Marrakesh is vibrant, exciting and famous for its palaces, mosques and gardens. Situated at the foot of the Atlas Mountains with a densely packed medina it has a lot of unexpected beauty and charm. I had my heart set on visiting it for a long time and would recommend making Marrakesh and Morocco your travel destination. Here are my recommendations and tips that might come useful to turn it into even more memorable experience.
Explore the Medina
A medina is the old part of a city, walled and full of labyrinth-like alleys, courtyards, homes, mosques and hidden spots. It’s very easy to get lost in that maze but it’s also fun to explore it.
The size of Marrakesh’s medina and what it has to offer is very impressive. Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of souks and move through the narrow streets together with other people as well as mopeds, bikes and donkey carts.
Stay at the Riad
Riad is a traditional Moroccan town house with an interior garden or courtyard. I really recommend staying in one of them when visiting Marrakesh. I had a chance to relax in the beautiful surroundings of a historical 19th century riad during my trip and it was priceless. Rodamon Hostel with its charming decor, swimming pool and rooftop lounge was a perfect choice for me as ir had a touch of traditional experience mixed with some cool vibes.
Visit the Square
Jemaa el-Fnaa is is one of Marrakesh’s biggest attractions. It’s a big open square at the heart of medina where you can expect a lot of magic and madness from snake charmers, street entertainers and and over-enthusiastic sellers.
Treat Yourself to Fresh Juices or Mint Tea
Jemaa el-Fnaa square is packed with juice vendors and orange juice is definitely the most popular, delicious and (yes!) the cheapest option. During my stay in Marrakesh a fresh orange juice to go with my breakfast was a real treat! If you rather opt for a warm beverage, there is always amazing mint tea served everywhere.
Enjoy Dinner at the Rooftop Restaurant
After my trip, I will always remember Marrakesh as the city that’s all about bridging the chaos and excitement of the streetlife with the tranquility of rooftop restaurants and spectacular terraces.
Nomad was one of those restaurants that stole my heart from the second I stepped into that tastefully decorated space. It was once was an old carpet store just off the famous spice square. They serve modern Moroccan cuisine ranging from local to international dishes with a Moroccan twist. I not only enjoyed a dinner there but also an afternoon coffee on a terrace overlooking the medina.
Atay Café with its three terraces, is another perfect rooftop location for dinner and some relaxed lounging with stunning views. The food was tasty, healthy and colourful. I especially recommend soups, salads and smoothies!
It took me a while to figure out how to get to Terrasse des Épices since it’s located on a hidden rooftop terrace in the heart of the Old Town. Once I could relax above the roofs of medina and enjoy their food, I was in seventh heaven. With their Franco-Moroccan selection of dishes and pretty surroundings it’s al fresco dining at its finest. It’s worth noting that they also serve some great wine! Booking a table is recommended.
Catch a Live Music Performance
Many bars and restaurants in Marrakesh host evening shows with live music performances. The atmosphere of the city once the sun sets paired with the music and nice ambiance of some rooftop restaurants is fantastic!
Admire the Architecture
Marrakesh doesn’t disappoint when it comes to amazing architecture. The Bahia Palace, which consists not only of the the palace but also of a set of gardens, was built in the late 19th century and intended to be the greatest palace of its time. The clue is in the name, which means “brilliance”. Stunning pieces of ornate decoration can be found everywhere around the Palace. It all reminded me of beautiful examples of Moorish architecture I saw on my trips in Andalusia.
El Badi Palace, now-ruined but still very impressive structure is another interesting example of architecture in Marrakesh. It was built at the end of the sixteenth century to commemorate the victory of the Battle of the Three Kings against the Portuguese.
Towering over Marrakesh, the Koutoubia Mosque was built during the 12th century by the Almohad dynasty. These days, at 70 meters high, the minaret remains the highest structure and acts as a focal point for all to enjoy. You can get some great views of it from the rooftops and terraces in the medina.
Visit a Hammam
In need of serious pampering Marrakesh was a great place for me since steam baths are something of an institution in Morocco. Visiting a hammam was the top of my to-do list. These days they are more like luxurious spas rather than public baths but still worth visiting for a relaxing experience.
Haggle with Sellers When Buying
I’m not that crazy about shopping but I must admit that my heart skipped a beat few times when walking through the souks. Carpets, spices, lamps, leather goods. It’s all there and very tempting and eye pleasing but remember to haggle with sellers when buying. That’s the name of the game! Can’t wait to be back and buy some argan oil again.
Relax (or not) in a Beautiful Garden
Jardin Majorelle is the most iconic (and Instagramable) garden in Marrakesh. Originally owned by painter Jacques Majorelle (hence the name), the gardens were abandoned before Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the land and revitalized it. It’s a truly stunning place but as the former home and current resting place of Yves Saint Laurent also extremely popular. It’s best to visit the Majorelle Gardens in a morning to avoid crazy crowds of tourists. The fountains and art deco Majorelle cobalt blue home were my highlights.
Le Jardin Secret situated in the heart of the medina is a more relaxing environment than Jardin Majorelle. Although far from being a quiet oasis, it’s a fine example of Islamic gardens and their cultural importance. A view from the rooftop terrace unveils the amazing geometry of Le Jardin Secret and it’s nice to enjoy some mint tea up there.