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Exploring the Souks of Marrakesh: Everything to Know Before You Go

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Exploring the souks of Marrakesh, by travel blogger What The Fab

Before heading to Morocco I had a few bucket list items, and near the top was experiencing the hustle, bustle, and colors of the souks of Marrakesh. I learned a few things along the way that I wish I had known before going!

There’s something special about strolling through a Moroccan market. The sights and smells are unlike anything else in the world. In Marrakesh’s souks, you can find everything from spices to carpets, jewelry to leather goods.

Exploring the souks of Marrakesh by travel blogger What The Fab
Exploring the souks of Marrakesh by travel blogger What The Fab

I’m not going to lie, I was a little intimidated at first. The souks are crowded and chaotic, and the volume level alone can be overpowering! But don’t be intimidated—just go with an open mind and these tips in mind, and you’ll love it.

Tip #1 is to bring an empty, spare roller carry-on bag with you because you will for sure fill it up with amazing finds that you pick up in the souks of Marrakesh!

Visiting Marrakech? Book some of the most popular tours/activities through GetYourGuide (my go-to when I’m abroad!):

Morocco is one of the most cultural and diverse countries in the world. You’ll find a wide variety of items from all corners of the country, so take your time and explore each one!

So let’s dive into everything you need to know to get the most out of your souk experience.

Exploring the Souks of Marrakesh

Exploring the souks of Marrakesh by travel blogger What The Fab

First, what is a souk? I wasn’t super familiar with this word before I visited Morroco, but a souk is basically a traditional market. It’s an open-air bazaar where merchants sell their wares, and they’re usually located in the center of major cities like Marrakesh.

Marrakesh is in the perfect location for trade—it’s at the intersection of the old trade routes between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. This means that some of the best goods in the region can be found here!

Because it sits on these crucial trading routes, people journeyed to this place from all corners of the world. In the past, merchants would travel by camel or donkey with a caravan full of supplies to sell in the souks.

Exploring the souks of Marrakesh by travel blogger What The Fab

Nowadays, you can find just about anything in Marrakesh’s souks—from food to jewelry, textiles to leather goods. But things have changed since the days of trading caravans. Most merchants don’t move their products around and stay stationed at one single small shop.

Getting to the souks is easy—just head to the center of the old city and you can’t miss it.

Most merchants open their shop around 9 a.m. and stay open until around 8 p.m., but the best time to go is usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the souks are at their busiest.

Sometimes their hours will change depending on holidays and religious events. If you’re not sure, it’s best to ask around!

Getting around the souks of Marrakesh

Start the day already assuming you will get lost at least once—it’s part of the experience! The souks are a web of narrow alleyways and passages, and the merchants might not always be willing to give out directions…or they will and then expect a tip.

If you’re worried about getting lost and it’s your first time exploring the souks, I recommend hiring a guide. This way you can get the most out of your experience and be sure to see all the best spots in the souks.

There will be a plethora of Moroccans in the main square of the souk offering their “tour guide” services. While you would be safe to go with one of them, it is much more likely for them to upcharge you at the end, as well as take you to certain shops that are higher priced (probably owned by a friend or family member of theirs) that will potentially give them a commission.

It’s better to book a guided tour with a registered company or ask your hotel reception to book you a guide.

We ended up going it alone and just wandering around ourselves, and we didn’t feel like we needed a guide. But again, if you’re feeling unsure or nervous about exploring the souks on your own, hire a guide!

If you’re going it alone, make sure to download the Offline Google Maps of the area when you’re on wifi before you head into the souks. It’s one of the best resources to find your way around, but service can. be spotty.

Here are a few names of some of the main souks for getting around:

Souk Semmarine – The main souk in Marrakech that tourists frequent; best for souvenirs

Souk Smata – Best for shoes

Souk des Bijoutiers – Best for fine jewelry

Souk el Attarine – Best for antiques, tea pots, and lamps

Place de Epices – Where you’ll find all the colorful spices

Jemaa el-Fnaa – The main square where you’ll find souks branching off from

Exploring the souks of Marrakesh, by travel blogger What The Fab
Exploring the souks of Marrakesh by travel blogger What The Fab

Tips for haggling in the souks

One of my favorite parts about visiting the souks, also called the medina, is haggling.

Yes, haggling!

It’s all part of the experience, and quite honestly, it’s fun! Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices—it’s expected in the souk and it is a great way to connect with the locals.

It is completely acceptable to make a counteroffer, even if it’s lower than what the merchant is asking for. I often act appalled at their first price and you will see the store owner giggle because THEY KNOW the price is too high.

It can be intimidating at first, but remember that merchants are used to this and they expect you to haggle. Just remember to stay friendly and polite, and you’ll be able to get the best deal!

If a stall owner isn’t budging on a price, don’t be afraid to walk away. They will usually call you back and offer a better price and a cup of traditional mint tea.

Once you practice haggling a bit, you realize there’s a rhythm and a dance to it.

To help you out, here’s a haggling guide and example of how it always goes down:

Him: I give you good price, 1600. ($160 USD)

Me: How about $700? (Always start with a bit less than half bc you’re going to end up meeting in the middle)

Him: (pretending to be shocked by how low my offer was) Ohhh no, I couldn’t possibly. This is handmade (insert info here about the quality, how long it takes to make, etc). I give you 1,400.

Me: 800.

Him: 800! You bargain like a Berber lady! (They always say this lol. Berbers are the indigenous people of Morocco/the Sahara desert). 1,300, my best offer.

Me: 1,000.

Him: Ok, ok, 1,100. ($110 USD)

Me: Deal! 😆

What to buy in the souks of Marrakesh?

So what should you buy when you visit the souks? In my opinion, the best thing to do is to just wander around and take in all the sights. Don’t worry about buying something—instead, focus on soaking up the culture and I’m positive something will catch your eye.

But if you want to buy something, here are a few of my favorite things to bring back from Marrakesh.

Leather goods

Morocco is known for its high-quality leather. Made with natural dyes and stitched by hand, these beautiful pieces will last you a lifetime.

Exploring the souks of Marrakesh by travel blogger What The Fab
Exploring the souks of Marrakesh by travel blogger What The Fab


Morocco’s spice markets are second-to-none. The flavors are truly unique and you’ll find things you’ve never even heard of before, whether it’s spices for cooking, herbs for tea, or things for sniffing when you have a cold that immediately clears your sinuses!

Exploring the souks of Marrakesh by travel blogger What The Fab
Exploring the souks of Marrakesh by travel blogger What The Fab


Whether it’s a traditional Moroccan djellaba, some of the beautiful hand-embroidered carpets, or the classic Moroccan poufs, don’t miss out on these lovely pieces.

We brought home a Moroccan carpet and two poufs and I’m absolutely obsessed with them. The shop owners are pros at rolling them up super tightly and then wrapping them in plastic and tape so they’ll fit in your suitcase.


The souks are filled with all kinds of jewelry from colorful glass bangles to ornate silver pendants—perfect for finding a unique souvenir.

exploring the souks of Marrakesh, by travel blogger What The Fab

Taking pictures in the souks

Most of the shop owners did not allow people to take photos in them unless you bought something from them, and they’ll yell at you if you try to take a picture. While this was kind of a bummer, I can also totally understand shop owners getting sick of tourists just snapping photos and not actually buying anything from them.

I did take some pictures on my phone as we were walking by shops, but if you want to stop and take a picture inside of a shop you should probably ask if you can take a photo if you buy something.

That’s how I got the above photo of me with all the lamps—at first, the owner yelled “no photos!” at me, and then I bought some small jewelry boxes from him and he said I could take pictures.

Souks of Marrakesh, by travel blogger What The Fab

What to wear

If you’re heading out and about in a Muslim country for the first time, you might be unsure about what to wear. Do I cover my hair? Can I show my knees? I always want to be respectful of the culture.

When it comes to clothing, I recommend wearing something lightweight but also covering your shoulders and knees. This will make you more comfortable in the sun and also show respect for the local culture.

Marrakech is pretty cosmopolitan, and while you can get away with wearing short shorts or whatever you want, I personally think it’s better to be conscientious and respectful of local customs so I opted for longer, flowy dresses.

I didn’t find it necessary to cover your hair with a scarf, and I didn’t see many tourists doing that.


I never had an issue with safety while in Marrakesh, but like any other bustling city, it is always good to be aware of your surroundings. Don’t wander around alone at night and keep your valuables close to you.

The Marrakesh souks get extremely busy and can be a bit overwhelming. Be sure to keep an eye on your belongings, as pickpockets are common in crowded places. I always wear a cross-body bag and keep my valuables tucked away in that to keep them safe and secure. This one from Lo & Sons is a fav!

We didn’t really have anyone hassle us, but if you do simply say, “La, shokran!” firmly. It means no thank you and we found that when I as a woman said it, people left us alone.

The souks are truly a unique experience, and I hope this travel guide helps you to get the most out of your visit! With these tips, you can explore the markets like a pro, haggle for some amazing deals, and find unforgettable souvenirs.

Happy shopping!

Planning a trip to Morocco? Don’t miss all my other Morocco recs here!

The 7 Most Incredible Riads in Marrakesh

6 Epic Day Trips from Marrakesh

Marrakech Nightlife: What to Do and Where to Go

The Perfect Two-Week Morocco Itinerary

9 Most Epic Riads in Fes

The Best Time to Visit Morocco: A Complete Guide

7 Epic Things to Do in Merzouga


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