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What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco

What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech is freaking nuts. I went right after being in Europe and in comparison, it felt like traveling to the Wild, Wild West. The heat, the noises, the smells are crazy and an assault to the senses. Having said that, it also offers some of the most beautiful, intricately designed buildings I’ve ever seen and its landscape offers everything from the desert to the ocean to crazy dense cities. The city can be a bit overwhelming at first, so use this guide to help you plan your own Moroccan adventure and learn what to do in Marrakech, Morocco.

Things to Do

Ben Youssef Medersa – This is a school in the middle of Marrakech with insane interior design and wall patterns. Morocco isn’t exactly known for its great street signs, so finding the school can be a little bit tricky. People will probably be willing to help you find it but beware of them asking for tips! You can also have your name written in Arabic as a souvenir to take with you back home.

What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco
What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco
What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco
Jemaa el-Fnaa – It’s a bustling square that’s like the heartbeat of the city. There are plenty of food stalls (eat at your own risk – from what I’ve seen the food vendors don’t wash their plates, they just soak them in water) and vendors selling everything from tea to Moroccan hair oil (also buy at your own risk, mine ended up smelling pretty funky). There are also henna tattoo artists and aged men playing flutes as snakes dance around them. People will be shouting at you to come buy their wares and there have also been countless stories of henna artists telling you the henna will be one price and then once they’re finished, charging you 5x as much. My advice would be to be very cautious when buying from these vendors.
What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco
What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco

Souks – The souks are outdoor markets and there are some conveniently located at Jemaa el-Fnaa. Souks are usually organized by the type of good they sell. For example, there are souks for kitchenware and other souks for clothing. You can easily get lost in the labyrinth of stalls, where you can unleash your inner haggler and get unique scarves, those classic moROCKIN print pants, or even off label stuff from Zara! I got goods for 50% lower than what they initially charged me so it’s definitely worth it to try and haggle. Also, they do not accept credit card so make sure you bring plenty of cash.

What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco

Day Trips – Day trips can be a fun way to escape the heat and chaos of Marrakech and see what else Morocco has to offer. My sister and I were conveniently able to book excursions to the High Atlas Mountains as well as a trip to the beach town of Essaouira through our riad.

Things to Eat

Tajine – The Moroccans are all about their tajine, so if you get a chance, it’s worth a try. Tajines are basically stews and consist of your choice of meat/poultry/fish with spices and veggies.
What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco
OJ! – The OJ at Marrakech is bomb and super fresh. This is probably some of the best OJ I’ve had in my life. Ever.
What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco
The food was usually less than 10 USD and that’s including a meal and OJ, which we had at pretty much every meal. This will vary depending on where you eat, but in general the food was very affordable. Also, one thing to keep in mind is that Moroccans are all about their meat and carbs. I tried but didn’t find any salads during my time here so if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll probably be limited to eating fries and bread (and that OJ!). This is what a typical Moroccan meal can look like:
What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco

Where to Stay

You could stay at a hotel or a hostel, but after asking around, most friends recommended staying at a riad. Walking into a riad is almost like stepping into a Moroccan’s home and typically features a central courtyard or garden.

What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco

We stayed at Riad dar Tamlil and our riad owner was amazing. The space was beautiful and each morning, a French breakfast of croissants and coffee was provided. This was probably the meal I looked forward to most each day. We met a cool chick from Oregon who had been living in Morocco for the past couple of months and was helping out at the riad. She gave us some suggestions on what to do in the area and also taught us the term “food-wasted.” I would highly, highly recommend staying close to Jemaa el-Fnaa as this is where most of the activity in Marrakech is.

Transportation

This was our primary mode of transportation:

What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco
Just kidding! Taxis are actually the main mode of transportation in Marrakech, especially to and from the airport. The airport fee is set and can be more expensive at certain times of the day. We didn’t pay more than 20 USD each way. Other than that, we were lucky that our riad was centrally located and we could walk to most of the sites. Other modes of transportation are public buses (these didn’t run that often though) and donkey carts (one of our taxi drivers actually tried to convince us to get out and use this instead of his taxi because he didn’t want to drive through traffic).

Things to Know

  • It is going to be HOT in Marrakech, especially during the summer. Temperatures of 90F were average so we would spend a lot of the day napping…keeping this in mind could be useful when planning out your activities.
  • Exchange your cash for dirhams! I never once saw a place that accepted card. You can exchange your cash at the airport and there are also exchanges available in touristy areas like Jemaa el-Fnaa.
  • Beware of pickpocketing. In order to prevent this, we basically DIYed money belts by wearing a belt under our clothes which we then attached our clutches to. It is really crowded in the city and sometimes the cute little kids coming up to you to say hi are the same ones who are trying to relieve you of your cash.
  • Be careful about food poisoning here. I had the misfortune of getting food poisoning and to avoid the same fate you could be extra cautious with your food or pack some food poisoning meds (you can see my post on packing for this trip here). The tap water is also unsafe to drink in Marrakech and it is even recommended to keep your mouth closed while showering so you don’t accidentally swallow any of the water.  We stocked up on huge bottles of water so we’d have enough to drink and to brush our teeth.
  • When people give you directions, it is usually not free. Just about everyone here would request money from us for showing us how to get to our destination, even if the destination was incorrect. I hope this doesn’t happen to you but it could be useful to keep this in mind.




What to Do in Marrakech, Morocco

Overall, Morocco will expose you to a very different culture and it really opened my eyes to what a developing country looks like. We met some great people along the way like our riad owner and had the chance to try some unique food and great OJ. The shopping experience is like no other and if you thrive off of the thrill of getting a great deal, this could be the perfect place for you.
Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!
Photos provided by my talented beaut of a sister, Insun. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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1 Comment

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    December 20, 2015 at 5:43 am

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