Morocco's pink city can be incredibly overwhelming, travel of morocco , and whilst you can absolutely visit without having done the research, knowing what to expect or some top travel tips for Marrakech can make your visit all that more enjoyable.
TAXI DRIVERS DRIVE A HARD BARGAIN
Actually, that's kind of a nice way to put it. A more accurate one might be scammers.
For example, one afternoon we enquired with our riad manager how much a taxi should cost to 'x'. He informed us 10 dh - but then very quickly stated that we would never find a taxi driver that would charge us that, that the going rate for a tourist is at least 50 dh.
He was absolutely right. Even with 10 minutes of bartering, it was only heavy rain plus the end of a guy's shift that meant we got a lift for 20 dh.
We've heard there's a similar issue at the airport, whereby the actual 80 dh rate is ridiculously inflated to 350 dh!! Worst still, some tourists pay it.
Our recommendation is to always check with someone you trust to give you a guide on realistic prices - and be prepared to walk away if they won't come close. Remember, that by paying massively over the odds, you're making it much harder for everybody else that chooses to visit. Tourists can expect to pay a little more, but there's a limit to how much more is acceptable.
We definitely recommend booking your taxi from the airport in advance. We discovered that private firms were a fair bit cheaper than getting your riad to arrange it, and can recommend this one.
DON'T TRUST ANY MAN THAT OFFERS ADVICE WITHOUT BEING ASKED
This sounds harsh, yet, if you take one piece of advice from this article, make it this - it'll improve your experience 100%
Whilst there are undoubtedly nice people in Morocco, the sort the stand on street corners stating the 'this road is shut' or 'it's this way to the main square' are not to be trusted. At best it will end up with a trip to this helpful stranger's family shop, at worst it could end with an aggressive insistence that you pay for their guide (often after you've already followed them and completely lost you sense of direction).
If you do get lost (which, given the confusing nature of the medina, is a case of when more likely than if), ask in a local shop, or seek directions from an elderly person - people offering spontaneous help are more often than not in it to take advantage of you.
DON'T EXPLORE THE MEDINA AT NIGHT BY YOURSELF
Our riad was fabulous. It was away from the main hustle and bustle in a more residential area, meaning that it was a wonderful place to slink back to after a crazy day in the souks. This did mean however that given it was winter when we visited, it was pitch dark by the time we ventured back after dinner.
Even as a boy-girl couple, we felt a little uncomfortable at times and experienced a small amount of hassle - we would absolutely caution against doing this as an individual, especially as a female.
A WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT CURRENCY
We have a little jar currently sitting on our shelf full of small amounts of currency from around the world. In most cases, this amounts to a few pounds here and there, until you start counting the Moroccan stuff.
You see, despite having visited Morocco a number of times in the past, upon leaving Marrakech, we completely forgot that we weren't actually supposed to take the local currency out of the country - or that changing it (or spending it) once you've gone through airport security is next to impossible.
Unable to spend it in duty free (isn't that crazy?), we set about indulging in overpriced airport food but even that didn't really work, and so, perhaps a tad controversially, we have a decent amount of dirham stored away in that little jar.
Anyway, moral of the story - change or spend you dirham before getting to the airport. We're sure there's a man in the souk who'd love to take it off your hands!
A NOTE ABOUT ATMS
The reason the above point can get a little tricky, is that in Marrakech, ATMs can be difficult to track down. Whilst you'll find plenty in the new town, they're few and far between in the Medina - and the ones that do exist often only accept foreign cards.
Whilst it's not ideal, if you're only going to be in Marrakech (as opposed to taking a road trip), try and establish how much cash you'll need whilst you're in town. Bear in mind that unless you're eating in upmarket restaurants or shopping in fancy boutiques, it's cash, not card, that reigns supreme, so you will really have to think of everything that you'll be spending.
To get an idea of how much things cost in Morocco, take a look at this post.
COVER UP LADIES
Over the last ten years or so, Marrakech has exploded as a tourist destination, and if you let all those photos of bikini-clad Instagrammers deceive you, you may end up believing you can roam the streets of this much-loved Moroccan city dressed in hot pants and a crop top.
As far as muslim countries go, Morocco is relatively relaxed, but you'll still draw an awful lot of unpleasant and unwanted attention should you choose to venture out in anything too revealing.
So, keep the swimwear for the riad pool and stick with something that at least goes beyond your knees, covers your shoulders and doesn't reveal too much boob for exploring the streets.
AVOID JAMAA EL FNA (THE MAIN CENTRAL SQUARE)
Unless, you know, enjoy seeing exploited animals.
Of course, you have to visit - it's part and parcel of Marrakech, a big tourist draw and a place you literally can't miss - but don't spend too much time there.
YOU SIMPLY HAVE TO STAY IN A RIAD
Whilst there are plenty of cheap hotel rooms and luxury resorts outside of the medina, we'll scream 'til blue in the face that you can't come all the way to Marrakech and not stay in a riad - after all it's kind of famous for them.
And don't worry if you'd rather save your pennies for desert adventures or countless tagines, you don't have to spend a fortune to get an awesome riad experience (although we hear this one is incredible if you feel like going completely and utterly crazy). We stayed at Riad Porte Royale and were delighted with our stay, but if you're really not sure, you should definitely take a look at this post on the best budget riads in Marrakech.
An important thing to note, when working out how to get to your riad, is that given the nature of the medina (tiny, tiny streets), you'll usually not be able to take a taxi to the front door. But do not fear! With advance warning, most places can arrange to meet you at your taxi drop-off point.
Looking for a reliable airport transfer service? This one is highly recommended.