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Guide to the Best Moroccan Souks in Morocco
May 6, 2020 | By: Taylor Randolph
Visiting a Moroccan souk is definitely a highlight on any trip to Morocco. The bustling atmosphere, vibrant colors, tempting smells, and thrill of bargaining makes visiting a souk an unforgettable experience. These traditional Moroccan markets can be found in any large city. We think these eight cities have the best souks in Morocco:
What is a souk?
If you have never been to Morocco before, then let’s start by giving you an idea of what a souk is, what it means, and what you will usually find there.
Originally, the souk simply indicated a Moroccan market where locals can find all the products necessary for daily life, be it food, clothing, or even crafts. Today, however, the souk is more like a ‘bazaar,’ a huge market where you can find everything.
Although in Morocco you will find some souks specializing only in certain types of products, most Moroccan souks have a little bit of everything and are organized by sector of activity. This makes it easier for visitors to compare products without having to walk too far. It’s also better for haggling, as merchants and craftsmen are offering products in the same category in direct competition with each other.
Shopping in a Moroccan souk is a great way to buy souvenirs for yourself or your loved ones. You will find a variety of things including traditional rugs, ceramics fabrics, clothing, shoes, jewelry, and so much more.
The Souks of Marrakesh
Marrakesh, or Marrakech, is undoubtedly Morocco's most touristic capital and the souks are very popular with tourists. There have been souks operating in the medina (city center) for more than 800 years. At times, the souk can be a real maze of alleys and it’s easy to get turned around. Thankfully, there are plenty of signs indicating how to get to Jemâa El-Fna square. Do not hesitate to ask for directions, the people are very friendly.
If you are wondering what to do in Marrakesh, then look no further than these traditional souks:
- Djemaa el-Fna: Main marketplace and most visited tourist spot in Marrakesh. Enjoy the street food stalls, orange juice vendors, and argan oil products
- Souk Chouari: Carpenters, furniture makers, and weavers that specialize in wood and baskets. Stop here to buy souvenirs or just admire the work of artisans
- Souk Seffarin: Dedicated to working in copper, brass, and tin. Watch artisans working on-site and buy copper products like lamps, mirrors, or tea leaves as a souvenir
- Souk Fekharine: Pottery market that sells exquisite tajines (Moroccan ceramic dish), vases with bright colors, and other beautiful ceramic items. Observe the artisans at work.
- Souk Sabbaghine: The dye market, you will also find ready-to-wear fabrics or clothing in typical Moroccan style.
- Souk Zrabi: Moroccan rugs and carpets market. You will find them in all colors and all models, made in the typical Moroccan style. Every day from 4 pm you also have the opportunity to participate (or just attend) in public auctions.
- Souk Smata: Entirely dedicated to babouches (Moroccan shoes with no heel). You can find these adorable shoes in all shapes, colors, and patterns at often ridiculously low prices. Ideal for unique, colorful, and practical souvenirs.
- Souk Cherratine: Traditional Moroccan market ideal for souvenirs specializing in leather goods, such as bags, wallets, and belts, for very low prices
- Souk Attarine: Spice market perfect for foodies, especially those who like to experiment with traditional flavors. Attarine's Moroccan souk is an essential stop when visiting Marrakesh. You can admire many stalls with dozens of local herbs and savor the mouthwatering scents
- Souk Dhabia: Jewelry shops offering all kinds of local creations. Perhaps you can surprise a loved one or friend with a beautiful bracelet, necklace, or earrings!
- Souk Haddadine: Blacksmiths and metalworkers are hard at work crafting pots, plates, horseshoes, and other hardware. Not the place for souvenirs, but amazing to admire the artisans hard at work that create beautiful lamps
The Souks of Essaouria
Essaouria is a walled city, near Marrakesh, where you will find a wide variety of products and find some of the most beautiful souks in Morocco. Essaouria is less crowded than Marrakesh, which makes it much more enjoyable to stroll through the markets.
The souk is located in the medina, divided into different sectors of activity. Our favorites were the jewelry souk, the herbal souk, the artisan souk, and the fish market. Whether you are looking for ceramics, traditional clothing, jewelry, or food, you will find everything you need in the Essaouria souk.
One of the main advantages of Essaouria's souk is that the traffic is pedestrian-only, forbidden for cars and two-wheelers, which makes it easier and more pleasant to walk around the souks. Also, if you buy food, you can request to have it cooked on the spot, at one of the restaurants located under the arches.
The Souks of Casablanca
You will find many small souks in the Medina of Casablanca, but also in the surrounding area. Among these stand out three considered among the best souks in Morocco:
- Souk of the Habous district: Located near the Royal Palace, the Habous district consists of a series of alleys whose architecture is a stunning mixture of Andalusian, French and Moroccan influences. It is particularly appreciated by tourists for its peaceful character, ideal for walking. You will find local crafts, spices, clothes, babouches, and a large olive market. There is also the Bennis pastry shop, which was founded in 1930 and is very famous for the quality of its traditional Moroccan sweet and savory products. We strongly recommend that you stop here for tea and a snack.
- Souk Derb Ghallef: For those who want to get away from the classic souk formula and are looking for good deals on other types of products, the Derb Ghallef souk is a good alternative. It specializes in electronic products. Be sure to check the authenticity of the products before you buy them.
- Souk Derb Omar: Located in the heart of the city center and operating for over 140 years, the Derb Omar souk is the largest market in Morocco, totaling over 2,300 shops. Many shops are wholesalers or semi-wholesalers, but there are also merchants who sell directly to individuals. The three main sectors of dominant activity (which represent over 70% of stores) are textiles, clothing, and cosmetics.
The Souks of Fez
The narrow streets of Fez are home to many incredible souks. Enjoy getting lost in the endless maze of the best souks in Fez. We personally love Souk El-henna, R’cif Square, and Attarine.
- Souk El-Henna: Oldest souk in Fez and located in the Medina district. Originally intended for the henna market, over the years it has included cosmetics and many other businesses. You will find a variety of typical products of the souks in Morocco like leather, oils, spices, perfumes, clothing, fabrics, jewelry and food. Souk El-Henna is a network of intertwined alleys. Use the Bab Boujeloud gate for both entrance and exit. Take a few hours to visit it all, since this souk is really large.
- Souk at R’cif Square: located about fifteen minutes from the Medina of Fez, the souk at R’cif Square is a wonderful food market. This is ideal if you want to smell and taste local specialties prepared before your eyes, including fish, beef, and vegetables.
- Souk Al’Attarine: A long, narrow street lined with delicious spices, dried fruit, and nuts. It is a very colorful and vibrant market, making it perfect to take some cool pictures
The Souks of Tangier
The largest souk in Tangier is the Grand Socco located in the medina.
In the Grand Socco souk, you will find a wide variety of products, including clothing, fabrics, rugs, fruit and vegetables, spices, and a variety of traditional crafts. It also has many terraces where you can stop for tea or grab a bite to eat.
Go up to the door of the Kasbah and you will see street artists (snake charmers, musicians, and storytellers), as well as enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view.
Keep in mind that this souk allows vehicles, so be careful when walking on the street and look carefully in front and behind you.
The Souks of Rabat
Rabat is the capital of Morocco and is home to many incredible souks. If you are visiting Rabat, be sure to stop at the following traditional souks:
- Marché Central Rabat: This Rabat souk is located at the entrance to the medina. It is popular with locals because it’s mainly a food market, selling things like fish, meat, vegetables, and spices.
- Souk Labir: A popular fabric and clothing market. It was originally a market for Christian slaves, but today is home to many exquisite fabrics, curtains, sofas, and traditional Moroccan clothing.
The Souks of El Jadida
El Jadida is less popular with tourists, so you can enjoy a quieter and decidedly more authentic atmosphere. There are three main souks in the city:
- Central Market: Mainly dedicated to food, including fresh fish which occupies almost half of the market. It is an ideal place to discover the local gastronomy and taste the fish directly from the boat to the plate.
- Old Market: Also dedicated to food and therefore highly appreciated by the locals. If you want to discover the experience of the Moroccan souk without the frills of tourism, this is still a good stop that you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Morocco. It is located right near many of El Jadida’s most popular tourist sites.
- Souk Lalla Zahra: Located on the edge of the city center, the Lalla Zahra souk is very popular for its second-hand dealers selling used clothing, furniture, and many other unusual items. If you love local crafts and unique items, this is the place to go. Lalla Zahra Market is also known for having considerably cheaper fruits and vegetables than other markets in the city.
The Souks of Ouarzazate
The Ouarzazate souk is also called the Central Market and is located near Al Mouahidine square. It is mainly a food market, but there you will also find a craft center at the exit of the Taabirt Kabash, where ceramics, leather goods, spices, and carpets are sold.
One last tip: Bargaining is a lifestyle in Morocco, especially in the souks. Don’t jump on the first products, but take the time to negotiate and see what the competition offers. Savor the experience and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Moroccan souks!
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