohamed v et Rue Oum Errabia Guéliz "+212" (0)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 [10]

Buy

Spices at a Marrakech market.

Along with the major souk adjacent to the Djemaa El-Fna, there are a plethora of smaller souks throughout the city where any number of products can be bargained for. Keep an eye out for a wide array of hand-crafted candle-holding lanterns, as well as spectacular displays of local spices.

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 Dh 70 at local supermarket for cooking oil or Dh 200 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, and handbags.

For the shoes always check they have no paper inside the plate (sole in french) because it is very common, don't be fooled by demonstration of how they bend the shoe and turns back to the position try it yourself by feeling and hearing how the paper bends. For poor quality one you shouldn't pay more than Dh 40 and for a good one no more than Dh 90, shop around and learn the difference between the 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 pay a high price.

Be sure to wander round the potters' souk, and look for brightly colored platters and bowls, as well as tagines 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.

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.

Prices

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: Dh 90. Good (thick) quality: Dh 300.
  • Paintings, depends on the quality and size but no more than Dh 50 for a 70x50cm.
  • Shisha, Dh 150 for the smallest ones. Prices then vary with size and quality.
  • Tobacco for shisha, Dh 20. There are many flavours and decent prices at the duty free store at the airport in Marrakech.
  • Shoes, for home, no more than Dh 50 for a good one, for the street no more than Dh 90 for a good quality one.
  • Lamp, no more than Dh 60 for a medium size lamp.
  • Woven beanie, Dh 15.
  • T-Shirt, no more than Dh 50 for a large.
  • Small wooden snake toys, Dh 5.
  • Small teapot (2-3 cups), Dh 90-100.
  • Medium size cooking tagine Dh 40. (Choose carefully, glazed tagines have a risk of releasing unsafe levels of lead.)
  • Dress for women, poor quality, not wool, Dh 30.
  • Carpets: Dh 1,000 for a white wool carpet that is 8ft x 12 ft
  • Dates: Dh 10 for a box (especially true if you buy near place they grow, like between Zagora and Agdz)
  • Henna tattoo: medium sized design should cost no more than Dh 50 (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.
  • Dishes: you can find small ones with Dh 40 to 60, depending on quality and decorations...
  • Bananas, Dh 8 per kilogram, in season.
  • 250g of gunpowder tea, Dh 30. Although best bought at a supermarket.
  • Round piece of bread, Dh 1,5.
  • Spice Mix "4 Spices" 76,50 Dh/Kg
  • Spice Mix "Spices for Fish" 79,00 Dh/Kg
  • Spice Mix "Spice for Tagine" 69,95 Dh/Kg
  • Cumin 39,90 Dh/Kg
  • Curcuma 44,40 Dh/Kg
  • Ground Cinnamon 39,95 Dh/kg
  • Ground Ginger 54,50 Dh/Kg

Don't bid for a price that you are not willing to pay.

Even hostel prices can be haggled.

Remember, sellers are just the middle man, they don't produce it, except maybe for some kinds of lamps, and they pay very little to the people who actually make it. Please also NEVER pay in advance. And NEVER let anyone write you an invoice. Its a bad idea and in most of the cases you will never see your goods or money back.

Eat

Each night in the Djemaa El-Fna rows of street stalls are set up under giant white tents. These huts 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.


  • Cafe Alhamra, Pl. Djemaa El-Fna, opposite Café de France. ☎+212 6504 7411. On the edge of the square, it serves up salads, pizza, and pasta as well as a tagine of the day. Their rooftop is a good place to have a late night coffee and pastry while watching the events in the square below.
  • Cafe Mabrouk (off Djemaa El-Fna) serves the same standard fare as everywhere else in a little courtyard or terrace.
  • Chez Chegrouni, near the main entrance to the market. Maybe the best cheap restaurant in the square. Their vegetarian couscous (Dh 30) 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.
  • Cafe Arabe, 184 mouassine (medina near dar el bacha), +212 2442 9728, [11]. is in the medina. They have a Moroccan and an Italian cook, so there are two menus to choose from. There is beautiful seating on three floors including the downstairs courtyard which is lovely for lunch. The top floor terrace has fantastic views over the medina and is great at sunset. You can lounge on their sofas whilst sipping a cocktail and watching the sun go down over the medina.
  • Chez El Bahia is 50m away from Djemaa El-Fna on Rue Riad Zitoune (the street that starts at Wafa Restaurant). It has excellent and well priced food in a quiet place. Try the chicken and olives tajine as well as the prune, almonds, and mutton tajine for about Dh 45 each. Also try the Moroccan salad while they cook the rest of the food.
  • Chez Yassine is 5 mn north from the Koutoubia mosque, 70 Rue Fatima Zohra Rmila (next to the Bacha hamam). Not much choice but excellent food at rock-bottom prices, served by very friendly people. Tajines (Dh 28) and pizzas (Dh 20-35) are great and you can also order skewers that are not on the menu.
  • Earth Cafe situated in the Medina is vegetarian-friendly. Number 2, Derb Zawak, Riad Zitoun Kedim, ☎+212 6054 4992, +212 6128 9402. Also available are vegan alternatives and plenty of options for fruit and vegetable-based drinks.
  • Henna Cafe (93 arset aouzal souikat), bab Doukala (Go to the taxi rank at Dar El Basha and walk 100 yards up towards Bab Doukala. Henna Cafe is on the right hand side-a pretty little cafe on 3 floors with an unmissable orange sign on the berber hand carved wooden facade.), 212 656566374, [12]. 10-late. If you want to travel ethically then this is your place! Henna Cafe opened in November 2011 and is a sweet little place run by the very lovely Mohammed who is very genuine and competent. You can have a cup of tea/coffee (80p)or a delicious simple lunch with dessert or just a sandwich (approximately£2). The Henna Cafe offers safe henna body adornment as well- Ranging from a 50 dhm (£3.50) small motif on your hand to a full arm complex design for a wedding from 500 dhms. Henna Cafe is a NOT FOR PROFIT cafe so 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. Currently the cafe offers free english lessons to moroccan women so that they can find employment out of the home.
  • Le Marrakchi is opposite the market and adjacent to the newspaper stand. With two main courses and wine running at around Dh 300, 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.
  • 16 cafe Is considred one of the better restaurants in Marrakech city. Discover and enjoy the Moroccan kitchen and passing good times. 16 coffee is caterer of event and wedding in marrakech. [13]
  • Delhi Place Indian restaurant, Hotel Royal mirage, Avenue De La Menara Mohamad 6, [14]. lunch and dinner. Serves Indian cuisine and is decorated in the Indian style. €15 to 20.

Vegetarians will find that there are few options outside the ubiquitous Tagine avec Legumes.

For more upscale eateries (and especially for non-Moroccan cuisine) you generally must go outside the Medina to Ville Nouvelle. However, Diaffa (Rue Jbel El Akhdar just off Av. Mohammed V, across from Club Med), is an upscale restaurant in one of the oldest buildings in the Medina, and offers excellent 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 are all not to be missed.



  • Dar Najat's Kitchen, Douar Groua,derb lalla chacha,N.18 (Five mn walk from jemaa el fna), 00212524375085, [15]. 20/23. Dar Najat's Kitchen,daily fresh food in a Boutique Riad with 5 mn walk from Jema el Fna with car access.Great menu for a reasonnable cost and great alternative to the touristic restaurants with a great atmosphere & staff. 23 euro/pax. (31.6238915,-7.9834583)

How to eat (well) in the Djemaa El-Fna

Djemaa El-Fna in full swing

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 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.

Some tips:

  • Prices tend to vary a little. Depending upon how hungry you are, you can pay anything from Dh 10 for a bread filled with freshly grilled sausages or perhaps a bowl of harira soup to Dh 100 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 Dh 1.5 each (Dh 3 seemed the going rate as of 7/2011). 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.

Drink

Street vendors offer fresh orange juice (jus d'Orange) by the glass for Dh 4. 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 Dh 10 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 Dh 10 for a Dh 4 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.

  • Cafe Arabe, Rue Mouassine Medina. ☎ +212 2442 9728. Features a hip lounge and restaurant that is bliss on a hot Moroccan night. Arabic music plays as you sit on plush seating while attentive waiters serve you. With a modern cuisine that is a welcome change from tagine and couscous, sitting in the terrace on a hot summer evening with water mist sprays from the ceiling is truly a luxurious experience.
  • Chesterfield Pub (In the Hotel Nassim), 115 Avenue Mohammed V, 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.
  • Hotel Tazi, Rue Bab Agnaou. The hotel has a public bar, serving beer and wine and is not overly expensive.
  • 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. This place is better for pre-dinner drinks.

Outside Medina.

  • Acima, If you are walking from the Medina to the Majorelle Garden (Jardin Majorelle), this supermarket is located in the basement of the building on the corner of Boulevard Prince Moulay Abdellah and Avenue Yacoub Al Mansour. This is a very good supermarket to buy all kinds of food, including a large variety of alcohol (wine, beer, and liquor). No haggling needed as all prices are marked and listed. You can even buy a nice variety of spices here.

Sleep

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 Dh 10-15 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.


Medina

Hostels

  • 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.), (00212) 618444328. checkin: 12 PM; checkout: 11 AM. Charming little hostel right in the center of town, with small dorms and super-friendly staff. Great place to meet other travelers and socialize - mostly a younger crowd. Not the best choice if you want an early night's sleep. Dorm beds from $10 USD.
  • Riad Amazigh, 80, Derb El Hammam Mouassine (Nearby Djemaa el-Fna), (), [16]. A former luxury riad now a beautiful hostel. Doubles, singles, and dorms which house up to 6 people. Roof top terrace with nice views. All rooms have full bathrooms and good appointments. Restaurant serving Moroccan food. Open 24 hrs, can book activities and excursions.
  • Riad iaazane (riad Marrakech), (In a small alleyway less than 5 mins from the famous square Jamaa el Fna. See map on website), +212 5 2438 3205 (), [17]. 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 (8:30AM-11:30AM). The owners also operate a tour company that offers guided and structured tours of 1 day, 2 days or 3 days duration. Single €20, double €18, dorm €10 per person.
  • Riad La Koutoubia, +212 6 6936 9995 (). This (Riad/hostel) was opened as a guest house in 1997 in one of the main streets of the Medina. Good view from the rooftop is. Shower, internet, washing facilities and authentic breakfast available from 8AM-noon.
  • Massine II, 107 Derb Snan, Mouassine, +212 6 6815 6412 (), [18]. 2nd backpackers in Marrakech located 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.
  • The Heart of the Medina backpackers hostel, 47 Derb Ben Aissa, Dabachi, (), [19]. 1st backpackers hostel to be located in the Medina. 1 minute walk from Djemaa Place. Rooftop terrace, hot showers, comfortable surroundings. No more than 6 beds to a room. Breakfast included as are bed linens, towels, and free wifi. You can expect to pay €8 euro/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. (31.627020410692623,-7.9853010177612305)
  • Rue Mohammed el-Hansali, (Near the train station), +212 524 447713. A clean hostel with an 11:30PM curfew and obligatory wake up call at 8AM. Daily daytime lockout. It is a fair distance from the action in the heart of the Medina. A taxi can cost between Dh 15-20. Dorm beds from Dh 70.

Riads

The Cooling effect of a Riad's courtyard is no accident. Design: A water feature at the base of a Riad courtyard serves two purposes. Firstly, the obvious focal point but more importantly, the courtyards oper-air aperture channels warm air entering into the Riad which inturn passes over the water feature, cools down, thus assisting in the convection of heat to exit back through the Riad's open-air aperture. This style of natural air-conditioning has been prevelent in Morocco for millenia and is remarkably sucessful.

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 loosly today to describe a house with an internal open-air center. 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:

  • Riad Abaka, 21 Derb Roukni Laksour, +212 6 6697 8703 (), [20]. 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 Ariha, Derb Ahmed el Borj 90, Sidi ben Slimane (just after Restaurant Dar Zellije), + 33 66 36 57 263 (), [21]. Zen-chic with five beautifully decorated rooms each with heating, air conditioning and ensuite bathrooms. Free WiFi, free in-room safe, and lots of other freebies. Very comfortable beds with crisp white bed linen for a great night's sleep. Organic toiletries from Nectarôme. English-owned, English, French and German spoken.
  • Riad Basma, Marrakech-Medina, 22 Derb Jamaa, Riad Basma (From square Jamaa el Fnaa 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 (). checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12 midday. 5 double rooms with bathroom. (31.625691,-7.984995)
  • Riad Chennaoui, Riad Zitoune Jdid, Derb Sidi Fares N°01, +212 5 2437 6140 (). 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 drm should do it, although they will ask for more). Dorm beds around 100 drm.
  • Riad Chi-Chi, Derb el Anboub 12, Quartier Al Baroudiine, Marrakech (close to Musee de Marrakech), Tel. + 33 66 36 57 263 +212 (0) 5 24 38 98 57 (), [22]. All the bedrooms (the riad has 4 double bedrooms and 1 suite sleeping max. 12 people) are light and airy with extremely comfortable beds, air conditioning and heating. The interior decoration is in fresh soothing white with the odd splashes of colour creating a calming effect. All bedrooms have an en-suite bathroom and air-conditioning/heating. Great service, great food. English-owned, French and German-speaking.
  • Riad Cinnamon, 9 Derb El Hadjra (Will pick guests up at the airport, otherwise head for the Museum of Marrakech then, with the Kouba on your left and the medersa Ben Yousef on your right go straight ahead until you come to a sharp bend in the road to the right. Then take the first street on your left. Riad Cinnamon is nestled at the end of this street on the left.), 00 44 (0)7584 327625 (), [23]. checkout: checkout. Designed and rebuilt to a very high standard by Mike and Lucie Wood with amazing attention to detail and lots of unexpected extras such as the loan of a local mobile phone and ipad loan. Perfect for romantic escapes, hen parties, groups of women wanting to experience Marrakech's shopping, hammams and food. Amazing dinners served on roof terrace with incredible views. Dipping pools on patio and roof garden terrace. Most rooms can accomodate up to 4 people in single beds. All rooms can be either twin or doubles/ triples. Room prices range from £100-160 depending on the season. But prices per person can be cheaper than a hostel as rooms can be shared by up to 5 people. Ask about special offers and last minute discounts..
  • Riad Dar Eliane, 39 Derb Maada,Azbezt,Medina, +212 5 2437 5710 (), [24]. 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 LakLak, Marrakech Medina, (), [25]. Riad LakLak is a gorgeous Riad from the 17th century, which you can rent as a private rental home. It is located between the "Palais Bahia" and the "Palais Badii" in one of the most authentic area of the Medina of Marrakesh. The famous Jemaa El Fna Square is only few steps away and a guarded car park is close by, where you can easily get a taxi to discover Marrakesh and its surroundings. Riad LakLak has two suites and three bedrooms and can accommodate 12 persons. On the roof terrace, you can watch at least a dozen majestic storks nesting on the walls of the atmospheric and beautiful ruin of the Badii Palace and groups of storks will glide gently a few meters above your head to there nesting places. Storks are the harbingers of happiness and prosperity and have given Riad LakLak (Riad Stork in Arabic) its name. Booking a private riad in Marrakech offers the same benefits as renting a holiday home anywhere else in the world – except you will be located in one of the world’s most famous ancient cities – the Medina of Marrakech. Riad LakLak Marrakech is a private rental home. Prices range from €120-200 per day depending on the season for the entire house (sleeps 12 persons).
  • Riad Dar Mimouna, Sidi M'Barek n°151, Sidi Mimoun, +212 4438 4078 (fax: +212 4438 4079), [26]. A few mins walk from the Koutoubia Mosque. Breakfast is included and is served at the terrace. There is also a hammam at the terrace, free for use by guests. You need to tell them in advance when you would like to use it. This riad also sells alcohol. It is kept in the fridge behind the counter.
  • Riad Dar Najat, Douar Graoua, Derb Lalla Chacha, No.18, +212 6 6143 9221 (), [27]. riad in the heart of Marrakech 5 min walk from Jemaa el Fna. 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, UK +44 7850 39 01 07; Morocco+212 524 38 37 04 (), [28]. From £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 Jemaa el Fna main square.
  • Riad Magellan, Derb El Hamman No.62, Mouassine, +212 6 6108 2042 (), [29]. An elegant six bedroom riad which offers a restful and relaxing atmosphere, located in the heart of the Mouassine district. Traditional Moroccan meals are available as well as complementary wifi internet. Airport transfer service available on request.
  • Riad Naila, Marrakech Medina, Mosquée Sidi Ben Slimane, (), [30]. 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 located in the Medina of Marrakech in a calm area a fifteen-minute walk away from the famous Jemaa 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. Booking a private riad in Marrakech offers the same benefits as renting a holiday home anywhere else in the world – except you will be located in one of the world’s most famous ancient cities – the Medina of Marrakech. Riad Naila is recommended on Tripadvisor. 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).
  • 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 (), [31]. checkin: 3; checkout: 11. A riad with five beautiful rooms: Rose, Jasmin, Bougainvillea, Hibiscus and Geranium. 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, loan of local phone/ ipad , Iphone charger, bathrobes, complimentary breakfast and wifi internet. Very romantic and wonderful atmosphere with welcoming dipping pool and tent on rooof terrace. Brilliant reviews on trip advisor. 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 (), [32]. 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.
A Riad Courtyard
  • Riad Zara, 294 Derb Ben Salek, +212 2444 2940; mobile +212 6281 7000 (), [33]. 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. (37.73 85 94,-07:58.50 64 14)
  • Riad Zolah, 116 Derb El Hammam, Mouassine, +212 2438 7535 (), [34]. 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).
  • Riad Elixir, +212 (0)6 61 23 88 45 (), [35]. Riad Elixir is one of wonderful riad in Marrakech for vacation for short and long time. it is distinguished by its unique style and its spacious and beautiful Riad is a real authentic house of Morocco, restored in a contemporary minimalist style while respecting the traditional Arab-Andalusian Morocco and Marrakech in particular.

Discount hotels

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 Dh 50. 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 (Dh 10, 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 Dh 5.

Popular options with backpackers include:

  • Hotel Ali [36], Rue Moulay Ismail. Beds in ensuite, dorms, and rooftop terrace mattresses for Dh 60 per person per night, including cooked breakfasts served with OJ and fresh coffee. Dorm guests can use the internet cafe for Dh 5 per hour. They have all the amenities a backpacker could ask for, including a laundry service and free internet access for private room guests, money exchange, a terrace restaurant with views of Djemaa El-Fna, and even a downstairs hammam. Private rooms are available with a maximum per person price of Dh 250 per night including breakfast, free internet, and a daily traditional Hammam.
  • Hotel Atlas [37], 50 Derb Sidi Bouloukat, ☎ +212 5 2439 1051 hotel-atlas@hotmail.fr. A 2 min walk to the famous square of Djemaa El-Fna. Clean and friendly with nice rooms with shared bathrooms. Singles from Dh 90, doubles from Dh 170, for 3 people Dh 250, for 4 people Dh 280, for 5 people Dh 320. There are some rooms with AC for an additional Dh 50. 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 Dh 150 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 Dh 350 per day for a small but fairly new car).
  • Hotel el-Ward, 65 derb Sidi Bouloukat, ☎ +212 5 2444 3354 elward.hotel@caramail.com. 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 for single/double/triple/quadruple.
  • Hotel Essaouira [38], 3 Derb Sidi Bouloukat, ☎ +212 5 2444 3805. The hotel has singles with a shared bath from Dh 50 and doubles from Dh 90. It's 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 doesn't stay hot for long. Overall a very good value and comfortable place from which to explore the old town.
  • Hotel Imouzzer [39], 74 Derb Sidi Bouloukate ☎ +212 5 2444 5336 hotel_imozzer@yahoo.fr. One of the cheapest and best-value hotels with rooms starting at Dh 65 for singles and Dh 120 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 Dh 20.
  • Hotel Sindi Sud 109, Derb Sidi Bouloukat, Riad Zitoun El Kidim, ☎ +212 4444 3337
  • Hotel Smara, 77 sidi Bouloukat, ☎ +212 5 2444 5568. Near Djemaa El-Fna. Very clean, friendly people, nice rooms. Dh 50 and doubles Dh 80.
  • Palm Plaza Hotel and Spa Located in Agdal, a new residential district, 10 mins from the airport. 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 [40], In Laksour district, just two mins from the famous Djemaa El-Fna, Lyla Riad Marrakech opens its doors. Gérard is the riad's passionate owner.
  • Riad Rahba [41]. Offers private, en-suite rooms and is located 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 ensuite room per night.

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.

Guéliz (also known as Ville Nouvelle)

  • 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. Prices: Dh 291 for a single; Dh 382 for a double.
  • Hotel Ibis [42] ☎ +212 5 2443 5929.(Near the train station) is a more impersonal European chain hotel, but very clean and peaceful. It's 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.
  • Moroccan House Hotel[43] 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 complimentary toiletries. Close to many of Guéliz's better restaurants and shops. 3-star rooms start at Dh 405 single, Dh 484 double; 4-star Pacha suites: Dh 455 single, Dh 624 double; 5-star Prince suites: Dh 527 single, Dh 764 double.
  • Oudaya Hotel, 147 Rue Mohamed El Baqal, +212 4444 8512, [44]. 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 somewhat mediocre and much better meals can be had just around the corner. The courtyard has a large pool (open 9AM to 6PM) 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.
  • Villa Dar El Kanoun [45], Route de Targa. ☎ +212 2449 2010, Fax:+212 2434 0635. 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 Dh 1,000 for a double room.

Stay safe

Marrakech is a generally safe city, with a solid 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

Hospitals

  • 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".

Drinking water

The tap water in Marrakech is OK for bathing. While locals drink it with no problems, visitors often find it hard to digest. 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 Moroccan vendors have been known to save money by refilling plastic bottles from the tap. At restaurants, ask for your drinks without ice cubes, which are usually made with tap water.

Scams

If you look like a tourist, then it is common for people to offer to help with directions or even lead you to what you are looking for. Although not apparent at first, these people expect to be paid and will often lead you round in circles to increase the amount. Also, people may say that the place you are looking for is closed, but they will take you somewhere else that's better. This is almost always a lie. The best people to ask for directions are people behind a counter, as they cannot lead you because they don't want to leave their stall. If you are seriously lost, getting someone to lead you back is an option, but you should not give them more than Dh 10-20, no matter how much they complain.

Moroccans are not permitted to be guides for foreigners without a license. Usually Police officers (under cover) are patrolling to catch Moroccans who are bothering tourists or try to make some money.

There are often people in Djemaa El-Fna offering henna tattoos, which are popular with locals and tourists alike. But among the many genuine traders are one or two scam artists. They appear very charming and trustworthy while you choose a design, but will then cleverly divert your attention. Before you know it, you have the beginnings of a rather poor henna tattoo. Even if you do not want a design, be sure to keep your hands away from them as they will grab your hand and begin a design anyway. The scam artist later demands massive payments, in whatever currency you have (dirhams or not). After emptying your pockets, if they consider you can afford more, they will demand that you visit a nearby ATM. Always agree on a firm price before work starts. If you can't do this, insist that the operator stops immediately - then go to another (hopefully more reliable) operator to get your design completed. If they say it is free before they start or while they are doing it, they will always ask for a price later on. If this happens to you, you can walk away without paying; however, they will harass you for a little before giving up and moving on to another tourist. Also, there have been stories of these scam artists using henna mixed with dangerous chemicals, such as PPD (this is sometimes done to make the tattoos appear black), which can cause skin damage or severe allergic reactions.

Some tourists encounter an elderly lady offering henna in the main square - she welcomes you to her stall, and then fetches her friends (who arrive, usually, on motor bikes) and will provide you with very appealing tatoos - however, beware - they will not agree a price upfront and will ask for huge amounts - e.g. a 50Dh tatoo will be 450Dh - or they will promise you free tattoos and then charge equally large amounts. When you dispute the amount they will scream at you - so be calm, pay them what you think it is worth, and walk away. If they try to stop you then create attention - however, do not use physical violence as these artists work in gangs and before you know it you'll be surrounded by other con-artists.

There is a small nameless restaurant inside the markets catering to tourists. It looks like a budget restaurant but has extremely inflated prices. It has an awning with painted faces and offers grilled brochettes for Dh 40 each, which is much higher than the regular price.

Most Moroccans are tourist-friendly and are not aggressive, so sometimes making a fuss in public can generate unwanted attention for a scam artist and shame them into backing off.

Embassies

By registering in person or online, citizens can make it easier for their country's embassy to contact them in case of emergency. Be sure to report any crime to both the local police and your embassy.

  • British Honorary Consulate in Marrakech, Résidence Taib 55, Boulevard Zerktouni, Gueliz, + 212 5 2442 0846 (fax: + 212 5 2443 5276). M-F 8AM-1PM.

Most other foreign embassies and consulates in Morocco are in Rabat, with a few more in Casablanca.

Cope

There are many dry cleaning shops inside and outside of the Medina. It takes only one day to clean and will cost from Dh10-30 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 Dh 50-100 per plastic bag.

  • Lost in Marrakech Laundry Service, 156 Derb Snane, Mouassine, Medina, +212 5 2438 4121 (), [46]. 09:00-16:00 Mon-Sat. Laundromat with used books, wifi, coffee and smoothies. Finish in same day or in next day. Dh20 for 2kg.

Get out

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:

Cascades d'Ouzoud
  • 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 travelers wishing to experience the less urban, less touristy mountain towns of the High Atlas.
  • Asni - A lovely rural village in the Atlas mountains.
  • 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 don't need to bring your ski equipment all the way from home, all you need can be rented. You should only pay around Dh 250 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.
Ourika Valley
  • 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 - all very interesting! Tours wil 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.
  • 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.



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