There aren’t many places that I have travelled to that I love as much, or have left such an impression on me as Morocco! I love the people, the culture, the food! This ‘Photographer’s Travel Guide to Marrakech’ will hopefully show you just how great a place it it.
I first visited Morocco and Marrakech back in 2007. Ever since then I’ve wanted to go back, and to take my wife to experience it too.
So for our 10th wedding anniversary in January 2020 we took a trip to Marrakech for a long weekend.
In this ‘Photographer’s Travel Guide to Marrakech’ I want to share some of my photos from our trip, some top sights to visit, and some general tips for visiting Marrakech.
First thing first, be prepared for a bit of culture shock if it is your first visit to a Muslim country, it’s pretty different to our western, European, culture, but you will get used to it very quickly.
The people are very friendly and I felt very safe in Marrakech, and apart from one near pickpocketing incident (which could happen in any major city), had no issues.
What To see and do?
Jemaa El Fnaa
This is one of the main things to see in Marrakech. The large square is right in the heart of the medina. You should visit the Jemaa El Fnaa at various times of day as its character changes throughout the day.
In the morning it’s quiet as the juice sellers set up, through the afternoon it gets busier (watch out for the snake charmers, henna artists and other street performers who will try to hook you in to watch or get henna, and then charge you).
At night the crowds increase even more and the juice sellers make way for street food stalls, The food ranges from snails,( which are delicious by the way) to tagine and tangia, to bbq.
If you’re feeling brave, definitely have some street food (we had bbq meat skewers and flatbread – we avoided eating the salad, because we couldn’t be sure if it was washed in clean water)
The souks are the various markets, which sell pretty much everything you could imagine! They wind for miles and miles down narrow, twisty alleys in the medina. It’s worth just having a wander through the various souks and browsing what’s on offer.
If you are buying anything, make sure you barter, and don’t pay full price. My tactic was to go in at 1/3 the asking price, and aim to get what I was buying for about 1/2 to 2/3. Be prepared to be ripped off a bit though.
I knew at times I was still paying over the odds a bit, but it’s part of the whole process and experience, so I was happy enough.
The souks can be a bit of a labyrinth, and I’d highly recommend going on an organised walking tour. We did a private tour, rather than a group tour, which was great as we got a real personal tour.
In Morocco, Sunday is the official day off, although Friday is a holy day, so you’ll find that a lot of the shops in the souks are closed on Fridays, so bear that in mind when visiting. Another top tip, mornings are much much quieter than the afternoons, so best to go exploring in the morning.
If exploring the souks has tired you out, then head for the secret garden, in fact, you should head here anyway. It is a little oasis of calm and tranquility in the middle of the medina. Just take some time to admire the tiling, the water features, and the gardens in this renovated riad, and I would really recommend grabbing a table on the terrace, having some mint tea and relaxing in the sun.
El Badii palace
The ruins of the El Badii palace are amazing, and really makes me wonder how unbelievable the palace must have been when it was at the height of its glory!
Quite simply, the architecture and the tiling in this abandoned palace left me speechless. I was so blown way by the intricacy of the design and decor. Aim to visit this palace right at opening time. It gets busy quickly, so if you get there for opening then you might have the place to yourself, like we did.
Quite possibly the fanciest burial ground I’ve ever visited. Very much like the Bahia palace above, the tiling and architecture was simply stunnning.
Katoubia Mosque and Gardens
Non Muslims aren’t permitted to enter the mosques in Marrakech, but it is worth going for a walk around the outside of the Katoubia mosque to admire its architecture and grandeur, an added bonus are the gardens just behind the Mosque, which again are a bit of an escape from the madness of the rest of the Medina.
I love love love Moroccan food, so we loved eating out when we were in Marrakech, and experiencing real Moroccan food. Definitely eat tagine, tangia, and drink plenty of mint tea.
A few of the great places we ate were.
Cafe Des Espices – grab a table on the roof top terrace and enjoy a tagine while watching the busyness of the souk below
Nomad – probably some of the best food I ate in Morocco, it served up modern Moroccan cuisine
Mechoui Alley – this little alleyway just behind the Jemaa-El-Fna is lined with restaurants serving up lamb, that is slow cooked in large underground ovens. I don’t know the name of the specific restaurant we went to, but it was absolutely jam packed, and with locals, not tourists ( we were the only westerners that I could see), which is always a good sign
Jemaa El Fnaa – as mentioned above, grab some juice during the day, then street food at night
Cafe du Grand Balcon – this place is a great spot to grab a cold (soft) drink to watch the sunset over the Jemaa El Fnaa
Kasbah Cafe – another super spot for some food and drink with a view, overlooking the Kasbah Mosque
Where to stay?
I would recommend staying in the medina, it’s the heart of the old town, is walkable to most of the main sights, and has countless guest houses and riads to stay in. I think this is much better than staying out in a resort and you get much more of a feel for the city. We stayed in Riad Africa.
So if you a planning a trip to Marrakech, I hope you found this ‘Photographer’s Travel Guide to Marrakech’ helpful! I know that I’ll be back in Morocco again sometime, and already can’t wait, whenever that may be.