By Train, Marrakesh
On our first visit to Marrakech we travelled by train from Rabat. The journey takes 4 hours and it was one of the nicest journeys of our trip. The colour of the landscape is beautiful especially south of Casablanca, when it changes from being mostly green to red and orange. You can feel you are entering the south!
We also spent a lot of time talking to a couple from Dubai/Sweden who were on the way to visit relatives in Marrakech. They knew the area well and gave us many tips on what to see and do. The trip was very good value. We travelled first class and it cost about 100 Dh each for a single ticket.
The station in Marrakech is in the Ville Nouvelle. We planned to stay at Hotel du Pacha which was a 10 minute walk from the station. If you do get a taxi from the station watch out for the cost. It shouldn't cost more than 10 Dh for most trips in the city and Marrakech's taxi drivers are notorious for overcharging foreigners.
To save time and money, we always take the night train. In Marrakech, you must be careful. I did the first time at mid night and reserved a seat only. I found the people slept on the seat and with their luggage or goods. I hardly found a seat. Of course, I couldn't sleep anyway.
The second time, I came from Marrakech to Tangier. I reserved a sleeping bed and had a nice sleep.
The bus station and the train station are located in the new town. It costs Dh10 by taxi from Djemm el Fna to those terminals, despite the taxi driver may ask for more. Note that the cost will increase to Dh20 after 7pm.
Trains to Casa runs every two odd hour, i.e. 7am, 9am, 11am, etc… It takes about 3hr 15 mins to get to Casa. As for Fes, it takes 7 hours 40 mins. Better check the exact schedule from the train station.
Buses to Essaouira, Agadir are operated by Supratour located west of the train station. There are 3 buses going.
Getting to Casablanca - and out of - by train is very comfortable. Trains are mostly on time, cheap and quite nice. There are two classes - and the second class is more than adequate and quite roomy. We travelled once in first class and noticed very little difference, except perhaps that seats are reserved. Basically: take second class if you are departing from where the train is originating - and this is always the case in Marrakech, since it's the end of the train line. Try to be there some 30 minutes before your departure, as trains are normally there quite a while earlier to be cleaned - and hop on as soon as possible.
An added bonus of Marrakech station is that it is right beside an Ibis hotel - which means that you can use a clean toilet as soon as you arrive, since toilet trains are never too clean (well, in Morocco they are not that bad either).
While researching online before I went, I saw a post or two saying the train fromCasablanca to Marrakseh was an hour late. It was when we took it as well. Going TO Casablanca from Marrakesh, our train from l'Oasis to the airport was late, as well.
Just plan for this and skip the tight connections
If you want to make sure you get a seat buy a first class ticket, the first class is the front cars.
Generally I found Moroccans to have an almost German-style efficiency about things, the return trains were late though.
Took the train to Marrakesh from Casa. Cost DH140 in 1st class - seats allocated.
Generally it was fine, but it left 30 minutes late and had lost another 15 minutes by the time it arrived.
It had a refreshment trolley to sell you a sandwich & Coke at your seat. Bring your own beer.
Leaves from Casa Voyageurs station. Check the ONCF website for times.
The first half of the trip (coastal plain) is uninteresting, but once you get into the dry semi-desert it is more fun.
What a wonderful thing to do in mid December – bouncing along on the mid morning Marrakesh Express through bright red semi desert watching the goats flee the excitement.
When getting to Marrakech the options are either fly which is extremely expensive or take the train .... the train was cheap ... we paid 140 Dirham in 1st class about $15 US from Casablanca one-way. The train are suppose to run about 1 every hour and a half ... needless to say our 8:50 am train was 3 hours late ....... Your ticket which can be bought either at the station at the Casablanca airport or at the Casa Voyageurs station. The imformation on the tickets tell you the train number the number on the right ... then it tells you which car and compartment and then seat number ...
Once on the train it somewhat of a boring ride ... not much to see ... rolling hills and at times sheep herders . ....
A big WARNING !!!! ..... on the train ... you'll have people try to scam a free 1st class ride so don't be scared to ask for there tickets if they are seated in your seat ... also be WARNED .... people will try to be friendly and try to talk to you ... ignore them or be stern and tell them to leave you alone that you are not interested .... we had a guy talking to my cousin and next thing you know he was trying to sell us a tour and even WORSE ... he followed us to our HOTEL !!!!!!!!!!
They are relentless and only talking firm to them would they understand ......
Also trains do sellout during busy periods so try to buy your tickets as soon as you arrive in Morocco, unfortanetly you can not buy the tickets online, only in person ....
And if you are returning via Casablanca to the airport ..... you can not buy a ticket all the way thru from Marrakech ... you must get off in Casa Voyageurs and purchase a ticket to the airport .... and jump on a different train ... so give yourself plenty of time ... we took a 7:00 am train and walked into the airport in Casablanca at 12:00 for a 2:00 PM flight ... so it was perfect ...
Once you arrive in Marrakech purchase your return ticket right there and then .... that also leaves the tons of people to get out and you won't be harassed by the numerous shady people waiting to prey on the tourist and travelers.
Also do not pay more than 60 dirhams for your taxi ride to your hotel ... Marrakech is a real small city and distances are very close ..... Also the train station is pretty nice and clean with several places to eat .... even a McDonald's ... for those who get homesick
The magnificent Gare de Marrakech is the end of the line for Moroccan trains heading south. From here you can only go north. The main route is to Tangiers, via Casablanca and Rabat. It's about 3.5 hours to Rabat, 5 hours to Casablanca and 8.5 hours to Tangiers. You can take a night train which is slower and takes about two hours longer to reach its destination.
For clear and detailed information on travelling Morocco by train, visit the Seat61 website (linked below).
From Marrakech you can take only the train to the north, to Casablanca (3-4 hrs), Rabat (4 hrs), Meknes (7hrs) or Fez (8 hrs). There are several trains a day to Casablanca, some direct trains to Meknes and Fez and overnight trains to Tangier.
To other places in Morocco you can take the ONCF related supratours busses. For all actual schedules of the trains and the supratours busses you have to look at the website of ONCF.
The railwaystation is the Ville Nouvelle about 1 km west of the Place du 16 Novembre. When I visited Marrakech in march 2007 and january 2008 the reconstruction of the new railwaystation was still in progress.
Marrakech as got a modern and beautiful train station, opened in 2008. Even thought you're not going to travel by train it's worth to visit the station. It contains several shops and fast food restaurants. We passed by the station several times by taxi, but also you can see it from the tourist bus.
There are direct rail link with Casablanca and Fes, and connections even with with Tangier. In the future it's going to host the high speed train and as we'll the expansion of the railway net to the South, with Agadir and Laayone
Trains to Casablanca leave every 2 hours starting from 05:00 then 9 then 11:00 etc.
The 2nd class ticket is 90 DH
1St is 140
Duration is round 3 hours,there is mostly delays.