Oh, Marrakech. There is so much to be said about this beautiful, colorful, and crazy city. It was NOT love at first sight for me, but it IS a city that grows on you. The more time you can spend there exploring all the hidden corners, meeting the locals, and truly experiencing the Moroccan way of life, the better. Sensory overload? Yes. But also one of the richest experiences you can have. So, let’s talk Marrakech.
Where to Stay
Equity Point Hostel is a fantastic hostel/Riad in the heart of the Marrakech Medina and a great option for travelers on a budget. It feels like an exotic labyrinth of lounge areas complete with a rooftop restaurant, central pool, and hammam. You can either rent a dorm (from $12 a night) or upgrade to a private room for around $60 a night. It’s important when looking for a hostel or Riad in the medina that you look at the reviews. Keep an eye out for the location! The last thing you want to be doing is wandering the streets alone at night trying to find a little alley and hidden door.
Riad Spa Sindibad is a lovely little Riad on the edge of the Medina. The service is excellent and there is a great restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (always a plus in Morocco) and spa/pool. The rooms are beautiful and decked out in traditional Moroccan decor of pom pom blankets, kilim rugs, and berber pillows. The Riad is located just inside the Medina walls making it easy to navigate to. My STRONG suggestion would be to hit the medina via foot during the day and then have a taxi bring you back to the Riad at night by going outside of the medina walls. It’s nearly impossible to reach the Riad via car by going through the medina. Before getting into the car however, have the driver all the Riad so that they can give him directions. Riad Spa Sindibad is also walking distance to the Majorelle Gardens which is a plus!
Looking for a splurge?
Stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech. If you’re craving your creature comforts and a little bit of luxury, this is the place for you. Walk underneath glimmering lanterns to reach reception where you will be warmly welcomed by the 5-star staff. Enjoy delicious traditional Morroccan food and a (hard to find) adult beverage on the terrace or pool side and don’t forget to hop in their chauffeured golf cart and take a trip through the palms over to the spa. Here you can indulge in facials and massages infused with local flavors of saffron and argon. You won’t regret it.
Where to Eat & Drink
Before my last trip to Marrakech I had stalked a little spot called Atay Cafe on Instagram. The eclectic decor and stunning rooftop views make it a hot spot for travel bloggers and let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. I hid out in this little gem a few times over the course of my stay. Sit at a small table out front and watch the craziness of the Medina unfold in front of your eyes or sneak up to one of their terraces for some peace and quiet and awesome views. Don’t leave without trying their chicken and prune tagine and be sure to ask for extra bread because you’ll be sopping up every last drop of the sauce. If gorgeous grounds, spas, and rooftops are your thing, spend an evening at La Sultana. On top of this luxury hotel sits an incredible rooftop with pools, lounge areas, and open kitchens. This is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail after a long hot day of exploring the city. Over the last view visits I have found myself at a cozy little italian Restaurant called Portofino. Sometimes you just need a break from tagines and cous cous and this is the perfect place to come. Good wine and great Italian food make for a leisurely and relaxing evening just outside of the Medina walls.
Where to Play
Get lost. If you are like me you could post up at a cafe in the Medina and spend your whole trip just watching the hustle and bustle of the streets. Donkeys carrying garbage, vendors pedaling old trinkets, snake charmers luring in tourists, and children and cats running around as if the whole city is their playground. Allow yourself to get lost in the Medina. Don’t worry, eventually you will find your way out.
If you prefer a more structured itinerary there are plenty of options for you as well. The Majorelle Gardens are situated just outside the Medina and offer 12 acres of botanical gardens boasting “Majorelle Blue” buildings. The gardens were purchased in the 80s by Yves St. Laurent and are where his ashes are now spread. I suggest to go during the week and early in the morning so you can beat the crowds.
Shopping in the Medina of Marrakech is unlike any other shopping experience you’ve ever had. Marrakech is known for the endless souks overflowing with handwoven rugs, painted pottery, glowing lanterns, and wooden wares. There is something for everyone but it can be overwhelming. A great little square in the Medina that is manageable is the Rahba Kedima spice square. Here you will find a little bit of everything. (Want to see more tips on shopping in Morocco? Check out my blog “20 Tips to Know Before Visiting Morocco”)
” Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone” – Neale Donald Walsch
Take an overnight or day trip. Sometimes you need to get outside of the city for some fresh air. A day-long drive up into the Atlas Mountains or a 3-day camel trek into the Sahara Desert are spectacular excursions and ones that shouldn’t be missed. Want to hear more about these excursions? To read more about my camel trek click HERE.
Jemaa el Fnaa is the main square of the Medina and where all the action happens. During the day you’ll find merchants selling their wares, snake charmers, and fresh squeezed orange juice carts in every direction. (side note: if you take a picture of the snakes or monkeys you’ll be expected to tip them). As the night falls the snake charmers make way for lantern merchants, traditional arabic story tellers and medicine peddlers, and endless food stalls. (tip: look for the streets stalls that have trip advisor signs just to be safe). The square lights up at night and the energy is tangible.
- Desert Tour can be booked through Top Desert. Ask for Abdul as your guide!
- My Moroccan Adventure is an awesome company that will customize any sort of trip you’d like to do. Tell them Molly sent you:)
- Relax. Morocco is actually really safe. The medina seems dangerous at first but there is very little petty crime because there are undercover cops walking around amongst everyone.
- In “20 Tips to Know Before Visiting Morocco” I break down some helpful tidbits about navigating this beautiful country
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