Marrakech is a shoppers delight. Rich with history, enchanting architecture, great shops. We recommend that you fly to Marrakech. There are many options from Spain but the journey is tedious and challenging. Flights from Spain are reasonable and you arrive within few hours at your hotel Marrakech is known as the magical Red City. It is alive and vibrant. Spice shops, snake charmers, and street food draw tourists to the main square. All your senses will be on overload as you enter the central Medina. Marrakech has grown into a hot spot for the rich and famous. Luxury resorts surround the Central city.
When to Go to Marrakech
New Year and Easter are peak tourism periods. Spring and fall are best for their warm temperatures and long days. The heat in July and August can be oppressive, and during Ramadan, the logistics can be awkward for visitors since many restaurants close during the day. (Ramadan dates change yearly).
What to Know About Travel to Marrakech
Visas are not required for visits of up to 90 days for USA citizens. Menara Airport has buses and taxis to the city center. Insist that city taxi drivers use meters. The languages are Arabic and French. The currency is the dirham; ATMs are widespread. Tipping is expected: a dirham or two in a café and up to 10% in nice restaurants.
Electricity is 220 volts, and sockets take round-pin European plugs.
The scene at Central Market Place, Djamal el Fina has two distinct groups. During the day, you will see snake charmers, monkey handlers, and other performers with animals. At sundown, the marketplace will fill with locals dining in open-air food courts and listening to local storytellers.
Tipping: Bring change. A tip of between 10 to 20 Moroccan dirhams ($1 to 2 US) is expected when taking shots of locals. Always ask before you snap. (Also see our Go Kismet Global Tipping Guide.)
Bargaining: Once you have initiated bargaining with a vendor, it is expected that you will complete the transaction. Play fair, as vendors expect to barter but are insulted when the price is under market value. If you touch a garment, the shop keeper views this as an indication that you have a true interest in the item. Do not just randomly touch all merchandise and try on items that you are truly not interested in purchasing.
Dress: Cultural sensitivity is expected when visiting religious sites. It is not necessary to cover your head, but modest dress is preferred.
Guides: Local guides are excellent. English is spoken by most. If a guide is secured from the hotel concierge, you will pay almost double. Walk about a block from the central Medina, where taxis and guides are clustered and available for hire. Feel free to quiz them on their knowledge of history, architecture, art, etc. Make sure to give a tip of 10% if your guide is exceptional.
Where to Stay in Marrakech
Royal Mansour, El Fenn, and La Mamounia are ranked as top hotels in the world. They are luxurious, decadent, and a true treat. Marrakech is not lacking in luxurious hotels. Off the beaten path is what we prefer.
Raid Kheirredine is our number one choice. It is located inside the Medina. The atmosphere is pure Moroccan, rooms tasteful, decorated with artifacts. The upstairs rooftop dining provides a spectacular view of the city. This small hotel is five-star! Great location for shopping and touring.
Riad Le Clos Des Arts is located in the same area and offers “like” amenities. This small hotel is also considered luxurious, but a step down from the Kheirredine. Le Clos will pick transport you from the airport, provide concierge services and assist your every need.
Bab Hotel Blvd. Mansour Eddahbi and Rue Mohammed el Beqal, Guéliz; 212-524/435-250; babhotelmarrakech.com; doubles from $157. Great value.
La Mamounia Ave. Bab Jdid, Medina; 212-524/388-600; mamounia.com; doubles from $730.
Mandarin Oriental Jnan Rahma Bab Atlas, Palmeraie; 800/526-6566; mandarinoriental.com; doubles from $787.
Riad El Fenn 2 Derb Moulay Abdallah Ben Hezzian, Medina; 212-524/441-210; riadelfenn.com; doubles from $365.
Riad Farnatchi Derb el Farnatchi, Medina; 212-524/384-910; riadfarnatchi.com; doubles from $414.
Riad Noir d’Ivoire 31 Derb Jdid, Bab Doukkala; 212-524/380-975; noir-d-ivoire.com; doubles from $245.
Riad Siwan 28 Zanka Adika, Medina; 212-661/158-173; riadsiwan.com; doubles from $307.
Royal Mansour Rue Abou Abbas el Sebti, Medina; 212-529/808-080; royalmansour.com; riads from $2,050.
Where to Shop in Marrakech
We recommend you book the Marrakech Souks and Medina Tour. Book through Trip Advisor or your concierge. You will familiarize yourself with the area. It is easy to get lost in the maze of small alleys. Bartering techniques will be shared, restaurants recommended. The morning tour is best. Common purchases are ceramics, herbs, and argan oil. You can find beautiful rugs within the city walls, but the prices are quite high. Traditional purchases should be made outside the city limits. There are multiple rug factories, co-operatives extracting and selling argan, within an hour drive from the Medina.
Atika 34 Rue de la Liberté, Guéliz; 212-524/436-409.
Beldi 9-11 Rue Laksour, Medina; 212-524/441-076.
Intensité Nomade 139 Blvd. Mohammed V, Guéliz; 212-524/431-333. KIS 36 Derb Fhal Chidmi, Mouassine; 212-656/040-270.
Moor 7 Rue des Anciens Marrakchis, Guéliz; 212-524/458-274.
Place Vendôme 141 Blvd. Mohammed V, Guéliz; 212-524/435-263.
Shopping for Argan Oil: Argan oil is celebrated for its skin-nourishing properties. It’s also hugely expensive when bought outside Morocco, so this cosmetic wonder is pretty much a no-brainer for any Marrakesh shopping list. Inside the medina, argan products are not hard to find, but it can be hard to know which merchants are selling the real, unadulterated deal. Visit a dealer you know to be legitimately government-approved or shop at Assaisse Ouzeka, which sells authentic argan products made by a women's cooperative in the coastal town of Essaouira. Look for a slightly messy set-up by the door with women demonstrating the oil-extraction process. (It’s apparently still done by hand everywhere, which strikes me as amazing.) The hotel concierge should be able to direct you.
Dar el Bacha. Mustapha Blaouia, is Marrakech’s worst kept secret. Whether you're searching for a fuchsia-colored juju hat or some bone-handled cutlery, a silver teapot and some engraved glasses or a chrome-plated art deco mirror, giant beaded heads from the Cameroon or Syrian furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl, chances are Mustafa has it. Find antique Berber silver, amber jewelry, inlaid mother-of-pearl furniture, and ceramic bowls full of gleaming beads and stones. 144 Arset Aouzal Rd, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Where to Eat in Marrakech
Tajines and couscous taste better in their native land, and Marrakech serves both Berber dishes with plenty of gusto. But there’s a lot more to sample, from roasted meats to fish from the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. The medina offers a dizzying array of street food, while stalls in the souk practically overflow with sticky treats. You can always find a nearby café for a restorative glass of mint tea or a freshly squeezed orange juice. And for a libation that's a little stronger, Morocco has a thriving viticultural scene dominated by reds. Pair one with grilled lamb or a slice of pastilla, a sweet and savory meat pie. You will find dining a pleasure within the Medina. Rooftop dining is the preferred by most. Be sure to make reservations for the more popular restaurants.
Kmart Es Saoussan is a romantic restaurant offering good Morrocan and African plates.
Barometre Marrakech is superb. Book early. The restaurant offers a truly international menu, broad wine list, and a breathtaking setting.
La Table Du Riad is a moderately priced restaurant known for their service and European menu.
La Cantine Des gazelles is an inexpensive but consistently good restaurant. Broad menu from African, Moroccan, Middle Eastern, to vegetarian.
Dar Yacout 79 Derb Sidi Ahmed Soussi, Bab Doukkala; 212-524/382-929; dinner for two $170.
Grand Café de la Poste Corner of Blvd. Mansour Eddahbi and Ave. Imam Malik, Guéliz; 212-524/433-038; lunch for two $73.
Le Foundouk Souk Hal Fassi, Medina; 212-524/378-190; dinner for two $73.
Le Tanjia 14 Derb Jdid, Mellah; 212-524/383-836; dinner for two $46.
Le Tobsil 22 Derb Moulay Abdallah, Ben Hezzian, Medina; 212-524/444-052; dinner for two $146.
Un Déjeuner à Marrakech 2-4 Place Douar Graoua, Medina; 212-524/378-387; lunch for two $30.
Ways to Empower Women Through Cooking
Morocco is full of worthy projects to support, particularly when it comes to vocational training and education, but not all are created equal. Amal, by contrast, is a deeply practical, non-profit association that aims to empower women by teaching them culinary and hospitality skills on site, before organizing a four-month internship at a local hotel or restaurant. Sometimes the internship can lead lead to permanent work, but even if it doesn’t, the training provides these women with valuable experience that the industry is quickly starting to tap into. The School Restaurant is a spacious centre in a villa in Gueliz, where visitors can come for an exceptionally tasty, daily-changing, traditional Moroccan lunch or dinner, and participate in cooking classes ($33 per person). Reservations are required.
Where to Drink in Marrakech
African Chic 6 Rue Oum Errabia, Guéliz; 212-661/430-445
Comptoir Ave. Echouhada, Hivernage; 212-524/437-702
Kosybar 47 Place des Ferblantiers, Mellah; 212-524/380-3024
Théâtro Hôtel Es Saadi, 34 Ave. Qadissia, Hivernage; 212-524/448-811