Where to stay?
There are two options in Marrakech, a Hotel on the outskirt of the Medina, or a Riad right in the heart of the place. Both are completely different. If you’re looking for some R&R I’d definitely recommend staying in a hotel outside the city walls. If you want to be immersed into their culture a Riad is the one for you!
We stayed in Riad Amira. A 10 minute walk to the main square it was perfect and a tranquil paradise a stones throw from the crazy, busy streets of Marrakech! It was €50 per night and that included a fabulous light breakfast every morning. It also served bottles of wine at €14 per bottle, which is good to know as a lot of the restaurants don’t serve alcohol.
What to do?
There is honestly so much to do in Marrakech. I was only there for 3 days, so here’s what I fitted in and what I’d highly recommend!
My favourite way to explore a new city is to simply walk, get lost and immerse myself in their culture. The main Square is 1km from Riad Amira, and it’s a very pleasant walk. Just be warned, some locals will send you astray just for a laugh – harmless really, but you should definitely have a decent idea of where you’re going and always be a bit wary! If you need proper directions ask the shopkeepers and they’ll send you in the right direction!
I wandered off on my own one morning and while I did get comments from men I ignored them all. I didn’t acknowledge comments (especially the rude ones!) and I politely said “No thanks” and kept walking to everyone else who was offering something whether it was excursions or goods.
A lot of people had made me a little bit cautious about the souks. Yes it’s a bit crazy, but I felt so safe and I found all the shop keepers a good laugh, very friendly and they all loved a bit of banter!
I’d honestly dedicate the first day to simply getting your bearings, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the city and to take your time. Go deep into the souks, chat to the locals, barter with the shopkeepers. From leather goods to carpets and everything in between you’ll find them in the souks!
If you’re travelling on your own, don’t be scared of the souks. Have your wits about you at all times obviously and trust your gut, but honestly the souks are such an enjoyable experience! Just be sure to barter only when genuinely interested in an item and bargain HARD! Don’t worry, they’re not going to let something go for less than they’ve paid for it. Stick to your guns and you could nab a fantastic bargain! Marrakech is a shoppers paradise!
Jemaa el-Fnaa Square
It’s time to go back to Jemaa el-Fnaa Square which is the epicentre of Marrakech! It’s full of people selling anything and everything and can be quite overwhelming – especially at night! Be wary, I got overcharged €4 for some orange juice when he shortchanged me – another lesson learnt!
Be careful of the snake charmers and people with monkeys on strings, and do not attempt to take a photo as you’ll be hassled to fork up some case for the privilege! On a whole, always ask permission to take photo’s of different stalls just to be polite – they’ll say yes!
What to eat/drink?
After getting lost in the souks/Jemaa el-Fnaa square, It’s time for a little break. Everywhere in Marrakech serve Mint Tea and it’s absolutely delicious and is just the thing to give you a bit of energy to keep going and will set you back about €1 (10 Dirhams) so be sure to stop off as often as required!
If you’re getting a bit peckish you’ve ample choice as there’s enticing restaurants everywhere! I’d highly recommend Cuisine De Terroir a family owned restaurant with great food at reasonable prices. I got the Chicken and Lemon Tagine and it was delicious! It comes with bread and it’s the perfect Moroccan lunch. It’s situated in the souks (Right and then right after Cafe De France), so you can watch the world go by.
In the Medina, this place is absolutely gorgeous! Dating back to 1866 and is simply stunning, and hosts the Moroccan Royal Family from time to time! It’s well worth a visit – it will take no more than an hour. It’s located in the Medina and if you go early enough it will be a place of tranquillity in the craziness of the Medina. It costs 70 (€7) to enter and absolutely well worth it.
La Jardin de Majorelle
The Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech is one of the most visited sites in Morocco. It took French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) forty years of passion and dedication to create this enchanting garden in the heart of the “Ochre City”. The garden is a living and evolving work of art made up of exotic plants and rare species that he brought back from his travels around the world: cactus, yuccas, water lilies, white water lilies, jasmines, bougainvilleas, palms, coconut trees, banana trees and bamboos
It’s one of Marrakech’s Top attractions and it’s a lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon. For entrance into the garden’s and the Berber Museum (well worth a visit!) it’s 100 Dirhams €10 (70 entrance fee into the gardens and 30 to enter the Berber Museum) – you can also visit the YSL museum just beside the gardens – we didn’t have time, but by all accounts, it’s well worth it.
Without a shadow of a doubt the highlight from my Marrakech Trip. I booked the Hammam Rosa Bonhuer and when I tell you I felt like a new woman I mean it. There’s very accommodating and had an availability at short notice. They meet you in the main square (wearing their uniform clearly visible) and take you through the souks, down lane, after lane until you’re met with a brown door with their sign above it. From beginning to end, they were fantastic and have so many options available. On recommendation of my good friend Nicole I chose the traditional Hammam, with a massage and a facial as well as a traditional Moroccan Meal.
My friends had warned me about a Hammam – you’re scrubbed and washed to every inch of your life and you’re just wearing your underwear. I found it very refreshing, and very satisfying seeing your dead skin been scrubbed away! The Hammam lasted 45 minutes, and it was then onto the massage. 1 hour and 15 minutes of relaxation and it was absolute heaven. It was then followed by a 30 minutes facial and I could have floated out of there. After everything I got changed and a 3 course meal was waiting for me, and it was honestly the best meal I had while I was in Marrakech. I was there 4 hours, and it costs me €95 – 100% money well spent!
Overall I was pleasantly suprised with Marrakech, and I know for sure and for certain I will be back especially with it being so accessible to get to from Dublin. For only a 4 hour flight you feel like absolute miles away, and is a great destination if you’re looking for a taste of something more exotic without the long flight and the expense!