Let me start by saying that Morocco was very different from anywhere I’d ever been. Our trip was fabulous and seeing as this is my third post about it, there was so much we did and saw that was worth mentioning! I am so glad we went. Though it was a bit stressful for me at times, it was a really special place to begin our honeymoon.
Being knowledgeable about the culture and etiquette, as well as some of the city’s quirks, helped us feel more at home in Marrakech. Our riad made it a priority to give us travel advice and the manager there makes sure to sit down with each guest to answer any questions and give out his top tips.
To be very clear, my “stress” and any need for advice did not come from feeling unsafe in any way during our stay. It is culturally very different from the large cities we have lived in, and we appreciated any tips to help us blend in better.
For anyone considering a visit, I have a few tips that we learned along the way.
Basic Tips for Traveling to Marrakech, Morocco
What to Wear When Visiting Marrakech
The research I did do before leaving was about what I should wear (I found this post helpful!). I wanted to be respectful, so I packed clothes that were loose fitting and covered my knees and shoulders. I was comfortable in what I packed during our trip, though it certainly was different than what I packed for the rest of honeymoon.
In Marrakech, you will find that some tourists will wear whatever they want. I would say the majority of touring women attempt to cover their shoulders and knees, but it is not a large majority. I can see why… it was amazing how difficult it was to shop for modest summer clothes here in London! I struggled at the high street shops and felt a bit stressed about it, but it all worked out.
Visiting Marrakech During Ramadan
Our visit fell during Ramadan, a monthlong fast and a time for prayer, charity and faith for Muslims around the world. Visiting Marrakech during this time meant a lot of people in the city were fasting from 3:45 am to 7:45 pm each day.
Our riad recommended that we not eat or drink when out wandering the streets during this time of year. Sitting down for a meal inside a restaurant was totally fine, of course. We found that most restaurants and bars were still open during this time, even during the day. There were some closures, but it was not difficult to find somewhere to grab a bottle of water for later or a quick lunch.
It was hot, so not having water constantly while walking around was challenging for me, as I do not handle the heat well. My own small struggle really made me appreciate the commitment so many of the people we met during our stay have to their faith.
Sights like the Jemaa el-Fna were less crowded than they would have been at other points in the year, according to locals we met. We still enjoyed visiting them.
Since we stayed in the Old City, each morning and each evening we heard the call to prayer broadcast throughout the Medina to signal the start and end of the fasting day. It was so cool.
Getting Around Marrakech
Day and night, we walked the streets of Marrakech. We also took taxis, which were reliable and not very expensive. We felt safe all through our stay.
The city around the Souks is filled with small, winding streets. We loved exploring all around these, but if there is somewhere, in particular, that you are headed to, it is wise to have a map or GoogleMaps up. The beautiful ochre buildings can all start to look similar when you are lost!
The manager of our riad warned us that while you wander the streets of the Old City, people may try to confuse you and tell you that you’re headed in the wrong direction. His advice was to ignore them and continue on your way and if you were in fact lost, to stop into any shop you passed for directions.
We appreciated his advice, but I’m not sure we expected to experience it exactly as he stated. Some people will try to tell you the streets are closed up ahead or that a particular tourist sight is this way or that way, even in view of the entrance. We were thankful for the tip!
The most stressful thing about visiting the city for me was all the motorbikes! They zip right past you in small alleys, so I was always on my toes. You will see whole families on motorbikes. It is a bit different from London!
Even if you are basic like me, going somewhere different like Marrakech is an incredible experience. It is a beautiful and clean city with beautiful sights to see. Visiting during a time of religious significance to many of the residents of the city was also really neat. If you are nervous about travelling somewhere so different from home, my top tip is to book one of the many, many, many highly rated riads on TripAdvisor for your accommodations. The staff at these hotels will make sure you are well looked after!