An enchanting labyrinth of over 3000 stalls, the Marrakech souks have been a “bucket list” destination of mine for years. From the moment I descended into the souks, I was hooked. The cacophony of blacksmiths hammering wrought iron, cobblers making leather shoes by hand, and copper workers tinkering drew me deeper and deeper into the maze of stalls.
Exploring the souks is one of the best things to do in Marrakech. It’s easy to spend an hour, or several, wandering through the narrow passageways and discovering new areas, each dedicated to a particular handcraft. Visiting the souks almost feels like stepping back a little in time—many traditional processes from years ago remain the same today.
Visiting the Marrakech souks can be an overwhelming experience. While the souks are an amazing place to visit in Morocco, it’s easy to get scammed or ripped off if not careful. The following tips will help make sure that your visit to the Marrakech souks is as smooth as can be.
Click below to find the best Marrakech souk tours:
What is a Souk?
In the Arab world, a souk (also spelled souq) is a market or bazaar found common across North Africa and the Middle East.
You will commonly find souks in major cities in Morocco, located in the Medina.
What is the Difference Between a Medina and a Souk?
A medina is the old town of a city in North Africa. Medinas are usually the core of a city and their historical center. A Medina is typically a walled city.
Souks are found in medinas. Souks are marketplaces and typically only occupy part of a Medina. Within a single medina, there may be many different souks, each selling a different type of product.
Typically in a medina, products and processes that are more pungent, like leather goods and tanning, would be found at the edge of the medina to prevent the smell from being too disruptive.
The Marrakech Souks
The Marrakech souks make up the largest souk in Morocco. You’ll find bustling, winding streets filled with leather goods, Berber rugs, and glowing lanterns.
In Marrakech, the souks have existed for over 800 years. You’ll find over 18 souks in the city and over 3000 stalls (give or take). Each souk is geared towards a different type of craft. Much of the souks’ layout and the craftsmanship on display reflects the souks’ historic tradition (you know the phrase “things aren’t made like they used to be?” Well, they still are in the souks). The rich history of Morocco’s medina has been acknowledged by UNESCO, who granted the medina UNESCO World Heritage status.
Don’t feel stressed trying to make it to all of the souks listed below. The souks are like a quilt: technically different but close knit and blending together to create something bigger. It’s easy to walk through a several different souks and not even realize you did.
Souk Ableuh is a small souk just off of Jemaa el-Fna (Djemma el Fna). If you’re starting your journey into the Marrakech souks from the square, it’s likely that Souk Albeuh may be the first one you walk into (there’s only three entrances to the souks from the square).
Souk Ableuh is the olives, herbs, and spice souk. Here, you’ll find piles of plump olives and bags of fresh herbs. Morocco is the world’s largest producer of olives. Be sure to try some while you’re there—they’re amazing!
I noticed mostly locals shopping at Souk Ableuh, despite its tourist-friendly location. It’s common for tourists to pass through the souk to reach Jemaa el-Fna, however restrictive import laws make it difficult to bring olives from Souk Albeuh home as a souvenir, as they’re all fresh, and not prepackaged.
Souk Kchacha is a dried fruit and nut souk. While you’re at Souk Kchacha, try some of the traditional Moroccan sweets and candies for sale, like chebakia (shebakia), a sesame cookie that’s fried and dipped in honey and orange blossom. North African sweets tend to use dried fruits and nuts such as dates, figs, almonds, cashews, and apricots, all of which are sold at Souk Kchacha.
Of all the Marrakech souks, Souk Semmarine is the largest and most touristy. This popular souk, located right next to Jemaa el-Fna, sells a mélange of goods, mostly stocking common souvenirs. Within Souk Semmarine, you can find leather poufs, pastries, pottery, home textiles like pillow cases and blankets, factory-made souvenirs, and even suitcases (because you’ll obviously need another after all your shopping in Marrakech).
There’s no denying that Souk Semmarine is the heart and soul of the Marrakech souks. The souk is a large, covered passageway that acts as a trunk for Marrakech’s smaller souks to branch off of. If you feel like you’re in the “main part” of the Marrakech souks, you’re probably in Souk Semmarine. I’ve passed through it countless times unintentionally just trying to get to elsewhere in the city—it’s that unmissable.
Unless you’re short on time, I don’t recommend making your purchases in Souk Semmarine. Prices in Souk Semmarine are higher than if you’re near the northern edges of the souk. Personally, I found the vendors in Souk Semmarine to be a lot more aggressive and scammy in their approach than in the smaller, less frequented souks like Souk Cherratin and Souk Haddadine.
Souk el-Kessabine (Quessabine Souk) is a clothing souk just off Souk Semmarine near Jemaa el-Fna square. This small, covered souk features several vendors selling djellaba (Morocco’s traditional robe) and elaborate kaftans.
As Souk Semmarine ends, it splits into the road Souk el-Kebir, and Souk Nejjarine. Above Rue Souk el-Kebir, you’ll find Souk Cherratin, a maze of alleyways that make up the leather souk in Marrakech. As you wander through Souk Cherratin, you’ll see leather workers, cobblers, hides, and leather goods. Locals refer to these leather artisans as “Ta’ala.”
Souk Cherratin is one of my favorite souks to explore in Marrakech. As it’s at the northeastern edge of the souk, you’re more likely to get a fair price on leather goods like bags, shoes, and jackets here than you are in souks near Jemaa el-Fna. You’ll find actual craftspeople working and selling goods here—not just stall owners acting as a middle man.
When exploring the northeast part of the medina, you may come across Souk Serrajine, an area where many woven baskets and ceramics are sold.
If you choose the other side of the fork when Souk Semmarine splits, you’ll walk into Souk Nejjarine. Souk Nejjarine is a small woodworking and carpentry market, filled with intricately carved and painted wooden boxes, musical instruments, furniture, and art.
Souk el Attarine
Walking up Souk Semmarine to the north, as a fork veers to the left, you’ll find Souk el Attarine. Souk el Attarine was previously a large perfume and spice market. A few perfume and spice stalls still set up shop here, marked by colorful mounds of spices in the streets. These days, you may find more stalls selling copper pots, silver teapots, and brass lanterns.
If you follow Rue Souk el Attarine to the north, eventually you’ll reach Souk Haddadine, the ironworkers’ souk. Souk Haddadine sees far fewer tourists than Souk Semmarine, feeling much more breathable.
You’ll be greeted to the clinging and clanging of hammers hitting iron as skilled craftsmen make lanterns, chairs, locks, keys, and home decor.
Staying in the northern part of the Marrakech souks, I stumbled upon Souk Haddadine by complete accident. There’s something entrancing and mesmerizing about the souk, tucked away from the hectic roads of the medina. Even in the middle of the day, few tourists walked through Souk Haddadine’s hidden enclaves. The souk has quickly become one of my favorites in Marrakech.
Next to Souk Haddadine is Souk Chouari. This souk is home to woodworking and basketweaving. “Chouari” comes from the pannier palm baskets donkeys carry. Fragrant cedar wood fills the air of this souk, where artisans create beautiful hand carved pieces.
Here, you’ll see tons of straw bags embroidered with words and sequins, or customized with names, a popular souvenir in Marrakech.
Souk des Chaudronniers
All that glistens isn’t gold in Souk des Chaudronniers—it’s copper. West of Souk Chouari lies Souk des Chaudronniers, known as the coppersmith souk. Here, the copper trade is passed down from father to son. The sound of tinkering metal fills the air as stalls sell pots, pans, mugs, and all other sorts of copperware.
Souk Harrarine was once a bustling silk market. Today, the souk is a small row of glowing lantern shops.
To the left of rue Souk el Kebir and Souk el Attarine are the Kissarias, covered markets mostly selling casual clothing and footwear such as kaftans and cotton scarves. You may find a few typical souvenirs as well, but certainly not as mainly as the most popular Marrakech souks.
Known as Place des Épices in French for its mysterious apothecaries, Rahba Kedima is a square in the Marrakech souks, just off of Souk Semmarine. The apothecaries in the square are sometimes known as Berber chemists, and sell all kinds of mystic ingredients for black magic, like dried lizards, driftwood, and bird beaks, alongside holistic remedies like aphrodisiac roots. The open square isn’t strictly pharmaceutical—Berber goods, namely straw baskets, hats, and bags; and wool hats are also sold here.
Rahba Kedima is a central location in the Marrakech souks that acts as a connector between markets. The square tends to stay open just a little later than some of the surrounding souks. We ended up lost and confused in Rahba Kedima several times one night when trying to make it back to our riad when the majority of the souk had already closed (pro tip: use driving directions at night after the souks close, not walking, to find roads that are open).
Souk Zrabi (Le Criée Berbère)
Souk Zrabi (Le Criée Berbère, the Berber Auction) wasn’t always Marrakech’s rug market. Located left of Rahba Kedima, the souk was the site of Marrakech’s slave auctions until 1912. Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the market opened, trading kidnapped West Africans.
Today, Souk Zrabi is a bustling carpet market. Rug shopping in Marrakech is an experience in and of itself. If you go, be prepared for lots of mint tea, fast-paced salesmen, and of course, haggling. Do your research—rug scams in Marrakech are common, and it’s easy to purchase something that’s fake or lower quality.
Tucked away to the right of Rahba Kedima is Souk Larzal—a small, and often overlooked wool market in the early hours of the morning. In the afternoon, the souk transforms into a secondhand-clothing marketplace.
Nestled next to Souk Larzal is Souk Btana, the skinner’s souk. In the morning, you’ll see goat, cow, sheep, and camel leather hides left out to dry in the heat of the sun. Hides are then turned into the leather bags, belts, and shoes seen all throughout the Marrakech souks.
Souk of the Bijoutiers
Traditional Berber jewelry, carefully crafted of silver and adorned with turquoise, jade, and amber can be found at Souk of the Bijoutiers. This souk has earned a reputation as the jewelry souk for its precious jewels and metals. When you see a sign reading Bijouterie Tegmoutiene to the right of rue Souk el-Kebir, and are met by the cases of jewelry vendors, you’ll know you’ve arrived.
Souk Smata (Souk of the Babouches)
Souk Smata is definitively Marrakech’s shoe souk. The souk is also known as “Souk of the Babouches” as vendors primarily sell traditional Moroccan babouches, a leather slide-on slipper made of leather, sometimes embroidered or embellished with sequins.
Pay close attention when shopping for babouche or sandals in Souk Smata. Shadier vendors will try to trick tourists into buying shoes that are not genuine leather, and instead made of cloth or flimsier materials.
Souk Sebbaghine (Souk of the Teinturiers)
Souk Sebbaghine, also known as “Souk of the Teinturiers,” is known as the dyeing souk in Marrakech. The souk is located northeast in the medina near Ibn Ben Youssef Madrasa (Ibn Yusuf Madrasa).
The souk feels like an Easter egg in Marrakech in many ways, it’s difficult to find and easy to miss but when you make it there, brightly dyed wool and silk threads hanging across the road and draped over stalls will draw you in. Men pulling carts through the narrow alley will nearly run you over as fiber craftspeople work their magic using natural dyes.
Unfortunately, stalls in and near Souk of the Teinturiers don’t sell all that many raw fibers, but do sell plenty of scarves and other textile goods. Be on alert for scams here—people may try to offer to explain the dyeing process to you or take you to the dyers, only to later demand money or for you to purchase.
While the sounds of copper being tinkered and iron pounded may fill the air of other souks, at Souk Kimakhnine, a different melody fills the air. Souk Kimakhnine may be one of the most unique souks in Marrakech.
In this souk, you’ll find traditional Maghrebi instruments. Instruments range from those more familiar, such as ouds (lutes), tarrijas (tambourines), and rababs (fiddles), to those less-common outside of Northern Africa, like qanuns (zithers) and darbukas (goblet drums).
If you’re looking to buy one of Morocco’s traditional clay tajine pots, wander into Souk Fekharine. Here, you’ll find brightly colored bowls and plates amongst terracotta tajines of all sizes.
Souk el Khemis
If you head out of the main area of the Medina and towards Palmeraie, you’ll find Souk el Khemis, known as the “doors souk.” Souk el Khemis is like an eccentric flea market of secondhand goods.
Like a design enthusiast’s wonderland, Souk el Khemis was once a treasure trove of hotels past. Most famously, nearly all of La Mamounia’s furniture and decor find its way to Souk El Khemis after a renovation. It’s more mainstream these days, but smaller shops still have much to be discovered if you’re willing to dig.
Marrakech Souk Hours
The Marrakech souks don’t have clearly defined hours, but are typically open daily from 9 or 10 am to 8 or 9 pm. Keep in mind that by 8:30 pm, gates to the souks will begin to close, which can provide navigation challenges.
The best time to visit the souks in Marrakech are prior to noon, when the day isn’t quite as hot, and early evening, when the souks are in full swing and Jemaa el-Fna begins to come alive with its night market and street food. While visiting the souks right as they open at 9 am may seem like a good idea, you may not get the full experience. Vendors open their stalls at different times, and many aren’t fully set up until around 10 am.
How to Navigate the Marrakech Souks
As you begin to wander into Marrakech’s souks, you’ll quickly notice that your maps apps don’t seem to be working quite right. Despite how popular the Marrakech souks are, many of the streets are still not properly labeled or even drawn into the map yet. As you find yourself lost and confused, someone insists on helping show you the way. You take them up on it, and when you reach your destination, they get aggressive and demand money.
Navigating the Marrakech souks can be tricky and intimidating. It’s easy to get scammed and even easier to get lost.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when navigating the Marrakech souks:
1. You will get lost
It’s undeniable. The Marrakech souks are a wonder-inducing maze of oddities and chaos. Part of the fun is getting lost and walking through secluded gems. Your GPS will help in this—many map apps are nearly useless in the souks.
2. Use driving directions at night
Although streets are never closed during the day in the souks (that’s a common scam), roads and alleys in the Marrakech souks do close at night, when vendors are done selling for the day. When this happens, walking directions become useless (yes, even more than before). Instead, turn on driving directions which will guide you through major streets that definitely open.
3. Don’t ask for directions
It can be tempting to ask for help when you look lost, but it’s best to avoid it, unless you’re paying careful attention to who you’re asking. Bad actors in the souks commonly scam tourists by offering them directions or help, then demanding money. When navigating the souks, don’t pay attention to locals approaching you offering to help. If you do really need help, try looking for families with children. In my experience, even shopkeepers can be in on some of these fake guide scams.
4. Don’t pay attention to signs
While a few of the signs in the souks are accurate, there’s also some that are fake. Even the accurate signs typically don’t have enough additional direction to create a clear, easy to follow path. Tourists that are clearly trying to follow the signs can be an easy target for scammers and pickpockets.
5. Watch out for taxi scams
Taxis are unfortunately notorious for scamming tourists and locals alike in Marrakech. It’s common for drivers to refuse to turn on their meter, insisting that it’s broken. They’ll quote you a ridiculously high price when you reach your destination.
Instead, use apps like Roby and InDrive to safely call a taxi in the souks. You set the price you want to pay, then drivers bid on your ride. You’ll be able to see a driver’s rating when they bid, so you can decide to accept or decline the ride.
Overall, you do not need a taxi in the souks. Most streets in the souks are pedestrian and motorbike-only—you’ll only need a car to get to and from the Medina.
Marrakech Souk Tours
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the idea of exploring Marrakech’s souks alone, you’re not alone! Marrakech souk tours are a popular choice for tourists looking to learn about the medina’s history and explore the ins and outs of Marrakech’s souks without the hassle.
Marrakech souk tours are generally inexpensive and frequently private. Often, tour guides will help you haggle for a lower price.
While you’ll typically end up paying a bit more for items on a tour than you might be able to get them on your own, well-rated souk tours will offer the benefit of a guided experience, the guarantee that you won’t miss anything, possible workshop tours, and history you may not know otherwise.
Click below to discover the best Marrakech souk tours:
Where to Get Cash and Exchange Currency in Marrakech
Marrakech’s souks are almost strictly cash-only. You will need Moroccan Dirhams, not foreign currency. If you’re looking for currency exchange or an ATM near the souks, make your way to the post office in Jemaa el-Fna. To the left, is Pass. Prince Moulay Rachid, where you’ll find a cluster of banks. I recommend visiting Société Générale, where ATMs are inside the bank and looked after by security.
US debit cards are not always compatible with ATMs in Marrakech. Société Générale ATMs were actually the only ATMs in Marrakech that worked with mine. Bring some of your own currency as cash in the event that you’re unable to find a working ATM and need to visit a currency exchange. In the medina, several currency exchanges are located in Jemaa el-Fna.
ATM scams are common in major cities. Always frequent an ATM at a bank where security is present. Check machines for possible irregularities like a loose card slot or superfluous devices.
Outside of the medina, ATMs in Marrakech are also commonly found in Gueliz, Marrakech’s new town.
How to Haggle in the Marrakech Souks for the Best Prices
If you’re shopping in Marrakech, you need to know how to haggle. Prices in the Marrakech souks are never what they seem, and start much higher than what you’ll actually pay. Haggling is a dance—a back and forth between you and the vendor. Your ability to get the best price for your item depends on how long you’re willing to negotiate.
If haggling makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re not alone. Here’s a few tips for haggling in the souks:
1. Ask your riad for price ideas
Riads are a great resource when shopping in the Marrakech souks. If you’re unsure of how much you should expect to pay for the items you’re shopping for, ask your riad.
2. Check the artisan stores
There are a few fixed price stores in the Marrakech souks, mostly around Riad Zitoun Jdid. Prices will be higher than what you would pay in the souks, but stopping by will help give you an upper boundary when negotiating.
3. Start at 25% or less of the asking price
When you find an item to purchase, the shopkeeper will quote you an astronomical price. For example, when buying two hand embroidered Berber pillow covers, I was told that they would be 1500 MAD ($150.01 USD)! I offered 150 MAD back ($15 USD), and after much back and forth we landed on 250 MAD ($25 USD).
Start haggling by offering 25% of the original asking price (or more, if the starting price is especially egregious). The shopkeeper will act incredibly insulted “What? For a beautiful item like this?” and begin listing all the details of the item that supposedly justify the ridiculous price. At the end of this, he’ll offer a new, lower price. You’ll look stressed, like the price is absolutely too much to handle before countering again. Eventually, you’ll hit a rhythm and land on a price together.
4. Bundle items
You’re likely to save a little extra by purchasing multiple items from the same vendor. If you know you’re looking for multiple pashminas or multiple pillow covers, purchase them at the same stall and use the quantity of your order as leverage when haggling.
5. Be prepared to walk away
There’s no shame in walking away from negotiation if the shopkeeper isn’t budging on price. Pick your final price before beginning to haggle, and walk away if you can’t reach it. You’ll likely be able to find another item like it from a different vendor down the street.
Just don’t change your mind after you agree to making a purchase—it’s considered poor etiquette, and frankly, is just rude.
6. Don’t get too stressed
While haggling can be overwhelming and stressful, it shouldn’t be taken to heart. In Marrakech’s souks, haggling is a regular part of life and usually done in good spirits—even when negotiation feels tense.
What to Buy in Marrakech
In Morocco’s souks, you can find items that would cost you hundreds of dollars in the United States for just a fraction of the price. While there’s some amazing deals on high quality goods to be found, there’s many items not worth purchasing at all.
For example, taking home some of Morocco’s plump olives or the incredible fresh-pressed orange juice in Marrakech as souvenirs might sound like a good idea, but in reality, customs laws make it difficult to do so (make sure to have plenty while you’re there). Then, there’s the many counterfeit items in the souks.
Below are the best items to buy in the souks if you’re shopping in Marrakech:
This traditional leather Moroccan slipper will run you between 75 to 150 MAD ($7.50 to $15 USD) depending on quality and embellishment. If you truly want the biggest babouche selection, head to Souk Smata, better known as “Souk of the Babouches.”
You can also find quality leather sandals in the Marrakech souks, for a similar price.
Leather poufs can cause hundreds of dollars in the US from retailers like CB2 and West Elm. In Marrakech, a leather pouf costs between just 120 to 300 MAD ($12 to $30 USD). Size, embellishment, and quality will dictate the price.
Do not buy leather poufs at tanneries in Morocco—you’ll likely pay much more than you would in the souks.
Across Marrakech, you’ll see vendors selling handwoven straw bags, embellished with sequins and colorful thread, or personalized with names and phrases. These bags are often finished using Moroccan leather for the straps.
If you have a night in Marrakech, you can order your own custom straw bag. Expect to pay 80 to 400 MAD ($8 to $40) depending on size, if the bag is lined, and if there’s leather detail.
In addition to straw bags, vendors also sell straw baskets and storage bins. Straw baskets in Marrakech are usually inexpensive, at around 100 MAD ($10 USD).
Berber rugs are famous around the world for their high quality and bright colors. By purchasing one in Morocco, you can save hundreds of dollars. A Moroccan rug in the US may run you $800+. In Morocco, you can buy a quality area rug for as low as 4000 MAD ($400 USD) with a little patience.
Rug prices in Morocco vary a lot based on size and quality. Expect to pay 3000 MAD ($300 USD) for a small rug, 4000 to 6000 MAD ($400 to $600 USD) for an area rug, and upwards from there.
Buying a rug in Morocco is a process. After stumbling upon a rug vendor in Souk Zrabi, you’ll be pulled into a room brimming with rugs from floor to ceiling, as shopkeepers offer you mint tea and unroll colorful Berber rugs. Do not feel pressured to buy. It’s perfectly okay to walk out if something isn’t catching your eye.
When you decide on a rug, shopkeepers will roll it up extra tight for shipping or your luggage. Do not undo their work before you’re home—you’re never going to be able to re-roll the rug as small on your own. Many rug stores in Marrakech will ship, so you don’t need to deal with the hassle of going to the post office, but you can also ship from the post office on your own for peace of mind.
Scarves are all over the souks in Marrakech. You’ll find indigo-dyed cotton scarves, vibrant silk scarves, and cozy cashmere pashminas. For a cotton scarf, expect to pay 40 to 100 MAD ($4 to $10 USD), and just a little more for silk scarves. Cashmere pashminas can be found for 120 to 300 MAD ($12 to $30 USD). Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Counterfeit pashminas are rampant in the Marrakech souks.
Soft Turkish towels can be found at several stalls in the Marrakech souks. They’ll be stacked to the ceiling in just about every color imaginable. Many feature woven, geometric designs, and some have details like metallic threads. These towels are extra large, perfect for the beach.
For towels in Marrakech, expect to pay 60 to 150 MAD ($6 to $15 USD). I paid 150 MAD per towel in Marrakech for two large, handwoven towels with metallic detail.
Throughout the souks, you’ll see tons of thick wool throw pillow covers, some plain, others woven with color to make stripes and patterns, or embroidered with illustrations, fringe, or silver metal sequin-like discs.
Basic throw pillow covers prices in Marrakech range from 60 to 90 MAD ($6 to $9 USD). Intricate or embellished designs range from 100 to 150 MAD ($10 to $15 USD). I purchases two Berber wedding pillow covers embroidered with silver discs and fringe while in Marrakech for 125 MAD ($12.50 USD) each.
The souks’ glowing lantern shops have become one of the most Instagrammable spots in Marrakech. At these stalls, a small lantern will cost between 85 to 250 MAD ($8.50 $25 USD). Smaller lanterns are typically lower quality, made of aluminum rather than brass. Higher quality brass lanterns, and larger lanterns will typically cost 350 to 1500 MAD ($35 to $150 USD).
It’s easy to be tempted by the alluring lantern shops in the souks, but lanterns aren’t necessarily the easiest souvenir to pack. Anticipate needing a large suitcase, or having to purchase shipping for your lantern purchase.
If you’re just visiting the lantern stalls for an Instagram-worthy moment, make sure to ask before photographing! Most lantern shop owners are happy to let you take a photo with permission. Be prepared to pay a small fee for photos if you’re not making a purchase.
Morocco has a rich history of leather tanning. To this day, tanneries in the country still employ many of the traditional methods of tanning leather used in the industry’s early days. If you’re looking to buy leather goods in Morocco, I recommend doing so in the souks of Fes, rather than Marrakech, where goods tend to be a little cheaper. If you won’t be passing through Fes, leather goods in Marrakech will still be less expensive what you’d pay at home.
The best leather products to buy in Morocco are crossbody bags, backpacks, jackets, shoes, and small leather goods like wallets and card holders. For a leather crossbody bag, expect to pay 100 to 200 MAD ($10 to $20 USD). Backpacks can be found for 200 to 350 MAD ($20 to $35 USD). Leather jackets in the Marrakech souks typically range from 700 to 1750 MAD ($70 to $175 USD). Quality and type of leather (lamb, goat, cow, or camel), will cause prices to vary.
Morocco’s argan oil is famous around the world for use in cooking, and as a body and hair treatment. This nourishing plant oil is native to Morocco. You can try your hand at pressing the oil yourself at an argan oil making class in Marrakech. If you’re visiting Agadir or Essaouira, you may want to buy argan oil there for better prices, as argan trees grow in the south of the country.
Argan oil is sold all over the Marrakech souks, but isn’t always authentic. While argan oil prices in Marrakech are much lower than they are in other countries, if a price seems ultra low, you’re likely buying a bottle that’s counterfeit or diluted. Expect to pay 150 to 250 MAD ($15 to $25 USD) for a 150 mL bottle of cosmetic argan oil. Argan oil for cooking is usually less, ranging from 120 to 150 MAD ($12 to $15 USD) for a small bottle.
I recommend not buying argan oil in the souks at all, due to the risk of argan oil scams. Instead, make your way to a grocery store in Marrakech, like Carrefour. There, you can buy argan oil for a reasonable price, and have the peace of mind that the oil you’re buying is 100% genuine.
Marrakech’s souks are filled with colorful, patterned ceramic bowls, vases, and plates. Pottery typically comes from Fes or Safi, and you’re likely to find a price slightly lower in those cities than you would in Marrakech.
I was so tempted to buy some of the bright ceramic pieces in the souks, but restrained myself due to the logistics of trying to get them home (ceramics are heavy, and my studio apartment is small). If you are in the market for ceramics in Marrakech, know that prices range as low as just 30 to 40 MAD ($3 to $4 USD) for a small dish, all the way up to 300 to 400 MAD ($30 to $40 USD) for large serving bowls and platters.
Tagine (tajine) is a terracotta earthenware vessel used to cook a traditional Moroccan dish of the same name. It’s easy to purchase a tagine in Marrakech, whether you’re looking for a large tagine for cooking, or smaller painted and patterned ones for serving mezze like zaalouk (a popular eggplant dip) and salatat al jazar (carrot salad).
Prices for tagine in Marrakech vary a lot based on size, glaze, and pattern. Prices typically range from 25 to 300 MAD ($2.50 to $30 USD) overall. In Fes, where prices are slightly lower, my boyfriend purchase one large terracotta tagine, and two smaller, painted tagine for 300 MAD ($30 USD) total. He managed to get them all home in his backpack despite the size and weight—no cumbersome shipping required!
After days of drinking delicious Moroccan mint tea, you might decide you want to take home a Moroccan tea set for yourself. Typically, you buy the teapot separately from the tea cups in the Marrakech souks. Glasses are sold as sets of four, not individually.
A stainless steel teapot in Marrakech will cost 90 ($9 USD) to 150 MAD ($15 USD). For a higher quality silver teapot, or something of a larger size, expect to pay 250 ($25 USD) to 300 MAD ($30 USD). Like rugs, vintage pieces may be more expensive. You may be able to save a few dollars by purchasing teapots that are simply used, rather than vintage.
How to Avoid Getting Scammed in the Marrakech Souks
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall victim to a scam in Marrakech’s souks. While people in Marrakech as a whole are incredibly hospitable and kind, bad actors in the souks take advantage of tourists who are lost, confused, or just naïve.
Don’t let getting scammed in Marrakech ruin your adventure. Morocco has so much to offer, and even the savviest of travelers can accidentally find themselves the victim of a scam. To avoid scams in Marrakech, watch out for the below:
1. Know that the street isn’t really closed
A common scam is for a local to approach a tourist and tell them that a road or alley is closed, insisting they go a different direction. Of course, these locals will act as fake guides, leading tourists to where they need to be, only to demand money after reaching the destination. Know that during daylight hours in the Marrakech souks, all streets are open.
2. Don’t follow anyone
Don’t follow anyone in the Marrakech souks—ever. Shopkeepers and locals will offer to show you the way if you look lost, or take you to popular tourist attractions. Often, like the closed street scam, they’ll lead you to where you’re going only to demand money, or will guide you through their family’s shop, forcing you to buy something. Some of these fake guides are so savvy that they wear fake credentials on a lanyard, like legitimate tour guides do.
We fell victim to an intricate version of this scam, known as the “tannery scam” in Marrakech.
3. Don’t trust anyone offering unsolicited help or advice
Shopkeepers or locals might try offering you unsolicited help or advice, only to gain your trust, and lure you into a scam.
Around noon on Derb Dabachi near Jemaa el-Fna, a motorbike whizzed past as a shopkeeper walking back to his stall turned around and told us to stay to the right of the street to avoid being hit. We knew this, and weren’t necessarily in the way when the motorbike passed, which made me suspect.
The shopkeeper asked if we were visiting, then said, “Oh, perfect timing! The Berber market is open today, you should go visit. It’s just up the hill, and the first right in the square.”
We had been told not to follow anyone, but this shopkeeper didn’t offer to take us anywhere, he simply offered a recommendation. The market sounded nearby, so we walked up the hill, out of the main souks, and into the square where Ben Salah Mosque is located.
There, another shopkeeper called out, asking if we were going to the Berber market. We said yes. As we briefly spoke to him, a man passed us on a bicycle, paying no attention to us at all. The shopkeeper called out to him, exchanging a few words. He told us that the man was Berber, on his way to work at the market.
The shopkeeper to us to follow the other man, not himself. Suspicious, we started following anyway. After all, none of the Marrakech travel guides we read prior to the trip mentioned a similar situation when describing common scams. The man talked to us about Berber culture and even had a friendly conversation with police officers we ran into. We were lead away even further from the souks, to a leather tannery.
After being pushed into a full tannery tour and of course, mandatory stop in the tannery’s shop (a common fixture of Morocco tannery tours), we tried to escape. We were chased down the street by our guide and another man, who started puffing their chests at my boyfriend and being extremely aggressive, demanding money.
As we walked away, we noticed a family with a young child about to fall victim to the scam. We warned the family, while our guide and theirs started yelling “f*ck you” at us, flipping us off.
It’s common that victims of the tannery scam are left in this quiet area of the medina with no sense of location or directions to get back. The tannery is not in the safest neighborhood, so if you are there, stay on alert.
4. Beware of Counterfeit Goods
Goods in the souks are not all as they seem. It’s easy to accidentally buy a counterfeit item, whether the shopkeeper sold you on a fake backstory or your argan oil is really just sunflower oil.
Don’t believe the shopkeeper’s spiel on its own (it’s handmade, vintage, copper, etc.), inspect your items before purchasing. Some items, like Chloe shoes and Louis Vuitton bags are obvious fakes, while others, like cashmere pashminas, can be more difficult to discern in the heat of the moment (the souks move quickly).
How to Stay Safe in the Marrakech Souks
I’ve never said “non, merci,” more times than I did in the Marrakech souks. Everyone gets approached from all directions, whether it’s an older woman trying to lure you into their henna scam, a shopkeeper enticing you to buy, or one of the very energetic salesmen at the food stalls of Jemaa el-Fna.
I’ll put it bluntly, because it’s important: Marrakech is hardly the most dangerous place you could travel, and isn’t dangerous overall during the day (save for the frequent scam, catcalling, and occasional pickpocket). However, the medina, especially the souks, is not safe for women alone at night. I had the benefit of experiencing Marrakech both as a solo female traveler, and accompanied by my boyfriend. The experiences were drastically different.
Should that discourage you from going? Absolutely not. Marrakech has so much to offer. The city just requires a little extra caution for anyone to navigate, especially solo female travelers. Before you head to Marrakech, keep the following safety tips in mind:
Be Aware of the Henna Scam
Day and night, local women will sit in Jemaa el-Fna offering henna. While it may be tempting to get an elaborate henna tattoo in the middle of the square, I recommend avoiding it.
Henna in Jemaa el-Fna is typically laced with gasoline, or is “black henna,” a fake henna made out of paraphenylenediamine (PPD). PPD is a hair dye, and though it may look like a tattoo on your skin, it contains no actual henna and can cause blistering and scarring. You likely won’t know that the henna was actually PPD until 7-10 days after application. Natural henna will always appear brown or greenish in color before dry.
Henna women approach tourists by “accidentally” spilling henna on their hand and offering to cover up the mistake with a tattoo, only to demand 100 to 200 MAD ($10 to $20 USD) when finished. Even if you approach a henna artist first, your agreed price upfront is likely not going to be acknowledged when finished.
If you’re looking for a genuine Moroccan henna tattoo in the souks, visit Henna Café just off of Riad Zitoun el Kdim. Henna Café offers beautiful, fixed price henna tattoos and only uses natural henna. By visiting Henna Cafe rather than one of the shady henna artists in the square, you’re still supporting the local community. The cafe uses profits to support local education and development initiatives.
Keep Belongings Close
The best way to avoid pickpockets in the Marrakech souks is to minimize their opportunities. Keep your belonging close, and keep a close eye on them. Don’t put anything in open pockets, like your cell phone or wallet. If you’re carrying a handbag with a front closure, turn the bag around when wearing it so the closure is facing your body, not the street.
Do Not Walk in the Souks Alone at Night
I’ve read of local women even feeling hesitant to walk in the Marrakech souks alone at night. While the souks are a place of curiosity and fun during the day and early evening, after sundown, the dynamic changes drastically.
Solo female travelers should exercise an abundance of caution when walking around the souks alone, especially at night.
One night, on Dar el Bacha near my riad, I was walking down the street alone as a man slowly wandering down the road started rapidly walking towards me, trying to corner me against the street’s wall. It wasn’t very late—just about 9 pm, and I was near the artisan shops at the edge of the souks. The street wasn’t busy, but also wasn’t quiet—plenty of tourists and locals were nearby. I yelled “No!” Luckily, some nearby tourists also started yelling, and the man backed off.
At night, don’t risk it. Call a car via an app instead of walking around alone. If you are walking alone, stay alert, don’t be afraid to yell, and keep to well-lit, main roads.
Make no mistake: Marrakech is changing. Talking to young women in Marrakech, it became obvious that the new town, and younger generation are open-minded and progressive. I was surprised when a local said she felt as though Dubai was actually more conservative than Marrakech.
While you don’t technically have to dress modestly in Marrakech and you will see some tourists that don’t, I do recommend it if you’re a solo female traveler in the city. The catcalling in Marrakech is aggressive, and safety for women still isn’t stellar.
Even dressing modestly, you’ll still receive unwanted attention. My photographer in Marrakech explained that the souk shopkeepers’ banter is such a normal part of the culture in Marrakech that it’s normal to entertain a conversation with those that try to approach you. As a tourist, I wouldn’t recommend engaging if you’re traveling alone for safety reasons.
Keep the following dress code in mind when packing for Marrakech:
- Bring a wrap or scarf to cover your shoulders that can easily be thrown on or taken off
- Keep skirts below the knee (no micro minis!)
- Avoid low-cut tops and exposed backs
- Consider covering your shoulders
- The souks can be dirty and dusty—pack clothing that you don’t mind getting a little dirt on
Ask Before Photographing
Shopkeepers in the souks tend to be photo-averse if not asked permission first. If you’re interested in photographing the Marrakech souks, ask before you shoot. Many shopkeepers are more than happy to let you photograph their stall, they just may ask for a small tip to do so.
Tip: If you don’t want to pay photo fees in the Marrakech souks, only ask to take photos at the stalls you’re buying from. In my experience, you won’t be asked to pay a fee if you ask to take photos after making your purchase.
Best Restaurants in the Marrakech Souks and Jemaa el-Fna
Like many popular landmarks around the world, Jemaa el-Fna and the souks are filled with tourist trap restaurants that aren’t quite the best the city has to offer. A quick search for reviews will be your friend here—food poisoning is common in Jemaa el-Fna and the souks, even for locals.
Stay on alert for menu scams in the souks. Restaurants will hand you a menu with a set of affordable prices, only to charge you much more at the end of your meal. When you try to dispute the charges, they’ll hand you a menu that looks just like the one you had, just with different, inflated prices. Take a photo of your menu before ordering, in case of surprise charges.
Despite this, between the souks’ shadier restaurants, are some truly wonderful places to eat. Marrakech is a foodie city, between traditional Moroccan food in the medina, and gastronomic fine dining in Gueliz. Below are a few of my favorite restaurants in the Marrakech souks:
- Naranj Libanese – Lebanese restaurant with a rooftop on rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid
- L’mida – Best rooftop restaurant in Marrakech. Great food, and even better views
- Le Bistro Arabe and La Pergola – Poolside jazz restaurant and rooftop bar with fantastic live music and a 1920s feel at Riad Monceau on rue Riad Zitoun el Kdim
- Fine Mama? – Traditional Moroccan cuisine and street food with a modern feel near Jemaa el-Fna on Pass. Prince Moulay Rachid
- Sabich Marrakech – As the name suggests, sabich-only. Sandwich cart serving up a few sabich options on Dar El Bacha
For a full list of the best restaurants in Marrakech, click here.
Best Hotels in the Marrakech Souks
Looks are deceiving when booking a hotel in the medina near the souks. Riads may look like they’re on a main road, when in reality, they’re down a maze of narrow alleyways off the road.
If you’re traveling with friends or family, this probably isn’t too concerning. Most of these alleyways are safe, save for the rogue donkey. If you’re traveling alone, walking down a labyrinth of quiet alleyways can feel jarring. Reading user reviews can help a lot when trying to determine where a riad is located.
Don’t stress too much about location—reputable riads will send someone to show you the way if their location is less obvious. Riad Luciano, the first riad I stayed at in Marrakech, actually offered to come help us find the way back if we were ever lost.
Discover some of the best riads in the Marrakech souks below:
- Riad Luciano – Cannot say enough amazing things about this riad! Staff is absolutely incredible
- Riad Yasmine – An Instagram dream, with an entrance right on a main street
- Riad Star – Intimate riad located in the former home of Josephine Baker
- Riad Le Pèlerin – Boho chic riad with comfortable beds (rare in Marrakech), and access to the hammam next door for a small additional fee
Marrakech Souk FAQ
The main souks in Marrakech are Souk Semmarine, Souk Chouari, Souk Haddadine, Souk des Chaudronniers, and Rahba Kedima square.
The Marrakech souks are located on the north side of Jemaa el Fna, in the city’s medina (historic center).
The best things to buy in Marrakech are leather shoes (babouches or sandals), leather goods like bags and jackets, argan oil, cashmere pashminas, leather poufs, lanterns, straw bags and baskets, and Berber rugs.
You should dress modestly when visiting the souks in Marrakech. Cover your knees and shoulders, and avoid revealing, low-cut clothing. Dressing down and wearing casual clothing may help you get a better deal.
The best time of day to visit the Marrakech souks is in the morning prior to noon when the weather is cooler, and in the early evening when Jemaa el Fna begins to open its night market.
Morocco is inexpensive compared to western Europe and the United States. It’s easy to travel on a budget in Morocco and get great deals on things that are expensive elsewhere, like leather goods. If luxury travel is more your style, the country also offers extravagant, expensive experiences.
The souks in Marrakech are mostly cash-only. You will need cash for the souks in Marrakech. Your local currency can be exchanged for Moroccan dirhams in Jemaa el Fna. Also near Jemaa el Fna are several banks and ATMs for cash withdrawal.
The souks in Marrakech are generally safe during the day, save for the frequent scam and occasional pickpocket. At night, visitors should exercise caution when in the souks, especially if traveling alone.
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