A guide to the souks of Marrakech
There are many highlights of Marrakech that are important when seeking the full experience, but arguably the most vibrant is the city's markets or 'souks'.
These stalls aren't full of the wares you would usually find in the UK. You can find an array of exciting things, from gold to exotic spices. However, it is important that you keep a few things in mind so that you do it properly and aren't overwhelmed by the pace of the bustle. Here is our handy guide.
Suss it out beforehand
To some, the idea of a busy marketplace is enough for them is to head for the hills. That wouldn't be such a bad thing, actually, as the Atlas Mountains offer amazing views. But that's for another time. Right now, you want to undergo a retail experience like no other. Try circling the area to gauge where exit points are and pick a place to meet up with your pals if you happen to get lost.
Arabic lamps and lanterns
Be prepared to haggle
Haggling isn't generally a thing people do in the UK as much, which is a shame because everyone loves a bargain. If you spot something you like, there's no harm in polishing up on your negotiating skills. Most people tend to offer 50% of the stated cost and then work a happy medium with the merchant. Sometimes this will be a success and you can head off with a nice piece of discounted jewellery, though some retailers are more stubborn. This is understandable as it is their livelihood.
Woven rugs in Morroco have a very distinct look
Keep to the Semmarine
The Semmarine is where it all begins - an iron-roofed walkway that sells things like household textiles, precious trinkets and pottery. If you keep a mental note of certain markers, you should be able to navigate your way back. It's important to know what you're looking for. For instance, keep a look out for signs leading to 'Souk el Kebir' if you want clothing or 'Rahba Kedima' if you want spices.
The aromatic smells of the souks are generally due to spice stalls
...but don’t get worried if you get lost
If you've come to Marrakech, you've come for an adventure; and what's an adventure without getting lost once in a while? The most important thing is to not panic as there will be loads of people around you who will be able to helpfully direct you back to a meeting point.
The evening is better time of day to avoid business
and if it all gets too much, find a cafe
There's no shame in finding the nearest passage out and finding a nice place to get a freshly made mint tea or a nice pastry.
Don't go to Marrakech without sampling mint tea
And don't forget to buy:
Olives: it's one of the best places to sample this antipasti.
Carpet: the rug trade is a big draw to the markets as they are beautifully designed.
Jewellery: there are many stalls with alluring necklaces and earrings. Many of which you won't find anywhere else.
Olives have a distinct freshness when bought from a souk stall