Shopping in Morocco for souvenirs - lanterns on a blue wall
MOROCCO

Shopping in Morocco – 9 Unique Souvenirs To Bring Home With You

By on 06/05/2019

If you enjoy shopping and bringing home something that will remind you of your travels, you are going to love Morocco. Shopping in Morocco is a must for any visitor to this fascinating country – the browsing, the negotiating, and the feeling that you’ve come away with a bargain are all part of the experience. It’s also a great way to contribute to the local economy by supporting local businesses and producers, so don’t be shy – put your haggling hat on and bag yourself some awesome Morocco souvenirs!

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The Basics of Shopping in Morocco

There are a couple of things you need to know before you venture shopping in Morocco in order to come away with a bargain.

Carpet shop in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Where to shop

The vast majority of the shopping in Morocco happens in the souks or markets. These are normally located within the old city walls or medina.

Money

Cash is king. Only a few vendors accept credit cards, so make sure you have enough cash with you. The local currency is the Moroccan Dirham (Dhs), and at the time of writing (May 19) 10 Dhs are approximately $1 USD. Prices below will be given in both Dhs and USD.

Prices and negotiating

There is a chance that you won’t know whether a price is fair or overinflated, so here are a couple of tips to set you on the right foot. Scout several shops beforehand to get a feel what sort of prices vendors are quoting. Bear in mind that shops closer to main squares and tourist attractions will quote higher prices, so try and find shops in side alleys that get less tourist traffic for a better chance for a bargain.

Haggling or negotiating is part of the process of shopping in Morocco. The prices first quoted by vendors are deliberately inflated so you will be expected to haggle for a reduction. I personally love haggling, but I realise that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I always recommend offering back half of the money quoted. I know it sounds harsh, but don’t worry, you will be eventually raising your offer as the vendor lowers the original price.

Souk in Marrakech with blankets over an arch

A good tactic is to walk away or pretend to walk away and they will most likely call you back to continue the negotiation. Have a number in mind of the maximum amount you’d like to spend and have fun trying to stay below that number. Most vendors have a great sense of humour and like to have fun in the haggling process. Some may even invite you to sit down for a cup of tea. If you are serious about buying, go ahead and accept the invitation. But if you are only browsing, feel free to reject the invitation and don’t waste vendors’ time. You may also come across vendors who may be rude and pretend to be offended by your counteroffer. Don’t be scared to walk away and move on to another shop.

Finally, note that some shops will have signs that read ‘Fixed Price’. If you see this sign, don’t try and negotiate to avoid offence.

9 Unique Morocco souvenirs to bring home

Basket Bags

By Teresa from Brogan Abroad

Shopping in Morocco for basket bags

Boho style is the trend at the moment, and Morocco is the perfect place to pick up those super cute basket bags you see on Instagram and magazines. There are so many designs that you will actually have trouble choosing the right one, so there is a risk that you may end up with several bags.

You will find bags of all shapes and sizes, with colourful and neutral designs. Some of them can even be personalised for you with embroidery, pompoms or tassels. The selection of basket bags seems to be limitless. If you find yourself in Marrakech, head to the souk near the Cafe de Epices where you can get a large bag for about 100 Dhs (~$10 USD).

You can also find here baskets for the home that can be used as decorations, laundry baskets and other accessories.

Lanterns

By James Ian from Travel Collecting

Lanterns are typical souvenirs from Morocco

There are so many incredible things to buy in Morocco that you can easily spend days wandering the souks of Marrakech, Fes and Meknes. One of my absolute favourite things, however, is the lanterns. Many are embossed with hundreds of tiny holes, making a spectacular glow in the dark. The owners of the tiny shops that specialize in them will plug a light in so that you can see the effect of the light gleaming through the holes. They come in all shapes and sizes; some hang whilst others are freestanding. I totally fell in love with a metal and glass standing lamp and after some bargaining, it now sits on a side table in my living room.  

Quality varies, and if you look closely, you can see the difference between something that is quite simple or is made with thin material that bends easily, and better-quality lanterns with superior materials and more intricate and adept artisanship. Obviously, this affects the price. I got my small lamp for about 200 Dhs (~$20 USD) in the souks in Meknes, but they are common in Marrakech and Fes too. 

Argan Oil

By Daisy Li from Beyond My Border

Argan oil being ground in a grinding stone

During my one week trip around Morocco, I saw a number of products that were constantly at the centre of markets and bazaars. Once such product was argan oil. 

Native to Southwestern Morocco, the Argania plant has become a huge economic sector for the country. Extracting argan oil can be quite labour intensive. After the fruit ripens, the pulps have to be removed and the seeds are taken out to be roasted. Argan oil can be found throughout the many streets and medinas in Marrakech. Not only is it a great condiment for bread and pasta, but it also does wonders when added to your hair and skin-care routine. 

Traditionally, argan oil was extracted by hand, meaning that it was difficult to produce large quantities. In the early 2000s, a number of foreign investors built cold-pressing plants that took much of the profit away from Berber communities who relied on this source of economic income. Luckily, recent years has seen to NGO and governmental efforts in establishing argan oil cooperatives. These co-ops worked to give local women access to machinery and equipment that can compete with foreign products. Such measures are extremely important, as it helped bring profit back into the community. 

As with most commodities, the quality of the goods will determine its price. A bottle of high-quality oil can cost upwards of 200 Dhs (~ $20). Since they are sold in most stalls, it may be confusing trying to determine the best product. It’s always important to check for the colour, texture, and smell before purchasing!  

Leather Poufs

By Teresa from Brogan Abroad

Shopping in Morocco for leather pouffes

Leather poufs are a popular souvenir to buy in Morocco, as they are very easy to bring home. You will see them displayed fully stuffed so you can see what they actually look like, but you will be buying them without the stuffing, which works well for carrying it.

They are very popular home accessories, and you will find them back home in boho-style boutiquey shops. But of course, the price will be many times that of what you will pay for them in Morocco.

A leather pouf will cost between 150 Dhs and 300 Dhs (~$15-$30 USD) depending on the size and quality.

Leather Clothing

By Bella from Passports & Pixels

Shopping in Morocco for leather jackets

Leather clothes are everywhere in Morocco: gorgeous biker jackets in vibrant shades of blue and pink, edgy bomber jackets with studs and zips, slippers and shoes with straps and tassels, skirts, trousers, and belts galore.

You’ll see leather clothes on display everywhere you go – in the medina in Marrakech there’s an entire street just devoted to shoes! But without question the best place to buy leather clothes is directly from Chaouwara tannery inside Fes medina

Here, dozens of leather shops surround an open courtyard in which skins are cured and dyed using ancient methods. You’ll need to pass through one of the shops to see it (and hold your nose – it stinks!) but it’s truly a sight to behold and well worth a visit.

If you’re not buying you may need to pay a small fee, but once you’re inside you’ll probably find the displays of stunning coats and jackets too much to resist. There are designs and colours you’ll simply never find on the high street, and if you haggle hard you’ll get them for half the price. When I visited Morocco earlier this year I bought a stunning buttery-soft bomber jacket that would have easily cost £300-400 (~$400-$530) in London, for just £150 (2,000 Dhs/~$200).

Tea

By Diana from The Elusive Family

Tea shop in Morocco

Tea is a way of life in Morocco. In every meal, and in between snacks and beverage is tea. Served in a beautiful teapot, usually made of metal, the teapot’s exquisite shape resembles that of a genie lamp. Tea is shared between family and friends for all occasions and just sitting with friends and family it is the beverage of choice. During our time in Marrakech, Morocco with our kids, we enjoyed tea multiple times a day with the locals. Teashops that sell loose leaf can be found in various shops in Morocco’s major cities. While exploring Marrakech, we saw that teashops tend to be filled floor to ceiling with loose-leaf tea, oils and spices.  

Green tea as well as Maghrebi mint tea are popular types of tea and served with most meals and snacks. Tea is usually served very sweet, with the sweetness level depending on the region.  It is best to ask in advance for tea without sugar. Tea is affordable and widely considered a staple of Moroccan culture.

Berber carpets

By Clemens from Travellers Archive

Bright colour carpets hanging on a wall

Berber carpets are the typical souvenir from any country in North Africa and the Sahara. We went hunting for a carpet in Morocco and found a very unique piece of art. Usually, the Berber carpets come in traditional and modern designs, which are only distinguished by the knotting patterns, dyes and the textures of the fabric. Actually, the history of those carpets goes back several millennia. Back in the days, tribes created their own carpets and used them as sign for their tribe.

Most of the people that come to Morocco to find their very own Berber carpets are usually shocked about the prices of these sometimes quite little pieces. However, an original Berber carpet is made by hand and, thus, needs a little investment. We got our through a shop seller in the soukh of Marrakech. He told us to come to his home village somewhere in the mountains – and so we did. We actually ended up in a true carpet village where we found our carpet made by a rather old woman who has been doing this for years and years.

As a tip for carpet hunters: Don’t take the very first one, but stroll around the market of Marrakech. Sometimes it is also helpful to get along well with the vendors who might bring you to the origin of their goods – which doesn’t only call for a good story, but also for a better price. 

Blankets from Chefchaouen

By Ellis from Backpack Adventures

Bright blue blanket with motifs

I am not a person that buys a lot of souvenirs and most of the time I walk right past all the vendors selling magnets, key chains and t-shirts. Chefchaouen caught my attention though with its colourful woollen blankets that I hadn’t seen anywhere else in Morocco.

Chefchaouen is in fact famous for its hand woven wool items that are dyed in bright colours. The deep blue blankets were my favourite and you will see that in many hotels and restaurants they use them for decoration. Needless to say that I loved them so much that I bought one. 

Almost all souvenir shops sell the blankets although the quality varies and I doubt that they are all handmade. Regardless, Chefchaouen blankets make a great souvenir and mine has its proud place at home on my sofa. If blankets aren’t your thing, they also sell shawls and lanterns from the same material that make great gifts for yourself or people back home. 

Thuya Wood Boxes from Essaouria

By Ania from The Travelling Twins

Wooden boxes and Morocco souvenirs in wicker baskets

Morocco is the perfect place to buy souvenirs, and each city specialises in different crafts. In Essaouira the most popular souvenirs are wooden jewellery boxes made out of polished Thuya wood, often inlaid with bone, mother of pearl, aluminium wire or other woods.

Thuya is a shrub indigenous to Morocco, it grows around Essaouira hence the local craft. You can buy beautifully made boxes in every second souvenir shop in the Medina. Their price and the quality of finishes vary. The cheapest may be as little as 10 Dhs ($1) the ones more carefully crafted cost 70-80 Dhs (~$7-$8) and above that, you can pay whatever you can afford.

The most interesting are perhaps the magic boxes – at first there seems to be no way to open them until you know the secret. There are many designs, perhaps you have to slide out some secret slip of wood, or with others it is just the way you will hold it before pulling the whole thing apart. With a third type, there is a metal key, but the key itself is hidden in a secret compartment.

For our girls and us, going from stall to stall and trying to open different magic boxes was one of the happiest things to do in Essaouira.

Rose Water and Rose Oil

By Abbie Synan from Speck on the Globe

Hand holding rose flowers

Fragrant festivals welcome spring in the Dades Valley of Morocco. This region in Morocco is known for its flowers and in particular, its roses. Products like rose water and rose oil are perfect souvenirs that you’ll enjoy long after your vacation.

The cost of rose oil can vary drastically depending on what you are looking for. A high price does not always mean higher quality, although with purer rose oil it can be expensive. A large number of flowers are used for a small amount of oil; 10,000 roses make 5ml of pure oil! Asking if the oil is extracted or distilled will give you an idea about price you should pay. Distilled is usually more expensive, but an extracted oil can often have a stronger scent. Personal preference comes into play when purchasing perfumes. You can find these types of oils in any local market or often at a spice shop. 

This flower goes far beyond a Valentine’s Day bouquet. Rose is wonderful for your skin. The oil can be used not only as a perfume, but also as aromatherapy. Visit Morocco in May and you can plan a trip to the Valley of Roses Festival in this section of the Atlas Mountains. 

Morocco Souvenirs Online

If you have forgotten to buy something in Morocco, there are a few options on Amazon so you can have them shipped directly to your home. Here are a few examples:

Planning your trip to Morocco

Ready for your Moroccan adventure? Use this travel toolkit

Have you ever done any shopping in Morocco? What did you buy?
Let me know in the comments!


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1 Comment
  1. Reply

    Olivia Dejeu

    11/05/2019

    How much I love shopping and how much I love these Moroccan souvenirs <3 Did you buy a berber carpet? 🙂

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HI, I'M TERESA!

Hi! I’m Teresa, a London-based traveller on a mission to explore the world through deeper travel and more meaningful local experiences. I’m a lover of adventure, the outdoors and everything food related, and I’m always looking for ways to make a positive impact through responsible and sustainable travel. I’d love to inspire you to do the same, so come along for the ride!

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