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.
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.
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
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.
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.
This was our primary mode of transportation:
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.