Things you need to know before visiting the fascinating souks in Marrakech

Marrakech, just a few hours away from Europe, but a totally different world. Where the bustling medinas and vibrant souks are one of the main activities in the city.
If you are planning a trip to this city, it’s probably for the best if you prepare yourself for the sensory overload you will experience.
So let’s dive into the things we think, you need to know before visiting the fascinating souks in Marrakech!

Marrakech’s medina

While Marrakech also has a very modern part of the city, where you can go clubbing or shopping at H&M or Zara. The medina refers more or less to the old town.
Marrakech’s medina is a labyrinth of narrow alleys, vibrant markets, and historical landmarks. In the medina there are many restaurants, riad’s and ofcourse the famous souks.

The famous souks

The souks in Marrakech, are a busy part of the medina of traditional markets, where locals and visitors come to shop at the small market stalls. Here you can find many typical Morrocan products, such as ceramics, textiles, leatherwork, rugs, spices and souvenirs.

As you embark on your journey through this enchanting maze, here are some essential tips to make sure that it will be a positive experience.

Don’t get scammed

You might have read about scams on the internet or seen on YouTube video’s. The medina is a place where some of the locals will try to scam you. There are some well-known tourist traps you should be aware of to avoid. Personally, we never felt unsafe in the medina. And as we always said no to every person wanting something from us, we really enjoyed the vibrant culture in the medina.

These are the common ways to get scammed:

  • The road is closed: some men will tell you the road is closed and they will show you the way. If you follow them, they will ask you for money
  • They offer to take a picture of you: just remember it’s never for free, you will have to pay them
  • Bringing you to a restaurant: in front of the restaurant area they act as if they are working for the restaurants. But in fact they are just bringing your there to ask you for money for their ”service”. Keep in mind that they just listen to what you are saying and that they don’t work for any restaurant at all
  • Taking pictures of the monkeys or snakes: on the Djemaa El Fnaa square, you will find locals with monkeys and snakes. First of all, the animals are there only for tourist reasons, please don’t support these kind of business. Second, as soon as you make a picture of one of the animals, you will have to pay for it.

Tips for a fun experience

Embrace the chaos!

Eventhough the medina can be overwhelming at first, embrace the chaos and allow yourself to get ”lost” in the labyrinth of small streets. It’s all part of the authentic Marrakech experience.
The next tip will help you to get ”lost” safely.

Use Google Maps

This might be needless to say, but using Google Maps will make it easier for you to roam around in the medina. The streets and shops all look kind of the same. So you will probably need some help to navigate you to your next destination.

Tip: Buy a simcard with internet on the airport or download the offline map of Marrakech.

Bargain & enjoy the shopping experience

The souks are a real pleasure to those who like to shop. Bargaining is a cultural norm in Marrakech’s souks, so don’t be afraid to ask for the best price.
In our experience we mostly ended up around 50-60% of the original price they asked.
If you approach negotiations with a friendly attitude and walk away if the price isn’t right, chances are big that they will call you back to sell it for your price anyway.
But, we tried to keep in mind that the vendors also need to live, so we tried to keep the price fair.

Go early

Our favourite time of the day was in the morning and the early afternoon. At this time the big crowds were not active yet and the shops just started to open. We noticed a big difference in atmosphere during the day and in the evening. It is way busier and more chaotic after 6 PM. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

That said, I think the souks are an amazing experience. The local vendors are friendly, the many cats on the street are a joy to watch and there are many food choices.

Book a guided tour

Still not sure if exploring the medina in Marrakech is safe enough? Booking a tour beforehand on the internet with a trust worthy company such as this 3 hours guided souks tour, will help you not to worry about being scammed or feeling unsafe.

If you want a sneak peek of wandering around in the medina of Marrakech, make sure to watch the video below!

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