In the world of Instagram Marrakech is a king full of colourful corners showing morrocan rugs, doors, riads, tiles. In the real world Marrakech is all that and more – culture, sun and bustling streets no guide can fully prepare you for. It’s one of the most fascinating cities in Morocco so the best thing you can do is hop on the plane and experience it yourself.
Marrakech is known for its beautiful riads (historical courtyard houses in the old town) which are the most refreshing, calming oasis you will find anywhere in the world. You can enjoy there spa, hammam massages, pool under the orange trees and arabic hospitality at its best.
The moment you step outside your riad and start strolling medina’s narrow streets inbetween gorgeous rammed earth palaces soaked in the sun, you will experience vibrant marketplace with countless motorcycle passing you crossed by donkeys, tuk tuks, taxis, delivery trucks and crowd of people. It’s mad but at the same time it’s one-of-the kind and has its own charm!
To fully enjoy Marrakech it is important not to limit your experience to only sightseeing or only staying at your Riad. Marakech is about experiencing it all, a contrasting world full of surprises and secret places so I recommend spending most of the day in the beautifully textured medina but also reserve few hours in the afternoon to enjoy calming amsophere of your riad. I wish I could be there right now so let me take you through my favourite places and share photos from our stay.
8 things not to miss in Marrakech:
1/ The architecture and colors of Medina
Marrakech has a fascinating architecture and magnificent buildings. The centre – medina is a labirynth with maze like streets where there is no point to try to use a map, trust me! Being lost often results in great discoveries – I found the most photogenic spots by turning into the ‘wrong’ streets. Did you know that the movie Sex and the City 2 was filmed in Marrakech, posing as Emirates? That means you will find here the same medina Carrie Brashow was shopping in, just to give you an idea.
2/ Design shopping and barterting
Marrakech is a place of true craftsmanship most of the time, you can find here beautiful design objects such as handwoven rugs, world-famous morroccan tiles, leather goods, beauty treats, It’s all there and you can often see it being made right in front of your eyes which is impressive. Making a deal means bartering and bargaining – that’s the fun of shopping in the souks. Most of the time you will end up paying 30% or less of the original price so always ask for a discount or say it’s too expensive and wait for the new offer.
3/ Inspiring historical places and colors
- Visit the main square Jemaa el-Fnaa
Magical history mixing the past with today, dancers, food and snake charmers which begins in the morning and reaches the most lively moment in the evening. Make sure to try local specialities there and have a view on the square from one of the great rooftop restaurants.
- Koutoubia Mosque
Right next to the square Jemma el-Fnaa you will find largest Mosque in Marrakech ornamented with curved windows, a band of ceramic inlay, and decorative arches. During Ramdan you can witness the evening prayers happening.
- Jardin Majorelle
Ahh, it’s a truly special place you can’t miss! Oasis of peace, surrounded by bustling city. Designed by the French artist, Jacques Majorelle in 1920s then it was purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé to prevent it from becoming a hotel. This gorgeous world of cacti and blue architecture is one of Morocco’s must-sees.
- YSL Musem
Right next to the Majorelle gardens there is the iconic Museum of YSL. Marrakech is a place for Artists with many magazines often shooting fashion editorials. That appealed to iconic couturier Yves Saint Laurent as he first traveled to Marrakech.
“When I discovered Morocco, it was an extraordinary shock. The city taught me color” Yves Saint Laurent.
Make sure to stop by to admire the architecture of the museum and stylist’s history.
I would also recommend visiting Saadian tombs and Bahia Palace. Unfortunately we were late to visit both places as they close at 3pm which we were not aware of! Make sure to schedule your visit in the morning hours.
4/ The beauty of Riads
The Riad is the Moroccan historical house, normally with courtyard, small pool and solarium located on the rooftop. In the past they were stately city homes of the wealthiest citizens until they were transformed into boutique hotels and guesthouses with secret entrances from the medina streets. Most of them are invisible from the outside but once you step into them, you will be impressed! You can find riad for every budget. We stayed in the Riad Zaouia 44 which was a fantastic choice as it turned out even better than we expected. The riad is simply beautiful with lovely hosts making you feel welcome and taken care of. I would recommend it with all my heart!
5/ Have a Hammam
You can enjoy a traditional hammam treatment in many places around Marrakech, from public spaces, spas to your riad. It’s a full-body bliss–a traditional bathing and cleansing ritual which will leave your skin feeling perfectly polished and soft. Get ready to get naked as opposed to the modest dress code in the streets. Hammams encourage you to go the full monty! We had hammam follwed by full body massage and a glass of wine in our riad (zaouia 44) again I can highly recommend it! (price: 25$ / person)
6/ Tour the streets in tuk tuk
After a day of walking, when you start feeling tired, tour the other sides of medina with tuk-tuk. Undoubtedly it was a perfect way to see the streets we missed during the day. (price: 2.50$/per person for 30 mins ride)
7/ Arabic dinner and dancing
It you fancy a special night time, make sure to book one of the iconic restaurants in advance. It is not just about the food! It’s about the whole experience: location, decor, atmosphere, dancers and live music, a night full of entertainment and delicious specialities. It is totally worth it you want to experience Arabic culture at its best. We went to Lotus Privilage and Jad Mahal. The second one turns into a party so if you in for some dancing, that’s a place to be! (Price: from 80$ / person)
8/ Take a day trip
You can take many day trips organized from Marrakech through a local agents – Atlas Mountains, deserts, coastal towns. We decided to visit the the white city Essaouira, 2 hours away from Marrakech and we absolutely loved it! Read more about the trip in the post here. (Price: 30$ / person)
See our day trip to Essaouira here.
I hope you enjoyed seeing Marrakech through my eyes. If you have any questions, I’m here!
Have a wonderful evening!
Photos: Agata Dimmich / PASSIONSHAKE