• Éadaoin Fitzmaurice

10 Mistakes I Made In Marrakesh So You Don't Have To

My top tips for travelling around this North African kingdom.

I took the trip of a lifetime to Morocco a few months back with my other half and I've been dreaming of going back ever since - with a clearer head this time around.

Truth is, for the first few days I was there, I found it a little... stressful. First of all, our luggage went missing so I couldn't lie in the sun and take a dip in our stunning pool *cough, cough I couldn't get those essential bikini Insta pics* and secondly, it was a pretty big culture shock.

Morocco is entirely different to anywhere I had been before. When we first arrived, our taxi pulled up on a dirt trail road where there was about 100 motorbikes, 7 donkeys and the locals kept shouting as us trying to give us directions to our Riad. I was actually quite scared and uncomfortable.

By the third day, I had almost forgotten that feeling, I was super confident walking down the tiny walkways in the souks and I could actually enjoy what was around me.

There's quite a few things I wish I had known before my trip so let me share them with you:

1. Take Out Enough Cash Before You Go

There are very few ATMs in Marrakesh and even fewer places that take card. Try to take out all of the money you need before you go or when you're in the airport.

It's pretty cheap over there, I'd say I spent just under €1000 over the ten days that I was there - this includes meals, activites, the desert trek, shopping bits and sightseeing.

2. Pre-Book Your Taxi From The Airport To Your Accommodation

Finding your hotel or riad can be a nightmare because they are all hidden down windy lanes. Most accommodation has an airport taxi service that you can pre-book that costs the same price as random pick-ups.

We didn't do this and we found it super stressful trying to explain where our riad was located.

The standard price from the airport to Marrakesh is €20 - most taxis will not negotiate this.

3. Bring A Light Shawl

As a muslim country, most Moroccan women wear burqas and long clothing. Marrakesh is a very popular holiday destination at the moment so they are used to tourists.

You can wear shorts and dresses without any comments being made or without getting any dirty looks.

I myself preferred to cover my shoulders out of respect for their culture. I packed a few long dresses and I felt most comfortable in them.

Whenever I wore a short dress or a pair of shorts, I often brought a shawl I got in the Sahara with me to cover my shoulders - it's a good idea to keep them away from the blazing sun anyway.

You can buy these shawls in the souks for around €2.

4. Travel With A Guy With You If You Can

I wouldn't recommend to any solo travelling girls to visit Marrakesh. I felt uneasy whenever I walked alone or without John's hand in mine. Having blonde hair and blue eyes I know I did draw a lot of attention anyway but I spoke to other girls and they felt the same.

While I was there I met two girls who were travelling together and they had had some issues with people not taking them seriously or listening to them during their visit.

I know I wouldn't have enjoyed the trip half as much if I didn't have John by my side.

5. Download Offline Maps

This is key.

It's so easy to get lost down the windy roads in Morocco. There's very few sign posts and a lot of distractions so it can be very confusing.

John and I found ourselves walking in circles quite a few times before getting back to our accommodation.

The Offline Maps App is pretty good to get around the area. Sometimes it might not know the exact street but it's a good indicator for what direction you should be going in.

We would have been really lost without it.

6. Riad's Tend To Have Plunge Pools

Riads are a type of Moroccan style house and tend to be the top pick for travellers. They've only got about ten rooms each so it's nice and quite and it's nice to dabble in some Moroccan culture.

We left it pretty late to book our accommodation and most of the good places were gone. A lot of the Riads have pools but they are small, very cold plunge pools.

We had one in our second spot and it wasn't too bad but of course, I would have loved a real pool.

This is something you should try look into before you book.

7. Never Take Your First Offer In The Souks

Ahhh the souks! There's really nothing like them.

If you want to do a good bit of shopping, you'll have your work cut out for you. Try splitting the vendors first offer in half and watch their reaction to see if they're still playing ball or not.

A lot of the shops sell the exact same thing so check them all out and try find the best offer.

8. NEVER Turn On Your Data

This probably goes without saying but even in the most stressful of situations, do NOT turn on your data.

I turned my data on for about 15 seconds to show our taxi man where our riad was and it cost me €140 euro.

Don't be a dope like me!

9. Pick Your Restaurant Before You Go Out

Marrakesh is not the kind of place where you just pass by an amazing restaurant too easily, most of them are hidden away in the souks or down maze-like streets.

The very first night we went for dinner it took us nearly an hour to settle on somewhere nice. From then on, we picked the restaurant before we headed out, followed our pre-loaded maps and it just made everything so much easier.

Some of my very favourite restaurants from our time there can be found in my five-day itinerary.

10. Don't Take Directions From Locals

Most of the locals are harmless and they are actually really friendly but there are some who will pester you telling you that you're going the wrong way - don't listen to them.

They will try give you directions to the main square but they will take you on a longer journey and then expect you to pay them a tenner for it.

Stick to your own maps and keep the head down or else they'll start to walk alongside you.

Got any questions about Marrakesh?

Leave them below!