MARRAKECH - GETTING AROUND
Most of the sights in Marrakech are located in the section of town called The Medina, as well as the region immediately to the south. Those sights are spread out across an area of about three-fifths of a mile from west to east, and a mile from north to south. Much of this area is pedestrianized, meaning cars cannot pass through. A lot of these streets meander and you will spend a large portion of time walking the side streets, but considering how picturesque they are, that isn`t a bad prospect! Make sure you bring a good map of Marrakech that labels street names in both French and Arabic. Some street signs are labeled in French, but many are only identified on signage in Arabic, so a map is essential.By bus
Marrakech`s bus system is run by ALSA (www.alsa.ma, website in Arabic, French, English and Spanish), which operates 22 bus lines daily from roughly 6 a.m. to midnight. The highest-frequency lines run buses every 10 to 20 minutes; the slowest line runs buses once every hour. Bus lines do not run through the Medina, which means you will be walking to many things.
The line that would be of most use to tourists would be Line 19: Entree Aeroport - Jemaa el Fna. It runs through the airport, picks up at the airport and just outside the entrance, and stops at Menara Gardens, Menara Mall, Marrakech railway station (noted on timetables as Gare Train ONCF), and various luxury hotels before ending its route at the Jemaa el-Fna. Frequency on this route ranges between 20 minutes and 45 minutes, with the first bus leaving the airport at 6 a.m. and the last bus leaving Jemaa el-Fna at 11:30 p.m. The route takes approximately 25 minutes to complete with stops. Tickets cost 5 dh and can be bought on the bus as well as from vending machines at bus stops.
Taxis are split into two categories: red late model sedans (`petits taxis`, or little taxis) and Mercedes model sedan taxis (`grands taxis`, or big taxis). Marrakech is a popular tourist destination, so some taxi drivers take advantage of travelers who might not have all their bearings in an unfamiliar city. Some rules to know: Petits taxis are required to run the meter; if they refuse to turn the meter on, exit the taxi and find another one. Keep in mind that you may have to do this a few times before you will find a driver who will agree. The meter will be cheaper nearly every time, unless you are traveling to a nearby city, then it is acceptable to haggle on a base fare. Grands taxis do not have meters so a fare must be agreed upon before departure. For example, a sample fare for a grand taxi from the airport to the Jemaa el-Fna is about 150 dh. A petit taxi will cost about 50-60 dh. Grands taxis can hold six passengers and petits taxis hold three; in the case of petits taxis, if you are a single traveler or a couple, you will be joined by however many passengers is needed to fill the three seats. In that case, you will split your fare with the other passengers. The base fare in petits taxis is 7 dh, with that fare rising to 10 dh between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Fares in the city should not exceed 20 dh, while trips to the suburbs would cost 30-40 dh. A ride to La Palmeraie will cost at least 50 dh.
A warning: Have someone trustworthy call your taxis in the evenings, particularly if you will be visiting nightlife locations such as bars and nightclubs. The taxis waiting outside these locations tend to be shady and prey upon drunk tourists, hoping they can take the vulnerable visitors for as much money as they can feasibly get away with. Calling the dispatch office should ensure that the ride will be less risky.
One popular way for tourists to see the sights of Marrakech, including the areas of Gueliz and The Medina, is by a horse-drawn carriage called a caleche. Caleches can be hired from popular tourist areas such as the Jemaa el-Fna; they are also available for rental through the concierge desks of many hotels and riads. Expect to pay between 120 dh and 200 dh per hour of carriage hire. Few caleches travel all the way to La Palmeraie, but some of them do. Expect to pay 400 or 500 dh for that luxury.
A warning: Some caleche operators may request more money than what was agreed upon, when arriving at your destination. You can either pay the caleche operator what was agreed upon and leave, or say you are going to report the caleche driver (note any license number if possible) to the tourist brigade on the Jemaa el-Fna. They are hoping you will acquiesce and pay them more without a fuss. Stand your ground.
Out of all the cities in Morocco, Marrakech is perhaps most friendly for those who wish to ride a bicycle while on vacation. You can rent a road bike and explore The Medina, which is feasible and even entertaining, just as long as you buy a bike bell and use it when you need to clear the path ahead of pedestrians. You can also rent a mountain bike and explore the nearby Atlas Mountains, a choice that is very popular with tourists. You can rent a bike for 250 dh a day from AXS (www.argansports.com, website in English), or you can pick up a road bike via a government-supported bike sharing service called Medina Bike (www.medinabike.ma, website in French and English). A seven-day pass costs 150 dh, with overage fees of 10 dh per 30 minutes when riding the bike for more than three hours per day. Bike pickup/dropoff locations are located all the way from Gueliz to Agdal Gardens.
Driving is not recommended in Marrakech. If you do rent a car, keep in mind the following realities: The likelihood of having an accident is fairly high, in particular portions of The Medina where pedestrian-only rules are lifted after dark, and it is legal to drive vehicles without headlights at speeds up to 20 kph (12 mph). It isn`t very fast but fast enough where a fender-bender could occur. Also, parking is at a premium, and 10 dh at the very least should be allotted to the guard who watches the cars in his vicinity. He will be most likely be wearing a blue coat, and tipping should be done upon leaving. Don`t try to get out of tipping this person; refusing to tip the guard is just not done and will result in confrontation. Finally, note that if you rent a car during the TripMasters booking process, you will be picking up that car at Marrakech Menara Airport`s Terminal 2 arrivals hall, and not in the city.