Morocco: City guide to Marrakech

Would you like to experience a culture packed with welcoming people, beautiful patterns and get lost in an oasis of heavenly colors? Well, you’re reading the right article; Marrakech is a city southwest of Morocco, and it’s an absolutely incredible destination. 

Colors, patterns, noise, traffic, people, busy streets, food… Just a few words to describe the breathtaking city of Marrakech. Travel here for the beautiful architecture, the stunning colours, the interior, the shoes, the scarfs, the food, the people and the unique atmosphere.

Live in a Riad

If you are in Marrakech for a short period of time, you should definitely live in a traditional Moroccan house with a garden or courtyard in Riad. Actually, you should stay in a Riad anyway, even for a small period of your stay, because it’s beautiful. Just be aware; the taxis can’t drive you to the door because they’re generally placed in the middle of the souks. If you’re staying for a longer period of time, you can also stay at one of the wonderful hotels outside of the old city , but (and there’s a big but) : you don’t travel to a cool place like this to live in a charter hotel. To really experience Marrakech you need to stay in a unique Moroccan style-hotel, like The Bird Exclusive Guest House and Spa. 

There is so much to see in Marrakech and you’ll need to prioritize – these are the things you need to see and do:

Jemaa el-Fna

Jemaa el-Fna is a big market square in the old city packed with people, food stalls, restaurants and cafés. Get some delicious fresh orange juice for only 4 dirhams from the stalls, watch the sunset from the rooftop at Hotel France, and try the best virgin mojito you’ve ever had at Café Glaze.

Mellah and Palais Bahia

Mellah is one of the big market places in the old city. Have a taxi take you there and walk around in the market streets for hours before heading back to Palais Bahia- a beautiful palace located right by the square (be aware of the opening hours, though). When you’re done exploring the palace, end your day at the Palais Bahia Restaurant. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but the food is really good, and you can enjoy the sunset from the rooftop. Get a meze-like salad as an entry, with lots of baked vegetables, olives, bread etc., order the chicken tagine and the pastilla to share for your main course, and finish Moroccan style with some fruit and mint tea.

Jardin Majorelle

Jardin Majorelle is the Yves Saint Laurent garden and museum. Hot tip: Buy a combined ticket – it costs a bit more, but you get the see everything and the line is a lot shorter. Inside the museum, you get to see sketches, fabrics, clothing, jewellery – and there’s a whole store filled with coffee table books. The YSL garden is a beautiful place too, with green plants, cool patterns and lots of happy colours. Ps! There is a student discount, just remember to bring your student identification if you have one.

Ben Youssef Madrasa and the Marrakech Museum

Ben Youssef Madrasa was originally an Islamic college hundreds of years ago, but in 1982 it was reopened as an historical site. It looks like a palace and is so beautiful with all its colourful tiles and a pool in the middle. 

Right by Ben Youssef you’ll find the Marrakech Museum, which a beautifully decorated fairytale destination with dark cave-like rooms and lots of art.

Restaurant Nomad

Make sure to set aside some time to eat dinner in the gorgeous sunset on the rooftop of Restaurant Nomad. It is very popular, so booking a table in advance is advisable. Snack on some of the appetizers to start, and have the lamb burger for main course.  

Hotel Mamounia

In Marrakech, pretty much everywhere makes a good photoshoot location, but if you’re serious about your Instagram feed, head to Hotel Mamounia. Make a day out of it and book a full spa day with lunch, or just enjoy a drink in the garden – the place is literally photoshoot heaven!

Things You Should Know

Marrakech and Scandinavia are culturally two very different places, and there are several things you should know before you go. First of all, how to dress: Morocco is an Islamic country and in order to show respect for their religious culture, you should make sure to dress appropriately. Bring some long dresses and skirts (below the knee) and a few scarves to cover your shoulders, and you’re good to go explore!

Haggling is a big thing in Marrakech, and in order not to get completely ripped off, know this: you can get scarfs for 50 Dirhams and shoes for under 100 Dirhams, and whenever you take a taxi, you should pay half of what they first say. Always agree on a price before you get in the taxi. From the airport to the city centre, you should pay around 200 Dirhams. A good tip is to talk to some locals and ask them what they normally pay for different things. For example, the locals only pay 30 Dirhams for Moroccan shoes, but tourists are often asked to pay 700.

Very few places accept credit cards and it can be difficult to find ATM’s in the city, so you should withdraw some cash at the airport. If you spend it all you can find ATM’s right by Palais Bahia and at the Jema el-Fnaa square. Don’t withdraw too much money, though, as it can be difficult to exchange it back to your country’s currency. 

It’s an advantage to know some French or Arabic (‘Shukraan’ means ‘thank you’ in Arabic) and you shouldn’t walk the streets after 9 pm, which is when the markets close. 

The final thing to be aware of, is that people want to charge money for literally everything and anything. If you pet their animal, take a picture of them, or they show you the way – they will want money for it.

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