Morocco is a mysterious land of exotic treasures, incredible scenery, and captivating historical jewels. For good reason, it is also one of the top destinations in the world for shopping. Here you can purchase extraordinarily beautiful, high-quality treasures of a faraway land to decorate your home and adorn your wardrobe.
You’ll find everything your heart could dream of, from Moroccan rugs to leather handbags, embellished cushions and silver lanterns to traditional African jewelry, hand-painted pottery to delectable sweets and spices. Local artisans have perfected specialized artforms from woodwork to metal carving to creating musical instruments, as their skill sets are passed through numerous generations, with an eclectic assortment of cultures from local Bedouin to Arabic, French to Portuguese.
Navigating the souks and alleyways evokes an era of an ancient world, with beautiful architecture around one corner, aromatic spices on the next. Bargaining is a crucial and well-polished skill one must learn (with the help of an expert guide) in order to capture the best deals. What better way to infuse culture, delicious food, intricate architecture, and outdoor adventures into a shopping trip (or vice-versa!) than with a journey to the mystical lands of Morocco.
What Treasures Await?
Rugs and Carpets
The most prized purchase for many travelers is the Moroccan rug; an intricately woven design taking weeks or months to produce on traditional handlooms. Patterns reflect the region they originate, and colors are often from natural dyes of saffron, henna, and indigo. These are investment pieces, so negotiating can take time and is best done over a cup of mint tea. Ask about the design and history of the piece as each has its own story. Then, negotiate. Best locations to purchase: You’ll find the widest range in Marrakech, Fes, and Essaouira. However, rugs are found in almost every city and many patterns are specific to different regions. If you find a piece you love, buy it, you may not find it again.
Blankets, Throws, and Cushions
Similar to woven floor rugs, the details in the design of Moroccan textiles are intricate and beautiful. We’ve completely fallen in love with Moroccan wedding blankets; white cotton blankets adorned with fringing, silver sequins and ornamental pieces. These pieces are made in small mountain villages to give to women on their wedding day. Best locations to purchase: You’ll find the widest range in Marrakech, Fes, and Essaouira, however, you can purchase in any city.
Handbags, shoes, and slippers (babouches), poufs, book covers and more, hand-dyed in a variety of natural colors. Leather products are often hand engraved with intricate patterns and made using camel, cow, sheep or goat skin. The price will depend upon the quality and amount of work involved, and your expert guide is on hand to help you best understand the differences. Purchase from a shop specializing only in leather, to know where your piece has been made. Best locations to purchase: Fes is the leather capital, where you can visit the tanneries to see the dying process and learn the details of how each piece is made. Also look in Marrakech, Essaouira, and Chefchaouen.
Metal Lanterns and Lamps
Intricately embossed lanterns, lamps, and teapots made of copper, silver, and aluminum, often with stained glass elements fill the laneways of the souks. Sauntering the shops you can observe metalsmiths detailing their creations, an art form handed down through the generations from father to son. Lighting illuminates the hand-embossed designs beautifully. Best locations to purchase: Found widely across the country, with Marrakech having the largest range of choice.
Jewelry has cultural significance and valued items are traditionally passed down through the Moroccan family tree. In the deep Sahara, jewelry is even used as a protective amulet. You’ll find silver necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets, tribal neckpieces covering shoulder to shoulder and African headdresses. Designs feature hand-embossed patterns or adornment with semi-precious stones such as turquoise, amber, red coral, lapis lazuli, gold, wood inlay, and even antique silver coins. Larger pieces are elaborate enough to showcase as an ornamental centerpiece of a room. Best locations to purchase: Essaouira is widely known for its silversmiths, and has a unique co-operative employing skilled deaf and blind workers. Jewelry can be found in most cities, including Marrakech, Fes, Rabat, Tangier, and Chefchaouen.
As you meander the local souks, you’ll discover hundreds of types of pottery and ceramics. Plates, cups, bowls and traditional conical tagines in a variety of sizes, colors, and patterns. Beautiful hand-painted designs make a great gift or addition to the home decor. If you wish to use your items for cooking, make sure the pottery has been double baked for extra durability. Best locations to purchase: Fes, Meknes and Morocco’s pottery capital of Safi.
Moroccan Argan Oil
Famous as a ‘holy grail’ beauty product, Argan oil (commonly known as Moroccan oil) is used in cooking, cosmetics, for skin treatments and most popularly as a natural moisturizer for hair and skin. Buy it straight from the source (at a third of the price!). Best locations to purchase: Argan trees grow in the south, near Essaouira. We will take you to an argan co-operative to meet the women who process the oil by hand, learning their ancient technique and purchasing directly from the source.
Spices, Dates, and Desserts
For any lover of food, the array of spices in Morocco is exciting and provocative. Cumin, saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, coriander and an endless array of herbs. Aromatic, authentic and delicious, a few spices should be tucked into your bag to take home. As you meander the souks, you’ll also discover walnuts and dates, the perfect snack to keep you going through your day. For those with a sweet tooth, sneak over to a local bakery for a taste of Moroccan pastries. When traditional Arabic influence mixes with French expertise, you know these are some of the best in the world. At $1-$2 apiece, you may walk out with an entire box. You can thank us later.
Everything Else Your Heart Could Desire
From perfume and cosmetics, to woven straw bags and hand woven clothing, Morocco is a shopping haven, waiting to be discovered…
Mastering the Art of Bargaining
To get a great price, you need to work for it. Bargaining is culturally expected, and shop owners have years of experience with hundreds of tricks up their sleeve! Here are our tips on getting the best deals:
- Take local cash for the best bargaining power. Only high-end boutique stores take card
- Ask around to determine average prices between shops, then decide how much the piece is worth to you. Shop owners usually offer a price more than double what they will settle on, so your counteroffer should be at least half of theirs
- If you love something, play it cool. Don’t show too much interest in an item and let the shop owner work for the deal. If they won’t budge, be prepared to walk away (or pretend to), they will often come back with a lower price
- Smile, joke and have fun! Shop owners are more receptive to friendly buyers
- If you are unsure of a piece and wish to keep searching, take their business card. It can be impossible to find one stall in the middle of a hundred alleyways
- Be gracious. If you really love something, it may be worth paying a few dollars more to have a unique treasure you’ll never get elsewhere
- Our expert guides are with you to provide advice on high quality from low, what is a suitable price to pay, and how to help you negotiate
Big Souks or Small Berber Villages
The busy cities of Marrakech, Fes, and Essaouira provide a vast array of goods and are best if you have a list of items to purchase as you’ll find almost anything you desire (and a few things you didn’t need) here. Do also take time for the small villages and quaint local alleyways. Here, shop owners have more time to while away, so you can sit and chat over a cup of mint tea, learning about their lives as you negotiate a purchase. The goods may not be luxurious quality and there may not be as many options to choose from, but we guarantee the story that comes with each piece is memorable and something you will treasure for many years.
The Aftermath, or, Mint Tea on Rooftops
You’ve got two hands full of purchases, your head is spinning with overwhelm and stimulation, it’s been a big day. Our recommendation? Head to a scenic rooftop overlooking the city for a cup of mint tea, coffee, or your preferred beverage as the sun sets and the Call To Prayer echoes in waves across the city. You’ll instantly feel revived again, ready to head back into the medina or indulge in a delicious dinner as you melt contentedly into the Moroccan night. The perfect ending to an exhilarating day out.
Guided Shopping Tours
Whether you wish for a full day of shopping in Marrakech’s souks or desire week-long trip pivoting around shopping, we have expert guides who can navigate the souks with their eyes closed, train you in expert bargaining skills and show you exactly where to get that perfect Moroccan rug.
At Rothschild Safaris, our specialty is to infuse your journey with authentic culture, incredible sights and unique experiences. A trip to Morocco is a wholehearted adventure, encompassing every sense and emotion, remaining with you for years to come.