We traveled to Morocco last year at the end of July for about 5 days and had originally planned to visit both Marrakech and Fez. However, due to me getting severely food poisoned (more later on in this post), we had to cut out Fez. Here are my travel tips if you’re thinking about visiting Marrakech!
When to Go: Spring or Fall for ideal temperatures. However, because I’m a teacher, I pretty much have to do international trips in the summer due to vacation days. Weather-wise, it may not be the best to visit Marrakech in the summer as temperatures reach over 100+˚F in cities and hotter in the desert, which you may want to consider if you plan on visiting the Sahara Desert.
Where to Visit: We chose Fez and Marrakech because they’re Morocco’s oldest cities (about 789-1070 respectively) and relatively safer. I wanted to see the leather tanneries in Fez and Bahia Palace in Marrakech. If we had more time, we thought about going to Chefchaouen, the “blue city”, but it is a 3+ hour trip from Fez.
Where to Stay: I wanted to stay in a riad in the Medina (old town where the narrow maze-like roads are lined with markets). Riads are traditional Moroccan houses with an interior courtyard. You may have seen the “Instagram-famous” Riad BE, but riads can range in prices as some are more affordable and others are incredibly luxurious. In Marrakech, we stayed in Le Riad Monceau, which is well-priced and has stunning common areas, though the rooms are not as luxurious if you’re looking for that.
What to Wear: Tourism has definitely impacted major cities in Morocco like Marrakech, though Fez is slightly more conservative. For locals, the double standard in dress is extremely apparent. You will see many Moroccan women fully covered while men are in tank top and shorts. However, for tourists, I saw many people wearing tank tops, shorts, and sandals without anyone batting an eye.
I try to err on the side of respectful, so here are the items I packed:
- Linen midi dresses with sleeves — I got more affordable linen dresses from Mango (currently on sale!) and splurged on cotton dresses from LoveShackFancy.
- Strappy sandals and woven flats — I’ve been wearing my Ancient Greek Sandals sandals on trips for years and they’re chic yet comfy for hours of walking. For close-toed shoes, I love my Dolce Vita woven mules.
- Purses that close/zip — It’s common sense to have a secure bag wherever you’re traveling, and I alternated between wearing my straw bag (clasp closure) and Chloé bag (zipper).
- Cotton scarves — I always travel with scarves because they’re versatile. I used them as wraps, to cover my neck/chest in traditional areas, and also as a headband if it got too hot.
Where to Eat: We went to well-known restaurants like Cafe des Épices (pictured), which is great for lunch with its fresh juices, kefta sandwich, and tajines. I’d also recommend Le Jardin and Nomad (sit on the rooftop if you can) for dinner.
I’m not sure where I ate when I got severely food poisoned as we only drank bottled water and dined at established restaurants. I had a stomachache for two weeks, fever, and other symptoms (I’ll spare you the graphic details lol). The food poisoning was so rough, we cut our Moroccan trip short because I couldn’t imagine going to Fez and withstanding the weather with my condition.
What to Do: Bahia Palace is a must visit — the details are so intricate and inspiring. As we stayed in the Medina, we spent a day wandering the Jemaa el-Fnaa market and exploring the ancient wall. I also recommend checking out the tranquil Jardin Majorelle, and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum while you’re nearby.
Safety: We encountered no real threats or danger. Most people kept to themselves and were polite. However, I felt anxious when I was in the markets for a few reasons.
If I was ever separated from my husband, I would get cat-called. Local men would yell out “konichiwa” and laugh or make noises at me. I’d have to hold my husband’s hand to avoid this, and I didn’t like the feeling of needing to be with a man to be respected. Especially as many local women in Marrakech were so covered or unseen in public places, the double standard of some men being so forward was jarring.
The streets inside the Medina are very narrow and packed with people, bikes, motorcycles, carts, etc. I was on high alert to not be run over or pick-pocketed (I feel this way in many cities as I’m usually quite paranoid, so it’s not specific to Morocco).
Men in the markets shouted at us when we tried to take general pictures. Like, we weren’t taking portraits of people or close ups of their products, but far away trying to capture the essence of the market, but still, there would be angry shouts. I can see it from their perspective, as it’s annoying to have tourists take photos of your space. Other merchants would charge for photos, hound you to come into their shops, or act annoyed if you don’t buy. When I travel, I love strolling through markets and looking around casually, so maybe my style just didn’t jive with the energy of these markets.
All that being said, Marrakech is fascinating to learn from, with such rich history and culture, and worth a visit with an open mind. I hope these travel tips helped, and let me know if you have any more questions in the comments!