A trip to Morocco would not be complete without Marrakech on your itinerary. The city has earned the nickname as the Red City for its beautiful red colored buildings. It is also loved for its location, rich history and climate. It truly is a place to enjoy and take a trip back through time, as it is extremely well preserved. I thought it would be a good idea to write a bit more about the city and some tips for visiting. Enjoy!
Where to stay
When in Morocco, the best place to stay is definitely a Riad, or a traditional house of the region. They are not only authentic, but often incredibly beautiful, with the focus of the house being the inner courtyard. The windows of the house all face this courtyard and there is often a beautiful garden or pool in the courtyard.
These Riads offer the ultimate privacy and are often ornately decorated. There are many holiday rentals in Marrakech that offer stays in Riads and many of these Riads have even been turned into hotels giving you plenty of choices for accommodation.
Location of the City
Marrakech’s location is very unique, especially with the picturesque Atlas Mountains and its close proximity to the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s desert backdrop also provides a truly unique experience for those that have never been to northern Africa before.
The city has two distinct identities. One is the old fortified part of the city and the other is the modern city that is always abuzz with activities.
When to Visit Marrakech
You can visit Marrakech at any time of the year as it has a wonderful climate with average temperatures of 55 degrees and 85 Fahrenheit in winter and summer, respectively. This makes it an ideal spot for a winter getaway if you are from the Northern Hemisphere!
Several languages spoken in Marrakech. However, French, Arabic, Spanish and Berber are the most common. English can be heard too, especially with the huge number of tourists flocking here each year. It does, however pay to know a few words in French to get by and also to enjoy a more authentic experience.
Dirhams are the currency of Morocco and form an important part of life in Marrakech. Most shopkeepers take only cash and it is only in larger or more international shops or places where you can pay with card, so keep this in mind. It is always good to have cash on hand in Marrakech! Haggling is very common in Marrakech and you should never accept the first stated price from the merchants, particularly in the souks. Enjoy haggling, but don’t go overboard with it, because at the end of the day these people are just trying to earn a living.
Things to See and Do in Marrakech
Roaming around the city and soaking in all that the city has to offer is the best thing that you can do. The city is always filled with activities especially as the sunset approaches. There are snake charmers, acrobats, fruit sellers and others that keep you entertained.
The souks in the squares and small alleys have shops that sell locally handcrafted things. You can also see the locals busily working on their specific crafts. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best time to visit these souks as this is the time when they auction their goods. You can get good deals on handcrafted items and there is no better souvenirs than these.
Having a rich cultural history, Marrakech has so many attractions that are worth visiting. Here are just a few that you should see:
The Museum of Marrakech: The Dar Menebhi Palace has been transformed into the Marrakech Museum. It displays historic books, pottery, coins, art and other artifacts from the region.
Jemaa el Fnaa: You can call it the modern day market place in the old city. A major tourist attraction, the place is best to buy souvenirs and clothes and to taste the delicacies of Morocco. It is lively during the day, but even more so at night, so don’t forget to visit it during both times. You will know exactly what I mean when you experience it for yourself.
Marrakech Gardens: There are several gardens in Marrakech that can be visited during the nice summer months. The places are cool and quiet. Some of the famous and popular gardens include the Menara Garden, Majorelle Garden, and Olive Grove.
Koutoubia Mosque: This is one of the landmark sites of Marrakech. You can see the 70-meter tall minaret of the mosque from many parts of the city. It is important to remember that the mosque is only able to be accessed by people of the Muslim faith only. Despite this, it is still worth seeing even if you are not able to go inside because it truly is a stunning sight and a must see in Marrakech.
Other places of interest: Some other tourist attractions include the Saadian Tombs, Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts, the Toubkal National Park and the Bahia Palace. Each of these sites has their own special charm and are well worth a visit.
It’s important to check the dress code for many tourist sites in Marrakech, especially because Morocco is an Islamic country with strict rules relating to clothing. This is particularly the case with women, as it is traditional in the Islamic culture for women to cover most parts of their skin. As it is warm in Marrakech, it is a good idea to pack in light weight and flowing garments that cover your shoulders and knees, like scarves and long skirts.
The left hand is considered unclean in Morocco. Therefore, when you are shaking hands with someone or eating, you should use your right hand.
Friday is a holy day and it is possible that some places are closed on Fridays, so it is always best to ask or look this up in advance.
Wear comfortable footwear
Comfortable footwear is a must, because you will be doing a lot of walking in Marrakech. Especially when you are exploring the endless alleyways of the souks..
Be aware of the pickpockets
As marketplaces are usually full of people, pickpockets like to operate in these close knit places, so it is important to be aware of your possessions at all times. It is important not to carry or show large sums of money in public, as well as having large bags that are easy to be taken off you by pickpockets.
Get a map
Maps are very useful in Marrakech, especially since asking the helpful locals may mean that they expect some money in return for directions.
Have you traveled to northern Africa? Tell me in the comments below!
This post is in collaboration with the Luxury Retreats. All opinions are my own.
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