Marrakech is a city in the Kingdom of Morocco and the fourth largest in the country. Often known and thought of as the ‘Red City’, Marrakech is brimming with culture and history, colourful markets and magical street performers. As well as exploring the medinas, food stalls and bazaars, Marrakech is packed with bright gardens, majestic mosques and palaces to fill your time as well as being at the foot of the sandy Atlas Mountains if you want to venture outside the city walls.
Best time to visit
Marrakech is hot. And Sometimes too hot to enjoy wandering around the snaked alleyways and market stalls if you are not used to high temperatures! (which being from the UK, we are not!) The best time to visit is April / May time or September / October time for sightseeing as the weather is still warm but a more pleasant and comfortable 25 degrees C with a gentle breeze. Come July and August the average daytime temperature is around 36 – 40 degrees C which for most would be a little too hot to do much other than bake by the pool.
Most of the major tourist attractions are fairly close to one another and in a simple world, within walking distance. But the truth is we found Marrakech ridiculously difficult to navigate and got lost more times than we can count. We had maps and google maps and were given directions from reliable sources and still, we continued to get lost. This is apparently very common which did give us some reassurance that we were not just a pair of idiots. Taxis are everywhere and this was our preferred mode of transport. You can flag a taxi down by just holding your hand up or there are taxi ranks outside most attractions. Just ensure you agree on a price before jumping in.
We had read that taxis should be using their metre but not one did and when we broached the subject we were told this wasn’t a thing in Marrakech so who knows, Either way, taxis were easy and fairly inexpensive costing around 50 dirhams for most journeys of around 10-15 minutes which is around 4 euros. If you want a more scenic mode of transport, there are horse and carriage rides that take you on a tour around the city or from place to place and you can find them right by Jemaa el-Fnaa and Koutoubia Mosque. Not sure about the price as we didn’t have time to enjoy one, but like most things in Marrakech I am sure it is up for negotiation.
Airport transfer time
If you fly into Marrakech airport you will enjoy a very short and easy transfer of around 15 minutes to most hotels and Riads. We booked a driver through the Riad as we had read it was not easy to find so we probably paid more than the price of a usual taxi. We paid 15 euros each way but based on taxi prices we experienced during our stay you could probably get a taxi transfer for around 100-120 dirhams which is less than the 15 euros we paid.
The currency for Marrakech is the Dirham. Important to mention, Morocco has exchange control and it is illegal to take it in or out of the country which means not getting your currency in advance. You can change it at the airport upon landing but it’s worth noting you are more likely to get a better exchange rate using an exchange service once in Marrakech. That said, we opted for the easy option and changed it at the airport which actually turned out to be very convenient given they provided a receipt to exchange any remaining currency back upon departure. This is really useful as you have to exchange it back before leaving the country and probably before going through customs as you are also unable to spend it at the airport duty-free to buy those last-minute gifts! Most cafes and restaurants will accept them but do prefer euros.
The power sockets in Morocco are type C and E, confusing right? Some of the newer Riads and hotels now also have an earthing pin which means if you have an EU adapter without the hole to take this then they won’t work. It’s also worth mentioning that the 220 v is compatible with all UK appliances but if you are travelling from America then you may need a transformer to step down the voltage for your appliances to work! I did some research and after much confusion ordered the below adapters and they worked perfectly
Moroccan Arabic and French
Some basic yet useful phrases
Hello – es salaam alaykum
Goodbye – Bessalama
Please – ‘afak /’afikv/ afakum (said to m /f /pl)
Thank you – shukran
How are you? – keef halek?
Yes – eeyah
No – la