From exquisite Berber carpets to delicately engraved silver jewelry, Morocco’s markets often tempt travelers to head home with an extra suitcase. Here are ten of the best souvenirs to get in Morocco and where to buy them.
In Morocco you’ll find two main types of carpets: urban carpets and Berber carpets. Urban carpets, traditionally made in and around the capital city of Rabat, are probably what most people think of when they picture Moroccan carpets. They have a thick pile-weave, intricate borders and are often decorated with geometric designs. The best cities to buy urban carpets are Rabat and Fez, and if you want to forgo the bartering experience, stop in at a government-sponsored emporium where the prices are fixed.
Berber carpets are made in rural areas by Morocco’s indigenous Berber people. Each tribe and region has its own style, and carpet making has traditionally been an occupation for women. As these carpets tend to be thinner than urban carpets, they also make good throws and wall hangings. Berber carpets are available throughout Morocco; one of the best places to buy them is at women’s cooperatives where a larger portion of the profits goes directly to the workers.
2) Moroccan Tea Set
Tea drinking is a national pastime in Morocco. You can buy elegant silver-plated teapots in any major city, and be sure to pair the pot with a set of at least four tea glasses. This is a heavy souvenir, so you’ll probably want to hold off on buying a set until toward the end of your journey or opt to have it shipped home. Once you get it home, be sure to clean it regularly with a silver cloth.
3) Belly Dance Costume
A perfect accompaniment to a CD of Moroccan music, belly dance belts can be purchased in Marrakesh’s Djemm el Fna market. You can go for a thinner, sequined belt that can be worn as a hip accessory with jeans, or you can go for a full hip-belt that has faux-coins sewn into it so it jingles when you move.
4) Inlaid Wood
While beautifully carved wood products can be found throughout Morocco, Essaouira is one of the best places to buy inlaid wood. Souvenir items include small wooden boxes, vases, and chess sets. If you don’t mind spending the money to ship things home, you can also buy gorgeous tabletops and other furniture items.
5) Musical Instruments
Guitarists may be interested to try their hand at the Moroccan oud, a fretless, pear-shaped instrument used in traditional Arab music. Several different types of drums are also available in Morocco. Most have a ceramic base with a dyed cow hide on the rim, but in southern cities like Essaouira and Sidi Ifni you can also find drums with a fish-skin head that produce a unique, higher pitched sound.
6) Henna Dye
Used by Moroccan women to make complex designs on their hands and feet during wedding celebrations, henna dye is very inexpensive in Morocco. You can find it in a variety of shades ranging from a more reddish dye to a deep brown. While henna is available in major markets all over Morocco, a wide variety is available in Fez’s henna souq.
Fez is the place to buy leather goods. In the old medina, you can visit the tanneries where leather is treated and dyed in traditional fashion. Go for a pair of traditional Moroccan slippers, a brightly colored purse or a chic, modern leather jacket for a fraction of what it would cost back home. If you have a few days or more in Fez, you can custom order leather products as well.
If your travels take you to southern Morocco, check out the leather tanneries and shops in Taroudant.
Morocco’s most famous pottery is the traditional blue and white pottery produced in Fez. Plates, bowls, cups and serving dishes are all tempting buys, but before haggling with the shopkeeper over a set be sure to know how you’re going to get this fragile souvenir home. Get cheaper prices by buying pottery in an outdoor shop rather than an indoor tourist shop.
Scarves and shawls are on display in most of Morocco’s markets. For women, it can be handy to have one or two during your trip in order to cover your head when entering religious buildings. You can buy silky, delicate scarves or resilient and colorful cotton scarves; the second variety make a great winter scarf or a perfect shield from desert sand and sun.
10) Silver Jewelry
Silver jewelry is best bought in southern Morocco in and around Tiznit. Tiznit has dozens of shops dedicated only to jewelry, from simple dangling earrings with natural stones to complex Berber tribal jewelry sets and engraved sword and dagger cases. For the tourist traveling light, several pairs of earrings or a dozen engraved bracelets can make excellent gifts and don’t take up a lot of room in your luggage.