Marrakech in Winter – 8 reasons to visit

Visiting Marrakech in winter, Morocco
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Should you visit Marrakech in Winter?

UPDATED November 2021

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 London, or maybe even Scotland? Nope. We were heading off for some winter sun somewhere a little more exotic. Morocco to be precise (surprise surprise). We were off to see whether visiting Marrakech in winter was a good idea.

Marrakech in winter - Djemaa el Fna

Marrakech in winter is about locals, not tourists

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 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, even in winter! So what’s not to love about travelling to Morocco in January.

Read More: 25 Top Instagrammable Places in Morocco

The benefits of visiting Marrakech in winter:

1. Prices are Lower

It goes without saying that prices drop along with the temperature during winter in Marrakech and off-season bargains are around every corner. Hotels and riads in the city and further afield are keen to attract customers and drop their rates accordingly, and room upgrades are much more frequent since there is more availability. On our trip this time we stayed at the luxurious Riad Assakina in the old Jewish Quarter of the medina, and had the entire riad almost to ourselves. It was like having a private house all to ourselves for the price of a single room. Bargain! Read about our stay here

Cheap Marrakech Riads

Marrakech in winter - Almohad Suite, luxury Marrakech Riad Assakina

Our sumptuous Almohad Suite at Riad Assakina

2. It’s Still Really Warm

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 in the UK. When we visited in January temperatures were around 20 degrees C during the day, which is perfect for strolling the medina without dripping with sweat like you do from April to November. If you visit Marrakech in December or February the temperatures will be very similar to what we experienced in January. 

We still wore t-shirts and shorts for sightseeing during the day, and occasionally pulled on a lightweight sweater or shawl in the evenings when it got a little cooler over dinner. 

Marrakech in winter - My favourite spot on the roof terrace at luxury Marrakech Riad Assakina

On the roof terrace enjoying the views of Marrakech

3. Clear Blue Skies

As you’ll so often find in destinations around the world, skies in winter can actually be much clearer and bluer than in summer, and the same can be true of 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. 

Tipping in Morocco - Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech

The Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech

4. Cosy Riad Nights

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 in 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.

Read More: Best Affordable Luxury Riads in Marrakech

Marrakech in winter - The Salon at luxury Marrakech Riad Assakina

Opulent and cosy – the gorgeous salon at Riad Assakina

5. You’ll have the Place (Almost) to Yourselves

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 love visiting 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!

Marrakech in winter - the Grand Balcon of Cafe Glacier

Our favourite cafe on the Djemaa el Fna was almost deserted!

6. You’ll Experience 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.

Read More: Scams in Marrakech and How to Avoid Them

Marrakech in winter - Djemaa el Fna

Being able to stand in the Djemaa el Fna and not be hassled – brilliant!

7. The Sunsets are Incredible

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!

Winter in Marrakech - the best light for sunsets

Winter in Marrakech – the best light for photography

8. Travel is Easy

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. At other times of year 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 1000’s of people to pass through!

Marrakech in winter - a deserted Menara airport

Usually we have to sit on the floor as Marrakech Menara is so crowded.

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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Why you should visit Marrakech in winter


  • Sana says:

    Just found your article on Pinterest (years later lol) and I totally agree, I’d say Winter and Spring (flowers/fields in bloom) are the best time to visit (except for the holidays/NYE, it’s PACKED). I’m going back there almost every year and I try to avoid summertime as much as possible (sadly it’s the most convenient for me).

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the views on the snowy Atlas mountains! The skies are so much bluer in the winter compared to summer so you can see the mountains very clearly. Day trips around Marrakech are a must as well.

    Thanks for embracing the culture (and the madness of the Medina), I imagine it can be overwhelming for tourists sometimes.

    • Heather Cole says:

      Hi Sana, thanks for your comment, and you’re right, the snow-capped peaks should definitely be on there, they are so beautiful against the blue skies! I’m happy to hear you visit as often as you can, it’s such a lovely city, and we can’t wait to go back soon, medina madness and all. Happy travels!

  • Pamela Harpur says:

    Hi Heather. We are a family of 4 (kids are 13 and 15) heading to Marrakech for the first time in mid February 2019. We only have a week and are planning on staying in Marrakech for 4 or 5 days and then taking off for a couple of days. Any recommendations??

    Not sure if the desert would be too cold and/or too far for such a short visit. Would be a treat to see some big dunes. Otherwise, we would love to stay away from the city and rest in a hotel with a heated outdoor pool as the kids really want to feel like they are on a sun holiday!!!!!
    Fingers crossed the weather will be warm(ish)!!
    Thanks for all your advise

    • Heather Cole says:

      Hi Pamela, feb is a great time of year for the desert, and if you have a week to play with, I’d say go for it, great thing to do with kids! You can do an overnight from Marrakech, but we suggest stopping half way in the Ouarzazate area to break up the journey (and take a look at the film studios and Ait Ben Haddou). Recommend ‘Wild Morocco’ who do great trips to the desert. Look at this post to help you decide which dunes to visit: And then spend a couple of days in Marrakech at either side of the trip, some of our favourite riads here: Away from the city we’re just back from the Capaldi Hotel…beautiful, peaceful, and the smaller pool is heated. Non-heated pools will be freezing that time of year.

  • Victorine says:

    Just booked for Late December til early Jan! New Year! Reading this I’m even more excited now!!!

  • Ibrahim says:

    in marrakech we have only 2 season summer and winter 😉

  • Jane M says:

    Sounds great. So glad my husband and I are headed to Morocco next week!

    Jane M

  • Kristy says:

    Love your photo with fewer tourist on the background! I guess I’ll travel during winter there. Less queuing means more time to travel. Haha.

  • I last visited Morocco on the edge of winter and spring. It was just starting to get busy with travelers. I bet winter is an amazing time of the year to visit.

  • Laura says:

    With the great weather they have in Marrakech, it’s a wonder the place is not packed in winter.

  • Rachel Ward says:

    Why have I not thought of Morocco as a winter sun destination before? We’ve been looking for somewhere not too far away but warm, but didn’t want to do the Canaries…this looks perfect!

  • I totally agree with you. I did it last time in december 2015. It was incredible warm (26 °C) and I had a good experience with a cooking class at the Amal Womens Training Center.

  • Frank says:

    Good points and beautiful photos. I’d be curious about going back one of these day these days..we’re not beach people and 20C actually the perfect weather for visiting a place. And we don’t enjoy the tourist hordes either so off-season sounds like a good time!
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Heather Cole says:

      We don’t do beaches either (which is why we’re off to Brazil for 2 weeks of beaches this month, erm…) and hate the intense heat so this was perfect! Sure you’d prefer it in the winter too!

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