Night markets from above, Marrakech

The Nighttime Marrakech Market in Morocco

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

If we were looking for chaos, we found it at the Nighttime Marrakech Market in Morocco.

In fact, we found it within only a few minutes walking from our riad. After winding through several quiet derbs, we came to a main street that lead us to the markets in the centre.

Marrakech Market

The energy on this main artery was instant and intense. Motorbikes sped and weaved around the crowds of people and carts pulled by donkeys, Pete took the outside lane to shelter me from the traffic.

Around us, souks were hawking everything from bras to raw meat to household goods. Wonderfully colourful shops of shoes, fabrics and ceramics also brightened the way.

Marrakech, Morocco, is famous for its vibrant and bustling markets, known as “souks.” There is the jewelry souk, souk smata or the shoe souk, souk sebbaghine or the dyers souk for fabrics, souk cherratin for leather items, souk kimakhine for instruments, souk haddadine or the ironworkers souk, souk chouari or the woodworking souk–these are just some of the various souks of the Marrakech Market.

The main square, also known as Jemaa el Fna, is the city’s main and most iconic marketplace. It is located in the heart of the old city, or Medina, and has been a central gathering place for locals and travellers alike for centuries.


The Marrakech market is a sensory extravaganza that offers a unique and immersive experience to visitors in the heart of Moroccan culture and tradition.

Jemaa el Fna square comes alive with a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds, and scents that will leave your head buzzing with excitement, both in the daytime and in the evening.

Marrakech Market
Photo provided by Pexels Credit Faruk Tokluoğlu

During the day, the market is bustling with merchants selling their wares, and in the evening, it transforms into a lively entertainment hub with storytellers, musicians, dancers, and other performers.

The energy of the Marrakech market is infectious, leaving you with a lasting impression of the rich culture, warm hospitality, and vibrant charm of this remarkable city in Morocco.


The Marrakech market is a treasure trove for shoppers, immersing them in a captivating world of unique and authentic Moroccan goods.

From the moment you step foot into the bustling souks, you are greeted with an array of tempting offerings.

Moroccan Pottery

Bonjour, hello, everyone called, a grand smile on their face and an outstretched hand leading would-be patrons into their store or open stall.

We stopped to snap photos but were rather shy to take them. One shop owner yelled at me from across the way to stop. We became more sneaky and I pretended to pose so that Pete could zoom in around me and capture some of the street scenes.

Marrakech Market

At one point I walked slightly ahead of Pete and we got separated. Within seconds, a small man with a wayward ball cap atop his head stepped in front of me, his eyes roamed my body from the feet up. “Very nice,” he creepily drawled.

Becoming begrudgingly accustomed to this sort of unwelcome attention in Morocco, I casually stepped around him and into another crowd of people. Pete finally made his way back to my side, and we continued to browse.

Marrakech Market
Photo provided by Pexels Credit Piotr Arnoldes

One of the joys of shopping in the Marrakech market is the opportunity to engage in the art of bargaining on non fixed rates.

Haggle with friendly shopkeepers, a time-honoured practice in Moroccan markets, and revel in the thrill of securing the best prices for your valuable products.

Food Stalls

As we neared the market, the alternating aromas hit full force.

We passed spice shops that temporarily distracted from the heavy diesel fumes of the speeding motorbikes, and it wasn’t long before we caught the scent of grilled meat which meant we were near Jemaa El Fna Square.

Marrakech Market

The assault of the obnoxious dinner slingers soon began from the stalls of fresh food and grills lined up under white tents. Each had one man responsible for coaxing patrons to their tables. “But you look like you are starving,” one said as we pushed past him. We were searching for the highly recommended stall number 100.

We found it and immediately sat down, garnering small applause from all who worked there. Their charm was fictitious and obviously made for the crowds of foreigners. But it worked, and more people took seats around us.

Marrakech Market

Our waiter led us up to the buffet of fresh, uncooked food so that we could pick out what we wanted. We ordered a round of mixed brochettes, veggies and sausage.

I had asked our waiter about one pastry dish and he responded that it was traditional pastilla, filled with chicken and almonds. I didn’t order it, but it mysteriously showed up at our table with the rest of the spread anyways.

It was all so delicious.

Pastilla, Marrakech

Even the pastry thing (which, I learned later, is more traditionally made with pigeon meat). It was garnished with sugar and cinnamon which made it quite sweet for a chicken dish, but it was amazing.

While we ate we enjoyed music from unrecognizable instruments just beyond. Several men pushing very large white carts walked past and tried to sell us a variety of desserts just as we were tucking into our grilled meat. More applause as more people sat down. The whole area was an electric whir of sounds, smells and activity.

Fresh food, Marrakech

We left quite full and I commented that I wished we carried a sign that said “We-just-ate-don’t-bother-us!” because we immediately were being guided to various stalls as we walked past. “Demain,” most of them insisted when we refused, “Come back tomorrow!”

A couple of more aggressive men put their arms around Pete: “Mon frere, mon frere, remember me tomorrow!” Another saw the Canadian flag on our backpack and yelled out “Jim Carrey!” as we walked past.

The food stalls at the Marrakech market serve a mouthwatering array of Moroccan cuisine. You can try traditional dishes such as tagine, couscous, pastilla, and various kebabs. Freshly squeezed orange juice and Moroccan sweets are also popular treats to enjoy.


As you wander through the Marrakech market, you’ll encounter a mesmerizing display of skilled artisans passionately engaged in their crafts. Each corner unveils a new world of artistry and creativity.

Leatherworkers in souk cherratin deftly transform raw hides into finely crafted bags, shoes, and accessories, showcasing the mastery of this ancient craft.

Marrakech Market
Photo provided by Pexels Credit Taryn Elliott

Nearby in souk des teinturiers, weavers work tirelessly on traditional looms, skillfully intertwining colourful threads to create intricate patterns in beautiful textiles, rugs, and tapestries.

The rhythmic clang of metalworkers’ hammers fills the air in souk haddadine, as they meticulously shape copper and brass into stunning lanterns, teapots, and decorative ornaments.

Marrakech Market

Meanwhile, potters mold clay into exquisite ceramics, skillfully hand-painting vibrant patterns and designs.

The dedication and artistry of these artisans breathe life into their creations, leaving you with a deep appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of Marrakech.

Snake Charmers

You might encounter charmers with their snakes, which is a traditional sight in Jemaa el Fna.

A lady staying at our riad told a tale of her teenage son being surprised by a man who draped a snake around his neck without warning. After much imploring to have it removed, the man then demanded payment for the experience.

Marrakech Market

Such men and their snakes are speckled throughout the markets, and I had been keeping a careful eye out to avoid them.

I hate snakes, so I first entered Jemaa el Fna nervously.

“Do you want me to get bitten, poisoned and die?” I dramatically asked Pete as he mocked my fear.

Marrakech Market

Through a crowd of people I spotted a man holding three small snakes as he scanned for obvious tourists. We were just two of those many tourists, but I wasn’t taking any chances. When we were within twenty feet of him, I positioned myself on the farthest side of Pete and clung to his torso.

We passed unharmed, and I relaxed somewhat. But I was always tense and on the lookout. Snake Charmers are most commonly found near the food stalls.

Henna Artists

When you visit the Marrakech market, you’ll likely come across henna artists stationed at various stalls, ready to adorn your hands or feet with stunning and intricate designs.

These designs often feature delicate patterns and motifs inspired by Moroccan art and culture. From geometric shapes to floral patterns and intricate lace-like designs, henna art can be as simple or complex as you prefer.

Marrakech Market

The henna ladies are also known for the same tactics of the snake charmers, and might try to start applying the henna before you have time to refuse, and then demand payment.

If you would like a piece, be sure to shop around and find a price that suits your budget.

Getting a henna design at the Marrakech market is not only a beautiful way to adorn yourself but also an opportunity to embrace a cherished Moroccan tradition and carry a unique and memorable souvenir of your visit.

Take it All in

Jemaa El Fna and the main souk area are one of the most visited tourist attractions in not only Marrakech, but all of Morocco. So, it’s no wonder that it can be a little overwhelming for first time visitors.

Finding a spot above all of the street vendors, spices and berber carpers is a terrific place to take it all in.

Night markets from above, Marrakech

We made our way across the medina, ever mindful of snakes, to have a drink at a restaurant balcony high above, exclusively for the better view.

From above we could see, and still smell, the clouds of grilled meat. The buzz of activity was mesmerizing to watch and capture.

Marrakech Market

We gave up our ringside seats on the balcony and walked towards the souks behind the food zone. Being almost nine p.m., they were closing for the day. We bought some almonds, marveled at the perfect stacks of spices, and then began the artful exercise of dodging obstacles on the crowded streets back to our riad.

We were amazed at how just a few steps off the main street, and other than for the few polite locals we passed, silence so quickly befell

Marrakech Market

Helpful Tips for the Souks of Marrakech

Dress Modestly

Respect the local customs and culture by dressing modestly. Women may consider wearing clothing that covers their shoulders and knees.

Watch Your Belongings

As with any busy tourist area, stay vigilant and keep your belongings secure. It’s essential to be cautious of pickpockets, as the market can get crowded.

Carry Cash

While some shops may accept cards, it’s best to have cash on hand for smaller purchases and when bargaining.

Haggle with Respect

Bargaining is expected in the souks, but do so with a friendly and respectful attitude. Start with a lower price and be prepared to meet in the middle.

Spices in Marrakech Night Market

Don’t be Afraid to Say No

You’ll encounter numerous shopkeepers trying to lure you into their stores. If you’re not interested, politely decline and keep moving.

Be Cautious with Photography

Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, as some may not appreciate it. Some shopkeepers may also request a small tip for allowing photographs.

Taste the Local Cuisine

The markets offer a plethora of food vendors serving delicious Moroccan dishes. Don’t miss the chance to savour authentic tagines, pastries, and freshly squeezed juice from the orange juice vendors.

Learn Basic Arabic Phrases

Although many locals speak some English, knowing a few basic Arabic phrases can go a long way in engaging with the shopkeepers and locals.

Night Market Marrakech THUMBNAIL

Where to Stay


It’s rare when a luxury hotel feels like home. The staff, decor, and food at La Sultana Marrakech are wonderful, and definitely a fantastic option.

La Sultana Marrakech
Photo provided by La Sultana Marrakech

Check reviews | Book this hotel


Spend a relaxing afternoon on the quiet terrace of Riad Linda, and then walk a short distance to the heart of a bustling market! This hotel is a great mid-range option for your trip to Marrakech. Many thanks to Riad Linda for our discounted stay while in Marrakech. For a full review, please click here.

The Terrace at Riad Linda - Marrakech, Morocco

Check reviews | Book this hotel


Stay at Jnane Mogador if you’re looking for gorgeous rooftop spaces, lovely breakfasts, and an amazing hammam experience all at a reasonable price.

Jnane Mogador
Photo provided by Jnane Mogador

Check reviews | Book this hotel

Overall, the Marrakech market is an exhilarating and enchanting place where visitors can immerse themselves in Moroccan culture, experience its vibrant energy, and take home unique treasures and lasting memories.

Please note that some posts contain links that earn us a small commission (at no additional cost to you) which help keep this site running.

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  1. Pastilla is my favorite Moroccan dish ever. Such a surprising sweet taste! There used to be a Moroccan restaurant in London that had the best pastillas I’d ever tasted, but it has closed down since. Pastillas would probably be a good enough reason for me to visit Morocco one day – even though it means I have to get used to chaotic markets!

  2. I loved eating in the market at night…it was a really interesting experience! The food was amazing. I like the pics you were able to sneakily get-so many great colors. However, I think I got anxiety from all those motorbikes…I was convinced I was gonna see someone get run over!

  3. I am REALLY excited (& now a little nervous about snakes) to experience this when I’m there in 4 weeks!
    Seriously, though, I’m not scared of snakes but if anyone puts one on me I will hiss at him!

  4. having heard about Morocco and these night markets for so long, I really can’t wait to go someday. Love the neatly stacked spices and description of the quiet when leaving.

  5. It seems an interesting adventure you’ve had there…. For me this is natural as I am originally from Tunisia, and it’s almost the same as in Morroco… But it’s interesting to see the point of view of a foreigner travelling in the kind of country I know…. Thanks for sharing with us

    1. Our time in Morocco was just that – an interesting adventure! I knew that for our night market experience I just wanted to write a step-by-step occurrence of all that happened to give people a real feel for what it would be like. Interesting to hear it is quite similar to Tunisia, I hope to make it there someday too!

    1. Yes, I couldn’t handle much more then that either, even with Pete. I think he got tired of me clutching on to him so furiously as we walked the streets (especially to avoid the snakes!) LOVED your post on your experience – such vivid descriptions!

  6. Ciao Dalene and Pete, I’m the father of the “snake boy” you referred to in your post, we are currently in the countryside of Tuscany, quite a different environment to where we last saw you in Morrocco. Your post brings back fond memories of the “Madness of the Marrakech Medina” and the peace and tranquility of Riad Linda. Looking forward to hearing about your camel trekking experience.

    1. Martin! So nice to hear from you! Yes, thanks to your family for that inspired piece in our story! Glad to hear all is well in Tuscany, hope the weather isn’t too rough for you. 🙂 Our camel trek was such an awesome experience, posts on that coming up shortly! Give our best to your family please. 🙂

  7. Wow that sounds crazy and amazing at the same time… I love the pictures! It remembers me a little of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul but more hectic and bigger!

  8. Wow…All the information I need to navigate a Moroccan market and a fantastic pick-up line to try on my wife later on tonight!
    Possibly your most educational post ever!

      1. You’re welcome, Dalene.
        Can’t wait to see what you’ll cover today. And what photos you’ll have to sneak to take. Hahaha!!
        I smiled when I read that ’cause I’ve done that so many times, especially if I think they might say no if I asked.

  9. Though the market looks busy, it looks clean and tidy. I understand why you were avoiding the snake persons. I enjoy watching them in the distance but I am not a big fan up close since I don’t want to take chances as well. The things they are selling in the market sounds interesting especially the food. I like the shots you have taken and they look delicious.

    1. Thanks Donna! Yes, they were fairly clean and tidy. And even though we went to stall 100 (as a recommendation), I think most of the stalls would have done fine, they all do look quite clean with fresh food. And the food was so good!

  10. Talk about sensory overload! What a fun experience. I’ve only been to Tangier and Asilah, but am really interested in heading to Marrakesh.

  11. I love how the lights made the market attractive. I prefer visiting there at night as well. It is cooler and less dusty. I love the photos of the selection of food. They are just how I remembered them.

    1. It was COLD at night this time of year! But still the best time to visit the markets – it just comes alive, and the lights do add to the atmosphere.

  12. Really enjoyed your description of Jemaa el Fna at night – I was there a couple of months ago and it is a total assault on the senses.

    There is a real energy about the place. I was pleased to see that not everything was put on just for the benefit of visitors (street theatre, musicians etc). It’s one of those places that you really have to experience.

    1. I agree Jack, although it does seem fairly touristy at times, the energy and atmosphere still just have to be experienced. I really loved it (minus the snakes).

  13. I understand the fear of having a snake placed around your neck. Too bad about the leering men. The market itself sounds exciting, and the riad delightful.

    1. Of course I am sure I was greatly overreacting, but I know I would have screamed like a school girl and put on quite a show. We normally walked quite a wide berth of the medina to stay away from that, but to eat there we had to risk going right through it! Still worth it though! 🙂

    1. The food was really, really good. And the night markets are definitely worth experiencing – although I have to say that our one visit was probably enough!

  14. Great post! I had an experience of such snake madness whilst in a busy market in India. The result was a very un-ladylike barrage of loud swearing!
    Snakes aside, Marrakech looks amazing. I’d love to visit one day.
    All the best 🙂

  15. I can’t believe they’ll put a snake around your shoulders and then make you pay to remove it! That’s just… wow. In those types of situations I never pay out of principle, but having a live snake on you ups the ante….

    1. They do get AWFULLY exhausting. Especially when having to be on alert for creepers like snakes. If it wasn’t for that, I think we would have gone down every night.

  16. I’ve heard about Morocco and these night markets for so long, I really can’t wait to go someday. Love the neatly stacked spices and description of the quiet when leaving.

  17. Now you got me thinking… Snakes around my neck? God no! We are supposed to book our flight to Marrakesh tonight! Do these snake guys act during the day to? I’m having second thoughts.

    1. Laura, they are easy to avoid. If you just make a wide berth around the market you will easily avoid them. When in the market, just keep a lookout for them. I don’t think they will do it if they could see you would be freaked out by it.

  18. You seems to have fun there and morocco are hiding a lot of thing and surprise there, like small street with local and market! I loved it

  19. On the strength of your blog (but I guess mostly because a goal is better than none!) we headed to Stall 100 in the market – and really loved it 🙂

    1. Yay!! So glad you loved it! There are so many stalls there, I am sure that the vast majority of them are good. But, like you, we went to stall 100 just because someone said so. 🙂

  20. I know it’s very different but somehow this night market reminds me a little bit of the ones we went to in South East Asia, in Taiwan or Thailand for instance. I loved them not so much for the amount of uncooked meat and fish on display that sometimes smelt too much for me, but for the colours, the people walking around, the hustle and bustle of the whole thing.
    The story about the snake scared me though, I touched and held a huge snake ones, but that didn’t help me to get rid of my uneasiness around them, I still have plenty of work to do 🙂

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