Marrakech can be characterized with one word: overwhelming. Especially if it’s your first time visiting an Arabic country. But if you know what to imagine and pack the right attitude with you, Marrakech can be incredibly enriching!
Check out also my recent post on 2 days in Marrakech itinerary.
Here are Marrakech’s most notable features:
1. Constant hassling
I assume you will expect a lot of hassling when you go to Marrakech. But be ready because it never stops, especially when walking through the Djemaa El-Fna Square. Every orange juice stall owner will call out to you, every lady will want to paint your hands with henna, you’ll be approached all the time by people begging… No wonder, you as a foreigner look like a walking pot of gold to the poor locals, even if you’re a broke backpacker.
2. Price haggling
In any Marrakech market, never buy an item for the stated price. Haggling is not only expected, it’s a must if you don’t want to spend a fortune and end up ripped off. You can learn real haggling techniques in this article about How to Haggle like a Pro and rather turn it into a game than despise it.
Also read this guide to Morocco shopping.
3. Tourist vs. local
With all the cheap Ryanair flights, it’s now easier than ever to travel to Marrakech and you’ll see a large number of tourists there. Please make sure to be respectful of their culture and don’t join the club of ignorant foreigners. Nobody there is ready to see your cleavage or thighs. Here’s a set of tips for what to wear.
4. The food
The food in Marrakech is mouthwatering. Tajines and couscous in so many varieties, always delicious..! Street food can taste awesome too, just be a little cautious. It helps to look for stalls that are popular among locals; you don’t want to eat at a place where even locals wouldn’t dare to eat. In any case, pack some activated charcoal with you – it definitely came in handy for me in Marrakech :)
5. The smells
Marrakech is fragrant. You can smell all sorts of things there. From exotic spices to less pleasant leather-dying smell, Marrakech has it all. From the moment you step off the plane, your nostrils will curiously catch smells that you might not be used to from home. How exciting!
If you don’t know any words in French or Arabic, you won’t have it easy. But you can always learn, right? Nail a few phrases in French and Hello & Thank you in Arabic. That can get you a long way! Other than that, use your hands :)
Most animals you’ll see will not be having the time of their lives. From snakes with sown mouths to tired-looking horses standing day and night at Djemaa El-Fna, that’s just the way it is. PETA wouldn’t be thrilled, but what country hasn’t used animal power in their agriculture and development, right? Right?
8. More than Medina
Marrakech is more than the Medina and Djemaa El-Fna..! Stroll away further from the centre and you’ll find empty streets. Not all of the amazingly tall palm trees are real. We found a couple of fake ones! :)
The real modern Marrakech is in the quarter of Gueliz – just wander the streets there and marvel at all the western-looking shops, quite a contrast to the old town! It helps that it’s just a walking distance from Jardine Majorelle – the beautiful garden created by Yves Saint Laurent! It’s a must-see, even though it’s always packed with tourists and it’s a little pricey. Don’t forget your camera, this is where you can put it to good use! Oh and did I mention the beautiful and modern train station?
Marrakech offers a great insight into the Arabic culture and Morocco as a whole. Come with an open mind, be cautious about your belongings (there are pickpockets and scammers everywhere) and enjoy it all! Don’t let the occasional hassle put you off. It would be a pity because Marrakech is a place with special charm – Yves Saint Laurent would have surely agreed with me!
Read also these tips on preparing for your first visit to Marrakech – it’ll seriously help prevent the seemingly unavoidable sensory overload!
Once you’re done with the city itself, check out these day trips out of Marrakech.
Have you been to Marrakech? What did you like most? Do you ever plan to go back?
Addicted to Pinterest? Here’s a pinnable image for you!
Airbnb Reviews: 14 Apartments on 4 Continents | TravelGeekery
Wednesday 5th of June 2019
[…] A beautiful riad in Marrakech’s medina, what more can one wish for? Maybe just better directions or somebody to come meet us at an easy meeting point. It’s right by Djemaa El-Fna, the huge square in Marrakech. The riad itself was stunning – the rooms were basic but comfortable, but the courtyard! – imagine orange trees looming over a nice swimming pool. Hmmm.. it was a great escape from the busy streets of Marrakech and the constant demands from locals. If you’d like to read what’s so special about Marrakech, read my post here. […]
marrakech desert trips
Saturday 11th of May 2019
Yes the bad thing when you visting Marrakech is the dealers don’t stop annoying tourists to buy or taking pictures as stef said. So this is the unique problem which can not like the tourists in Marrakech...
Thursday 11th of July 2019
True... not sure what could be done about it.
Monday 11th of September 2017
Learning to deal with hasslers really start after you are a foreigner who moves to Morocco permanently - but step by step you will learn to live comfortably in this very beautiful country!
Friday 15th of September 2017
Hello Daniel, I totally believe you! I was fine around the hasslers as I got used to something similar when living in China. So it wasn't a problem just saying no and walking in the opposite direction. My boyfriend, however, wasn't so ready for it so he found it harder to cope with. But yes, I completely agree, one just needs to get used to it :) Morocco is soo beautiful! I hope to explore more of it in the future :)
Monday 18th of July 2016
Hi evereyone, I'm tour guide in Morocco and organisations Trips in Morocco. If you need help. Pleasse contact Mohamed at [email protected]
Tuesday 12th of April 2016
Yes the bad thing when you visting Marrakech is the dealers don't stop annoying tourists to buy or taking pictures as stef said. So this is the unique problem which can not like the tourists in Marrakech.