8 Most Remarkable Features of Marrakech

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!

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.

Marrakech
Ladies on Djemaa El-Fna, waiting for their customers to paint some henna on their hands

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.

haggling Marrakech
Don’t enter that souk without acquiring some haggling skills first!

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.

Marrakech
What that foreign lady’s wearing is not very appropriate..

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 :)

Marrakech tajine
Delicious tajine.. this one was with lamb, I think

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!

spices marrakech
Spices sold everywhere make up for a nice fragrance in the streets…

6. Language

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 :)

7. Animals

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?

horses Marrakech
Tired horses on Djemaa El-Fna Square

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?

Jardin Majorelle
Jardin Majorelle – paying a hefty entrance fee will reward you with beautiful colors

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.

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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!

Overhelming features of Marrakech.. that are fascinating at the same time!

19 thoughts on “8 Most Remarkable Features of Marrakech”

  1. My favorite part about this article was the part about the animals, I forgot to think about how other countries treat their animals in comparison to my home country of USA, but I liked your way to dealing with haggling and harassment, which are reasons I no longer visit Mexico. It gets old and tourist of not, I don’t have to spend my money being hounded to death. I hope to visit Morocco some day and there are so many exciting things to see and do. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Great round up! We’ve just returned from Marrakesh and, I have to admit, I found the treatment of the monkeys, snakes etc in the Jemaa el Fnaa quite upsetting. The rest was incredible!

  3. Amazing and enriching post! I have been considering visiting Marrakech in the first opportunity that appears, and reading this post certainly has opened my mind and eyes to what I should expect. I appreciate the honesty.
    Lovely pictures by the way :)
    Allane

  4. We have been tempted for a while with the idea of visiting Morocco, since cheap flights are available from Barcelona to different locations there. However my feeling is that, and your post just strengthened that feeling, I would find it very short time to spend just a weekend in Marrakech for example. So probably we wait for our next holidays to visit this inspiring city! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. I am in love with Marrakech, just can’t get enough of the place, and yes, I love haggling too! Some great reasons to visit here, and I have the exact same jardin majorelle photo as you :-) Great minds…

  6. I am just back from my first trip to Morocco, went to the north: Tangier, Tetouan and Chefchaouen and to my surprise I got no hassle at all! (well, very little at least) I fell in love with the friendliness of the Moroccans, and hope to get to Marrakech and Fez pretty soon!

  7. I had my first Moroccan trip last month and deliberately chose to visit the lesser known region north (Tangier-Tetouan-Chefchaouen) There was hardly any hassle at all, in Tetouan people didn’t even notice me! I had a great experience!! I’m a bit scared of going to Marrakech because of that cause I assume indeed that the hassle might get to you after a while. But it looks so pretty, I will just HAVE to go one day…

  8. Els, don’t worry about the hassle. Just say “No Thank You” or “Lah Shukran” and hold out your hand (palm facing them with your fingers spread) and if they start to come towards you just say “Don’t touch me” They will just walk away. Avoid the monkey and snake hndlers, and jut watch from a distance, and don’t take photo’s. The guys will try and put the monkey or cobra on you, and then charge up to £30.00 to take it off. Make sure they don’t get close enough to put it on you. There re some fantastic cafes which overlook the Jemma El Fna square where you can sit and people watch. Go into the square at about 5.00pm and watch the place transform. Most of all enjoy it, there is no place on this earth like Marrakech :-)

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

    • 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 :)

  11. 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…

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