If you are traveling to Marrakesh, you may be wondering what to wear there, and understandably so. After all, Marrakech (yeah, it’s spelled both ways in English) is a big city in a desert, it’s in a Muslim country and it’s a major tourist area, so the confusion is understandable.
I’m no fashion expert, so I’ll leave the styles and brands to you, but I have been to Marrakesh twice and can certainly clear up some of the confusion and give you suggestions of what to wear to not feel out of place.
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Marrakesh Climate and Weather
First, let’s look at Marrakesh’s climate. It’s a desert, which means horribly hot in the summer and cold in the winter. My first visit to Marrakech was in late November and I did not bring enough warm clothes. I wore sweaters and a light winter coat. The sun warmed me up during the day, but once the sun went down it was cold and many places, especially restaurants and small riads, weren’t heated. So, if you are heading there in the winter be sure to bring lots of warm layers.
My second visit to Marrakechr was years later but just a month earlier, in October. What a difference! It was unseasonably hot and in the 90s every day. This time I wore dresses and capri pants and I sweated every day.
All this to say, make sure you see exactly what the weather forecast is before you travel to Marrakech in order to dress for the weather.
What do the locals wear in Marrakesh?
Morocco is a country with a lot of diversity linguistically, ethnically and in terms of dress. While Western clothes are becoming more and more common for younger people, it seems that most Moroccans, especially the older ones and in rural areas, still wear traditional clothing. That means a djellaba or kaftan-type robe for both men and women. Women usually wear a headscarf. Sandals are commonly worn but not flip-flops.
What should I wear in Marrakesh?
The answer is whatever you want, as long as you are still respecting the local culture. That generally means wearing something that covers your knees, chest and shoulders. Think t-shirts, not spaghetti strap tank tops and pants, not short shorts. This goes for both men and women. Except for young children, Moroccans rarely wear shorts.
Tight clothing is not common, and with the heat you’ll want flowing, breathable fabric. After all, there is a reason that desert cultures have dressed in robes for thousands of years. Billowy fabric protects from both the sun and the blowing sand.
For footgear you’ll want a good pair of shoes or sandals. The streets and sidewalks are often uneven and dirty, so plan on something that provides good arch support and also protects your head from anything unpleasant you might step in, like horse poop (It ain’t pretty but don’t say I didn’t warn you). Save the flip flops for the pool.
I’m obsessed with these slip-ons that are inexpensive, light and go with just about anything. When I’m walking all over a new city they still give me good arch support and protect my feet. Plus I can throw them in the washing machine if I’m desperate.
Do women tourists need to cover their heads in Morocco?
This is probably the biggest concern that women tourists have and the answer is no. In Marrakesh the majority of Moroccan women cover their heads, but tourists are not expected to. You are less likely to see younger women and women in urban areas using a hijab. The exception to this would be when visiting a mosque or place of worship, you should out of respect and usually are required to do so.
That being said, a scarf is a must-bring item when traveling to Marrakech, as in addition to letting you enter some places of worship, it can protect you from the sun, the sand and in the winter, the cold. Definitely pack at least one or plan to buy one at the market as you will have plenty of options to pick from.
Terms for head coverings are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Check out this video to learn the difference between a hijab, a burka, a chador and more. You may see a few very conservative women wearing a niqab, which is a veil that just leaves the eyes uncovered, but in Marrakesh you will mostly see hijabs.
Clothing for Going Out in Marrakesh
If you’re going to enjoy the nightlife in Marrakesh, you’ll likely be in the L’hivernage area which is mostly tourists and fancy hotels. Here if you dress up you can probably get away with showing a bit more skin, but still chose more conservative clothing that you normally would in other places.
Sun protection and at the pool
You’ll be glad you packed your sun hat when you see how strong the sun is even in the winter. Don’t forget high SPF sunscreen, especially if you’ll be enjoying the pool at your hotel. I love this sunscreen that also protects your skin from aging.
Speaking of the pool, it’s acceptable to wear any normal bathing suit but maybe leave your string bikini at home and bring a cover up to walk to your hotel room. Don’t parade around in your swimsuit outside of the pool area like you would at Miami Beach.
Bags and Money Belts for Marrakech
When in the crowds of the Medina or Jemaa el-Fna Square, it’s important to keep any valuables safe. Leave any fancy jewelry or expensive sunglasses at home. A cross-body bag is always a good choice, as it prevents would-be thieves from grabbing your bag and running. Make sure it has a zipper closure.
If you are traveling solo, never keep all of your money and credit cards in one place. This little pouch that clips to your bra has been a game changer for me. I don’t even feel it, but I know that I’ll have a card and a bit of cash if anything ever happens to my purse.
I’m not usually concerned about having my passport stolen, but if you are then a good option would be a large money belt or waist wallet that fits under your pants.
If you just need to hide a bit of emergency cash, a normal belt with a hidden pocket is your best bet.
Overall, don’t stress about what to wear in Marrakesh. Take more conservative clothing and a variety of layers, and you’ll be fine. Have a wonderful trip!