Marrakech is one of the 5 main cities of Morocco, and is an amazingly beautiful city with a rich culture and history. It is bordered by snow-capped mountains, and it is just a few hours from the ocean. Many historical monuments and palaces are found in Marrakech, as well as the world-famous square located in the heart of the city. There you can find snake charmers, acrobats, monkeys, henna artists, food stalls, and fresh orange juice stands. It is the most popular tourist destination in Morocco, and on arrival you will quickly understand why.
Take a city tour
On your arrival here, one of the best ways to get your bearings in the city is to take a tour. Get a good overview of the whole city, learn a bit about the history, and take note of all the places you want to come back to! We suggest either hiring a calesh from Djema El Fna square or getting on the Red Bus from La Renaissance café in Gueliz.In fact even if you are Marrakshi, or have lived here for many years, if you have never taken a city tour you might be surprised about some of the things you learn about your own city!!
Go to a Hamam
Take a traditional Hamman and Gommage – it’s a hot steam room accompanied by a good old fashioned scrub. Not only will you feel as clean as whistle, and wonderfully relaxed, you’ll feel 10 years younger too.
For the uninitiated, it can also be quite an interesting cultural experience. For the adventurous, we recommend trying a local hamam for about 10 dhs where you will certainly be the centre of attention, but you’ll have a lot of fun! For those looking for a little bit more luxury, or for the more modest bather, try any of the beautiful spas in the city. We recommend ‘Les Bains de Marrakech’ at Bab Rob in the medina.
Enjoy free Activities on Offer
Enjoy the free activities evening at the Place Fna El Jemma – as the sun goes down, this place hots up. Watch it change from a sedate daytime square to a full on Marrakech experience. Noise, sights and smells never to be forgotten can be found here. Enjoy the view from one of the rooftop cafes, and get in the mix on the ground
Try Local Cuisine
With lots of beautiful restaurants, you might get a bit overwhelmed, but make sure you don’t just stick with the safe French and Italian options and try the local cuisine. Eat sausages, kebabs, snails, sheep’s head (!!) and harira (local soup) on the square, try tajine and couscous in some of the roadside cafes, and for a real treat try out El Fasia – we think it has the best authentic Moroccan cuisine outside of our own mothers’ homes. It is run by a woman’s co-operation and they have 2 restaurants – one in Gueliz and another with a riad attached out by the Al Mazaar shopping complex.For those wishing to try their hand at learning how to make some of the local cuisine, and support a wonderful cause at the same time, check out Moroccan cookery classes at the Amal Centre in Gueliz. www.amalrestaurant.wordpress.com
The whole city is a shop! Stock up on local souvenirs, but remember to barter as it is most certainly expected. As a guide we say start at 1/3 of the first price and never pay more than a half. Always remember that it is a bargain if it is a bargain to you, and don’t be bullied into buying anything – if you don’t get the price you want, move on to the next shop where you will almost certainly find the same thing again! Herbs and spices from a Berber Pharmacy will always be a talking point at dinner parties. Anything from trinkets, candles, to furnishings and Arabic clothes, you name it you can get it.
For more European-type shopping, try out the Plaza or Carré Eden shopping centres in Gueliz, or get a taxi to Al Mazaar on the outskirts of town
Know Your Transport Options
The best way to get around is either on foot or by taxi. It is technically law for each taxi to turn their meter on, so don’t be afraid to get out if they refuse to. As a rough guide, nowhere in the city should be more than 30 dirhams, and around the old city / within Gueliz, 15dhs is probably fair. Petite taxis will ONLY take 3 people – that includes little people. Grand taxiz take 6 but don’t have meters and therefore can be more expensive if you aren’t a good barterer. If you are up for trial and error, try local buses for 3.5dhs a journey. No 1 takes you from Djema El Fna to Gueliz to McDonalds on the Casa Rd to Bab Doukala and back.
Marrakech features a semi-arid climate, with mild wet winters and hot dry summers. Average temperatures range from 12 degrees Celsius in the winter to 40-45 degrees Celsius in the summer. The wet winter/dry summer precipitation pattern of Marrakech mirrors precipitation patterns found in Mediterranean climates. However the city receives less rain than is typically found in a Mediterranean Climate, hence the semiarid climate classification.
Recommended Trips from Marrakech
- Cross the High Atlas mountains to visit the desert beyond: www.dades-voyages.com
- Head to the sleepy but beautiful fishing town of Oualidia on the coast: www.33degreeslatitude.com
- Riad Shaden is situated in the east of the medina, in one of the most authentic and traditional areas of Marrakech www.riadshaden.com