Should you visit Marrakech in Winter?
It’s official. We’ve gone mad. At least that’s what many of our friends and family believed when we mentioned we were going away for the weekend in January. “Anywhere nice?” they asked. Perhaps the Cotswolds, or maybe even Scotland? Nope. We were heading off for some winter sun somewhere a little more exotic.
Morocco to be precise (surprise surprise).
Of course a weekend in North Africa might seem more than a little bonkers to some, yet it really does make sense. The flights were cheaper than a train ticket to London, and only about an hour longer! You get a lot more for your money over in Marrakech than here in the UK, and it’s sunny!
The benefits of visiting Marrakech in winter:
- Lower prices. It goes without saying that prices drop along with the temperature and off-season bargains are around every corner. Hotels and riads are keen to attract customers and drop their rates accordingly, and room upgrades are much more frequent since there is more availability. This trip we stayed at the luxurious Riad Assakina in the old Jewish Quarter of the medina, and had the entire riad almost to ourselves. Bargain! Read about our stay here.
- Warm temperatures. Although many of the locals were wrapped up in their winter djellabas, to those of us from colder climes it’s actually lovely and warm. Just like a summer’s day back here at home. When we visited in January temperatures were around 20 degrees C during the day, perfect for strolling the medina without dripping with sweat like you do from April to November.
- Cosy Arabian Nights. As the temperature does drop during the night, it’s the ultimate excuse to finally make the most of those cosy riad spaces which during summer are pretty but never used. The roaring fires, the snugly cushions and romantic little hidey-holes. Riads are designed to withstand the extremes of temperature, thus are cool in summer and cosy in winter. Genius.
- Peace and quiet. I’m not one for sharing. Whether it’s my chocolates, my germs, or my secrets. And that goes for my holidays too! I’d much prefer to have places to myself and hate nothing more than jostling elbow to elbow with a bunch of other tourists all fighting to get to the same place. So I absolutely loved Marrakech in winter. Whilst the city was by no means deserted, the people we saw were mainly local, and we loved having entire museums and attractions pretty much all to ourselves. A virtually private visit to a palace? Don’t mind if I do!
- Less hassle. Now hubbie and I don’t mind the hassle in Morocco. We’re used to it and have learned to love it. Yet we didn’t feel like that on our first ever visit, and understand how it can put many people off. If this is you, then visit Marrakech in winter. The souk stall holders spend their days chatting with neighbours and sharing mint tea, many hardly concerned by the presence of potential buyers wandering past. Some will give a half hearted pitch to your back as you carry on by, but most just seem to be waiting for the holiday season to kick in again when they can lure in their unsuspecting prey more easily. If anything, we were a little disappointed that no-one tried to fleece us for some exquisitely but hideously decorated Man United babouches, or some natural Viagra to spice up those cosy riad nights.
- Better sunsets. Winter light is much better for photography than during the summer, mainly because the angle of the sun is smaller which creates more texture and shadow. There is also the ‘magic’ hour around sunrise and sunset when sunlight passes through more atmosphere and filters out the harsher blue hues. A dream for anyone interested in photography!
- Easy travel. Maybe we were just lucky (it’s gotta happen some time!) but we sailed through our entire journey door to door with no holds ups and pretty much no queuing. This might not sound like a big deal, but anyone who has flown in to Marrakech Menara airport will know it’s the absolute pits, and not geared up for the volume of travellers it receives. We’ve often had to stand in 2.5 hour long queues just to get through immigration upon arrival. There is never enough staff behind the counter, and those that are there seem disinterested and enjoy taking forever over each and every single passport stamp. We timed it last summer. The average was about 7 minutes per person, which is one helluva long time when there are only 8 officials and 1000s of people to pass through!
So there you have it. Really, why would you not travel to Marrakech in winter? We’re totally hooked and don’t know why we haven’t done it sooner.
Would you visit Marrakech in winter?
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