One of the joys of Marrakech is soaking up the atmosphere of the Souks, the markets and bazaars that spring up across the city where almost anything can be bought or bargained for. Always remember that haggling is expected and almost required and that if you are a foreigner you will end up paying higher prices than the locals, but try not to let obsessive bargain hunting get in the way of your enjoyment.
The main street market in Marrakeck is Souk located next to the Place Djemaa El-Fna. This is the largest, most diverse but also the most aggressive of Marrakech’s street markets. It is a great place to start your Moroccan shopping experience and get a feel for what’s on offer and at what prices. Some things on sale here you won’t find anywhere else, but other things can be found cheaper at the more specialised or outlying markets.
The area around the Kasbah is home to a series of smaller markets which, although they have slightly less choice than than Djemaa El-Fna, are much calmer and more peaceful. The food stalls in this area are particularly good, although visitors with weaker stomachs may find the adjacent restaurants marginally safer.
Visitors who want to get a more authentic experience of Moroccan food should pay a visit to the Bad Doukkala food Souk. This is the place to find that vital missing ingredient that you need at home to recreate your favourite local dishes as well as reasonably prices pots and tagines to cook them in. Gourmets will be able to spend hours here trying samples of various delicious foodstuffs and the food Souk tends to have fewer tourists than others. This means that there is less chance of you being ripped off and more chance the locals will be willing to share their recipe secrets with you, but only if you ask very nicely.
One of the more authentic local markets is the Mellah market on the south side of town. The food section is especially interesting and runs the gamut from aromatic in the spice section to gruesome and grisly in the butchery department.
The street markets of Marrakech are not simply places to shop, they are also places to socialise, gossip and be entertained. Street performers that seemed to have wondered straight from the pages of The Arabian Nights begin to draw large crowds from dusk when the ever present hubbub and haunting music also begin to intensify. The Souks are energetic, entertaining and exciting and contain the real street life of Marrakech so always exercise a slight caution, especially after dark.
Photo by jonl1973