Marrakech is one of the most unique places I have ever been to. Walking the streets of Marrakech makes you feel like you are back in time. It feels like you are on a set of 18th century movie. The dusty narrow alleys are alive with people and action. There are children running around everywhere, trying to talk to us in french, women in hijab, smoke coming from people cooking meat on the street food stalls, oranges and orange juice sold at every corner, spices, oils, more spices, berber bread, carpets, men on bikes coming at you from every corner, cats, kittens, pregnant cats, everywhere. There are people riding donkeys to transfer fruits and veggies to their stalls. It’s all a bit chaotic at first and definitely overwhelming, but the more time you spend in Marrakech, the more you realise that everything here has a mystical flow, and you become part of it.
I am wearing a Maxi Dress from ASOS.
Things to do and places to eat:
Majorelle Gardens are magical. Previously owned by Yves Saint Laurent are now open to public for a small fee. There are incredible flowers, plants and cactuses from all over the world. It’s a colourful garden that is full of enchanting spots that are picture perfect. I promise you will walk out of this garden with a 1000 new pictures, haha. I did.
Right across from Majorelle Gardens, you will find Kuawa cafe. It’s got beautiful funky decor, healthy, fresh local food, as well as delicious unique smoothies with fresh and dried fruit. Plenty of vegetarian options here. Check out their gift shop for great handcrafted souvenirs. Their selection is much better than what you will find on a busy touristic street in Medina and you don’t have to negotiate.
Medersa Ben Youssef is definitely worth a visit. The cool and colourful tiles, and intricate architecture is absolutely jaw dropping.
Maison de la Photographie de Marrakech - is a great exhibition of vintage photographs. Make sure to walk all the way up and enjoy some mint tea on their peaceful terrace. You will be amazed by the views of the Atlas mountains.
Terrasse des Epices was recommended by Marion, our french Air BnB host. It was a cool hangout spot where you can enjoy some fresh mint tea and dessert. Their speciality is this chocolate pastry filled with melted chocolate. Mmm….It was so good, I had to try a bit. We also had a refreshing orange salad with cinnamon. This is a great place to watch the sunset from. They serve lunch and dinner here as well.
Jamaa El-Fna is the action central. This is the main square in the Medina, full of people, street food stalls and street performers. It’s loud, crowded and super chaotic, but also very, very fun. It’s a great experience if you want to see what locals do here in the evenings. The square becomes alive later in the evening, so that’s when I would recommend visiting it.
Nomad is definitely our favourite restaurant in Marrakech. We went there 3 times while we were there. We just couldn’t get enough. It’s got a really cool vibe: a mix of traditional and modern which reflects in their decor, as well as their menu. They have great salads and smoothies. Also, I think they had the best vegetable tagine ( and believe me I had a lot of them in the few days we were in Marrakech). Also, very great and genuine service, which always makes for a great dining experience. Make sure to go on the rooftop and enjoy the view of Medina. (Check out their gift shop. It’s got some cool stuff that you can get for yourself or family. We bought a tea pot with cool modern Moroccan tea cups.)
L’atitude 31 is another great restaurant with a beautiful garden. We had a delicious lunch here.
For a day trip and relaxation, head to Beldi Country Club as it is great for lunch and to work on your tan by the pool. Call ahead and book your visit. We payed something like $35 per person for lunch and pool facilities, which I think is a steal, considering the food was actually really great and the grounds of Beldi Club are absolutely spectacular. Beldi Club is really big and you can wonder for hours through its beautiful grounds and gardens. It’s also a resort, so it’s actually a great option if you want to stay somewhere really peaceful.
Gastro MK is a restaurant we really wanted to go to, however since we didn’t make a reservation we couldn’t get in. It’s alright, there is always next time! :)
Riad El Fenn is a super beautiful boutique hotel, owned by Vanessa Branson, Richard Branson’s sister. It’s truly a magical place. We considered staying there, as it’s conveniently located in the heart of Medina and is also very reasonably priced. We ended up staying at an AirBnB instead, yet we still went to El Fenn rooftop gardens for some mint tea and sunset watching. It was incredible!
We stayed at a Riad in the very local part of medina, which we found on Air BnB (get $25 off your first AirBnb stay - click here) and it was absolutely spectacular, as you can see in my Marrakech Vlog. I’m so happy we chose that over a hotel, because this way we got to have a real Morrocan experience and immerse in the local culture. We got lost several times on the way to our Riad and the locals were kind enough to help us get home. It was a crazy and fun experience.
- Get a local sim card right at the airport when you arrive in Marrakech. It’s cheap (120 Dirhams or $12 for 3GB of data and local calling) and works really well. Trust me, you will need the internet to get around Marrakech. The provider is INWI and it’s located on the right hand side as you exit customs.
- Exchange your currency right at the airport as the rates were good and allows you to have cash for the cab, to buy your sim, and saves you the hassle of finding an exchange place in the Medina.
- Taxis - Negotiate the price before you get in the cab and make sure to confirm it with your driver. They tend to “change” the price by the time you arrive. Usually 20-30 Dirhams should get you around town and 50 Dirhams at night. It’s about 100-150 Dirhams from the airport to the Medina and 100 back.
- Dress Code - I would stick with long skirts and dresses to avoid stares from men. Maxi skirts and dresses are perfect. Most women wear head scarves or hijab and the ones that don’t, do not really expose too much of their skin. So, if you do, you will naturally draw attention. Men can wear whatever they want. I know, not fair! Haha
- Watch your stuff and be aware of pick pocketers. Have a small messenger bag and put everything in it. Avoid putting things such as your camera, phone or money in your pockets.
- Realise that you will get lost, so just make peace with it and have fun. Getting lost is part of being found. Load a map on your phone that you can use on your phone even if you don’t have Internet connection. People on the streets will offer to help you (most likely for money). Watch out for scammers as well: they will tell you that whatever “restaurant” or “museum” you are looking for is closed today and offer to take you somewhere else, like a fabric market, etc. Don’t trust them. Sometimes they confuse you and take you to a dead end alley and then you have no choice but to pay them to get you out of there. We almost got into a situation like that, haha. We caught up fast enough to refuse the guy’s help and then realised it was all a set up and the museum we were looking for was actually open and working.
- Go to a terrace. Marrakech is a city of contrast. Palm trees against snow peak mountains. Loud and hectic streets right by hidden magical restaurants with quiet gardens and terraces.
- When you see “Moroccan salad” on the menu, remember that it is not actually a fresh salad. It’s usually some sort of a mix of cooked vegetables.