Have you ever traveled to a place for the second time, and feel like you completely discovered the place in a whole new light? This was definitely the case during my recent trip to Marrakech. I normally try to hold of on visiting a place I’ve already been to in attempt to add new stamps to my passport, but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to return when a friend invited me for a rather impromptu trip. I had been to Marrakech about 5 years ago for a couple days, but this trip I had 5 full days to truly take my time and explore and get a better feel of the city.
Marrakech is one of those unique places you can’t help but be intrigued by all the action, architecture and people, but at the same time it can be slightly overwhelming. Once you land you kind of feel like you have entered a game, that everyone else is in on and you haven’t yet been filled in on the rules. You kind of have to be up for the adventure and ready to take on the city full-fledged and learn the rules of Marrakech along the way. To save you a little hassle of feeling a little bit like a fish out of water, I’ve put together a Marrakech city guide with practical tips to visiting the city, top picks of places to stay, and things to DO/SEE/EAT/SHOP.
For a run down on handy things to know for a smooth free trip in Marrakech, check out our Do’s & Don’ts: How not to get had in Marrakech post.
Where to Stay?
If you’re looking to stay in the heart of the city and looking for a more local experience I highly recommend staying in a riad, which are traditional Moroccan houses that are converted into small hotels. One thing I really like about riads is the element of mystery, you walk down a street and you see many doors, with no clue what’s behind them. Then you enter and your blown away by the beautiful décor, use of space, and rooftop terraces.
This trip I had the chance to stay in two different riads that each had their unique charm…
Riad Linda is run by a lovelyScottish couple Linda and Gordon, who decided choose a lifestyle that fits them best. They decided the were going to live part of the year in Scotland when the weather is decent and escape the cold rainy months by living in Marrakech.
Riad Linda is a budget-friendly traditional 6 room riad that is well-located about 5 minutes walk from the main Djemaa el Fna square, yet tucked away from the busy streets and souks. One of my favorite things about this riad was the terrace where I enjoyed breakfast on their cosy lounge area with beautiful colorful pillows. I also really liked the colorful art pieces throughout the riad that were painted by the owner’s husband. Overall, Linda and her staff were extremely welcoming and helpful with pre-arrival tips down to daily recommendations for the best places to eat, shop and even best places to go running in Marrakech (needed keep up my workout schedule).
Riad Bab 54 is another great option for a stay in Marrakech. I stayed here for my two remaining nights with a large group of 10. The riad is located right near the Marché des Epices, and is owned by a French couple with a love affair for Morocco. It was once their family vacation home which they converted to a riad for visitors to enjoy as well. The space is modern/chic but still maintains the charm of a traditional riad. You can enjoy their courtyard pool, lounge area, rooftop terrace, and all of the rooms are carefully decorated. After a couple hours spent at Riad Bab 54 you can’t help but want to move in.
Try a Moroccan Cooking Class with La Maison Arabe Cooking School
Marrakech food Tour– The founder of Maroc Mama blog offers food tours to discover the city by mouth. They were closed for the month of Ramadaan durign my trip,but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
Get lost exploring the never ending alley ways of the SOUKS…
Take a Yoga class at Peacock Pavillion
Visit the Marche des épices for all your spice and herbs souvenir needs.
Djemaa El Fna is the central landmark of Marrakech that is well known for snake charmers, food stalls, the souks, and not stop action.
Koutoubia Mosque admire the unique architecture of this mosque, however since it is an active mosque non-muslims aren’t able to enter
Ben Youssef Madrasa: is of North Africa’s largest quarnic schools. Great place for photos.
The Bahia Palace: Take in all the elaborate details and admire Arab architectural styles in this palace.
Jardin Majorelle: Often spotted on Instagram for its deep blue walls with yellow pots and catcus. This garden was created by artist Jacques Majorelle, and it was restored by Yves-Saint Laurnet after Majorelle’s death. Its a perfect oasis from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.
Maison de la Photographie de Marrakech: This is a great place for photography buffs to explore the 3-story museum of vintage photos of the city. You will leave with great inspiration of shots you would like to take during your trip. Once your done visiting make sure to grab a drink on their rooftop terrace.
Enjoy a delicious breakfast on the rooftop terrace at your riad or hotel…
Café des épices – great place for a quick bite, and great rooftop view of the Marché des épices.
Earth Café– 100% Vegan- Vegetarian friendly
Henna Art Café– Grab a bite to eat followed by a well-designed and safe Henna afterwards.
Beldi & Juicy– great option if you’re looking for a break from Moroccan food
NOMAD– Moroccan food with a modern twist. Make reservations to snag a spot on their rooftop terrace
Le Jardin– is owned by the same owners of Cafe des epices and Nomad, they serve more traditional Moroccon food in a lovely garden.
For cheap eats try some of Marrakech’s Street Food. Avoid eating in some of the touristy spots near Djemaa El Fna (eat at your risks).
Comptoir Darna– For dinner and belly dancing.
It’s pretty hard to leave Marrakech without buying something. Here are few things you will most likely be tempted to bring back…
Argan Oil (make sure it is certified organic, pure, and not mixed with other oils)
Berber Rugs (If you have space in your luggage)
Copper or Brass jewelry
All Photos by @lavielocale unless specified