For most people, Marrakech is the epitome of an exotic Northern African city. And they are not wrong, the red city is full of colours, smells and sounds hardly found in any one place anywhere else. With the city being busy, loud and (sometimes unpleasantly) smelly, it is easy to get overwhelmed. To help you avoid this, I put together this Marrakech travel guide with all the essential information you need.

It might only be Morocco’s 4th biggest city, but likely the most known among foreigners and most visited by tourists. And I guess that is why you are here, because you’re planning to travel to Marrakech soon.

Also check out these Marrakech posts:

In this post I will tell you all about:

  • How to get to Marrakech
  • What time of year and how long to visit Marrakech
  • Where to stay, what to eat and what to wear in Marrakech
  • Safety in Marrakech

Where is Marrakech located?

Marrakech is the most central of all bigger Moroccan cities, situated north of the Atlas Mountains, visible from the roof-tops when the air is clear. This convenient location ensures that almost all tourists visit the city on their trip to Morocco.

Atlas mountain view from rooftop in Marrakech
Altas mountains in the distance

Distance to

Casablanca250 km
Rabat330 km
Tangier580 km
Chefchaouen580 km
Fes530 km

The one thing that is not conveniently close to Marrakech are the sand dunes of the Sahara in M’Hamid or Merzouga. It takes a day’s drive to get there, so you need to plan a 3-day-tour at least if you want to visit. There are plenty of desert tours on offer, it can be hard to choose. If you want to go on a private tour, let me know, I’m happy to help with this.

What languages are spoken in Marrakech?

Of course, you find Darija, the Moroccan Arabic and French. People from the rural areas most likely also speak Tamazight (Berber). And of course, everyone working in tourism will speak some English and maybe Spanish.

El Badi Palace in Marrakech
El Badi Palace

For guided tours, almost any language can be organized, the Moroccans are talented and resourceful when it comes to leaning a foreign language. Just expect prices to be higher for any language other than French, English or Spanish.

How to get to Marrakech?

Depending on where you are travelling from, there are of course different ways of getting to Marrakech.

Plane

From Europe or overseas you will probably arrive by plane. Marrakech has a new big airport on the outskirts of the city. And personally, it never took me more than 45 min to get into or out of the airport (including luggage/security).

Royal Air Maroc small airplane with people embarking
Typical plane used for domestic flights in Morocco

To get into the city from there, you can either take a taxi or have your hotel/riad arrange a pick-up. This is a bit more expensive, but if you are staying in the Medina, this makes sure you are actually dropped off in the right place and met by a hotel employee.

You might want to head to the ATM inside the airport (before exiting, walk past the doors to find the ATMs on your left), so you have cash to pay your driver/taxi.

Train

From the other big cities in Morocco, the best way to get to Marrakech is by train. The network is well connected, and frequencies are high. Also, train travel in Morocco is very cheap. I personally use the second class, a great way to meet locals. But first class is cheap also, so if you prefer comfort and quiet, this is the way to go.

Bus

If you are coming from the southern areas in Morocco, you will probably take a bus, Supratours or CTM are good options. Busses are very affordable and pretty comfortable.

For more info on public transport in Morocco, check out my post.

What time of year is the best time to visit Marrakech?

Of course, you can visit Marrakech all year round since the weather is mostly really nice. But, as unpredictable as the weather has been in recent years, it is hard to tell what to expect. I’ve had 44° C in the beginning of May last year and during my first visit a few years ago in November, it rained the whole day I was there.

Trees and plants in the Jardin Secret in Marrakech
Le Jardin Secret, a great place to escape the heat of Marrakech

But, I would recommend March/April and September/October for a good chance of nice weather. If you decide to visit during the summer months, you might want to pick a Riad with a pool.

How much time do you need to explore Marrakech?

I’ve spent a cumulative of more than 2 weeks in Marrakech and there is still so much I haven’t seen or done. So, it is hard to answer this question. It depends on your travel style and how much time in total you have for your trip to Morocco.

I would say at least a full day (2 nights), but preferably 2-3 days. If you want to stay longer, you might want to include one of these fantastic day trips from Marrakech.

lighted shops and stalls on square with mosque in background
Jemaa el Fna at night is quite the experience

Where to stay in Marrakech?

While you can of course find the standard international hotels in Marrakech, I recommend you stay in one of the beautiful boutique-style Riads found all over the city. I personally prefer to stay in the medina, which is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, so that I can walk to all the major attractions. But I have also stayed in a furnished apartment, which is cheaper especially if you go with more than two people.

Hostel

I have not stayed in a hostel in Marrakech yet, but the Rodamon Hostel in the medina is on my list for my next visit. They have separate bedrooms for women/men, curtains on every bed and a pool that looks really refreshing.

Budget

Most times I’m in Marrakech I stay at Riad Bijoux in a quiet area of the medina. They only have 6 rooms, some equipped for 3 people, making it very familial. Breakfast is included and served in the central courtyard and dinner can be booked. The team is great and happy to give local recommendations.

Riad Bijoux

When my aunt and uncle came to visit me in Morocco, they stayed in two different places in Marrakech and were very happy with both, so I am happy to recommend them to you too.

One is budget friendly, Riad Simon. It is located just off Jemaa al Fna, so ideal to discover the medina on foot.

Medium

The other place they stayed at is Riad Dar Nouba. It is very centrally located in the medina, only a short walk from the souks, Jemaa al Fna and the Medersa Ben Youssef.

Luxury

This is a bit out of my personal price range, so I have no personal experience. But I looked around booking.com and I would pick one of the following:

Or, if you want to go crazy, check out La Mamounia, one of the most famous hotels in Marrakech.

What to eat in Marrakech?

Just like any big international city, the food options are endless. I guess you will have to make a choice, traditional vs. international food.

salad topped with canned fish, boiled eggs and olives on picnic blanket
Picnic with Moroccan salad

For traditional options, I would recommend sticking to the medina, there are plenty of good options around. Your best bet for a home cooked style meal is probably the Riad you are staying in.

Tajine

You should definitely eat tajine, the most iconic Moroccan dish. It comes in many variants, my favourites are lemon chicken and kofta (meat balls with tomato sauce). You can find these in every Moroccan restaurant in the city, and most places offer vegetarian options.

tajine in Morocco
Two of the many different types of tajine

Tanjia

A local Marrakech dish is tanjia, pieces of meat slow cooked in a clay pot with spices. If you want a good local, but not fancy restaurant, check out the restaurants in Rue Bani Marine just off Jemaa al Fna.

Couscous

If it’s Friday, try to get some couscous, the traditional lunch after the Friday prayer. It is normally cooked and served with meat, but you might find a few places offering vegetarian versions.

grilled chicken on top of couscous with vegetables, carrots, zucchini, aubergines. beautifully decorated plate
Couscous with grilled chicken in a traditional family setting

International food

If you are tired of Moroccan food, you might want to check out one of the international restaurants in Marrakech.

There are lots of options in Gueliz, the hip new part of the city. I really enjoyed the burgers at Kech Burger.

Tabouleh, Hummus and salad, orange drink
Middle Eastern food at Naranj, if you want to mix it up a bit

My favourite in the medina is a Lebanese restaurant called Naranj, a short walk from the main square. It’s a bit pricey, but especially if you can get a table on the rooftop terrace, it is worth it.

What to wear in Marrakech?

In Marrakech you will see people wearing all kinds of clothes. Tourists in tank-tops and shorts or mini-skirts, locals in full coverage and everything in between. So in the end it is up to you and what you feel comfortable in. But I believe in showing respect to the culture and dressing accordingly.

Women in long skirt and shirt and scarf standing infront of mosaic wall, Medersa Bou Inaina Meknes
This is one of my typical outfits in Morocco

So, for me that means wearing long loose pants or maxi-skirts and at least a no-cleavage t-shirt covering my shoulders. For men, shorts are not really acceptable wear in Morocco, but most tourists ignore this. Same as for women, t-shirts that cover the shoulders are appropriate.

Is Marrakech safe?

You are probably worried about your safety after hearing about the many scams in the city. But don’t worry, all you need to do is say NO. I never felt unsafe, even when walking around on my own.

Make sure to download the maps.me app to your phone, it shows all the details of the Moroccan medinas and you can use it offline. That way, you don’t need to rely on strangers showing you the way.

If you prefer though, you can easily hire a guide to show you around, just ask your Riad or send me a message on facebook, I’m happy to hook you up with someone I trust.

I wrote in more details about the typical scams in my awesome things to do in Marrakech post, so head over there to check those out.

For more general information on Morocco, also check out these posts:

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links and, at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. That income goes to supporting this website and keeping it free for you and everyone else!

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