Marrakech travel guide: information before leaving

Marrakech travel guide

Marrakech travel guide overview

Guide of the city of Marrakech and its wonders:

If you’re planning a holiday to Morocco and are landing in the red city, our ultimate Marrakech travel guide will help you make the most of your time in this North African country.

Marrakech is undoubtedly the beating heart of Morocco, world famous for its bustling souks, fragrant spice shops, central Djema’a El Fna square, glorious palaces and traditional medina. Its royal riads, luxury hotels, trendy art galleries and international festivals are a source of international praise.

But it is undoubtedly the medina of Marrakech that tourists gravitate to the most. The walled imperial medina has attracted travelers through the charm of its Gnawa music, call to prayer and ever-bustling oriental atmosphere. Its narrow alleyways are filled with bazaars, selling silver, leather, metal, textiles, recycled glass and wooden items, artisan shops displaying their artwork, colorful local markets and beautiful guesthouses (riads); in fact everything you could dream of in this magical and mysterious city.

Desert Tour Marrakech to Fes min
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But beyond the wonderful atmosphere of the ancient medina and Djema’a El Fna, a modern and new part of Marrakech is developing rapidly, particularly in the Gueliz district towards the train station, nicknamed the Ville Nouvelle. The thriving Ville Nouvelle (new city) is filled with green parks, elegant restaurants, contemporary art scenes and upscale cafes. Gueliz also attracts fashionistas and trendy couples looking for luxury hotels, party venues and the best bars in town. So Gueliz is definitely a must to include in your wanderings in this amazing city.

Offering such a hugely diverse taste of Africa, Marrakech has been the main arrival and departure destination for visitors from all over the world and offers easy access to Europe with its beautiful expanding airport, which in itself is a architecture to admire.

And as you relax sipping the ever-present glass of traditional Moroccan mint tea on a panoramic terrace overlooking the vibrant Djema’a el Fna square, filled with storytellers, Gnawa music and food stalls and, as you admire the sunset steaming behind the snow capped peaks of the majestic Atlas Mountains, cast your mind to the heritage of Marrakesh.

Where is Marrakesh located?

Geographically, Marrakech is practically in the heart of the country, so our Morocco travel advice is to use the city as a base. Most of the other famous tourist destinations are within easy reach of the famous “red city”. Marrakech is just 241 km from Casablanca via the highway, 324 km from the capital and imperial city, Rabat, and only 246 km from Agadir on the Atlantic coast, famous for its wonderful beaches.

As for Marrakech travel tips, the city is located in the shadow of the majestic Atlas Mountains, and is therefore ideal for mountain lovers and mountain trekkers. So it’s very easy to reach for your climb of North Africa’s highest peak, Mount Jebel Toubkal, or trek through the Berber villages of the Atlas Mountains. And most importantly for all tourists, Marrakech is the perfect base to set off on a desert trip from Marrakesh to one of Morocco’s three Sahara desert regions.

The most famous and favorite among tourists Moroccan desert is the red dunes of Erg Chebbi in Merzouga. However, the expansive sand dunes of Erg Lihoudi and the remote and expansive desert of Erg Chagaga offer you a much more authentic and less touristy desert experience.

Marrakesh is 9 hours drive from Merzouga and also from Erg Chagaga. So plan a minimum of a 3-day desert tour from Marrakech in your Moroccan desert tour adventure programme. Even better would be to opt for 4 full days for a much more relaxed and enjoyable Marrakesh desert tour experience. This will allow you to get acquainted with all the surprising beauty of the south, the local way of life (very different from Marrakech) and the magical mystery of the desert.

History of Marrakesh:

The history of Marrakesh dates back to the 11th century. It is one of the four imperial cities of Morocco, together with Mitezza, Fes and Rabat. It was founded around 1062 by the Almoravids and became the capital of their empire. The Almoravid empire was co-ruled by Youssef ben Tachfine and his wife, Zaynab Nefzaouia and she is historically said to be the real founder of the city.

Marrakesh was later conquered by other dynasties including the Almohad Caliphate in the 12th century and the Marinids around 1269. Marrakech was finally conquered by the Saadians who left their distinctive mark on the architecture of the city.

When are the best times to visit Marrakech:
Our travel guide to Marrakech lists the following month as the best time to visit:

Winter: from mid-December to mid-January. This time of year offers very clear and deep blue skies, but despite the hot sun it can get chilly at night, so remember to pack warm clothes. You may be in Africa, but you’re going to need that winter coat. This time of year is the peak season, attracting many tourists, especially during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. It offers the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Marrakech or even better in the Sahara desert.
Spring: March to May. Most tourists travel here during the Easter holidays, making it one of the country’s high seasons. Temperatures of around 30C make it a good time to explore the medina and alleyways of Marrakech, although the evenings can still be cool. Bring a blanket or warmer jacket for evenings in the squares, outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Summer: from June to August. Summer in Marrakech is very hot and during these three months Marrakech receives a large number of tourists, especially local visitors. But be careful in these high temperatures, drink plenty of water, wear suitable headgear, use plenty of high factor sunscreen and stay in the shade from 12.00 to 15.00.
Autumn: from September to November. September is still warm in the city, but temperatures slowly drop over the following weeks, so this time of year is a great choice for a visit, especially thanks to the lower accommodation rates and perfect weather, neither too hot nor too cold .

How to get around in Marrakesh?

The easiest and fastest way to reach your Riad is to take one of the countless taxis parked just outside the airport. You should find official taxi prices near the exit. Ideally you really shouldn’t pay more than 100 MAD for a ride from the airport to the city centre. But depending on your negotiating skills, a ride to Djema’a el Fna from the airport could still range from 100 to 150 Moroccan dirhams.

But you can always ask your Riad or hotel if they offer transport and if they will send someone to meet you.

Getting Around – Marrakech city guide
Once you’ve settled into your hotel or riad and are ready to explore Marrakech, you have several options for getting around the city from one place of interest to another.

Public transport:
ALSA is the main public transport provider in Marrakech. ALSA buses are reliable and operate from early morning until late at night, with night buses going to and from popular locations, including Djema’a el Fna, the Gueliz district and Boulevard Mohammed V. The cost of the ticket is very low and it is usually paid to the driver on board the bus.

Even better than the buses are Marrakech’s standard yellow taxis. The small taxis allow you to move around the red city in a faster and more practical way. But once you enter, check that the meter is working. The fare is displayed and, by law, the driver is not allowed to drive without it. But they will often try to close it for the unsuspecting tourist. It’s important to note that small taxis in Morocco can carry three different passengers on the ride, depending on location, of course. So you may find that the cab often stops when the driver thinks someone is heading in your direction.

Rent a car:
Driving in Marrakech is not something we would recommend for tourists in our Marrakech travel guide. Most of the streets in the medina are very narrow for cars and traffic jams in Marrakech make it difficult even for Moroccans from other cities to negotiate the streets. Many Moroccans even refuse to drive in the red city! However, if you wish to rent a car, the driver must be over 21 years old. European driving licenses are accepted, but an international driving license is a better option if you have one.

There are numerous small local companies offering rental cars at varying prices, depending on the season of the year and the condition of the car. Carry out a thorough check of the condition of the car to avoid unpleasant surprises upon return. Street parking is rare, and should you find a space, always keep a few dirhams in reserve for the easily identifiable parking attendant in a blue overalls. In popular areas, parking can be found in large hotels or in guarded parking lots.

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