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Written by Savi, 146 Comments

Did the thought provoking sunset in Egypt get too pensive for your liking? Well then, you have come to the right place.

Welcome to the souks of Marrakech. Here the air is rife with cries of gypsies, snake-charmers, wandering minstrels, magicians, and folk-singers. There are tanneries on pavements, street artists in every corner, and vegetable vendors popping out of alleys. If you’re not paying attention, you could end up with a monkey on your shoulder or snake wrapped around your arm.

Oh, what do we tell you about Marrakech’s souks – Overwhelming? Yes! But they are the perfect amalgam of colour, energy, and vibrance. There is nothing that isn’t sold here- perfumes, spices, bags, clothes, baskets, shawls, carpets, shoes, even safety pins.

However if the thought of plunging headlong into this world of colour and chaos intimidates you, fear not. Bruised Passports’ genies are at hand 🙂 Our ultimate guide to Moroccan souks is here to ensure you have fun exploring the labyrinthine souks of Marrakech. It takes just 5 easy steps:


#1 Absorb the chaos

You know that old English dictum ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’? We’re pretty sure someone must’ve conjured it within the confines of a Moroccan souk, because it sure is a challenge to ‘Keep Calm’ here.

When you get to the Djemaa- El-Fnaa (The Central Square), don’t walk right into the souks. Instead, spend the morning familiarising yourself with the unique rhythm of life here – we suggest having Moroccan mint-tea at a street-side cafe facing the Djema El Fnaa as you watch people go about their lives. From your vantage point you will see henna artists, palm readers, and ventriloquists. Try spotting ‘witch’ dentists pulling out molars in the middle of the square.

Surely at this point you are thinking you’ve seen EVERYTHING – nothing can faze you, you are unflappable. This is a good time to enter the hallowed confines of Marrakech’s souks. Take a deep breath and go…

Marrakech Souk Guide - ChaosA glimpse of the chaotic Djemaa-El-Fnaa


#2 Learn to say No

Moroccan vendors can be annoyingly persuasive. You will be pestered by shopkeepers on entering the souk, but it is nothing a firm no can’t tackle. Devise the perfect no – we suggest a baritone treading the fine line between firm and polite.

If you’re anything like Savi, then find someone else to say your Nos – giggles and smiles just won’t do, unless you want to end up squashed between a duo sporting the world’s most elaborate headgear.

Marrakech Souk Guide - Tourists


#3 Get Lost

The hard part is over- the chaos has sunk in and you are feeling confident strutting through Marrakech’s bamboo-covered souks. It’s time to have some fun- savour the smell of spices drifting up your nostrils, follow colour, go where your eye takes you, turn into little alleys, and duck into the tiniest of shops.

Make sure you take your camera. If you’re a photographer, this is the place for you. Walk from the olive souk, jam-packed with different kinds of olives, to the potters’ souk, crammed full of brightly-coloured pots, pans, and tagines. There is a surprise at every corner – brightly-coloured glassware, sheesha pipes, fragrant spices, embellished kaftans, handcrafted bags – you name it, they have it.

It is easy to spend hours ambling in Marrakech’s serpentine souks- you are bound to get lost, but that is the fun of it. Irrespective of how far you go, it is always easy to make your way back to the Djemaa-El-Fnaa – just ask locals for help or start walking towards the dome of the The Koutoubia Mosque.

Marrakech Souk Guide - Olive SoukMarrakech’s splendid Olive Souk

Marrakech Souk Guide - Olive SoukSpoilt for choice in Marrakech’s Olive Souk

Marrakech Souk Guide - Potters SoukColourful Ceramics at Marrakech’s Potters’ Souk


#4 Visit a Tannery

It is easy to spot freshly-dyed leather drying on pavements in Marrakech’s souks. But you will be able to smell the tanneries long before you can see them. The stink comes from vats of diluted bird excrement that are used to soften animal hides. You will be approached by a number of locals, posing as ‘guides’, as you walk towards the tannery. It is quite helpful to have someone to talk you through the process of tanning, but it’s best to set a price for this service BEFORE you enter the tannery. We cannot stress on this enough – be prepared to cough up a lot of money or be harassed for not deciding on a price beforehand.

Once you’re at the tannery, you will be handed a sprig of mint, in case the stench gets too much to take. Here’s what we learnt. Animal hide is processed in 3 stages. First it is dipped in a solution of milk of lime for 7 days to get rid of the hair. Next it is put in a vat full of bird excrement for 25 days. Then it is whitened with a cornstarch solution. Finally the rough edges are cut off, the skins are left to dry, and dyed.

As you can imagine, visiting a tannery can be a tad surreal. You might come out convinced you’re an accomplice to murder. This is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it is a unique experience nevertheless.

Marrakech Souk Guide - TanneryInside a tannery

Marrakech Souk Guide - Dyed LeatherFreshly-dyed leather drying on pavements


#5 Bargain

Once you’ve had your fill of the souks, it’s time to make your way back to the Djemaa El Fnaa. On your way back, pick up any wares that might have caught your eye. Make sure you bargain- it is the norm. The friendly banter that ensues is also a perfect way of getting to know the locals- who knows when you might land yourself an invite to dinner or a Moroccan wedding.

Marrakech Souk Guide JewelleryEthnic jewellery and trinkets

Marrakech Souk Guide GlasswareGorgeous Moroccan glassware

Marrakech Souk Guide - LampsLamps straight out of Aladdin

The labyrinthine souks of Marrakech were unlike anything we had ever seen before – an assault to the senses. This can make them overwhelming, but we loved them. They are full of energy- all consuming, rich, and fruitful. Go armed with Bruised Passports’ tips and we promise, you too, will leave mesmerised.


Read about the top things to do in Marrakech (Morocco) to start planning your trip. There are plenty of options to stay in Marrakech, from budget hostels to luxurious Riads. We stayed in Riad Al Idrisi, which was in a quiet neighbourhood and very comfortable. You can also look for options here.

Both Easy Jet and Ryan Air offer direct flights from UK to Marrakech. Prices start at £70/one way. The best time to visit is between September and April as the city can get very hot during summer months (May-August).


If you enjoyed reading this post, drop us a comment below – hearing from you makes us happy :-)


146 thoughts on “Morocco: The Ultimate Guide to Marrakech’s Souks

      1. Hi, great summary – not long back from 2 weeks in Morocco where we had a blast. I had a few apprehensions, especially as we were traveling with two gorgeous teenage girls, but everything went perfectly.
        The further from the big cities the more relaxed the trip became. The souks of Fes and Marrakesch were great fun and such an assault on the senses (we could have sold our girls 30 time for thousands of camels – lol). If possible I highly recommend you hire a car and explore some of the areas outside the main cities such as Ait Ben Haddou, Chefchaouen, Volubilis, and Dades Gorge. Although we arrived from Spain via ferry, we didn’t spend any time on the coast but I am sure it is equally as beautiful and fascinating. Secruity wise, we felt safe almost all of the time. There were a few moments in Tangier that were a bit uncomfortable but the local military keep an eye out for you. I also think part of the reason we were so readily accepted and not harrassed was that we made an effort to be modest in our attire and reverent and respectful to the people. An amazing place and the people are just so kind.

        1. Hi Rana
          After reading what you wrote I’m feeling more confident in going there I’ve actually booked for a 10D 7N tour to morocco. Feeling so excited yet weary. My husband and I are making this a surprise vacation for my 3 teenage kids (2 girls & 1 boy) in Dec.
          They wanted to go somewhere far. But they have no idea (no do I!) What awaits us.
          Thanks so much for all the postings here. They are really helpful in our mental & financial ? preparation for this trip.

          1. Hi Naz – Wow they will be surprised and you will have a great time. Just take care, be respectful and prudent about where you go and when (ie we avoided mosques etc on Fridays). If you can take some pencils and colouring books for they kids (just cheap ones)they will love you forever. Remember it can get cold at night in the mountains

          2. Hey Rana,

            Thanks for your input – appreciate it 🙂

            Naz, you’ll be absolutely fine – have a great time in Morocco!

  1. Gorgeous photos. I love Marrakesh and the souks. Never made it to the tanneries unfortunately. I got so lost trying to find them, despite having had a map. I am convinced the map was wrong though. 🙂

    1. Tammy I shudder to think what a map of the souks would look like- a maze within a maze? I hope getting lost was as much fun for you as it was for us 🙂

    1. Thanks Sue. Marrakech is a gorgeous city, it was tough to decide which pictures to pick.

    2. Hello to everyone
      My name is moha I’m from Morocco I live in Merzouga Desert so and I’m tour guid
      And I give information to tourists so anyone wants any help leave me a message

    1. Thanks Matt. The real challenge was to avoid the crowds thronging the souks in photos – other than that, Marrakech lends itself very well to travel photography

    1. Jennifer you will love it- try visiting in Jan/Feb when the weather is perfect for dining al-fresco 🙂

    1. Thank you so much. The lamps were absolutely magical- we shot that photo after sunset 🙂

  2. Great post and lovely photos. Even if you do set a price for a guide, they may then went something extra – like a tip, or just more money. Remember though, that for some people this is the only way they can make a living.

    1. Absolutely. Agreeing on a price beforehand just prevents unpleasantness, that’s all 🙂

    1. Thanks Charli. We couldn’t get enough of the colours. That might explain why we have another post on Marrakech coming up soon 🙂

  3. Mesmerizing! Morocco is truly a dream destination. I love your photos and your tips are very useful. For even more authentic souks, Fez is a great option. It’s like travelling back in time centuries ago.

    1. Cezarina you’re right, Morocco is very special. We haven’t been to Fez, but heard so much about it that we might end up there soon 🙂

    1. Heidi Morocco is overwhelming but can be such fun – we would love to hear what you thought of it 🙂

    1. It is indeed – we have a feature on Marrakech’s street food coming up soon to tempt you a bit more 😉

  4. Loved your advice! Marrakech is a city with a getting lost difficulty factor of Olympic proportions. It’s my second home. It never gets easier but it always gets funnier. Many a day has passed lost in the souks. I’ve discovered everything from delicious new spices to prospective new husbands! I <3 Marrakech.

    1. Thank you Fiona. So happy to hear that a resident of Marrakech enjoyed reading our article 🙂 Prospective new husbands while sauntering in the market – happens only in Morocco 😉

  5. WOW…absolutely wow….
    as usual reading your posts always makes my day..and set the traveler in me dreaming again ….sigh

    1. Aww thank you Sugandha. Although this post is just Morocco working its magic – there is nascent poetry all over Marrakech, it just needs to be uncovered 🙂

  6. Nice post, love the photos! I was in Marrakech over 30 years ago and I remember being overwhelmed by the poverty. Saw lots of beggars with leprosy and some eye disease where the eye was all white and bulgy. I was 17 at the time and it was traumatizing. But some of the things look the same: Djemaa-El-Fnaa, the men in their costumes, and all the beautiful colours in the clothing and pottery. I’m planning to go back sometime in the future.
    Great job with the blog,
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Thanks Frank – looking forward to staying in touch 🙂 There is still poverty and immense colour in Morocco – it is all quite overwhelming, an assault to the senses if ever there was one.

  7. I’ve come across this website through another forum. So much of love to you. Keep travelling and keep us posted.
    Loved every post of yours!!

    1. Thanks Sneha. Hope you continue to enjoy Bruised Passports. Just drop us a line if you want us to write about a particular country or city 🙂

  8. loved reading your post and looking at your fab pictures! Really looking forward to going next week…only hope the weather is not too cold!

  9. Hi…great post! I was wondering if 2-3 hours would be enough to visit the souk and what time would it close? I am planning to go to Marrakech and arrive there at around 5pm. Do you think we will have time to visit the souk in the evening as the next day we will be travelling to the desert?

    1. Hey Dan,

      Ideally, a day would be great to spend in the souks, visit a tannery, and enjoy the madness in Djemaa El Fna. The souks are definitely open till late evening. If you reach the souks by 5 P.M., then go for a gander for an hour or two. Follow that up with dinner at one of the local food stalls and end the evening with mint tea at one of the roof top cafes lining Djemaa El Fna, enjoying the madness down below. Hope this helps. Have a great time in Marrakech and the desert 🙂

  10. Thank you for sharing this!! I heard from someone who went that they took mini flashlights and gum and odds and ends that you can’t find there that we, here in the US have available for inexpensive….. and when bargaining in the souks it helped because the shop sellers were willing to lower their prices if the buyers pitched in the small items they brought with them. Did you guys see any of this? I find it interesting and wonder how that would work. I’ll be heading there this October and have found the information in your posts very helpful.

    1. Hi Jen,

      Yes, we did see that. We were asked by a few shopkeepers if we had gum 🙂 People are very friendly there, so just strike a conversation. When negotiating, make sure you do not quote ridiculous prices – we saw some tourists doing that and the shopkeepers did get quite aggressive.

      A smile goes a long way.


  11. Thanks so much. I’ve read all your posts and feel way more ready for Marrakesh next week. looking forward to dipping into local life and tasting all it’s magic with all 5 senses at the ready

  12. Hi,
    I am just writing my blog about our trip to Marrakech. I wish I had read yours before we left. I’ll be checking out the rest of your blog!

    1. Hey Leslie- hope you enjoyed Morocco 🙂 Looking forward to reading your comments on Bruised Passports

  13. I’m glad I stumbled upon your post I’m going to visit the Souks tomorrow. Jamaa El Fna is manageable for me, but I’m sure the labyrinth of the Souks will amuse me.

  14. I will be travelling to Marrakesh tomorrow for 5 days holiday. Your tips and pictures are fun to read…it gave me more ideas what to expect and what to do during my stay. Thank you

    1. Happy travels Freda. Hope you have a great time in Marrakech. Remember to breathe and count to 10 if the chaos ever frustrates you 😉

  15. Thank you so much guys – the information you have shared on both your Morocco and Iceland sites have been invaluable. Do you have any tips for travel outside Marrakech – we are going to Chefchoauon, Fez, Meknes, Dades Gorge and Quartzazate. Can you give advice on what a fair % on bargaining would be? Rana

    1. Hey Rana, so happy to hear that you found our posts on Morocco and Iceland helpful 🙂 We haven’t been to any of those cities in Morocco yet, so won’t be able to advise you. As for bargaining, quote 50% of what is first quoted to you and settle somewhere in the middle 🙂

      1. Hi guys
        Just back from the big trip which included Iceland, Portugal, Spain and Morocco. All great countries, of course. Morocco was quite different to what I expected – I was expecting something more like Turkey, but absolutely not. The places we visited as we drove from Tangier to Marrakesh via Chefchaouan, Fes, Oartzazate were amazing – from perilous mountain drives, to the barbary apes, the crazy souks and tanneries, the ancient Roman ruins, and the gorgeous remote towns and ancient buildings. Ideally, two weeks really isn’t enough to spend there, but certainly if your time is limited you can see and do a lot in 2 weeks and feel you’ve experienced Morocco.

  16. So glad to have stumbled across you. Have just read through quickly and so looking forward to curling up and reading more of your interesting pointers. We are looking forward in anticipation to our first visit to Marrakesh in November, can’t wait to experience something to what we normally go away for! Thank you so much.

    1. Hey Tina – hope you have an amazing time in Marrakech. We’ve written about all of our favourite things to do in Marrakech on Bruised Passports, but feel free to drop us a line if you need any suggestions/advice 🙂

  17. Thank you for this! Are the souks and stalls open all year round? I’m looking to visit early December and want to make sure I can still do all the highlights.

  18. Hey Guys!

    Thanks for the link to this! I love every bit of detail here. We can’t wait to go here this April and try the best orange juice and man those Kabobs in your other article look so good!!!!
    Now I have a huge weakness for trinkets whenever I travel. I have no idea about the pricing; however, I can definitely bargain! What I need to is how much should I pay for Jewellery, tea sets, and other trinkets?

    1. Hey Athya – glad you found this helpful. Of course, the price depends on the kind of trinket and where you’re buying it from but the ones being sold on the roadside shouldn’t cost more than $10. You’ll be quoted a higher cost but do make sure you bargain 🙂

  19. Love the colours in the photos. Some good tips, especially the one about bringing something to trade. Would never have thought of that.

  20. Currently in a Riad in the Medina. Went on the three day desert trek, a lot of km in 3 days but see so much. The souk’s are just unbelievable. Haggling prices is a game, probably won by the stall holders. Overall a brilliant holiday. Feb/Mar 2017.

    1. Hi Gerry, thats so good to know. Keep travelling to new places whenever you can-it is the greatest learning experience ever!!

  21. Your article is really interesting although I’ve been to Marrakesh! it made me feel that I want to visit Marrakesh again! Thanks!

  22. Morocco is famous for its mint tea, but the fresh mint sellers also sell several other herbs that are used by many homes to make fresh herbal infusions, all with various therapeutic properties. Lemon Verbena is one of our favourites – it’s know locally as “louiza”, and is found on the menu of many Moroccan cafes. Lemon Verbena is used for a variety of ailments including relief of digestive tract spasms, reduction of fever, strengthening of the nervous system, stress relief and as an anti-spasmodic and expectorant. Lemon verbena has the ability to help break down cellulite, as well as to exert a soothing, healing and toning effect on the skin.

  23. Marrakech has a magnetic power – it seems everyone feels a certain draw towards the red city these days.
    But apart from the well-known Souks in the Medin, there’s a lot more to discover in Marrakech.

  24. Hi Savi and Vid,
    What an I retesting article. I am leaving for Marrakech in 3 days and this was quite helpful.
    Thanks 🙂

  25. Thank you so much for this great tips about Morocco, I believe It’s a great country, Very helpful !

    1. Morocco is one of the unique countries in the world and a country of dizzying diversity. You may wander through spice markets, explore sweeping deserts and enjoy warm hospitality. Morocco is roughly the size of California, this is why day tours are so popular! Perhaps this is one of the most exciting Morocco Desert Tours.

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  26. Morocco is one of the beautiful and safest destinations to visit. You will have the opportunity to discover sea sides, mountains and deserts, in addition to the colourful markets you will encounter in the old medinas and tasting delicious and different local dishes. You will be with locals most of the time and you will have the chance to live a different way of living.

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