Morocco is a weird and wonderful place. The streets of the Medina in Marrakech are amazing, however can be crazy busy at times. The best time to visit the Souks is late afternoon because it’s a lot quieter, cooler and a more relaxing experience. Many of the souks sell similar items (bags, shoes, scarves, lights, jewellery, rugs) so my recommendation to anyone visiting would be to look around for a while before making any purchases.
One thing we weren’t warned of before travelling to Marrakech was that some of the locals are quite intimidating in the Medina. They can be quite forceful and can get angry if you don’t want to buy anything or eat at their restaurants. We just smiled and said “No Merci” every time they would pressure us into having a look or buying something. Some locals are really lovely and chatty but we were aware that some appear friendly and then get mad and (sometimes) aggressive when you walk away without buying anything. We found that the longer we stayed in Morocco the friendlier they were and the more relaxed we became. Most people are generally welcoming and friendly but initially we were a bit taken aback by the forceful nature of the Souk workers.
We stayed in three different Riad’s in Morocco and all of them were beautifully designed and well kept. There are so many to choose from, the three we stayed in were great value for money, provided breakfast, were clean and in good locations. Most Riads are quite small but beautifully designed and work well, with a pool or pond/fountain in the centre and rooms on the second or third floor. The three we booked all had good pools which is important as it got very hot in Morocco and it’s nice to relax by the pool in the late afternoon.
– A nice place to visit is Le Jardin Majorelle which is known as Yves Saint Laurent’s garden. His ashes were scattered within the gardens and there is a memorial in his name. It’s about a 20 minute walk from the main Medina. I probably wouldn’t go back in a hurry but it’s worth seeing, it’s a main tourist attraction so it’s best to go early in the day to avoid queues. We ate lunch at the café within the gardens which wasn’t the best idea as it was very expensive and the food was very average.
– Ben Youseff was a stand out for me. It’s an old college in Marrakech which was closed down in 1960 but, after being refurbished, is now open as a historical site and popular tourist attraction. The wooden carvings and colourful tiles that line the walls are truly a work of art and definitely worth exploring.
– Bahia Palace is a beautiful old palace with stunning architecture. It’s cheap to enter, only about $1 AUD each person. Each wall is lined with unique detail, the wooden carved walls and floor to roof tiling are really impressive. It’s also like a hidden oasis with big palm trees, water fountains and a lot of greenery.
– Another huge highlight was a night we spent in a Sahara desert camp. We stayed at Scarabeo and it was such an unreal experience- I’ve written about this in a separate post.
⁃ Cafe Des Espices has a great view of the markets and a roof top terrace. I loved the cinnamon and mint tea. It’s nice to go late afternoon and sit on the terrace with a tea and a tagine and watch the hustle and bustle of the markets below.
⁃ Nomad is across the road from this cafe and is a great spot for dinner, it’s best to go when the sun is setting. They have some great fresh juices and delicious Moroccan food- pastilles, cous cous and tagines.
⁃ Outside of the Medina walls you’ll find some great bars and cafes. We went to La Mamounia for a drink. It’s quite fancy and definitely not cheap, men are expected to wear long pants after 6pm and the women are very dressed up. It’s a beautiful big hotel with stunning gardens so it’s nice to go before sunset and look around.
⁃ We had dinner at Le Comptoir Darna which was a highlight. When we arrived they had a live Moroccan band playing and at around 10.30pm belly dancers came out and danced around the tables, some with a tray of candles on their heads. The food and drink was great here too- I would definitely recommend
– Terrasse Des Espices has a great mix of Moroccan and international food. We went for lunch and loved the vibe and décor. It serves alcohol too which can be tricky to find in Old Medina.