In the Fall of 2018 I spent a week in Morocco and a few of my most memorable days were spent in Marrakech. As world travel is still being evaluated a few friends have asked so I thought I would put together my recommendations for Marrakesh (or Marrakech as the locals spell it, using the french way). Without further ado, my top 9 best things to do in Marrakesh.
1 | Stay in a Riad | A riad is a type of traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard and while they were historically single or multi family homes many, especially in the heart of cities like Marrakesh, have been turned into hotels or BnB type places. They range in price from $30 to $500 per night and while I don’t recommend the speicifc one we stayed in, I would still recommend you try and stay in one, particuarly in the centrally located old city.
2 | Have a Tea | You can find Moroccan mint tea in almost any grocery store in the world but having it fresh in Marrakesh is really quite a treat. Instead of a tea bag it is made of fresh mint, hot water, and gunpowder tea (a Chinese green tea) plus lots of sugar cubes! (Unless you like Southern sweet tea I would ask for the sugar on the side!)
3 | Get Lost in the Medina. | The Marrakesh Medina is the number one top-rated tourist attractions in all Morocco and I wrote a post about my experience but it is definitely worth a day there! It is really hard to describe the size – it seems to have no end and there are different markets, mosques, crafts, foods, teas, and other discoveries around each new corner.
4 | Have a Hammam | We visited the Beldi Country Club and while only 10km outside of Marrakech this gorgeous hotel which has a day spa you can visit, even if you are not staying there. The hammam experience is unlike any other I have experience being washed head to toe by attendants, rinsed while lying with heated marble, having your hair scrubeed with traditional black soap and exulaptus oil, and then left to rest in a zen room with team. A few of us opten for the traditional hammam and scrub followd by a 30 minute massage and it was delightful, especially considering we then went to cockails by the pool! You can check out their site for more or if you are looking within the city proper I have good things about the hammams at La Mamounia, Royal Mansour, and Les Bains de Marrakech.
5 | Visit the Bahia Palace | This palace and it’s beautiful gardnes are located right in the heart of the city and is considered to be one of the greatest palaces of the 19th century. It is a mix of Islamic and Moroccan style architecture and though all of the rooms are bare you can get a sense of the grandeour just by the walls, ceilings, and carvings – never mind the bright colors! If you are interested in a vist, make sure to check out the whole post about this!
6 | Get a Henna: While henna is a popular Morocco traditioan worn by women of all ages this tempeorary brownish paste is only usually appleid for weddings or holidays. That said, it is common for foriegners to get one on their vacation, most commonly on their hands or feet. Ours was done by a friend’s cousin at her home so I can not recommend a specific shop but have a quick Google – it’s a great expereince!
7 | Bargin in the Souks: When speaking to an owner at one of the 3,000 stalls that sell everything from scarves and spices it is required that you bargain. Prices are often not listed on items and in my experience they started with a price 3x or 4x what I actually ended up paying – like these pillow shams on my bed today!
8 | Look Down on the Plaza Jemaa el-Fnaa: This massive car-free square is the enterance to the medina and to be honest, a bit scary to walk through with the small monkeys trying to climb on, snake charmers, and pick pockets but taking in the scene from the third story of a cafe around the square? A lovely experience! We grabbed over priced sodas at the Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier and snagged some seats to watch the sun set over the plaza and I highly recommend it!
9 | Ride a Camel: Like the hammam / spa we had to drive a bit out of the city for this but an hour long sunset camel ride in the desert palm groves of La Palmeraie was quite an expeirence. Camels bumpy and quite slow (slower than a normal person walking) but it was a great expeirence – you can see my full post about it here – and our ride was complete with traditional attire!
10 | Enjoy a Morcooan Night Out: In this traditional Islamic coutnry alcohol is not common but hookah (or hasishes) can be foudn nearly everywhere! We found a few restruants in Marrakesh, including Comptoir Darna Marrakech (excellent all around but price) and Bendoo (great music and dancers, medium food) that did serve alcohol too!
There are a few places I did not get to visit like the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in Marrakesh, I would be sure to add to my interary next time! Plus the experience of the Medina alone I would go back for – but this time with an empty suitcase to bring back all of my purchases, especially the pottery and linens!
Which of these things would you want to do the most in Marakkesh?