Safety in Marrakech: Tips and Advice

There really aren’t many better things in life than exploring a new place – seeing a landmark for the first time, smelling a local delicacy being cooked in front of you, and discovering your favourite new café. But sometimes these very same things can be a little daunting. A country like Morocco has a rich reputation for culture, food and landmarks, but it also has one of uncertainty.

Many people wonder about safety during their holidays to Marrakech. We're here to offer a comprehensive guide on this vibrant city, ensuring you have all the information needed to explore the Moroccan capital with confidence and ease.

The Old Town

When people talk about the centre of the city, they’re usually talking about the medina in Marrakesh – which translates simply to old town. The historic hub of the capital, this is where you’ll find the city’s many souks and the main square of Jemaa el-Fnaa. It’s one of those places where you simply need to be amongst it to really catch its appeal. 

The medina is full of lots of winding roads, each one offering its own unique selection of trinkets and wares – many of which are handcrafted in that very same space. Regardless of any rumours you might hear, this area is a safe one. There are hundreds of tourists moving through the souks at any given time, and you really don’t need any extra advice than you would give for any other new place – just be vigilant and keep your bag and money securely under your possession. Simple.

Good to know: As the local penalties for misbehaviour are severe, it is unlikely that you will be at risk from more than a pickpocket. If you’re at all worried, just avoid early morning or evening explorations.
Don’t miss: Wander aimlessly! You’ll be amazed at the hidden courtyards and unexpected pleasure gardens that you’ll stumble across when you take an apparently wrong turn.

Guided Tours

If your safety concerns are mixed in with a worry of not quite understanding the city’s historic appeal – then maybe hiring a certified guide is what you want to do. Fully qualified to pass on some Marrakesh travel advice to you, as well as sharing the country’s unique heritage, a guide will your port-of-call for any questions you might have. When it comes to picking a tour guide, we would obviously recommend doing your own research beforehand and pre-booking one. But if it’s something you didn’t have time to source before you venture out, a certified guide is easily recognisable by the badge they wear on the outside of their clothes. If they don’t have this, do not give them any money. 

Good to know: Don’t take directions from strangers. They will be much more likely to direct you to a business where they get a commission. Although you might find something there that catches your eye, you will almost certainly be far from where you actually wanted to be.
Don’t miss: A horse-drawn carriage tour with a dedicated guide. Most of the horse-drawn carriages - or Calèches - are found between Jemaa el-Fnaa and the Koutoubia Mosque.

Crowded Streets

Definitely part of the magic of Marrakesh is just the sheer bustle of the city. Absolutely teeming with activity, there is always lots going on the streets. People, tourists, locals, cars, scooters, bikes, you name it – Marrakesh has got it going on. When moving through a Marrakesh market, just be aware of what’s around you. If there’s a car trying to squeeze down a narrow avenue, move to the side. If there’s a scooter zooming down the street, stand to the right and let it pass. It’s all part of the charm – you won’t find a street like it back in the UK.

Good to know: If you plan to take a taxi, make sure that the driver switches on the meter as it’s a local habit to ‘forget’. If the driver refuses, just get out and find another one or negotiate the fare before the engine starts running.
Don’t miss: Hire a taxi for a day and visit Ouzoud Falls or Essaouria. Both are a few hours drive from Marrakesh and although buses do go there, they tend to be old and very busy.

The Souks

Speaking of the charm of the city, the souks are obviously a massive part of that. As soon as you stop to look at one of the hundreds of stalls – don’t be surprised when the shopkeeper appears within minutes. That’s how they make their living. They’ll invite you in to see what else is on offer. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to buy anything. Only if you want to. And if you do want to, be prepared to barter. Outside of football, you could say that bartering is the next biggest national sport in Morocco, so keep a number in your head and try to remember the latest currency conversion so you don’t end up paying more than you bargained for.

Once inside a stall, you might find that stools will be produced so that you can sit while a seller rolls out another rug for you to see. And you might even be treated to a steaming hot cup of delicious mint tea – the national drink. It’s all part of the fun. If you’ve had a day of it already and don’t want to get wrapped up in another marathon bartering session – just simply inform them you’re only looking, and they’ll leave you alone soon enough.

Good to know: Never plan to pay more than half of the original price suggested. If the shopkeeper seems unwilling to negotiate, walk away and wait for the bargaining to begin.
Don’t miss: If possible, take some time to watch the craftsmen at work. Using methods passed down through the generations, a memento of your trip will have so much more meaning if you watched it made.

You might also be interested in