Pink and terracotta buildings draped with dazzling rugs and golden lamps. Enchanting gardens with emerald hues and ornate tiles. Bright, exotic spices stacked in outdoor marketplaces. Marrakech, Morocco is a feast for the senses.
I recently spent a few weeks traveling through Morocco, visiting its historic old Medinas and beautiful coastal towns. Solo travel to Marrakech was a dream trip a long time in the making.
A trip to Marrakech, a mesmerizing North African gem, promises an enchanting travel experience like no other. As a Muslim country with a captivating blend of tradition and modernity, Marrakech offers a tapestry of sights, sounds, and flavors that will leave a lasting impression on any traveler.
In this post, we’ll cover the best advice for exploring this beautiful city on your own for the first time. Get lost in the old city’s labyrinthine alleys, and experience its rich culture and daily life firsthand.
How Long Should Solo Travelers Spend in Marrakech?
Two days is really enough time to get a good feel for Marrakech. If this is your first trip to Morocco, I wouldn’t stay here any longer.
I was told that I’d be drained after 2-3 days in Marrakech, and this could not have been more accurate. I stayed for 5 days and truly regretted it even with my day trip to Essaouira.
When to Visit Marrakech, Morocco
The best time to visit Marrakech is during the shoulder seasons when temperatures and crowds are manageable: March-May & September-November.
Avoid visiting during holidays when much of the city is shut down. This occurs during Ramadan (late March to late April) and Eid Al Adha (July).
Marrakech weather is great year-round. The only time I would be wary of is summertime when the heat is sweltering. Shoulder season weather is absolutely perfect, and wintertime is quite warm and mild. I visited in mid-January and found the daytime to be quite warm despite cold mornings and evenings.
Morocco is a dry country so the wet season of November-April sees only 1-2 inches of rain per month.
Safety for Solo Travelers in Marrakech
In general, Marrakech isn’t particularly dangerous. Like many cities, you’ll have to be careful to avoid pickpocketing, common scams, and be careful at night.
Respecting the local culture and customs helps create a positive interaction with the locals. Be mindful of cultural sensitivities, especially when it comes to dress, behavior, and interactions.
Participating in guided tours or group activities can provide an added layer of safety and companionship. (More below.)
Is Marrakech Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
While Marrakech can be safe for solo female travelers, it’s always advisable to stay informed, follow your instincts, and exercise caution.
Know where the closest embassy is in each location you visit and register your travel with the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program in advance. You’ll also receive helpful updates should anything happen while you’re abroad.
Ultimately, you’ll need to decide what you’re comfortable with and take proper precautions to ensure your trip is as safe as you’d like.
Which areas of Marrakech should you avoid?
Marrakech doesn’t have any particularly dangerous areas to avoid, but you’ll want to use common sense and exercise caution in the Medina and main square during the night market. This is where pickpocketing is most common.
In general, be sure to familiarize yourself with the city’s layout and plan your activities accordingly. Stick to well-known and frequented areas, especially after sundown.
What You Should Know About Solo Travel in Morocco
I won’t sugarcoat it: Morocco is a challenging destination for solo travelers, even experienced ones.
The stressors of Marrakech can be hard to understand without experiencing them first hand so I’ve provided a detailed account of the challenges you might face.
Before going to Marrakech alone, be extremely well prepared. Going into my trip, I genuinely thought I knew what to expect, but I wound up making a whole lot of mistakes that could have been avoided.
READ NEXT: If you’re considering a solo trip to Marrakech, I highly recommend you read my extremely thorough guide to solo travel in Morocco.
After you get familiar with the reality of solo travel in Morocco, review these important things to know about visiting Marrakech.
1. Marrakech is overwhelming
Marrakech is fast-paced, loud, and overwhelming no matter what.
There were moments when I felt that I flowed with the city and the crowds, listening for the bikes, crossing the road between cars, and easily ignoring persistent shop owners. There were also other times when I would’ve done anything to escape the constant hustle of everyone around me from taxi drivers to passersby who seemed nice, but were just warming me up for some sort of sales pitch.
2. Navigating the Medina is difficult
Navigating the Marrakech Medina is difficult thanks to its intricate layout, lack of clear signage, and obstructed GPS signals. The maze-like streets, absence of consistent numbering, and crowded environment make relying on a phone for directions challenging.
This could be a problem if your accommodations are difficult to locate. I arrived back at my Riad a little later than intended one night and had to rely on a local for directions. He ended up wanting quite a bit of money for his help and got angry when I wouldn’t give him more than a few dirhams.
Keep written directions in your phone and take photos of the step-by-step directions to get to your hotel to avoid sticky situations.
3. Haggling in the souks is hard
It’s been said that haggling is the national sport of Morocco, and that sure sounds accurate to me. Coming from a country with fixed prices, it’s hard to get a handle on how to properly negotiate. It often comes down to how much you really want something.
You’ll need to be prepared to stand firmly behind a ‘no’ if you don’t want to buy something. Some shop keepers will push you hard and pull out all the stops. Looking at all the exquisite items was fun, but the experience can turn exhausting quite quickly if you don’t enjoy being pressured to buy.
You’ll also want to avoid haggling too hard. As a novice haggler, you may overdo it and shoot too low. When this happens, trust me, you’ll know. There’s potential to offend shop owners, but most people simply won’t take you seriously and move on to the next customer.
The best thing to do is go to Morocco with an idea of what souvenirs would be worth a splurge as well as common prices for the items that interest you. Note that quality will play a part as well.
3. Taxis work differently in Marrakech
As exhausting as it sounds, you’ll even have to haggle with your taxi driver. Marrakech has a few different types of taxis and you’ll want to approach them differently. Read on or jump to this section for a bunch of taxi tips that I may or may not have learned the hard way.
4. Alcohol is illegal in Marrakech (sort of)
While traveling in Morocco, it’s important to note that not all establishments will serve alcohol. Most Moroccans practice Islam and are therefore forbidden from drinking by the Koran. While a few may partake, it remains taboo. However, some cities like Marrakech and Agadir have a thriving nightlife scene. Licensed bars will be discreet.
If you’re looking to have a drink, you can find one at many restaurants in the Medina and Gueliz district. If you’re looking to purchase something to take back to your hotel, most supermarkets carry alcohol, but it’s usually kept in a separate room.
It’s important to remember that alcohol should never be shown in public and should always be carried in an opaque bag.
5. Female travelers will get attention
Moroccan men are famous for catcalling. While generally harmless, this is something to be aware of if you think you’ll be uncomfortable with it.
Carry yourself with confidence and don’t be afraid to ignore them. I’ve heard that some local women even use noise-canceling headphones and avoid eye contact.
6. Get familiar with Moroccan hospitality
Moroccans are incredibly friendly. Serving mint tea to guests is quite common and may occur at your Riad, hostel or at a shop.
If you’re invited to someone’s home, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it is polite to take a gift. Remember not to take wine or alcohol unless you know they drink. Something small, like candy for the children, will often do.
Before eating, you may be approached with a wash basin. Hold your hands over the basin and someone will use a kettle to rinse your hands. When finished, dry your hands with a towel. Moroccans eat with their hands and use one large plate in the center of the table. They only eat from the triangle of food immediately in front of them. (Don’t worry, restaurants have plenty of silverware!)
Marrakech Solo Travel Tips
If you’re planning a solo trip to Marrakech, it’s essential to be well-prepared and informed. These tips will help you make the most of your solo adventure, ensuring a safe, enjoyable, and enriching experience.
- Take breaks: Marrakech can be overwhelming, so it’s important to pace yourself. Don’t cram too many activities into your day. I enjoyed taking a break at hotel rooftops surrounded by other travelers. There are also many beautiful gardens where you can relax and recharge.
- Do some extra research on tours: Before booking tours or excursions, do some additional research. The tours I booked in Marrakech were all phenomenal, but my experience with an Essaouira day trip was disappointing with a lot of time spent shepherded from tourist trap to tourist trap. I wouldn’t penny-pinch on any of these tours. Go for reputable companies and small group tours where you’re most likely to meet other travelers. Below, I’ve listed the tours I recommend.
- Don’t spend all your time in Morocco’s cities: While Marrakech is a captivating city, consider exploring other parts of Morocco as well to avoid burnout. The country has diverse landscapes, such as the Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert, and coastal towns, which offer unique experiences and a deeper understanding of Moroccan culture.
- Take toilet paper with you: In some public restrooms, especially in more traditional or remote areas, toilet paper might not be provided. It’s a good idea to carry a small pack of tissues or toilet paper with you, as it can come in handy during your outings.
- Always carry cash and small coins: While credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger establishments, it’s important to carry cash, especially when visiting markets, souks, or smaller shops. Additionally, having small coins is useful for tipping and using public restrooms. When tipping, you’ll want to have plenty of small coins, because some locals will simply tell you they don’t have any change whether or not that’s true.
- Consider if you want to say where you’re from: To avoid potential unwanted attention or price gauging, it’s sometimes advisable not to reveal your nationality, especially if you’re from the U.S. or Canada. Simply stating that you’re from a different country or being vague about your origin can help maintain a more hassle-free experience.
- Be cautious at night: While Marrakech is generally safe, it’s wise to exercise caution when navigating the city at night, especially in less crowded or dimly lit areas. Stick to well-lit and populated areas, and consider using official taxis or transport arranged through your Riad for added security.
- Be wary of local men who offer to help. They’ll want money: In touristy areas, you may encounter individuals who offer unsolicited assistance, such as giving directions or guiding you to a particular place. While some may genuinely be helpful, it’s important to be cautious, as they may expect money in return. If you’re not interested, politely decline and continue on your way.
- Dress to your comfort level: Marrakech is a culturally rich city with conservative values. While there is no strict dress code, it’s respectful to dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites or local neighborhoods. Opt for clothing that covers the shoulders, chest, and knees. The most important thing is to dress for the attention level you’ll be most comfortable receiving.
- Consider wearing a fake wedding ring: This can help deter unwanted attention or advances, as it may give the impression that you’re married and less likely to engage in unwanted interactions.
- Write down directions: Keep written directions in your phone and take photos of the step-by-step directions to get to your accommodation. Some Riads are located down long, winding alleys that provide the potential to be easily cornered.
- Stay alert: Be careful looking at your phone or a map too long alone in public. There’s no faster way to become a target than sticking your nose in some big paper map.
- Careful what you photograph: Be mindful of cultural sensitivities when taking photos, especially of military or government workers and buildings, and always ask permission first.
Looking for more solo travel tips? Check out some of the destination guides nearby:
Things to Do Alone in Marrakech
From exploring the ancient Medina to savoring aromatic Moroccan cuisine, there is so much to discover in this vibrant city. However, a solo trip to Marrakech can be overwhelming so you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of downtown to recharge.
Relax in a majestic garden
While the Majorelle Gardens are absolutely stunning, they’re also packed. If you’re looking for a relaxing place to get away from the crowds, try Le Jardin Secret in the center of the Medina. The gardens at Royal Mansour (you’ll need a lunch or dinner reservation to get in) were also the perfect hideaway for a sunny afternoon.
TIP: It’s easy to grab tickets at the entrance to most Marrakech attractions, but make sure to buy your Majorelle Gardens tickets in advance. The line is long and wifi is spotty.
Unwind at a fancy hotel
I had a fantastic mid-day break at the El Fenn rooftop terrace where I had a cocktail while enjoying an incredible view of the Koutoubia Mosque tower. If you’re looking for a top-notch hammam experience, head to the famed La Mammounia for an unforgettable experience.
TIP: Make sure you stop at the El Fenn Boutique to browse their collection of colorful goods, clothing and fun souvenirs.
Explore the sights and museums
You’ll never get bored in Marrakech. There are so many stunning sites to explore from the Saadian Tombs to the ancient El Badi Palace. Just be careful getting from one place to the next. I found it was best to ignore any local men who tried to tell me I was heading in the wrong direction.
Looking for more things to do? Check out my 2 day Marrakech itinerary and take the planning off your plate!
The Best Marrakech Tours for Solo Travelers
Due to the lackluster experiences I had with certain tours in Morocco, I’m only recommending one company: Moroccan Food Adventures, as well as a walking tour I took. This tour company was started by a married couple consisting of a Moroccan man and an American woman. I can personally vouch for the quality and authenticity of their experiences and highly recommend this provider!
Medina Walking Tour
I highly recommend you do a walking tour on your first day in Marrakech. This tour is run by a local licensed tour guide who will show you where to go, give you pointers for navigating the city, and tell you all about Moroccan history and culture. I learned something new within the first 5 minutes of the tour!
Marrakech Food Tour
The Marrakech Evening Street Food Tour is an amazing way to delve into hidden parts of the medina and discover unique dishes exclusive to the city. Featured on Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil, this tour will lead you through Jemaa El Fna and the Medina while you try a variety of Moroccan dishes, snacks, and street food.
I was stuffed by the end of this tour; it was totally worth the $80 cost! Two American couples joined me and the local guide on this 4-hour tour. We had some really adventurous eaters with us and it was so fun to watch them try some of the delicacies I couldn’t stomach myself. (I did try some of the steamed sheep’s head! It tasted like beef.)
Marrakech Day Trips
There’s more to Morocco than Marrakech. If you’re short on time, but want to see a bit more of the country, Moroccan Food Adventures offers food-focused tours to Essaouira and the High Atlas mountains. Essaouira is a gorgeous, laid-back coastal city that was lovely to spend a few hours exploring.
On my next trip, I definitely want to check out the Atlas Mountains and learn more about the Berber tribes who call it home. Just be warned that both day trips require quite the drive to and from.
How to Get Around Marrakech
Getting around Marrakech can be tricky for solo travelers. You may not visit the city long enough to get familiar with the winding alleyways of the Medina. Relying on your phone is possible, yet difficult, especially when some hotels and Riads may not appear at the right spot in Google Maps.
You can get around the Medina by walking, but sometimes you may want to save your energy and take a taxi.
Taking a Taxi in Marrakech
In Marrakech, there are several types of taxis available. Here are the main types and their differences and some tips to follow to avoid getting ripped off.
Types of Taxis
- Petit Taxi: These are small, red-colored taxis that can accommodate up to three passengers. They are mainly used for short distances within the city, such as traveling from one neighborhood to another. Petit taxis are equipped with meters, and the fare is calculated based on the distance traveled. It’s important to note that petit taxis are not allowed to leave the city limits.
- Grand Taxi: Grand taxis are larger and typically painted in beige or white. They can accommodate up to six passengers and are commonly used for longer distances or shared rides. Grand taxis operate both within the city and for intercity travel, making them suitable for journeys to nearby towns or attractions outside Marrakech. Fares for grand taxis are usually negotiated in advance rather than relying on meters.
- Airport Taxi: These taxis are authorized to operate at the Marrakech Menara Airport and provide transportation between the airport and various destinations within the city. They are typically larger vehicles and can accommodate more passengers and luggage. Similar to grand taxis, the fares for airport taxis are usually negotiated.
Marrakech Taxi Tips
- Avoid parked taxis: Try not to go with a taxi that’s parked as they will demand a higher price for having waited. Flagging down a taxi on the street is a better bet.
- Ask your hotel for typical taxi rates: Saving a list of expected rates for places you want to go by taxi can save you a lot of hassle and money. Ask the staff after arriving to set yourself up for an easy trip.
- Negotiate prices: While the fares for petit taxis are usually metered, it’s still a good practice to confirm with the driver that they are using the meter or negotiate the fare in advance to avoid any misunderstandings. Make sure you negotiate a rate before you get in the taxi.
- Be aware of scams: Some taxi drivers may try to tell you the meter is broken making it even more important to know typical rates and negotiate prices in advance.
- Drivers will want your number: Some drivers will try to secure future business by having you call them the next time you need a ride. They can be pretty persistent, but don’t be afraid to say no if you’re not interested. Reaching out to a particular driver never worked in my favor.
- Grand Taxi System: Taxi prices are actually pretty heavily regulated. Busy areas like Jardin Majorelle will have someone who’s in charge of the taxis there and can tell you what a fair price is. Due to this organized system, there may be some conferring among the drivers in Arabic. This worried me at first, but I eventually realized it was for my benefit.
While challenging, going to Marrakech alone can help you discover new things about both the world and yourself! From navigating narrow winding passages to getting lost in the souks and sipping sweet mint tea, this is a trip that will stay with you forever. Check out my itinerary and guides to nearby spots so you can start planning your trip today!
- What you need to know about solo female travel in Morocco
- How to spend 2 days in Marrakech, Morocco