Marrakech Airport: the best insider tips for a relaxed arrival

Here you can find out everything you need to know about your arrival in Marrakech. Getting there from Europe is straightforward, but with a few insider tips you can make the trip more relaxed. Arriving from anywhere else in the world will be no difference, except for the flight duration. Especially if you arrive late in the evening and really just want to go to your hotel, it is reassuring to know what to expect and how to deal with unforeseen events.

Between 1 to 4 hours flight time from Europe and you are in Marrakech, the red city. It is easy to see where this name comes from during the landing approach. 

Aerial view of Marrakech

All shades of earthy reds dominate the picture, peppered with occasional olive groves. When landing, the airport comes into view and the anticipation of the next few days takes on a solid form.

Arrival in Marrakech with EasyjetArriving in Marrakech: view of the airport

One of the most beautiful terminals in the world

The terminal of the international airport with the euphonious name Marrakech-Ménara (abbreviation RAK), newly opened in 2014, is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world by insiders. Up to 5 million passengers are handled here annually. However, before you can admire the successful combination of modern, airy architecture and traditional Arabic elements, you usually have to take a short walk across the tarmac, which gives you the opportunity to feel the moroccan sun.

You can smell it as soon as you get off the plane: Marrakech, so foreign, so spicy, so different. Africa! Also usually so much warmer than at home. If you got on a plane early in the morning in Europe in winter, you now want to get rid of your thick winter jacket as soon as possible. If you are lucky, it is 20 degrees more than back home.

Marrakech has a very elegant airport buildingMarrakech has a very elegant airport building

The passport control

There’s no dawdling when you disembark: through the terminal you first go upstairs, then downstairs (there are also elevators), and then it’s time to queue: passport control is the first hurdle on your arrival in Marrakech. Important: Entry into Morocco from Europe is only allowed with a valid passport, an identity card is not accepted. You can find current entry regulations on your country’s foreign affair ministry website.

Until the end of 2019, an entry document still had to be filled out, but here, too, digitization is making its way in every aspect of life and therefore the cumbersome procedure has been somewhat alleviated. However, it can still happen that you have to wait in line for an hour until you finally get the necessary stamps in your passport. If you’re lucky, the whole procedure can be done in five minutes. 

Please note: each traveler must approach the passport control individually. Families should split up, children over 16 should approach the customs officers at the checkpoint alone. Therefore, we always send our teenage children to passport control first, so that we are still with them in case any questions arise. If you are already through immigration before your child, sometimes security personnel will ask you to leave the area and of course you don’t want to do that if your kids haven’t officially entered yet. Passport control takes quite a long time, which by the way is not due to the Moroccan customs officers, but to the slow computer system.

After that, please do not put the passport away yet — at the exit of the passport control they will check again that each passport actually contains a stamp.

Continue to baggage claim

Those who have passed passport control in a few minutes may now wait for their suitcases. Good for those who have only cabin luggage. Those waiting for their luggage can expect to be at least half an hour from the time they get off the plane until the first bags are handed out, more likely longer. This depends on how many planes arrive at the same time.

Time to take care of other things: in this area of the terminal, apart from baggage claim, there are also (clean!) toilets, phone card providers and currency exchange offices.

Marrakech airport baggage claim hallAn unusual sight: the almost empty baggage claim hall

A good idea: buy a Moroccan phone card

If you want to have internet reception outside the hotel, you can buy a SIM card from a Moroccan phone company here. Morocco, by the way, is much better supplied with a nationwide LTE network than some European countries. You can even expect to have excellent reception in the middle of the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Since it is easy to get lost in Marrakech, I can only advise everyone to buy such a card. This means that you can no longer be reached by calling your phone number, but you can be reached via Messenger service.

The employees of the telephone companies install the card right away and you are instantly online. Normally the cards cost 10 euros for enough gigabytes for a week’s vacation and usually you can also pay in euros, because Moroccans are savvy people. 

Not a good idea: Changing money at the airport

The Moroccan currency is called Dirham (MAD) and is not a freely convertible currency. This means that you can’t exchange Dirhams at a bank outside of Morocco. So when you arrive in Marrakech, you will need to make arrangements to exchange Dirhams. When you leave, you will need to exchange any remaining balance back, as Dirhams may not be exported. 

Money exchange Marrakech airport

However, I would advise caution concerning the exchange offices at the airport. The rates are rather unfavorable for the traveler and in the city there are exchange offices with cheaper rates as well as ATMs where you can withdraw money via credit card. Most credit card companies charge a fixed amount for a withdrawal, so you should check before using the ATMs. Normally you can only withdraw 2.000 Dirhams, which is roughly about 200 Euros, but they let you withdraw multiple times a day.

If you do want to change money at the airport, do not accept a card to which your credit is loaded. On the one hand, these cards cost a basic fee, and on the other hand, you can only use them to pay in large restaurants or hotels, but not at the small merchants in the souk. In addition, you have no idea of how much money is still on the card. And if there is still credit on the card at the end of the stay, the refund also costs another fee.

If you need money for a taxi or bus, change only a small amount and make sure you get small banknotes. The taxi driver will certainly not be able to give out on large amounts. It is customary to pay the taxi driver appropriately and not expect change. The tourist taxis sometimes accept Euros, but you should clarify this in advance.

We recommend to rent car in Morocco through Aridod Car with free cancellation and insurance included. Book your car here

One of the most exciting aspects of renting a car in Morocco is the opportunity to discover hidden gems that are often missed by guided tours or public transportation. Venture into remote villages, encounter friendly locals, and immerse yourself in authentic cultural experiences that can only be found off the beaten path. With a car at your disposal, you have the chance to uncover the lesser-known treasures and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Control once again

After you have received your luggage, you will have to wait in line one more time — even if you are only traveling with hand luggage. Your luggage will be checked and scanned and you will be advised that drones cannot be imported into the Kingdom of Morocco without a permit. Then you come out of the airport building through the large arrivals hall and land in a large crowd.

Finally leaving the airport

Arrival in Marrakech - taxi drivers waiting for their guests

At this place, drivers wait for their guests to take them to their hotels, tour groups are received and family members

greet their relatives from Europe. There is shouting, pushing, searching and finding. It’s not easy to keep track of everything, but by now at the latest you’ve arrived in the Moroccan hustle and bustle.

How to get to the hotel now?

The easiest way is to have booked a transfer with your hotel in advance. Especially for your first stay or if you arrive in the evening, a pre-organized transfer will make your arrival in Marrakech much easier. A transfer usually costs around 15 $ for 2 people and saves you the search for your accommodation in the maze of alleys of the medina, because you will be met at the edge of the old town by the hotel staff and accompanied to your accommodation

.We recommend to rent car in Morocco through Aridod Car with free cancellation and insurance included. Book your car here

Renting a car gives you the freedom to create your own itinerary and explore Morocco at your own pace. You can deviate from the traditional tourist routes, stop at picturesque villages, and linger in breathtaking landscapes. Whether you stumble upon a charming local market or stumble upon an unexpected scenic viewpoint, you have the flexibility to adapt your plans and make the most of your journey.

Marrakech airport is located just 6 kilometers outside the city. Usually you arrive at the hotel from the airport in about half an hour and finally can absorb the first impressions over a Moroccan mint tea.

Merhaba in Marrakech!