Marrakech, fascinating and charming city in Morocco is one of the most overlooked but intriguing cities in the world – which is why this Ultimate Marrakech Travel Guide is a must read before your visit.
Also nicknamed as, ‘Red City’ due to many sandstone walls and buildings around, dating several years back, is a cultural hub attracting travellers with its nature and contemporary treasures. This 1,000 years old city is home to gorgeous and contemporary architecture with shimmering palaces and dusky pink ramparts. The vibrant and colourful city is based on the fringes of Sahara desert, quite close to the snow-capped Altas Mountains. Morocco is also one of the cheapest destinations in the world; perfect for backpackers and budget travellers.
It’s in the thrumming and seething souks of Marrakech, where you find a perfect combination of destinations like- Europe, Middle East and Africa; often known since centuries as a trading hub. As you glide through the souks, you will be intimated by the energy of Heena tattoo artists, snake charmers, acrobats and local Hammams. Marrakech is capable of fulfilling Arabian fantasies, from thrumming souks, delectable cuisine and rich history around every corner.
Best time to visit Marrakech
The best time to visit Marrakech is during spring for it sunny days, i.e. from March to May. Autumn is also very pleasant spanning from September to November. Summers here are very hot with temperature raving up to 45 degrees Celsius, with months of June to August witness summer’s scorching heat.
December to February is considered peak season here, with suitable climatic conditions and thus prices tend to be very high. However, during January, temperatures hover around 20 degree Celsius, making it more pleasant and comfortable for people not used to hot places.
During Ramadan, majority of the restaurants are closed, with many tourist attractions open for limited time. However, the festive season is amazing and showcases the culture prevalent here.
The national currency is Moroccan Dirham and $1 is approximately MAD9.72. Only in case of urgency, convert your money at the airport, as its quite expensive compared to the exchange rate in the main city. Just the transfer money should be converted at the airport, as you’ll find many exchange places at the main square, providing great exchange rates.
With so many amazing things to do in Marrakech, it is important to plan your itinerary ahead of time, choosing the right activities for you.
Here are just a few things to do in the city:
Medina – old historic part of town. Start your trip with a walk through the cobblestoned lanes in the Medina, covered with Hammam bath houses and Spice and textile souks which occupy the fortified Citadel.
Dar-si-Said Palace – turned into Museum, showcasing extraordinary architecture and craft of the time.
Musee de Marrakech – dedicated to Islamic and Morocco art.
El Badi Palace and Bahia Palace – situated close to one another. Its architecture is a treat to the eyes with reflecting pools and beautiful gardens, surrounding it. The Arabic word, ‘Bahia’ translates to ‘beautiful and brilliant’ which stands true to every aspect of it.
Yves Saint Laurent Museum is all about fashion and design; showcasing clothing, illustrations and accessories.
Riads – For a unique hotel stay, choose to stay in a gorgeous Riad – these can be found all over Morocco with beautiful options in Medina.
Explore the Altas Mountains – Hike along these breathtaking mountains for those looking for an outdoor adventure.
Ouzoud Waterfalls – a collection of tall waterfalls that roll into the El-Abid River gorge.
Jardgin Majorelle – a beautiful botanical garden with stunning presentations to admire.
Maison de la Photogrpahie – A gallery of vintage Morooccan photography, documenting the lifestyle and landscape of Morocco between 1870 and 1950.
Souk Semmarine – shop at the famous Souks (markets) in the heart of Marrakech, picking up silverware, leather goods, rugs, crockery and more.
Souk Place de Epices – If you are looking for aromatic flavours and spiices, this is the souk to explore; with hundreds of merchants sell spices. There are also a ring of cafes nearby to people watch from.
Relax – Relish and rejuvenate at the Hammam; one of the oldest being Les Bains de Marrakech, still stands the test of the time.
GETTING AROUND MARRAKECH
Marrakech is a big city so you will need a way of getting around Marrakech unless you have opted for a Marrakech city tour.
On foot is the best way to get around in the souks of Medina interacting with the locals and having a glimpse of the trade here.
Another suitable way to cover long distances is by taking taxis to get to distinct tourist attractions. Make sure you negotiate as you have great chances to haggle a good deal for yourself.
TukTuks, rather convenient and affordable means of transport, helps you get around major parts of the city. In Marrakech, TukTuk license is granted to handicapped drivers, only; the main reason why you can’t find a hoard of them. It is a great way to travel around Medina. However, make sure you agree to a price before taking the ride (whether in TukTuk or taxi).
Join the crowds in Jemaa el-Fna Square, with people sipping fresh orange juice. Crepes are one of the most popular Moroccan delicacies. Street food quality at El-Fna square is monitored by the local health department and thus quite hygienic.
Chicken dishes are very popular amongst the Moroccans, mostly prepared in front of you to prove the freshness of the meat. The sight may be disturbing for a few.
There are vineyards in Morocco dating back to the ancient Greeks, who moved here in 1500 BC. Grey wine, which is basically white wine, is made from red grapes and is quite refreshing.
Marrakech travel tips
Marrakech is a beautiful place and worth a visit – however,there are certain things to be aware of before you arrive:
- Carry change (small cash) with you as people expect money in exchange for taking pictures at the souk, with souk owners or snake charmers asking for money.
- In Medina, be specific about your dropping point (if travelling via taxis), as you will have to travel on foot in narrow lanes of the souks.
- Dress modestly in order to respect the local culture, especially near places of worship.
- Make sure you fix the fare (in case you are traveling by taxi or TukTuk) before getting inside, as they charge hefty prices when it comes to tourists. A good haggle would get you a great deal. You can always ask your hotel what the expected rate should be.
- Be careful (especially women) with the locals at the souks and various other places, as people would take you to shady corners on the pretext of helping or guiding you through the place. They tend to ask for money and may even get abusive. Make sure you ask for directions from people who cannot accompany you likes souk owners, to avoid such situations.
- Be careful of two-wheelers with your bag as they can snatch and run away. Always keep right if you are walking on the narrow lanes of the souk.