5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went to Marrakech, Morocco

Advisor - McKenna Kopras
Curated By

McKenna Kopras

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  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • Morocco

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

  • Entertainment

colorful bags of spices in a market
Curator’s statement

Marrakech is one of my favorite destinations from waterfalls and monkeys to camels and deserts. The Medina is full of life, the food is fantastic and the culture is one of a kind. Staying the Medina has its benefits, but I went there for the first time as a female traveler last spring and I've compiled a list of 5 things I wish I'd known before I embarked on my trip.

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Where to stay

Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakesh

A true Moroccan getaway at this 134-room hotel overlooks landscaped gardens, the Atlas Mountains and an 18-hole golf course and features six eclectic restaurants and bars offering local and international cuisine.

Fora Perks
  • Complimentary 50-minute massage for up to two people.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Riad Des Arts

This luxe gem in a historic Marrakech district seamlessly blends elegance, simplicity and personality.

La Mamounia

The original grande dame, with a measured mix of extraordinary opulence and flawless taste.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Tip 1: Look both ways!

A walkway with arches and trees

Every mode of transportation is whizzing around on the streets and in the Medina near Jemma el Fna. Anything you can think of whips through the streets and the small walkways in the market too. Cars, bikes, mopeds, donkeys, buses, rollerblades, people pulling carts you name it, and it’s probably moving through the square or even down the narrow streets of the Medina. Just be prepared and be alert as you walk around. I would NEVER want to drive in Morocco.

Tip 2: Most restaurants in The Medina don’t serve alcohol

A narrow staircase with blue steps and potted plants

This doesn’t mean there aren’t any; you just have to do some research. I’ve compiled a list of some of the fun restaurants that had cocktails, beer and wine, and those can be found in my other blogs. Many restaurants had mocktails and even beer without alcohol. Once you leave the Medina or go to a big hotel, there are plenty of alcoholic beverage choices.

Tip 3: Some of the Riads are unreachable by car

Architectural building with a man walking at night time.

Look into this when you are booking. We loved staying in the heart of the Medina at Riad Des Arts. Being right in The Medina was perfect because we had the opportunity to experience Moroccan culture, hospitality and the market firsthand. The square is unreachable by car for the most part, although it wasn’t too challenging. Excursions often picked us up from either in front of the cafe or out on the main road by the gas station. Our Riad was only a 5-minute walk from where a car could get us. The key thing was that when we got dropped off by our taxi, we had to weave through the Medina with our suitcases to find our Riad, and it’s a bit of a maze.

Tip 4: Avoid the monkey handlers, the snake charmers and anyone trying to “guide” you


Much of the monkey handling is inhumane. The snakes are crazy to see, but watch from a distance. Often, if you take photos of the snakes or the monkeys, they will try to make you pay. Sometimes they will put a snake around your neck, but make you pay them to take it off; the same could be true with the monkeys. It is a scam and definitely should be avoided. Lastly, people will offer to take you places or try to point you in the right direction; often it is less than helpful and they will want money for it. But aside from the few scams, all of the people were so so kind.

Tip 5: The markets are intense at first, but it gets better

spices in a market

In addition to every mode of transportation racing around, everyone is trying to sell you something. Part of their culture seemed to be asking you to look and try things. They want you to come into their shop, and see their pieces, which was overstimulating at first. One of our guides called bargaining in the market one of their “national sports” in Morocco. Another guide said you should try to offer 35% of what they tell you it will cost because they often inflate prices, especially with foreigners or Americans. After a while, you get better at ignoring and saying no thank you when people try to sell you things or coerce you into their shops.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, A Guide to "Czeching" Out Prague.

Advisor - McKenna Kopras

Travel Advisor

McKenna Kopras

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Martakech and our longer series on travel to Morocco.