The souks (markets) of Morocco are a favourite attraction and may be found in every town and village. Every city is home to a souk labyrinth (a street or square dedicated to a single craft), and large cities such as Fez and Marrakesh have them as well. Weekday souks are found in the countryside, where they take place on a different day in every village of the region.
When purchasing souvenirs in Morocco, you should consider how you will transport them home, and you should be aware of shopkeepers' statements that something is 'very old,' especially if they are selling phoney merchandise (abundant) or imitation fossils and antiquities.
Some villages are named after their market days, so it’s easy to see when they’re held.
The souk days are:
Souk el Had – Sunday (literally, “first market”)
Souk el Tnine – Monday market
Souk el Tleta – Tuesday market
Souk el Arba – Wednesday market
Souk el Khamees – Thursday market
Souk es Sebt – Saturday market
There are very few village markets on Friday (el Jemaa – the “assembly”, when the main prayers are held in the mosques), and even in the cities, souks are largely closed on Friday mornings and very subdued for the rest of the day.
In the morning before the souk day, people travel from all across the region to the village souk, but the souk itself usually ends before noon and people disperse in the afternoon. You should therefore arrive by mid-morning at the latest.
The quality of Moroccan crafts is excellent, but it's hard to find them. It's always a good idea to get as close to the source of goods as possible and avoid tourist areas. For example, Tangier, Casablanca, and Agadir are all poor choices, as they don't have their workshops. Marrakesh and Fez, on the other hand, offer a wide range but are pricey. In Fez and Marrakesh, goods are produced in different parts of the Medina, from ironwork to furniture to sandals to musical instruments. Countryside jewellery and carpets are often imported, and each region has its style and technique.
Shopping in a large city, you will have a lot of options, but there is a distinctive pleasure in seeking down the souvenir you desire until you see the artisans at work making it. Visiting craft museums is a good way to get a grasp on quality and standards: there are worthwhile ones in Fez, Meknes, Tangier, Rabat, and Marrakesh.
Saffron yellow, cochineal red, and antimony black are among the colourful carpets produced in Morocco. Contemporary carpets are usually manufactured with man-made dyes, but they are inspired by natural dyes. Hand-knotted carpets are the most expensive, but kilims (travelling rugs) are also available. It's not cheap to buy a knotted carpet, with prices ranging from €1500 in Fez and Rabat, but you can purchase kilims and rugs for €50 to €70 that are of higher quality and design. Most kilims are produced in Berber areas in the High and Middle Atlas Mountains, and the most intriguing ones are generally produced there. You can discover a large number of kilims in Marrakesh, but if you want to get them, head to Midelt or Azrou's weekly markets and other villages in the region to find them. Maison Berbère shops in Ouarzazate, Tinerhir, and Rissani are also good places to look for rugs, but one of the best ways to get a carpet is to simply stroll through the villages or parts of cities where rugs are produced, listen for the sound of a loom in operation, and ask the weaver if they have any rugs for sale.
Tetouan and Chefchaouen, near the Rif Mountains, are good places to buy Berber blankets (fourths or couverture). These blankets are colourful and imaginative, and they are often quite striking because of the bands of red and black.
Despite its crudeness, pottery is often colourful (and occasionally multicoloured). Chefchaouen and Fez, both of which manufacture pottery primarily for the tourist business, are two cities that make blue-and-white pottery in particular. Safi's domestic pottery, which is produced in a variety of colours, is also worth seeing, particularly its colourful plates, tajines, and garden pots. Safi tajines are pleasing to look at, but those made by Oulja pottery in Salé, near Rabat, in plain red-brown earthenware are the most practical.
While they are somewhat ostentatious in design, gold jewellery is rather popular in Morocco. There are some wonderful Berber necklaces and bracelets to be found in the south, made up of bold combinations of semiprecious (and sometimes plastic) stones and beads. People in the Atlas and Souss Valley regions in particular often wear hefty silver bracelets, belts embellished with old silver coins, and heavy necklaces with large amber, coral, and carnelian beads. Silver brooches are used to fasten garments, and the symbols found in Moroccan jewellery such as the 'hand of Fatima' and the five-pointed star safeguard against the evil eye. Souks in Essaouira, Marrakesh, and Tiznit are especially well-stocked with jewellery.
There is a large centre for marquetry in Essaouira, where you can see truly old inlaid tables and shelves. The most exportable items are boxes, which are made from cedar or thuya wood inlaid with orange-tree wood and other light-coloured woods to make trays, chess and backgammon sets, and even plates and bowls. You may visit the workshops where they are made.
There are also souks in Fez, Meknes, Tetouan, and Marrakesh that specialize in woodworking, producing everything from furniture to chests, sculptures, and kitchen utensils such as the little citrus wood ladles used to eat harira soup.
It is simple to purchase Moroccan clothes, and even though Westerners who wear jellabas (a kind of outer garment) made of cotton or wool look a little silly in the street, they make good nightgowns. Some of the cloth for sale is exquisite in itself, and walking through the dyers' souks is an inspiration. Marrakesh in particular has sumptuous gowns, kaftans, pandoras (sleeveless kaftans), and tunics for women to buy. Men are more likely to be enticed by brightly coloured knitted caps, and inexpensive multicoloured silk scarves are also available. Even ordinary jackets and trousers are usually sold at bargain prices in the souks.
Morocco leather is renowned for its soft, luxurious feel. You can see the tanneries in towns like Fes, Marrakesh, and Taroudant cure it in person. From belts to book covers, Morocco's finest-known leather goods are babouches or slippers. Babouches, particularly open-heeled classic babouches, are extremely comfortable and are available in yellow, white, red, and occasionally grey or black; a good pair can cost between €5 and €25, depending on quality. Marrakesh and Tafraoute are particularly good places to buy babouches.
On the roadsides throughout Morocco, you will discover a wide assortment of semiprecious stones for sale. Amethyst and quartz, if you are fortunate enough to locate them, are frequently aggressively hawked and offered at bargain prices. If you are not cautious, all those glitters might not be real. By rubbing a stone and wetting it, you might notice traces of dye on your fingers.
Some Moroccan meal products would be difficult to find in your country and would make excellent souvenirs or gifts (unless your nation's customs allow their importation). So Valley olive oil is produced locally and provides sweet argan oil, among other things. There are numerous olive varieties in addition to almonds, walnuts, and spices, especially saffron from Taliouine and Ras el Hanout. It is a jar of lemons preserved in brine that you may want to experiment with if you want to make a tajine at home.
There are no strict rules when buying anything other than groceries; rather, you should pay whatever something is worth to you. However, there are a few general pointers to keep in mind.
First, The initial prices are just a way to test your limits; don’t think that you must pay a specific percentage of the first asking price. Some sellers start near their lowest price, while others will accept as little as a tenth of the initial price.
Second, Determine in advance a price that you are willing to pay, as well as a maximum amount that you will not exceed. If the shopkeeper's minimum and your maximum do not match, you do not have a deal, but it is fine.
Third, Be certain you are prepared to pay the figure before uttering it—and avoid bargaining for anything you have no desire to purchase—or you may end up creating bad feelings.
Fourth, If you are buying a rug or any other significant item, you will most likely want to take your time and sit down over tea with the vendor. You'll discuss anything besides the rug and the cost of two cups of tea. You may want to have a friend with you who seems less invested in the purchase than you do, in case negotiations are not going well.
Fifth, It's fine if you are paying more than local people; it doesn't mean you've been "ripped off." Although your earning power is much higher than that of most Moroccans, it's rather mean to force vendors to their lowest possible price just to spite them.
Finally, It is best to avoid using guides or hustlers when shopping. A hustler will likely lure you into a store and then pressure you into buying something, all while charging you a commission