8 THINGS TO DO IN MARRAKECH, MOROCCO
Hi everyone 😊
I hope you’ve all enjoyed the weekend. I think we can finally begin to feel a little spring in the air now, which is soo so nice! Ok, it's still pretty chilly outisde, I concede - but as long as the sun is out, I think we should be happy. 😍
So, last week I wrote a bit about the first place we stayed in Marrakech, Riad Le Clos Des Arts, a really beautiful and quiet riad in the southeast of the Medina. I can definitely recommend you check out this place, if you haven't already done so yet. 😉
I also promised a guide of some must-see's and do's in Marrakech, so for today's post, I've tried compiling a list of some of the sights and attractions we think are worth a visit while there. I hope you'll enjoy it. 😊
1. STAY IN A RIAD
This is a MUST-DO when in Marrakech if you ask me. Riads are really an accomodation type of its own, in an amazing way. 😍
For us, staying in a riad was the PERFECT combination of a boutique hotel and the Airbnb option; riads are essentially boutique hotels, only more intimate I would say, as they usually have no more than ten rooms (oftentimes less), which are all individually decorated. Also, with the small amount of rooms in a riad, you almost get the feeling that you're staying in a private home, especially because the owners or hosts of the riad make a great deal about making guests feel comfortable and catered for.
As such, with riads you both get get the intimate boutique hotel experience, while still feeling like a local, as you often meet and speak with the owners of the riad as well as other guests.
2. BROWSE AROUND THE MANY SHOPS IN THE SOUK - AND PRACTICE YOUR HAGGLING SKILLS (YOU WILL NEED THEM 😉)
Ok, to those not familiar with the term souk, it basically means marketplace or commercial quarter, and that is exactly what it is! Never have I seen so many shops with so many things - small and big - piled on top of eachother in one place, like you'll find in Marrakech.
For first-time visitors, the experience can be a little bewildering due to the number of people, things, scooter, donkeys et cetera all mixed together in one place.
Strolling down the narrow lanes of the souk, which easily can be interchanged with a maze, you'll find everything from lamps to carpets, spices to traditional foods, scented oils to clothes - and much (much!) more. If you don't mind getting lost or being appraoched by multiple vendors trying to sell you all kinds of different things, you'll be rewarded with wonderful sights, sounds and smells and perhaps also a nice bargain from one of the many shops.
Although you will not find many (if any) price tags, when strolling through the souks of Marrakech, you should not ask for the price of an item - however, the general rule of thumb is to offer around half the seller's first price, and then take it from there. Some (or most really) will be willing to sell at that price, however, you will also meet more price conscious, or should I say stubborn, sellers (no offence to anyone 😉), who has a set value for their goods and whom will not easily be bargained with. They do, however, usually come around and end up selling cheaper anyway. We tried that soo many times.
Basically, there is never a 'correct' price - find out what the item in question is worth to YOU and go with that price. Oftentimes, we don't really need that thing anyway - more of a nice-to-have than a need-to-have, if you know what I mean. 😉 Still, I think souvenirs are great to be honest, and I looove decorating my home with them, adding a little exoticness and foreign feel to our home - I think that's pretty great. 😍
3. VISIT THE TANNERIES, WHERE LEATHER IS MADE
If you want to get glimpse of the more authentic parts of Marrakech, you should pay a visit to the tanneries located in the northeast of the medina, primarily in the Bab Debbagh quarter. Here most of the leather sold inside the souks and shops of the city is prepared - with everything that this process involves, - for trade.
In other words, visiting the tanneries is not for the faint-hearted, since the experience is often an intense sensory overload in terms of both smells, colors and sights.
As you approach the area, you will not be in doubt, as the smell will usually let you know that you're in the right area. When we visited in February and thus during winter time, the smell wasn't super bad, as the temperatures weren't that high, compared to summer time, where the temperatures sometimes reach as high as 50 degrees, making the smell almost unbearable.
When you get there, you'll most likely be met by a shopkeeper or an affiliate to the tannery - most of them are in fact run by entire families, who also happen to live there, right in the middle of the actual 'factory'.
We were met by a shopkeeper, who gave us a tour of the place, while telling us a bit of its history. Luckily, he gave us a sprig of mint to help offset the smell, as we walked around in the tannery - I'm not sure I would have been to excited without it. 😂
Another thing you might like to bear in mind, when walking through the streets of Marrakech is that some local Moroccans make a living out of guiding tourists to their destinations (since finding one's way around the medina can be quite challenging at times 😉). Although these people are not 'real' guides, they still expect you tip them a little, so just make sure to bring some cash around should you get lost and accept to be guided by one of these guys. We actually used their guidance quite a few times but were also very clear the times we didn't want them to guide us. 😊
4. TAKE A DAYTRIP
Although the city of Marrakech is extremely intriguing and fascinating, you might need a break from the hustle and bustle that is constantly going on there. This is where a daytrip to one of the surrounding (and more quiet) areas comes in handy.
Morocco as a country has a lot to offer, so you'll have plenty to choose from really; ranging from Essaouira (the country's surfer paradise), Ouzoud Waterfall, Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert.
We were very keen on visiting the desert but thought that Sahara was a liitle too far from Marrakech (around 350 km, implying that you would need at least two-three days to do it properly). Luckily, with the seven days we had at our disposal, there was a more realistic alternative; the Agafay Desert, which is only about a 45 minutes drive from the city center.
For our one-day getaway, we chose the Scarabeo Camp, and that is undoubtedly one of the most amazing and breathtaking experiences I've tried. I'll tell you a lot more about it in a seperate post. 😊
5. VISIT YVES SAINT LAURENT MUSEUM + JARDIN MAJORELLE
If you're into fashion, or just like at pretty things in general, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and the Jardin Majorelle are both must-sees when in Marrakech.
Get there early in the morning, preferably around 9am, as the place gets really packed later. We got there around 11am, and that was in fact a little late, we agreed afterwards. The line to the garden was already very long, but then a guard told us to go see the museum prior to visiting the garden, since this would grant us access to the garden itself, only without having to wait in the long line. That shortened our waiting by quite a decent amount - we only had to wait 10 minutes to get into the museum, and from there we could go dirently to the garden. I can definitely recommend you do the same. 😊
6. SHOP DELICIOUS VEGGIES AND FRUITS AT THE LOCAL GROCERY MARKETS
We looove grocery shopping when travelling, especially fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and other delicious specialties of the country we're visiting. Even though we're travelling, we like to cook our own foods - to the extend possible of course. We always pay a visit to the local markets the first day and buy our own veggies, fruits etc - to get our daily greens you know, plus when the selection is that good, it's hard not to. 😉
At the local Marrakech markets, they literallt have EVERYTHING - it's basically like one big supermarket only in open market style with no shelves or cashiers, but that just makes the experience a lot more authentic and local.
At the local markets, you will not only find fresh veggies and fruits, but also a great variety of meats, ranging from beef to chicken to fish and in some places rabbits. What is nice to know here is the fact that some of the animals are in fact slaugthered in front of the customer - that is very normal if you buy chicken for instance. Of course, we didn't buy any meats, but despite that you might not be able to fully avoid seeing it.
I personally found that a liiittle overwhelming, but I mean, this is nonetheless the way it works - we're just not used to seeing that part of eating meats in our part of the world. 😊
7. EAT TRADITIONAL MOROCCAN FOOD LIKE TAGINE
I didn't really know what to expect from the Moroccan cuisine, so I just went with an open mind, like always haha 😄, and I was definitely positively surprised.
Tagine is basically a (very) slow-cooked stew, making the meats used perfectly tender and moist. They use different kinds of meats, ranging from chicken to beef to lamb, but vegetarian tagines are also an option - and really good if you ask me. We often ordered one chicken tagine and one vegetarian and just shared the two. 😊
8. GO OUT (DANCING 😉) AT COMPTOIR DARNA
Comptior Darna is a restaurant/bar/club, located in the new part of town named Gueliz, which is VERY different from the old part (the medina). The atmosphere here is more international, and it is also typically the place to go for a night out.
We were recommended to go here by multiple people, and I can tell we weren't disappointed. We actually celebrated Valentine's night at Comptior Darna, and thay had surely put a great effort into making the night a celebratory one.
.Around 1030pm there is a bellydancing show, which indeed was entertaining - and quite impressive also. We got there around 10pm, which seemed to be a perfect time, as we got to order and get our foods just in tome for the show, so that we could enjoy the show, while eating your foods - which were also really good by the way. 😉
I hope you enjoyed this guide. 💛
And safe travels, guys. ✈
Lots of good energy, K