Visit the souks of Marrakech: a stroll through some of the country’s most beautiful traditional markets

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If you’re visiting Marrakech, don’t miss one of the city’s must-sees: the Marrakech souks!

When visiting Morocco, it’s unthinkable not to visit the souks of Marrakech! With over 40,000 artisans, they are the finest in the whole of the Maghreb. The souks of Marrakech are located in the city’s Medina, the historic heart. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Babouches, carpets, clothes, spices, nuts, olives and local delicacies – the souks are a veritable treasure trove! Our first piece of advice is rather original: get lost! Forget your sense of direction. Don’t use a compass. That’s the only way to make your experience truly unique! While you’re visiting the souks of Marrakech, keep one thing in mind: dare to venture into the smallest alleys.

History of the souks of Marrakech

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The history of Marrakech’s souks goes back many centuries. They date back to the city’s foundation in 1071. These daily markets were a meeting place for desert dwellers. They regularly came to buy or exchange foodstuffs. Marrakech’s souks were also a place for caravanners to replenish their supplies. In those days, caravaneers crossed the desert. They needed to live to survive these journeys.

When we talk about the « souks of Marrakech », we’re really talking about 18 markets that are more or less independent of each other. They are all located in the center of Marrakech’s old town. Each market is divided into corporations. Generally speaking, you’ll find a souk dedicated to jewelry, another to vases, and so on.

Over the centuries, souks have become increasingly important. Nowadays, they have retained all their authenticity. Merchants continue to sell unique spices and handicrafts, even if some take the easy way out by selling mass-produced goods. You’ll still find over 40,000 artisans, spread across the city’s 18 souks. Another special feature is the medina’s wonderful little restaurants offering unique dishes!

What to see and do in Marrakech’s souks?

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When you visit the souks of Marrakech, expect a complete change of scene! You’ll find an explosion of colors and smells. You’ll discover unique flavors in the midst of various artisan souks, whatever they may be.

What are the most interesting souks for tourists?

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The Smata souk

This is a must-see when visiting the souks of Marrakech. The Smata souk is where you’ll find hundreds of models of babouches in every color, some more whimsical than others.

The Cherratine souk

In this souk, you’ll find all kinds of leather goods and accessories. This is the temple of wallets, belts, bags, shoes and other leather goods.

The Ahiak souk

Ahiak specializes in clothing: t-shirts, jeans and dresses, or traditional garments.

The Zrabia souk

The Zrabia souk is typical! This is the souk for items such as carpets, vases, ashtrays and souvenirs.

The Attatine souk

A true gourmet’s paradise, the Attatine souk is perfect. You’ll find all kinds of spices from all over the world.

The Dhabia souk

This souk specializes in a wide range of jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets, earrings and anything else you can think of.

How do I get to the souks in Marrakech?

Marrakech’s souks are located in the city’s historic center, known as the Medina. The souks are scattered throughout this area. Most of them can be reached on foot in just a few minutes, or by local bus or cab. Nevertheless, you’ll need to get to the Medina, so you can get there in a variety of ways.

By cab

Given that Marrakech traffic can quickly become chaotic, and that it’s not advisable to travel by car if you’re not used to it, we advise you to take a cab to get to the medina and visit Marrakech’s souks.

You can get there from any part of Marrakech, as all cab drivers know the way to the medina. However, you should be aware that the price per kilometer is between 0.18 and 0.75 euros, depending on the company, where you get into the cab and the driver.

By bus

A large number of buses run into the Marrakech medina from any part of the city. You can take line 2 around the medina, as well as lines 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 66, and walk or take line 2 to get closer to the souks.

And if you’ve just arrived at Marrakech airport, you can take the n°19 bus to the city center in 20 to 25 minutes. Simply get off at the Arset El Bilk stop to visit Marrakech’s souks.

What budget should I allow for a visit to the Marrakech souks, and when should I go?

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Life in Morocco is much cheaper than in France. At the time of writing, one euro is equivalent to just over 10 Moroccan dirhams. You can get a meal for the equivalent of €4.50 (or 50 dirhams).

The budget for a visit to the souks of Marrakech can’t be defined for everyone. Some will splurge on precious stone jewelry, while others will be content with a simple visit. Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that admission to the souks is free.

As for products, spices cost between 30 and 60 DH, almonds and walnuts between 80 and 120 DH, quality clothes cost between 90 and 300 DH, while items such as teapots, vases and other gifts cost between 30 and 150 DH.

It is therefore advisable to visit the souks of Marrakech with a minimum of 300 dirhams to make the most of it, but don’t forget to negotiate! In Morocco, price negotiation is a veritable institution that also applies to foreigners. Note that sellers often tend to raise their prices when dealing with foreigners.

As far as opening hours are concerned, the souks are generally open every day from 8.30 a.m. to around 9 p.m., but you should be aware that they are almost all closed on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the High Prayer, and likewise on religious holidays.

Good to know

  • Take a look around before you buy. Prices are not displayed, so don’t hesitate to ask the sellers.
  • Avoid visiting the souks of Marrakech with a personal guide. Similarly, avoid following a tout. They take a commission from the vendors.
  • The souks are great for shopping around 9 a.m., when vendors will offer you lower prices. In Morocco, the first customer brings good luck. At the end of the evening, some sellers won’t hesitate to lower their prices if they haven’t sold enough.
  • Be on your guard! Many pickpockets roam the streets and alleys of the souks.