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    Car hire in Marrakech - Exploring Morocco

    One of Africa’s most accessible cities, Marrakech is popular for its year-round sunshine and exotically sublime setting. Often referred to as the Red or Pink City on account of the colour of its terracotta walls, particularly at sunset, it is the point where the exuberance of the Middle Eastern, European and African cultures have been closely entwined for many centuries, a fact quite noticeable in the architecture, cuisine and appearance of the local people. Its nomadic influences are equally evident from the spices, incense and wood being cut by artisans all over the city.

    Founded in 1060 by the Almoravids (a Berber dynasty), Marrakech was the first important trading post in North Africa and was once a formidable imperial city, along with Fez, Meknes and Rabat. Today it is the perfect place for visitors to fully immerse themselves in one of the world’s most inspiring and culturally enriching travel experiences.

    Entered by well over a dozen gates, this picture-postcard city sits snugly beneath the dramatic and often snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains, which peak at around 14,000 feet. In Marrakech you can get lost in the souks, drink some mint tea with the locals, taste a traditional tajine (a national dish cooked in a clay pot), relax in a hamman, stay in a riad (courtyard mansion) and head into the nearby mountains or sun-scorched Sahara Desert. Booking a car hire in Marrakech often proves to be a kind of magical odyssey and besides anything else offers first-time visitors a multi-sensory introduction to daily life in North Africa. A kaleidoscope of colour, Marrakech is artistically inspiring and particularly notable for its elusive charm, having been the inspiration for so much music, literature and art over the centuries.

    Bargain-hunters flock to the city from all over the world in search of oriental antiques and all manner of other rare exotic items. Indeed, a holiday or extended city break here is more about soaking up the city’s absorbing and often thrilling atmosphere than spending time walking around museums and gazing at monuments. That’s not to say that Marrakech is void of cultural attractions, quite the contrary in fact. With its burgeoning collection of world-class museums and galleries there’s something for everyone ranging from photography and French fashion (don’t miss the Yves Saint Lauren Museum) to contemporary African art. One museum in particular portrays thousands of years of fascinating Berber heritage but arguably the most interesting of them all is the Museum of Marrakech housed in a former palace which features rare collections covering a range of themes including archaeology, ethnography, history and art.

    The city’s centrepiece is the 1,000-year-old Medina with its heady scents and maze of alleyways heading in all directions. Its ancient walls harbour a warren of old palaces, stately mansions, bustling bazaars, holy sepulchres and a profusion of mosques (most notably the Koutoubia) interspersed with exotic food stalls. Founded by Sultan Youssef Ben Tachfine in the early Middle Ages, the Medina revolves around Jemaa el Fna, a large plaza in the heart of the old town buzzing with jugglers, acrobats, fire-eaters, snake-charmers, troubadours and all manner of other eye-catching street performers. It’s a place of immense tourist interest, especially in the evening when a constant flow of people - visitors and locals alike - pass through this huge square in search of that perfect spot for a relaxing aperitif.

    Established in 1954, Auto Europe is a market-leading car hire broker with almost 70 years of experience. We take pride in offering the most convenient pick-up and drop-off locations in Marrakech and all other popular tourist destinations in Morocco, including Agadir, Tangier and Casablanca. By working with all the world’s leading and most trusted car rental suppliers, Auto Europe is able to offer a comprehensive range of vehicles at the lowest prices in the market - guaranteed! You can make your reservation in just a few clicks of the mouse through the Auto Europe booking engine located at the top of this page.

    For more information and help with your travel itinerary, whether it’s a multi-destination itinerary or some useful advice on where to go and how to get there, please feel free to give our award-winning rental specialists a call on +44 123 3225 114 who are on duty seven days a week. For general advice on getting around the Marrakech area and the rest of Morocco by car, please consult our Morocco driving information page for information on road rules, speed limits, driving distances, etc.

    How is the traffic in Marrakech?

    Moroccans drive on the right side of the road and many of the cars you see are quite old and often in relatively bad condition. Speed limits in and around the streets of Marrakech are set at 60kph, while outside the city you can drive at speeds of up to 100kph on main roads and 120kph on motorways. When driving your car rental in Marrakech, it's important to be totally aware of everything that's going on around you. The streets of Morocco are full of surprises and can get very busy by day (less so at night) with bicycles, hordes of noisy mopeds, donkeys and vehicles of every possible shape and description.

    Where can I park my car hire in Marrakech?

    The streets in and around the Medina and most other parts of downtown Marrakech can be very busy and are sometimes best navigated on foot. If you do attempt to drive into the city centre, very often the best advice is to ask the reception staff at your hotel for the best place to park and they will happily advise you. Some parts of the Medina are quite easily accessible by car, whereas visiting other areas will require you to park a bit further away.

    Marrakech Airport

    Located just 3 miles from the city centre, Marrakesh Menara Airport (as it is officially known) is one of the most modern in the whole of the African continent. Catering for up to 6 million passengers per year, it is a major international facility that handles several flights from key European cities every day as well as large numbers of arrivals from Casablanca and some of the most important Middle Eastern countries. During World War II, the airport was used by the US Air Force as both a hub and stopover base for flights en route to the air fields of Casablanca and Agadir along the Atlantic coast. The airport has two terminals housed in one building, both with the all-important money exchange offices, plus there's an ATM in the arrivals hall of Terminal 2. Note that when using ATMs at the airport and other locations in Marrakech, it's better to check for the Maestro, Cirrus and Plus logos to be sure that the machine accepts foreign credit cards. Facilities at Marrakech Airport include bureaux de change, traditional Moroccan handicraft and pastry shops, a large Duty Free store and several food and beverage outlets. There's also a medical centre, high-speed Internet access and the popular Pearl Lounge for passengers requiring a higher level of comfort. Being one of North Africa's most important air transportation hubs, a large number of major airlines fly in and out of Marrakech Airport, including Air Arabia, Turkish Airlines, Iberia, Germania, Wizzair, Ryanair, easyJet, Royal Air Maroc, Transavia, British Airways, Thomsonfly, Norwegian, Vueling, Air France, TAP Portugal, German Wings, Brussels Airlines, Swiss, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Condor, Eurowings, Air Europa and Croatia Airlines.

    Marrakech Airport (RAK)
    Telephone: +212 674 747464
    Address: RAK Mhamid, 40000, Morocco
    Website: aeroport-marrakech.com

    What to do in Marrakech

    There is much to see and do in Marrakech, in fact a whole day can easily be spent just wandering around all the different souks and seeking out the best bargains. The city is also packed with many historical and architectural sites as well as some interesting museums. Here are a few suggestions to get you started;

    • The Medina: The beating heart of Marrakech (and many other Moroccan cities) is the Medina, a densely-packed walled medieval quarter dating right back to the Berber Empire. Its labyrinth of tiny alleyways conceals bustling souks (marketplaces) where traditional textiles, pottery and jewellery can be snapped up at bargain prices, provided you are willing to bargain hard enough. Amidst all this you’ll also find an exotic mix of hard to resist food stalls plus street entertainers of all descriptions vying hard for your attention. Don't miss!

    • Saadian Tombs: Set in a stunning mausoleum complex, the Saadian Tombs comprise the remains of the 60-strong Saadi dynasty, rulers of medieval Morocco from 1554 until 1659. Unearthed during a ground survey in 1917, the tombs have been lovingly restored to their former glory and today’s visitors can get a true sense of the power and prosperity the Saadis held in Morocco five hundred years ago.

    • Majorelle Gardens: The perfect place to recover from the searing summer heat is the Jardin Majorelle, a luxuriant park designed by the artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s. Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the park in 1980 and today it features a collection of plants from all over the world, including a large collection of cacti. Arrive early to avoid the crowds, especially in high summer, and look out for the fascinating Berber Museum inside the park's perimeter.

    • El Badi Palace: If you've only got time and energy to visit one palatial building while you're in Marrakech, make sure it's the El Badi Palace built by Sultan Ahmed al Mansour to celebrate victory over the Portuguese in 1578 in the famous Battle of the Three Kings. Now mostly a ruin, the palace is popular for its underground passageways in which temporary exhibitions are sometimes held. Highlights include the head-spinning views from the terrace and the amazing Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts (aka MMP+) located on the premises.

    • Marrakech Museum: House in the 19th-century Dar Menebhi Palace, this excellent collection features many exquisite items of modern and traditional Moroccan art together with fine examples of historical books, coins, Berber pottery and exhibits representing both the Jewish and Islamic cultures. The building itself is a prime example of classical Moorish architecture with fountains in the central courtyard, traditional seating areas, a hammam and intricate tile work and carvings.

    Best day trips with my car rental in Marrakech

    There's no better feeling than driving up into the cooler air of the High Atlas Mountains (within striking distance of Marrakech) or journeying even further afield for a few hours until you're sitting on the western edge of the mighty Sahara, the world's largest desert! In stark contrast to both, the golden beaches of Morocco's long, sandy Atlantic shoreline are dotted with many quaint towns and strking villages to explore. Fill up your petrol tank and head off in either direction for a fun-filled few days with your car hire in Marrakech.

    Essaouira

    A three-hour drive due west of Marrakesh lies the charming seaside town of Essaouira. This friendly and very pretty walled town boasts a long sandy beach with lots of Atlantic surf, which will come as a relief after a few days’ busy sightseeing in the city of Marrakech. Essaouira is also popular for its exquisite handicrafts and some of the best fish and seafood restaurants in Morocco.

    Ait-Benhaddou

    One of North Africa's most classic road-trips is the long leisurely drive one can enjoy along the main route (the N9) between Marrakesh and Ait-Benhaddou, an astonishingly picturesque mud-brick village ideally situated in a beautiful location just beyond the High Atlas Mountains. The journey features spectacular mountain views and offers plenty of opportunity to see a bit of the real Morocco well away from the big cities.

    Casablanca

    Famous for the 1942 Holloywood film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca is a 150-mile drive due north of Marrakech, meaning that a day-trip is perfectly possible although an overnight stay would do the city much more justice. A major attraction for tourists is the huge Hassan II Mosque, one of the few open to non-Muslims and a building that stands proud as the country's most exceptional representation of Moroccan artistry.

    Fez

    On a par with Marrakech in terms of architectural beauty and patrimonial importance, the city of Fez depicts many of the most significant Arab-Islamic and Berber periods in the country's long history. Once the city sightseeing is accomplished and the souk shopping is done, head out to the magnificent Roman ruins at Volubilis and the holy town of Moulay Idriss before venturing back to Marrakech across the incredibly scenic passage of the Middle Atlas Mountains.

    Geographic Information & History

    Considering its close proximity to the Sahara Desert, Marrakech is an extraordinarily green city with an abundance of lush vegetation. Many centuries ago, underground springs fed the city’s Palmeraie (a date plantation off the road to Casablanca) which successive dynasties managed to irrigate by tapping into the water table to cultivate olive groves, fruit trees and gardens for the kings’ palaces. The fourth-largest city in the country after Casablanca, Fez and Tangier, Marrakech has a pleasant Mediterranean climate with relatively wet (but not cold) winters and long hot summers with average temperatures around the mid-30s centigrade in July and August. Generally, the city is warm all year round although in January and February you can expect a bit of rainfall and July and August can be very hot, meaning that the best times to visit are March to June and September to December.

    Historically speaking, the city has been inhabited since the Neolithic period when Berber farmers cultivated the land. The Marrakech we know today was founded in 1062 and quickly grew into one of the great citadels of the Muslim world. The wealth amassed by the Sultans in medieval times saw the city embellished with sumptuous palaces made with costly materials, including gold dust from Sudan, jade from China and marble from Italy.

    How to get around Marrakech

    Many parts of Marrakech such as Jemaa el Fna in the Medina are pedestrianised, so getting around on foot or by bicycle are the best options. Nevertheless, the city has an extensive public transport network comprising mostly of buses, taxis and trains for longer distances.

    Bus

    Marrakech’s local public transport system is mostly road-based, which means that the traffic can sometimes get quite congested. The Moroccan national bus operator CTM (Compagnie de Transport au Maroc) and some of the other leading companies such as Supratours have routes between Marrakech and other top destinations up and down the country. For convenience, Marrakech's main bus terminal is very close to the railway station making it quick and easy to get in and out of the city.

    Train

    The ONCF (Office National des Chemins de Fer) train station in the Guéliz district of Marrakech is about a half-hour walk west of the Medina. Marrakech is well served by the Moroccan railways network operated by ONCF. With one main station in the centre in the modern Guéliz district and one main railway line in and out of the city, navigating between Marrakech and other large Moroccan cities such as Casablanca, Rabat, Fes and Tangier is a relatively straightforward process.

    Taxi

    Taxis are in abundance in Marrekech and used by visitors and locals alike. There are two types of taxi, the 'grands' for longer journeys (including journeys to and from Marrakech Airport) which are communal and regularly stopping to pick up or set down passengers and the 'petits' which cater mostly for tourists seeing the sights. Horse-drawn carriages known as 'calèche' are also plentiful in and around the centre of Marrakech and make for a more romantic if not extravagant taxi ride in one of the world's most fascinating cities.

    Bicycle

    When in Morocco do as the Moroccans do and hire a bicycle for a few days. It's definitely the easiest and fastest way of getting around and will save you time and aggravation trying to park your rent a car in Marrakesh.

    Useful links

    Marrakech Tourist Info

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