Advance Planning

Three months before Book riad accommodation; particularly important if travelling in high season. Most riads only have four to six rooms.

One month before Organise activities such as cooking classes (most have limited space).

One day before Check the weather. Marrakesh gets colder than you think in winter, and fiercely hot in summer. Come prepared.

Resources

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/morocco/marrakesh) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Marrakech Pocket (www.marrakechpocket.com) Marrakesh's monthly French-language listings guide. Also stocked in most hotels and bars.

Vivre Marrakech (www.vivre-marrakech.com) Events, new openings and listings (all in French). The website's free quarterly guide (in French and English) is available in many hotels and some businesses.

Top Tips

  • Many restaurants offer prix fixe (fixed price) three-course lunch menus which are similar to but much better value than a dinner menu; great for budget-conscious gourmets.
  • In the medina, wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees out of respect for more traditional views.
  • Non-Muslims cannot enter any of Marrakesh's mosques or religious shrines.
  • Advance reservations are recommended (and sometimes essential) for most top-end restaurants.
  • If someone greets you with es salaam alaykum (peace be upon you), reply with wa alaykum salaam (and upon you, be peace).
  • Coffee fan? Go local and order a nus-nus (literally half-half; a stronger milk coffee than a café au lait). It's not usually listed on menus, but every cafe with an espresso machine makes it.
  • Don't pay any attention to young men giving you unasked-for directional advice in the medina. They're nearly always deliberately telling you the wrong way.

What to Take

  • Good walking shoes – you'll be grateful after a long day trudging through the souqs.
  • European two-prong electrical adaptor.
  • A reusable shopping bag; Morocco banned plastic bags in 2016. Help souq stall vendors stick to the rules by toting your own bag.

What to Wear

In the ville nouvelle shorts and singlets (tank tops) are fine, but in the medina, where life remains more traditional, your choice of attire may be perceived as a sign of respect for yourself and Moroccans alike. For both men and women this means not wearing shorts, sleeveless tops or revealing clothing. If you do, some people will be embarrassed for you and the family that raised you and avoid eye contact. So if you don't want to miss out on some excellent company – especially among older Moroccans – dress modestly.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date.
  • Check airline baggage restrictions, particularly if you're flying in on a budget airline.
  • If it's your first visit and you're staying in a medina riad, remember to book a pick-up on arrival through your accommodation to avoid getting lost.