Stunning gardens, rooftop bars, cozy riads, narrow streets, famous souks and the rich smells of the Moroccan kitchen. Today, Marrakech is one of the most popular city destinations for travellers and we totally understand why.
We fell in love immediately. Where do you need to go to and which rumours are true? Here is an up to date Marrakech Guide for 2019!
Good to know:
Is it safe to walk around in Marrakech?
Yes it is! People in Marrakech are super friendly. Usually, google maps is your best friend, but not everywhere in Marrakech unfortunately. So try to remember how to walk back to your riad. Tip: Drop a pin in google maps.
Is Marrakech full of tourist traps?
Unfortunately, scams in the city do happen. Kids offer to help you to find the way for free. Once you have arrived you need to pay. They try to mislead you into the wrong direction too. This can be super annoying at first, but after one day you know what to do. Just say no, merci. Make sure you keep your personal belongings close to you, but this applies to all cities in the world.
Houses and buildings are made out of red sandstone, therefore Marrakech is known as ‘The Red City’
Tip! Taxis are not always able to drop you at the doorstep of your riad, you always need to walk the last part.
What should you wear?
There’s no dresscode, but I would stick with long skirts and dresses to avoid stares from locals. Remember that you are in a different country with another culture which we should respect. Bring something that will cover the shoulders.
Is Marrakech expensive?
Marrakech is not cheap compared to Greece for example, especially when you visit pools in Hotels and eat in famous hotspots like El Fenn, Nomads etc. However, if you visit the more local restaurants and markets, prices drop. A taxi from the airport will cost you around 15 euro and from Medina to the new city around 10 euro. Always negotiate a price upfront!
Where to stay?
Don’t waste your money on the bigger hotels in Marrakech but stay at a traditional riad! Most of them are in the Medina, so you’re nearly always walking distance from the main square.
We stayed in Riad Dar Vima for only 40 euro per night! A beautiful and serene riad, run by couple Leonie (Dutch) and Soufian (Moroccan). This is the place where you should stay. You will stay in comfy beds, surrounded by beautiful furniture, a great rooftop with nice sunbeds and local Moroccan breakfast, which is prepared by the mother of the riad Aziza which is included. They helped us with everything! From Riad Dar Vima you walk to the souks in about 7 minutes. A big plus: you are not woken up by early prayers, it’s quiet and peaceful!
Where to Eat
Nomad is a popular modern Moroccan eatery with an amazing view. Also, vegetarians and pescatarians will be happy to eat here because the restaurant serves simple and delicious “Modern Moroccan” dishes. From chickpea salads with tzatziki, avocado and barley with celery and sesame seeds to roasted cauliflower in ras-el-hanout, harissa and turmeric butter, served over a bed of herb infused couscous, for 9 euro. They open every day from noon till 23h.
Naraj restaurant is the place for you if you love Lebanese food. The restaurant is located in the middle of the Medina. A great restaurant with a beautiful rooftop, friendly service and delicious food!! Unfortunately, the menu is not large, but everything on there is worth trying!
Le jardin Tucked away in a small street in the medina you’ll find this green oasis in a beautifully renovated 16th Century building. When entering it looks small, but eventually you will walk into a lush garden dotted with tables and lights surrounded by the majestic building and the terraces! We passed it so many times and on our last day we decided to have lunch here. Glad we did! Our fave dish, the Kofta tagine with egg and tomato sauce is only 10 euro.
Café Arabe has a lounge-bar-restaurant on the terrace with a great view. Good to know: They sell alcohol during Ramadan if you really want it.
El Fenn is a lovely setting for lunch. Here they serve traditional Moroccan dishes but also offer a European menu. Try the fresh mint juice, divine! You can also book a hotel room here, but it will come at a price.
Limoni restaurant with Moroccan and Italian cuisine is a hidden gem close to our Riad. With a shaded patio and terrace.
+61 This is a super modern restaurant in ‘new town’, owned and run by Australian Cassandra Karinsky. Marrakech is home to some top-notch eateries and this place is definitely one you should check out. I took the homemade ricotta red peppers capers piadina for 6.40 euro and salmon with pickles and bread for 11 euro.
Comptoir Darna Someone tipped this legendary and traditional restaurant, located in the Rue Ahmed Chaqui in the heart of the buzzing Hivernage district. With dinner and a belly dancing show at the same time. An experience you won’t forget that easy. It’s a popular destination where people start with a drink on their terrace, have dinner during the event and end the night dancing with a tasteful cocktail.
Le foundouk Eat on the stunning rooftop terrace by candle light for a very romantic setting. I chose the Gyozas with chicken (Japanese ravioli) – ginger and coriander for 10 euro, the Moroccan pastilla with chicken and almonds (sweet and salty) and the Chicken tagine with preserved lemons.
Where to Shop
Loose yourself in the souks! It’s a must see and a wonderful experience. You can get lost for hours. Warning, you immediately want to buy everything you see, but wait for your last day! Prices usually start quite high, so be prepared to negotiate. Tip! Try to buy carpet, lamps etc. just outside the souks.
Djemaa el Fna is the biggest Souk but also the most touristic one. For a more traditional experience we would recommend Marché el Mellah. But be warned if you’re an animal lover, you’re going to see a lot of animals (especially chickens)., and unfortunately, they’re not there for the cosiness.
Most people buy their treasures inside the souks, but we bought most items next to our Riad Dar Vima. You will find many small local shops here. Are looking for a handmade carpet or rug? Buy it with Mohamed, he has the best there is! He sells carpets with beautiful patterns, shapes and colours and pretty blankets. Each one has a unique style and every rug is handmade on a loom, which you can see with your own eyes. Next door there is also a shop that sells traditional Moroccan lamps.
Where to Relax
Temperatures can rise up to 40 degrees in Marrakech so you need some options to cool off. Besides that, all that shopping and eating can make you tired so if you want to put your feet up, you have some wonderful options.
Selman. If you would like to escape the city for a moment then you should definitely check out Selman! It will blow your mind the minute you enter. It’s not very cheap though. A full day at the pool including a massage, hammam and lunch will cost you 1500 dirham (140 euro). However, the pool boys serve free water and juice throughout the day!
The Beldi Country Club
Like many people I choose to go to the Beldi Country Club, where you can spend some time by the pool with a beautiful garden. You can book a package deal of 36 euro where lunch (2 course meal) and pool access are included. If you go for the pool only, it will cost you 19 euro. On top we booked the hammam and spa treatment of 73 euro. Unfortunately, the steam didn’t really work and the body scrub- and wash was not what we expected. Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable and relaxing! Your skin will feel like a newborn!
There is more
Jumping back in history at the ruins of El Badi Palace
There is not much left of El Badi Palace but the peace and space it gives you is unique in the centre of Marrakech. The palace took twenty-five year to build and was an excessive display of the best craftsmanship of the Saadian period. You can still see some of the expensive materials they used. Next to the beauty of the ruins, it’s a good place to catch your breath in the middle of the overly crowded city.
Feeling like a princess at the Bahia Palace
Looking for that perfect Instagram spot? Think of mosaic floors, enchanting lighting and fairy-tale gardens. Bahia Palace is probably one of the most charming places in Marrakech. You’ll have to get up early if you don’t want hundred of tourists taking photos of your own selfie.
Tip » Don’t have enough time to travel to the Sahara? Dry your tears because I got a solution. Within a 20-minute car ride and with a spark of imagination it will feel like you’re in the Sahara while being just outside the city centre of Marrakech. Oke, you’re going to need a lot of imagination and a camel as well. But, when it’s all there you will feel like a true nomad. Note: a camel ride is a lot of fun and great holiday activity but please be aware that you book your trip at certified tour operations. We don’t want the camels to suffer for someone else’s enjoyment.
Fresh air in Essaouira
If you’re looking for some fresh (sea) air, Essaouira is one of the nearby beaches. It only takes 3 hours by bus, which will cost you about 8 euros. Don’t expect a luxurious, seaside resort. They call it the hippy city of Morocco and that reflects in the low-key way of living in this city. Surfing all day and listening to live reggae music all night is the normal routine.
Tip » You can make some great horse riding trips in Essaouria if you rather wouldn’t jump in the sea. Enjoy the sea, dunes and weather while getting your adrenaline pumped up by the speed of the horse. Book your trip at Equi Evasion, they treat the horses very well. Howdy ho, cowboy!
Le Jardin Majorelle
Don’t think you will escape the chaos of the medina when you visit le Jardin Majorelle. Come in as early as possible to avoid the crowds. If you are a botanical lover you must visit this colourful and beautiful garden with plants from all over the world, like cactus, jasmines, bougainvillea, palm trees, coconut trees, banana trees, bamboo and more. The creator of the garden was Jacques Majorelle, a French painter, that opened the garden to the public in 1947 to help offset their costly maintenance. Entrance is just 6,5 euro.
We heard many mix opinions about Marrakech but we would go back in a heartbeat! In conclusion, it was as stunning as you see on the photo’s and the people were very friendly. Just remember that you are stepping into a different culture and as a woman you may need to adjust a little. Nevertheless, we tip Marrakech as a must visit!