Earlier this year I spent 5 days in the bustling city of Marrakech. Having never visited Morocco before, I was keen to experience a new culture. Marrakech’s popularity has increased over the past few years, with many being attracted to the year-round good weather and vibrant city culture.
If you are thinking of taking a break to Marrakech, I’ve put together 10 tips based on my experience.
Visit the Jemaa el-Fnaa
It’s the main tourist square and really is a must see. Not surprisingly it’s a square, but everything else about the Jemaa el Fnaa is completely unexpected. The square is extremely busy, even more so at night. It has a range of sellers, from jewellery to freshly made orange juice (very recommended), to snake charmers, monkey trainers and even vulture owners. Yes you heard me correct. The square has a range of street performers, all of whom are not afraid to approach you. Top tip; don’t make eye contact or act interested towards these street performers unless you are genuinely interested in paying to have a monkey or snake around your shoulders. The same goes for taking photos, don’t take one unless you are happy to pay for it as you will get hassled for money, it’s how they make their living.
Visit the Souks
Admittedly this is where we spent most of time in Marrakech (guilty!). The Souks are a labyrinth of market stalls and shops selling anything from local food, shoes, bags, pottery, clothes and jewellery. The Souks are helpfully set out into different sections, so if you are after something specific you only have to look in one area. I’d advise you to take a map as it’s very easy to get lost (I can confirm that we did get lost). Top tip; leather is cheap and in abundance here, so take advantage.
Barter, barter and then barter some more
When buying anything in Marrakech it’s important to remember that you are expected to barter. As a recommendation I’d advise you to at least half the price you are originally quoted. Haggling is part of the culture and can actually be really fun and a great way to interact with local sellers. Tip, if you walk away after bartering you will often find that the seller will agree on a lower price to secure the deal, unless of course you’ve offered a really low price.
Visit the Badii Palace
This is a formal palace which is now in ruins. It provides excellent views of the city and has lots of hidden tombs for you to explore. The Badii Palace costs only 10 dirhams (just over £1), and is worth it to find out more about the palace’s history and get some great photos of the city.
Drink mint tea
Mint tea is a traditional drink in Morocco and you will be offered it almost everywhere you go. It’s delicious and also has health benefits. Mint tea can also be sweetened it with sugar, so you will usually be given a cube of sugar for you to add.
Eat the local food
Moroccan food mainly consists of tagines and couscous, meats, rice and salad. The food is delicious and I really would recommend you embrace the local delicacies. The Jemaa el-Fnaa has lots of basic (but delicious) market stalls where you can sit and enjoy Moroccan food. It’s busy and basic, but if you’re looking for an authentic meal come here. We also went to a beautiful restaurant just off the square called the Marrachi, the food was divine and we were entertained by belly dancers.
Visit the Atlas Mountains
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the Altas Mountains but I heard such good things from travelers that I thought it needed including. There are many trips you can pick from, all of which take you to view the mountains and the waterfalls of Ourika Valley. Some trips also give you the opportunity to visit a traditional Berber village. It’s a full day of your holiday but definitely worth it if you can fit it in.
Visit the Jardin Majorelle
This is a garden that was curated by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in the 60’s and is still maintained today. The garden is reasonably small, but big in personality. It’s worth spending an hour here just to see the beautiful flower decorations.
Catch a horse and carriage
We caught a horse and carriage to the Jardin Majorelle (on a bartered price of course), and it was a novel way to see the city. They also waited for us outside the gardens and took us back for a really low cost.
Enjoy a hammam
Marrakech is a busy city and sometimes it’s nice to have a little break and relax, which is where the traditional hammam comes in. We visited the Les Bains de Marrakech and had a traditional scrub and oil massage. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy a bit of pampering.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips on Marrakech and if you would like to visit this city you can see a collection of our top Marrakech hotels on our site.
Anything you think I’ve missed out?