Our love affair with Marrakesh can be described as ‘Love at second sight’. Yes, you read it right. I should be honest that after an awesome experience of Camping in the Sahara Desert amidst the never-ending sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi, we were not really impressed by the chaotic scenes in Marrakesh at first glance.
It started right from the point when our car entered the Medina walls. There was unruly traffic all around, driving was much more difficult and was a stark contrast than what we experienced in the last few days. Our Riad was inside the Medina and just behind the Jewish Spice Market, and finding a car parking nearby was tough. However, Abdel, the manager of Riad Bayti, received us outside and guided us to our rooms.
We ignored all our apprehensions and went out in the same evening for a walk around the vibrant Jma El Fna Square and have dinner. A few hours and some Tajines later, our apprehensions slowly and steadily transpired into love and admiration for this city. We were gripped by a feeling of excitement at the thought of exploring this mysteriously beautiful city in the following days.
Although the list of things to do in Marrakesh can be endless, this writing focuses on what we did and what I think would be good for my readers to know.
-Forget everything in this world and take a stroll in and around the Jma El Fna Square. This cultural place, also the main square of the city, is a Unesco World Heritage Site and flocked by tourists and locals equally. This square has two distinct facets to it- the bustling morning scene with the snake-charmers, monkeys, musicians and dancers and the open-air snack stalls, food stalls and hawkers in the evening. Enjoy the view from one of the Cafes around the corner of the square. We did the same from Taj’in Darna.
-Get lost in the Marrakesh Medina. Admire the Souks or the markets which are so famous in Marrakesh. Indulge in shopping, eating or just enjoying the beauty of the place.
-Visit the Jardin Majorelle early in the morning. It is one of the most visited places in Marrakesh. You can find more information here.
-Take a Horse Carriage ride in and around the Medina. Go past admiring the beauty of the Royal Palace and the Quotoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in Marrakesh. Ensure that you negotiate the price before embarking.
-Visit the tannery just outside the Medina walls in Bab debbagh. For sure it would be a different experience for a traveler used to leading a healthy urban life. There are local people waiting outside the gates who offer to guide you in for a fee of 10 Dirhams or 1 Euro. You are given a ‘complimentary’ and life-saving bunch of mint leaves at the start and they guide you inside, allowing you to take pictures from one of the houses near the entrance.
-Admire the beauty of the Bahia Palace. The entry fees is 10 Dirhams or 1 Euro and it is open everyday from 9 am to 5 pm. It is sandwiched between the Medina, the Kasbah and the Mellah or the Jewish Quarter. This palace, set up in the 19th Century by Si Moussa, means ‘brilliance’ in Arabic, is exquisitely beautiful and justifies its name. You should allot somewhere between 30-45 mins for this visit.
-Walk through the Medina and visit the Saadian Tombs. The inconspicuous entrance to the tombs is just next to the Kasbah Mosque built by the Almohads in 1184. On a first glance, it might seem to offer not much. However, if you brave the queue and end up to the view point, you will get to see the tombs of the Saadian rulers and the excellent architecture of the place. The ticket costs 10 Dirhams or 1 Euro and you should plan for 20-30 minutes to visit this place, which includes the time you need to be in the queue.
-When in Marrakesh, do not forget to take a traditional Hamam bath. While many fear the ‘rubbing’ you get in there, it might be the best way to refresh, regroup and rejuvenate yourself after battling the Moroccan sun and before you board your flight back. One of our friends were scared about getting ‘rubbed’ too, and hence we decided to go to a Hamam which was not that extreme. We booked a session of Hamam and Massage at the Amouna Spa, not too far from our Riad in the Medina. It was a good experience and I can highly recommend it to everyone.
-Satiate your taste buds, do not stop eating and tasting new dishes. If you are a foodie, Marrakesh, and in fact Morocco as a whole can be a paradise for you. Indulge in the Tajines and Couscous, stop at a roadside snack and kebab shop or taste the Moroccan pastries, you have it all in one place. We decided to go one step further, and hence on the last night of our trip, we booked a table at the very famous Dar Essalam restaurant for the dinner along with Belly Dance Program.
-Simply stay back and relax at your Riad. These are not typical hotels that you would find elsewhere in your average travels. We did the same during our stay in Riad Bayti. The hospitality was awesome, it does not take a toll on your pockets, and I can highly recommend it to everyone.
Taking a sneak-peek into the mighty Youssef-Ben Medressa would also make sense. However, we ran out of time, and it was closed just minutes before we reached. It closes at 5 pm.
If you have some time left, you can go an a Daytrip to Essouira, like we did. We found it beautiful and charming, and can recommend this trip to everyone.
As I said before, we all left Marrakesh with great memories and finally falling in love with this vibrant city. Visiting the country of Morocco during our 7 Days Magical Morocco Trip was a different experience for us altogether. We can happily say that we take back memories that will stay with us for a lifetime.
If you need a visa for Morocco, the process is super easy and described in my blog here.
P.S.: All pictures in this blog are captured by me. Information shared are based on my personal experiences.