Marrakech – The City of Thousand and A Night
You might have heard about Marrakech and the city that looks like a clip from Thousand and a night. A vibrant city full of colors, herbs, motorbike fumes, heat and leather – all creating a sensation nowhere to be found in any other place. A Medina with an ancient history. If you find your way out through the souk you’ll eventually end up at the intriguing Jemaa-al-fna with its snakes and monkeys. The souks of Marrakech is the true heart of the Medina and, of course, a must-see when you’re visiting. Even if you’re not a shopper you’ll still be mesmerized and well worth the experience.
But there is more to the city. The name Marrakech is berber and means ”Land Of God”. The city has about 900 000 inhabitants and is the fourth biggest city and lies in the foothill of the atlas mountains. Unlike other cities such as Casablanca, Rabat and Agadir Marrakech has no coast. There are some fantastic excursions and amazing views to experience if you have the time.
What time to go?
I would suggest to visit Marrakech from March through May and then from October through November. During Easter, the tourism and hotel rates will spike though but other than that, the spring and fall have the most desirable weather and it won’t be as crowded and hot as in the summer.
What to do?
- The Souk. Shop Moroccan craft, leather bags, Moroccan shoes (so called balghas) etc
- Visit the beautiful gardens
- See the Koutoubia Mosque
- Go to Le Comptoir Darna during the weekend and chill with some chicha
- Take a day tour to Mountain of Toubkal, costs around 1200 DH without lunch. From 9-17, you’ll see Imlil, the mountains, have lunch with a berber family depending on what package you choose.
- Book the restaurants Libzar, Latitude31 and/or La Maison Arabe – all great Moroccan restaurants!
- If you want modern shopping (Zara, H&M, Marwa etc), you’ll find it in Gueliz – The modern area.
Where to stay and what to eat
We stayed at a Riad called Riad Nashira which was pretty expensive. A riad is like a small hotel/b&b and is considered as someone’s home so there aren’t a lot of rooms. I don’t know if I would choose the same Riad again, perhaps a hotel since it’s very intimate and lies in the middle of the Medina. We also stayed at another Riad (we went to Casablanca and back with train) called Riad Cocoon run by a French Woman. It’s a small place but very cozy. We had some problems though since I’m Moroccan, not married and sharing a hotel room with my boyfriend and she hesitated to let us have the room at first.
Please do try to have the Moroccan pancakes called “msammen” and the “baghreer” with honey, it’s amazing! For lunch or dinner you have to try the different tagines of course. There are a lot of different variations from chicken and potatoes to meat with plums and nuts.
Advice from the coach
- My first advice would be to always try to bargain! It’s a game and it’s not as shameful as you’d think. If you do it with a glimpse in the eye, they’ll appreciate it. I have a lot of fun memories from bargaining so much that the shop owner eventually invited us for food, sodas, mint tea (and even marriage lol).
- Try not to challenge destiny. If you don’t have to be walking around during night time – don’t. Especially if you are alone or a group of women. There are scum bags in every part of the world but in this part of Morocco they can be a bit pushy.
- Dress according to culture. I know it sometimes feels wrong to go on a vacation and be told how to behave and dress but just try not to be wearing mini tiny shorts and be showing cleavage. It’s not worth it. Morocco is still a very cultural country and is not as well adapted to the tourism as maybe Egypt and Tunisia is. You will get the wrong attention.
- Stay away from drinking tap water and orange juice (since it’s made out of tap water).
- Don’t take pictures with the snakes and the monkeys – they will charge you!
- Try to agree the taxi fare before jumping in. There are two types of taxi’s: petite taxi (the red ones) and grand taxi (the big ones). The big white ones are cheaper but you may have to share with other passengers.
- Ignore the people who try guide you and then get paid for it.I’ll leave you to it with some pictures from our trip last year. Enjoy!