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10 things to do in Marrakech in November

November is an ideal month to visit the Red City. When summer gives way to autumn: the ideal time to explore Marrakech and its surroundings without too much heat or too many tourists.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

10 min read

10 things to do in Marrakech in November

Marrakech, Morocco. | ©Abdelhamid Azoui

Traveling to Marrakech in November is always a good idea. Between the desert and the Atlas Mountains, the temperatures remain pleasant and it is the ideal time for a few excursions in the desert.

Festivals such as Independence Day and the International Film Festival complete the agenda with dozens of celebrations. Read on and find out what to do in Marrakech in November.

1. Join the Independence Day celebrations

Djemaa el Fna Square| ©Boris Macek
Djemaa el Fna Square| ©Boris Macek

On November 18, 1955 Morocco gained independence from Spain and France, which had maintained a protectorate in the territory since 1912. Every year this holiday is celebrated with festivals, parades and parties throughout the country. Although the main ones are held in Rabat, the capital of the kingdom, all major cities remember the declaration of Mohammed V, the king who started the modern history of Morocco.

In and around Jemaa el Fnaa Square you will find celebrations with traditional music and food while throughout the city, Moroccan flags fly in the streets. You can join a tour in Marrakech to see the highlights of the city with a local guide who will tell you the historical details. However, I encourage you to discover 10 of the best tours in Marrakech to choose the one that best suits your tastes.

Book a tour in Marrakech

2. See Marrakech from the heights

Marrakech Skyline| ©Guled Ahmed
Marrakech Skyline| ©Guled Ahmed

A balloon ride over Marrakech is a nice way to admire the Red City from a different perspective. Normally, the aerostats depart from a location near Marrakech, fly over Jemaa el-Fna Square and the old town and then land near the Marrakech Palm Grove.

Departing very early (usually between 5:00 and 5:30), almost all excursions include a pick-up service from your hotel or riad, a traditional breakfast and a "flight certificate" (a small souvenir of the experience). All in all, the activity takes about 5 hours while the balloon ride lasts about an hour.

The winter months are the best months for this activity. In addition, the hot air from the burner works as a radiator and I assure you that you will not get cold. Therefore, traveling in November is ideal. When leaving early, you should take with you a jacket, a fleece and dark glasses for when the sun comes out.

Book your balloon ride in Marrakech

3. Take advantage of the last waves of the year in Essaouira

The square of Mulay el Hassan in Essaouira| ©Andy Wright
The square of Mulay el Hassan in Essaouira| ©Andy Wright

In Essaouira the wind blows 365 days a year and winter is the best season for surfing. From November to March, this stretch of ocean has blizzards coming from the west that guarantee constant waves. Being well protected from the strongest currents, the beach of Essaouira is perfect for those who want to learn to surf the waters.

On the other hand, the most experienced sportsmen can go to the nearby town of Sidi Kaouki, a real paradise for lovers of water sports. Its long, uncontaminated beach is ideal for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.

After a day of surfing, you can explore the Medina of Essaouira which has been declared a World Heritage Site in 2001. Its well-preserved walls hide a maze of narrow streets, traditional houses, the Sidi Youssef mosque and the old Jewish quarter (Mellah). And also the fort Skala de la Kasbah, by the sea, where the episode of Game of Thrones was filmed in which Khaleesi conquers Astapor and frees the slaves.

Book an excursion to Essaouira

4. Taste a traditional tea

Mint Tea| ©Albi Albarrán
Mint Tea| ©Albi Albarrán

Although we can taste traditional mint tea at any time of the year, when temperatures are not so high the experience is undoubtedly better.

In addition, the Red City is known for its tea shops and one of the most famous is Café Des Épices. The place has two floors and is known for its panoramic window overlooking the Rahba Lakdima, the Spice Square. After an afternoon of shopping in the souk, you can treat yourself to a well-deserved break with a steaming cup in your hands. Here, mint tea is still prepared according to the traditional recipe and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Book a gastronomic tour of Marrakech

5. Explore the Atlas Mountains by mountain bike

View of the Atlas Mountains| ©Med EDDARAMI
View of the Atlas Mountains| ©Med EDDARAMI

Morocco is a paradise for outdoor sports and if you like mountain biking, there are several routes through the Atlas Mountains, the mountain range that separates the Mediterranean and the Atlantic from the Sahara Desert. Its high peaks are a challenge for any cyclist and an hour and a half drive from Marrakech is enough to get there.

There are dozens of tours that organize round-trip transportation and provide participants with everything they need: bicycles, helmets and an expert guide. There are many options available, with a choice of day trips or tours that can last an entire week.

In any case, you will see Berber villages, waterfalls, palm trees, green valleys and the arid landscapes of the Moroccan geography. These routes touch Ouarzazate, the walled city known as "The Gateway to the Desert", Erg Chegaga and its great dunes, the Draa Valley and the Tichka Pass at 2600 meters above sea level. November is a good month to tour Morocco by bike. In the warmer months, cycling these same routes is undoubtedly more complicated.

Book an excursion from Marrakech

6. Visit the El Badi Palace

El Badi Palace| ©loraineltai
El Badi Palace| ©loraineltai

Unlike the Bahia Palace, El Badi is largely in ruins and yet if you close your eyes you can imagine its splendor in centuries past. The building was erected by the Saadi Sultan Ahmad el Mansour at the end of the 16th century and its name could be translated as "the incomparable palace". Indeed, the residence had 350 rooms, a swimming pool and a few courtyards with their luxuriant nature.

El Badi Palace was built with no expense spared and its interior used gold from Sudan while the marble came directly from Italy. When the Saadi dynasty fell to the Alawites, their successors plundered its treasures.

If you feel like visiting it, I advise you to climb the ramparts. From here, the view over Marrakech is simply breathtaking but be careful, storks often build their nests on these walls.

Book a guided tour of Marrakech

7. Spend a night in the Agafay desert

Night photography of the desert| ©Jaanus Jagomägi
Night photography of the desert| ©Jaanus Jagomägi

Close your eyes and imagine a desert. If you have thought of high sand dunes, erase this image from your mind. The Agafay is a rocky desert where the stone hills extend to the foot of the Atlas Mountains.

During the weekend, the most affluent Moroccans leave Marrakech and drive here to go horseback riding, hiking or canoeing in the Lalla Takerkoust reservoir. Here, wild nature is the undisputed protagonist and there are dozens of activities to keep travelers entertained, from Arabic calligraphy classes to quad biking and camel trekking.

November is ideal for an excursion in the desert because the temperatures are the most suitable for a visit. As for accommodation, there are several options:

  • Lodges: traditional houses.
  • Jaimas: nomadic tented dwellings made of camel hair, goat hair, esparto grass or palm heart.
  • Glamping: arises from the combination of the terms "glamorous" and "cambing". It is a global phenomenon that combines the experience of camping outdoors with the comforts of the best hotels. If you want to stay in this place about 40 km from the Red City, I advise you to read the post Excursions to the Agafay desert from Marrakech.

Book an excursion to the desert of Agafay

8. Visit the Bahia Palace without stress

The Bahia Palace| ©*SHERWOOD*
The Bahia Palace| ©*SHERWOOD*

Winter is a good time to visit Marrakech, as there are fewer tourists, accommodations are cheaper, temperatures are still pleasant and points of interest are less crowded.

One of these is the Bahia Palace, a mansion and garden complex built by the vizier Ahmed ben Moussa at the end of the 19th century. After the vizier's death in 1900, the sultan gave the order to loot the palace but even looting could not tarnish the beauty of this place. The Italian marble and the floors of zellijes - an ornamental mosaic composed of tiles - testify to the past glory.

Today only one third of the Bahia Palace can be visited, the other parts are occupied by the Moroccan Ministry of Culture. The former residence of the vizier can be visited every day of the year, from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm and from 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm.

Book a guided tour of Marrakech

9. Feel like "Aladdin" in the dunes of Erg Chebbi

Erg Chebbi Dunes| ©Cattan2011
Erg Chebbi Dunes| ©Cattan2011

During the summer months, entering the Merzouga desert is an activity for the brave. Between June and September it can reach 45 degrees, which is why it is preferable to explore it during the winter. To get there you have only two options:

Unlike the Agafay desert, the Merzouga desert is a sandy desert known for the high dunes of Erg Chebbi, a fascinating place that attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is also the starting point for many excursions by jeep, camels, buggies and quads and in the surrounding area there are other points of interest such as:

  • Khamlia: a village of 400 inhabitants founded by the Gnawa, the descendants of slaves coming from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • City of Orion: a Land Art monument designed by the German artist Hannsjörg Voth.

Book an excursion to the desert of Marrakech

10. Experience the atmosphere of the International Film Festival

Film Festival| ©SistemaMarruecos
Film Festival| ©SistemaMarruecos

The Marrakech International Film Festival was created in 2001 by King Mohammed VI to promote the arts and the film industry in the country. Despite its short history, the kermesse is an unmissable event for many Hollywood stars. Martin Scorsese, Guillermo del Toro, Keanu Reeves and Robert De Niro are just some of the regulars at this great event. As usual, the event starts in the last week of November and ends in the first days of December.

The International Film Festival takes place in three venues: the Palais des Congrès, the Cinéma Le Colisée and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. If you can't get into these venues, don't worry. Every evening, the central Jemaa el Fna square is the venue for up to 12,000 spectators to enjoy the free, open-air screenings.

Temperatures in Marrakech in November

Balloon ride in Morocco| ©Agnecia Marruecos
Balloon ride in Morocco| ©Agnecia Marruecos

November is a month of transition between autumn and winter. If in the morning it is cold and temperatures often drop below 15°C, during the day and in the evenings the weather is more pleasant. The distance from the sea causes significant temperature variations between night and day. In short, weather conditions in November are identical to those in March.

In Marrakech, November is the rainiest month, but don't worry. After a quick shower, the sun shines again in the sky.

The influx of tourists in Marrakech in November

Dades Gorge| ©Omar Bárcena
Dades Gorge| ©Omar Bárcena

In Marrakech, the low season starts in November and ends in February (excluding Christmas vacations). So, if you are planning to visit the Red City at this time, don't hesitate for a second. The main attractions are usually less crowded and you can visit places like the Bahia Palace or Jemaa el Fnaa without crowds.

Prices in Marrakech in November

Moroccan money| ©Doug Knuth
Moroccan money| ©Doug Knuth

November is the beginning of the low season and, therefore, prices are good. In this month you can find interesting offers and maybe you can opt for a superior accommodation. In any case, I advise you to book a room in a hotel or riad in advance. Once booked, go ahead with the tasks and check the best transfers between the airport and the city of Marrakech.

What to bring in your suitcase to visit Marrakech in November

Travel Luggage| ©Dids
Travel Luggage| ©Dids

In autumn the heat is bearable, the rains are more present and temperatures begin to drop, especially at night. If you land in Marrakech in November, the only thing you need to do is to equip yourself with clothes of three types:

  • Something light to wear during the day so you don't suffer from the heat.
  • Sweatshirts, sweaters and coats if you plan to go out at night, when temperatures drop significantly.
  • And a raincoat for thunderstorms, which are strong and intense but usually short-lived.

Keep in mind that in Morocco it is best to avoid wearing clothes that are too flashy and fancy as well as displaying valuables. As for women, it is preferable not to wear clothes that are too tight or provocative.