As I am a crazy planner, before leaving for my week in Morocco, I spent hours researching the net for information, tips and advice about Marrakech to try organizing my little time there (I had only 2 days one before my trip started and one at the end of the tour). I wanted to find the best organization for my visit. Now that I have been there, I want to share some tips I found useful to help you organize your time in Morocco and avoid a few bad surprises.
WHERE TO GO?
- Typical places to visit include the Koutoubia, Bahia Palace, Djemaa el-Fna – check out how I spent my day in Marrakech
- Get lost in the alleys of the Souk
- My guide took us to the Bahia Palace, and I really enjoyed it. However according to travel dudes, Dar Si Said or the Musee de Marrakech have more to offer…
- If you have more than one day for your trip, try getting a little bit out: proposed activities include cooking class (see the therapeutic power of cooking Moroccan bread), hot air balloon (see my experience) or hamman…
- Companies offer also a lot of day tours to Essaouira or some beautiful places in the high Atlas mountains
- If you even have more days, get out of Marrakech and head to the Sahara!
Here are some tips / advice for transportation and walking around in Marrakech
- Well a lot can be seen on foot and some places can be seen only on foot
- Be careful in the alleys as, although forbidden, there are a lot of motorcycles. When you are admiring everything around, it is easy to get frontal with them, they can go quite fast. Be alert!
- Taxis are available everywhere – define the price before or ask for them to start the meter. From my hotel Le Grand Imilchil to the Square it was 20 dirhams. I read that you can normally get anywhere in Marrakech for under 50 dh
- If you take a horse carriage, please check out the horses first. I say a lot of them not in really bad shape.
- Don’t trust directions! Especially from vendors – they don’t care or will ask for money. One of us got totally to the wrong direction because of 2 different people. However I asked someone reading quietly at a bus stop waiting for the bus and she was very helpful. Trust your instinct!
- The touristic Map of the city is not the most helpful… a lot of the small alleys are missing
EATING AND DRINKING
- If you take a juice, watch them do it that they do not add water and ask without ice. You do not want to be sick, and I met a few persons who were! But be sure to try, they are excellent
- A lot of restaurant on Djemaa el-Fna do not serve alcohol
- If you want to eat on the main place at night, this is definitively an experience, but be aware it will not be a peaceful night out. I love the concept of all these stalls that get installed every day, and the buzzing of the area. However they are really really pushy and can become very annoying. Our guide took us to number 34.The welcome dish was nice but all of us were very disappointed with our meal. Note that if you order fish it is fully fried…
- I have not tried it but I read that a great place to enjoy a drink while watching the busy square and appreciating sunset is the Kosybar.
BUYING SOUVENIRS IN MARRAKECH
- Take cash with you in the small alleys of the souk as you will only find ATM on the square
- Avoid the main square. You will get better price and be less hassled in the small alleys around
- If you want a henna tattoo, the women will start showing you some pictures, grab your hand and start drawing telling you it is free. At the end they will ask for a tip telling you that a normal price for those is 400 dirhams. Well, if you have not negotiated your drawing and price before and they forced the drawing on you, 20 dirham seems appropriate. Of course they will complain this is not enough but hey, they did not give you a choice!
- Scarves: from what we got a very simple cotton one could be paid 20 dirhams and a silk colorful one 50-80 dirhams
- The correct price: sure you have to bargain, but the correct price is what you are willing to pay for what is in front of you
- However do not be lured by very cheap Argan oil… if it is cheap it is not pure… same case for safran. If you are offered cheap price, it means they have cut it with other product. I have also been told that for safran, they sometime fake even the shape with dried ligaments… For Argan oil, the only way to be sure it is pure is to place it in a freezer and see if the oil stay homogenous.
- If you touch or take photos of the monkeys or snakes you have to pay!
SUNRISE & SUNSET
- I read a lot of people who enjoyed watching sunset from the Glacier bar or from the Kosybar terraces on place Djemaa el-Fna. Sadly I did not have time to try.
- Most hotels have rooftop terrace so take advantage of it and check out sunrise and sunset! (check out the sunrise over Marrakech on my first day)
- Get to the roof of your hotel. Sunset & Sunrise can be amazing or for sunset try one of the terraces
MORE INTERESTING RESOURCES
Here are a few interesting articles to read to help you make the most of your time in Marrakech:
- Check the 10 essential tips for visiting Marrakech from Elle Croft
- Lauren’s time in morocoo: http://www.neverendingfootsteps.com/2012/08/24/chaotic-marrakech-my-introduction-to-morocco/
- Jodi’s from Legal Nomad, especially if you are into food, http://www.legalnomads.com/2012/02/guide-to-marrakesh.html
- Great general articles about Morocco including Marrakech by GoNomad
I hope this is useful and we help you plan your trip to Marrakech! Don’t hesitate to write a comment to add your tips to the list!
Do not miss my 7 favorite photos of my week in Morocco!
Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you have a question