Marrakech is not only Morocco’s fourth largest city, it’s also one of four cities in the country founded by the Moroccan Berber empires—it has a long history, having been officially built in 1062, but Berber farmers have been living in the Marrakech area long before even that. Today, Marrakech is a growing city and popular tourist destination, having been named the number one place to visit on TripAdvisor just last year. Here are some good things to know before you head off to this vibrant Moroccan city.
Transport in Marrakech
Despite being the most visited city in Morocco, getting around from Marrakech is surprisingly difficult since the trains/flights are irregular, and only head north-west towards Casablanca. The flights are particularly expensive by European standards, and the national airline – Royal Air Maroc – is not well known for its punctuality. Besides, it’s impossible to travel south, east or west using either a train or plane, so it will be necessary to take a bus or taxi in this case. The safety issues of Moroccan buses are well detailed elsewhere on the internet, so in this article we will just look at taking taxis.
Taxis in Marrakech
Being the main tourist hotspot of Morocco, there are many taxis to be found all over the city. Also bear in mind that there are many drivers ready to take advantage of you if you don’t know what the normal fare should be, so do some research beforehand to check what the expected price should be. If you’re going to take a grand taxi, use our Moroccan taxi fare estimator to see what sort of price you should be paying for intercity transfers.
We’ve calculated the fares of some popular routes below:
Marrakech to Setti Fatma: 310dhs (about €30)
Marrakech to Essaouira: 920dhs (about €90)
Marrakech to Casablanca: 1150dhs (about €110)
Marrakech to Agadir: 1250dhs (about €120)
Marrakech to Chefchaouen: 2700dhs (about €250)
On popular routes like Marrakech to Essaouira, prices are probably fixed well above what the locals pay, and so you should bargain hard to make sure you are not paying over the going rate. These prices do not include a tip, and are to be used only as a guide. You may find you pay more or less, depending on how well you can haggle in Morocco. You also need to take into account other factors, such as the time of day, and any public holidays or celebrations that may be taking place while you are in Morocco. Taking a grand taxi from Marrakech leaves you more open to being ripped off, because the drivers are very aware that overcharging tourists can be a very lucrative business.
In addition, there are a small number of companies that offer private transport within Morocco. You can expect to pay slightly more than for a grand taxi, but the vehicles are new, air-conditioned and normally have English-speaking drivers. Find out more about private transport in Morocco.
Marrakech’s medina, the old walled area common to many North African cities, is the primary historic district. Most of the streets will be quite narrow and maze-like, but there is a large square, Djemaa El-Fna (pictured above) that presents a more open space. The Djemaa El-Fna really comes alive at night, with plenty of stalls, music, and dancing. You can also see some animals here during the daytime, when monkey tamers and snake charmers fill the area. While in the medina, also make sure to check out a couple of Riads—traditional Moroccan houses with courtyards inside.
You can also visit the Ben Yousseff Madrassa, among the largest of its kind in the entire region, for 20 MAD (A madrassa is a religious Islamic school). The architecture of the building, and the attached Ben Youseff Mosque, is beautiful with lovely carvings and tile work. The school has been around since the 14th century, but hasn’t been used as such since 1960.
Marrakech has two well-known palaces, the El Bahia Palace and the El Badi Palace, both of which have a 10 MAD entrance fee. El Bahia, which was built in the later 1800s, is quite a bit newer and better-maintained. It has ornately decorated rooms, open-air courtyards, and a lovely garden. El Badi is much older older, having been built in the 16th century, and is now mostly in ruins. While visiting, you can explore several underground passages—make sure to keep your eyes open for any stray cats or storks!
The Saadian tombs are about the same age as El Badi Palace but have been better preserved. Because the entrance was blocked, the tombs were only discovered in 1917. Since then, they have been restored and visitors can see the stunningly elaborate decorations inside the tombs. The entrance fee is also 10 MAD.
Marrakech boasts several gardens where visitors can enjoy the greenery. The Majorelle Gardens are particularly popular and are often crowded in the afternoon. While fairly small and comparatively expensive (admission to the garden is 50 MAD), the place has an absolutely amazing collection of cacti. Another well-known (and well-photographed) garden is the Menara Gardens. Located west of Marrakech, these gardens feature a lovely pavilion beside a man-made lake, surrounded by olive groves and orchards.
To see some palm trees or to ride a camel, visit the Palmeraie, a huge oasis on the edge of the city. The Palmeraie encompasses not only 150,000 palm trees but also some high class villas and a luxury resort.
A souk (or souq) is pretty much the same thing as a bazaar—an outside market selling all sorts of goods, from spices to cloth to jewelry. Marrakech’s souks are among the best, and you can find almost anything at the many stalls here. The main area of souks is found near the Djemaa El-Fna, but many are scattered throughout the entire city. Sellers here are not overly aggressive, but will still overcharge you when they see that you are a tourist. Always try to bargain before making a final purchase!
Marrakech’s tanning industry is famous, so you can buy some surprisingly good quality leather products (some made of camel leather!) for an affordable price. Another popular local product is cactus silk (actually rayon), which is spun into a variety of products from tablecloths to scarves.
The food stalls in and around the souks have some of the best food in Marrakech. Djemaa El-Fna in particular has a huge collection of food stalls that pop up at night. Food safety here is actually quite high, so rest at ease while you try some truly delicious Moroccan cuisine.
Police are prevalent in Marrakech, and you are unlikely to encounter any violent crime during your visit. However, you should maintain a healthy level of caution and be wary of theft.
Marrakesh has a semi-arid climate with fairly high temperatures. Winters are the rainy season, and there is an annual rainfall of about 11 inches. Daytime temperatures in July and August can be quite high, while December through February are cooler with average temperatures hovering around 12-13 degrees Celsius.