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Should you visit Marrakech in Winter?
UPDATED September 2023
Thinking of visiting Marrakech in winter but wondering how cold it is in Morocco at this time of year? We often travel to Marrakech in December, January and February, usually for a long weekend to escape the icy clutches of the frozen UK. While the Marrakech weather in winter is certainly cooler than during the summer (which is no bad thing!), it still makes for a great destination for those seeking a bit of sun and adventure.
Travelling to Marrakech in winter makes a lot of sense. Especially if you’re looking for cheap accommodation, blue skies, and fewer crowds. If you’re not going with the express intention of topping up the tan and lounging by the pool, then winter holidays in Marrakech tick all the boxes and then some!
Of course, a weekend in North Africa might seem more than a little bonkers to some, yet it really does make sense. The flights are often cheaper than a train ticket to London, and often not much longer! You get a lot more for your money over in Marrakech than here in the UK, and it’s sunny, even in winter! So what’s not to love about travelling to Morocco in December or January?
This travel guide spills the beans on all you need to know about visiting Marrakech in winter.
1. Marrakech weather in winter
Why winter is a good time to visit Marrakech: a Morocco winter is far warmer than a European or American one, so come for the sun!
We’re often asked is Marrakech cold in winter? And our answer is always “well, that depends where you’re coming from”. Sure, Morocco winter temperatures drop between November and March. Yet for those of us hailing from Europe or the United States, the Marrakech weather during the winter feels positively warm in comparison to what we’ve left behind.
Perhaps a better question would be is Marrakech warm in winter? In a nutshell, it’s a resounding yes!
How cold does Marrakech get in winter?
Although many of the locals will be 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 in the UK. So, just how cold is Morocco in winter?
The average daytime temperature in Marrakech during the winter months is around 20˚C – sometimes it gets even hotter. We celebrate such numbers here in the UK, and that’s in summer! This is the perfect temperature for strolling the medina without dripping with sweat like you do from April to October.
Come sunset, however, the weather for Marrakech is a different story. It can be as cold as 5˚C at night, so you’ll need to consider the cooler evenings when packing.
Clear blue skies
As you so often find in destinations around the world, skies in winter can be much clearer and bluer than in summer, and the same is true in Marrakech. Winter is a great time for seeing the sights with an Instagram-worthy backdrop, no photo-shopping required!
It also means you can get up later to catch the sunrise than you’d have to in summer.
Marrakech December weather
Is Marrakech worth visiting in December? Absolutely, if you’re not looking for scorching winter sun. November heralds the start of the cooler low season period, with December firmly establishing itself as the bringer of typical winter Marrakech weather. December tends to be a little warmer than January and February, and you can probably even sunbathe on sunny afternoons.
There is one thing to consider when visiting Marrakech in December. Weather patterns do sometimes include a bit of rain, although we’ve been lucky and never experienced it ourselves. Usually, this is in the form of short, sharp showers but prolonged periods of rain aren’t unheard of.
Still wondering is December a good time to visit Morocco? You’ll just have to go and see for yourself!
Marrakech weather in January
The January weather in Marrakech is much like December and is generally seen as the coldest month. This is when the rains are at their height, but still nothing much to worry about. It doesn’t take long for the blue skies to return after a downpour. The Atlas Mountains may now be snowcapped – this makes a glorious sight from the rooftops of many Marrakech riads and hotels.
Marrakech January weather sees evening temperatures plummet rapidly, so if you’re doing a bit of sightseeing, it’s best to carry a warm top in case you end up staying out longer than anticipated.
Marrakech weather in February
Marrakech winter temperatures remain relatively low during February, although towards the end of the month, the days slowly begin to get a bit longer in terms of daylight. This is one of the coldest and wettest months of the year for Marrakech, although it still beats a dreary winter day in the UK.
Days remain warm enough for sightseeing without a jacket most of the time, and the nights are just made for cosy evenings in by the fire.
Weather in Marrakech in March
March weather in Marrakech is pretty similar to February, but temperatures are starting to climb. April can often be pretty hot, so if you’re not a massive fan of the heat and don’t mind a bit of grey sky, then March can be a great time to be visiting Marrakech.
Read More: 25 Instagrammable Places in Morocco
2. Marrakech winter wear
Why winter is a good time to visit Marrakech: you don’t need to pack the winter woollies, just take a couple of warm tops for the cooler evenings.
Wondering what to wear in Marrakech in December, January or February? Packing for a Moroccan winter can be a little confusing. The instinct is to take plenty of cold weather gear, with chunky knits, jackets and maybe even a pair of gloves. Yet even though Marrakech winter weather isn’t as sizzling as it is during the summer, it’s still a lot warmer than in Europe, and sometimes can feel almost tropical in comparison!
Basically, days are warm, and nights are cold, so you’ll need to pack accordingly.
What to pack for Marrakech in winter
Deciding on your Marrakech winter wear is quite straightforward. For the day, summer clothing will do the job, whether that’s maxi dresses, shorts, shirts or even kaftans if you’ve been shopping in the souks. Sunglasses are still a must, and you might even need your sunscreen!
Then for the evenings, take a jumper or jacket to keep the chill off when you’re out and about. A poncho or shawl works too if you want to keep it stylish.
Just bear in mind that it can rain in Marrakech in the winter. Taking an umbrella or light raincoat will keep you dry, but it’s your feet that you need to be thinking about. The medina passageways are dirt rather than paved, so long periods of rain do turn parched earth into muddy alleys. It’s a good idea to take a pair of comfy trainers and leave the glittery sandals for lounging around in your riad.
Swimming in Marrakech in winter
One final thing to note, if you’re wondering can you sunbathe in Marrakech in December? Unless you’re coming from a really cold country, you won’t find the winter temperature in Morocco quite warm enough for sun loungers and outdoor swimming.
Sure, there can be a few hotter days when taking an al fresco tip is totally doable, but most people will prefer to go sightseeing rather than splash around in the pool. However, some hotels and riads have heated pools (see below) so it’s worth packing your bikinis and swim shorts just in case.
READ MORE: What to wear in Morocco
3. Where to stay in Marrakech in winter
Why winter is a good time to visit Marrakech: hotel prices drop between November and March so there are plenty of bargains to be had.
Hotel prices drop in winter
Prices drop along with the temperature during winter in Marrakech and off-season bargains are around every corner. Hotels and riads in the city are keen to attract customers and drop their rates accordingly, and room upgrades are much more frequent since there is greater availability.
There are fewer visitors too, so sometimes you might even end up having an entire riad to yourselves. We often travel to Marrakech in winter and have had this happen several times, with room upgrades just sweetening the deal. It’s like having a private house and staff team all to yourselves for the price of a single room. Bargain!
Cosy winter nights in medina riads
One of the beauties of Marrakech riad design is that these inward-facing dwellings are perfect for both hot and cold conditions. The thick adobe walls keep heat in and out, regulating the temperature so that you’re always comfortable.
In winter, many riads have fires on the go for that homely feel. So you know you’ll be warm, even with the cooler December weather in Marrakech.
As the temperature does drop during the night in Marrakech winters, it’s the ultimate excuse to finally make the most of those cosy riad spaces which are pretty but never used in summer. The roaring fires, the snuggly cushions and the romantic little hidey-holes now come into their own.
READ MORE: Affordable luxury riads in Marrakech
Hotels with heated pools in Marrakech
While the Marrakech temperature in December isn’t always conducive to a traditional pool holiday in the sun, all is not lost. If having a swimming pool is a key part of your holiday, then these Marrakech hotels with heated pools will keep that relaxed summer vibe alive.
One thing to note – riad pools tend to be small, and most are more suitable for taking a dip rather than swimming lengths. If you’re taking the plunge for exercise, one of the Palmeraie hotels will be best.
La Maison Arabe Hotel and Spa – this sumptuous riad-hotel offers opulence without pretention, and is one of our favourite places to stay in Marrakech. The romantic pool is heated in winter and the Moroccan food is the best in town.
Riad Hikaya – this medina riad boasts a rooftop terrace with a jacuzzi, as well as a decent-sized heated courtyard pool. It’s in the Kasbah district and near to lots of sights.
Riad Kheirredine – one of the larger medina riads, this luxurious hideaway is known for its multiple patios and terraces, as well as the heated pool and Atlas Mountain views.
Palmeraie and Out-of-Town Hotels
Les Deux Tours – one of the Palmeraie’s best offerings, this boutique hotel blends traditional Moroccan design with upscale restaurants and bars.
Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa – as you’d expect from a well-known international brand, this contemporary hotel comes with all the holiday trimmings you’ll need. Including a heated pool.
Movenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi – this 5* hotel in the Hivernage district is a popular choice if you’re looking for a comfortable resort not far from the action.
Hotels with hammams in Marrakech
If you’re feeling the cold and want to get some warmth back into your bones, then enjoying a traditional Moroccan hammam will do the trick. Many Marrakech hotels and riads have their own hammams, making the whole experience easy and relaxing.
Riad Kaiss – this 16th-century riad is full of zellij tiling and earthy walls – it was once a harem for one of the sultan’s concubines! The hammam offers a range of treatments including massages.
Riad Farnatchi – if you’re after a traditional hammam experience, this attractive guest house in the heart of the city does just the job.
Riyad El Cadi – this affordable riad is simple yet stylish, with a sunny roof terrace and vast guest rooms, the likes of which are rarely seen in Marrakech.
4. Visiting Marrakech at Christmas
Why Christmas is a good time to visit Marrakech: what’s not to love about sunshine over Christmas?
Thinking of visiting Marrakech at Christmas? If you want to escape the commercial festivities back home and switch snow for sun, then the Red City is a good option. The temperatures in Marrakech in December are a far cry from the frost and icicles that are usually associated with the big day, and for many, that’s a good thing.
If you’re planning on spending Christmas in Marrakech, remember that Morocco is a Muslim country, so December 25th doesn’t really feature on the calendar here. Having said that, many of the city hotels put on festive entertainment as well as lavish decorations around the Christmas period.
Want an over-the-top Christmas experience with all the festive trappings you could dream of? Then head to the Royal Mansour Hotel and fill your boots. It’s a splurge, but it’s worth it! Christmas trees and decorations also adorn the hallways of La Mamounia, which was a favourite with Winston Churchill. This is the place to go for seasonal sweet treats and indulgent feasting. Stay for New Year to prolong the celebrations.
READ MORE: Best restaurants in Marrakech
5. See Marrakech without the crowds
Why winter is a good time to visit Marrakech: you’ll probably have entire palaces to yourself!
We’re not ones for sharing. Whether it’s our chocolates, our germs, or our secrets. And that goes for our holidays too! We’d much prefer to have places to ourselves and hate nothing more than jostling elbow to elbow with a bunch of other tourists all fighting to get to the same place.
Which is why we love visiting Marrakech in winter. Whilst the city is by no means deserted during this period, the people that you encounter will be mainly locals, and you’ll often have entire museums and attractions pretty much to yourself. A virtually private visit to a palace? Don’t mind if you do!
6. Things to do in Marrakech in winter
Why winter is a good time to visit Marrakech: there are plenty of indoor things to do if it rains.
One of the joys of visiting Marrakech in winter is being able to check out the top tourist attractions without sharing them with hundreds of other people. Pretty much everything you can do in summer, you can do in winter too, whether that’s exploring the main square or haggling away in the souks.
Here are a few of our favourite Marrakech things to do in winter:
- Take a cooking class and learn how to cook a tagine
- Enjoy mint tea and pizza at a café overlooking Djemaa el-Fna
- Tuck into local delicacies at the night market
- Go Christmas shopping in the souks
- Stroll the elegant halls and check out the architecture at the Bahia Palace
- Avoid the rain with a visit to the Maison de la Photographie
READ MORE: Fun things to do in Marrakech
7. Experience less hassle than during the summer
Why winter is a good time to visit Marrakech: browse the souks without feeling the pressure to buy.
Now we 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 visit and understand how it can put many people off. If this is you, then visit Marrakech in winter.
During the low season, souk stall holders spend their days chatting with neighbours, playing draughts and sharing mint tea, not even batting an eye when potential buyers wander 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. Maybe the Marrakech temperature in winter has something to do with it – in summer things can get quite heated!
On our winter trips, we’re almost disappointed that no-one tries to fleece us for some exquisitely but hideously decorated Man United babouches, or some natural viagra to spice up those cosy riad nights. Visiting Marrakech in December is a whole different experience to exploring during peak season, and if it’s your first time, you’ll get to gently ease yourself into the way of life here!
READ MORE: Scams in Marrakech and how to avoid them
8. Photography is better in winter
Why winter is a good time to visit Marrakech: you don’t need to get up early or stay up late for the best light.
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. Marrakech in winter is a dream for anyone interested in photography!
9. Enjoy smoother transport logistics
Why winter is a good time to visit Marrakech: shorter airport queues make a huge difference when it comes to getting your holiday off to a good start.
Maybe we’ve just been lucky, but when we visit Marrakech in winter we tend to sail through our entire door-to-door journey with no holds ups and pretty much no queueing. This might not sound like a big deal, but anyone who has flown into Marrakech Menara airport will know it’s the absolute pits in terms of speed, and not geared up for the volume of travellers it receives.
When visiting Morocco at other times of year, we’ve often had to stand in airport queues for nearly three hours just to get through immigration. There is never enough staff behind the counter, and those that are there seem disinterested and enjoy taking forever over every single passport stamp. We timed it one summer. The average was about seven minutes per person, which is one helluva long time when there are only eight officials and thousands of people to pass through!
There’s also very little seating inside Marrakech Menara airport, so during summer visits we usually end up having to sit on the floor whilst waiting for our flight. This is not the case in winter!
10. Get out of town
If you want to explore beyond Marrakech, there are plenty of fun options for a longer winter holiday. Day trips are possible, but for these adventures below you’ll want to put a few nights aside.
Ride camels in the Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert offers camel rides and nomadic camping amongst the dunes for romantic nights under the stars. You can choose between Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga, both of which have rustic as well as luxury bivouacs plus a whole host of desert activities.
Winter is actually the best time to enjoy a desert tour, as temperatures are cooler during the day. Nights are very cold, so wrapping up warm in the evenings will be key.
READ MORE: Erg Chebbi v Erg Chigaga
Go skiing in Oukaïmeden
Did you know that you can go skiing in Morocco? The winter resort at Oukaïmeden is superbly situated in the Toubkal massif in the High Atlas Mountains. There are several slopes of varying grades to choose from, including beginner runs and a few black pistes too. You can stay overnight in one of the hotels of you fancy exploring for a few days. Facilities are more basic than what you’d expect in Europe or the US, but they provide everything you need.
So, there you have it. Really, why would you not travel to Marrakech in winter? We’re totally hooked and hope you will soon be too!
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