Marrakesh is a compact city, and many visitors spend much of their time in the medina, the ancient core of Marrakesh with narrow alleyways that's surrounded by high walls. Bring a pair of comfortable, closed-toe shoes and get ready to explore the Red City.
Here are the best ways to get around Marrakesh.
Editor's note: during COVID-19 there are restrictions on travel. Check the latest guidance in Morocco before departure, and always follow local health advice.
Compact and flat, Marrakesh was made for walking. The medina's skinny maze of souqs (markets) and alleys can only be explored on foot. They're usually shady and would make for very pleasant ambling were it not for the speeding motorbikes. Walking anywhere in the medina requires vigilance, as there's plenty of local traffic (people, carts, donkeys etc) even along car-free streets. Outside the medina, the neighborhood of Gueliz is laid out like a European city and has sidewalks, but the lack of shade can make it a hot place to wander around, particularly in summer.
Finding your way around the medina
If you get lost when walking around the medina, ask a shopkeeper for directions. Often bored youths will point you in the wrong way on purpose. GPS technology can now just about cope with the narrow, zigzagging alleys of the medina. Google Maps is decent, except for in the central souqs, but Maps.Me is better. Download offline maps so you have them when roaming is switched off. Generally it's fine to have your phone out in the medina, but if locals tell you to put it away (which does sometimes happen), heed their advice.
Ride-hailing apps, such as Uber, Lyft and Careem, are not available in Marrakesh, and getting a taxi can be a stressful experience. All drivers will insist their meter is "broken" and will quote prices up to 10 times the metered rate. Avoid getting taxis wherever possible, but particularly those waiting at stands that get a lot of tourist business: the airport, train station, Jardin Majorelle and virtually all those around the medina gates. You can usually get a better price by flagging a taxi down from the street.
If you're trying to hail a taxi from the road, you can theoretically flag down any taxi as long as it has fewer than three passengers already inside. The driver will ask where you're going, and if it's in the same direction as the other passengers, he should let you jump in. Note that taxis take multiple fares at the same time, though it's common for drivers to insist tourists take a private journey to justify the fare hike you'll be shafted with.
If you're in a group of three or more, you must take a grand taxi, which are a little harder to find on the roads but not impossible.
Green horse-drawn carriages called calèches congregate at Place de Foucauld next to Djemaa El Fna and around Jardin Majorelle. They’re a pleasant way to get around if you avoid the rush hours (8am, noon and 5.30pm to 7.30pm). Bargain hard on the cost: a good rate would be around Dh150 ($16.50) for a 1½-hour tour, but many tourists end up paying double that. You can dictate the route to an extent, but a typical tour might run from Jardin Majorelle to the Kasbah and Mellah via Djemaa El Fna, and around the ramparts.
Check the condition of the horse before haggling for a ride as some are better cared for than others. Animal welfare charity SPANA works with Marrakesh's calèche drivers, monitoring horse welfare and maintaining water troughs along popular carriage routes.
Local buses are run by Alsa. There's a semi-helpful route map on Alsa's website and at the main medina bus stop at Place de Foucauld in front of Djemaa El Fna. Services start around 6am and finish between 9.30pm and 10pm, with buses on most routes running every 15 to 20 minutes. Tickets cost Dh4 (44 cents), and you can buy them on board using small change.
Driving in Marrakesh is not for the faint-hearted. Drivers rarely stay in their lane and don't indicate, and you'll have to contend with taxis that stop in awkward places, crowds, calèches, donkey carts...you get the picture. We don't recommend it. If you are driving around Morocco and need to park up in Marrakesh while visiting the city, we recommend picking accommodation in the Gueliz neighborhood or on the outskirts of the medina close to a public parking lot. Expect to pay Dh20 (about $2.20) for a day or Dh40 ($4.40) for 24 hours.
In Gueliz, some roads have parking meters, which cost Dh2 (20 cents) per hour. If you find street parking without a meter, a guardian will expect a Dh10 ($1.10) tip for keeping an eye on your car. Look for the person in the blue coat or high-vis jacket and pay your tip afterwards.
This pancake-flat city is good terrain for cyclists, but traffic is a major problem: you'll need to be a confident rider to stomach the medina hubbub. Good-quality bicycles and helmets can be rented from AXS and Pikala Bikes. In 2016, Marrakesh became the first city in Africa to introduce a bike-sharing scheme. Medina Bike has kiosks at Koutoubia Mosque, Place de la Liberté in Gueliz and Jardin Majorelle. Register for the service through the app or website.
Accessible transportation in Marrakesh
Marrakesh has few accessible facilities, but the city is not necessarily out of bounds for travelers with a physical disability and a sense of adventure. Narrow medina streets and rutted pavements can make wheelchair access difficult; the neighborhood of Gueliz is easier to navigate. Buses in Marrakesh are not wheelchair friendly, but the City Tour Marrakech is wheelchair accessible and an excellent way to get between many of the city's top sights. Petits taxis in Marrakesh are too small to accommodate wheelchairs, but grands taxis should be able to – they typically cost about 50% more per journey.
Only a handful of top-end hotels have accessibly designed rooms. Booking ground-floor rooms is essential as few hotels have elevators, but accommodation in Gueliz is more likely to have them. Vision- or hearing-impaired travellers are poorly catered for. Hearing loops, Braille signs and talking pedestrian crossings are nonexistent.
Moroccan guide Houssaine Ichen specializes in accessible travel and comes highly recommended. His website has good advice.
Click here to download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide.
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