For those who have visited Morocco, most can agree that the city of Marrakesh is a shopper’s paradise. Colors and patterns of local vendor’s creations fill the eyes with every turn throughout the winding maze of shops. It is extremely common for first-time visitors to become lost or overwhelmed if not prepared for what’s to come when they enter the glorified hustle and bustle chaos. Choose to go in with a plan to ease the stress, but feel free to wander if feeling extra adventurous. You’ll be guaranteed to leave with many treasures either way!
The shopping in Marrakesh can easily be divided into four distinct regions. Each one with their own characteristics, they all definitely deserve a visit. In any of the four shopping areas across Marrakesh, always make sure to travel smart and keep an eye out for pick pocketers, especially in large crowds. Keep your wallet and phone out of your back pocket and in a secure spot out of sight.
Located in the center of the city, this area is full of snake charmers and traditional Moroccan souks, also known as markets. Historically, souks were sorted and organized based on the specific items being made and sold at them. The most valuable items such as manuscripts and gold were located at the center of the souk. From there, the expense of the goods declined as the distance from the center increased. The web design of similar-looking streets makes it very easy to lose one’s sense of direction while shopping. Luckily, there are licensed guides available to assist you through this shopping experience if needed. If you decide to explore independently without a knowledgeable guide, it is recommended you bring along a map or utilize one on your phone if you have service during your time in Morocco. Worst case scenario and you end up lost, shop owners, females and families are usually the trustworthy ones when asking for directions out of the souks. They are less likely to ask you for money for their provided directions. Shops in the Medina are typically open 9am-12pm/4pm-7pm Fridays and 9am-7pm Mondays-Thursdays and Sundays. Visitors say that the best time of day to visit is either in the cool morning or in the evening as the sun is setting over Morocco.
If you don’t know how to negotiate prices, the Marrakesh souks are the place to learn and utilize this technique to the extreme. When negotiating with a vendor, it is always recommended to respond back with a quarter of the asking price as a starting point in your conversation. Remember, keep it friendly and always smile! If you cannot agree on a price with the vendor, walk away. If they really want the sale, they will re-approach you with a lower price before you move on to another nearby shop. You’ll want to get the most bang for your buck once greeted with the vibrant colored aromic spices and decorative pottery lining the streets. Traditional woven Moroccan carpets and handmade Berber boucherouite (rugs) are also a popular souvenir found throughout the stalls. You may just have to redecorate a room or maybe even your whole house with all of the Moroccan designs you will be returning home with. It’s very easy to get caught up in the bargaining, so be careful of buyer’s remorse. Before buying everything you set your eyes on (it will be hard not to, trust me), make sure you or someone you’ll be gifting the item to will wear the colorful clothing or utilize it in their home decor. A good way to avoid this is to look, then buy. Many vendors sell the same items so if you’re not completely satisfied on an item or a price, keep looking and it will be likely you’ll come across something better.
Pair your shopping trip to Majorelle with a visit to the stunning Jardin Majorelle, a well respected botanical garden designed in the 1920s. The estate is now open to the public for everyone to shop and explore the grounds. When inside, stop at Boutique Majorelle for a more stylish shop. It has a wide selection of soft pillowcases, accessories and leather goods. Plan a stop to Beldi Verre, located in the Beldi Country Club. It is one of the last Moroccan glass blowing shops around. Gaze at the Moroccan glass workers making the colorful tea glasses by hand. Make sure to grab lunch and some mint tea at the Beldi Country Club while you are at it.
Located just northwest of the Medina, Gueliz is also referred to as the ‘New City’. This area is worth the visit as it is home to some of the best shopping boutiques in all of Marrakesh. Shops here are typically open 9am-12:30 pm / 3:30-7pm Monday-Saturday. Recently, the French and Italian have also moved into this area, providing a Western twist on the traditional Moroccan fashions. If looking for a stylish leather bag, Maroc’n Roll has a wide selection of Moroccan inspired bags and accessories.
If up for the taxi ride, head to Sidi Ghanem, Marrakesh's industrial zone located an hour north of Marrakesh. It is recommended you grab a guide to accompany you on this day trip. Embrace the many home-to-design studios accompanied by lavish carpets, textiles, and ceramics for sale. If interested in African contemporary art, Voice Gallery has an excellent selection. Chez Zoe is also a popular shop for some fancy bathrobes and linens found at luxury hotels or riads.
When completely shopped out, you will find that there is still so much Morocco tourism to explore. Take a visit to the Marrakesh tanneries which will show you the behind-the-scenes process of how the leather in all of your leather goods was made. You might even want to go back and shop some more after witnessing the hammering, sewing, sculpting, and chiseling that went into to producing the goods. Pack an extra suitcase to your next trip to Morocco to make sure you have enough room when traveling home!
Post written by: Kirsten Cusack
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