Product, souk, and advice shopping in Morocco

Shopping in Morocco: Advice

Shopping in Morocco is a popular cultural activity that offers a chance to explore the nation and its artisans. Even if you’re not a fan of shopping, the vibrant colors, enticing scents, and beautiful atmosphere of the souks will capture your attention. The country’s artisans make it a haven for shopping, and you’ll find unique items that you won’t see anywhere else. Our guide to “excellent, nice, and cheap” shopping in Morocco will help you find the best souks to visit and the must-have items to buy. Additionally, we’ll provide you with tips on how to bargain so that you can get the best deals.

Although department stores have made it possible to purchase anything from anywhere in the world, Morocco stands out for its rich local craftsmanship and unique, beautifully decorated items that are not commonly found in our home countries, or at least not at the same price. 

What to shop in Morocco?

Morocco is known for its impressive selection of unique and unusual handicrafts. The country has a rich culture and a strong tradition of skilled artisans, whose crafts contribute significantly to the economy. You can find many artisan cooperatives, small shops and workshops where you can witness the expertise of these artists. Moroccan merchants are also known for their persuasive negotiation skills, and the country’s spices and colorful pieces are a feast for the senses. Exploring the souks filled with artifacts, trinkets, antiquities, and other items is an experience not to be missed, even if you don’t plan to purchase anything. It’s easy to get lost for hours observing the sights, sounds, and smells of Morocco’s vibrant markets.

1. Shoes and leather

Leather is a widely used material that is commonly used to make different types of leather goods. It is usually crafted by hand, using hides from goats or camels. You can find leather handbags, purses, backpacks, jackets, and pants in various sizes. The main features of this material are its quality and durability. For a truly unique souvenir, consider traditional babouches.

2. Berber carpet

Morocco is famous for its handicrafts, including carpets which are a true treasure in the souks. The vibrant Berber garments cannot be missed when visiting Morocco. These garments are hand-woven and the Berber kilims are a magnificent example of such carpets. These carpets come in diverse sizes and materials and the price varies depending on the validity and complexity of the design. I recommend purchasing in small Berber settlements in the Atlas Mountains, if possible. These carpets are typically manufactured by women during the winter when working in the fields and earning a living from agriculture is impossible. By buying one, you’ll be helping a family’s livelihood and adding value to this beautiful art.

3. Jewelleries

One of my favorite features is the variety of Arab and Berber jewelry that you can find during your shopping in the medina of Marrakech. You can choose from necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and more. Berber silver jewelry is highly recommended for its quality and uniqueness. However, keep in mind that bargaining skills are necessary to get a fair price. Additionally, consider the weight of the ornament you wish to purchase before making a decision.

4. Argan oil

Discover the beauty of Morocco’s argan oil, which is considered one of the country’s greatest treasures. It is a natural substance made by crushing the seeds of the Argan Spinosa tree, which primarily grows in the southwestern part of the country. Morocco has a long tradition of cultivating and producing argan oil, making it an ideal location to purchase it. Argan oil has a wide range of applications in cosmetics, medicine, and cuisine. Remember to ensure that the product is of high quality and certified by AMIGHA, the Moroccan Association of Geographical Indication of Argan Oil. Essaouira is quickly becoming a popular destination for buyers.

5. Spices

Spices are a significant part of Moroccan culture and cuisine. You can find high-quality spices in all medinas, displayed in vibrant and colorful arrangements. These spices are not only affordable, but also easy to transport. Ras El Hanout – a combination of cardamom, nutmeg, star anise, saffron, pepper, and sometimes ginger – forms the base of many traditional Moroccan dishes and is one of the available spice blends for purchase.

6. Ceramics

Ceramics are a popular item in the souks, providing a variety of colors to choose from. If you plan to purchase them, it’s important to wrap them carefully to avoid any damage during shipment. Fes’s Medina is a well-known location for pottery and decorative pieces, offering a wide selection of plates, bowls, cups, and other unique items to choose from.

7. Metals

If you’re looking for some exquisite Moroccan artifacts, you can’t miss the fascinating art of metal etching! From stunningly decorated teapots and platters to beautiful jewelry pieces, the art of etched metals has been a part of the Moroccan culture for centuries. What makes these artifacts truly special is that they are all hand-engraved, making each piece unique and timeless. You can find these treasures in Fes’ medina, but be careful not to fall for the machine-engraved ones! To make sure you get the best of the best, keep your eyes peeled for those “pigs in a poke” deals and add some authentic Moroccan beauty to your collection.

8. Djellaba

A coat with a pointed hood is a classic piece of clothing. It can be adorned with embroidered or printed patterns. Wearing this type of clothing in Morocco can help you take highly colorful photographs and stay safe on the streets at night. More than half of the locals dress in this style, which makes it easier to blend in. Prices for this type of coat start at $15. But if you want a version made from premium fabrics that resembles an evening gown, it will cost significantly more.

9. Oriental cookware

Did you know that Aladdin “lived” in North Africa, somewhere between Tunisia and Morocco, according to scientists? You can find a variety of items inspired by Arabian legends there such as trays, classic teapots with long curled spouts, jugs, copper cups, lampshades, and more. If you’re interested in purchasing souvenirs, a teapot for two people costs $10, while traditional ceramic cooking tools like a tajine can be quite useful. 

Moroccan households and restaurateurs use tajines to cook meat with nuts and veggies. Tajines are made of ceramic and are available in marketplaces and retailers. The plain unpainted models are perfect for cooking meat, while the painted ones are more decorative. A true ceramic tajine without colors keeps the flavor and aroma of the vegetables from fading and moisture from evaporating, making it perfect for cooking delicious, tender meat according to a Moroccan recipe. The locals believe that the older the tajine, the better the dish it produces. A new tajine costs around $5, while special ones can cost over $1,000.

10. Wine

Tourists in this country can purchase wine, despite the anti-alcohol legislation in place. The wine departments of major supermarket chains have been relocated away from the main sales area. Specialized wine stores and Carrefour wine departments offer a wide variety of wines to choose from. Bringing “gray wine” (Gris) from Morocco is a good idea as it is solely produced there. Although the technology used to produce Gris is comparable to that of Pinot Grigio, there are some differences. A nice bottle of Gris wine costs 70 DH.

11. Honey and Cactus seed oil

Cactus seed oil is a natural and soft oil that is good for all skin types and ages, making it an ideal oil for home usage. Cactus seed oil is exceedingly expensive and not readily available to the public due to its relatively low production capacity, which requires 3 million seeds to extract 1 liter of oil. The majority of cactus seed oil brands on the market were developed in Morocco and are primarily sold in Europe and the United States. Honey is a specialty of the Moroccan Atlas Mountains and is made from a variety of stamens, resulting in a range of colors. Because Morocco is rich in orange tree honey, it is advised to purchase honey from the pistil of an orange tree or the pistil of a date palm.

12. Rose essential oil

Moroccan rose oil, also known as the “queen of essential oils,” is a highly valued oil that requires between 3000 to 5000 kg of roses to produce just 1 kg of refined oil. Unlike regular roses, Moroccan roses are larger and more vibrant in color. The oil itself has a light yellow color and a pleasant aroma. When heated to hand temperature, it can transform back into a liquid form after forming a thin layer of bright rose wax crystals on its surface at low temperatures.

Moroccan rose oil can be added to a variety of personal care products such as cleansers, creams, eye creams, masks, body washes, or shampoos. It’s known for its ability to help with sleep, provide headache relief, lift the mood, and release tension and other negative emotions. Additionally, it has a firming effect on the skin and can help soothe inflammation, contraction of the microvasculature, swelling, and other skin problems.

Each region has its specialties

When traveling to different cities, you can find handicraft complexes where you can buy handicrafts at reasonable prices without compromising on the quality. However, it is common for sellers to label their products as “handcrafted” to justify a higher price. As a tourist, you should inspect items carefully without revealing your true purchasing intentions. For instance, feel the texture of the leather to determine whether it is of good quality or not. This way, the seller will know that you are an informed buyer who is looking for a good deal.

How to Bargain in Morocco

Bargaining in Morocco is a popular activity that requires humor, wit, subtlety, cunning, patience, and a cool head. You can spend more than 10 minutes haggling over an item worth only 20 euros, but if the product is worth more than 60 euros, don’t be afraid to negotiate. It is customary to be invited for a cup of tea during the bargaining process. As a general rule, don’t show too much interest in the item you want to buy.

Instead, browse other merchandise and never reveal the price you’re willing to pay or appear to have a lot of money. In Morocco, haggling has become a tourist attraction in its own right. It adds to the hospitality of the Moroccan people and maintains the country’s reputation as an affordable destination. However, some people are skeptical about this type of commerce, particularly those who end up paying four times the price of an item in one store compared to three other stores.

Bargaining Tips

◾Divide the first price asked by the merchant by two, or even by three, until a fair price is found.

◾Do not converse with the vendor for an extended period of time without purchasing anything.

◾Do not back out of an arrangement; doing so might be quite upsetting to the merchant.

◾Keep smiling at all times

◾Bargaining is not a death match with the merchant, it should be a subtle means of weaving a social bond.

◾Never be overly enthusiastic about an item since you’ll end up paying far more than it’s worth.

◾To show that prices are known to some extent.

◾Never claim that it is significantly less expensive than in Europe.

◾If you wish to buy without bargaining, it is feasible to do so, in artisan cooperatives, and in stores that show “set prices”. You won’t be ripped off there, but don’t expect to find the best deal of the century either.

Legal Constraints

In every country, there are certain restrictions on the export of valuable items such as works of art, antiques, and fossils. In addition, some animal species are protected by laws. It is highly recommended that you do not purchase animals like turtles or geckos as it not only diminishes their chances of survival outside their natural habitat but also contributes to the gradual extinction of these species.

Shopping in Morocco's main souks

If you are planning to go shopping in Morocco, the souk of Marrakech is a must-visit destination. It is situated in the Medina and comprises a vast network of streets where vendors are organized based on the products they sell. You shouldn’t miss the spice souk or the dyers, where you can see a wide variety of vibrantly colored skins hanging out to dry. To avoid the crowds, it is recommended to visit the souk first thing in the morning.

To fully enjoy your visit to the Fes souk, it’s recommended that you come prepared with all necessary supplies. This is because the souk has over 7,000 lanes that are divided into various sub-zoos with different names, such as Henna (cosmetics), Attarine (spices), Bellarine (wood), and Chemainne (nuts). You shouldn’t miss visiting Chouwara’s tanners district, which is known for its breathtaking views. You’ll be amazed to see pits full of natural colors and the hard work of the leather workers. If you can tolerate the strong smell, you can even buy some leather products from there.

Shopping in Morocco's northern souks

Tangier’s Great Souk is the heart of the city’s medina, combining the old and new architecture. It has an abundance of vendors and cafes, with Mendoubia Gardens located near Grand Socco Square for those seeking a peaceful escape from the shopping bustle. Tetouan’s souk is a traditional marketplace, while Chefchaouen’s souk is famous for its blue-colored buildings. Meknes’ Souk boasts a main street covered in wooden beams. In Essaouira, the Pearl of the Atlantic, you can also find a thriving souk. As they say, “Variety is the spice of life,” and Morocco is a perfect example of this.

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By starting with our travel blog on Morocco, you can discover the most significant Moroccan facts and traits. On our blog, women can find out more information on traveling to Morocco. The travel company Vacations In Morocco offers travel blogs from Fes, Marrakech, Casablanca, and many other locations.