Morocco is the gateway to Africa and nothing welcomes you to a new continent like the city of Marrakech. The perfect combination of ancient history, passionate culture, colorful architecture and vibrant markets – this bucket list destination will tantalize your every sense.
Not enough can be said about this great city to truly describe the experience of being there, but we’re going to try; get your BUCKiTDREAM planner at the ready, as this is gonna be a wild one.
Soak Up the Buzz At Jemaa el-Fnaa The main square of the city is very much its heart; if Marrakech were to be condensed, Jemaa el-Fnaa would be the result. Dating back to the 11th Century, you will not be short of things to see and/or do. Make a stop during the evening to hear enchanting storytelling plus live music and dancing.
Stroll Around Bahia Palace Aptly translated as Beautiful Palace, this is the result of the top artists of the time working non-stop for over 14 years. A celebration of Moroccan style, the level of architectural detail is mesmerizing. This one is sure to fill your camera roll up and make you enquire about renting a room (unfortunately, you can’t!).
Enjoy the Stunning Sights Of the Koutoubia Mosque Wander around the beautiful gardens of the largest mosque in the city and hear the call to pray with passion like no other. Bear in mind that entrance to the mosque is strictly for Muslims only.
Pull Up Your Socks and Dive Headfirst into The Souks Of Marrakech A souk is a market unlike any other market you will encounter, selling more or less anything you can imagine. At first, they can be very overwhelming, launching an attack on all senses, but once you get used to it you will have the time of your life and probably end up with a bargain or two. Practice your perfect “no” before entering, as the sellers can be quite persistent.
Marvel At the Decadent Saadian Tombs These are the resting place for some of Marrakech’s controversial rulers. Sealed for over a hundred years, this mausoleum can be described in the same way as much of the city: colorful! With nearly 200 tombs, it really is a sight to behold, especially when the last resident was the ‘Mad Sultan’ Moulay Yazid. It’s not every day that you can pay your respects to someone with such a title.
Ride the Ferrari of Africa Aith a Camel Trek In the Sahara Embrace the adventurer inside or you and take a journey into the desert while exploring the beautiful sights outside of the city limits. Do some shopping around as there are a lot of tour companies to choose from; anything that can tick off both the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara is a winner.
Experience An Oasis In the City At Jardin Majorelle Gifted by the French painter Jacques Majorelle, this is one of the most visited spots in the city. As well as 300 species of plants, this botanical garden hosts a Moroccan art museum with over 600 artifacts. A creative and cultural delight.
Catch Up On All the Local Gossip At a Hammam This city can be a hot, sweaty and dusty place, so the best way to rejuvenate yourself is to go native and have the scrubbing of a lifetime at a Moroccan bathhouse. If this is something you would like to enjoy as a couple a private hammam will need to be found, as public ones are strictly not mixed, with gender separation either at different hours of the day or different days completely.
High-End Luxury doesn’t come much finer than the Maison MK. Despite being around for 600 years, this boutique hotel will stun you with its chic, minimalist design with a Moroccan edge. As it only has five rooms, the personalized service will mean that your experience is as bespoke as you can get. Their outstanding restaurant, Gastro MK, is highly recommended for the foodies amongst you.
Medium Dar Attajmil is a tranquil and fully-stocked riad, located right near the action. Offering cookery classes, massages, a rooftop terrace and authentic Moroccan cuisine, you’ll have to be careful as you may just forget to go see the city!
Budget When it comes to cheap beds, Marrakech has got you covered. The majority of accommodation is in the form of riads, communal townhouses built around gardens. Hospitality is something the Moroccan people are not short on, so for a comfortable sleep, helpful hosts, a happy wallet, and prime location Riad Tizwa are the ones for you.
If you eat one thing during your stay in Marrakech, make sure it’s tagine! This delicious dish is essentially slow cooked meat/fish/veg with dried fruit and olives served in a clay pot, it is perfect for sharing. It won’t be hard to find as you can buy it all over the city; just do as the locals do to find a good spot!
Street food is the name of the game when in Morocco, especially Marrakech. B’stilla is a delicately layered pastry pie traditionally served with pigeon meat (nowadays vendors use chicken and fish), egg and almond. A delightful snack that combines sweet and savory.
Chebakia is a Moroccan dessert to end all desserts! A sesame cookie beautifully folded into the shape of a flower, fried and covered in honey. Trying a handmade one is a must! No wonder it is normal for dessert to be eaten first over here.
A sheep’s head is not for the fainthearted, but fortune favors the bold and so does flavor, it seems. If you’re brave enough, this traditional delicacy can be bought whole or on a mixed plate of a tongue, meat scrapings, etc.
Roti D’or is a perfect spot to have a seat and take in all the sights and sounds of this bustling city. Serving up a delightful mix of authentic Moroccan dishes along with such western staples as the burger!
Drinks and Nightlife
Drinks are just as fresh as the food, especially when it comes to a glass of OJ. Squeezed in front of you, the deliciously refreshing glass of vitamin C juice is the perfect pick-me-up for traversing the busy markets. The oranges are grown in the city and served at street stalls on almost every corner.
For a tasty and authentic after-dinner treat, pour yourself a cup or three of Moroccan mint tea; sweet and refreshing, it will keep you coming back for more.
It needs to be remembered that Morocco is a Muslim country, so alcohol is not a big part of their culture; however, that is not to say that you can’t find the perfect place to wet your whistle and take in the nightlife. Churchill Bar is a luxurious jazz-themed joint located in the equally swanky La Mamounia Hotel. Get comfy on a leopard print chair and lap up the ambiance while enjoying a cocktail or two.
Kosy Bar offers a stunning view into the Medina, the perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing glass of vino with a few nibbles and people-watch in the heart and soul of the city.
Tips and Culture
Haggle, haggle and haggle some more. A huge part of the Moroccan culture is based on bartering, trading, and selling. So again, do as the locals do and haggle traders down to a better price. It may feel a little strange or rude at first, but the sellers both expect and welcome it. If you’re still not happy with the price, simply walk away (you’ll soon get what you want).
The markets are streets of Marrakech can be very busy and a little overwhelming; make sure that you keep your valuables safe, as pickpocketing can be quite an issue for tourists.
Expect to be hassled by anyone and everyone, so get used to saying ‘no’ and moving on; you don’t need to be rude but don’t worry about being too polite either. As Morocco is a Muslim country, try and dress conservatively and avoid showing too much skin, as it is disrespectful; it will also save you from any unwanted attention.
Last but not least, be careful what you take pictures of; monkeys or snake charmers will ask for a hefty tip for the privilege. Snapping people, shops, houses, etc. without permission can create an issue due to cultural differences. Be respectful and trouble will be avoided.
Marrakech is an incredibly vibrant and busy city, which is why a trip or a trek to the cooler and (much) calmer Atlas Mountains is something not to be missed. The stunning views and scenery afforded by this serene backdrop are sure to satisfy the adventurer in you.
There will be a trek to suit both your ability and your duration of stay, ranging from scenic and refreshing day walks to multi-day hikes with a well-earned summit as your reward. Spending a few days on the mountain is the perfect way to soak up the local culture, as you could be staying in village homes, mountain huts or embracing nature under the stars. Just remember to bring a warm sleeping bag!
Marrakech is a whirlwind of color, culture, and cuisine. It will be hard to keep track of everything you see and try, so thank goodness you’ll have your BUCKiTDREAM planner with you. Now get out there and start haggling!