A few months ago, my friends were craving a little sunshine so booked return flights to Marrakech, Morocco. Although I have already been to Marrakech a few years ago, as we went in the middle of the summer, it was too hot to do anything. I do think that March is the perfect month to go and explore the city as it's starting to get a little warm, but it's not jam packed with tourists.
I'm a planner, I like to know where I'm staying and have everything organised weeks before I go - surely I'm not the only one?! So when it came to finding a place to stay, I was the first one looking at places, trawling through different websites to find a hotel. When I had previously gone, I was travelling on a budget so we went for a basic hostel (although it had an amazing pool which served it's purpose everyday), so this time I wanted to stay at somewhere a little nicer. All of the places you stay inside of the city are called a 'Riad', which is basically a small hotel. I found Riad Le Coq Fou on booking.com and reserved a three bed room straight away, which was the best thing as I didn't have to put a deposit down or pay upfront! Would I recommend it to other people? Definitely! It was tucked away in the north of the Medina, a five minute walk away from the main square. We had the 'Idris' room, which had a double bed and two single beds as well as a bathroom. For three people, we never felt cramped and had plenty of room. Each morning breakfast was served on the roof terrace, where we ended up spending a lot of time when it was super sunny.
What to do?
As I mentioned, the first time I went to Marrakech, we didn't do much other than lie in the sun and swim in the pool, so I wanted to ensure I would properly see the city. The main way to see the city is by walking around, simply get lost in the souk and you will see some amazing things. You may get overwhelmed by all the chaos around you, but it's definitely worth it so soak it up. I'd highly recommend going to the Majorelle Gardens just out of the old town, it's a beautiful botanical garden which was designed by Jacques Majorelle and is now owned by Yves Saint Laurent. There will be more photos of that soon! You have to go for a hammam, a traditional scrub and massage in a spa. We went to Les Bains de l'Alhambra where we paid around 45euro for it all, but I had previously went to Les Bains de Marrakech, where I would also recommend.
You will see a lot of people here on buying trips (which is my dream now) and it's all because everything is so beautiful. If you're in the market for beautifully made ceramic dishes (like the ones pictured people), head to the north east of the medina and you will come across many stalls selling ones like those. I walked away with one beautiful dish and wish I had room for more. Buy a rug or cushions or even material to make your own. It's not for everyone's tastes, but take something home as a treasure.
One thing I will suggest is making an overnight trip to the Atlas Mountains & Sahara Desert. I'm going to have a whole post dedicated to our trip, as it was so beautiful. So many people told me to go there before I left and I'm glad I took notice as it was worth taking two days out of the city, and even more worth the horrible car sickness.
Where to eat?
It's easy to get caught up in the restaurants in Marrakech, to be drawn into the tourist laden places because you will be overwhelmed with choice, especially in the main square. Start with having an orange juice because this is the best place you will ever find fresh orange juice. There are so many stalls, all of which who will be shouting at you to come to their stall but head to #44. They all taste the same but the people who run this one are lovely, we went back to him everyday! As for food, it's the same thing where all the people working there will be wanting you to eat at their stall. Go to #14 if you're in the mood for some delicious fish and go to #1 for everything else. We ate at #1 nearly every night, never spending more than 5 euros each for the whole meal.
If you want to go to a restaurant, a little more upmarket, I would suggest Cafe Des Epices in the middle of the medina. We didn't eat there, just a drink one hot afternoon, but the food looked amazing and wasn't overly expensive. Another option would be Le Jardin, which is the sister restaurant to NOMAD, which is a lot more upmarket than the rest.
We filled ourselves up most mornings at breakfast and only purchased a snack in the afternoon for lunch. It could be anything from a honey biscuit, a sugar doughnut or a bag of dates from the street - all of which I would suggest.
Things To Note
- Dress code isn't as strict as people think it is. It was warm enough for me to wear just a dress and I never felt as though I was stared at too much. Just be aware that it's a Muslim country and that all local women cover up. No short shorts or thin strapped tops, wear thin layers which cover but you won't overheat in. Girls do take a scarf with you at all times to prepared to cover up when needed though.
- Don't be naive and accept mint tea off strangers in the souk because although it's a rare occurrence, sometimes people do get drugged from that. It's a tradition for people to offer mint tea as a welcome, but do have your guard up about things.
- Remember, no drinking their tap water!
- You will only find Moroccan Dirhams in airports or in Morocco as it's a closed currency. I would also recommend taking enough cash with you as ATM's are hard to find and you will avoid bank charges. Also spend all your money before coming back, as it will be worthless changing it back
- Be prepared to be shouted at to move to the correct side of the path as scooters/motorbikes/carts always have right of way.
- Never accept the first price for anything, except food. They will always put the price up slightly, so be prepared to haggle it down.
- Always ask before you take a photograph of someone or their stall, sometimes they won't want it taken and it will get you into a tricky situation.