5 things to know before travelling to Marrakesh

1) The currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham. Dirhams cannot be purchased outside of Morocco and so your first port of call on arriving into the city is to get some cash, which is essential as the markets (souks), taxis and restaurants in the Medina (the walled, historic centre of Marrakesh) will not accept payment forms other than cash. Upon arriving at the airport, I would recommend that you obtain the majority of the cash that you wish to spend during your trip, as there are very few cash points in the Medina. If you need a top-up, one notable cash point is located in the main market square, Jemaa el-Fnaa.

2) A taxi from Menara Airport to Marrakech takes around 15-30 minutes, dependent on traffic, and the Airport advises that the cost of the same should be around 70 Dirhams. The reality is that hardly any taxi drivers will offer the journey at this price. You should negotiate your fare before getting into any taxi and I believe that fares exceeding 150 Dirhams (for a 5-seater car) are unreasonable. Personally, I would advise pre-booking a taxi with your accommodation – this way you will have a reliable, pleasant service at an agreed price. We also experienced an issue in which our taxi driver told us that he couldn’t take us to the front of our Riad (a traditional Moroccan guesthouse) which was a lie and instead he dropped us around the corner from the Riad, presumably in front of a group of his friends. The friends then attempted to earn some quick money from us, by walking over to provide directions. Fortunately, we had already seen the Riad from the road and so we were able to make our own way to our accommodation without assistance. Had we booked a taxi directly through our Riad, we would not have encountered this issue.

3) By far the most disappointing part of my trip to Marrakesh was the inability to trust the local residents, as probably evident under Tip 2 above. I have never felt this way in any other city in the world. Locals deliberately mislead tourists into taking longer routes, in some cases purely out of boredom or, in other instances, in order to lure tourists into visiting their (and their friends’) businesses. As such, try to avoid asking locals for directions and do not follow unsolicited directional advice.

4) This is not strictly a tip, but more of a fact – you will get lost in the Medina. In the Medina you cannot even rely on the accuracy of signs on the wall telling you which way to go. My only advice would be to relax, take your time to explore the Medina and enjoy the incredible sights, sounds and smells of the souks. If you are looking for somewhere in particular, ask the staff at your accommodation for directions prior to leaving. If you are prepared to spend money on data while travelling then Google maps is fairly reliable in the Medina. Alternatively, download an offline map such as maps.me from the Apple Store. Once downloaded, use WiFi at your hotel to plot places of interest and then there is a good chance (again, this option is not entirely reliable) that maps.me will be able to assist you in reaching your desired destination, without you having to use any data on your mobile phone. 

5) Give yourself plenty of time to catch your flight home from Marrakech Menara Airport. The Moroccan airport authorities require that you have your boarding pass stamped at your airline’s check-in desk (and, as such, electronic boarding passes are not permitted and you must present a printed copy) and so this is quite a time consuming process.