Arriving in Marrakech: View of the High Atlas Mountains

Marrakech Airport: the best insider tips for a relaxed arrival

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. Arriv­ing from any­where else in the world will be no dif­fer­ence, except for the flight dura­tion. Espe­cial­ly if you arrive late in the evening and real­ly just want to go to your hotel, it is reas­sur­ing to know what to expect and how to deal with unfore­seen events.

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. When land­ing, 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 to be one of the most beau­ti­ful in the world by insid­ers. 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, which gives you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to feel the moroc­can sun.

Arriving in Marrakech: Marrakech-Ménara International Airport
Mar­rakech-Ménara Inter­na­tion­al Airport

You can smell it as soon as you get off the plane: Mar­rakech, so for­eign, so spicy, so dif­fer­ent. Africa! 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 get rid of your thick win­ter jack­et as soon as pos­si­ble. If you are lucky, it is 20 degrees more than back home.

Arriving in Marrakech: View of the airport
Arriv­ing in Mar­rakech: View of the airport

The passport control

There’s no dawdling when you dis­em­bark: through the ter­mi­nal you first go upstairs, then down­stairs (there are also ele­va­tors), 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 valid pass­port, an iden­ti­ty card is not accept­ed. You can find cur­rent entry reg­u­la­tions on your coun­try’s for­eign affair min­istry website.

Until the end of 2019, an entry doc­u­ment still had to be filled out, but here, too, dig­i­ti­za­tion is mak­ing its way in every aspect of life and there­fore 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 you’re lucky, the whole pro­ce­dure can be done in five minutes. 

Please note: each trav­el­er must approach the pass­port con­trol indi­vid­u­al­ly. Fam­i­lies should split up, chil­dren over 16 should approach the cus­toms offi­cers at the check­point alone. There­fore, we always send our teenage chil­dren to pass­port con­trol first, so that we are still with them in case any ques­tions arise. If you are already through immi­gra­tion before your child, some­times secu­ri­ty per­son­nel will ask you to leave the area and of course you don’t want to do that if your kids haven’t offi­cial­ly entered yet. Pass­port con­trol takes quite a long time, which by the way is not due to the Moroc­can cus­toms offi­cers, but to the slow com­put­er system.

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 cab­in lug­gage. Those wait­ing for their lug­gage can expect 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. This depends on how many planes arrive at the same time.

Time to take care of oth­er things: in this area of the ter­mi­nal, apart from bag­gage claim, there are also (clean!) toi­lets, phone card providers and cur­ren­cy exchange offices.

Arriving in Marrakech: Inside the airport
An unusu­al sight: the almost emp­ty bag­gage claim hall

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 instant­ly online. Nor­mal­ly the cards cost 10 euros for enough giga­bytes for a week’s vaca­tion and usu­al­ly 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.

Arrival in Marrakech: Money Exchange

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. Most cred­it card com­pa­nies charge a fixed amount for a with­draw­al, so you should check before using the ATMs. Nor­mal­ly you can only with­draw 2.000 Dirhams, which is rough­ly about 200 Euros, but they let you with­draw mul­ti­ple times a day.

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

Arriving in Marrakech: Marrakech-Ménara International Airport
Dri­vers are wait­ing for their guests

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.

Arriving in Marrakech: Marrakech-Ménara International Airport
The cac­ti at the air­port set a nice tone for the days in Marrakech

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, turn­ing your arrival in Mar­rakech into an adven­ture with­in the first half hour.

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!

Affil­i­ate links: The links marked with an aster­isk (*) are affil­i­ate links. If you pur­chase through these links we will get a com­mis­sion from the ven­dor at no extra cost to you.

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