Morocco is a vibrantly colourful country. From the gorgeous gold-fringed abayas [long loose dresses worn by Muslim women] in pink, teal and blue on sale by the old mosque to the mosaics that adorn many of the buildings, the country never misses an opportunity to transform the blandest of items into something beautiful.
Morocco is a ridiculously affordable country to visit, and yet somehow I have managed to spend a small fortune on souvenirs and gifts. As I was travelling with hand luggage only, my best Tetris skills came into play whilst packing for the journey home!
Bargaining with sellers is normal, and my experience is that the friendlier you are, the more likely they are to give you a decent discount. Friendly negotiations can be had over a glass of Moroccan ‘whiskey’ – there’s no need to go hard ball. To get an idea of what you should be paying for items you want to pick up, your best bet is to ask a local, like the staff where you’re staying.
Here are my top tips for things to pick up during your visit:
1. Silver jewellery
At the Port of Essouira I met a well-travelled hippie with an Afro and a “peace and love” outlook who swore to me he never
smoked weed. That wasn’t the only fast one he tried to pull on me. In the back room of his small shop, he showed me beautiful silver BerBer bracelets. He told me the best price he could give me was MAD270 (€25) for one, but then tried to charge me MAD1,000 (€93) for three.
Poor as my math skills are, I pointed out to him that he should be giving me a discount for buying three, not upping the price, and he was caught out. Eventually, I came away with three beautiful bracelets for MAD500(€46).
I’m told it’s probably not pure silver, but they are lovely nonetheless and at just over €15 a piece, I think it would have been optimistic to expect that they would be.
2. Argan oil hair and beauty products
Argan oil is a natural beauty product that comes from the fruit of the Argan tree. It’s deeply moisturising, and can be used on the face hair and body. Products made from the oil are used to make everything from soap to hair conditioner, and to help with everything from chapped lips to strengthening nails.
It seems like whatever your beauty needs are, there is an Argan oil product made for the job.
3. Moroccan tea pot and glasses
You’re likely to drink your own bodyweight in Moroccan tea over the course of your visit. It’s a herbal mint tea, not quite as sharp as peppermint, usually made with water boiled in the teapot over a hob, and sweetened with a cube of sugar. The tour guide who dropped me from the airport to my Riad told me they call it Moroccan whiskey.
A silver teapot and a set of matching glasses are essential Moroccan souvenirs. I paid MAD200 (€18) for both at the souk in the Marrakech. This is the ideal gift for the tea-lover in your life (which in my case is me).
4. Decorative kitchen ceramics
If you’re on the hunt for something to brighten up your mealtimes, look no further. The colourful kitchenware on display at Marrakech’s souk is bound to add a splash of fun to dinnertime! When I’m a proper grown-up with my own kitchen, I will most definitely be investing in some of these pieces. For now though, my mealtimes too often consist of a Subway meal deal to justify splashing out on such lovely crockery!
5. Elaborate rugs and carpets
I’m not going to lie, there were times in Morocco when I felt like I was in a real-life version of Aladdin. The luxurious ornamental rugs and carpets that were flying around most certainly added to that feeling.
A word of caution here: be careful about your currencies. A friend purchased a carpet thinking he was getting a phenomenal
bargain, only to realise he had missed a decimal place when he was figuring out what it would cost him in his head, and ended up paying ten times more than he intended.
Unfortunately, I never found my magic carpet, but I’m holding out hope for next time.
6. A golden lamp
Continuing with the Aladdin theme, miniature golden lamps just like the one the Genie popped out of can be found in Morocco. If you’ve got room in your luggage for something more substantial than a pocke
t-sized souvenir, there are stunning Arab-inspired lamps and light fixtures.
The traditional Moroccan style can leave rooms lit quite dimly, but also gives them a slightly majestical feel.
7. Leather bags
Toward the entrance of the souk, you can find anything and everything thrown together in side-by-side stalls, but as you delve deeper into the labyrinth of alleys, you can find more specialised areas focusing on one type of product, like jewellery or leather. There is an overwhelming variety of colours and styles, from weekend travel bags to cowgirl style fringed handbags.
Toward the back of the souk, you can actually visit the tanneries where the bags are made.
So there you have it – those are my top seven choices for souvenirs from Morocco. Which are your favourites? And what did I miss out on? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Katie Harrington is a 28-year-old travel and lifestyle blogger from Galway, Ireland.
“I’m passionate about seeing the world and meeting people from different countries. I love noticing the similarities and differences between people around the world. In a divided world, I genuinely believe that experiencing other cultures first hand is one of the best ways to combat prejudice.
“In between travel, I write about Irish events, restaurants, and news, as well as opinion pieces on topical issues.”
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