Last November I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit Marrakech. I’ve always been curious about the so-called “Red City” and believed it would be a different experience and I was right! Yes, it is crowded and chaotic yet authentic and unique. It can be overwhelming and intense but exotic and beautiful.
If Marrakech is on your list or you just want to know more about it, then this post is for you. This travel guide covers where to stay, what to do, where to eat, and some tips that will help you throughout your trip.
Where to Stay
If you ever visit Marrakech make sure to stay in a Riad to enjoy the real Moroccan experience. Riads are traditional Moroccan houses usually built around a central courtyard with a pool or a fountain and converted into intimate guest houses. We stayed at Ksar Kasbah and Spa and it just felt like home. The place is beautifully decorated with mosaic tiles and ornate furniture. Breakfast was healthy and delicious and you can choose to have it next to the pool or at their stunning rooftop.
Other recommended Riads:
L’Oriental Medina Riad and Spa
Riad Le Rihani
Riad Melhoun and Spa
Riad Jemaa El Fna and Spa
It is better to book the taxi online ahead of time from the airport to the Riad or Hotel because some taxis will say that the taximeter is broken and will charge you double.
What to Do
This itinerary is perfect for a 3 – days stay!
1- Visit Jemaa El – Fnaa and Medina souks
Jemaa El – Fnaa is the main square of the city. During the morning, it is famous for its juice vendors but during the night the scene changes and it becomes a place for entertainment. The crowds are intense and you will sense all types of cultural energies. From storytellers, magicians, henna artists to snake charmers and monkey guys. Many will try to approach you to be your guide or for a picture and then ask for money. My advice is not to talk to anyone and just enjoy the atmosphere, especially during the sunset.
From there you can go to the Medina souks and get lost in their wonderful maze of colorful shops. Each little street has its own identity and its own unique selling point.
If you want to take a break from the mass of people, I would recommend you to walk to the Jardin secret.
2- Koutoubia Mosque
It is the largest mosque in Marrakech and a landmark of the city. You can check it out while going to the Jemaa El – Fnaa. Non-muslims cannot enter the mosque but it is nice to see it from the outside.
3- Bahia Palace
The Arabic word ‘bahia’ means ‘beautiful’ so you know what to expect. It is one of the most fantastic Moroccan palaces and it is one of the most important architectural works in the country.
4- El Badi- Palace
From the Bahia palace we walked towards the El Badi Palace. It is a ruined palace and it is not that well preserved like the Bahia Palace but it is still nice to see.
5- Saadian Tombs
From El Badi Palace you can walk towards the Saadian Tombs that consist of two magnificent mausoleums. This historic tomb complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site just like the entire Medina.
6- Jardin Majorelle and YSL Museum
The Majorelle Garden was designed by the French Artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s. In 1980, the garden was purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé to prevent it from becoming a hotel. I felt in love with the blue walls surrounded by a multitude of plants and Cacti.
Besides the garden, there’s a Berber Museum, Islamic Art Museum, and of course the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. We bought 1 ticket to have access to everything.
The YSL Museum is dedicated to the life of the designer and how Marrakech was a source of inspiration to him.
7- La Mamounia
It is one of the most luxurious hotels in the city and for me a must-see. From the amazing entrance, you can sense all the beauty of the palace. Glorious architecture and breathtaking gardens. Every corner of this place will leave you speechless, particularly the epic tile-work and their open courtyards. No wonder why this Moroccan hotel was Winston Churchill’s favorite.
Not everyone can afford a night here but luckily they offer daily passes that are more affordable. You can have access to their amazing spa, pools and spend the whole day there.
8- Moroccan Hammam
The hammam which means a steam bath or bathhouse is part of the Moroccan lifestyle and a cultural experience for every visitor. Spa treatments may vary but they usually include a steam room, soap bath, exfoliation and massage.
You will find lots of hammams in almost every street in Marrakech. I did my Morroccan hammam at La Mammounia and it was amazing. However, I also checked the one offered by La Sultana Marrakech Hotel and the place is dead gorgeous.
9- Drink Moroccan Tea
It is certainly a way of life in Morocco and you will always be welcomed with a cup of tea. It is their way of showing their hospitality. Be prepared to drink more than four cups a day. The tea is poured from very high up to assess the quality of the tea and give a special form of foam at the top of the cup.
10- Eat Tajine
It is the traditional Moroccan dish named after the pottery where it’s cooked in. It is made of couscous and either meat, vegetables or both.
Where to Eat
– Bazaar Café – Known for its marvelous mint tea and fantastic tapas.
– Atay Café – Known for its beautiful rooftop with one of the best views of the city
– Café Clock – Known for its famous camel burgers
– Nomads – Known for its rooftop with several layers and perfect for the sunset time
– Café Des Espices – Known for its delicious Tajine and beautiful terrace
– Gastro MK at Maison MK – Known for its fabulous breakfast
– Café Glacier – Known for the best view of Jemaa El – Fnaa square