Here you can find out everything you need to know about your arrival in Marrakech. Getting there from Europe is straightforward, but with a few insider tips you can make the trip more relaxed. Especially if you arrive late in the evening and really just want to go to the hotel, it is reassuring to know what to expect.
Between 1 to 4 hours flight time from Europe and you are in Marrakech, the red city. It is easy to see where this name comes from during the landing approach. All shades of earthy reds dominate the picture, peppered with occasional olive groves. Then the airport comes into view and the anticipation of the next few days takes on a solid form.
One of the most beautiful terminals in the world
The terminal of the international airport with the euphonious name Marrakech-Ménara (abbreviation RAK), newly opened in 2014, is considered by insiders to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Up to 5 million passengers are handled here annually. However, before you can admire the successful combination of modern, airy architecture and traditional Arabic elements, you usually have to take a short walk across the tarmac.
You can smell it as soon as you get off the plane: Marrakech, so foreign, so spicy, so different. Also usually so much warmer than at home. If you got on a plane early in the morning in Europe in winter, you now want to quickly get rid of your thick winter jacket. If you are lucky, it is 20 degrees more than back home.
The passport control
There’s no dawdling when you disembark: through the terminal you first go upstairs, then downstairs, and then it’s time to queue: passport control is the first hurdle on your arrival in Marrakech. Important: Entry into Morocco from Europe is only allowed with a passport valid for at least 6 months, an identity card is not accepted.
Until the end of 2019, an entry document still had to be filled out, but here, too, digitization is making its way in and so the cumbersome procedure has been somewhat alleviated. However, it can still happen that you have to wait in line for an hour until you finally get the necessary stamps in your passport. If it’s quick, the whole thing can be done in five minutes. After that, please do not put the passport away yet — at the exit of the passport control they will check again that each passport actually contains a stamp.
Continue to baggage claim
Those who have passed passport control in a few minutes may now wait for their suitcases. Good for those who have only hand luggage. Those waiting for luggage can expect it to be at least half an hour from the time they get off the plane until the first bags are handed out, more likely longer. Time to take care of other things: in this area of the terminal, apart from baggage claim, there are also toilets, phone card providers and exchange offices.
A good idea: buy a Moroccan phone card
If you want to have internet reception outside the hotel, you can buy a SIM card from a Moroccan phone company here. Morocco, by the way, is much better supplied with a nationwide LTE network than some European countries. You can even expect to have excellent reception in the middle of the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Since it is easy to get lost in Marrakech, I can only advise everyone to buy such a card. This means that you can no longer be reached by calling your phone number, but you can be reached via Messenger service.
The employees of the telephone companies install the card right away and you are online. Usually the cards cost 10 euros for enough gigabytes for a week’s vacation and of course you can also pay in euros, because Moroccans are savvy people.
Not a good idea: Changing money at the airport
The Moroccan currency is called Dirham (MAD) and is not a freely convertible currency. This means that you can’t exchange Dirhams at a bank outside of Morocco. So when you arrive in Marrakech, you will need to make arrangements to exchange Dirhams. When you leave, you will need to exchange any remaining balance back, as Dirhams may not be exported.
However, I would advise caution concerning the exchange offices at the airport. The rates are rather unfavorable for the traveler and in the city there are exchange offices with cheaper rates as well as ATMs where you can withdraw money via credit card.
If you do want to change money at the airport, do not accept a card to which your credit is loaded. On the one hand, these cards cost a basic fee, and on the other hand, you can only use them to pay in large restaurants or hotels, but not at the small merchants in the souk. In addition, you have no idea of how much money is still on the card. And if there is still credit on the card at the end of the stay, the refund also costs another fee.
If you need money for a taxi or bus, change only a small amount and make sure you get small banknotes. The taxi driver will certainly not be able to give out on large amounts. It is customary to pay the taxi driver appropriately and not expect change. The tourist taxis sometimes accept Euros, but you should clarify this in advance.
When you stay with us at Riad Selouane, you can exchange your money in the exchange office just around the corner and our manager will be happy to accompany you if you need help. ATMs are also available a short distance away.
Control once again
After you have received your luggage, you will have to wait in line one more time — even if you are only traveling with hand luggage. Your luggage will be checked and scanned and you will be advised that drones cannot be imported into the Kingdom of Morocco without a permit. Then you come out of the airport building through the large arrivals hall and land in a large crowd.
Finally out of the airport
At this place, drivers wait for their guests to take them to their hotels, tour groups are received and family members greet their relatives from Europe. There is shouting, pushing, searching and finding. It’s not easy to keep track of everything, but by now at the latest you’ve arrived in the Moroccan hustle and bustle.
And how to get to the hotel now?
The easiest way is to have booked a transfer with your hotel in advance. Especially for your first stay or if you arrive in the evening, a pre-organized transfer will make your arrival in Marrakech much easier. A transfer usually costs around 15 € for 2 people and saves you the search for your accommodation in the maze of alleys of the medina, because you will be met at the edge of the old town by the hotel staff and accompanied to your accommodation.
If you want to arrive on your own, you can take a taxi, which are waiting in large numbers in front of the airport. Please do not expect the driver to know the riad you have booked in the old town — there are hundreds of riads in Marrakech and all are only accessible via foot. To get out of the taxi at a suitable place on the edge of the medina, you should know near which sight your hotel is located and indicate it to the driver as a destination. Usually you can ask your hotel for this information in advance.
As for taxis, there are two types: tourist transportation and petit taxis.
For a tourist transportation, usually a van with enough space for 4 people and luggage, you need to negotiate the price in advance. Here, too, the price is about 15 € per ride. The drivers are focused on tourists and usually speak English in addition to French.
Petit taxis, which are small vehicles with little space for luggage, have the taximeter turned on. These cabs are mainly used by locals and it may well be that the driver only speaks Arabic. You can get from the airport to the old town for about 5 €, depending on the traffic situation.
There is also the option of taking bus #19 to Jemaa el Fna Place and walking from there to the hotel.
If you have planned a round trip with a rental car, it is a good idea to rent the car not until after your stay in the medina, because there are almost no parking facilities. The car rental station is located in close proximity to the airport.
For more information how to get to Riad Selouane please visit How to find us.
You can conveniently book a transfer to another hotel via GetYourGuide* .
Marrakech airport is located just 6 kilometers outside the city. Usually you arrive at the hotel from the airport in about half an hour and can absorb the first impressions over a Moroccan mint tea.
Merhaba in Marrakech!
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