This 1000-year-old pink city is one of the most folkloric cities I have ever been in, and I would go back to Morocco as often as I could. But I also recognize that Moroccan traditions and habits may seem for us Europeans incomprehensible, which is exactly why it’s pretty easy to find yourself in uncomfortable situations. In this post called “The Ultimate Travel Tips for Marrakesh Medina” I’m going to share some situations that could happen to you as a tourist in Marrakesh so that you can be prepared.
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- You should know that your number one enemies are scooters and mopeds. Moroccans obviously know their Medina very well and they drive like crazy so while walking, always stay on the right. Moreover, you must pay attention to your bags, because on two wheels it is easy to grab the pedestrians’ belongings and get away fast. To reassure you I’ll tell you now that nothing happened to us, but the art of stealing is common here and that’s why you need to read this “Ultimate Travel Tips for Marrakesh Medina.”
- Never show yourself to be disoriented or confused, otherwise, they’ll take the lead. Whoever is around becomes your guide and wants to take you somewhere in return for money! Just so you know, hardly ever are they satisfied with ten Dirham. And also know that often they don’t take you to the place you want, because instead they will try to take you to the shop or restaurant where they get a commission. If you need help or directions always ask someone who is working at the moment (someone who can’t leave the place), and hope that they know your language. That could be a shop keeper or a craftsman. Pay attention because sometimes it also happened that they gave us the wrong directions in such a way that we had to ask for help again. It’s probably their way of helping each other.”
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- Download Google offline maps! It helped me a lot to navigate in the Medina. Even though it came in handy on several occasions, I got lost many times in the Medina because the streets are very narrow and they intersect constantly.
- There is no dress code required for Marrakech but come-on guys, be polite! I’m not taking any one side, but I just like to respect cultures and traditions, especially when I’m at someone else’s home. Isn’t this what we want in our own country? So think seriously, do you really need to show your shoulders and thighs where people are used to keeping themselves covered from head to toe?
- Life in the Medina of Marrakesh begins and ends late. So, if you want some peace and quiet know that early morning hours until 10.30 am are ideal.
- If you ever eat in the street food stalls of Jemaa El Fna Square (it is a must of course), remember to keep the items you order well marked and the respective prices. They will for sure try to cheat you and will charge you more! We ate at stall number 5 and they asked us for 460 Dirhams for unimaginable food that we didn’t order. The day after we tried a restaurant called Dar Belkabir in Jemaa El Fna Square where we ate delicious food and spent less than half.
- We noticed that prices were often displayed as clear as they could be in the majority of the side street shops of the medina. At least that way they won’t be able to shoot you a random price!
- You should know that most of the men in Marrakech Medina, good or bad speak all of the European languages and this was really annoying because we never could discuss something (like prices, a place to eat, buying something or not) without them putting in their two cents!
- Photography is a very sensitive subject in Marrakech! Few want it and some just accept it in return for some money. When it comes to Jemaa El Fna Square, you pay from 5 to 10. Dirham for every single click, whether that is of a monkey or a person. It seems a bit too touristy for my liking, however, sometimes I couldn’t resist. And, also, when I returned to Italy I bought a Leica camera with a super zoom which allows me to click photos from far away without anyone around to threaten me.
- Never go out of the hotel without coins. It is all about tips in the Medina of Marrakesh! Since they are very good at intimidating people, you can hardly avoid this. They want money even for giving directions.
- Try to be at the Jemaa El Fna Square at least ten minutes before the sunset. If possible don’t miss the mint tea at one of those terraces. I tried it at the Café de France, but there are many more places giving the same view up there! It is amazing to see the people putting up their night market stalls when the sun sets down behind the Mosque.
- There are several tanneries in Marrakech. Even though they can’t compare with the Chouara Tannery in Fes, they are very interesting. I suggest that you check out the Association Sidi Yacoub. Chez Hassan Berbere leather shop allows a free terrace view of this tannery. Know that when you are in the tannery area everyone tries to take you to their own place, obviously in return for money! We gave 20 Dirham each to the first guy who approached us. We should have taken our time to explore a bit more before paying him because his tannery was not really that good compared to others around.
- If you want to be smart, learn some words and phrases in Moroccan! Believe me, they will appreciate it!
- If you are in Marrakech, you should stay in a Riad. You have plenty of choices, of course. There are riads for everyone’s pocket and taste: modern styled ones or traditional ones for prices starting from € 40 up to € 200 or even more. With more than 500 riads in the Medina, even if you are on a budget, you can still find a wonderful one. Keep in mind that vehicles are not allowed in the Medina, so you will need to walk to your riad.
Read also: What is a Riad in Morocco
- One of the most shocking things that I feel I must add to “The Ultimate Travel Tips for Marrakesh Medina” is certainly the way they kill the hens! Oh my gosh. Moroccans eat a lot of chicken and inside the medina, there are places where they keep the hens closed inside cages. They kill them in right in front of the customer to prove it is fresh! There is also an area close to the Jeema El Fna Square where you can find one close to another.
Read Also: Mellah and Jeiwsh Cemetery of Fes
- Probably Marrakech is one of the safest cities in Morocco. Now, if you ask me if Morocco is safe for women travellers, I would actually say yes, but you need to take more precautions. I think going with a man is better! I tried them both and I saw how things were different. The first time I went to Morocco, I was travelling with Katrina, a friend of mine. I feel in retrospect that our road trip in Morocco was certainly one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had, but when we were there we had to go through a lot of effort to make that journey go well. In Fes, some children even tried to intimidate us by touching our breast for a few pennies. I must confess that it was extra challenging just because we were two girls. (Read more about our road trip in Morocco). When I returned with my husband, I felt safer.
- If you are staying five or more days in the Medina, know that there are several trips that you can take. I tried the day trip from Marrakesh to Agafay desert which I loved a lot.
These are just some practical and really useful tips for visiting Marrakech Medina. I hope I have covered the most important ones which will certainly make your “things to do in Marrakech” more enjoyable. I can recommend this article on The Best and Worst of Marrakesh to see things from another person’s perspective. Is there a super important tip that I’ve completely forgotten in “The Ultimate Travel Tips for Marrakesh Medina?” Let me know in the comment box!