Have you booked your tickets to Marrakesh? If you have, count yourself lucky. You are in for an adventure of a lifetime! Morocco is unlike any place we have visited. With its interesting culture, delectable cuisine and welcoming locals, Marrakesh is indeed an enchanting destination. With a city that offers so much, we came up with a list of the top “must experience.”
Lets start with a quick primer for the city. Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco, and is very tourist-friendly. English and French are spoken at most restaurants and hotels and across the city. At the heart of the city is “Old Marrakesh”, it is surrounded by fortified walls and battlements. At the center of the old city is the central square called Jemaa el-Fnaa. This sizable public area is surrounded by tourist focused restaurants and filled to the brim with arts and crafts vendors, snake charmers, and crowds of visitors.
1) Stay in a Riad-To truly partake in the vibe of the city, we highly recommend staying in one of the Riads in the old medina. Riads are converted mansions that now play host to tourists as a bed and breakfast. We stayed at the Riad Houdou. This riad has well-appointed rooms, engaging staff, and a rooftop dining area that is enchanting. Riads are the perfect bases to seeing the city. Hosts can help you navigate the narrow alleyways and build your itinerary. Most are very affordable all the way up to the high-end lodging for the well-healed.
2) Yves St. Lauren Museum and Le Jardin Majorelle– Are you ready to relive some 80s chic? Look no further than this museum dedicated to the design powerhouse Yves and his partner Pierre. They would frequent the city and created an enclave with gardens and a bright blue home. The gardens on the property are absolutely incredible.
3) The Maison de la Photographie de Marrakech -Although modest in size, this little museum was my favorite of our visit. It contains a collection of early photos of Morocco. You get a feel for what life was like during the era of sultans and Bedouins. They have a gift shop on the first floor with prints of just about all of the art you will see.
4) Jewish Cemetery-One of the highlights of my visit was wandering the Jewish Cemetery. At one time, Marrakech had a large community of Jews. Now they number less than 200 within the city. Gravestones are whitewashed and many include Hebrew and French inscriptions. For more information on the cemetery, please visit here.
5) Side trip to the Sahara- If you know us well, we love side trips. One that we would highly recommend is a journey out to the Sahara. There are a number of companies that will offer transportation and tent stays out on the grand desert. Know this, it is a ways out of town. The drive is 8-10 hours one way. The trip takes you over the Atlas Mountains which are nothing short of Instagram worthy! We stayed just one night on the sand and took some amazing pictures of the desert.
6) Golf-With over a dozen different courses and weather that will never disappoint, golfing in Marrakech is a must-do for the golfing enthusiast. We played the Royal Golf Course and the Assoufid Golf Club. While the Royal was much more buttoned-up, and high end. The Assoufid was a great track for a relaxed game. The Royal actually hosted Churchill and Eisenhower during the war. Plan your outing for early in the AM to avoid the oppressive heat.
7) Handicraft center- Make a trip to the center square and you will be bombarded by enterprising sellers to sell you their wares. We highly recommend avoiding the maylay of hawkers. There is a handicraft center just outside the medina that has some really high quality, and fairly priced items to take home. They highlight local artists and craftsmen so you can be assured that you are not getting taken. The best thing about the center? All prices are posted.
8) Dinner on the square- As we mentioned above, the food in Morocco is a delight! The mesh of French and Arabic culinary traditions is the perfect marriage. Spice? Yes! Butter and wine? Yes! There is a wide variety of different offerings catering to just about any taste.
9) El Badi Palace-There are a number of ruins in the city that are interesting and of historical importance, none more so than the El Badi Palace. Nicknamed the Palace of Wonder, it lives up to every inch of its name. The former seat of power for the Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, the palace has a huge throne room, reflection pools and massive walls. There is a citrus orchard in the center as well.
10)The Saadian Tombs-One of the off the beaten path attractions is this set of ornately tiled tombs. The stonework and tile work set this location apart. The arches over the tombs are absolutely incredible.
We hope you enjoy your journey to Marrakech! Reach out to us if you have questions or if we can assist in any way!