Happy Christmas everyone! This year, I decided to visit Marrakech in December! This is a fantastic time of year to visit Marrakech, which is one of my all time favourite travel destinations. Marrakech is a popular winter sun destination and it is becoming increasingly popular with those who want to escape an overly commercialised and stressful Christmas. Although it is not a predominantly Christian destination (Morocco is 99% Muslim), the people are welcoming and also make the effort in their hotels and Riads to put up small decorations to welcome their guests.
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How to get to Marrakech in winter
There are plenty of flights to Marrakech at this time of year, and flights will be reasonably priced as it is the ‘off season’. I would recommend that you travel either a week or two before Christmas, or even on Christmas day to miss the crowds of people who, surprisingly, have the same idea!
From the UK you can fly direct to Marrakech from London Gatwick (with British Airways) and also from Manchester, Bristol and London Luton (with Easyjet). I managed to get return flights for the 23rd December for less than £200 per person with BA. The flight was comfortable and the staff were fantastic (you could definitely tell the difference between BA and the cheap airlines!)
A word of warning though, travelling to Marrakech at the busiest time in the winter, which is the pre-Christmas rush (22nd and 23rd December), can be packed and stressful. Most flights are full and you will be greeted with queues that can only be described as a sea of people at passport control in Marrakech airport. For some people, it is very tiring and overwhelming.
I would recommend that you pay for fast track security and fast track passport control. Considering that you can be waiting in queues for 2-3 hours to enter Morocco, the extra money is definitely worth it. If you are registered disabled and proof (such as a Blue Badge) then show it to the staff and they should automatically help you through to fast track. If you have a medical condition or disability, you can’t be waiting in such hot and busy queues for so long.
Why visit Marrakech in December?
There are many reasons to visit Marrakech in December. Here are a few of the main ones…
- Weather is still warm but mild and you will get winter sun – it was 23°C on average during this last week in December!
- There are also low levels of rainfall (although January is dryer, there is still very little rain).
- Moroccans are warm and welcoming people who are fantastic hosts.
- There are few crowds at the main tourist attractions and the sun is not too hot – you can explore the Marjorelle gardens without the constant need for shade!
- Marrakech is not an expensive Christmas destination like London or New York.
- It’s a great way to escape the stressful, over commercialised and freezing cold UK Christmas.
- As it is not high season, there will be a drop in air fair prices and less crowds at the main tourist spots.
- Because Morocco is a Muslim country, Marrakech remains open and fully functioning on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day. So, if you fancy seeing Bahia Palace, the Saadian Tombs or the Marrakech Museum on Christmas day, go for it!
- You can go to midnight mass at one of Marrakech’s Churches such as the Church of the Holy Martyrs.
- It’s a great time of year for nightlife!
- Star Gazing – enjoy observing clear and beautiful night time skies.
- Marrakech in winter offers spectacular sunsets – best enjoyed from a Kasbah or rooftop terrace.
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What is the Weather like in Marrakech in December?
In December, the Marrakech weather can see highs of around 20°C and lows of around 8°C. However, during the last week of December 2023, I experienced an average afternoon high of 23°C. It was warm enough to walk around in shorts and T-shirts!
Remember though, that temperatures can drop significantly during the evening and night time, so it is a good idea to pack a base layer and a fleece as well as your sun cream!
Where to Stay in Marrakech in December
We stayed in Riad Carina, which is a short walk from Bahia Palace. The Riad was comfortable and beautiful, including free wifi and a Moroccan breakfast. The location was perfect – we could easily walk to the main sites of the Saadian tombs, Bahia Palace and ‘Jemaa el Fnaa’ square.
Other great Riad’s in Marrakech that I can recommend are…
- Riad Dar Zaman
- Riad Aladin
- Riad Salman
- Riad Dama & Spa
- Riad l’Oiseau du Paradis
- Riad Jaime
What did I get up to in Marrakech in December?
This year, instead of staying at home for a cold and stressful Christmas, I took my mom to Marrakech. It was her second time and my third time in this exciting and historical Moroccan city.
I spent Christmas Eve this year walking around Mellay, the Jewish Quarter in Marrakech (formerly Hay Essalam) and walking through Souk Semmarine. In the evening we relaxed on the roof terrace of Kosybar, enjoying a tagine and creme brulee. It was a beautiful view of the sun setting over Tinsmiths Square.
It was wonderful to wake up in a Marrakech Riad on Christmas morning! No gifts, and no stress of wrapping presents and opening stuff you don’t really need, but instead looking forward to quality time with Mommy! In the morning I was greeted with a Moroccan tree decorated with lights and tinsel and a traditional Moroccan breakfast.
Also, on Christmas day, we visited the Bahia Palace and Saadian tombs. It was mild in temperature and not too busy. We thought it was a fantastic way to spend Christmas. It really was something different but a very memorable Christmas day. Oh, and the 21°C temperature was much appreciated!
Marrakech in December – Don’t miss…
If you are planning to visit Marrakech in December, don’t miss…
- Bahia Palace – a mid-19th Century palace near the Jewish Quarter in Marrakech, which boats gorgeous Arabic architecture with stuccos and wood carvings.
- Saadian Tombs – Visiting this beautiful historic royal necropolis on the south side of the Kasbah.
- Marjorelle Gardens – This botanical garden with artistic influences is an instagram haven for bloggers and influencers.
- Souk Semarine – Get lost in the souks and enjoy bartering for your favourite souvenirs such as jewellery, leather, pottery and spices.
- Marrakech Museum – In the beautiful Dar Menebhi Palace from the 19th Century, you will find an extensive collection of mosaics, weaponary, jewellery and pottery from the Berber populations.
- Ben Yousef Madrasa – Old Quranic school line with gorgeous geometric mosaics and beautiful Arabic calligraphy.
- Jemaa el Fnaa’ square – This central Marrakech square is famous fore its night food market, street entertainers and horse and carriages. Ignore the ‘boys’ who will tell you ‘it’s closed!’ as it’s never closed, this is just a lie to attempt to make money as an unofficial ‘guide!’
Where to eat and drink in Marrakech in December
You will be pleased to know that Marrakech is still mild enough to eat outside, in courtyards or roof terraces. It’s also still warm enough to enjoy an ice-cream outside. An unexpected but welcome Christmas treat! Here are some fantastic places that I recommend….
- Kosybar – Upmarket and classy bar overlooking Tinsmiths Square (Place des Ferblantiers). Serves snacks, alcoholic beverages and gorgeous deserts (I recommend the chocolate mousse or the creme brulee).
- Nomad – A modern Moroccan restaurant famous for fresh ingredients and vegan options that is popular with travellers and digital nomads.
- Cafe Dar Toureg – Rooftop terrace and great value set menus including tagines from different cities in Morocco.
- Le Jardin – This is another one of my favourite Marrakech restaurants – gorgeous traditional Moroccan and western food in a gorgeous green tiled garden setting.
What to Pack for Marrakech in December
Your packing for Marrakech will usually involve a selection of comfortable and conservative clothing for warm weather. In December, you will need to pack warmer clothing than what you would usually take to Morocco in the summer or spring, such as a fleece and rain jacket. You also might want to consider something smarter and sparkly for Christmas day! Here is a list of what to pack for Marrackech in December…
- Smart phone, charger and pre-downloaded travel apps (booking.com, GetYourGuide and Duolingo).
- Plug converter – for the two pin plug (also used in Spain and Portugal).
- Laptop or tablet with charger for communication and photo editing or blogging.
- A selection of cool and comfortable clothing such as T-shirts, leggings, tunics and linen trousers.
- A couple of long cotton dresses and maybe something conservative but sparkly for a nice evening Christmas meal.
- A light head scarf or pashmina that can be used for covering your hair and head if necessary and also to keep you neck and shoulders warm on cooler evenings.
- A base layer such as a long sleeved thermal top – mine is from Regatta.
- A comfortable fleece to layer up in the evening – – mine is a zip down fleece from Tog 24.
- A light rain proof jacket – mine is Peter Storm.
- Pyjamas as night time is cold this time of year.
- Comfortable walking boots and walking socks (you will do a lot of walking in Marrakech) – I like my weatherlite Karrimor womens hiking boots.
- Lonely Planet Morocco – It is nice to have something physical to flick through and read when you don’t have internet access.
- Lip salve and moisturiser – the dry conditions of Morocco can lead to dry skin and cracked lips
- Tiger balm – great for a number of ailments including colds, headaches and insect bites.
- A pair of comfortable sandals for walking around the Medina.
Further Reading on Morocco
If you enjoyed this article, and are planning to travel in Morocco, you might also like to read…