Shopping in Morocco and How to Survive the Souks

colourful bags in the souks in Marrakech

Shopping in Morocco is chaotic, exciting, confusing and sweaty! At least it is if you’re a tourist and you’re shopping in the souks.

I was apprehensive about shopping in Morocco. Pre-trip I didn’t know what to buy in Marrakech. Everyone just told me that I had to go shopping in the famous souks. And wow, was it an adventure!

In anticipation for your trip, this guide on shopping in Morocco, specifically Marrakech, should give you all the information that I initially lacked and had to learn the hard (but fun!) way.

What are the souks? It’s the name given to an Arab market. It’s usually an open-air market and sometimes referred to as souqs.

Tips for Surviving the Souks Marrakech

Tips for the Souqs Marrakech
Souks Marrakech

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With some 3,000 winding lanes, the reality is you are going to get lost. But, if you’re going to get lost it might as well be in another country and into a warren of goodies. Welcome to the souks (also sometimes known as the souqs) of Marrakech. A maze of market stalls offering the world and then some.

Where are the Souks Marrakech? Off the main square of Jemaa el-Fnaa, in Marrakech’s medina quarter (old city). 

1. Forget the Map

There’s no point consulting a map because once you enter the souks, the mercy of your fate lies in the hands of the market stalls.

Okay, that’s a little dramatic, sorry.

What I’m trying to say, is don’t waste your time pouring over a map. Embrace your inner explorer. If you’re visiting the souks for the very first time, I recommend you go in daylight. The locals are friendly and will offer you directions, but of course, it’s always in return for a tip. Bear in mind that the further out you get, the less language skills the locals seem to have.

spices in Marrakech

Feel uneasy about entering the warren or short on time? Why not try a 3-hour Souks Tour where an expert will show you the best bits?

Recommended Reading: The Best Time to Visit Marrakech (And Why You Need to Go!)

2. Bring Cash

You name it, the souks offer it. Handcrafted shoes, delicious pastries, leather handbags, intricately designed lamps, vintage cameras, spices, trotters, passports…..well, let’s just say it’s a pretty long list.

Even the most restrained shoppers will end up laden with bags. You’ll struggle to find a trustworthy card machine. Bring your muscles and lots of cash.

Shoe Shopping in Morocco
Shoe shopping

Recommended Reading: Your Guide to the Atlas Mountains

3. Roll With the Banter (and Use it to Your Advantage!)

“Skinny prices for skinny people”, “ASDA prices” and of course, “No charge for looking” will be ringing in your ears.

The sellers are harmless and love to have a good bit of banter. They are after a sell, but they’ve learnt their lessons from years of trading. They’ll leave you alone to peruse their goods in peace and then pipe up when you’re ready to start negotiations.

Don’t be all English on them. Turn that frown upside down and show them a smile. They’ll love you even more if you even throw a joke back at them. You might even get an extra discount.

Tips for shopping in Morocco
Tips for shopping in Morocco

Recommended Reading: Things to Do in Marrakech

4. Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Negotiations, you ask? Yes, even for a small bracelet you’ll need to work if you don’t want to pay over the odds.

As a rule of thumb, offer half or a third of their first price. Work up from there.

If they say no to your last offer, then simply walk away. Chances are they’ll run after you, backtracking and accepting your price.

If they don’t, worry not, as you’re bound to see the same item just round the corner.

Marrakech souvenirs
Marrakech souvenirs

Recommended Reading: Getting Steamy at a Moroccan Hammam

5. Be Courageous

If you can’t be bothered with the two-ing and frow-ing and you think their first price is reasonable then there’s no shame in paying it.

You’ll make the sellers day and it will certainly save you some time.

Time for more shopping, or perhaps more time to find your way out…

Morocco souvenirs
My Morocco souvenirs – only £4!

Recommended Reading: Staying in a Riad in Marrakech

6. Be Sensible

Be realistic and compare prices to those back home. Is it really leather? Is it worth your precious luggage space? Will it even fit in your bag or if not, how much will it cost to ship home?

As a general indicator, you’ll find thin scarves on offer for the equivalent of a few pounds, sandals between £4-£15 and a whole multitude of prices for bags depending on the skin (if any) used.

Recommended Reading: A Belly Dancing Show in Marrakech

7. Go Window Shopping

Even if you’re not into shopping, it’s worth a curious stroll round the souks. You can watch workman craft wooden toys with their bare feet, blowtorch lanterns without any safety glasses, or perhaps cook up a mean tagine.

The tiny workshops and conditions they operate in are worlds apart from England. Most have one definite perk though; they nearly always have a feline assistant snuggled in their lap. Very cute.

Marrakech souks

Morocco Souvenirs and What to Buy in Morocco

Famous Morocco souvenirs include beautiful rugs, handcrafted leather bags, belts and sandals, those iconic lamps. Oh and those curly shoes, but they’re not quite as practical as the other typical Morocco souvenirs are they?!

You’ll see lots of Moroccan poufs – like a little round footstool. They’re typically made from leather, but watch out for ones that are made from plastic claiming to be leather. If the price is significantly cheaper that’s probably why.

On a budget and wondering what to buy in Morocco? You’ll also see lots of Moroccan spices and herbal medicines. They’re an inexpensive option and don’t take up much space in your luggage.

Again, if you find one place is loads cheaper it could be because the spices have blended with other cheaper ones or shipped in from somewhere else, so double check on details.

What Should I Wear in Marrakech?

If you want to avoid stares and unwanted attention, I’d recommend trying to blend in with the locals. For women, that means wearing a maxi or midi dress, and ideally something that covers your shoulders. Obviously, something like airy palazzo pants and a loose top would work well too.

Opening Times for the Marrakech Souks

The souks are open seven days a week, though you may find Friday a little quieter as it’s considered Holy Day.

Generally speaking, the best time to visit is in the morning.

Pin this post on Shopping in Morocco…

tips for surviving the Marrakech Souqs
Tips for surviving the Marrakech Souqs

Have you been to the souks? Would you know what to buy in Marrakech? Do you have any tips to add to this list?

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Comments (8)

  • […] to the famous souks in Marrakech; over 3000 winding lanes of locals selling absolutely everything you can think […]

  • […] part ways with my hippy vibes so I paired it with my Moroccan gladiators (a bargain at £8 from the souqs), black leggings and sunnies, and went out for dinner. An outfit that doubles up for day/evening, […]

  • Lois Hill 6 years ago Reply

    We’ve just gotten back from a week in Morocco. We stayed in Agadir for the majority of the trip however travelled out to Marrakech and stayed overnight in a riad in the middle of the week.

    Absolutely agree with your travel tips! One general tip I have for travelling to Morocco would definitely be to visit Marrakech in a month when it is cooler (i.e. Not the summer months), unless you like 45 degree heat and a very dry atmosphere! Agadir, however, was lovely weather around the mid 20s (so maybe wouldn’t be ideal for sun-seekers)

    As for the souks, it might be handy to go in with quick estimates for prices (e.g. 100 dirhams = £7.12 and so on) so that you can quickly compare the kind of prices they offer you to prices back at home. This might save the chance of you paying way too much than necessary or wasting the seller’s time trying to convert money whilst trading.

    Another tip would be to learn some quick phrases in either French or Arabic that you might use whilst in the souks. Phrases such as “Thank you” (and ‘no thank you’), “Hello”, “How much?” And so on. It will be easier if you are able to speak in a native language, even if it’s just a little bit.

    I enjoyed reading your blog post! The ones you listed are definitely some very handy tips for if we travel there again!

    Taylor Hearts Travel 6 years ago Reply

    Great tips! Thanks so much for adding them to this list. It may be a little geeky, but I usually work out rough estimates and write them on a small bit of card so that I can discreetly look at when I’m shopping. On one side I write the conversions for key prices in English -> currency and then on the other side the other way round. So like £1, £5, £20 and £50 and the conversions, then the other side 100 dirhams, 500 dirhams etc. My brain is usually in travel mode so my maths isn’t always as good as it should be when put on the spot!

    I’d definitely like to include a visit to Agadir next time. Thanks again for adding your tips. :)

  • […] my trip to Marrakech, including the High Atlas. The riads were beautiful, the food tasty and the souqs lived up to their confusing, yet enchanting mystery. I was able to work with some great partners […]

  • […] of vintage cameras, or perhaps a passport. Whatever is on your shopping list, I can assure you the souqs will present it like an offering to the Gods. Offer half, or even a third, of the suggested price […]

  • […] can soak up the views from the comfort of the back seat. After a short thirty minute drive from the crazy souqs the scenery soon becomes a rich blanket of browns and dusty […]

  • […] you’re feeling anxious about the souqs (even after reading my guide), then worry not because your host will provide you with a mobile. Whenever you get lost (which […]

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