Take a journey into the great Medina, with camel rides, desert roads, street vendors, snake charmers, and an unforgettable adventure. This is StylistNomad's guide to Marrakech, Morocco, where I will share with you the must see places and the most important information for your stay in this hidden gem.
When making your way into a new culture and new country all together, I would recommend being prepared before arriving. Depending on what city you plan to visit, Marrakech is a very popular tourist attraction in the heart of Morocco. Marrakech is one of the largest cities closest to the Sahara desert with a six hour drive. There are many excursions and tours you can take to the desert, but you need at least a week to visit both.
Where to stay in Marrakech?
Personally, I decided I felt more comfortable to book a Riad, close to the city centre. The city is not as developed like many touristic European cities, so it depends if your a low or high maintenance person, who wants a clean and convenient environment, or the most inexpensive. Plus, who wouldn't want to stay in a beautiful palace that was once the house of a 17th century Lord?
I stayed in an Airbnb Riad https://www.airbnb.ca/users/show/4347898. The host was very accommodating, he picked us up from the airport, and dropped us off in this small street where we stayed. It had great security, comfortable environment, breakfast every morning (wow) and the rooms and court yard inside was incredible. I would recommend staying here for a couple of nights if you want to stay in a traditional Riad in the centre. Other accommodations include staying in a hotel, hostel, Couch Surfing, or other options I would research on Airbnb.
Top most important Places to see?
Make sure to visit traditional carpet, spice and leather shops. The scents of saffron, lemon grass, oregano, lavender, meat spices and traditional perfumes linger around the shops. The leathers in the carpet stores are made in the city and range from calf, boar, and camel (just so you know).
Make sure you experience negotiating in the markets and swooning down the best prices from vendors at the Jemaa el-Fnaa market place. Take a walk in the streets are you will find precious treasures around every corner.
Visit the Jewish district and church located in Mellah.
The Bahia Royal Palace is a beautiful place to visit. I personally enjoyed it because of the architecture, mosaic tiles, temple, and the garden inside. We paid 10 dirham for the entrance and explored around. If your a big history buff maybe you could research a tour group, but to be honest it was enjoyable on our own.
The Jardin Majorelle is located outside the Medina, so you could take a taxi, just don't get ripped off by the driver. Usually a taxi should only be 10-15 dirham. If they agree on a price, make sure you remind them and shake on it or something. We got asked for more money when being dropped off, and it obligated us to pay more and made us feel uncomfortable. We were able to see the garden, experienced an hour camel ride and then back to the city centre for about 20 dirham all together.
The Koutoubia Mosque is located outside the square centre market. They have a call to prayer every day, and the sounds echo across the city. It is a very mesmerizing experience.
Taking a camel ride outside the medina. When we spoke to the taxi driver he mentioned that he would drive us to the camel rides outside the walls, where we could enjoy for an hour, and take a break at a berber's home for tea and biscuits. This was a really interesting experience even though at some points it felt a bit sketchy, but we decided todo it anyways, and even negotiated the camel price down because we didn't have access to an ATM in the middle of nowhere. We were given traditional garments and a headdress during our ride and enjoyed our time in the blazing sun. The camel guide even took us some place and took photos of us riding on the camels. It was well worth the experience. I would do some research online if this is something you want todo. If you have enough time to go to the Sahara, I would recommend doing a camel ride there even more.
I was pleasantly surprised that the life in Marrakech at night is even wilder. There are people roaming the streets, vendors open everywhere, people selling, live music in the square, restaurants open, friendly games happening and a whole other world at night. You could eat anytime you wanted, or shop at midnight.
Making new friends in Marrakesh. People are so friendly in this city, and if you act like a local, dress like a local then maybe you might even be treated like one. Everyone in the city speaks English, French, Arabic and many other languages. One person I met spoke 6 languages. You just never know who you might meet, and that means being more open minded in a unique and different culture. I used websites like Couch Surfing to meet some locals, and made some lasting friendships to this day. Of course be careful who you speak too, but strike up a conversation with a waiter or even shop owner. Moroccan people love tourists, and enjoy conversation.
Most important food to eat, before you leave Morocco?
Local food is of course the best in Marrakech. I would recommend trying vegetarian couscous, with vegetables and potatoes. They have traditional soups in the square made by locals for 50cents. The spices in the shops are excellent and worth taking home with you. You can't leave Morocco without trying fish chermoula, harira, b'ssara, couscous, mint tea, kefta tagine, b'stilla, tagine and Fekkass which are Morocco’s answer to Italian biscotti. Also their smoothes are cheap, and insanely delicious. I tried this unique one with bamboo in the streets, that was freshly made.
Traditional dress in Morocco?
Personally, I wanted to really understand the culture by dressing traditionally. This just really made me feel respecting and more of a local. I wore a long skirt, was a blouse and cardigan, but sometimes with no sleeves because it was so "hot" in the month of May. Of course I could not enter a mosque like this, unless my arms were covered, but overall Marrakech is a very touristic city with people wearing shorts and dresses... etc but for me it didn't matter. I didn't want to be harassed or bothered by anyone based on how I was dressed and I never had a problem.
I would definitely recommend you to visit this incredible city, it has such rich culture, amazing food, and great weather. Make a trip this year, and let me know how it went!
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